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Equipment - Page 2


The keikogi is comprised of the gi (jacket) and the hakama (pants). Both are made of cotton and dyed with indigo dye, the best of which is #10,000 indigo. Kendo gi can come double or singled layered and are made of a thick cotton to provide some protection against stray cuts. Much like a karate or judo gi, the kendo gi is designed to soften the impact of a blow while still providing mobility. Some kendo gi also have an inner layer sewn in to help absorb sweat.

The hakama is made of a thick cotton but can be made of tetron (light synthetic fibre), the latter more commonly used in iaido. There are 5 pleats on front of the the hakama and one in the back. Each front pleat symbolises the five Confucian virtues of humanity, righteousness, propriety, wisdom and faithfulness. The single back pleat reminds us that just as loyalty and filial piety are one and the same we should follow the true path without double dealing. The hakama is designed so that we should think of these things whenever we put it on. - ref: Kendo Equipment Manual -

Made of thin cotton, the tenugui, or head scarf, is stylised with Japanese calligraphy of various sayings or philosophies. On a more practical sense, the tenugui helps to absorb sweat that would otherwise trickle into the eyes of the kendoka during keiko and also acts as an added bit of cushion against men strikes. There are various ways of wearing the tenugui and it is up to the student to decide which is easiest.


The main weapon of the kendoka the shinai is the bamboo sword used for kihon (general practice), keiko (sparring), and shiai (competition). The shinai is constructed of 4 bamboo slats, the shinai, held together by pieces of leather (saki-gawa, nakayui, tsuka-gawa in order from tip to hilt) and string (tsuru - used to indicate the top of your "blade"). A guard called the tsuba is also attached to your shinai to protect your hands and is held in place by the tsuba-dome. Maintenance of the shinai is very important in order to prevent injuring others. Proper maintenance of the shinai also gives the user a proper understanding and appreciation of the bamboo, and thus respect and consideration of fellow kendoka. Standard length and weight for a men's shinai is 39/500g; for women it is 38/420g.


The bokken is made of hardwood and shaped to imitate the look of a real katana. The weight is about 2/3's that of a real sword. Although used in other Japanese Sword Arts (JSA) such as iaido or kenjutsu, the bokken for the purpose of kendo is only used for kata. There are 2 bokken, long and short, whereby the former is the primary kata weapon (tachi-no-kata) and the latter used only for the more advanced kodachi-no-kata. Like the shinai, the bokken are not toys. Improper use of these weapons can result in serious injury.

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