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  • Shinai breaks?

    Hi everyone,

    I began practicing Kendo about 3.5 months ago with a shinai I purchased from the university I was taking the kendo class through. Since then, I have practiced twice per week for about 90 minutes per practice.

    My first shinai lasted three months, with virtually no maintenance, which I was told was a pretty normal lifespan for a shinai.

    I purchased a new shinai shortly thereafter, and it broke during my second practice. I then purchased another shinai, oiled it before using it, and it splintered at my second practice earlier this evening.

    I'd like to think that, if anything, I'm getting a little better (ie, striking the target areas more accurately and with better form) than when I started, and I'm not swinging very hard compared to others in the dojo, so I don't understand, why are the shinai breaking so quickly? Is there anything that should be done to a new shinai to hopefully prevent this? While I know $25 for a new shinai is not a ton of money, $25/week for shinai, plus dojo fees, will make Kendo prohibitavely expensive for me.

    Does anyone have any advice or words of wisdom they can share? I've purchased my two most recent shinai from Ebogu.com; should I consider purchasing them elsewhere?

    Thank you for your attention.

    -Tim

  • #2
    You seem to have factored everything else out (you're oiling, you say you're not hitting hard in comparison to others, etc.) so you probably just had bad luck with the shinai you purchased.. That happens sometimes. I know a guy who broke a carbon fiber shinai after one or two practices, and he was a high enough dan that technique shouldn't have been the reason. If you're breaking the shinai down to oil them, there could also be an error on your part there, but one assumes you would notice that. I myself never oil the things, and they break when they break. Sometimes a bunch in a row, sometimes one seems to last forever.

    First thing, if two shinai from the same company broke, you should be able to make a frankenshinai from the staves which didn't break. Failing that, try buying from somewhere else, and a different type of shinai. If that breaks too, then you may need to revisit your self assessment of how hard you are hitting, your earmarks for accuracy, etc.

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    • #3
      As well as what b8amack says...contact the company...have your senpai look at the shinai...sometimes you'll get the tail end of a batch of shinai and they will be dried out and fragile. Some companies hearing that a shinai broke 'too quickly' will send you a replacement (some won't).

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      • #4
        one of my daughters breaks a shinai or splinters one every week. where as ive never even splintered one in 7 years. ive a carbon graphite for slogging it out type practices and others i rotate depending on my mood and condition of the grip. invest in a shinai knife and a small file. ( shinai knife could easily be a stanley knife ) my daughters technique is fine too. so its something which is being missed and must be so minor.

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        • #5
          plus if your break enough or splinter enough you will have the parts for a frankenstein shinai. so you get a little more wear for your money.

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          • #6
            Could it be your daughter is hitting the mengane on taller players? Next time she has a new shinai, check it after the 1st practice. If there are a lot of dents on the edges of the side staves, she is hitting the mengane too much.

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            • #7
              Thank you for all of the advice everyone!

              I'll contact Ebogu and see what they say. That's also a great idea about the frankenstein shinai I'll check it out.

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              • #8
                if you're playing motodachi a lot and folks are PoUnDinG your shinai, that'll obviously quicken the pace towards a splintered shinai, too...

                I have considered going back to my carbon shinai during the kihon and then switch to bamboo for jigeiko because of this very reason...

                Don't know if anybody else around here does something similar to that..

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by tango View Post
                  if you're playing motodachi a lot and folks are PoUnDinG your shinai, that'll obviously quicken the pace towards a splintered shinai, too...

                  I have considered going back to my carbon shinai during the kihon and then switch to bamboo for jigeiko because of this very reason...

                  Don't know if anybody else around here does something similar to that..
                  Yup, especially with the beginners class where I will receive a lot of strikes on the shinai (as opposed to just blocking in kiri-kaeshi), I will use my carbon. Another trick if you have to receive a lot of strikes is to have them hit the tsuka.

