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Practice Five: Kendo Bogu (Protective Equipment)
I. Bogu Components
II. Putting on / taking off the Bogu
III. Bogu Tidbits
IV. Tying the Bogu for Transport and Storage
V. Care and Simple Repairs
VI. Supplemental Information: shopping tips
I. Bogu Components
The kendo bogu is intended for rugged use, being made to hold up under the most demanding training
conditions. In addition to being constructed to meet the key requirement of safety, kendo bogu are
also artistically crafted and often reflect the aesthetic tastes of the times or that of the wearer. Most
bogu craftsmen in Japan are members of the Zen Nihon Budogu Rengokai (All Japan Martial Arts
Equipment Association), which sets strict standards for the manufacturing of kendo equipment.
The modern kendo bogu is modeled after the foot soldierâ€™s armor of the Sengoku-jidai (Era of
Warring States, 1467 - 1573), the main components being the helmet, gauntlets, and body armor.
Today's kendo bogu is comprised of the same key elements, which are described and illustrated in the
The men is headgear of the kendo armor. The main parts of the men are detailed below.
It is said, "The men is attached to the face, it is not put on the face. In other words, the fit of the men
should be so precise that it becomes part of the wearer. It is, therefore, of particular importance that
this piece of equipment be selected carefully when purchasing.
The fit of the men is determined by the uchiwa. To determine if the uchiwa fits correctly, place the
chin on the uchiwa and then push the men onto the face. Holding the men in place with the forehead
and chin resting against the ten and chi, respectively, the uchiwa should form around the contours of
the face without any gaps. There should be no slack in this fit. The face should rest comfortably and
well-fitted within the frame of the uchiwa.
Other considerations in the fit of the men are the alignment of the monomi, the coverage and resilience
of the men buton, and the general comfort.
With the men properly fitted to the face, the eyes should be aligned with the monomi, giving a clear
field of vision when looking straight ahead. The width of the men buton should be wide enough to
cover the entire front-to-back width of the head, but it should not extend beyond the back of the head.
The length of the men buton should extend to the edges of the shoulders. The men buton should not
be easily flexed when the top-center is pressed inward with the fingers or when stricken with a shinai.
Finally, the men should fit comfortably and not feel excessively heavy.
The tare protects the waist and upper leg areas from stray blows. The main parts are constructed of
the same type of quilted padding used for the futon parts of the men and kote.
A) Tare-obi: Waist section from which the primary and secondary protective pads are suspended.
B) Tare-himo: Cords used to tie the tare around the waist.
C) Odare: Large, primary protective pads suspended from the Tare-obi.
D) Kodare: Smaller, secondary protective pads.
A proper fitting tare should wrap naturally around the body and cover the sides of the legs. In addition
to fit, it is also important that the tare material be resilient enough to protect the body from blows.
When worn, the tare should not feel heavy and should not interfere with leg movement.
II. Putting on the Bogu
Proper etiquette calls for one to be seated in seiza anytime the bogu is handled. Although this practice
is observed in varying degrees, depending on the place and circumstance, this protocol should be
exercised whenever possible.
The bogu should be fastened securely to the body to prevent any of the components from coming loose
IV. Tying the Bogu for Transport and Storage
T1) Start by placing the tare on the lap with the three Odare on top.
T2) Snuggly wrap the tare-himo around the body and secure the ends under the center Odare using a bow knot. Tuck the knot loops and
ends under the kodare to hide them from view.
D1) Place the do over the abdomen and chest.
D2) Take one of the long do-himo (attached to the upper corner of the do-dai) and bring it over the opposite shoulder.
D3) Secure the end to the mune-chichikawa using one of the below illustrated methods.
Tying the Do-himo: Method One
a. Thread the do-himo through the mune-chichikawa.
b. Wrap the himo around the backside of the mune-chichikawa.
c. Double over the end of the himo and pass the doubled end through the loop that was created when
wrapping the himo around the backside of the mune-chichikawa.
d. Pull the slack from the himo to tighten the slipknot.
