1. Lay the hakama on a flat surface and carefully align the pleats.

2. Fold the sides inward to make the outside edges parallel.  (This step can be skipped if the hakama will be stored for a period of time.)
4. Takle the long obi himo and double it over twice, then lay the folded himo diagnally across the top of the folded hakama.

5. Take the long himo on the opposite side and repeate step 4.
When completed, the folded obi himo shoul form a cross in the center of the folded hakama.
Alternate Method of Tying the Himo
6. Take the short himo on the right and lay it over to the bottom center of crossed himo.
7. Bring the short himo over to the right side of the cross.
8. Wrap the himo under the upper right section of the crossed himo and back to the top center. 
9. Lay the remaining end across the lower left segment of the crossed himo. (If the end is long, it can be doubled over before laying across.)
10. Repeat the process for the left himo.
11. To complete the process, lock the end under the loop created by the first overlap of the right himo.  (If the remaining end is long, it can be doubled over before tucking it under the loop.)
3. Fold the length of the hakama into equal thirds.
Folding the Hakama
The keiko-gi, also called kendo-gi or do-gi, is a jacket-like garment made of thickly quilted cotton fabric.  The resiliency of the material provides a level of protection from bumps and stray strikes that may be encountered during a kendo practice.  The quilting helps absorb perspiration and facilitates drying.  Keiko-gi can be found in several different colors and patterns; the most common are solid colors of bleached white and dark indigo blue.
Keiko-gi and Hakama
The kendo uniform is comprised of the keiko-gi and hakama.  These garments are well suited for the functional demands of kendo.  They are also complementary to kendo’s overall aesthetic qualities.
The hakama resembles a pleated skirt in its outward appearance, but is actually a trouser-like garment with individual pant legs.  The hakama is well suited for kendo as it allows good air circulation around the legs and lower body, and permits unrestricted movement.  Hakama made for kendo are of cotton or Tetron (polyester) material and, like the keiko-gi, are most commonly found in solid colors of bleached white and indigo blue.
The pleats of the hakama are symbolic of six fundamental virtues.  Viewing the hakama from the front and identifying the pleats from left to right, the first five virtues are Jin (mercy), Gi (righteousness), Rei (etiquette), Chi (intelligence), and Shin (trust).  The back pleat represents the sixth virtue of Makoto/Chu-kou (loyalty/allegiance)
Wearing the Uniform
Proper uniform presentation is the first step in creating the correct tone and mindset for kendo training.  Properly dressed, the uniform should always appear smart and professional and will not become unfastened even during the most rigorous practices.
1. Wear the keiko-gi with the left lapel overlapping the right.

2.  Secure the keido-gi with the munehimo (cords), tying the end in a bowknot.  Be sure the knot is tied such that the loops rest in a horizontal position.
1. Holding the front of the hakama, step into the garment first with the left foot.  When removing the garment, step out with the right foot first. 
2. Place the front of the hakama at waist level and wrap the maehimo (front cords) around the back of the body and around to the front.  Bring the maehimo across the front of the body about 6 to 10 cm below the top edge of the hakama.  At a point in front of the right hip, fold the himo that is coming around from the right side of the body over the maehimo that is coming across from the left side. (See illustration above)  Bring the haehimo around to the back and secure the ends together with a horizontal bowknot.
3. Bring the koshiita just above the knot of the maehimo and wrap the ushirohimo around to the front of the body.
4. Crossing the left ushirohimo over the right, wrap it under and around all of the hakama himo. 

5. Tie the ushirohimo in a square knot and neatly tuck the ends in the back.

6. Reach inside the side openings of the hakama and straighten the coattails of the keiko-gi.  Pull any slack on the backside of the keiko-gi to the sides so that the keiko-gi is neatly fitted to the back with no vertical wrinkles.
Uniform Care And Maintenance
The keiko-gi and hakama should always be kept clean and presentable.  They should be replaced if they become faded, discolored, worn, or in any way unsightly.  Proper care and storage of the uniform will prolong the life of the garments and keep them looking crisp.
Tetron hakama should be cared for in the same manner as other permanent press garments.  Prompt removal from the dryer and immediate folding will help preserve the pleats and keep the garment looking neatly pressed. 

Dyed cotton hakama and keiko-gi require a level of special handling.  Dyed uniforms should always be washed separate from other laundry, as the indigo dye will bleed from the material throughout the life of the garments.  New hakama and keiko-gi should be soaked overnight in a bath of vinegar and water or ammonia and water.  Add about ˝ cup of vinegar or ammonia to every gallon of water.  The acidity of the bath will set the dye and help reduce fading.  After soaking, wash the garments using cold to lukewarm water and mild detergent; old fashion soap flakes work well.  Sequent washings may include additional vinegar or ammonia to further slow fading.  Hand washing is recommended for maximum color preservation – the bathtub converts to the perfect washtub for this task.  After air-drying, the hakama and keido-gi should be properly folded and stored to maintain a smartly pressed look.  (Damp folding the hakama and letting dry on a clean, flat surface will help set the pleats and reduce wrinkling.)
I. Keiko-gi
II. Hakama
III. Wearing the uniform
IV. Uniform care and maintenance
Mark Uchida - Copyright May 2002
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