How to fold a hakama

Folding a hakama can be a bit of a challenge the first time you do it. But with little help from these step by step instructions and video demonstration, you’ll be folding your hakama in like a samurai.

Diagram and explanation of how to fold a hakama

Step 1

Folding a hakama: Step 1Lay the hakama face down on the floor. You should be looking at the back of the hakama (the side with only two pleats).  Push the right pant leg out of the way to work on just the left leg first. Make sure that the pleat is folded on the creases all the way from the top to the bottom. Then bring the right leg 2 cm (or a little less than half an inch) over the left leg. Again, fold the pleat along the creases. Smooth out any wrinkles.

Tip: Use a ruler to measure the depth of the pleats at the top, middle and bottom of the hakama to make sure the pleats are equal along their entire length.

Tip: When you first get a hakama, you may want to mark the inner and outer creases of the pleats at the bottom of the hakama as a guide.

Step 2

Hold the pleats with the left hand and flip the hakama over.Place your left hand securely over the bottom of the hakama over the ends of the two back pleats. Your left hand will hold the bottom of the hakama (and most importantly, the pleats) tightly against the floor. Next, grab the koshiita with the right hand and carry it over your left hand, effectively flipping the hakama over. Slide your left hand to the right to push out the end of the hakama that was under your hand. The back should now be on the floor and you should be looking at the front.

Step 3

Just as you did with the pleats in the back, fold the front pleats along the creases. Smooth out any wrinkles.

Step 4

Fold the left and right sides of the hakama about 10 cm over the front.
Fold the sides of the hakama

Step 5

Starting at the bottom of the hakama, fold the hakama over itself working your way up to the koshiita. About two to three folds should do it.
Fold hakama over

Step 6

Turn the hakama over so that the koshiita is facing up. In other words, you should be looking at the back of the hakama now (the side with just two pleats).
Turn the hakama over

Step 7

Take one of the long belts (himo). Fold it in half, then in half again, and finally fold it diagonally across the hakama. Repeat with the other long belt.
Fold the first himo

Step 8

Place one of the small belts diagonally over the hakama. Then loop the belt under the longer belts. The end of the shorter belt should now be laid out vertically above the koshiita. Repeat with the other small belt.
Loop the small belts

Step 9

Loop one of the smaller belts back over and under itself and the longer belt of the same side. Repeat with the other small belt.

Loop the himo around itself

Loop the himo around itself

Step 10

Slip the left himo through the loop you’ve just made on the right side. Do the same with the other himo.

And you’re finished.

Slip the himo through the loop Folded hakama

Video demonstration of how to fold a hakama

This video follows essentially the same procedure for folding the hakama. The only difference is the method of flipping the hakama over from back to front. In the diagram above, we flipped the hakama over by holding the bottom of the back pleats against the ground to secure them and carrying the koshiita over the hakama to rest on the other side. In the video, however, Oscar, the demonstrator, grabs the bottom of the pleats and swings the hakama through the air upside down (i.e. with the koshiita facing the ground).


Today we’re going to film “How to fold hakama” by Oscar.

Do you know what I do with my hakama? I put some signs or marks on the pleats on both the inside and outside folds. That way, I don’t get lost every time I fold it every time or after class. So, that’s what I do. That’s my guide. So, if  you’re ever going to buy a brand new hakama, the first thing you need to do is put in all these markers. That way, when you wash it, you’ll remember where the pleats end.

OK. So, let me just start. You start with the back of the hakama [facing up]. You’re going to do it like this. I’ve gotta find the pleats or the folds. I’ve got this very nice fold right here. So, I’m just going to reuse that. I remember that this was folded like this when I got it. So, I’ll just have to redo the whole thing. Make sure that they [the pleats] are taut… stretched. And that it. That’s on the back. So, hold here [at the bottom of the pleats on the back]. Swing it. That’s it. So now the backside is already done. All I have to do next is the front side.

I’m going to stretch it like that. Now the inner part [goes] right here. You’ve got to make sure that the fold is proper and taut. The lines are straight. The folds are correct and of the same measurement. Now we’ll do the other side, as well. It’s going to become easy because you’re going to do this at the end of every class. Fold it there and there. I’m almost done now. So, I have to fold this three [actually just two] times. That should be very nice on the back. And then [fold again] right here. That looks very nice now.

I have to tie the belts properly. So, you’re going to hold the longest belt first. Fold it and make sure that the end matches up with the other [furthest] side [of the hakama]. Fold it again [to the nearest side of the hakama]. And then fold it again [in half] so that it makes a good fold. Bring it diagonally like this and leave it like that. Then do the same thing on the other side [with the other long belt].

Now, it doesn’t matter if you have a hakama made in Australia or whatever. But if you have a hakama that’s made by iwata then you’ve got the right belt length [to fold the belts in this manner].

What you do with the shorter belt is to fold it like this. Wrap it around right here. Then fold it right here. Then wrap it around again and leave it like that. Then do the same thing on the other side. See, it’s like a ribbon [tied in a bow]. Now, that’s not yet finished. You have to lock it. This one has to come right here. And the other one goes right here. And you have a very tidy fold. That’s it.

I started practicing Aikido in 2000. It instantly became one of my main interests. And the rest is history.

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