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  • The History of Bogu

    By Nakamura Tamio
    Translated by Alex Bennett
    Original article in Kendo World Issue 1.1, 2001

    Nakamura Tamio was born in 1950 in Nishio city, Aichi prefecture. In 1976, he graduated from the Physical Education Department postgraduate course at the Tokyo University of Education. He is now a professor in the Education Faculty of Fukushima University. His publications include A History of Modern Kendo, Kendo Dictionary- A Technical and Cultural History (Both published by Shimazu Shobo).

    Currently, the official Japanese term used to refer to the protective armour used in kendo is not bōgu, but kendōgu. Nonetheless, bōgu is still the most commonly heard, and I will use it in this article. Before delving into the history of bōgu/kendōgu, I will first offer an explanation of these appelations and how they came to be utilised.

    Origins of the Terms
    There are no actual records indicating that the word bōgu ever existed during the Edo period (1600-1868). Other expressions were used to refer to protective armour donned for martial training such as dōgu, bugu, and take-gusoku. The first time that bōgu came into use was by the military during the Meiji period (1868-1912), when the Japanese army was remodeled on the French system.

    In 1884, a French military advisor, Kiehl De Villaret, [further investigation shows this to be an amalgam of two members of a French military delegation to Japan from 1884-1889, Joseph Kiehl and Etienne de Villaret], was invited to instruct the art of French fencing and bayonet techniques to Japanese army officers. In 1889, after he had served his purpose and left the shores of Japan, significant reforms were made to army training, and the "Kenjutsu Textbook" (Kenjutsu Kyōhan) was compiled outlining the official Japanese military method of swordsmanship. This textbook was divided into sections covering kenjutsu, guntō-jutsu (saber), and jūken-jutsu (bayonet). In the text it stipulates that, Jūken-jutsu equipment can be divided into two types; the weapon, and the bōgu. Furthermore, the bōgu consists of men, (with tare attached), shoulder pads, and kote, thus making it the first known reference to the term bōgu. It appears that from the time Japanese soldiers began training in French-style kenjutsu and jūken-jutsu, the term bōgu was derived from 'bō-shin-yō-gu (body protection equipment).

    The Kenjutsu Textbook was revised three times, and became more oriented to traditional Japanese equipment and techniques. After the third revision in 1915, the armour worn in the distinctive armed forces-style kenjutsu training utilized with tare attached, but it was still deemed permissible to use armour of the type used in conventional non-military kendo circles. Eventually, the term bōgu, which originally referred to armour used in military kenjutsu, was also applied to the equipment used in regular kendo. From the 1920s, bōgu refers collectively to a set of kendo armour consisting of men, kote, , and tare. This continued into the immediate post-war period. Even though kendo was banned for a number of years after the Japanese defear, it was temporarliy replaced by a less aggressive sportified hybrid form of fencing called shinai-kyōgi. The armour used in shinai-kyōgi was modified in form but was still referred to as bōgu.

    The All Japan Kendo Federation was eventually formed in 1952 as the overseer of kendo dissemination. Consequently, the official All Japan Kendo Federation Competition Rules were formulated, and in the section concerning equipment it states, Bōgu shall consist of men, kote, , and tare. With this, the term was revived as official kendo terminology.

    Nevertheless, a scan of many of the popular Japanese dictionaries and encyclopedias in the 1950s and 60s will rarely if ever find mention of the word, indicating that it was not used by the general population until after the middle of the 1960s, when major dictionaries such as the Kojien (Second edition) defined bōgu as the protective equipment utilized in kendo consisting of men, kote, and tare. This same term was also later applied to the equipment used in western fencing.

    In 1979, the Kendo Shiai Regulations/ Kendo Shimpan Regulations were widely revised again, and Article 4 states concisely , Kendō-gu will consist of men, dō, kote and tare. Since this revision bōgu was officially replaced with the term kendō-gu. Incidentally, in the 1995 revisions of the same regulations, the term keiko-gi was modified to kendo-gi.

