Feb 19, 2009

Training at the Koubukan

Took me a while to write this one but better late than never!

Last December I made a trip with Zool, Noriko, Zurako and Kaza to none other than the land of the rising sun. We all made the trip last march (Except for Noriko) so we were pretty hyped up to get the trip on the go.

Around this time I was still nursing an injury from my past 6 months (Foot Injury) so I wasn't really sure of what to think. But it's not everyday you go to Japan so I thought I might as well do it! A visit to the Koubukan! The home of Hiroshi Ozawa!

It was 6pm, and it was decided that me, Zool and Noriko would go. Kaza had just bought her new guitar and Zura was feeling a little tired so they decided to stay back. But in the end, I'd be the only one training! >.<

So we took the station to Nakano and walked a few blocks only to go into this rural area (They're pretty quiet and hidden in Tokyo) and There it was this three storey house. I thought to myself, "This is it?" hahaha well when I went in... that mentality changed.

As small as it was I would stillbe glad to have a dojo like this. The flooring was pure heaven. It was prolly slippery because of two things; The winter cold, or They're extreme cleanliness and ability to wax a floor to the point where bare footed ice skating was not a dream anymore!

I met up with Ninomiya sensei and (bless him) he brought a Bogu Set with him for me so i didnt have to carry one from Brunei. I got changed upstairs and it was cool. I met some pretty tall kendoka from Australia, New Zealand, and this wickedly huge Dutch dude named Yuri san. I was scared stiffffff. (True fact, when i was in seiza, he was standing next to me, and my head was at his waist height. And I'M 6ft TALL!!!)

Practise was incredible and fast. And as expected from last time, my throat was dry again due to the weather I'm so not used to. But less sweat, which meant for me more energy. My foot was still holding me back but I was still okay. We did some Kirikaeshi and Kakari geiko followed by Jigeiko (Which I didnt participate in, sadly because my foot was at its limit).

Soon after Ozawa sensei walked in and we had so much fun. The Man is really a friendly guy and speaks great english. It was great finally being able to meet my first Kendo Celeberity! Should have  asked for an autograph! But hey a picture's worth a thousand words right?

He's done seminars all over the world and he'd be happy to come here to organise one as well! So planning for that one soon xP

After training, The four of us were joined by Zurako and Kaza, with Ninomiya sensei and his friend Ono sensei 5th dan and we had a blast at a Japanese (duh) restaurant. Real food!! XD
I had a blast. That experience was once in a lifetime and I wished that I could repeat it soon. Hopefully in December guys? hehe we'll see~

Ozawa Sensei wrote this book! It's world famous

Ninomiya sensei was kind enough to lend me a bogu >.<;

L to R Noriko! Me, Ozawa Sensei and Zool Shin Chan

Junbi Taisou with the Regulars. Damn,I was intimidated

Me doing the stretches. Thanks to Shin chan for always making me look good xP

Feb 18, 2009

Choosing the Right Shinai!

As it is the new year, and more Kendokas will be signing up in their School Clubs soon, the shinai, an important component of the martial art of Kendo is something one should consider getting as a beginner. 

Below is a short article on choosing the right one for you so please have a read. Please note, that this article may have some of my personal opnions on the subject so if you have a bone to pick, leave a comment!

Types of Shinai:

Generally, Shinai can be divided into two types: the Chokuto, and the Dobari shinai. This is one of the first questions you should be asking when choosing a shinai. The Chokuto shinai is a standard shinai in which the weight is evenly distributed along the shinai, whereas Dobari shinais are fatter slightly at the center and thinner at the tip (Kensen), distributing the weight to the center and making it well balanced and slightly lighter.

There are several pros and cons of Chokuto and Dobari. This can be in terms of starting as a beginner or durablility etc. For example, some Chokuto Shinais can feel heavy when applying shortcut techniques but tend to be more durable, while the Dobari may have an advantage in making speedy cuts, its durability factor is in question due to the way its built.

Some examples of Dobari Shinai are the "Kenshin" and "Ikken" Model from http://kendoshop.com

Sizes and Weight:

Your age, and height determines what kind of shinai you should be using. For instance, A kendoka from age 12 - 15 should consider using size 37 shinais that usually weigh around 440 -450g depending on the shinai brand or type,  while most uni students and above (aged 18 above) should consider using size 39. Again this depends on your size. below is a chart on shinai size as provided from E-bogu.com

Shinai Size



 Jr. High School (11 - 15 yrs)

 High School (16 - 18 yrs)

 University Adult (18yrs  above)

 Length of Shinai Male & Female less than 114 cm less than 117 cm less than 120 cm
 Weight of Shinai Male more than 440g 
 (Size 37)
 more than 480g 
 (Size 38 for Men) 

 more than 510g 
 (Size 39 for Men)

  Female more than 400g 
 (Size 37)
 more than 420g 
 (Size 38 for women)
 more than 440g 
 (Size 39 for Women or
 Size 38 for Women)

Diameter at the tip pf the shinai

 Male more than 25 mm more than 26 mm more than 26 mm
  Female more than 24 mm more than 25 mm  more than 25 mm

Well I hope that helps. Again if you have any more questions, you should refer to the sempais in training as they'll have opinions about it and it'd be best to get as much of everyone's opinion as possible as shinais are just like choosing the right shoe; it may or may not fit everyone ;)