How to store kendo gear / bogu
As the amount of time you spend practicing increases, it’s only natural that the amount of time you have to maintain your gear decreases.
Regardless, you ideally want to be able to use your precious kendo gear for as long as possible.
〜Get the easy maintenance work done as properly as you can〜
When we say ‘kendo gear’, we are referring to a wide variety of items.
Here, we will classify ‘kendo gear’ into the following categories:
・Bogu / kendo tools (=items that are difficult to put in the wash)
・Kengo uniforms (=items that can be put in the wash)
※Names of items are displayed both in its name established by the All Japan Kendo Federation as well as its common name.
※Hereinafter, the most commonly used name will be used.
Basic storage steps are:
・Clean the sweat off with a cloth
（・Depending on the situation, spray the item with a deodorizing spray, etc.）
・Drying in shade
This is all you have to do. It seems simple enough on paper.
That characteristically sweaty smell comes from
”sweat components coming into contact with bacteria
on the skin as well as other components in the air”.
So all you have to do is ”wipe the sweat off before it comes into contact with other components”.
Compared to this, the more difficult task is sun-drying.
Leaving wet bogu indoors makes the room smell, so the temptation is to leave them outside.
However, leaving these items outside means that padding becomes damaged due to contact with direct sunlight, as well as the fading of color being accelerated.
・The inner hand portion dried out and became brittle.
・The color faded to look like denim.
Cases like the above happen fairly frequently. I’ve experienced them, myself.
Some people designate a portion of their room exclusively for their kendo gear, and set up a “bogu rack.” This is practical, but not everyone can do something like this.
So what we recommend here is to use your “garage” space.
If you have a garage, or a veranda with a wide overhang, putting your bogu there is an effective way to dry them.
What you need to pay attention to, if you do this, is to make sure to bring your bogu back inside after a set amount of time.
If you leave your equipment outside, the padding will become damaged and the dust in the air may cause the bogu to become dirty.
So what I do is to put my bogu outside in its bogu bag (with the top open), and make sure to bring everything back inside after a set amount of time.
Of course, this is not a perfect solution, but I think it is a manageable solution for general kendo athletes.
〜Bite the bullet and put your gear in the wash, instead of the alternative〜
Kendo uniforms primarily consist of dogi and hakama. The only real option you have for maintaining these items is washing them.
Basic washing methods are:
・Put the items in a washing net and put it in the washing machine, or
・Hand-wash by treading on the items in water
・Straighten out wrinkles after taking the laundry out of the wash
・Leave items to dry outside, in semi-sunlight
Generally speaking, people usually put uniforms made out of polyester (dogi made of jersey fabric, hakamas made of tetron) into washing nets and put them in the washing machine.
Though doing this will result in some damage to the fabric, it is far better than taking the option of not washing your uniforms.
The trickier problem is how to handle cotton-made uniforms.
Putting cotton uniforms in the washing machine can lead to the fabric becoming damaged, the color becoming faded, or the fabric drastically shrinking.
To avoid all of the above, the best course of action is to wash uniforms by treading on them in the bathtub, etc.
This can be time-consuming, however, so school students in particular seem to go the option of not washing their uniforms at all.
However, it is better to bite the bullet and wash your uniforms instead of choosing not to.
My university’s kendo club used to have very few washing machines
for the number of club members it had,
so there were people who handled their uniforms in many different ways:
some of them just dried out their uniforms without washing them,
and some of them washed their uniforms in washing machines without using detergent.
As a result, there were people in the club who “stank” even before practice had started.
It was a bad experience for everyone involved.
This seems like common sense, but the reality is that
“things that can be washed should be washed.”
With respect to caring for your shinai,
I think that it’s really a “battle not to let your shinai dry out”.
When shinais dry out, they are prone to cracking.
Because of this, particularly during the winter, there is a tendency for shinais to break.
So, it is effective to:
・Coat your shinai with “shinai oil”
・Store your shinai in a specialized vinyl bag
(should come with the shinai upon purchase), etc.
However, it is likely that there are people who will not have the time to do these things.
So, at the very minimum, avoid leaving your shinai in your car,
and always check for damage such as splinting before each practice session.
Shinais can break even after only one use,
and using broken shinais may result in injuring the person you are practicing with.
In order to continue practicing kendo safely, make sure
to develop a habit of conducting routine maintenance on your Shinai.
In conclusion, storage of your kendo gear does not require particularly specialized skills.
Perhaps the most important thing to do is to start small,
and to continue to do what you can in between your kendo practice.