The umanori-hakama,or horse-riding hakama, are culottes or voluminous pleated pants with a rigid backboard. They are worn by students of Aikido, Kendo, Iaido, and other Japanese martial arts. Also worn by manga / anime personalities such as Bleach, Kikyo, and Kenshin.
The skirt-style andon-hakama, is worn by students of archery (kyudo and by Shinto priests. Red ones with pure white kimono are worn by miko, young girls who serve as temple assistants. Others wear them for religious ceremonies; even today, Japanese men commonly pose for their wedding photos in the andon-hakama.
Cheap commercial hakama offer poor quality and sizing. Ties may be too short to reach around your waist, pleats so narrow that they constantly pull askew or so poorly made that they vanish with every wearing, and seams and backboards so flimsy that they rip open during every practice. Traditionally, the right back pleat laps over the left but in the worst insult of all, some manufacturers simply pull one side over the other. The result is a right hip that is a size or two smaller than the left.
A good quality commercial hakama may start at over $100 and run to several hundred (several thousand for formal silk ones). However, even high price may not guarantee good fit or long wear. Students of iaido or other styles that emphasize ground work techniques quickly wear out the knees. Buying new commercial hakama on a regular basis can be prohibitively expensive.
But hakama are easy to make! And you can make them to fit better and last longer than any but the most expensive custom-made products.
This is an actual paper pattern (not just measurements), with step-by-step instructions for assembly, information on fabric choices, fitting, wearing and folding. We'll even tell you how to make permanent pleats that won't fall out. The pattern is designed for real martial artists, to make a garment that will hold up on the mat in real practice and last for many years. It is also popular with anime and SCA fans combined with our kataginu vest pattern to make a traditional samurai kamishimo set.
When you've finished your first, consider another — perhaps a special plaid or paisley model for your esteemed Sensei, opportunities not available in stores!
Standard sizes range from XSmall (28"-32")to XXL (58"-62"). To order please include your hip measurement taken over dogi (or whatever you wear underneath)around the widest point of your hips (the "equator"). As for any pleated lower garment, it is hip measurement — not leg length or waist size — that is critical to proper sizing.
Fabric length: 4 times your hip measurement.
Fabric width: the distance from waist to ankle plus 12" for hems and ties.
Thus an adult with a 36" hip requires 4 yards of fabric wide enough to reach from waist to floor + 12" to allow for ties (probably 54"-62" wide). We suggest a crisp, firm cotton/poly blend such as 60/40 cloth or poplin — cooler, longer lasting (especially for knee work) than pure cotton. Also, the polyester content allows you to make an excellent home version of permanent press pleats.
For the simplest layout, avoid stripes or one-way designs (including twill weaves). Because the basic layout is cross-wise of the warp, stripes running the length of the fabric bolt will run across your body rather than vertically.
For backboard? Anything you want. Traditionally it was made of starched paper or newspaper. Leather, a plastic placemat, or even shirt cardboard will do. Customers report happy results with X-ray film and mousepads. Our design makes it easy to remove and replace the insert for cleaning or repair.
Not sure you're up to making your own hakama? Under all the mystique, it's just a Japanese kilt, a double-barreled apron with legs. If you're still feeling iffy, consider our Budo Bear pattern, which includes gi pants, jacket and belt, and the hakama.
For regular sizes XSmall (28" hip) to Large (50" hip) order below. For larger sizes, click here.