Kendo Bogu 101
Kendo Bogu 101
A Kendo Bogu consists of a Men, Kote, Tare and a Do. Each part consists of smaller parts and each of them have a name and duty. When you buy a Bogu or when you use it, it might sometimes be useful to know the proper names of each part. Please feel free to use this dictionary as a reference at your own convenience.
A Kendo Bogu set comes with a total of 5 parts, 1x Men, 2x Kote, 1x Do and 1x Tare.
Generally it can be said to be two types of Kendo Bogu, Machine-stitched Bogu, and Hand-stitched Bogu. As the name suggests, the difference is if the Futon of the Bogu is made using a machine or if it’s sewn by hand.
Futon: Futon is basically made up of two pieces of Indigo-dyed Cotton Canvas fabrics, with inner padding acting as the core which is reinforced with Orizashi/Clarino/Deerskin for extra durability. This is the basic material that the Bogu is made out of.
Inner Padding (Shin-zai): This is the core of the Futon, many different materials can be used, but the traditional material is Mousen. Mousen is a type of felt that is traditionally made with mountain sheep or goat wool and originates from the nomadic people in Mongolia. The inner padding of the Futon is usually made with a compound of Mousen and cotton to create a perfect balance of elasticity, flexibility, softness and impact absorption. These materials also help absorb sweat when you wear your Bogu, and prevents salt from your sweat from appearing on the Futon itself.
Machine-stitched Bogu (Kikaizashi/Mishin Bogu): The Futon is stitched using a sewing machine, because of this, each line on the Futon can be sewn straight and exactly equal to each other. Since the amount of padding that can be inserted is limited to how much the sewing machine needle can penetrate, the finished Futon is often not as elastic or flexible as a Hand-stitched Futon can be.
However, as it doesn’t require as much skill and experience as hand-stitching does, it can be provided at a comparably lower price.
The tighter the stitching, the better the quality of the Bogu, and the more expensive the Bogu will become. Usually available in 7~3mm variations.
Hand-stitched Bogu (Tezashi Bogu): The Futon is stitched by hand, one stitch at the time, creating a very appealing texture on the Futon. Because the craftsman can adjust the strength of each stitch, the resulting Futon has a very high durability and provides great protection. Since the inner padding can also be finely adjusted while sewing, it also makes the finished Futon superior in terms of elasticity and flexibility.
However, as the production of this type of hand-stitched Futon requires much skill and experience and also takes a long time, this type of Futon is comparatively more expensive as a result.
As the stitching gets tighter, it requires more work and time to finish, and becomes more expensive. Usually available in 3.0~1.0bu (1bu = ~3.03mm)
Orizashi Bogu: These are Bogu that are made with Indigo-dyed Cotton Canvas and Orizashi fabric. This type of Bogu is not reinforced with indigo-dyed deerskin.
Orizashi Bogu are not as durable as Deerskin Bogu, but they excel in breathability and are very light and easy to wear/move in, making them popular among Kendoka who does Shiai.
Indigo-dyed Leather Bogu: These are Bogu that are made with Indigo-dyed Cotton Canvas and reinforced with Cow leather/Synthetic Leather/Indigo-dyed Deerskin. Cow leather tends to be used in lower quality products, and is also used in Bogu for small children in some cases, it tends to look very shiny and is not as durable as synthetic leather or Deerskin, in addition to be very weak against moisture. Synthetic leather, also called Clarino or Neoleather, is used widely in many types of Bogu, however, since synthetic leather does not absorb Indigo-dye very well, they are usually dyed with chemical dye, resulting in discoloration with time and wear. Deerskin is often used in the higher grade Bogu products, and is the best in terms of appearances, creating very elegant and luxuriously looking Bogu. Leather is used to reinforce the areas of the Bogu which are most prone to wear and tear, making this type of Bogu more durable than Orizashi Bogu.
This is the part of the Bogu that protects your head and throat. The face is protected with bars of metal, called Mengane which prevents the Shinai from hitting or stabbing your face. The Men is made with a single sheet of Menbuton which is folded in half and sewn together piece by piece by the Bogu craftsman.
Menbuton: The Futon which makes up the Men. Often made thicker in on the part that is on the top of the head to make it more resistant to hits by Shinai towards Men.
Mendare: The part of the Futon that protects your shoulders when you wear the Men. The Mendare is measured starting from just below the Kannuki and to the end of the Futon. Mendare can generally be stitched using Bou-zashi/Futsu-zashi (regular straight stitching), Naname-zashi (diagonal stitching), or Gunome-zashi (Half-interval stitching), each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Although the Mendare was made very long in the past, nowadays shorted Mendare are more popular as it’s easier to make larger movements with your arms and shoulders if the Mendare are not in the way. A Mendare with good elasticity can take on a slightly curved shape which makes you look more dignified when wearing the Men.
