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