Tying the Do-himo: Method Two.
a. Wrap the do-himo around the base of the mune-chichikawa one or two times.
b. Double over the end of the himo.
c. Pass the doubled end through the mune-chichikawa.
d. Grasp the himo that is wrapped around the base of the mune-chichikawa and pull it upward to tighten the slipknot.
D4) After securing the long do-himo to the mune-chichikawa, reach behind and tie the ends of the short
do-himo using a bow knot. The bow knot should be tied in such a way that it rest in a horizontal position.
Before donning the Men, a head towel called Tenugui is secured around the head. The Tenugui collects
perspiration and keeps the men himo from chafing the back of the neck.
|M-i) Hold the tenugui by the corners.
M-i) Hold the tenugui by the corners as if holding it up to look at.
M-ii) Continuing to hold the corners, lay the tenugui flat over the top of the head. Hook the back edge of the tenugui under the base of
the head and pull both corners slightly forward to hold the tenugui firmly in place.
M-iii) Bring the right corner across to the left side of the head.
M-iv) Wrap the left side of the tenugui over to the right side of the head.
M-v) Grab the material that is hanging down over the face and pull it over the top of the head.
M-vi) Tuck the excess material under to prevent it from dangling out the backside of the Men.
M-vii) Position the front of the tenugui high enough on the brow so it will not be exposed when the Men is worn.
M-viii) Pull the backside of the tenugui down far enough to protect the back of the head from being chafed by the
M1) Take up the Men and loosen the himo.
M2) Place the men on the head so the face is resting comfortable against the uchiwa and the eyes are aligned with the monomi.
M3) Pull the men-himo snug.
Note: The men-himo should be made ready before practice
by pre-lacing the himo. Cross the himo over the back of
the men and thread the ends under the top of the tategane.
M4) Bring the himo to the back and then tie the ends in a bow knot. Adjust the loops of the knot so they are even length with the free
ends of the cords.
M5) Adjust the men-himo that runs along the sides of the Men so they are together and aligned. The himo should lay flat against the
men buton; there should be no twists or overlapping.
M6) Pull the back corners of the men buton away from the ears to create a space for hearing and air circulation.
M7) Place on the left kote by pulling from the top-end of the kote buton. (The left kote is always placed on first.)
M8) Put on the right kote, also by pulling from the kote buton. (When taking off the kote, the right is always taken off first.)
M9) Take up the shinai and stand.
a. When looking straight ahead, the eyes should have a clear view through the monomi.
b. The tenugui should not be visible from the front view.
c. Loops and free ends of the himo should be adjusted to be the same length. The length from the knot to the ends should equal 40cm.
d. The bottom edge of the do should cover the tare-obi.
e. Bowk nots should be tied so they rest in a horizontal position.
1) Take off the kote starting with the right kote, then followed by the left. Place the kote forward and to the
outside of the knee.
(The protocols of the school or of the training situation determine which side the kote is placed, right or left.)
2) Untie the men-himo and collect the cords by rolling them up in one hand.
3) Remove the men, but keep it held in front of the face. Remove the tenugui and wipe the perspiration from
4) Wipe the perspiration from the inside of the men. The gathered men himo are still held in hand at this
5) Place the tenugui and the gathered men himo inside of the men and then place the men face down on top
of the kote. Take out the tenugui and neatly refold it and place it back inside the men.
When removing the kote, pull from the kote buton. Do not remove the kote by pulling the kote-gashira or
the tsutsu. Doing so may damage the stitching and separate the fist-section form the kote buton.
III. Bogu Tidbits
Holding the Men in front of the face
The exercise of holding the men in front of the face while tidying up oneâ€™s appearance comes from a battle practice of centuries
past, when a pale complexion in battle denoted fear. To avoid this perception of fear, samurai used to wear makeup on the battle field
to keep a vital facial appearance. During moments of pause where kabuto (helmets) could be removed, the kabuto was held to cover
the face while smudged makeup was wiped away. When the kabuto was finely lowered, the samurai would be handsomely presentable.
Why is the inside of the Men-gane painted red?
