The kendo suit or the kendogi is an important part of Kendo that is made up of the hakama and the keikogi; its hakama and keikogi are known as the traditional clothing utilized during Kendo practice. Since Kendo is a traditional martial art that was somehow based on the Japanese military class, appearance is one of the most essential parts of the practice which is why it is vital to properly care for, wear, and even store the Kendo gear.
While practicing Kendo, it is highly necessary to also show proper concern for an individuals appearance since it shows respect for oneself, peers, the sensei, as well as all other Kendo practitioners who have trained even before the current Kendokas. Showing adequate concern for ones appearance also exhibits the importance of the martial art to each Kendo practitioner.
The Kendo suit for both males and females always include the hakama; it is the trouser of every Kendoka that appears like a pleated skirt where its pleats basically symbolize the few ideals and virtues from Confucianism and the Bushido. There are five front pleats which represent the cardinal values (gojo) of Confucianism while the two pleats that are found behind the practitioner represent the chu and ko these giving rise to the gorin which are the Confucian bonds of filial piety.
There are other exhibited interpretations where the rear pleats indicate and represent the
yu and meiyo of the Bushido. The hakama is spacious enough to provide the Kendoka proper movement and adequate freedom to shift from stances; additionally, it also conceals the Kendo practitioners footwork during practice or competitions. The single pleat of the hakama reminds each and every Kendo practitioner that filial piety and loyalty are one and the same, and everyone should follow the correct path without straying elsewhere. The hakama is also fashioned this way so every Kendoka will keep these virtues and ideals in mind.
The keikogi (or sometimes called the uwagi) is a kimono-like jacket that is worn in Japan; it became well-known as the top half portion of the martial arts uniform yet it is a comfortable piece that also absorbs perspiration while simultaneously providing extra protection from accidental or sudden hits. The resiliency of the keikogis material provides adequate guard from bumps and accidental strikes that may be acquired during Kendo practice. The quilting of the garment also aids in the absorption of perspiration while it simultaneously facilitates in proper drying. Furthermore, the Keikogi can be seen in different colors as well as patterns and the most common shades that can be found include dark indigo blue and white.
Purchasing Kendo Gear
Before purchasing any Kendo suit for sale, keep in mind that the standards for every dojo varies; so here are some of the basic factors to consider when one is shopping for a Kendo suit for sale:
Color of the Hakama
Traditional hakamas are usually seen in a dark navy color or solid black and both of these shades are utilized in Kendo. However, the dark navy shade is exclusively utilized only in Kendo and other shades that are present may be considered inappropriate for some other schools or dojos.
Color of the Keikogi
The traditional colors or styles that are available for the keiko-gi top includes white, blue, and the Musashi style which features a diamond pattern.
Types of blue keikogi:
- Natural dyed: these are the types of keikogi that need to be soaked in a mixture of vinegar and salt solution before actually wearing the garment. These uniforms should also be washed only by hand and with just a small amount of detergent since these fade overtime.
- Chemical dyed: this is a newer process when it comes to creating the blue keikogi which makes use of a chemical dye that does not need to be set with a specific solution before using it for practice. These types of keikogi can be machine washed and are basically easier to maintain.
When it comes to the white keikogi, it can simply be machine washed, and unlike the dark blue Kendo suit, it will show sweat and dirt much faster due to its color. If in any case the white keikogi acquires a blue stain from the bogu himo, it can be bleached periodically to remove the stain. As for the Musashi or diamond pattern, it is generally a white Kendo suit that features a black diamond pattern. It is traditionally known as a childs uniform but it has recently become a popular style among adults.
Washing the Kendo Suit
- Hand wash the hakama and the keikogi using clean water and salt; focus on washing the inner portion of the garments since these areas are where most of the dirt can be found.
- After washing with water and salt, rinse the garment thoroughly using fresh water.
- Once done, hang these carefully in a well-ventilated area; remember to avoid direct sunlight when drying the clothes since it may start turning white. A good option is to hang the garments at night.
- When almost dry, fold the garment thoroughly and properly; this is necessary since the hakamas pleats will not be visible after a few washes.
- If not in use, leave the keikogi and other thoroughly washed Kendo gear folded and neatly placed in a well-ventilated spot.