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How long untill Bogu?

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  • How long untill Bogu?

    I have been practicing Kendo for 2 months. I recently purchased the Hakama and Keiko-gi for a real practice uniform.

    Next, I am wondering how long it typically takes for a stdent of Kendo (and a determined one at that! ) to get a Bogu set.

    Thanks in advance for your help!

  • #2
    It depends/. If you are financing yourself then you can get it as soon as you get your money together. I'm currently in the process of getting a good 4mm japanese bogu for about AUD$2000.

    Usually your club will try and get you a decent set after you finish shodan. If you are thinking of getting a bogu yourself know that a decent set will last 10 to 20 years. So if you are forking out US$1000 think of it as 100 to 50 dollars a year investment.


    • #3
      Um...Personally, I wouldn't get bogu until your sensei says, "ok." Most schools have bogu to rent, and if you buy your own early it's sort of like saying (in my opinion) "I don't think you know crap about my level, I'm ready."

      Secondly, the time it takes to get bogu varies from school to school and person to person. I've heard some dojo give bogu to people in 2 weeks (but that probably was a rumor) while in Japan it takes a year of practicing the pure basics. Also, some people are just naturally talented at footwork and other basics and might get bogu in a shorter amount of time compared to someone who has trouble with footwork.

      Ofcourse, how often someone comes and dedication to learning is a factor. I've seen students who constantly practice basics while the more advanced (if you can call us advance) do keiko. While I've seen others who just plop down and don't try. If you're the kind of person who says you're determined to learn but just sits around, it's going to take longer to get bogu than mr. determined over there.


      • #4
        Why wait

        I think students should be allowed to wear everything expect Men from day one. I know that in most dojo's including mine beginners are not given bogu for around six months. While in Japan the University I practiced with made me wear all bogu fomr the very first practice. To be fair I had practiced kendo as a child some 18 years earier. I think getting the armor early help you get used to it while learning proper strikes.


        • #5
          respect your sensei

          In my dojo we wait for sensei to tell each student, or each group of, to wear bogu. If he says bogu for day one, it's ok. If he says bogu after a year, it's ok. It's not up to the student to decide. He (the sensei) is always watchful (or should be) and knows each student's progress and capabilities.

          Bogu is a big responsability in my point of my view, because you'll be helping other out with their practice, and to help them correctly you must have very solid basics.

          Good practice for you,

          Alex Polli


          • #6
            Well as I see it, I waited for my sensei to give the go ahead for the Keiko-gi and Hakama (and bought them from him) so I totally agree with waiting for the "okay."

            I was wondering however, how long it took some of you guys to get the "okay" to pick up the Bogu. I've heard it range from two to six months.

            As for being determined, I'd say I have those cards filled. I would like to perhaps pursue a place on a team someday, so practice makes perfect . I practice traditional keiko every Saturday at my dojo, and I do a solo practice alone at home twice a week. I do my best to keep this schedule. I live approxammately 1 hour from my dojo, so attending the shorter Thursday classes is difficult as I cannot get the time to take the ride.

            I intend to stick with Kendo wholeheartedly.

            Thank you all!


            • #7
              Re: why wait?

              I totally disagree with you Durell, no offense. There are several different reasons why, so I'll just start listing them off in no particular order.

              1) Wearing the kote and men from day one is pointless. Everything you can do in kendo falls back on basics. YOU HAVE TO LEARN THE BASICS FIRST. I've seen people whose basics were nothingless than awful and once they got into bogu it just got worse.

              2) I've seen people with good basics turn awful once they got bogu b/c they can't concentrate on strike, squeeze, kiaii, and foot work at once. They haven't been conditioned to the level of doing it all at once.

              3) Getting bogu early inhibits you from learning the proper strikes b/c it's very rigid and lacks fluidity, something that most beginners need the most. Wearing everything but the men is still a problem b/c kote's are usually stiff when worn and it would be hard to learn the proper wrist motions in it.

              4) I had no problem getting use to bogu once i got in it. Probably all that conditioning i did learning how to do the strikes right....

              5) To me, it seems like getting equipment can be sort of like a way of reward. If someone practices hard they'll get their keikogi and hakama, and if they keep practicing, they will get their bogu. With this rewards system, it gives students the intiative to learn how to do kendo right. If you just gave bogu to them in the early, they may lack the motivation to do it correctly.

              I think that's all i have to say for now


              • #8
                Answering to 'Hagakure'

                It took me about four months, three practices per week of two hours each, until my (Japanese) sensei told me to wear bogu when I was beginning.

                Answering to Will

                Well, excepting the extra weight and the stiffness of brand-new bogu, it was ok for me.

                Alex Polli


                • #9

                  Will et al,

                  I agree with some of the comments concerning kihon and kote. I think it depends on the nature of the practice in your dojo. In the dojos I have the honor to practice with the majority of the practice was kihon followed by open practice. Those students who do not wear bogu during practice do kakarigeiko or kihon with the sensei. With this type of practice one can develop good basics over time. I doubt that the lack or inclusion of bogu ultimately determines the quality of a students kendo in the long term. That is determined by the sensei's focus and practice.

