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Blood on the shinai

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  • Blood on the shinai

    ...thankfully only mine so far.

    Last week I was doing kirikaeshi with such concentration that I managed to re-make the previous week's blisteron my palm, only this time it bled (though I didnt notice initially - very mushin, I'm sure...
    I'm also no stranger to fairly hefty blistering of the left foot.

    Now for me, this is fine, and I'm working on the assumption that each time blisters heal up, the body adapts and the skin gets a little tougher.

    My query is really on behalf of my girlfriend, and a friend of hers who are studying to become Osteopaths. Both are interested in Kendo and have come along to my dojo, but both are concerned about the effect it might have on them, which might cause problems in treating patients (ie sore hands when manipulating, sore feet that need to be stood up on for long periods...). Additionally, my girlfriend has diabetes, so needs to take more than usual care of her feet.

    I'm assuming she could get round the feet-thing by wearing the "slippers" I've seen some people wearing. And I guess by the time you wear Kote, the palms are no longer a problem....? As this could a a while away, is it acceptable to wear any sort of gloves before this, prior to the wearing of armour?

    Does anyone who has practiced for a while have any wise words? Do the blisters stop, or are they never ending? Is doing Kendo inherently something where you will be injured / damaged at some point? Should I really be encouraging these concerned souls into our bizzare world?

    As ever, thanks all.


  • #2
    Hi there

    Oh this post brings back the times when I was starting. Blisters everywhere and the 'post-keiko surgery' to patch them.

    Anyway, after a while you'll be relatively blister-proof if everyone goes ok. I'm almost. As for the kote, not quite. If you do suburi before waza practice, the pinky blister will persist. Even with kote on if you have correct left hand grip this blister will eventually turn into a callous.

    My girlfriend is also kendoka and a Medicine student. After a year of practice she didn't complain anymore about blisters and soreness anymore, only occasional bruises on the arms from poorly aimed kote strikes.

    So, I believe that any contact sport has it's share of occasional wounds, but it's not like it's going to impair you or something.

    Alex Polli


    • #3
      If the hand blisters (I assume from Kendo, wink wink ) get to bad you can tape it up before training. It will then give it time to heal.

      Same for the bleeders on the foot. You can buy foot protectors but the blisters give good conditioning.

      After a while though the blisters stop.


      • #4
        Footprotectors are the wrong way to go and should only be used when absolutly necessary. On top of that, they make it easier to slip and increase the risk of groin/achillies injuries.
        Blisters on the feet are easily treated with the special blister-band-aid you can get in any pharmacy. (Trust me, I've used my fair share of them). They will remove virtually any discomfort, although it wont heal quite as well as when you don't use them. (When I say, it's because you will need some level of callousness underneath your feet and the bandaids make the new surface skin very soft, making it easy to re-blister it).
        Later when you get a bit more....hmm..used to blisters (yes, you do get used to them), you'll learn just to puncture them and get on with it. (Again, that was something I never imagined I would be able to do).
        Of course, the best way to avoid blisters on the feet, is to do proper footwork .
        Similar for the hands. You can get small sized bandaid thingies, use a bit of gel/cream before hand (once you get your own shinai!) and/or tape it up. The hands will in general get used to it very quickly and again, concentration on how you hold the shinai will also help eliminating it.

        You could say that it's still a lot of hassle to go through, but pretty much anything outside the gym will require some level of discomfort before your body adapts.
        (And if they're studying to be osteopaths, they should try it for themselves ).

        I should for once be able to make it Thursday (the work-gods willing) so feel free to ask further questions there.




        • #5
          Callouses will build up over time and that's what most of us use to protect us from further blisters. They're much cheaper than tape and don't 'roll off' during keiko.

          If your girlfriend doesn't like the roughness of the callouses on her hands (not 'cos she's a girl but 'cos she's a professional, er, handler ) they can be managed by smoothing with a pumice stone.

          BTW has anyone noticed the more senior the sensei, the softer than hands? Why is that?


          • #6
            I can't say I've had the chance to caress any Sensei's hands

            Seriously tho, I think if you are doing your grip correctly, you should only get one blister below the left pinkie. When I started I had a whole hand of them, but as time went on it became just one little spot.

            I have soft feet, even after all this time, and when our dojo gets the annual re-polish, my feet get torn up for months. Why? Bad footwork, plain and simple.


            • #7
              Thanks Dean. I see I left myself wide open for that one. :P


              • #8
                Blisters are never ending it seems, I think the high ranking you become the less blisters happen b/c you're doing "nanadan kendo," ie very little moving. Most beginners and a lot of advance players push off with their feet a lot more often than older senseis, and move around more, thus have friction between their feet and floor and causing the blisters. So basically if you're young enough that you can run without any pain, you're stuck with blisters.

                Originally posted by JSchmidt
                Footprotectors are the wrong way to go and should only be used when absolutly necessary.
                Yeah, totally agree with you. Don't be such a wuss and use foot protectors (tabi) all the time. Maybe if your callous has been ripped off and your fledgling callous was taken off as well so the only thing between your foot and the floor is bare flesh, sure, use a tabi for a bit. But how else do you expect to form the callous if you don't actually have your feet in contact with the floor?

                Oh, and for you tape users, you're a wuss too, ride out the pain like a real man! but, i guess that sort of explains the foot infect...

                hehe, just playing above


                • #9
                  Thanks guys

                  This pretty much confirms what I was thinking. Remember though that its not me that needs convincing, and regarding -

                  [QUOTE]Originally posted by JSchmidt
                  [B]Footprotectors are the wrong way to go and should only be used when absolutly necessary. [QUOTE]

         girlfriend's Diabetes pretty much falls under this heading. Who makes the best ones then?

                  BTW its nice to know that my pinky blister is in the right place

                  Thanks for the offer Jakob, I'll pester you in the pub on Thurs




                  • #10
                    I have three bad blisters that seem reoccuring. Below the pinky, below the index, and where the end of the tsuka sits in the palm.
                    All on the left hand, but that is pretty natural.

                    I was griping it wrong and paid for it. Oh well. As has been said, I got he one below the pinky, so something has to be right.

                    I typically end up with cuts in the end cause the blisters don't last.


                    • #11
                      David - blisters on your feet are, as mentioned, a result of bad footwork. Since no more was added, I would like to offer the following explanation/advice. In your normal posture your left foot should be straight, stretched and tense; your right leg should be slightly flexed at the knee so that it 'points' slightly 'forward'. Both heels should be slightly off the floor, but low/close to the floor. the idea is that the left ankle & foot serves as a spring to move forward. When you move forward, at each step, you should end in the same position from which you started, i.e. so that you can again step either back- or forward again. Now - back to blisters - if you have your feet in that way and move in that way you will have a 'maximum' surface of your (especially) left foot to propel you forward and as you do, you will not slide you foot in a way that causes a hard 'rub' which is the cause of blisters. But with 'practice' you do get used to blisters - but above all - youshould learn how to avoid them.... Cheers,