The obvious answer to this question is to reduce glare from the metal bars. This is only partially true, however. The actual answer is
closely related to the previous bogu tidbit. As we know, a pale complexion on the battlefield was undesirable as it could be seen as
showing fear on the battlefield. Of course a samurai showing fear was nothing less than a disgrace.
The component of samurai armor called the mempo was worn to protect the face. Mempo were made from rawhide or iron. With time
and use the mempo would develop a greenish patina. When placed against the skin, this patina would radiate a greenish tint to the
wearer's face! To avoid this and to give a more vital appearance to the face of the samurai, armor makers would paint the inside of
the mempo with red lacquer. Thus, when the mempo was worn, the red lacquer would radiate a red color and give a vital glow to the
complexion. This practice has continued to modern kendo armor, where bogu makers not only use red lacquer on the mengane to
reduce glare, but also to give the kendoist a pink and lively facial radiance. (Ref: Kendo Nippon article)
Tenugui inside or draped over the top
Placing the tenugui inside or draping it over the men when the men is not being worn is governed by the protocols of the school where
one practices. Mushinkan has adopted the practice of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department where the tenugui is folded and
placed inside the men for general practices and for individual competitions. For team tournaments where all team members are using
a uniform tenugui, the tenugui is draped over the top of the men and the printed pattern oriented toward the seated team member.
Snapping the tenugui
Snapping the tenugui to straighten out folds and wrinkles is considered taboo in some parts of Japan. The reason is, when the tenugui
is snapped it is said to make the same sound as when someone is decapitated with a sword - a sound that was often heard around the
execution grounds of ancient times. This is somewhat unknown to younger generations, but is still clear in the minds of the old and
wise. So, instead of snapping the tenugui, gently shake or stretch the cloth to smooth it out before folding.
V. Care and Simple Repairs
Care of the equipment is an integral part of kendo discipline. Care and maintenance is continuous and
does not end when the kendo equipment is put away at the end of a practice. Each piece of the
equipment should be closely inspected before and after each practice. When components are worn or
damaged, they should be promptly repaired or replaced. Some repairs can be self-performed, while
others require restoration by a professional. For professional repairs, consult with a reputable kendo
After practice, the bogu should be taken out of its carrying bag and allowed to air dry. Avoid placing
any components of the bogu in direct sunlight as this will cause the leather to dry and crack and the
stitching to deteriorate. A well ventilated room or an occasional airing in a shady spot outdoors is
The bogu is to be kept clean and presentable at all times. If it should become soiled, appropriate
cleaning should be performed; usually a soft, damp cloth suffices, while other areas can be cleaned
with a soft brush. Check with a bogu manufacturer before using commercial cleaners on the bogu to
be sure they are safe for use.
Some kendo equipment shops sell repair toolkits with all the essential tools needed to perform basic
home bogu repairs. However, tools that are commonly found around the home can work just as well.
For the do-it-yourself home bogu repair shop, the following tools are recommended:
1. Needle-nose pliers or Surgical forceps
4. Drafter's knife or sharp utility knife
5. Sewing needles (specifically made for sewing leather can be purchased from most fabric shops)
6. thimble or thick leather finger cot for pushing needles through leather
7. A rawhide or plastic mallet
Repair materials can be acquired from most kendo shops. Occasionally, materials or suitable
substitutes can found around the house or at specialty stores. Commonly required repair materials
1. Smoked deer skin for kote patches (6x6 inch piece should be enough for a goodly number of repairs.)
2. Silk thread (Purple or dark blue are customary colors)
3. Leather/fabric glue
4. Mune and do chichikawa
5. Himo for the men, do, and kote (Two pair of 51-inch [130 cm] boot laces can be used as substitutes
for kote himo)
Replacing the himo
1. Use needlenose pliers or forceps to remove the old himo. (Save the old himo; it comes in handy for
other repairs and miscellaneous uses.)
2. If necessary, use an awl or the tip of the needlenose pliers to widen the eyelet of the chichikawa.
3. Slip the looped end of the himo over the chichikawa and thread the end of the himo through the
eyelet of the chichikawa as illustrated.
Replacing the Mune-chichikawa
(Note: The drawings are made to illustrate the back-side of the mune.)
