The Kendo armor, or more commonly known as the bogu, is a special type of equipment utilized in Kendo which is made up of the men (or helmet) and is fixed to the head with the use of two cords, the do or chest guard, the kote or padded gloves, and the tare or the hip and waist guards.
The Kendo bogu is commonly created from finely stitched cotton layers, bamboo, and leather but modern day bogu are made from materials that provide strength and durability. Furthermore, the Kendo bogu is also known to be lightweight and generally flexible, allowing one to freely move during Kendo practice. Also, it provides proper protection against numerous types of injuries thus, allowing the Kendoka to exert extra effort during Kendo matches without worrying about injuring their opponent and themselves. The usual attacks in Kendo are only allowed in certain spots and these are the areas greatly protected by the Bogu.
Brief History of the Kendo Bogu
During the sixteenth century when the warring period in feudal Japan was still in action, numerous warriors honed and improved their skills to be able to fight excellently on the battlefield. Various techniques were sampled under a brutal system and anyone who passed these tests was considered as the survivors. In a lot of schools that taught these individuals, the bokuto or bokken was commonly utilized during practice to lessen the dangers and injuries that each student may face. During this period, swordsmanship was generally called Kenjutsu.
In the year 1600 CE during the battle of Sekigahara, the wars and battles finally ended and peace all over Japan was seen. The peace allowed a variety of arts to grow and flourish and fighting was greatly discouraged but was not entirely eradicated. To continuously provide the students a sense of real and actual combat without putting their safety in jeopardy, a lot of schools began making use of the shinai to train each of their students. It was designed during the early eighteenth century and the original practice tools were made from numerous bamboo slats in either a leather or silk bag; these could still be used to hit an opponent without causing excessive damage or injuries that a steel sword would do. Today, Kendo practitioners make use of a similar type of shinai.
The bogu was then created to safeguard the practitioners wrists, head, and body, plus these are somehow modeled after the protective armor utilized by the samurais of Japans warring history. The only difference is that the bogu is much lighter since Kendo strikes are aimed at the head, waist, forearm, and the throat.
Parts of the Kendo Bogu
The men is present to protect a Kendokas neck, face, and shoulders; it is made of a facemask with a couple of horizontal metal that runs throughout the whole width of an individuals face, then from the top of the head and all the way down to ones chin. Before wearing the men, a tenugui should first be placed on the wearers head.
These are finely padded gloves that are made from deer hide, indigo dyed cloth, silk or an equivalent to this, cotton / blanket material, and the ornamental thread; for its hand portion, it is generally made from deer hair or its equivalent, plus two cords to ensure that the materials are fixed adequately.
The do guards ones belly, torso, waist, and chest, plus it is usually made of bamboo; there are also dos that are made from molded, high impact plastic or fiberglass. It is bolstered from the shoulders with the help of two diagonal ties and is enclosed right at the small of a persons back together with other sets of ties.
This is a piece that generally protects the thighs, groin, and hips from inadvertent or sudden hits; keep in mind that this is not a target area and it should always be avoided during practice or competitions. Since the tare is flexible, it allows the user to freely move their hips and legs; plus, the center flap is covered with a zekken or a name tag to display the name of the dojo or the country the individual represents. Right at the bottom is where the Kendokas family name is displayed.
Cleaning and Caring for the Kendo Bogu
After practice, always wipe off the sweat from the men using a piece of clean cloth before letting it dry in a well-ventilated spot. If the men is new, always remember to fold its wings forward to make it more comfortable to utilize in the future; also, it is vital to always keep the kendo armor clean, presentable, neat, and odor free. It is highly suggested to make use of an odor removing spray for the kote and men since the spray will also help prevent any formation of fungus and bacteria on the garment. If one needs to keep the Kendo armor in a bag, make sure to dry it out first before neatly placing this in the bag.