Bogu Buying Guide 1 - Styles

In this post, I'm not going to specify which particular set of Bogu you should purchase. Rather I will give some tips I have picked up over the past few years.


I have a problem when it comes to Bogu, since day one I've been obsessed with looking at photos on shopping sites and learning as much as I can about bogu. In this series of posts I'll try to cover as much as possible about bogu buying.

First step. 


Bogu buying can be a complicated process. It is a big investment on something we are expected to use for many years, and often, when buying online, don't get the chance to try before we buy.

With that in mind, whether buying online or in person, I think a good place to start is by checking out your dojo mates' and teachers' equipment. If someone has a set or piece that you like the look of, ask them where they got it, how they like it and how it fits. You can also see how it has aged over the time they have had it.

This way you will get honest feedback from a trusted (hopefully) source. You will also get the opportunity to take the bogu in your hands and get a feel for it. If you're lucky the bogu might even be close to your size and you could try it on too.


Which style of Bogu; standard, protective, jissen-gata etc. should I choose?


The Kendo equipment market is now flooded with a whole host of bogu sets, each with different options and intended uses. I have only been practicing kendo a relatively short number of years, and yet when I started most people were just concerned about stitch width and machine vs hand stitched? Now there are all kinds of different sets being produced for different purposes.

It's important to know the differences so that you don't regret your purchase down the line. So lets take a look at some of the different styles currently being marketed.

Standard:

  • Just regular bogu. The padding is regular and the bogu is not designed for a specific purpose. I would say that most sets produced are in this bracket.
Who should buy it?
  • I would recommend this kind of bogu to players of all levels. A set of good quality bogu will last year's and work just fine for shiai and keiko.
3mm stitching on a standard style men. 



Protective:

  • Made to give extra protection either for teachers/senior dojo members who receive a lot of strikes or for those who find kendo to be a little painful.
Who should buy it?
  • Recommended for those who receive a lot. Teachers, and those who regularly act as motodachi may find this bogu to be a bit more protective when receiving multiple hits from people with less refined cutting technique. Alternatively if you find your self smarting in the wrist or head from regular keiko. It might be worthwhile to invest in a chunky set of Bogu to give extra protection.

10mm stitching gives a thicker more
cushioned futon for protection. 




You can see just how thick the futon is in this image
from http://kendoislife.blogspot.com/



I have a wonderful set of protective bogu from All Japan Budogu. The futon is stiched with a 10 mm stitch width which makes the futon very cushiony. However, the bogu is still amazingly light and flexible. Be careful when choosing a protective set, that it isn't going to restrict your movement, or be extra heavy. 

Jissen-gata:

  • Primarily  designed to be used in shiai. In general it has a thinner futon, and is designed to maximize lightness and flexibility, often at the expense of protection.
Who should buy it?
  • Recommended for those who regularly take part in shiai, or for those who want a special set just for tournaments. The idea behind this kind of Bogu is freedom of movement. Protection is sacrificed for flexibility and lightness.
  • These sets do offer protection, and can be used for regular keiko, but I personally wouldn't recommended it beginners as a FIRST set. 
  • Higher end sets of jissengata bogu will often be made with better materials and will offer more protection than others.


    All Japan Pitch tare, thinner obi and no reinforcement to allow greater freedom of movement. 


Which should I choose?


Personally I think that most people will be fine with a good quality set of standard bogu. Worn correctly it will provide protection for hard hits and long keiko sessions. At the same time a well made and well fitting bogu set will stand up well in shiai, allowing you to perform techniques to the best of your ability.

The above is only my opinion of course, its up to you to decide what you like and what to invest in. So get online, search for retailers, flick through their images pester your sempai and friends etc. basically get to know what is available.

Feel free to comment and let me know what your preference for bogu is. Thanks for reading.  


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1 comments

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