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                  • #10
                    So, I've been to E-bogu's warehouse a few times when I've been visiting my family in California, its a very nice place. But one thing that I did notice is that they normally have their shinais stored in bins, and their warehouse is normally open to the outside because southern California's weather is very nice most of the time. However, I think the air is a little drier than Japan, and I think depending on how long the shinai has been in those bins influences how dry they are. This is a guess of course, I have had some bad luck with some of their more expensive shinai's breaking so I've taken to both soaking the slats in oil and waxing the edges, and its been better.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by enkorat View Post
                      ... so I've taken to both soaking the slats in oil and waxing the edges, and its been better.
                      just out of curiosity, how long you let'em soak?
                      ...or do you treat... wait X days... treat again... wait x days... <--- if you do that, how many cyckles do you go through before putting it to use?

                      Normally, I do not oil my shinais because maybe I'm just lucky (or unlucky) as it seems mine will break around the same time/amount of use, regardless... (then again, maybe i don't oil them well enough?)...

                      I want to say that when I've oiled them before... if I gave one several treatments or just really soaked it, there seemed to be a slight, yet noticeable, variance in weight.. but maybe it's just all in my head..

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                      • #12
                        No, I am pretty sure that they get heavier and its not imagination. I haven't done a pre soak weigh vs a post, but I have a scale and I can the next time I pre-treat a shinai.

                        I take the shinai apart and use a foam brush to paint on some vegetable oil on the reverse side of the slat. I normally reapply twice a day for 2-3 days, letting them sit in the cardboard shipping box they came in in between applications. I wait for a color shift in the shinai, (I use Bio shinai, they get darker) and when the oil seems to be less rapidly absorbed, then when I'm happy with the slats I wax the edges by running a white candle along the edges and applying some heat carefully to melt the small amount of wax it onto the edges. A dojomate of mine uses the PVC dunk method, I'm always a little worried about having a tube of oil in my apartment that could leak.

                        Some of the more recent Bio shinai I had gotten from ebogu had been breaking less than a month after I started using them. I got a little more careful about pre-prep and I've been able to stretch it to about 3 months before individual slats have started to break. But I also think its dependent on the particular model of shiai I like to use, the slat dimensions themselves I think tends to make them more prone to breaking. I think it also depends on when the shinai was made, how long it took to ship from Asia, and how long its been at the warehouse in California.

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                        • #13
                          Interesting! I hadn't considered the storage situation in ebogu's wearhouse. The gentleman at ebogu very kindly repaired my most recent shinai, and he also mentioned that he suspects I am frequently hitting the mengane; I will make sure to pay attention at practice tomorrow.

                          Thanks again everyone!

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by enkorat View Post
                            Some of the more recent Bio shinai I had gotten from ebogu had been breaking less than a month after I started using them. I got a little more careful about pre-prep and I've been able to stretch it to about 3 months before individual slats have started to break. But I also think its dependent on the particular model of shiai I like to use, the slat dimensions themselves I think tends to make them more prone to breaking. I think it also depends on when the shinai was made, how long it took to ship from Asia, and how long its been at the warehouse in California.
                            Enkorat, could you tell me which models you have been using? I have a kamakura bio shinai that I got 5 years ago, and it's been my "go-to" shinai since then. Still not broken, though even with rotation it's got a few places prone to getting minor splinters.

                            I like it so much that I would like to buy an new bio shinai when I get some more standard practice ones, but am afraid that maybe things have changed a bit oo much in those 5 years. I was thinking of getting another Kamakura, but am open to getting something new as well. Are there any types you could suggest to me that might be good? I favor chokuto style shinai, but would be interested in trying a new dobari, so anything goes, really.

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                            • #15
                              Hi,

                              Yea, I usually use Kamakura bio exclusively now, though I've tried Mino and the Dobari version as well. I haven't had as much luck with keeping a shinai unbroken, though my usage of shinai and what I've put them through has increased. As far as I can tell the design of the kamakura hasn't changed much. There is a non-bio shinai chokuto that I tried out at the warehouse, and its essentially the same design parameters as the kamakura but with different bamboo.... don't remember off hand what it was called.

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