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Hachimaki

by Olga
(Ukraine)

Some kendoists have long hair and some haircuts can be messy (e.g. long bangs etc.) so as a result hair gets into eyes.


At one seminar during training without bogu sensei (7 dan) came to a kendo-ka who used hachimaki and told him to take it off.

“But my hair hinder me without hachimaki”, kendo-ka said.

“Sorry, this is kendo!”, answered sensei.

Could you please comment on that? Kendoists cannot wear hachimaki or maybe there is some way hachimaki cannot be neaten but other way it is allowed?

Also when it is very hot and training goes without bogu (so you don't have tenugui on your head) and some kendoists use hachimaki to wipe sweat or prevent sweat getting into eyes. What is solution for them if without hachimaki?

Answer: Thanks for your post. Hachimaki, in case readers do not know what it is, is a headband but usually we use tenugui (very thin hand towel).

You must know in Japan we do not really use it that often. Hachimaki is seen in events such as summer festivals and so on. Hachimaki nowadays is pretty much used only in events in Japan.

You’ve probably seen samurai with hachimaki in manga/anime. It is probably true that these samurai used to wear hachimaki in battles but that is a long time ago.

As I mentioned, hachimaki is for events use mainly.

That is the first thing you must understand about hachimaki. OK?

So if you are wearing a hachimaki in kendō, many Japanese think that you are not serious.

I’ve been outside of Japan and living in the West for a long time but I would probably find it very uncomfortable to have people with a hachimaki around their head at dojo.

A solution of sweat is to let it be. Wipe the sweat off in a break. I personally use the sleeve of keikogi for a quick wipe. But I try not to do it (the reason will come up soon). I recommend shaking it off quickly.

You cannot wipe your face off when you put your men on so probably you should leave sweat on your face when you are not wearing a men on.

Kendō is seen as shugyo (ascetic training) so basically we must fight off those personal “wanting to do something” feelings such as wanting to wipe sweat.

Imagine you were fighting intensely and all of the sudden you wanted to wipe sweat off your face. That little movement would kill you.

Probably that is why samurai used to wear hachmaki!

Generally speaking, hachimaki is not a good idea for kendo training for the above-mentioned reasons.

Kendō is still based on “the sword” i.e. dead or alive, so we have these kinds of “self-discipline”.

Probably this is not an answer that you are looking for. I am sorry if I disappoint you.

However, kendō is still the way originated in samurai swordsmanship and basically it is about self-discipline".

It was hard for me to explain so if you have more questions, please ask. That will make me think more so hopefully I can come up with better explanation.

Hope this helps.

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