    Thus, terminology for protective-armour used in kenjutsu evolved from dōgu to bōgu, and finally to kendōgu. From here I will investigate the evolution of the armour itself.
    [PAGE]The Emergence of Bōgu[/PAGE]
    The Emergence of Bōgu
    Until now, it was generally accepted that bōgu emerged sometime between 1751-1772. However, it is incorrect to conclude that bōgu suddenly appeared at any one particular point of time in history. During the period 1661-1681, many new martial schools were created and explored different ways to engage in safer training by developing pieces of protective armour.

    I will introduce a few documents of that period which describe some of these incremental developments in form and function. Unfortunately documented evidence from this period is rather scant, making it difficult to piece together a detailed picture. The prominent Tokugawa military and Confucian scholar, Yamaga Sokō, left us some interesting references with regards to the utilization of protective equipment of the early-modern period. In regards to the benefits of the system of training in kenjutsu with a shinaiprotagonists used to attach armour, with an iron protective mask, and were able to engage freely in rigorous mock-combat [without concerns of injury]. In the second month of 1663, we find a reference by Kamiya Denshin Yoriharu , the headmaster of the Jikishin-ryū in an essay he sent to Osawa Tomoemon concerning the use of protective equipment. In the trainings conducted at other schools, leather armour is worn accompanied with various other pieces of equipment including face masks. In the Jikishin-ryū, however, we do not encourage the use of such equipment... We can determine from this passage that several unnamed schools engaged in combat training aided by safety equipment from the early Tokugawa period onwards. Ironcially, it was the Jikishinkage-ryū that was to greatly stimulate the widespread use of protective armour from the early 1700s.

    In 1682, a collection of illustrations sketched by Hishikawa Moronobu titled Chiyo no Tomozuru depicts two young warriors wielding safety-tipped yari (spears) who are engaged in a contest with another young warrior equipped with men, dō-tare, and a naginata. (Diagram 1)
    Diagram 1

    This illustration was probably completed sometime towards the end of the 17th century. Curiously, the type of bōgu depicted in this illustration is of a men minus the protective padding on top, and also without a nodo-dare (throat protector). The men is no more than a grill covering the face, and appears to be made from bamboo. The tare is attached to the (dō-tare), which is also made from bamboo, similar to those made in a later period. Similar drawings by Hishikawa from around 1684 can also be found in Ukiyotsuzuki, which again demonstrate to us that the use of protective training armour was relatively widespread from early in the Edo period.

    Bōgu Employed in Sōjutsu (spear combat)
    The question arises as to which out of the two disciplines of kenjutsu or sōjutsu first started utilizing training armour. In Shimokawa Ushios Kendō no Hattatsu (The Development of Kendo) it states that the differences in technique between kenjutsu (mainly cutting) and sōjutsu (thrusting), and the impending dangers encountered in training, leads to the conclusion that armour such as the and tare were first created for sōjutsu and then later applied in kenjutsu.

    However during the Edo period martial art schools began to fragment and specialize in a particular weapon, but even a student in a school of sōjutsu would have to learn the intircacies of swordwork, a fact makes it difficult to draw the conclusion that bōgu was developed solely by sōjutsu schools, and then later employed by kenjutsu practitioners.

    I will leave the debate of which discipline first started using armour, and turn my attention to the style of bōgu used in sōjutsu, and its gradual development in comparison to that of kenjutsu.

    In regards to Diagram 1, I made mention of the style of men being used which seems to be made from bamboo and has no protective padding on top of the head or throat. In the picture and in later illustrations by Hishikawa the warrior is also not using kote.

    However, in Kashibuchi Arinoris Geijutsu Bukō-ron (1768), illustrations of the bōgu used by Masaki-ryu sōjutsu practitioners shows an improved style. The men comes equipped with both protective padding on the top and covers the throat. There is also a metal grill protecting the face. The tare is attached to the bamboo , and we can also see under-arm and waist protection. (Below)
    Diagram 2

    Thus, in the space of one hundred years we can see an evolutionary jump in the style of men. It is more robust through the utilisation of metal for the grill, and provides far more effective protection to the fragile head and throat with ample thick padding.

