The blog title comes from a wonderful book reviewed here: Two great books about male PhDs, fitness, and obsession. The book is called Angry White Pyjamas and it’s written by Robert Twigger about his time in the Yoshinkan Hombu Dojo.
I started thinking about it again because someone found our blog searching for “Aikido camel toe” and while we’ve blogged about camel toe (see The day I discovered the dreaded camel toe and Further thoughts on camel toe, Barbie crotch) I couldn’t imagine camel toe being an Aikido issue. I never feel so covered up as I do in my Aikido uniform.
If you are a woman or a man looking for a sport or physical activity in which modest dress is the norm, Aikido is a great choice.
The uniforms come in two styles, lightweight and heavyweight, but the difference isn’t really connected to temperature or season. You can see some examples here.
The heavy robes serve some important purposes. The thick cloth protects your skin from hurting as it’s dragged across the mats. Also, when you’re grabbing someone it’s nice to be able to grab their gi, their uniform, rather than their skin.
In addition to keeping skin off the mats, the uniforms makes it easier, I think, for people, of all genders to touch, to rough
house, and to play together.
I was unsure about my Aikido gi at first but I’ve come to feel very comfortable dressed this way.
The most senior belt levels also wear a hakama.
A hakama is the skirt-like pants that some Aikidoka wear. It is a traditional piece of samurai clothing. The standard gi worn in Aikido as well as in other martial arts such as Judo or Karate was originally underclothes. Wearing it is part of the tradition of (most schools of) Aikido.
The hakama were originally meant to protect a horseman’s legs from brush, etc., — not unlike a cowboy’s leather ‘chaps’. Leather was hard to come by in Japan, so heavy cloth was used instead. After the samurai as a class dismounted and became more like foot-soldiers, they persisted in wearing horseman’s garb because it set them apart and made them easily identifiable.
From Aikido FAQ