Men Kawakazari: The design of the reinforcement stitched onto your Menbuton. By attaching Orizashi fabric or Indigo-dyed Deerskin to the Menbuton, it not only serves as a reinforcement for parts that are more easily damaged. But it also serves as a decorative design to make your Men more special. The Men Kawakazari is available in many different elaborate designs.
Menbuchi: The leather part that hold the Men and the Mengane together. The Menbuchi is made out of water buffalo leather and is traditionally painted with red urushi on the inside and black urushi on the outside. The red color is said to influence and strengthen your fighting spirit and widen your field of view.
Mengane: The metal bars that protects your face from hits by Shinai. In the past, they were made using iron, stainless steel or nickel silver. However due to security and durability reasons, nowadays mainly Duralumin, which is a very hard aluminum alloy, and Titanium is used for Mengane in Kendo Bogu. While there are many types of Mengane, Duralumin, Titanium and All-Titanium together with their IBB varieties, are the most common models seen on over 90% of all Bogu on the market.
Monomi: The space in-between the 6th and 7th bar of the Mengane that is made slightly wider to allow you to see better when you wear your Men. In the case of Mengane in Men made for Children or Mengane with only 13 bars, it is between the 5th and 6th bar on the Mengane.
Kannuki: The leather part that connects the Menbuton and the Ago. Commonly made using synthetic leather, Kurozan leather or indigo-dyed deerskin.
Mimikawa (Chikawa): The part that reinforces that part of the Men where the Kannuki is attached. Commonly made using synthetic leather, Kurozan leather or indigo-dyed deerskin.
Sumikawa (Kakugawa): The reinforcement on the corner of the Menbuton that protects the Menbuton from friction when you pass by your opponent and the Menbuton of your opponent rubs against your Menbuton.
Tsukidare (Ago): The part of the Men that protects your throat from Tsuki (stabs) hits. Commonly made with synthetic leather or indigo-dyed deerskin. The Shokko on the Tsukidare is usually made to match that of the Mune.
Youjindare: The part that is located behind the Tsukidare, meant to protect your throat in the case the Shinai slips on the Tsukidare and goes past it during a Tsuki.
Men Kazari-ito: The decorative braids that are meant to reinforce the sides of the Mendare. The braids themselves can also be decorated with Yabane, which is threads in different colors braided together with the Kazari-ito to create a contrasting pattern on the Kazari braid.
Matsuri-ito: The thread that sews the reinforcement Kawakazari together with the Menbuton, preventing the reinforcement from coming loose at the ridges. Rather than a simple single line stitch, a zigzag stitch (Overlock) will make the Men even more durable.
Uchiwa: The oval part on the inside of the Men that encompasses your face. The Uchiwa can be made using various materials such as indigo-dyed cotton canvas, orizashi cotton, BioClean Sillead or velvet. In general cotton canvas is recommended as it is firm and forms after your head and face, while velvet might feel nice at first, it also deteriorate faster and the fabric might become slightly loose with time.
Ten: This is the cushion where you put your forehead against when wearing your Men. When wearing a properly sized Men, your forehead should rest against the Ten and the proper way to wear a Men is also to first put your forehead against the Ten before putting your Chin onto the Chi.
Chi: This is the cushion where you put your chin against when wearing your Men. In a properly sized Men, your chin should rest against the Chi, you should be able to open your mouth, but the Men should not be unstable. The Men should not be movable vertically while wearing it properly.
Urakawa: This is the reinforcement that is put near the edges on the back of the Tsukidare/Youjindare and Mendare. This is to protect these parts of the Men from friction coming from rubbing against your Gi, Mune or shoulders while wearing the Men. Usually synthetic leather or indigo-dyed deerskin is used, but more decorative Urakawa with dragonfly or sakura patterns among others are also available.
The part of the Bogu that are meant to protect your hands and arms. The Kote is made to protect your hands from the opponents Shinai, while allowing yourself to handle your Shinai smoothly to attack.
Kote Futon: the Futon that makes up the part of the Kote that protects your arm. Often the right-hand Kote futon will be made slightly thicker since hits from Shinai tend to concentrate there.
Kote Atama: The part that protects the back of your hand. Usually stuffed with either cotton, some kind of cotton mix or deerhair. It’s said that deerhair provides a better fit and better impact absorption, thus it’s more commonly used in high quality Kote.
Yukiwa: The reinforcement that is located between your thumb and your index finger, to prevent wear from the Tsuba on your Shinai or from your other hand.
Namako (Kera): The part that bulges out at the back of the Kote protecting the back of your hand from Shinai hits. Most Kote are made with one namako, but some people prefer the look of two namako, which is said to make the Kote more flexible, but in truth is mostly decorative and the most common opinion is that two namako does not make your Kote more flexible.