Replacing the Do-chichikawa
1. double over the chichikawa and insert the ends into the opening, adjusting the loop size by pulling
more or less material through to the inside of the do-dai
2. Carefully split the leather ends. Additional trimming may be necessary to achieve a professional
Replacing the kote himo
1. Remove the old kote himo, making note of how it is threaded through the kote buton.
2. Using Needlenose pliers or forceps, pass a looped end-section through the first eyelet (furthest from
the kote-gashira). An awl can be used to widen the eyelets to facilitate passing the new himo through.
3. Thread the short end of the himo through the himo loop on the inside of the kote buton. Pull the
long end to close the loop down on the short end.
4. Begin threading the himo through the remaining eyelets, as illustrated.
5. After completely threading the himo to the top of one side, repeat the process to complete the other
5. After completely threading the himo to the top of one side, repeat the process
to complete the other side.
6. After both sides have been threaded and evenly adjusted, lace the himo
through the loops on either side of the kote buton in the same fashion as lacing a
Tying/re-tying the kote homo ends
Even the best of knots come undone; therefore, every kenshi should know how to
tie himo-ends of all types. However, putting all of the ins and outs of knot tying
into words is nearly impossible; therefore, the illustrations will speak for
themselves in describing how to tie the ends of the kote himo.
Patching the te-no-uchi (palm of the kote)
This is repair is higher in difficulty and requires some time and patients. It is best to practice on an old
set of kote before attempting palm repairs on an expensive set. This same repair technique can be
used to patch holes in the kote-gashira, borders, and other parts of the equipment.
This repair requires smoked deer hide, leather sewing needle, silk thread, and leather glue. If
substitutes for these materials are used, make sure they are properly suitable for the application.
1. a) Cut a patch large enough to extend beyond border of the damaged area. b) Place a light coat of
leather glue on the side of the patch that will go against the palm. c) Place the patch over the
dammaged area and press firmly in place.
2. Use a running stitch to hold down the edges of the patch. The stitching does not need to be very
close together to do the job.
3. After completely stitching around the edge, pass the needle through the same area two or three
times. The needle can be passed just under the edge of the patch to hide this locking stitch.
4. Finishing with the thread on the inside of the kote, cut the thread leaving about one centimeter
hanging under the patched area. No knotting is necessary.
VI. SUPPLEMENTAL INFORMATION:
Purchasing kendo bogu can be a significant investment, and knowing what to look for when shopping
can be difficult and confusing. Shopping for equipment is especially difficult when you are limited to
mail-order, Internet, or the occasional bogu stand at a tournament or workshop. Whatever the
situation, the following are some general tips from the Zen Nihon Budogu Rengo-kai to help kendo
consumers shop for their equipment needs and get the most for their investment. Some
recommendations also appear in the descriptions of the bogu components in the beginning sections of
this information page.
Dealers and Manufacturers
The first and maybe the most important shopping tip is to buy from a reputable dealer. Reputable
dealers are typically good at standing behind and supporting the products they sell. Additionally,
reputable dealers generally stock only brand-name goods. Most, if not all brand name bogu
manufacturers in Japan are members of the Zen Nihon Budogu Rengo-kai (All Japan Martial Arts
Equipment Association). Purchasing bogu made by these manufacturers insures the equipment is
made to strict standards using quality materials and craftsmanship.
The price of a kendo bogu is not an important factor when it comes to function and fit, especially if
you are a beginning student or purchasing the bogu for a child. When shopping for equipment, you
should keep in mind that the quality and amount paid for equipment should be appropriate to the
wearer's skill level.
Hand stitched v. Machine stitched
The below illustrations show the differences between the two. By and large, hand-made (tezashi)
bogu are of better quality than machine made. Additionally, the smaller the spacing between the
stitching further identifies better quality. However, these are very general guidelines and should not
be used in of themselves as quality indicators. Quality is also determined by the construction and
materials used. For example, a machine-made bogu with tightly sewn stitching may be of better
quality than a tezashi bogu with lesser stitch quality. The same also applies to stitch spacing; if the
stitching is not tightly sewn, the overall quality maybe lesser than a component with a wider, tightly
sewn stitch. If the futon (quilted padding) of any bogu component is too soft or limp, the stitching
and/or materials used probably isn't very good.