    We can also detect the extent of this evolution in a docement written toward the end of the Edo period outlining the equipment used in the Fūden-ryū, it informs us that the tsuki-dare was made from bamboo and leather, and was the same width as the actual men. This same text also has illustrations that show kote, which were probably used for matches against kenjutsu exponents, and sune-ate (shin guards) most likely used in matches against the naginata. This suggests that much of the training in sōjutsu, was not based around yari vs. yari, but also practised against opponents using a variety of different weapons (ishu-jiai), and the evolution of bōgu was dictated by these considerations. This process was possibly accelerated through contests between different schools (taryū-jiai).
    Diagram 3

    Other documents show that the use of the tsuki-dare was not universal among schools even by 1812, as can be seen in this picture that depicts sōjutsu training with a tsuki-dare-less men, and a leather at the Nisshinkan dōjō. This particular pictureshows one of the three sōjutsu schools active in the Kaitsu clan (Ouchi-ryū, Hozoin-ryū, Isshi-ryū), although it is difficult to tell which. What we do know is that training was conducted utilising protective armour and safety-tipped yari.

    Kote were not used as yari practice was originally done with bare hands to enable the sliding motion for thrusting.Kote were probably introduced into the practice of sōjutsu from kenjutsu. Whatever the case, both disciplines borrowed ideas from each other, and continually made improvements until bōgu gradually evolved into its current form.
    Diagram 4
    [PAGE]Kenjutsu Bōgu[/PAGE]
    Kenjutsu Bōgu
    With regards to the types of protective armour used in kenjutsu, Shimokawa states in Kendō no Hattatsu that in the Jikishinkage-ryū, Yamada Heizaemon Mitsunori (1639-1716) lamented the lack of spirit in many practitioners who concentrated only on kata training. He then started to devise a system of training that would allow practitioners to strike with full force without any danger of suffering or causing injury. His third son, Naganuma Shirozaemon Kunisato (1688-1767), completed the task between 1711-1716." I will use Shimokawas theory as a base as I outline the evolution of kenjutsu bōgu.

    According to the Heihō Denki Chūkai, a Jikishinkage-ryū manuscript, Yamada Heizaemon suffered a serious injury at the tender age of eighteen in a match conducted with bokutō. He stopped practising kenjutsu until the age of thirty-two, when he was exposed to the teachings of Takahashi Danjozaemons school where a face mask and protective gauntlets were donned, thus enabling one to engage in combat training without the risk of injury. He wasted no time in becoming a student of this school, and it is recorded that by the time he was forty-six, he was awarded a license to teach (menkyo).

    This was 1684, but it is obvious that Takahashi Danjozaemons school had been using bōgu for a number of years already. Nevertheless, the armour in question only consisted of a facemask and gauntlets, with nothing resembling a . The Sagawa Shinkage-ryū, an associated school in the far north, used facemasks and gauntlets in their training, indicating that many of the Shinkage-ryū stream schools were making use of fukuro-shinai (prototype of modern shinai) as well as men and kote. In Diagram 5 taken from Suzuki Shōzōs Sendai Fūzoku-shi (1927) there is an illustration of a Shinkage-ryū adept using only a fukuro-shinai, men and kote. Thus, it states as the trunk was protected only by the thin material of the kimono that one was wearing, one learned the meaning of pain upon being hit in this rather vulnerable spot during keiko!
    Diagram 5

    Takahashi Danjozaemons teacher Kamiya Denshinsai decreed that, when engaging in contest combat with other schools, always use a bokutō. The use of shinai is strictly prohibited. He was a unyielding kata advocate, and it wasnt until the era of Takahashi Danjozaemon that bōgu came to be the norm rather than the exception.

    In Yamada Heizaemons text Heihō Zakki, he writes in order to really reach an understanding of mortal combat it is necessary for both adepts to don men, kote, and other pieces of protective equipment and forge oneself through the confusion encountered by engaging in daring unrestricted training. This particular passage is referring to uchikomi-geiko, or training by actually striking with the shinai, something evidently promoted by Heizaemon in his latter years. Heizaemon died in 1716, the period that corresponds with Shimokawas assertion that bōgu was perfected.

