Tozando Tornado Stitch Kote

Back in November 2016, I was lucky to be one of the winners of Tozando's kote giveaway competition. I received my kote earlier this year and have just now gotten around to trying them out. 


The kote feature Tozando's new  futon stitching pattern, the Tornado stitch. Designed to reduce the pain from kote strikes, the stitches run diagonally across the futon giving them a truly unique appearance. 

My set came with beautiful smoked deer skin palm leater, orizashi reinforcement on the futon and a full orizashi wrist joint and kobushi (fist). 

The kote are also fully lined in a soft velvet like material, both inside the kobushi an futon, for comfort. They are available in a full deer skin model as well as with micro punch palm leather. 

First impressions. 

The first and most striking feature is the Tornado Stitch itself. Featuring a unique diagonal stitch pattern of one narrow 3mm stitch followed by a wider 8 or 10 mm stitch. As a result the kote futon is quite thick and certainly feels very protective. 

The distinct look of the diagonal stitching is paired with simple, straight cut reinforcement pieces in orizashi cotton. The same design is used on the deer skin model too. 

Moving forward to the wrist joint, I was pleasantly surprised by how flexible it is. Of my current kote, it is definitely the most flexible wrist, and they give a wonderful sense of movement when holding a shinai. 

The Kobushi, like the wrist joint, is also extremely soft and flexible. According to the Tozando website, it has been filled with deer hair to offer the best protection. Its shaped to give you a more natural feeling when holding a shinai, which is quickly becoming the standard for kote these days. 

My only negative on first impression was the use of the soft, fuzzy, velvet like lining inside the entire kote. In my experience this material feels great when trying on kote, but as soon as you begin to sweat, it feels strange and slippery. It's a matter of personal opinion, but I don't like the feeling. 

First use. 

I took the kote to regular practice this week for a trial run during keiko. They were very comfortable and gave me a great range of movement in my wrists, as I said, they might be my most flexible kote at the moment. I especially noticed improvement in my left wrist angle during dou strikes.

Gripping my shinai I really felt that both the shape and softness of the kobushi gave a natural almost no kote kind of feeling. I was able to relax my hands and spread my fingers and didn't have to struggle to get the kote to conform to my grip style.  I am so happy that more and more kote are being produced with this type of construction. 

Receiving kote strikes was great and I didn't feel any pain. The thicker futon definitely helped to absorb the impact, and while I don't generally feel pain from kote strikes, I can see how these would make receiving kote more bearable for some. 

Thoughts of other dojo mates. 

I passed the kote around to some of my dojo mates to see what their impressions were of this unique set. Everyone was impressed with the wrist flexibility, and the futons shock absorbing ability. Most also agreed with me about the kote's lining in that it is an odd feeling. 

Final Thoughts

This is the second pair of "protective" kote that I have owned, the other being from the All Japan Budogu Guardian set. Compared to the guardian kote, these new Tornado stitch kote offer as much protection, but with much greater flexibility in the wrist and fist portion of the kote. 

Which brings me to an interesting point. 

The futon has been designed to offer great protection, but from first impressions, the level of protection offered in the wrist and fist of the kote is at the opposite end of the scale. 

Tozando has seemingly aimed these kote at teachers, from their website and a letter that was included with the kote, they worked closely with a high ranking sensei to develop a product which would help instructors teach.

In this case, the difference in protection levels is fine. A skilled instructor should be able to position their hands to receive a strike on the futon of their kote. They should also be instructing their students to strike correctly reducing the possibility of missed strikes to the wrist or hand. 

However, for the rest of us who are looking for a set of protective kote, to protect from wild strikes, or hits using far too much power, I am not sure that the padding in the kobushi is sufficient.

The area around the knuckles and thumb are very thin, and I would be concerned that any one receiving a strike there would find it quite painful. The fist is apparently padded with deer hair which, over time, will break up and expand. This will make the kobushi slightly thicker, but I still not sure it will be thick enough for some peoples needs. 

That said I don't think Tozando should change this too much. I wouldn't want the trade off in flexibility in the wrist joint. 


The kote seem to be aimed at kendo instructors who receive a large amount of strikes during practice, as well as to those who might want some extra protection during keiko.

Overall build quality of the kote is excellent, as it should be for a set costing close to $300. They offer fantastic protection against strikes, and allow you to grip your shinai naturally with minimum effort. 

The materials and build quality are top notch and I although I am not 100% sold on the tornado stitch's function, I actually like that Tozando are trying something new here.

In my personal opinion, learning to receiving kote correctly, and either instructing your students how to hit properly or telling a hard hitter that their strikes are painful is a better approach than buying a specialty kote just to avoid pain. 

But, if you are looking for a set of kote that will give you great comfort during practice, I think you should consider the Tornado Stich kote from Tozando for your next purchase. I am very pleased with my set, and I look forward to using them for many years to come.