Choosing the right naginata for you

Written by Jeangerard Hughes(Tozando, Naginata 5-dan) It feels tautological to say that the naginata (the wooden weapon) is at the core of your Naginata (the martial art). In few other arts you are supposed to make one with your weapon to the point that you are most of the time simply required to stick physically to it through waza process. Also naginata is a huge weapon, with length ranging from 212 to 225 cm for the AJNF1 standard versions, revealing qualities or on the contrary amplifying default, both in the weapon and the techniques.They are also quite costly to come by, so you want it to endure and stay through…

Perhaps, we need to introduce more scientifically based training for Kendo?

Written by Kimura Takahiko(CEO at Tozando) The other day, I happened upon a news article about the major league pitcher Yu Darvish, in which he gave some guidance about the future of the Japanese baseball community. To make a long story short, the conclusion that he made was that “Going through harsh training and make effort only using spirit and will-power is not good enough. There is a need to incorporate the latest technology and science into your training to achieve better results”. Kendo being a traditional Japanese competitive martial art, likewise puts a lot of emphasis on making an effort, will-power and of course spirit. In Kendo, the ultimate…

The Path to Passing the Kendo Promotional Examination Part 3

Written by Hayashi Takahiro, Kendo Kyoshi 7-dan(Tozando) About the 2-dan examination This time, I’m going to talk a bit about the 2-dan examination. In addition to refining the basic movements, manners and etiquette required in the Shodan examination, you are also required to use Oji-waza (応じ技), in other words, reacting and counter attacking. Not only will your striking techniques be examined, but also how you react and counter when your opponent attacks you will be thoroughly tested during the practical examination. There are many basic techniques such as going avoiding a hit to the Men and going for the Do, or avoiding a strike to the Kote and going for…

Suzaku – The never ending challenge, moving the sword craft into the future

Written by Yamamoto Yasumasa(Tozando)Many roads passed through the ancient capital of Kyoto, for example the Tokaido, Sanyodo and Hokurikudo roads. The most important 7 main roads on which you could enter and leave Kyoto, in other words check points, were called Kyo no Nanakuchi(the seven entrances of Kyoto). Even to this day there are train stations and locations which reminds us of this history, such as Kuramaguchi and Tanbaguchi. Among those seven entrances, there was one called Awataguchi, nowadays it would be somewhere located close to the Higashiyama-Sanjo, or Sanjo Keihan Station area. Anyone who has studied a bit about Japanese swords would recognize Awataguchi as the area from where…

Is your Aikido Hakama really good enough?

About 20 years ago, getting a good Aikido Hakama would require you to either come to Japan yourself, or try to contact one of the few stores that would accept mail-orders and ship internationally. Additionally, if you didn’t know any Japanese, then it could have been quite hard to even communicate with the Japanese staff. Being an Aikido practitioner overseas was most certainly very inconvenient and time spending at that time. Nowadays the world has changed, whether you get one directly from Japan online, buy one that is sold locally from one of the Budo stores in your own country, or buy one directly from Amazon or any other major…

Tokuren Z: A Kendo Bogu made for winners

The Jutsuka Tokubetsu Kunren (術科特別訓練; Special Technique Training Department) or for short, the “Tokuren”, is a special Japanese police squad whose purpose is to promote and reinforce technical training within subjects such as Judo, Kendo, Taihojutsu, marksmanship, etc. to raise the overall level of physical and mental health among police officers. It’s well known in the Kendo community that some of the strongest Kendo players originates from the Kendo Tokuren police squad, and their long and harsh daily training routines makes them fearsome powerhouses that can be considered to be the true Kendo professionals, many of who are or have been ranked in the top in the All Japan Kendo Championships…

Japanese Samurai Armor 101

Japanese Armor, or Katchū (甲冑; armor and helmet), depending on in which period it was made they can largely be categorized into two categories, Ō-yoroi (大鎧; great armor) and Tosei-gusoku (当世具足; modern armor) armors. The Ō-yoroi first appears during the middle and late Heian period (794~1185) and became more widespread during the Kamakura period (1185~1336). The Ō-yoroi were designed for cavalry archers as they were one of the main military forces during this period of time, because the box-shaped construction and its heavy weight that didn’t allow for much movement or flexibility, it was unsuitable for use on the ground. To defend against arrows the Kabuto had large Fukigaeshi (吹き返し),…

Jōdan-no-kamae Part 2: How to improve your technique

Written by Aya Onodera, Kendo 3-dan(Tozando) In the Jōdan stance you raise your Shinai up above your head, leaving your torso wide open. Unlike when two Chūdan practitioners fight, there is no offensive Shinai techniques such as Harai-waza going on between the two practitioners while they try to create an opening to attack, and this might at first glance make you think that the Jōdan stance is full with openings. However if you try to attack such a Jōdan practitioner carelessly, you might get hit with a high speed downward swing from over the head. The Katate-waza is a characteristic technique in the Jōdan stance where you swing using only…

Samue: Uniform for Samu

The Samue (作務衣) was originally a type of work clothes for Zen Buddhist priests in Japan and was something that they would wear when they were cleaning, cutting firewood, working the fields and do other daily tasks around the temple. Since it originally was a type of working garment, it was never worn during proper Zazen meditation sessions or during memorial services, as they were non-spiritual clothes. Although this is the origins of this type of clothing, with time the shape and style changed and nowadays it is increasingly common to see it worn as a type of casual relax wear. The traditional characteristic feature of the Samue is that…

How to appreciate a Japanese sword

Nihontō (日本刀; Japanese sword) refers to the traditional swords that are made in Japan, perhaps more commonly known as the Katana, or Samurai sword. On the finished blade, which is painstakingly made by infusing the spirit of the swordsmith into a piece of steel and then carefully polished to perfection, one can see intricate grain patterns emerging from the surface of the steel that we call Hada (肌; grain), and also on the edge of the blade you can see the Hamon (刃文; blade pattern) which is the pattern created by the differentially hardened blade edge during the tempering process. Tozando Antique Japanese Swords Store Ship worldwide by Federal Express…