    In addition, the inscription on the gravestone of Yamada Heizaemons third son Naganuma Shirōzaemon Kunisato (1688-1767), the heir of the Jikishinkage-ryū tradition, states that his exploits included improving the bokutō and shinai, and refining the armour by adding a metal grill to the men and thick cotton protective covering to the kote. Kunisato inherited the tradition from his father Heizaemon in 1708, and the two of them worked hard together to improve the bōgu until Heizaemons death.

    Given these records, it is probably safe to conclude that the improvements of men and kote used in the Shinkage-ryū line of schools, and the addition of to protect the body were the innovations of Yamada Heizemon and his son Naganuma Kunisato, particularly in the period 1711-1716.
    [PAGE]The Bōgu of Jikishinkage-ryu[/PAGE]
    The Bōgu of Jikishinkage-ryu
    Now that we have had a look at the process of bōgu evolution in the Jikishinkage-ryū tradition, I introduce what it actually looked like. Having said that, as far as I am aware, there are no original Jikishinkage-ryū sets of bōgu left in existence. However, we can get a general idea from the illustrations contained in Tominaga Kengos 1931 book Sho-Ryūha Budōgu-Zue (Illustrations of Protective Armour from Various Martial Traditions) (See Diagrams 6, 7, and 8)
    Diagram 6
    Diagram 7

    By taking a close look at these illustrations we can surmise that the men was made of bamboo, and there is no protective covering for the throat (tsuki-dare). The is made of flat bamboo slats strung together, the kote cover the whole forearm, and the shinai is a fukuro-shinai. If we compare these diagrams with the Shinkage-ryū armour in Diagram 5, we notice a couple of the main differences being that the latter has no protective cotton padding on the top and that there is no . The bōgu depicted in Diagrams 6-8 was probably not dissimilar to the bōgu developed by Naganuma Kunisato.
    Diagram 8
    In the period spanning from 1751-1764, about fifty years after the Shinkage-ryū bōgu was completed, Nakanishi Chūzō Tsugutake of the Itto-ryū school engaged in full contact uchikomi-geiko using a men made of metal and bamboo armour. In Nakanishi Koresukes Itto-ryū Heiho Tōhō Kigen (treatise concerning the Ittō-ryū - 1861 edition) it states The Nakanishi Clan first employed the use of training with shinai in the Hōreki Period (1751-1764). In Shirai Tōrus "Heihō Michishirabe" (1834 edition) it makes reference to how Tsugutake, after his father died, excelled in the art of kenjutsu by branching out and experimenting with shinai, rather than confining himself to more traditional methods of training.

    The reason why Nakanishi Chūzō Tsugutake trained using the shinai in uchikomi-geiko is recorded in a text written in response to a letter by Yamaga Takayoshi of the Tsugaru clan Ittō-ryū in the twelfth month of 1775. The letter asked Nakanishi Tsugutake eleven questions about the training methods used in the Nakanishi branch of the Ittō-ryū. The reply is clearly recorded in "Ittō-ryū Gokui". Nakanishi was stimulated by Yamagas interest, and he replied to the questions, but refrained from commenting on the use of the shinai until the third day of the first month the following year. Yamaga had asked his mentor, Ono-ha Ittō-ryū Headmaster Ono Tadao the same question concerning combat with bokutō and shinai, to which he replied, Training with a shinai is unbearably forgiving, and is no more than childs play. If anything, it is a way of avoiding the depth of real combat. In contrast to this, Nakanishi retorted that this was a complete misunderstanding of the objectives of the Nakanishi group in employing shinai for training. This point of contention concerning the use of shinai in ful- contact training as opposed to only doing kata would remain a major point of contention within the Ittō-ryū, as well as in many other martial traditions. It is from this point onwards that we see a gradual shift from traditional kata training methods using live blades or bokutō to training with the shinai akin to modern kendo.