On the left is an example of a hand-stitched men futon, and on the right is a
machine stitched men futon. Although it is difficult to see in these photos, the
edges of both examples (along the area where arrows are pointing) are
tapering in thickness. This characteristic is typical of better quality equipment,
both hand and machine made. A square edge is common on less expensive bogu.
It is most important that the bogu fit correctly and allow unrestricted body movement while provide
maximum protection. To select properly fitting equipment, the dealer will require certain body
measurements. The dealer will take these measurements if you are present, or will give you guidance
on what measurements are needed so you can collect the information yourself.
3. Fold over the first leather tail as illustrated.
4. Moving clockwise, fold the second tail over the first.
5. Again moving clockwise, fold the third tail over the second.
6. Fold the last tail over the third and tuck it under the first tail.
7. Pull the ends to tighten the weave of the knot. Trim the ends as necessary.
There are many different variations to tying and storing the bogu. Presented are a few basic methods, but are by no means are all
encompassing or are representative of a single, correct method.
The key points should be followed regardless of the tying method used.
1. As with all bow knots, be sure the knots are horizontal in relation to the upright orientation.
2. Everything should be placed together in an orderly fashion, and the cords tied securely.
1. Place the do face up with the mune closest to you. Lay the tare face down on top of the do.
2. Grasp the longer of the do himo and bring the ends over the top.
3. Pull the himo tight and then twist-cross the cords to orient them vertically.
4. Keeping the cords taught, flip the do over and
5. tie the himo on the inside of the do.
6. Grasp the tare himo and
7. hook the himo from the inside out around the upper corners of the do.
8. Keeping the cords taught, flip the do over.
9. Tie the tare himo in a bow knot on the front side.
10. Place the men and kote smartly inside the do with the top of the men toward the bottom of the do and the palms of the kote inward
and the thumbs upward. The men buton should be tucked between the sides of the men and the kote.
11. Tie the short do himo over the top of the men.
12. The bogu can now be placed in a bogu bag for transport or shelved for storage.
This method is often preferred as it keeps the Tare Himo pressed flat.
1. Double the tare himo over to create a loop twice the width of the himo.
2. Fold the himo over 90 degrees in either direction then wrap the himo around the end of the tare obi.
3. With the end of the himo remaining, fold over the looped end created in step-one.
4. Bring the free end down andâ€¦
5. â€¦ pass the end of the himo through the loop opening to secure it in place.
6. (pictured example of finished wrapping)
7. Once both tare himo are tied: a) place the do face up with the mune closest to you, b) Lay the tare face down on top of the do, c)
Grasp the longer of the do himo and bring the ends over the top, d) Pull the himo tight and then twist the cords to orient them vertically.
8. Keeping the cords taught, flip the do over and tie the himo on the reverse side
9. Snugly wrap the short do himo around the upper corner of the do, over the tare, and around the bottom corner of the do.
10. Create a loop in the himo.
11. Pass the looped end under the himo and pull the loop to secure it under the overlapping cord.
12. Double over the remaining himo-end and thread it through the loop created previously.
13. Pull the end to tighten the cord around itself.
14. The himo should be holding the ends of the tare against the sides of the do.
15. Place the men and kote smartly inside the do with the top of the men toward the bottom of the do and the thumbs of the kote
upward. The men buton should be tucked between the sides of the men and the kote. The bogu can now be placed in a bogu fukuro
(bag) for transport or shelved for storage
This method of tying allows the bogu to be suspended from a wallhook or overhead hanger, making it ideal for airing the equipment and
maximizing storage space.
1. After tying the do and tare together, using one of the methods previously detailed, take the men and grasp the cords in the back and
bring them forward as illustrated above.
2. Wrap the long ends of the himo around the base of the shorter loops. Double over the cords and thread the looped ends under and
through the base of the wrapped cords, then pull tight. Adjust the length of the long loops to make them even and adequately long.
