List of Kendo related terminology as well as Kendo-Gu terminology, to understand better the Bogu parts and details.
If there is something else you want to know, or you think it can be useful to put on this list, please contact us, or just leave a comment below!
- A -
- Aizome (藍染め): Is the famous indigo dye used in Kendogu, collected from the deep and bright blue leaves of the Japanese indigo plant. It was used only for Samurai at first, but became available for common people from the 17th century. Since it has antibacterial, insect repellent and preventing odors properties, Aizome clothing was appreciated as a remedy for skin trouble or eczema, and in Budo it was believed to dry and protect wounds from infections. There are several method for creating this dye, but in summary, is the result of the indigo leaves fermentation, which depending of the process timing, more color-depth and strength can be attained on the final product.
- B -
- Bouzashi (棒刺): Straight stitch. Normally refers to the standard stitch used on the futon.
- C -
- Clarino (クラリーノ): Artificial leather manufactured in Japan. It is washable and retains its softness when wet, unlike natural leather. After many decades of development, Clarino has achieved performance that exceeds that of leather in some applications, especially where the item may be exposed to water. Clarino is based on a non-woven fabric composed of special synthetic fibers that are intertwined three-dimensionally. The material's softness and suppleness arise from the structure of the superfine fiber construction and tiny cavities. It has become a very popular option among Kendokas overseas for its affordable price compared with Deer or Cow leather.
- D -
- Do-dai (胴台): Is the piece of the Do where the impacts are usually received in Kendo. Usually made of plastic, carbon fiber or bamboo, it can be customize from a variety of designs and colors. Sometime other materials are mixed to create unique Do-dais such as Resin, Same, Blue-shells, etc.
- E -
- Eguri (えぐり): Is the area of the wrist that connects the Kote-atama/Kote-gashira (fist) with the Kote-buton (forearm Futon). Essentially, is what defines the base angle of the Kote wrist (the fixed position of the wrist when you put the Kote).
- F -
- Futon (布団): It is the cushion of the bogu, where the "stitching" take place. Normally has layers of cloth, wool and japanese felt (Mousen) inside, wrapped in natural cotton and reinforced with leather. The materials used for this reinforcement play a large role in both the appearance and the durability of the Bogu set. The biggest difference is made by the Hari (covering) which is used to reinforce the surface of the Futon. The main materials used for this are Orizashi, synthetic leather and cow or deer leather. The quality of the raw materials will affect directly the impact-absorbing properties of the equipment, the durability and add other features such as anti-bacterial or anti-odor properties.
- G -
- Gobanzashi (碁盤刺): In Kendogu refers to the pattern of dot stitches on the Do-Mune, considered as the default Shokko along with the Nanamezashi (斜刺) which only differs on the direction of the pattern (Naname meaning diagonal). Its Kazari-ito color can be customized in order-made Bogu but usually it is made in Noukon (dark navy), Tetsukon (iron navy), Enji (crimson) or Aka (red). The name was made after the Go table for its grid pattern design.
- Gin (銀): Silver.
- H -
- Herikawa (へり皮): Is the part that covers the edges of the Bogu. Usually made of Shikagawa (deerskin) or Clarino, but sometimes can be made of cow leather or Orizashi as well. Not every portion of a Bogu is cover with this. In competition models the Herikawa is reduced to a minimum to make the weight lighter, except in the Do part where the Herikawa is a must.
- I -
- Imomushi (イモムシ, いも虫): It's meaning is caterpillar, but in Kendogu it refers to one specific style/design of the Kote-gashira (fist of the Kote), where the Kazari-ito are sewed horizontally in rows to create "big waves" resembling a caterpillar's body, hence its name.