                  I agree that your sensei is the one that determines when you should wear bogu.

                  When I started kendo as a child I studied for around 10 month before I was allowed to check out Bogu from the dojo. After taking a little over 17 years off I started again while living in Japan. I assume that is why I was allowed use bogu from day one. At any rate it is the sensei that makes that decision. Thus I agree with Alex it is up to the sensei end of story.



                  • #10
                    I also agree that the sensei should be the one to dictate when a student is ready for bogu. As a general rule, I think most kendo-related questions should be asked of your sensei before one goes ahead and decides on their own (like shinsa).

                    However, the reality is that most students nowadays do not have the patience to wait until the sensei gives the OK or take offense when they are told they are not yet ready. Perhaps this is also a good example of cultural differences. I generalize, but in my experience, the expectation of most Westerners new to kendo is that they will be able to master kendo in a very short period of time. I am most often asked by first-timers "when do I get to put on the armor?" and "when do I get to fight?"

                    I think in a traditional Eastern understanding, there are no such expectation and it is inherent in the culture that any sort of undertaking such as learning kendo takes a Very Long Time. Thus, these questions almost never come up.

                    So, it seems to me that there must be some sort of balance struck between the two, when practicing or promoting kendo outside of Asia. You want to encourage people to stay with it until they attain the understanding that kendo takes more than a lifetime to master and that when to get bogu is not an important question at all. To do this, one has to live with the reality of modifying the tradition somewhat, even as you keep the original purpose in mind.

                    In my dojo, my sensei comes from Japan once or twice a year for a week and so he is not always around to continually observe the progress of his students. His methodology in bridging the cultural difference is to slowly integrate bogu use into beginner keiko. First, new students start with basics: kamae, ashisabaki, shomen-uchi for about three to four months. During this phase, and after they've gotten more or less comfortable with their bodies and KNOW they want to continue with kendo, they're encouraged to get uniforms. Following the basic training, about two to three more months elapse over which bogu is slowly integrated into the practice regimen -- first with only tare and do, then with kote (which is longer), and finally with men. Beginners still do not integrate into the "advanced" keiko until they've had about a month in full bogu. Of course, this timeline is for those who show up to keiko regularly.

                    I think this method, as shown by its results, are pretty good.



                    • #11
                      Hey again,

                      I just wanted to say that during yesterday's class, I asked sensei when I should think about picking up a bogu, and he said that I should buy one next class (next Saturday) I'm really happy with my progress and I'm glad that sensei has taken notice.

                      I'd like to thank all you for your help.


                      • #12
                        Wearing it the first day is an excellent way to teach people what a long way they have to go to learn things. By all means let them try it on. Hit them to remove their inhibitions of the fact that strikes may hurt.

                        Then take it off and proceed with the basics until they are ready. Most people with common sense realize this after trying it on anyway.

                        Another thing is I dont let people watch. I clearly remember my first teacher telling me to take off my socks and join in.



                        • #13

                          I've heard some dojo give bogu to people in 2 weeks (but that probably was a rumor) while in Japan it takes a year of practicing the pure basics.
                          When I was in Japan, the ichi-nen-sei with no kendo experience progressed from PE clothes to full bogu in roughly 4 weeks.

                          Then again, this was at the high-school level. Additionally, we practiced (at least) 5 times a week, for an hour and a half each session.

                          At my new dojo, I started from the first day with the bogu. Nobody even bothered to ask me how much experience I had... I guess they assumed that because I owned a bogu I was qualified to use it.


                          • #14
                            On when to start wearing: I think Japanese dojos tend to be less precious about the armour question, especially where foreigners are concerned. If they can get you into an armour straight away it means they don't have to waste time away from the main class teaching you kihon while eveyone else is doing kakarigeiko. The attitiude tends to be more throw you in the deep end and you'll swim. Of course in the much more lititgious West, safety and public liability issues are becoming paramount. No Western coach is going to look down at their student writhing on the ground in agony and ask "gamman dekimasuka?"

                            On when to buy: I rented club bogu until well after receiving my first dan. I knew I didn't want to get a crappy $400 set of armour with vinyl kote and 10mm stitching so I waited until my first trip to Japan before buying an armour that I knew would last a long time. I must say now when I see some of my students buying $2000 armours after only 12 months I get a little disconcerted. But that's probably just because deep down I resent their (parents') ability to do so.


                            • #15
                              heh...I'm currently in the proccess of getting a AUD$1500, 4-mm bogu. A friend is going to Japan so I took the opportunity since next year I will be in Malaysia. And probably not be able to get a chance like this.

                              I'm hoping to upgrade the kote to a better one then in the set(as per a seniors advice). Also the Do is made of fiber glass but it comes in a beautiful gold finish. I don't know...

                              I've been doing kendo seriously for about 7 months now (I started for a year in 1999) but I can understand how you feel. I look at my sempai's who still use their hand me down bogu and think "oh' boy I'd better train hard..."