    Concerning the changes in bōgu from the end of the 18th century there is a reference in Zokukoken Koons "Nishō Gogo-no-Ben" (1794 edition), which describes the state of equipment at the time. The so-called armour is no more than cotton or leather packed with stuffing then stitched up, and pieces of bamboo strung together. In Yamazaki Toshihides treatise on kenjutsu, "Kenjutsu Giron" (1791 edition), it states There is no better way to grasp the principles of combat than by putting on a men and kote, and practicing techniques with a shinai without any worry of injury. Similarly, in Kenjutsu Hiden Doku Shugyo (1800 edition) by the same author, it is recorded Firstly, both adepts don men, kote, and bamboo body protection so as not to sustain injury These passages indicate that utilization of protective training armour was fairly widespread by this time. The armour depicted in Diagram 9 from Hokusai Manga (1808) is representative of the bōgu used during this period.
    Diagram 9

    However, upon closer inspection, one notices the lack of throat protection, as was the case with the bōgu shown in Diagrams 6, 7, and 8. This seems to indicate that tsuki techniques were not employed, and the basis for training revolved around strikes to the kote and men.
    [PAGE]Refinements 2[/PAGE]
    With regards to tsuki techniques, there is an interesting record of one Ohishi Susumu of the Yanagawa domain who, in the Tempō era (1830-1844) used a particularly long shinai measuring at 5-shaku 3-sun (approx. 167cm) to soundly defeat a renowned Edo fencer with tsuki and cuts. It just so happens that Ooishi was not only the master of his own Ohishi Shinkage-ryū, but also held a teaching license in Ohshima-ryū sōjutsu (spear). He appears to have utilized his sōjutsu thrusting skills to take full advantage of the weak points of kenjutsu bōgu . Maybe in part due to Ooishis exploits, longer shinai became the rage in later years. Also, as is depicted in some pictures of the bōgu of the period in Takano Sasaburōs well-known book Kendō, broad throat protecting padding was added to the men in an attempt to protect this rather tender target. (Diagram 10).
    Diagram 10

    Anything popular in Edo soon made its way to the provinces, and throat protectors on the men were no exception. For example, a basic set of handmade bōgu from a small village in 1836 (Diagram 11) is made from bamboo, but has an enormous throat protector. Another set of armour was also found in the same village, but has a metal grill on the men instead of bamboo, suggesting that there was a transition in the style of armour around this time.
    Diagram 11
    [PAGE]Refinements 3[/PAGE]
    As we have seen, modification to metal grills, protective tsuki-dare, padding on top of the head, and an upper-chest protector on the were probably adaptations for kenjutsu copied from the bōgu used in sōjutsu. Conversely, the kote were initially a kenjutsu innovation that were later incorporated into sōjutsu. From this time, the basic form of armour was established, and the evolution of bōgu moved into a period of refining the individual elements.

    In the bustling town of Edo, the Kajibashi, Atago, and Shitayakanari Kaidō areas contained a number of stores that specialized in selling bōgu and shinai. In Muta Takaatsus "Sho-Koku Kaireki Nichiroku", a travel journal, there is reference to him ordering a leather at a shop in Nichikage-cho for the price of one ryō. We can also learn from the text that shinai cost the grand total of 200 mon. The average cost to a kenjutsu practitioner for a shinai at the time, so it seems, was anything from 200 mon to 270 mon.

    Close to where many of these shops were concentrated stood the Jikishinkage-ryū Naganuma dōjō. The reason why the Bakufu constructed the Kobusho military academy in this area was in part for naval defence, and also due the fact that the area was swarming with kenjutsu practitioners and equipment suppliers.

