Shinai - the Kendo Sword

The Shinai used in Kendo is a flexible sword that makes it possible to simulate combat with full power. The word Shinai derives from the verb Shinau meaning to flex or to bend. Compared with the Bokken that is a rigid wooden replica of a sword the Shinai is very flexible. The Shinai was invented by Chuzo Nakanishi (1750) of Edo (ancient name of Tokyo) as training with Bokken many times caused serious injuries. 

Leather covered Shinai

The today used four slat style of Shinai (Yotsuwara Shinai) has been in use since the beginning of the 19th century and was developed from the Fukuro Shinai that was a leather covered Shinai with 16 or 32 bamboo staves.    

The modern Shinai is is constructed in a tubular form of four well seasoned, highly polished and equally weighted slats of bamboo. The slats are held together by a Tsuba (hand guard), a Nakayui (middle leather strap), the Tsukagawa (leather handle sheath) and the Sakigawa (small leather cup) placed at the Kissaki or Kenzen (tip of the sword). The Tsukagawa and the Sakigawa are being joined by a Tsuru or Himo (string) that represents the back of the blade.


The strike

During Shiai (competition) only strikes with the Monouchi (striking zone), that is the part of the Shinai located between get points. A strike must be made by the Jinbu, the edge that is directly opposite the Tsuru (string).

Age and gender

Depending on age and gender of the Kendoka minimum weight and maximum length of the shinai are regulated, varying depending on the age and sex of the kendoka. Kendokas practising Nito-ryu are of course using Shinai of different length, a Shinai of normal length in the left hand and a short Shinai in the right. 



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