Equipment maintenance, for safety and enjoyment

2011-05-26 07:07:00

A shinai in pieces

When it comes to my kendo equipment t I quickly learnt how to properly care for my uniform, how to fold both the hakama and the gi to retain the pleats and shape. So far though, I've been avoiding one crucial part of equipment maintenance: taking apart and inspecting my shinai. But I finally did it last night ^_^

Menno, as vetted sports climber, will confirm the necessity of regularly inspecting your equipment for defects. If his materials are broken it might cost him his life, by plumetting to the ground. Similarly, if my shinai is messed up, it might take out someone's eye. I mean, it -is- a stick I beat other people around the head with :/

Armed with an excellent free kendo equipment manual (courtesy of the Fukuda Budogu company) I dismantled the shinai into it's components and found everything in order. No splits, no splinters and defects in the tsuru (the yellow string) and the leather parts. Putting it back together I rotated the bamboo slats' order, making the original bottom slat now the left one. The reasoning behind this being that this will ensure even wear an tear on the whole shinai. Getting the tsukagawa (the leather grip) off the handle proved a challenge since it's so tight. However, as suggested by the guidebook, latex gloves quickly solved that problem!

The whole process took me little over an hour. Lessons learnt? That I'll need some practice in retying the tsuru because right now it's not as tight as it could be.

I recently saw a great documentary on the production of shinai (part 1 and part 2 on YouTube). I don't know if it applies to my model, but in general the creation of one is quite a few hours of manual labor. It was great seeing the artisan go through the steps of making a sword, starting with newly dried bamboo branches. tags: , ,

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