Order of some actions

by Olga

I've got some questions about order of actions before we put bogu on and after we take it off.

1. Is there any order when we are knotting do himo? (For example, firstly we should knot the left himo and then the right one or vice versa.)

2. When we are taking men off and then taking tenugui off can/should we wipe the face with tenugui or we have to hurry up and quickly put tenugui and be ready. I've heard two opinions:

1) we have to make ourselves respectable and wipe face with tenugui after taking men off;

2) we cannot afford wasting time and have to place tenugui as quick as we can and be ready.

3. When we place the men on the kote where tenugui should be placed: hidden inside the men or unfolded on the men? (Recently I've faced an opinion that if all people in dojo have the same tenugui they can unfold it on the men otherwise tenugui should be put inside the men. How is it in your dojo?)

Answer: Thanks for the good questions.

  1. From the left. When you put on a hakama, you have to put your left leg in first. Reasons: There are a couple of theories.

    • Directions: There is a saying, “Emperor sits facing the South”. That means his left side is east where the sun rises. So our right side is kami-za (please refer to dōjō plan).
      It is considered to be humble to start doing things from the left (shimo side).

    • Bushi custom: Since bushi carried katana in their left side, they had to have their right hand free to draw their sword anytime they had to. So they started doing things from the left side (putting on a hakama from the left leg, sitting bow from the left hand (2:55 in the video) and so on).

    These things became a custom in kendo too. Believe or not, most of the Japanese put on pants from the left leg.

  2. Here is what I learned. We must take our men off really quickly. Do not make your sensei wait. And wipe your men first. Your men is far more important than your face :)

  3. Basically, the theory behind this is “your men has been protecting you so you should pay respect to your men first and worry about your face afterwards”.

    Now I am sure there are counter theories. I also think we should wipe the sweat off our face before bowing to sensei and shōmen.

    Whatever your sensei told you to do, you have to follow.

  4. At my dōjō in Japan, I learned to put tenugui (unfolded) on men. In that way, we can read what calligraphy says and also we can hide the sweaty i.e. dirty inside men (because it is not something you want to show to other people).

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