- J -
- Jissen-gata (実戦型): In the Kendogu world it refers to the equipment made for competition/tournaments. A Jissen-gata Bogu set model tends to be light weight (thus a little less protective than normal Bogu) and usually has features that improves its use on Shiai, such us better angle and positioning of the wrist (Eguri) for a better grip and Shinai mobility, shorter Men-dare to feel the shoulders area more comfortable with the movements, shorter Kote-buton, etc. And in case of Jissen-gata Shinai, it means that the tip is lighter than the middle and bottom parts, making it easy to maneuver (thus a higher propensity to break). Jissen means "Actual Combat", and if you want to use Kendogu just for everyday practice, we don't support the idea of using Jissen-gata Shinai or Bogu for this purpose.
- K -
- Kazari-ito (飾糸): Kazari means decoration and Ito means thread. It's the decorative braid or wide stitching that goes on different parts of a Bogu, usually called just Kazari, such as the Tsuki-dare or Men-ago Kazari, it may be present on the front portion of the Men-dare, also on the Kobushi or fist, the wrist portion of the Kote, on the Mune design of the Do and on the upper part of each plead of the Tare. Some models use different ways to arrange the Kazari-ito rows and in some parts they may be made in different shapes (ie. on a Kote you may find at least 5 types of Kazari styles). By default the color of the Kazari-ito is black or dark navy (depending of the model) but it can be customized in order-made Kendogu.
- M -
- Matsuri-ito (まつり糸): The Matsuri Ito is the thread which stitches the Hari (reinforcement covering) to the Futon. On machine-stitched Bogu sets, this is usually also done by machine - and for this reason is almost exclusively done in dark navy. Te-matsuri is the term used when the Matsuri Ito is applied by hand – in this case it's often possible to be applied in a variety of colors.
- Mengane (面金): Is the metal with bars on the Men for protecting the face. You can find the Mengane made of a variety of metal alloy. The traditional Mengane was full titanium but nowadays the trend is light weight Kendogu, thus titanium is used only on the upper part (usually between 2 or 3 bars) due to its heavy weight, and the rest is made of duralumin, which consist on aluminum alloy (main materials are copper, manganese, magnesium and can have many more metals in addition to aluminum). There are lighter Mengane made completely of duralumin. Also there are different models that change the gravity center, giving supposedly a better overall balance when added to the Men.
- N -
- Namako (生子、ナマコ): Also known as Kera, is the wave part that comes in between the fist and wrist portion of a Kote. Depending on the model it can have more or less Kera, but usually a Kote has at least one. This can be as the same material of the Kobuchi/Kote-Atama or like in some models, it may have a different reinforcement material such as Clarino or Leather.
- O -
- Orizashi (織刺): Is the Cotton fabric sewed in a particular way to make it thicker and stronger, usually seen as the main Kendogi material. On a Bogu, is the high breathability option for the reinforcements, and because it dries very fast compared to leather or synthetic leather it has become the most popular material for Kendogu in Japan. Due to its elasticity and softness, it provides an excellent fit. The cons of it would be the friction-weakness and the durability compared with other reinforcements materials. However, because it dries quickly, its maintenance is easier than leather or Clarino, which might provide a longer usable-life. And when they tear or get cut, the repairing isn't so troublesome, also it allows to patch it with leather/Clarino on top of the Orizashi, making it a very versatile option for Kendogu.
- P -
- Palmo (パルも): It refers to the flocks type of characters made with laser precision machine, that sticks to the Nafuda or Zekken with a heat-compressor machine. In other words, besides the popular Clarino or embroidered letters option for the Zekken, this is a fast, cheap and super high-resolution option. The pro/cons is that the characters may peel off easily from the Nafuda, but just by applying heat (with an iron for example) it can be easily fixed.
- Q -
- Quilt: It is a pattern of stitching, a cushion-type of design, that can be seen on some Kendogu such as Shinai cases and Bogu bags.
- R -
- Ryuu (流): In Budo usually refers to the school or the style. The Kanji also has the meaning of stream, thus it gives the image of something (the teachings) that flows (in time) and adapts (to the circumstances).
