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Choosing the Perfect Bokken for Beginners

Since its foundation in 1989, world-renowned martial arts brand Tozando has consistently provided high-quality equipment to Kendo practitioners around the world. With an accumulation of 30 years of experience, our proven track record of supplying authentic first-rate equipment has earned us high regard with all levels of martial arts practitioners, from beginners to those of top-ranking.
Bokken are used not only in Kendo, Iaido and Aikido, but also in various koryu traditional martial arts. In traditional martial arts, different shapes and materials have been introduced by various schools across history. In addition, bokken are often featured within sword fighting scenes in historical dramas on TV, on stage, and in films. A versatile tool, bokken can be utilized in a number of ways, from being a tool for self-defence to keeping in good shape when practicing swings.
Especially for martial arts beginners, the many types of wood swords and their subtle differences in appearance can make it difficult to choose the right one for you. Based on our extensive experience and years of know-how, we will introduce how to choose the perfect bokken. We do our utmost to provide the best service to our customers, and would be delighted to assist you in making your first purchase.
Here, we will show you the general guidelines to choose bokken for use in Kendo, Iaido, Aikido, and other martial arts.
When selecting a bokken, you need to keep the following three factors in mind:

  • Material
  • Size
  • Shape
Bokken come with a variety of characteristics, depending on the attributes of the material they are crafted from. We stock bokken made from a selection of high-quality wood types, including red oak, white oak, isu, sunuke, kiri, tetsuboku, loquat, camelia, and ebony.
Sunuke, testuboku, loquat, and ebony are all regarded as high-grade wood, and as such these bokken are made more so for display purposes than for actual practice. For beginners, we strongly recommend red oak and white oak. Oak has an excellent balance in the density of its fibers and its durability, making it strong, uneasily damaged, and popular with both beginners and more experienced practitioners.
When comparing red and white oak, white oak is slightly heavier and gives a marginally heavier feeling in the hand. Red oak is slightly lighter than white oak, however is highly durable and suitable for women and practitioners who want to perform a number of repetitive strikes. Although a little more expensive, isu is an excellent and highly durable material that is popular within a number of schools, including Satsuma Jigen-ryū where it is the only type of bokken used. Another type of bokken is the Furisen Magnum suburi, which is made not of wood but of compressed bamboo.
There are three sizes of bokken: short, medium, and long. In most cases practitioners opt for long bokken, however in Kendo Kata and Nito both short and long bokken are used. A medium sized bokken is suitable for children and juniors, and those who feel that the long is too big, or as a longer type of wakizashi (short sword). For martial arts practice in general, you can't go wrong if you choose a long bokken.
In terms of shape, the most typical bokken are known as "Miyakonojo" bokken, as it designates the standard shape of nowadays bokken. Although this Miyakono bokken is perfect for martial arts such as Kendo, Iaido, and Aikido, in the case of koryu traditional martial arts you may need bokken with a special shape derived from the school you are practicing. We stock bokken from the schools of Niten Ichi-ryū, Yagyu, Ittō-ryū, Kashima Shintō-ryū, Katori Shintō-ryū, Kurama-ryū, Keishi-ryū, Jikishikage-ryū, Jigen-ryū, Hokushin Ittō-ryū, Yagyū Shinkage-ryū, Shinto Muso- ryū, and Tachimi-ryū.
In addition to regular bokken, "suburi" bokken are constructed with a heavier blade and are used for practice swings and strengthening. Due to their use as a tool for general training and the building of muscular strength and endurance, you can select any suburi bokken regardless of your martial art or school.
The bokken for beginners which fulfills the above three requirements can be found here.
Standard White Oak Bokken
Standard Red Oak Bokken
If you would like to browse our complete selection of first-rate hand crafted bokken, please visit our bokken product page.
Tozando Bokken Selection
Be sure to select your bokken while keeping in mind its material, size, and shape as outlined above.
If you are unsure about selecting a bokken, please look back over the above points as a reference. Following this guide, you should be able to find high-quality and durable products suitable for beginners. If anything is still unclear, and you are unsure which product is best, feel free to contact our customer service center and we will recommend the perfect bokken for you. We hope that you enjoy, make progress, and practice Budo safely.