    There is a delightful picture in Katsushika Hokusais "Ehon Azuma Asobi" (1802), which depicts a scene in one such shop. (Diagram 12). At a glance we can see fukuro-shinai and bamboo protective gear hanging from the walls of what really seems to be a traditional armour shop. Through this we can ascertain that it was primarily armour craftsmen who also took care of contemporary training equipment.
    Diagram 12
    [PAGE]Bakumatsu Bōgu[/PAGE]
    Bakumatsu Bōgu
    With the arrival of Perrys black ships in Uraga, Japan was forced to open its doors to the West, and there was a tremendous increase in sales of weapons and armour. The Bakufu hastily set about constructing a national military academy (the aforementioned Kobusho) in Edo in 1855 to encourage the study of bujutsu. The Kobusho was responsible for unifying the criteria pertaining to bōgu and shinai used in kenjutsu training, which until then had varied from school to school. The Kobusho training was harsh and placed less importance on kata training, and more on shiai (sparring), and set regulations for the length of shinai at no more than 3-shaku 8-sun (approx. 115cm). This effectively took kenjutsu to a new level that transcended any particular school or tradition. This emphasis on shiai also started a revival in inter-school matches (taryū-jiai), and more durable and portable bōgu was developed.
    Diagram 13

    As the period of Bakufu rule drew to a close, the widely used one-piece leather was incorporated into an easy-to-carry set of armour. In the case of the bamboo armour, the breast area down to the hips was basically straight and rigid, however, the leather was able to incorporate a curve to accommodate the line of the body. Also, with the bamboo armour, the and tare were connected as one unit, and the tare consisted of three protective flaps. However, with the leather version, the and tare were separate, and the tare was improved with the addition of an extra two flaps. The men was not dissimilar to the men used today consisting of forty horizontal metal bars protecting the face. The vertical and horizontal bars were protuberant and were strong enough to offer protection against thrusts to the face. Also the men cushion was about the same size as the throat protector so it hardly protected the shoulders and was very short in comparison to todays men. The throat protector was quite substantial in width, but did not have backup padding behind as modern men do. (See Diagram 13).

    Around this time, were made of bamboo with a layer of protective leather stretched over the front. The main part of the became rotund, very similar to in use today. (See Diagram 14)
    Diagram 14
    [PAGE]Bōgu After the Meiji Period[/PAGE]
    Bōgu After the Meiji Period
    With the commencement of the Meiji period, clans (han) were disbanded, and kenjutsu went into decline. What saved kenjutsu from extinction were gekken shows performed for public entertainment, and the eventual inclusion of kenjutsu in police and milatary training.

    The Meiji government structured its army on the basis of the French military system. In 1884, the Japanese invited the French military advisor, Kiehl De Villaret, who proceeded to introduce methods of French swordsmanship. This style of kenjutsu was later presented in the textbook mentioned at the beginning of the article, Kenjutsu Kyōhan. This is the first time that the term bōgu was used, and it referred to the French style of protective armour.

    However, Japan eventually turned its focus from the French to the German military system. In the Kenjutsu Kyōhan, it is mentioned that Japanese style bōgu would be used to practice the one-handed European style of swordsmanship. Even with these changes in the military system, traditional Japanese bōgu continued to be used and refined., for example, were mass-produced with extra protection for under the armpits, and the curvature of the was further emphasized .

    In the Taishō period (1912-1926) the production of bōgu continued to increase, and machine stitched bōgu was pioneered for the first time.

    In the Shōwa Period, the kote were snipped at the top of the funnel, and the padding on the men increased in length so that it eventually covered the entire shoulder area. This is the stage in which we can say that the evolution of bōgu was complete.

    Incidentally, according to a shop catalog from 1932, the most expensive bōgu they had for sale went for 85 yen a set. A breakdown of the costs reveals that the men (1-bu 5-rin stitching, leather trimmings, metal grill) was 26 yen, kote 18 yen, 24 yen, and tare 17 yen. The cheapest bamboo set of armour available went for \10.5 (10 yen and 50 sen). Leather could cost anything around the 20-30 yen mark. If we multiply these prices by ten thousand to get a modern equivalent, the price fans out to 850,000 yen (approx. US$8000). This shows that bōgu was by no means a cheap commodity. A set of bōgu was already being considered an object of art created by skilled craftsmen, rather than just simply training gear.