3. Thread the long loops through each of the kote himo as illustrated. Thumbs of the kote should be toward the back of the men.
4. Once the kote are in place, tie the long loop ends in a bow. Carefully lay the men face down inside the do with the men buton tucked
inside. Thread the small looped cords through the do-uchikawa (leather loop attached to the back of the mune) or under the do himo.
5. The bogu can now be hung from the loop-ends. Be sure the bogu is neat and orderly, and has proper presentation.
A) Men buton: quilted padding which overlays the head and shoulders of the wearer.
B) Men buchi: boarder that attaches the men gane to the men buton.
C) Daiwa: metal frame which the yokogane (horizontal bars) are attached. The men buchi overlays the daiwa, concealing it from view.
D) Men-himo chichikawa: leather strap used to attached the men himo to the men gane. The himo-chichikawa should be attached to the
men-gane at the fourth bar from the bottom, as is illustrated above.
An alternate method attaches the men himo at the top of the tategane. This method of attachment and
associated technique of tying the himo is often thought of as a regional practice, followed in kendo schools in
specific areas of Japan. This, however, is not the case. This method is simply the older style of securing the
men to the head. It became less common when rules were implemented making attempts to remove an
opponentâ€™s men illegal. This method of tying the men is not detailed in these instructions.
E) Mengawa-kazari: decorative patches sewn on the corners of the men buton.
F) Men himo: cords used to secure the men to the head.
G) Tomegawa: rawhide fastening at the base of the men buchi.
H) Tsuki-dare: rigid pad protecting the throat area.
I) Men Gane: metal grill that protects the face. This part is made of chrome-platted steel, nickel alloy, or titanium. A modern innovation
replaces the middle horizontal sections with a clear, high-strength plastic for added eye protection. Further details of the men gane are as
i Tategane: vertical spine of the men-gane.
ii Yokogane: horizontal bars of the men-gane.
iii Monomi: space between two yokogane that is slightly wider (about 1 cm.) than the spacing between any other two yokogane.
The monomi is between the sixth and seventh yokogane for adult size headgear, and between the fifth and sixth yokogane for
junior size. When properly fitted, the wearer's eyes should be directly aligned with the monomi, allowing the kendoist to see
clearly while maintaining proper neck and shoulder posture.
J) Ten: internal padding which the forehead rests against.
K) Yojin-dare: pad backing the tsuki-dare, providing additional protection to the throat area.
L) Uchiwa: padding that fits around the circumference of the face.
M) Chi: pad which supports the front of the chin.
The kote protect the hands and lower portion of the arms. The padding covering the arm and wrist
areas is the same quilted padding used for the men buton. The fist of the kote is typically constructed
of a smoked deer hide palm and a shell made of deer hide or cloth. The shell is stuffed with deer hair
or synthetic fiber to provide a protective cushion for the hands. Deer hide is used because of its
quality to keep its shape and remain supple and durable despite repeated wet and dry conditions.
A recent product innovation offers kote that are machine washable. One such washable brand
instructs placing the entire kote into the washer, while another has an insert that can be un-zippered
and removed from a kote shell. Some professional dry cleaners in Japan offer cleaning service for kote
of all types, giving the option for everyone to maintain spring fresh kote.
A) Kote gashira: fist section of the kote. It is sometimes called the Atama.
B) Kera: padded joint. Kote are usually made with one to two kera; however, some children's kote are made without.
C) Tsutsu: wrist joint between the body of the kote and the fist.
D) Kote buton: cotton padding forming the body of the kote.
E) Te-no-uchi: palm of the kote, typically made form deer hide or synthetic substitutes.
F) Kote himo - laces.
Kote should literally fit like a glove. Taking into account the newness when trying on a new pair of
kote, the fit should not be too tight or too loose. The hand should fit comfortably into the kote gashira
and there should not be inadequate or excessive length at the tips of the fingers and thumbs. Likewise,
the width of the kote should fit the width of the hand. The tsutsu should align with the wrist joint, and
the tsutsu should flex as the wrist is flexed. The kote buton should fit comfortably around the lower
arm and should not require excessive loosening or tightening of the kote himo to achieve proper fit.
