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Men take a cue from Joakim Noah and start rocking the man bun

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Updated: July 26, 2013 9:18AM

It’s where “Swan Lake” meets the samurai.
The “mun,” or man bun, is a tousled top knot of dude hair on trend this summer in Chicago.

Practical in the heat and, when done correctly, aesthetically pleasing, metrosexual males aren’t the only ones wearing the slightly structured head nest. Muns recently were spotted at Pitchfork and the Bristol Renaissance Faire, at Trader Joe’s and in local bikram yoga classes.

Chicago Bulls star Joakim Noah, who rocks a man bun on the court, is considered a driver nationally of the look, a style also spotted on actors Russell Brand, Orlando Bloom and Bradley Cooper. A Tumblr account is dedicated to an appreciation of Noah’s mun, which the Daily Beast once called “the manliest bun ever.”

His assistant (Noah declined to comment on his hairstyle), J.T. Nero, a man bun wearer who plays in the band Birds of Chicago, weighed in with his own mun manifesto.

“Any man, when considering the bun, should ask himself, ‘Am I (a) samurai, fighting — and willing to die for — a cause greater than myself, or am I complete and utter new-age tool?’” said Nero, a Humboldt Park resident who wore a man bun at his recent wedding to Allison Russell, his Birds of Chicago band mate. “The line between the two is thinner than you might believe.”

Nero’s man bun started as part of a 2011 Halloween costume.

“Underneath the joke, something kind of mystical was kind of happening,” Nero said. “I couldn’t deny the pull. You discover pretty quickly it’s way more practical than a regular ponytail.”

Or, in blunter terms: “I don’t feel like there is an animal on my neck,” he said.

Before the ultra-feminine ballerina bun, there were manly top knots. “Chonmage” was the hairstyle worn by Japanese samurai in the Edo period (1603-1868), and later sumo wrestlers. Even today, when sumo wrestlers retire, their top knot is snipped off, the centerpiece of the retirement ritual.

David Mazzocco, 24, of North Center, started shaping his pink mohawk into a casual man bun for Brazilian jiu jitsu grappling sessions. Pragmatic and versatile, he also wears it at his job at Trader Joe’s.

“I didn’t know it was a trend,” he said, adding that others at his jiu jitsu studio wear muns. “I’ve been wearing a mohawk for about four to five years and when it gets long enough I’ll put it back in a top knot.”

He grows his hair in between achieving jiu jitsu belts, a way to mark the passage of time, “or how much time and effort it takes to get from one place to another.”

“Everything is always positive,” Mazzocco said of reactions to his mun. “People always like it.”

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