Places where kendo students can train traditional equipment making?
by James Y.
(Itasca county, Minnesota, United States)
I have been a kendo student for most of my life, however my training started with my grandmother when I was young but never earned rank in a formal manner. The only formal ranking that I have received was in Kumdo (the Korean jutsu related to kendo.)
However, my inquiry is connected to equipment making of bogu equipment. I have studied in traditional blacksmithing, and bladesmithing for over 15 years. Including 3 years of bladesmith training with a Japanese traditionalist smith. Folding and manually making every element of the blade in the same manner as ancestral Japanese smiths have used since the iron evolution. My smithing learning even spent a year training, while attending university in Oxford England. Learning the European middle ages blacksmithing techniques. Every aspect of the Armory from blade to shield, also tools and regular daily life items. (Horse shoes, gates, etc.)
My objective now is the work with making Japanese kendo equipment. I am an avid archery hunter, trapper, and have worked with hides from cattle, wolves, deer, coyotes, large cats, beaver, bear, moose and many more. It is part of making use of the entire animal, not wasting anything. Bone tools are great for hide working. The source of skins doesn’t come from me alone, many are given by forest service work where animals have been the cause of issues. I respect life, and have hunted because the standard life of animals raised for grocery store meats are more frequently lives made to fatten and slaughter. I hunt for food; my prey has lived free and in the natural element. I use a bow because I have practiced marksmanship since I was nine, competitive extreme long distance of up to one mile, this is not an honorable hunt.
Archery, along with tracking, hunting on foot providing an element of sportsmanship.
I have been called to hunt predators who are posing risks to livestock or in some instances coming into direct contact with families near their homes. If tranquilizer & relocating is no longer an option, the predator has gained a taste for prey that is a risk to the people, then I will be called to track, and hunt it.
It's something I am used to, but have never enjoyed. Yes, they cause human risk, but it is their home we have invaded. I do it because unlike some, I am humane. I have the skill, accuracy, optimal caliper size, and lack the behavior often called "buck fever" where your quarry is spotted and your flooded with adrenaline. This often causes shots that should not be taken. Ones
that wound, but not kill. When it’s me behind the scope I know my shot will make a quick end, less suffering.
With my experience with various leather types, I would like to use the hides taken in a positive manner, making kendo Bogu armor. Not for myself alone, but as a low-cost option for those who have an interest in kendo but held back by financial factors. I have access to hardwoods, oaks mostly for kata practice swords, bo and jo making.
I love kendo, training even on my own doing forms and exercises to practice regularly, as I have trained in a variety of martial arts, and continued training even when options are limited. With U.S. Kendo practitioners dropping in numbers, using my own time to provide equipment that is a part of what holds people back from progressing forward, this could be a personal sacrifice to promote the sport. This would allow me to show gratitude and give back to the sport I love.
The lowering of kendogi worldwide, is also an impactful on sources of equipment manufacturers lower, leaving primarily bulk production using less traditional methods. Like any aspect of martial arts, the art portion is important. In the blades, armor, and gear, I've always felt including the aspects of tradition/history should be represented in the equipment.
So if there is a source that can be recommended to contact about learning how to create this aspect, I would appreciate the guidance. Even if only a referral to a source of more budget friendly equipment to point financially limited students towards.
I would happily donate processed hides to them to help with cost factors, I would appreciate the guidance.
I've discussed a kendo program for a couple local schools, and have been in contact with ranked Dan who are qualified to instruct, and I would provide assistance. The only element preventing this program being started up, is finding equipment that can be financially accessible to get the program started. So, this guidance is something I am grateful for because I will be able to train, and because this would allow a program that would be valuable in adding students, but also an example to help other kendo programs form nationwide.
Thank you for your time,
Thank you for your question. So you want to learn how to make kendogu. First, you can probably watch these: https://youtu.be/mL8uxqjL5aU
You live in the USA, right? You can probably start contacting these kendogu shops in the US and if they can hook you up with some kendo equipment craftsmen.