What Is Hakama In Judo?

Table of Contents

Judo, a martial art deeply rooted in Japanese culture, holds numerous traditions and symbols that add to its allure. Among these is the elegant and enigmatic garment known as the hakama. In this article, we will explore the significance of the hakama in the world of Judo, its history, construction, wearing techniques, modern adaptations, caring tips, and more. Join us on this enlightening journey to unravel the secrets behind this timeless piece of attire.


The Origins and History of the Hakama

The hakama has a rich heritage dating back centuries. Originating from ancient Japan, it was initially worn by samurai warriors and court nobles. The hakama’s design was influenced by traditional Asian trousers, emphasizing wide-legged, pleated garments for ease of movement. Over time, the hakama became an essential component of traditional Japanese attire, symbolizing dignity, grace, and respect. In the realm of Judo, the hakama’s introduction can be attributed to the founder of Judo, Jigoro Kano. He incorporated the hakama into Judo as a way to distinguish higher-ranked practitioners and to emphasize the importance of discipline and etiquette.


Construction and Design

The hakama is a distinctive garment with its unique construction and design. It is made from high-quality fabric, traditionally black or indigo, with some variations in color for specific occasions or ranks. The fabric used is usually a durable blend of cotton or polyester to ensure longevity. The hakama consists of several parts, including the koshi-ita (backboard), obi (belt), and seven straps called himo. The himo play a crucial role in securing the hakama and maintaining its elegant appearance. The design of the hakama ensures ease of movement while providing a distinctive and formal aesthetic.


Symbolism and Significance

In Judo, the hakama embodies various symbolic meanings. It represents the practitioner’s dedication, discipline, and mastery of the art. The pleats of the hakama symbolize the many virtues that a judoka should cultivate, such as humility, patience, and respect. The front and back pleats represent the balance between yin and yang, reinforcing the importance of harmony and equilibrium in Judo. Additionally, the hakama is a visual representation of lineage, with the different styles of pleating signifying various Judo schools and associations. When a judoka wears a hakama, they carry the weight of tradition, displaying their commitment to the principles of Judo.


Wearing and Tying Techniques

Putting on a hakama requires precise steps and meticulous attention to detail. Understanding the proper technique is essential to maintain its elegance and functionality. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to wear and tie the hakama correctly:

  1. Begin by holding the hakama with the pleats facing down and the backboard (koshi-ita) positioned at the back.
  2. Wrap the hakama around your waist, ensuring that the front overlaps the back.
  3. Adjust the length by folding the excess fabric at the waistline.
  4. Secure the hakama in place by tying the obi (belt) firmly around your waist.
  5. Create crisp pleats by carefully folding the front and back sections of the hakama. Traditionally, seven pleats are made, but the number can vary depending on personal preference.
  6. Adjust the pleats so they are evenly spaced and aligned.
  7. Secure the pleats by using the himo (straps) to tie them together, starting from the front and working towards the back.
  8. Make sure the hakama sits at a comfortable height and the pleats are neatly arranged.

By following these steps, you can wear the hakama with confidence, maintaining its elegance and functionality.


Modern Adaptations and Variations

While the hakama has its roots in tradition, it has evolved over time to accommodate modern needs and preferences. Today, various adaptations and variations of the hakama exist, offering different styles, colors, and fabrics. Some practitioners opt for lightweight materials for increased mobility, while others prefer vibrant hues to express individuality. Despite these modern adaptations, the underlying symbolism and principles of the hakama remain intact. These modern variations preserve the essence of the hakama while reflecting the diverse nature of Judo practitioners worldwide.


Caring for Your Hakama

To ensure the longevity and pristine condition of your hakama, proper care is essential. Here are some tips for cleaning, storing, and maintaining your hakama:

  1. Follow the care instructions provided by the manufacturer, as different fabrics may require specific washing methods.
  2. Handwashing is generally recommended to preserve the integrity of the hakama. Use mild detergent and cold water to avoid color fading or shrinking.
  3. Gently remove stains by spot cleaning with a mild soap solution or stain remover.
  4. Avoid excessive wringing or twisting of the hakama to prevent damage to the pleats.
  5. After washing, hang the hakama to air dry in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight.
  6. Iron the hakama on a low heat setting, preferably using a pressing cloth to protect the fabric and pleats.
  7. When storing the hakama, fold it neatly to preserve the pleats. Avoid placing heavy objects on top of it to prevent flattening.
  8. Periodically inspect the hakama for any signs of wear or damage, and mend or replace it as necessary.

By following these care tips, you can ensure that your hakama remains in excellent condition for years to come.



The hakama stands as a testament to the deep-rooted traditions and values encompassed within the world of Judo. Beyond its aesthetic appeal, the hakama represents discipline, respect, and a connection to the rich history of this martial art. By understanding its origins, construction, symbolism, wearing techniques, and caring tips, practitioners can embrace this iconic garment with reverence, embodying the essence of Judo both on and off the mat.

Maxim Tzfenko

Maxim Tzfenko

"I live and breath Martial Arts"

Recent Posts