Bokuto / Bokken, the wooden sword
A Bokuto / Bokken is a wooden Japanese sword used
in several martial arts that include kendo and iaido.
The Japanese writing is 木刀 / 木剣, which literally means wood (木) and (刀 / 剣) sword.
Sometimes Bokuto are also called Bokken,
or 木剣 in Japanese, which shares the same meaning.
Usage of the Bokuto / Bokken
As many other Japanese wooden weapons,
Bokuto / Bokken were created by samurai for training purposes.
A Bokuto / Bokken is used in the same way as a real Japanese sword,
but it is less heavy than a real metal sword and its edge is blunt,
so the risk of get injured is lower. However, unlike the bamboo stick in kendo (Shinai),
a Bokuto / Bokken is not used to hit the opponent directly.
Bokuto / Bokken are mainly used in martial arts for the practice of kata.
A "Kata" (literally meaning “form”) are detailed patterns of movements
practiced either solo or in pairs
that serve as a teaching aid of the principles of a martial art.
In the case of kendo, the most important set of "Kata" is the "Nihon Kendo Kata",
which are required in order to take the grade examination.
A regular Bokuto / Bokken is used for the first seven kata,
but in the last three kata a Kodachi (see next section, Types of bokuto) is also used.
Bokuto / Bokken are also used for other practice drills and Suburi.
For example, the Bokuto Ni Yoru practice in Kendo was developed
in order to practice the basic kendo strikes and techniques.
Types of Bokuto / Bokken
There are several types of bokuto depending on the purpose of the training,
with also variations in the material they are made of.
It is a short wooden sword that replicates a Wakizashi,
the short version of a katana sword. In kendo it is used for kata practice.
This type of Bokuto / Bokken is thicker and heavier than the regular Bokuto / Bokken,
and it is used exclusively for Suburi exercises in order to further train one’s muscles.
This Bokuto / Bokken is made out of kiri, a very light type of wood.
It is used in some practices to develop speed and focusing on the technique itself.
There are also design variations in the curvature and style of the Bokuto / Bokken,
presence or absence of Tsuba (hilt guard).
However, the standard size established by the All Japan Kendo Federation is as follows.
Tachi (Bokuto / Bokken):
102 cm long, of which 24 cm are the handle.
55 cm long, of which 14 cm are the handle.
The maintenance of a Bokuto / Bokken is much simpler
than a real katana sword or a bamboo stick.
Mainly, practitioners should make sure there are no splinters in their Bokuto / Bokken.
If you find a splinter, remove it and smooth the area before using it for practice.
In spite of not being a real sword, practitioners should not use Bokuto / Bokken careless,
since you can still injure your opponent. Use it responsibility,
as if you were handling a real sword.