There are three basic tools in Kendo Equipment: The Sword, Uniform, and Armor
When practicing Kendo, we usually use a kendo stick made of bamboo slats. That means the bamboo stave is used in place of a sword. This is called a shinai. The kendo sword, or shinai, is constructed of four shafts of split bamboo.
What makes a good shinai?
The most important thing is that it is both strong and flexible. If you put the tip of a shinai on the floor and try to bend it, then it should bend about a third of the way from the tip. You should be able to feel it pushing back. A weak shinai will bend around the tsuba, or the guard near the handle. When you strike with a weak shinai it will bend more and then whip back more powerfully. A shinai is often planed down to make the handle thin enough, thin at the tip, thick in the middle and then thin again at the handle. Typically, they tend to be made of less dense bamboo.
We also use real swords that are made of steel to study and practice the principal of the art of the sword. The real sword is called a Katana.
For safe practice, we also use a plastic sword or a wooden sword in substitution of a real sword.
In addition, there is a carbon graphite shinai that boasts a longer lifetime than the standard shinai. They are stronger, at times heavier, and have a more consistent balance. Due to it's longevity, it does have the drawback of being expensive--however, when the lifetime of the shinai for intensive practices range from over 1 year to 2 years it is an investment to consider.
For safety reasons, one should NOT use a broken, cracked shinai- nor should you ever loosen the string on the shinai. Here is an example of a crack that could prove to be quite dangerous during practice.
Kendo uniforms sets include the upper portion or the kendo jacket and the bottom portion or the kendo pants or trousers.
There is a heavy cotton jacket also called a kendogi or keiko-gi. There is also a pleated, skirt-like trouser called the hakama. There are two colors of uniforms. One is deep indigo blue and another is white. While there are no specific requirements for color, most kendo practitioners prefer deep indigo blue.
The jacket (keiko-gi) is comfortable, absorbs perspiration, and provides additional protection from inadvertent hits.
The pants or hakama allows excellent freedom of movement for the legs and disguises somewhat the footwork of the practitioner. It is the mindset as a kendo practioner to be wearing clean and neat equipment with good straight pleated pants.
The hakama has a stiff back plate that is meant to straighten your spine, while keeping the collar of your jacket on the back of your neck, it pulls your chin in and gives you perfect posture. A hakama has five pleats in the front and one at the back.
The five pleats represents the five Confucian relationships of:
-RIGHTEOUSNESS BETWEEN RULER AND MINISTER
-AFFECTION BETWEEN FATHER AND SON
-ATTENTION TO THEIR SEPARATE FUNCTIONS BETWEEN HUSBAND WIFE
-ORDER BETWEEN ELDER AND YOUNGER BROTHERS
-FAITHFULNESS BETWEEN FRIENDS
Also the five Confucian virtues of
The single pleat reminds us that just as loyalty and filial piety are one and the same we should follow the true path without straying The hakama is designed so that we should think of these things whenever we put it on.
If you want to know more information about folding and maintenance, please refer to the Kendo Uniform tab.
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Kendo armor (bogu) is the nicest equipment of the sword martial arts. The equipment used in kendo consists of a face mask (helm; helmet) secured to the head by two cords, a chest guard (breastplate; cuirass), padded gloves (gauntlets) and a waist and hip guard (gladiator skirt).
The bogu is usually made from stitched cotton panels, leather and bamboo, although modern materials are now used for durability and economy. The bogu is lightweight and flexible and allows for complete freedom of movement. The equipment provides adequate protection against injury and thus enables the fencer (kendoka) to exert maximum effort during fencing matches without fear of injuring their fencing partner. Strikes in kendo are only allowed to areas protected by the bogu.
Please click the Kendo Armor tab for more information on Kendo Armor wearing and maintenance.