Musashi Rules

The last six months of my life has been pretty much all about Miyamoto Musashi. When I’m not doing my real job, Musashi is sure to be there giving me a hard time. He has even been haunting my dreams of late. The reason for this obsessiveness is a recent book project that, in a fleeting moment of madness, I decided to take on. Yes folks, the world’s bookshelves are about to be adorned with yet another translation of Musashi’s classic, Gorin-no-Sho. As if we need another one, right? True enough, if I’m perfectly honest; but it has been a profound undertaking for my own personal development in kendo. I…

Isunoki – The little known yet hardest and heaviest tree in Japan

The isunoki tree (English; distylium racemosum), often shortened to isu in Japanese, is an evergreen, broad-leaved tree that stretches up to 20m in height. It grows mostly to the east of the Kanto region. Often the leaves will have insect galls forming on them. In the old days, children picked up the galls which were empty after the insects had left, and used it as a pipe. This was often called the hyon fruit. Because of this, the isunoki is often called hyon-noki. Often Japanese people would say “Hyon-na koto kara” meaning something accidental, but some theories that this “hyon” comes from hyon-noki. That is how much isunoki is connected…

Do you know? The secret to the number of folds on the Hakama and joints on the Shinai

The Nishijin Main Store of Tozando attracts many customers, helped by its location in Kyoto. Kendo is very popular overseas with many Kenshi worldwide. But since it is not an Olympic sport, the existence of a kendo world championship is perhaps not widely known. As a company that markets martial arts items, we feel the obligation to spread awareness of kendo. We want not only Japanese people but all the Kenshi as well as the general public worldwide to have a deeper understanding of Kendo. Many Kenshi overseas are unfamiliar with common customs, sayings, and legends surrounding Kendo. Today I would like to introduce something many of you probably may…

Kendo Shinai: SG or SSP?

We had some questions from Kendo customers about the SSP and SG seals on Shinai and if the SSP seal will become a requirement for competing Kendoka from now on. The short answer is NO! The requirement of SSP seals on Shinai won’t affect Kendoka overseas at the moment. If you want to know more, keep reading. So here are the facts. As some of our customers might know SSP and SG seals on Shinai are a sign that the Shinai has passed certain criteria of quality and safety. the SG mark is issued by the Consumer Product Safety Association (一般財団法人安全製品協会), while the SSP seal is issued by the All…

To have your name embroidered/engraved in Japanese

Thanks to the modern computer-aided sewing machines, it has become very easy to have our name embroidered on our Gi or Hakama. It is decorative and useful (for example: it is certainly easier to retrieve our own stuff、 in case all our clothes get mixed up in a sudden tornado that invests our Dojo dressing room). Surely the first idea is to write the name in Japanese, since we all so admire Japanese culture that we picked up a Japanese martial art and possibly cultivate some other Japanese hobby, from origami to Ikebana. We like the writing to be in Japanese because in case we meet our all-important sensei, we…

I can’t take of the Tsuka-gawa on my New Shinai, what can I do?

The Tsuka-gawa can be very tight and hard to remove on a newly bought Shinai. As many people like to remove the fittings to oil up and maintenance their new Shinai before using, the feat of removing the Tsuka-gawa can be a very painful experience. But actually, there is special rubber sheets mean to help with removing and putting on the Tsuka-gawa available to buy: http://www.tozandoshop.com/Shinai_Tsuka_Rubber_p/002-suberan.htm This can be used to take off and put on the Tsuka-gawa, however, if you don’t have anything like this,it might be easier to try removing it while wearing rubber/kitchen gloves, like the thicker kind of rubber gloves that might be used when washing…

What is the difference between a standard and a deluxe bokken?

Basically, the difference between a standard and a deluxe white oak Bokken is the quality of the wood used to make it.The deluxe one is made of wood from the core part of a tree while a standard type is made using other parts of a tree. It will of course have an impact on the final design of a Bokken as a deluxe one will look smoother while some natural imperfections may be seen on a standard Bokken. Lastly, as you might imagined, the wood of a deluxe Bokken is more dense than that of a standard one which will make it less prone to scratches. Our deluxe Bokken…

What is a Jissengata Shinai?

“Jissengata” means “real combat”, these Shinai are mostly geared towards competition usage. Compared to a standard Shinai, the tip is slimmer. As a result of this the center of gravity is more towards the grip side of the shinai, making it easier to handle and adding a sense of speed when swinging your Shinai. 

What does Koto mean?

“Koto” literally means “old sword”.  In Koto style Shinai the weight is more evenly distributed through-out the Shinai, while the center of the gravity is located closer to the tip, imitating the balance of a “real sword”. Because of this it’s said to be more difficult to master and preferred by high level practitioners. 

What is Keichiku?

The Keichiku bamboo species is mainly grown in Taiwan. Today, most of the standard Shinai on market is made of Keichiku, reflecting the fact that, due to the shortage of Madake and the work that’s needed to make traditional Shinai, most of the Shinai production has moved to Taiwan and more recently to mainland China. Keichiku bamboo is known to be close to Madake because the fiber is fine and dense. But it relies on machine processing when boiling and drying the bamboo, which takes away the moisture, this makes it more prone to break or result in splinter compared to Madake.