- S -
- Sashi (刺し): Stitch.
- Sashi-haba (刺し幅): Stitch width, popular known in Japan as the Sashi. Almost every Kendo shop around the world use this to define the whole Bogu set (ie. 4mm Bogu set means that the space between each stitch line is 4mm). This gives the Futon the wave pattern which can help to protect more against strikes due to the compressed air inside.
- Sashi-me (刺し目): Length of the stitch, or the thread interval between each stitching point, popular known as the Pitch. This is just as important as the Stitch width. It dictates the durability and in a similar way to the Sashi-haba, the tighter the Sashi-me, the thinner and stiffer the Futon becomes generally.
- Shokko (曙光、燭光): In wide variety of patterns and colors, it is a decorative option for a Bogu made of threads, that usually follow already designed symbols and patterns from Samurai and Japanese traditional culture (such us Namichidori, Bishamon, Asa No Ha, etc.), but nowadays, it can be customized even with your own pattern, logo or design (like adding a sewed Sakura or Tonbo for example, even an alphabet letter for the initials can be seen on the Men-ago or in the Mune).
- T -
- Tsuki-dare (突き垂れ): Also known as Men-ago (面顎), is the portion of the Men that protects the throat (is where the Tsuki Waza should hit). This hard plead can be customized with different patterns and colors (when adding Shokko), but by default it consists in a center area (usually with a cross shaped Kazari-ito or Nanamezashi pattern) and round rows of Kazari-ito until the bottom (normally between 3 to 5 rows). Be aware that, this may be the most vital protective part of your gear, if becomes too loose and weak, for safety concerns we recommend to be immediately sent for repairing, to be changed (the entire piece) or to buy a whole new Men.
- U -
- Ultrasuede (ウルトラスエード): Synthetic ultra microfiber fabric lately used as a synthetic leather option for the Tenouchi of the Kote. It contents ranges from 80% polyester non-woven (100% recycled ultra-microfiber) and 20% non-fibrous polyurethane to 65% polyester and 35% polyurethane depending on the product line. Ultrasuede feels like natural suede, but it is resistant to stains and discoloration; it can be washed in a washing machine. It has a woven fabric surface, but resists pilling or fraying because it is combined with a polyurethane foam in a non-woven structure. In terms of Kendo Kote, the feeling is that of a Clarino Tenouchi but way more comfortable and flexible, but it can be less durable (due to not so good friction response). For this reason, it's a top option for Shiai, since it grants a pleasant feeling of freedom on the hands, but not so good for normal Keiko when comparing its durability with natural leather and thicker Clarino options.
- V -
- Value Set: Is the name we gave to the Bogu-set without the Do. Many times customers only want Men, Kote and Tare thus we added this option for almost all of our models. Useful when buying a special Mune/Do-dai combination as well.
- W -
- Wata (綿): It means cotton, and as you already may know, in Kendo we use a lot of it (Kendo-Gi and Bogu). Also called "Men" (綿), like in Men-Bakama (meaning cotton Hakama), or "Momen" (木綿) when speaking specifically of materials.
- Y -
- Yabane (矢羽根): Is the name of a pattern, resembling an arrow feather design. In a Bogu, is a decorative aspect that can be added on the desire Kazari and the color can be customize as well.
- Yaiba (刃): Forged blade. Usually just means Sword, and when pronounced as "Ha" it refers to the edge of a sword.
- Z -
- Zanshin (残心): Is the continued alertness required at all time while doing Kendo, specially after a strike. Even if we get a valid strike (leading us to victory) or get hit by the opponent (and be defeated), we must continue present in the moment, on an alert mind state (preparedness). Zanshin can be simply translated as remaining on one's guard, be ready for counter-strike, but in Kendo is more common to hear the "lingering heart" concept or a mind that remains and follows through even after the end of an action or even after an outcome becomes evident. Certainly one of the hidden gems of Kendo (and any other Budo that includes this state of mind).