The hakama was a traditional outer pants garment used to protect a Japanese samurai horseman’s legs, similar to a cowboy’s leather chaps. It was retained in Aikido because of the aesthetic way it enhances both the look and feel of Aikido performance. At Aikido Center of Lancaster, students who have attained the rank of 3rd Kyu are permitted to wear hakama. Black or dark blue are both commonly used. One color does not denote any meaning or significance over the other. It is simply a personal preference.