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)