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  • Bokken or Bokuto?

    Hi,

    why are there two different words: bokken and bokuto?

    I understand that they both mean the same, but why these two different names?

    Are these only different names for the same thing like "car" and "automobile" or is there a subtle difference like in "gun" and "pistol" (With one word meaning guns in common and the other one meaning a special type of guns)

    Are both words written with the same kanji?

    Is there maybe a different origin of the names?

    Kind regards

    meow

  • #2
    Originally posted by meow
    why are there two different words: bokken and bokuto?
    [...]
    Is there maybe a different origin of the names?
    This was asked in the "grooved bokken/bokuto" thread, so i'll just cut and paste my blog from there. My source is Kotaro Oshima & Kozo Ando: Kendo: Lehrbuch des japanischen Schwertkampfes (highly recommended, since you're German). Maybe somebody knows more about the kanji etymology.

    "Bokken" and "bokuto" are simply different kanji for "wood(en) sword" and are often used interchangably. However, a distinction apparently does exist, where the bokuto would be the light approximation of the katana that we use for kata, and a bokken would be a heavier weapon used more for strength training. While bokuto and bokken would generally be shaped like swords, the tasty-sounding "suburito" (suburi sword) is an even heaftier beast than the bokken and can often look more like a paddle or giant baseball bat -- useful for getting buff like Arnie in Conan.

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    • #3
      I own the book you referred to, but I must admit, that I did not remember this description. *shame*

      So, if I got it right, bokuto is the correct word for the practice sword that I use in the kata and a bokken is the heavier one used for suburi excercises?

      Since I only own a wooden practice sword for the kata, it would be correct to call it bokuto and not bokken. Correct?

      Greetings

      meow

      Comment


      • #4
        Where are you two getting this information? In my experience, the only difference in use between bokuto and bokken has been one of group culture. Some groups prefer one term, while other groups prefer the other one.

        I'd be interested to see an exact quote from the book you cite.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Kent Enfield
          Where are you two getting this information? In my experience, the only difference in use between bokuto and bokken has been one of group culture. Some groups prefer one term, while other groups prefer the other one.

          I'd be interested to see an exact quote from the book you cite.
          After reading the post from not-I, I grabbed my Kendo book "Kendo - Lehrbuch des japanischen Schwertkampfes" (Kendo - textbook for japanese sword fighting). In the addendum of the book there are some japanese terms translated and explained. It gives the definition, not-I has cited.

          This is the book:

          http://www.amazon.de/exec/obidos/ASI...180650-2392031

          Kind regards


          meow

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          • #6
            AFAIK there's no difference, the terms are interchangable.

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            • #7
              "To" as in Nihonto usually means a Japanese sword. So Bokuto will be a wooden sword made to the shape of a Japanese sword. Bokken is not in the dictionary.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Hyaku
                "To" as in Nihonto usually means a Japanese sword. So Bokuto will be a wooden sword made to the shape of a Japanese sword. Bokken is not in the dictionary.
                I suppose Bokken would just be the kanji for "bok(u)" (wood) and "ken" (sword).
                The question would then be about the difference between "to" and "ken," where "ken," as in "kendo," seems to be a more general term for sword, knife, etc. with "cutting" connotations.

                But as stated, bokuto and bokken are used interchangably all the time, so i don't think it really matters what you call the thing. I just found it interesting that a distinction is actually made somewhere. The cited book, btw, is a German translation of two Japanese books, Kendo Nyumon and Kendo Dokushi Kyohon.

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                • #9
                  http://www.e-budo.com/vbulletin/show...=bokken+bokuto

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    bokken/bokuto

                    Bokken and bokuto have different kanji (although they are reffering to the same thing).
                    A bokken means "wooden sword" in Japanese, and bokuto means "wooden katana" (katana being a japanese curved sword), I think that different dojos call them different things, my dojo says "bokken" but whenever I say "bokken" my Japanese friend from another dojo laughs, but they are pretty much the same thing.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Hyaku
                      "To" as in Nihonto usually means a Japanese sword. So Bokuto will be a wooden sword made to the shape of a Japanese sword. Bokken is not in the dictionary.
                      In Chinese, "To" refers to swords with one cutting edge where as "Ken" refers to swords with two cutting edges. I suspect that Japanese can use "Ken" more loosely, because there're not a lot of variations of "types" of swords in ancient Japan. Therefore, "Ken" and "To" can be use interchangeably without being confused.
                      -Just a thought.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Valiant
                        In Chinese, "To" refers to swords with one cutting edge where as "Ken" refers to swords with two cutting edges. I suspect that Japanese can use "Ken" more loosely, because there're not a lot of variations of "types" of swords in ancient Japan. Therefore, "Ken" and "To" can be use interchangeably without being confused.
                        -Just a thought.
                        "ken" is the chinese pronunciation (on-yomi) of the same kanji as "tsurugi", which refers to the older straight chinese style swords. "toh" is the on-yomi pronunciation of the same kanji as "katana" which refers to the curved single-edged sword. When using the Japanese pronunciations (kun-yomi) we refer to the specific styles of swords, the Chinese pronunciations are used in a more generic fashion. For example, "toh" is used as a suffix to designate many kinds of swords - big ones (daito), short ones (shoto), wooden ones (bokuto), practice ones (mogito), etc but if we want to talk about the style of sword that most people think of when talking Japanese swords we say "katana". "Ken" is an older word which lends a little more weight to a name so that's why we say "kendo" rather than "toudo" and "shinken" rather than "shinto". Similarily the Chinese pronunciation is considered more sophisticated or something so we don't say "tsurugi-michi", we say "ken-do". Not sure how we ended up with "bokken" and "bokuto" both in common use but it seems to depend on where the speaker first learned/trained or whatever.

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                        • #13
                          Wow....thanks for all the kind replys.

                          This really answered my question. So bokuto would be the more precise definition for a wooden katana.

                          From now on, I will use "bokuto".

                          greetings

                          meow

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by meow
                            Wow....thanks for all the kind replys.

                            This really answered my question. So bokuto would be the more precise definition for a wooden katana.

                            From now on, I will use "bokuto".
                            You should use whatever term your sensei uses, as they are interchangable. Correcting your sensei on a point like this would be ill-advised

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