Ni-no-ude (wrist joint): The part of the Kote that covers your wrist. Most commonly made using regular indigo-dyed cotton canvas or Orizashi, but can also be made with synthetic leather of indigo-dyed deerskin for added durability.
Tsutsu: The cylindrical part of the Kote that protects your Arm, in other words, the part that the Kote futon forms. If this part is made too thin it might seem very flexible and comfortable for the untrained eye, but as there is no padding, it will lead to injury, so please take extra care of this part when choosing your Kote.
Tenouchi (Palm Leather): The part that covers the palm of your hand and is used to grip your Shinai. Usually made using smoked deerskin or synthetic leather.
Kote Kazari Ito: The decorative braids that are used for the Ni-no-ude and the Kote Atama. For the Kote atama there is generally two styles, Standard or Yoroi-gata. While the Standard style only puts one single vertical braid on the knuckle part of the Kote atama, the Yoroi-gata features three lines of braids to make the Kote look more like the fist of a Yoroi armor glove. This is also said to make it slightly easier to clench and open your hand inside the Kote, as the braids makes the Kote atama bend slightly easier.
Kote Himo: The braided string that are used to tie the Tsutsu together. Commonly made using Heat-treated Rayon, Synthetic Silk or Silk.
The Do is the part of the Bogu that protects the Torso. Among all parts in a Kendo Bogu set, this is the part is most visible and it’s very popular to use various colors and patterns on the Mune and Do to make your Bogu set unique.
Do Mune: The part of the Do that protects your chest. Is most often made using Kurozan leather, but can also be made using cow leather, deerskin or rarely Orizashi fabric. The Mune can be widely customized in terms of decorative kazari braids or Shokko.
Do-dai: The part the Do that protects the stomach area. It can be made using Fiber/Plastic (Yamato Do) or in Bamboo. The Do-dai is available in various colors and designs with Bamboo Do’s being painted with genuine Urushi lacquer in various colors and patterns and Fiber/Plastic Do imitating these patterns.
Mune/Do Chichikawa: This is the leather hoop which your Do Himo passes through to tie the Himo to the Do. There is two chichikawa on the Mune for the longer himo that goes over your shoulders and four chichikawa on the Do for the himo that goes behind your back.
Mune Kazari: This is the decorative braids that are available in various patterns, and usually decorates the lower part of the Mune. The two or three braids that goes out over the Ko-mune are called Ashi. The braids themselves can also be decorated with Yabane, which is threads in different colors braided together with the Kazari-ito to create a contrasting pattern on the Kazari braid.
Shokko: The decorative pattern that is usually sewn into the space above the Kazari-ito on the Mune. Available in various patterns and colors, but most commonly Gobanzashi and Nanamezashi is seen on Bogu sets that are not custom-made.
Ko-mune: The part of the Mune that protects the side of you torso. The Ko-mune is not present in Do for very small children.
Herikawa: The piece of leather that is used to bind the Do and the Mune together and also reinforces that edges of the Do and Mune.
Tojikawa: The piece of leather that is used as a thread to bind the Herikawa and the Mune to the Do-dai. Most often made with water buffalo leather for its toughness.
The Tare is the part of the Bogu that protects your waist and groin. The Tare consists of the Koshi-obi, O-dare and Ko-dare, the O-dare is in the front direction and the central O-dare is where you usually wear your Nafuda (also called Tare-name or Zekken), which displays your name, organization, and location/country.
Koshi-obi (Hara-obi): The part of the Tare that is tied against your waist, usually reinforced with Orizashi, synthetic leather or Deerskin.
Obidome: The part where the Koshi-obi and the Tare-himo is sewn together.
Tare-himo (Tare-obi): The Belt that is used to tie the Tare to your waist.
O-dare/Ko-dare: The flaps that hang down and protects your groin area. A Tare consists of three O-dare in front and two Ko-dare in the back, positioned so that they cover the spaces in-between the O-dare. An O-dare with good elasticity can keep their shape, makes it easier to perform rapid footwork and can be made to take a slightly curved shape making the wearer look more dignified when wearing the Bogu.
Yamamichi (Chidori-ito): The ornamental thread that is horizontally stitched onto the connection of the Koshi-obi and O-dare in front of the Tare. In general the color of the thread matches that of the Matsuri-ito.
Gakuzashi: This refers to the square formed Gunome-zashi stitching that sometimes are stitched on the O-dare and Ko-dare of a Tare. The Gakuzashi makes the Tare slightly more durable as the stitching within the square is tighter.
Tare Kazari-ito: The decorative braids are horizontally stitched on the O-dare and Ko-dare. Most Bogu features 5-lines of Kazari-ito, but higher rank Bogu usually features 6-lines, although the braids are mostly ornamental and not always an indication of quality. The braids themselves can also be decorated with Yabane, which is threads in different colors braided together with the Kazari-ito to create a contrasting pattern on the Kazari braid.