The do is the breastplate that protects the chest and trunk of the body. There are four types of do:
Hon-nuri-do, take-do, fiber do, and plastic do.
A) Mune-chichikawa: leather loops attached to the top of the mune. When securing the do to the body, the cords are tied to these loops
using a slipknot.
B) Do-chichikawa: leather loops attached to the corners of the do-dai from which the cords are fastened.
C) Do-dai: main protective element of the do component, and to which the other do parts are attached.
D) Do-himo: cords used to secure the do to the body.
E) Mune: part of the do that protects the chest. The mune is constructed of felt padding layered between leather front and backing.
These materials are quilted together to form a very resilient, protective guard. The mune is often stitched with decorative patterns and
bordering, which not only adds artistic flair, but also serves a practical purpose: Should the tip of an opponent's shinai happen to strike the
chest area, the stitching of the mune helps to keep the shinai tip from sliding up under the tsuki-dare of the men and causing injury.
Hon-nuri Do are the traditionally constructed do-type. The do-dai of hon-nuri-do are constructed
from bamboo slats vertically pieced together. The bamboo is overlaid with rawhide to add rigidity and
durability. The rawhide is sealed with a lacquer finish. Other materials are sometimes used to overlay
the do-dai. Shark skin, snake skin, deer hide, and tortes shell are just a few examples of the types of
overlaying materials that are sometimes used. Exotic materials such as these expand the range of
colors and textures offered; however, they are obscenely expensive.
Take Do, another traditionally constructed do-type, is made of only the vertically pieced-together
bamboo staves. (The take-do pictured above is a rare example from the 1930's that survived the
forced evacuation of Japanese-Americans from the west coast and their internment in concentration
camp in the interior of America. )
Fiber Do are made from molded cellulose fiber. These do are relatively inexpensive and are used
primarily by beginners and children. A relatively recent variation of the cellulose fiver do is the
bamboo-look or bamboo-look-like, which the do-dai is molded to look as if made of bamboo.
Plastic Do (not pictured) are made entirely of molded plastic. They are inexpensive and are sold for
The standard number of bamboo slats used in constructing hon-nuri-do is 43, 50, and 60. In general,
the greater number of bamboo slats used the higher the quality. However, this number alone may be
misleading, as the quality of the materials and construction are equally important factors. For this
reason, buyers should be careful not to base their purchase solely on the number of slats. Buying
brand-name goods from reputable dealers is a reasonable guarantee that the materials and construction
match the quality suggested by the stave-count.
When it comes to fit, there is little difference between the 51 and 60 stave count. Either provides for
the best contouring and body coverage. The main consideration in fit is the amount of room between
the body and the do. The do should not pinch the body when worn. Conversely, it should not be so
wide that it encumbers arm movement. The kendo equipment dealer will take measurements, or can
instruct the buyer as to how to take body measurements, to assure the proper spacing inside the do.
The fit of the mune to the upper part of the body is equally important when it comes to fit. Bogu
makers have their own mune patterns. These patterns are trademarks of the makers'. Like the cut of a
well fitting suit, the cut of the mune should conform to the line from the shoulder to the side of the
chest just below the armpit. If the mune does not fit properly in this area, arm movement may be
hindered or the body maybe exposed to possible injury.
TAKING off the BOGU
1. Remove the old chichikawa, closely noting how it was tied. If necessary after removal of the old
chichikawa, use an awl to enlarge the three eyelets in the mune to facilitate the insertion of the new
2. Double over the new chichikawa with the tapered (un-slotted) end on top. From the front of the
mune, insert the ends through the top opening and adjust the loop size by pulling more or less material
through to the backside.
3. Thread the tapered end though the slotted end.
4. Pass the tapered end through a lower opening to the front of the mune and then back through the
remaining opening. Slip the tapered end in between the slotted end and the back of the tapered end, as
shown in illustration 4.
5. Synch the knot tight and then use a rawhide or plastic mallet to flatten the knot to keep it from
poking the chest when worn.