    The most expensive Judō-gi back then cost 2.6 yen. A basic blue kendō-gi cost 2.9 yen, with the upper range costing up to 6 yen. Childrens shinai cost 0.4 yen (40 sen) with high quality shinai going for 80-90 sen. Thus, the price of bōgu alone could be considered a major factor hindering the popularization of kendo back then too.
    [PAGE]Postwar Bōgu[/PAGE]
    Postwar Bōgu
    In the immediate post war period, the practice of martial arts was prohibited. In place of kendo, a new sport called shinai-kyōgi, combining kendo and western fencing was developed. The protective equipment to be used in this fencing hybrid was stipulated as:

    (1) Men (mask), Dō-ate (protector), and gloves.
    (2) The mask will consist of metal mesh on the front and sides.
    (3) The protector will consist of thick cotton padding with durable (metal or bamboo) panels.
    (4) The gloves will have long forearm protection aided with rigid panels.

    One can imagine from the description of the equipment the influence of western fencing in the design.

    The All Japan Kendo Federation was inaugurated in October 1952. In the Shiai Regulations published in March the following year, it stated, the bōgu to be used in kendo will consist of men, kote, , and tare. Thus, pre-war armour was officially re-introduced which was obviously different to the recently developed shinai-kyōgi gear. There was a short period of time where both styles were practiced side by side, but in March 1954, the All Japan Kendo Federation and the All Japan Shinai-Kyogi Federation were combined into yet another all-encompassing All Japan Kendo Federation, which essentially spelled the end of shinai-kyōgi.

    Subsequently, such things as duralumin and five-fingered kote were developed, but no major changes in the style of bōgu to speak of have eventuated. Of course, carbon graphite shinai were first put on sale in 1985, and were finally permitted for use in official shiai on March 18th 1987, and are still used by many people.

    Another interesting development in the bōgu world was the production of men with clear Perspex face guards, which were released onto the market in March 1997. Due to the popularity of these men, the All Japan Kendo Federation moved to recognize the use of them in official shiai as of revisions to the rules on 15th March 2000, and these revisions were enforced as of the 1st April, 2000.
    Diagram 15
    [PAGE]The Future of Bōgu[/PAGE]
    The Future of Bōgu (Kendōgu)
    To conclude this article, I would like to tie up the history outlined so far with some thoughts on the future of bōgu (kendō-gu). The third wave of bōgu history has begun with the official name changes starting from dōgubōgukendōgu. This new age of bōgu is represented by the invention of carbon-graphite shinai, and wide-view Perspex men, all of which changed the conventional image of bōgu. I suspect that the next things that will change will be the himo (cords) for the men and . Even Japanese people are now forgetting how to tie up their men and properly, which may be hindering the propagation of kendo. I forecast that men will be developed utilizing Velcro fastenings, and will probably follow suit with some similar material.

    Likewise, the traditional craftwork of the bōgu makers will fall into obscurity as the production process becomes simplified. Currently there is a debate raging in Japan as to the point of going down into sonkyo before starting or finishing matches when the two kendōka also demonstrate mutual respect in the form of a standing bow. Are both forms of courtesy actually necessary? This trend of debating the rationality of certain traditions in kendo will more than likely result in the scrapping of those that are judged to be meaningless. Even if an action such as sonkyo does have a meaning, this is undermined by the question of whether it is actually necessary in shiai. Making victory poses or gestures of joy by throwing the hands up in the air after winning a shiai is still very much frowned upon in kendo. This is something that we see a lot of in judo or sumo, but for some reason it is unforgivable in kendo circles. We have to clarify why exactly it is unforgivable or else it will erupt into a point of debate sometime in the future.

    Whatever the case, the issue of maintaining a careful balance between popularisation and tradition is something the kendo world must take very seriously from now on.

    Translated from the original Japanese by Alex Bennett. Kendo World would like to acknowledge Professor Nakamura and Kendo Jidai Magazine (where the original was first published) for kindly allowing us to use this article. All rights for this article remain the property of the author, Nakamura Tamio.
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