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About 20 years ago, getting a good pair of Aikido Hakama required you to either come to Japan yourself, or try contacting one of the few stores that would accept international mail-orders.
Nowadays the world has changed, while it's certainly easier to buy Hakama it's becoming increasingly hard to find Hakama that are good quality.
So what makes good quality Aikido Hakama? They should be durable, comfortable and look dignified when you wear them and the best way to know which Hakama have these qualities is to check the details.
AH500 Aikido Cut hem.
The best Aikido Hakama feature a cut specific to the martial art. Tozando Aikido Cut Hakama possess a front hem that is slightly shorter; this allows you to perform swift footwork more easily without getting caught up in the hem. Also, not only does an Aikido Cut make your silhouette even better, but it also prevent the front part of the Hakama from getting in the way when performing techniques. We designed our Aikido Cut specifically to provide practical benefits whilst maintaining a composed appearance befitting their use.
These are the pleats of Deluxe Polyester Aikido Hakama AH500.
The angle of the pleats on Tozando Aikido Hakama have also been calculated with the utmost care, and as a result the pleats will stay neat without opening up too much when you wear your Hakama.
The Tozando Aikido Hakama possess beautifully straight pleats achieved through extensive ironing by our tailors. Furthermore, they also feature inner-stitched pleats as standard, whilst most other Aikido Hakama do not. By stitching the inner pleats of the Hakama, they keep a beautiful form for a longer period of time. Consequently it is very easy to fold your Hakama as the pleats are partly held in place by the stitches. In addition, you can also wash your Hakama without having to worry about the pleats losing their form and having to re-iron the Hakama after washing. Overall, having inner-stitched pleats help maintain your Hakama and reduce the amount of care and maintenance you have to provide.
Tozando's AH500 are the first Aikido Hakama that feature inner-stitched pleats.
The obi of Tozando Aikido Hakama feature seven lines of stitching across their length. Seven lines make the front Obi more rigid and durable, this rigidity also assists when you tie the Obi, providing ample support to your stomach and does not loosen up and deform easily. Common Hakama have only a few lines of stitching on the front Obi of the Hakama, this makes the front Obi softer and thus prone to deforming and twisting more easily. As a result you might find they loosen up, even if tied tightly initially, or may even get damaged and perhaps even ripped after repeated use.
Seven lines of stitching provide better durability and when tied will not loosen up easily.
The side slit containing a straight seam that sews together the front and back part of the Hakama is very vulnerable to tearing; as such Tozando Aikido Hakama are reinforced in this area to prevent tearing and raise the durability of the Hakama. If it is not reinforced and only stitched together with three lines of horizontal stitching, this part gets weak and will eventually result in tearing. As the Hakama are often stretched in various ways when you perform various Aikido techniques, be it standing or sitting down, having an area which is prone to tearing if pulled or stretched can be fatal for the Hakama which is why reinforcing the side slit is a must.
The reinforcement on the side slit prevents tearing at this vulnerable part of the Hakama.
When it comes to the stitching itself, you want your Aikido Hakama to be carefully stitched at the edges of the hem. If done well the bottom hem becomes flat and looks tidy and is less prone to getting caught when performing quick footwork. On the other hand, if the Hakama do not have any stitching on the edge of the bottom hem they can look baggy and the clear ridge can look quite undignified.
Tozando's tailors make sure to precisely stitch along the bottom hem to ensure an elegant finish.
Good Aikido Hakama have the part where the Koshi-ita attached neatly sewn together so that there are no parts sticking out that can get caught and cause damage to the Hakama. If the part of the fabric that forms the back piece of the Hakama sticks out from behind the Koshi-ita, it is not only aesthetically unappealing, but also creates a weak point that can tear when you train. Since the Koshi-ita is usually hand-sewn onto the Hakama, being extra careful is paramount. If not stitched properly, it is an area that is prone to tearing, much more so than the parts that have been sewn using a machine.
Note the part where the Koshi-ita is connected to the Hakama is nearly sewn together without any lose areas.
As Tozando's tailors have many years of experience making both traditional Hakama and Hakama for Kendo, Aikido and Iaido, the expertise and care they apply to our products are unrivalled. In addition, Tozando's tailors are in constant contact and discussion with staff who regularly practice Aikido - Tozando Hakama are made by Aikidoka for Aikidoka. Because of this, Tozando has incorporated many innovations over the years purely for the benefit of Aikido practice.
Two loops for easy hanging when you need to dry or air out your Hakama
In conclusion, good Aikido Hakama are made to be durable, comfortable to wear, look dignified when used and help facilitate your Aikido. Tozando Aikido Hakama are tailored by professionals with the input from practicing Aikidoka specifically to fulfill these requirements. They use the best materials, stitched precisely by experienced tailors. Our Aikido Cut compliments the dynamic and demanding movements of Aikido. Features like the extra lines of stitching across the obi, the inner-stitching of the pleats and carefully lined hems allow the Hakama to keep up with you, remaining durable and elegant throughout practice. Needless to say that the most important factor when buying Aikido Hakama is not the price, but the performance you get for your investment.
When Tozando's Deluxe Polyester Aikido Hakama AH500 were introduced in 1996, Stanley Pranin, the then editor-in-chief of Aiki News tried it on and sent us a letter by fax, saying the AH500 were the best Aikido Hakama ever. Check out these reviews from other satisfied customers: