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  • Black bokken

    Hi, all. Well, I've had the same bokken for nearly four years, and it's starting to crack a bit (read katas 4, 5, 6, but especially 5), so I'd like to get a new one.

    Now, I'm gonna maybe ask for a nice custom-made one for Christmas. But until then: at the local martial arts supply store, the owner has them all in a big box for you to select, and there are some regular red-oak colored ones, brown ones, but also some black ones.

    What do you think would be the impact of showing up for testing or kata practice with a black bokken? Is it ostentatious? Does it send out a bad signal, like, "I want to be a ninja?"

    Also, is it painted, and would said paint start flaking off?

    My first bokken was $10, and it has served me well!

  • #2
    There are ebony bokuto and cheap wood bokuto painted black (Kendoshop, E-kendo, anyone who is black and costs less than 50 U$). Personally, I don't like them much. Both appearance and performance. The painted one will chip for sure.

    I'd go for white oak if you want good quality bokuto for an affordable price. Red oak if money is an issue.

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    • #3
      <pimp> http://sdksupplies.netfirms.com/ </pimp>

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      • #4
        Hello,

        There is a newbie at my dojo just started last week, he brought in a black bokken and all of the paint had started to chip off. It almost looked like he was trying to beat up a tree with it. But as to looks i personally don't like them. IMHO i like the traditional look of a natural wood bokken.

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        • #5
          Just incidentally, if you're doing the kata right, none of them should damage a bokuto that badly. I've had mine for eight or nine years, and it's well used, but still fully functional. (that having been said, my shoto has seen better days, but that's because I'm almost exclusively left handed and feelby uncoordinated with my right).
          ;-)

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          • #6
            I second that motion. Personally, I think a painted bokutou looks ridiculous. However, I have seen some very lovely ebony and lacquered bokutou. (I'm making the assumption, since I saw the lacquered ones at a grading, that they're only for use on special occasions.) If you want a beautiful, distinctive bokutou, may I recommend purpleheart? It's a lovely wood, and it will certainly say, in very muted and elegant tones, "I have fine taste." Which is generally a longer lasting statement than a black bokutou would make.

            f

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            • #7
              HI all....

              I agree with alex.... ebony Bokutoh (bokken) are a very special bokutoh. They are make of a special type of wood, and should be very expensive. If they are only a under US$150, they might not be the real thing. Few months back, I specially ordered a Ebony Bokutoh for a senior of mine, and man where they expensive... How much... well let just say it was AU$300+ for it..... soooo.... I would say... for big spenders only....

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              • #8
                Thanks, guys. You know, I was surprised at how much dinging up my bokuto had taken as well. But there are good reasons for it:

                -A couple times, while doing kata 5 as uchitachi, my partner would catch the exact middle of the bokken as it was coming from jodan and he was parrying, caught it right in the middle with the tip of his bokken. (In other words, if they had been shinai, his shinai may have slipped into mine and we would have had to pull them apart.) So it has a divot in the word right here. Of course it's still functional.

                -Sometimes when doing kata 4, when the swords clash in the middle, my partner (or I, at first) would really slash into the other person's bokken, rather than just letting them both fall naturally. When you first learn 4, sometimes you overdo it, eh? Smashing your partner's bokken.

                -In addition to kendo kata practice, I have also used the bokken for iai practice, which has involved two-person exchanges. Sometimes, the bokken has been slashed by another, or done the slashing. I'm thinking of one drill from Muso Shinden Ryu that involves me in chudan, and my partner slashing down from hasso, knocking my blade aside, and then coming back in with a from-below kesa-giri. Also, when practicing uke-nageshi with a partner.

                ...That said it is perfectly functional, just, as I said, dinged up. Also, there's a sharp part in the middle of the wood where, if I were to try practicing noto (resheathing) with it, would catch on the skin of my hand. That's really the rub, every time I pick it up I have to avoid the web of my hand catching it on that one cracked spot - a crack I'm afraid will get bigger with repeated use. I think in iai, with these sometimes harsh two-person drills, you're expected to replace the bokken every so often. (Can't speak for all iai practitioners - not sure they all do 2-person kumitachi.)

                My iai instructor has a beautiful white oak one that is weight-approximate to a shinken and has an oval grip. I love that thing. I think he payed around US$50-100 for it.

                Anyway, I think I'll skip the black one!

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                • #9
                  I've still got my first one, it's 25years old and just a little dented here and there. It also only cost me 5 ( thats about$7.50...)
                  This year in Japan I decided to get another, a multilayered bamboo one, very light, nice balance, and not damaged yet.
                  You should definitely buy a white oak one until your techniques improve, they are a lot sturdier than most, or see if you can get a hickory one.
                  You could always take a bit of sandpaper to the old one and clean it back up after glueing the split together!
                  Ask your teacher to look at your uke nagashi, it is wrong if you are using it as a block. It is a deflection/ guiding away move, you cant stop a two handed cut with one hand!
                  Two person kumitachi is popular over here in the U.K., only ever seen one bokken broken, due to it being cheap and nasty, and heavy handedness on the user's part.

                  Tim Hamilton

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                  • #10
                    I hope my kendo kata has improved! Still, sometimes when you first learn something, you overdo it. Like the banging them together part in 4. Thanks on the uke nageshi, you might be right. Can you expand? I still think a bokken can take a hard knock during kumitachi. (Or should we start a separate thread in the iaido board?)

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                    • #11
                      A written explanation of uke nagashi!!! I'll try but as usual its easier to show someone! For kendo, as tekki's sword comes down, you should raise yours to meet it, and as the swords 'touch', step and rotate the sword with a very 'loose' grip, then cut. the loose grip allows tekkis sword to 'slide' down your bokken without a hard impact. For iaido uke nagashi is single handed. As an experiment try holding your bokken above your head. get someone to use both hands and place their bokken onto your sword, not hit it. Try holding position when he applies hara and cuts. You will find this impossible to do. therefore at this point you should have a 'loose' grip that allows the bokken to be pushed down while you move out of the way. Dont forget to bring your shoulder forward away from tekkis bokken (think of centreing the saya) or you may get hit if your bokken is not at the correct position. Your bokken should then come easily round ready for the cut. Hope this helps.

                      Tim Hamilton

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                      • #12
                        I think I see what you're saying. I knew the sword should almost "bounce" away from the attacking blade and circle around into the counter cut. It just seems like the uke nageshis in some of the setei seem a lot like "blocks," you know? Like in number 3, the way I visualize it is the blow from the attacker sort of rolls off the blade. But you're right, esp. one-handed I don't think you can just hold it there!

                        This is major thread drift!

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                        • #13
                          maybe you should ask technique questions seperately!!!hahaha.
                          back to the thread, I wouldnt buy any bokken if it was painted, you dont know whats underneath the paint!!!

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                          • #14
                            I would be careful in investing in an ebony bokuto. Some really are for decoration purposes. They are of ebony and very hard. In actual fact too hard and will snap if you put them through too much.

                            I have been using a purple heart set for some time now.

                            Hyaku

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                            • #15
                              I saw some purple heart pieces I admired, including some weapons for the goshin jutsu kata of judo (the firearm, the cudgel, the tanto).

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