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My Sensei doesn't like velcro and plastic buckles. What should I do?

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  • My Sensei doesn't like velcro and plastic buckles. What should I do?

    Hi, my name is Joji.

    I am a person highly interested in the fields of design for mechanical engineering, and I'm going to a college specialized in that field next year. In the future, I would like to invent a new bogu and men that is lighter, cost effective, and stronger using the latest technological advancements disregarding "tradition," because f*** traditions in my personal Canadian opinion.

    Tradition is great and it keeps things proper, but it pisses me off how the bogu and men still uses strings to fasten itself onto my body and men. I only touched my Kendo armor once and quit Kendo once I got it in the mail because it's simply time consuming and troublesome to put it on. Furthermore, I hate the idea of my Sensei whining to put it on faster when my arms can't reach the back of my head properly. Basically, I don't want him telling me to do it faster. I fear for that to happen.

    Yesterday, I asked my Sensei after a year since that incident if I could modify my bogu and men by adding plastic buckles and remove the strings all together. He didn't allow it probably due to "pathetic traditions." I told him my reasons behind it and how this is the 21st century and we have to move on. He still ignores that fact and insists on tradition.

    F*** tradition, I say innovation overpowers tradition. The Japanese need to learn that you can't continue to fight with swords and they need to start using firearms (get my anology?). I'm half Japanese and I'm gravely disappointed in my Sensei for not embracing the future.

    Or am I wrong here? Please help me out. Putting on the men is seriously pissing the hell out me.

  • #2
    You are 100% right. Keep it this way.

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    • #3
      You're not wrong, and kendo (and bogu) will evolve one way or another, like everything else in life does. If you look at bogu websites you'll see several indications of newer materials being used, etc. Maybe you'll be a contributor to advancements in bogu. Good luck with that. My dojomates and I are constantly talking about how to make bogu safer (especially the shinai-head impact). Many have experimented with sorbothane and other materials.

      But (and I am trying to put this in as nice a manner as possible) if you're using 'sensei' and 'whine' in the same sentence, I suspect there are bigger problems at play than just bogu design. If tying your men is "pissing the hell out" of you, then perhaps kendo is not for you?

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      • #4
        "quit Kendo once I got it in the mail because it's simply time consuming and troublesome to put it on"

        I have no words to this. Enjoy chanbara.

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        • #5
          Sword arts themselves are antiquated. Sometimes having to do things the "old" way gives you a better understanding of them. There are many people that want to step away from modern technology for awhile. Kendo is a good outlet for this. In my opinion technology destroyed Olympic fencing. Kendo is fine the way it is but it is not for everybody. I am an engineer. Could I design a better men or a better shinai? Probably, but then it would not be kendo.

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          • #6
            First of all, it's great that you're thinking outside the box to find ways to improve the quality and safety of Kendo equipment. Other than that, there are a few opinions I have about your post:

            - First of all, if you're not willing to have the patience to tie the bogu on, then how can anyone expect you to have the patience to learn the intricacies of Kendo? Tying the bogu as it currently stands can be difficult at first, but that time is only reduced to 30 seconds to a minute in short order. If you really try, you can get the men on in a much shorter time, as I've seen it done on many occasions by those that want to rush to practice with the head sensei at the practice.

            - I can't say that this is the case for all scenarios, but I imagine a safety factor to using strings instead of velcro or buckles. With velcro, there's just too many sudden movements with heavy equipment to make it stay on right. With buckles, if someone has a nasty fall during practice, then it's much easier to pull the string to pull the men off (or any other pieces of bogu) to give better access to fresh air and tend to any applicable injuries.

            - It seems like you just want to eschew tradition just because you personally find it too time consuming and hard to deal with. While I agree that we shouldn't adhere to tradition for tradition's sake on several issues, but it's that tradition that either serves a practical, cultural purpose or adds an interesting aesthetic to what we do. I'm sure that there are some Canadian traditions that you adhere to that you would feel would be bad or awkward to go without. Kendo and Japanese culture is the same way.

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            • #7
              You learned to tie your shoes at some point right? Or are you still sporting Spiderman Keds (so fashionably anti-fashion)? Sounds to me like kendo is exactly for you.
              Last edited by dillon; 13th June 2014, 08:46 AM.

