Introduction to the Equipment
Kendo equipment consists broadly of three parts and is often refered to as Dogu
The word "Dogu" means equipment (gu) for use in the way (do). Kendo-gu is also an acceptable term -the clothes, the armour and the weapons. All are traditional in form. Some modern materials are now available, although natural products are generally preferred.
The clothing is based loosely on traditional Japanese wear, the top being a kimono style jacket (gi) and the trousers a (hakama).
Today's kendo armour is the result of improvements in the protection refined through more than two hundred years of development.
The weapons are basically unchanged, the bokuto being most commonly made of oak and the shinai of bamboo.
Below each item will be discussed in a little more detail.
For the supply of equipment, armour & repair, Kodokan recommend Tashiro sensei's Tenpudo Budogu equipment specialist website: www.tenpudo.co.uk
We also recommend: www.eurokendo.com
|Hakama: - Traditional Japanese loose pleated trousers worn in Kendo. Made of cotton (also available in man made fibres) The type of hakama presently used for kendo is the same as that was used historically in Japan for horse riding.
Kendo-gi: - Practice jacket, also known as a kendo gi today. Made of quilted cotton. Also called do-gi or kendo-gi
Both of these items are coloured mainly blue (indigo –dyed) or white and made of cotton, which is comfortable, durable, & sanitary.
A good reference on how to wear and look after your hakama and gi is found on the website of Mushinkan Kendo Dojo in Colorado, USA here and a word document to assist in sizing of clothing and armour can be found her
|Men:- Protective head guard/mask. Made of quilted cotton with steel or titanium face bars (tate-gane) and secured by cords (himo) That are passed around the head and tied at the back.|
|Do:- Torso protector. Traditionally made of bamboo slats although often produced in composite materials, lacquered with a quilted and embroidered upper section (do-mune) and again tied with cords (do himo)|
|Kote:- Protective gloves with padded deer skin or clarino uppers (kote-gashira) and quilted cotton wrist covers (kote-Buton) laced with cords (kote-himo)|
|Tare:- Protective apron. Made of quilted cotton with a belt like top section (mae-obi) and three lower flaps (dare) and tied Behind with cotton tapes (tare-himo)|
|Bokuto or Bokken:- Wooden sword made from oak or other hard wood and in the shape of a Japanese sword. Comes with hand guard, tsuba (below left).|
|Shinai:- flexible foil or practice sword and made traditionally of bamboo (although synthetic materials are approved by the AJKF - carbon graphite). Consisting of four pieces held together with a handle cover (tsuka), tip cover (saki-gawa), string (tsuru) and secured with a strap (naka-yui), comes with hand guard - tsuba (below right)|
Hand guard - tsuba for Boken and Shinai, more often of a simpler design
Some Instructional Videos
More to come soon..
|Shinai & Care
In ancient Japan a Samurai’s most valued possession was his sword, handed down from one generation to the next. A Samurai’s sword was all that stood between him and death. Naturally a Samurai would spend a great deal of time and effort ensuring that his sword was maintained to a faultless condition.
Nowadays, as then, it is important to maintain your weapons. A damaged shinai can cause serious injuries. It is a mark of respect (and good etiquette) to other Kendoka and your club to ensure your weapons are safe at all times. This is a guide designed to help the owner of a shiny new shinai prepare it for use in the dojo. Shinai are usually not ready for immediate use
First, a note on safety. When handling shinai be aware of the risk of splinters. Bamboo splinters are particularly unpleasant. Also when using sharp implements always work away from your body.
Take (bamboo Staves)
The first thing to do is to remove the shipping ties from the shinai. These are usually red or gold bits of thread tied around the shinai to prevent damage in transit.
After this has been done the next part is to dismantle the shinai to its component parts. Undo the Tsuru (string) at the Tsukagawa (Hilt) making sure you only untie the Tsuru at this point not the leather knots. Once the Tsuru is untied you can now remove the Tsukagawa. Once done mark up the base of the Take so you know how to reassemble the Take. The Nakayui (centre leather) and Sakigawa (Tip) can now be removed being careful not to lose the Sakishin (A Plastic / Rubber spacer used to keep the Take separated at the end.) The take can now be dismantled into the four staves, again being careful not to lose the (Chigiri) (metal square) This little square helps keep the take in alignment when re-assembling.
If you (carefully) feel the edge of a take, you should feel a sharp edge. This should be removed so the take can move smoothly against each other when a strike occurs. If this ridge were left in place it would encourage splinters. It can also cause a shinai to ‘Jam’ in position instead of deform when striking the target. This sanding will prevent longitudinal cracking i.e. splinters.
A Shinai when being constructed seasons for at least a year before sale. This means the bamboo is dried and relatively inflexible. If used this can cause transverse i.e. crosswise cracking. In order to prevent this the bamboo needs to be oiled to make it more supple. Any type of oil can be used, personally I use light machine oil (or gun oil without blueing) although you can use vegetable oil if required. First rub in the chosen oil into the take both inside and outside. Once all four Take have been rubbed down place the Take in an out of the way area. And pour some oil into the concave surface of the Take. Leave overnight. The next day rub in any remaining oil and re-fill the hollow. If you are using a heavy oil like mazola let the Take soak for three days only. Oversoaking with heavy oil can make your shinai heavy and soggy, plus they are not very pleasant to be hit with. Light oils like cooking oil can soak up to five days. Over soaking with light oils is not as much of a problem as with heavy oil. A rule of thumb is when the Take stops absorbing oil, it’s done. (This can vary depend on the oil used.)
Now the Take have been oiled it’s time for the fun bit - assembling and re-tying all those complicated knots. But first another word of warning. Some components’s come from the manufacturers with incorrect knots so you need to check they are assembled correctly. The first part is the Sakigawa (Kensen or Tip)
Look at the picture above. If your Sakigawa looks like the second one it is incorrect and will need to be re-tied. This is easily fixed…. Untie the knot and thread it around as indicated in the follow images, Leaving enough loose to tie the knot shown in the second picture.
If your Nakayui looks like anything except this Figure… its wrong. Take it off.
Tie a knot about 2 centimetres (or 8/10 ths of an inch) down from the first knuckle in the take. Attach the nakayui as Shown in the following pictures.
Wrap around as shown and finish by tying as shown. It is usually easier to tie the Nakayui when the Tsuru is taut. Try it and see which you find easier.
Pull the tsukagawa onto the tsuka (hilt). You may need a rubber glove or similar to get a firm grip. Make sure the tsukagawa is on firmly as if it isn’t you’ll have to retie the Tsuru. If you are fitting a new Tsuru the knot should look like the first image about 10 cm from the leather loop of the tsukagawa. Thread the Tsuru as shown in the follow images. Pull taut. When fully tensioned the Tsuru should not be able to be pulled past the side of the Shinai. The tsuru should follow a straight line from Tsukagawa to Sakigawa, the Nakayui should not cause a ‘kink’.
Without maintenance your Shinai will break, costing money to replace and possible injury if it is continued to be used. In order to prevent this here is what you can do:
As always the best way to learn is by doing. If you have a problem with any of the knots ask your sempai.