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Mushinkan Kendo no Shiori
Mark Uchida, October 2005©
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
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 soldier’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 following.
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 during practice.
IV. Tying the Bogu for Transport and Storage
V. Care and Simple Repairs
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

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-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 men-himo.
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 readied
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
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
M7) Place on the left kote by pulling from the top-end of the kote buton.  (The left kote is always placed on

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.
Key Points
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
the face.
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.
Key Points
When removing the kote, pull from the kote buton (photo1).   Do not remove the kote by pulling the
kote-gashira (photo2) or the tsutsu (photo3).  Doing so may damage the stitching and separate the fist-section
form the kote buton.
Holding the Men in front of the face
The exercise of holding the men in front of the face while tidying up one’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.
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.  For this reason, Mushinkan kenshi should not snap their tenugui,
but instead gently stretch the cloth to smooth it out before folding.
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 equipment dealer.

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 proper.

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:
Simple Repairs
1. Needlenose pliers or Surgical forceps
2. Awl
3. Scissors
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 include:
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)
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 himo
(Note: The drawings are made to illustrate the back-side of the mune.)

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 leather part.
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.
Replacing the Mune-chichikawa
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.
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 looking result.
Replacing the kote himo
1. Remove the old kote himo, making note of how it is threaded through the kote
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 side.
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.
Shopping Tips
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
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
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.
III. Bogu Tidbits
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 fear on one’s face.  
Of course a samurai being scared on the battlefield was nothing less than a disgrace warranting
seppuku, or worse.

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 â
€“ not a good thing!  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 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)
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

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 of the do.

2. Everything should be placed together in a smart,
orderly fashion, and the cords tied snug and secure.
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 and…
5. … 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
I. Bogu Components
The men is headgear of the kendo armor.  The main parts of the men are detailed
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 opponent’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 follows:
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

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 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 a
re sometimes used.  Exotic materials
such as these expand the range of colors and textures offered; however, t
hey 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 children's use.
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.