The bokken is the wooden practice sword used in various Japanese fighting arts such as Aikido. The bokken has about the same length as the katana, the main weapon of the Samurai. Despite the fact that the bokken does not have a sharp edge, training with the bokken can be dangerous. The tip of the bokken is dangerous to the face and eyes in a shomen-uchi, if you do not properly watch your distance. We recommend training with the bokken intentionally and seriously in order to prevent accidents.
The idea of the wooden practice sword stems from China and is adapted by the Japanese to the use of the katana. Training with wooden weapons proved to be much handier during preparations for battles than real swords. Using the bokken became popular during the Muromachi period (1336-1600), when the Samurai class was emerging.
Bokken are usually made from oak wood, and especially white oak is very popular. White oak is strong as well as flexible, which is ideal for training with more impact. Low-wage countries market cheap bokkens increasingly more, but we do not recommend these bokkens. Not only is it unclear where the wood comes from and what the wood has been treated with, they are also dangerous, as they can splinter.
That said, the selection for the purchase of a first bokken is very important. Beginners often choose the cheapest versions (that Aikipro.eu deliberately does not sell), such as the inexpensive red oak “Taiwanese” versions. Particularly beginners regularly “bang” the bokkens, because they still hold the bokken tensely and/or have not yet mastered the technique/kata. Advanced Aikidoka prefer the more expensive white oak versions, which are stronger, safer, and more durable, and they are often finished better.
Five purchase tips for your Bokken
- Do not save on quality, not even when you are just starting sword lessons.
- Do not train with a “worn down” bokken for too long. Flying pieces and splinters are not conducive to safety on the mat.
- Choose your bokken according to the number of trainings you will follow. In terms of pressure on your sword, there is a major difference between sword lessons of half an hour per month or of 2 hours per week.
- Choose a good weapons bag that will help you transport your bokken more easily.
- Maintain your bokken by rubbing it with oil.