I want to buy a new Kote, could you please give me some advice?
Like with the Menfuton, it’s good to get a Kote that is properly padded, where the padding is adequately thick and properly dispersed throughout the Futon and has good moisture absorption. Such a Kote will properly absorb any impact from hits and provide ample protection. We often hear people tell us that “machine-stitched Kote hurts”, however, it’s not the problem of whether it was machine-stitched or not, but rather that it wasn’t adequately padded from the beginning, and without enough thickness and elasticity in the padding, it will hurt when you are hit.
Since the Kote are used to grip the Shinai, to a certain degree, they have a direct effect on your technique, because of that you would want to choose a pair of Kote that fits you properly. If it is a deerskin Kote, because it will stretch slightly with time, you would want to pick a Kote that is just the right size, or perhaps even slightly smaller for the best fit. If you buy the Kote in a store, there is some stores that won’t allow you to test the Kote since they are afraid it will lose its form.
But as much as possible, you should try to put the Kote on, and perhaps try to grip a Shinai with it, so that you can find a pair of Kote that are easy to grip with. Some the better stores will even help you break in the Kote by hitting the Kote Atama and loosening up the wrist and joints parts before giving it to you.
In some of the better Kote, the Kote Atama, Namako and Futon parts might be stuffed with deer hair instead of regular cotton. The highest quality Kote uses 100% deer hair, but some might contain a blend of cotton and some kind of other animal fur/hair to cut costs. It’s hard to tell from just looking at the Kote on the outside, but those who contain blends of non-deer animal hair, tend to become hard and uncomfortable in time. That’s why you need to be very careful if the Kote says it’s padded with deer hair, but the price is suspiciously low without any specific reason.
Even if the Kote is made with the same materials, why is the price different?
If the Kote is made with the same materials, most of the time the price difference depends on things such as the stitching, Namako, the Kazari braids on the Kote Atama among other factors. The Kazari braids can be made in different styles of different difficulties, so even is the materials are the same, the craftsmanship that has gone into the Kote might be the difference that makes one more expensive than another. I should also mention that even though it looks the same, there might be differences in the quality in the deerskin that is used for example, even for the same material, the quality of the material itself greatly affects the price of the end product.
Please tell me how to take care of my Kote
The best would be if you were able to wash your whole Kote to keep it clean, however, personally I think that it might be very hard to wash your Kote without damaging it. Although there exists washable Kote, most Kote, especially those made with deerskin, might lose their shape and the padding and might not regain their former elasticity after washing your Kote.
As with the Men, it might be hard to wipe of the inner parts of the Kote, so just wipe off the parts that you can and put it in the shade to dry out properly. Also after a Keiko, it’s very common for the part on the palm leather that you gripped your Shinai with will lose its shape, so it’s a good idea to try to smooth it out a bit with your hand after Keiko.