Kendo Bogu Buying Guide

Kendo Bogu Buying Guide

How to choose a Kendo Bogu – Machine-stitched Bogu for beginners

Choose a Kendo Bogu which is right for you! As taught by professionals

So it’s finally time to buy your first Bogu, but thinking about it, you have no idea of what to choose and end up getting confused by the large variety available out there. It’s not an easy decision and a Kendo Bogu is not cheap either, so you don’t want to make any mistakes.

We all know how it feels right?
So that’s why the professionals and Kenshi from Tozando with over 25 years of experience in the industry, will now explain to you how to choose your first Bogu!

When buying your first Bogu, most people will go for Machine-stitched Bogu (incl. Machine-stitch, Fit-stitch, Cross-stitch & Tight-stitch varieties), so this time we will explain how to choose a good Machine-stitched Bogu.

There are generally speaking three ways to choose a Kendo Bogu, choosing by looking at the stitch-width, choosing by the material used for the Bogu, and choosing by how you want to use the Bogu. Let’s go through the main points for each method below:

Deciding on a Bogu depending on the stitching width

What the meaning of “X mm stitch”?

When looking at Kendo Bogu, you might notice that the name of the Bogu indicates if it’s for example a “5mm machine-stitched” or “3mm machine-stitched” Bogu set. So what does it refer to? “X mm” indicates the space in-between each row of stitches that are sewn when you create the Futon of the Bogu.

Depending on the width in-between each row of stitching, the function of the Futon will change. So next, let us explain how stitching width effects the Futon.

Impact Absorption: How well the impact from being hit with a Shinai is absorbed

Even if the inner padding (the padding that makes up the core of the Futon) is of the same variety and volume, the impact absorption of a Kendo Bogu will differ greatly depending on the stitching width being used on the Futon.

Generally speaking, the tighter the space in-between each row of stitching (stitching width) is, the more compressed the inner padding will become, resulting in the finished Futon becoming thinner and impact absorption becoming worse.
On the other hand, if the stitching width becomes wider, the end result is a thicker Futon with better impact absorption capabilities.
In practice when using each type of Bogu, the Bogu with a tighter stitching width and thinner Futon tends to hurt more when hit with a Shinai, while a Bogu with wider stitching width and thicker futon tends to hurt less when hit by a Shinai.

It’s worth also noting that the overall thickness and type of padding used for the core of the Futon also has a significant effect on the impact absorption of the Futon besides the stitch width. If the Futon is too soft, the impact of a hit will be dispersed, but go through, if it’s too hard, the impact will be directly transferred through the Futon. For the best type of protection, the point is to have a perfect balance between firmness, thickness and flexibility.

Appearance: Different needs depending on time, place and age for Kendo

Just looking at the aspect of impact absorption you might think that choosing a Kendo Bogu with a wider stitching width is good enough. In fact, why would you even need to get a Bogu with a tighter stitching width at all?

However, tighter stitching width also raises the durability, of the Futon, as wider stitching width exposes more of the Futon which makes it more vulnerable to wear and tear damage.

While tighter stitching width generally makes the finished Futon thinner and harder,
it also improves the overall appearance of the Futon and makes it look more elegant and magnificent.

Because of this, for example during Shodan Examinations where appearances has a larger significance, especially when done in Japan, tighter stitching such as 3mm Machine-stitched Bogu might be necessary. Of course, depending on your age it might also be more appropriate to choose a Bogu with tighter stitching width, both for the sake of appearances and durability.

Deciding on a Bogu depending on the material

Deerskin, Synthetic leather, Orizashi, what’s the difference?

Kendo Bogu has decorative Kazari designs which are sewn onto the indigo-dyed cotton canvas fabric, the most common materials for Kazari are Deerskin, Synthetic leather (Neo-leather/Clarino) and Orizashi. The Kazari also have the function of reinforcing areas which are more susceptible to wear and tear.

Deerskin is finely grained and indigo-dyed so in terms of appearances, Deerskin is the most elegant and best looking material for reinforcement. It’s also very pliable providing a better fit and good durability. However, if used while the Deerskin is wet, the skin will deteriorate faster, and it also generates a unique odor, well known to most Kendoka.

Deerskin is used for higher grade products, making it preferable for adult Kenshi and for use when taking the Shodan exam.

Synthetic leather, is also called Clarino or Neo-leather depending on the maker. Synthetic leather is strong against friction and moisture, making it the most durable material to use for reinforcement. However, because it’s dyed using chemical dye, the synthetic leather will experience discoloration with time and usage.

A standard material for reinforcement, it is used for a variety of Bogu sets. We generally recommend it for Students who compete and also as a regular training Bogu for Adult Kenshi.

Orizashi is a material with high breathability and that dries very fast compared to other materials. Also since it has high elasticity and is rather soft, it also provides a very good fit. However it is weak to friction and wear so as you use it, it’s not uncommon that the Orizashi fabric will tear.

It dries very rapidly after Keiko, so it’s mainly recommended for people who do a lot of Keiko and also Beginners as it is often used in the more inexpensive types of Bogu sets.

Deciding on a Bogu depending on usage
Keiko, Shiai, Examination, some people use a different Bogu depending on the occasion and purpose, so we will explain this one using some of the most common questions we get from you customers in a Q&A manner below!

Q1. I want a Bogu for regular Keiko. I practice a lot and sweat a lot also.

A1. For regular Keiko we recommend something with a wider stitching width to provide better protection and for people who sweat a lot we recommend that you use an Orizashi Bogu set!

Q2. I regularly teach in different Dojo’s close by, I want something that looks nice and that I can use for regular Keiko!

A2. When you are teaching in someone else’s Dojo, appearances are important right? In that case we recommend a Bogu with leather reinforcements, as you are using it regularly, we recommend a synthetic leather Bogu that has high durability.

Q3. I want a Bogu that is easy to use and enhances my performance during Shiai!

A3. For Shiai we recommend “Jissengata” Bogu as they are made to be lighter and more flexible and easy to move around in. Even among the Jissengata Bogu, a Orizashi Bogu is recommended if you wish to get something that can be used to its full potential right away!

These are just a few examples from all of the questions we get daily.
If you have problems or any doubts about choosing your Bogu, please feel free to contact our customer service and our experienced support members will be able to give you further advice!