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              • #8
                There's a reason I moved this to flames...

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Neil Gendzwill View Post
                  There's a reason I moved this to flames...
                  You don't say!

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                  • #10
                    Oi here, I don't think I'm flaming here. I'm simply providing my own viewpoints on the matter. I have aspegers, so whatever it is, I'm sorry if it felt that way, but I didn't mean it. I'm not good with words, okay?

                    Regarding the men, I'd like to try putting it on again. Perhaps I can practice at my secondary Sensei's house since he's not the type tha twould scold me for putting on the men for 5 minutes. But listen, I don't mind the harsh lessons they provide in Kendo. I handle it fine... barely, but at least I enjoyed the sport when the armor wasn't shipped to me yet.

                    I play Airsoft, so that's the reason why I insist on using velcro and plastic buckles, because I find it so much more comfortable and effective when using those two technologies.

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                    • #11
                      My trolling meter is off the scale at this point.

                      Good luck.

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                      • #12
                        Please please don't waste your time, your sensei's time and my time to argue with you. I think it is not about kendo but you are having problem with tradition. Whether it is pathetic or not, there are lot of people trying to protect such tradition. So... you should go and do your Core excercise or do zumba... Actually, MMA may work better for you.

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                        • #13
                          I want to revisit this statement:

                          Originally posted by Joji View Post
                          I say innovation overpowers tradition.
                          This is a failure of understanding what innovation is. Innovation is the change in the system while tradition can be said to be that large body of long established norms. They are long established because they have proven value over time though are continually challenged by changing circumstances. Both have their place in the system. If you look at evolution, offsprings will carry some mutation compared to their parents and have some degree of deviation from the normative for their species. The vast majority of mutations are slight and inconsequential. Once in a while a disruptive mutation happens and that mutation may confer some advantage which allows that mutation to propagate either within the species or to create a new specie. This is the not the majority case however so innovation is rare. And even when it happens, it merely gets folded back into tradition or establishes a new tradition.

                          Originally posted by Joji View Post
                          The Japanese need to learn that you can't continue to fight with swords and they need to start using firearms (get my anology?).
                          This isn't Meiji Period, the Japanese did move on. Firearms have been in use in Japan since the Namboku Period over 400 years ago. But closer to the 20th Century, after copying the West, they contributed significantly to naval aviation, the development of aircraft carrier strategy, came up with aircraft carrying super submarines, which where then captured and studied by the Americans who took the idea further to develop strategic ballistic missile carrying submarines (saw this on TV somewhere).

                          So in a sense, you are both right and wrong. Kendo is a tradition and it has been overpowered. It was overpowered when the Seinan War ended because that was the last war that necessitated survival based on kendo/kenjutsu skills (and the reason Keishicho still holds kendo in an honored place to this day).

                          What we have today is a kendo that connects us back to the values and traditions of those who saw clearly that we will most likely never fight with swords ever again but that kendo offers us a vehicle to discover new things about ourselves. That includes struggling with antiquated uncomfortable equipment.

                          The innovation in kendo is not with things like replacing himo with velcro or bamboo with carbon-fibre. It is that moment you finally figure out how to fumikomi properly or that moment you discover your tanden or that moment that you realize that the men himo is actually not that big of a fuss. Kendo is actually suppose to be innovation... of ourselves.
                          Last edited by dillon; 13th June 2014, 11:30 PM.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by dillon View Post
                            I want to revisit this statement:
                            I think this should be Kendo 101 and taught to ALL new students.

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                            • #15
                              Taking the troll seriously for the sake of conversation...

                              Look at a nice set of handstitched kendo bogu - it can be a work of art. When used, it has that beauty of well-worn high quality goods. I believe the Japanese say "shibui".

                              Now look at modern hockey gear - it's functional and ugly. It's undoubtedly better designed for the purpose with modern materials. When used, it's less functional and even uglier.

                              A lot of what we do in kendo has no pure functional reason, it's just kendo. It's what we love and most of use don't want to change it.

                              Besides, a lot of the time the older stuff is functionally better. A nice bamboo shinai performs better in every aspect than carbon fibre except durability. Bamboo doh protect better than the artificial ones. Cotton hakama are more comfortable and look nicer than tetron. Etc.

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