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Paul Conway
11-04-2009, 02:35 PM
Hi

I have broad shoulders and fairly large hands, making a standard bokken with the 10" tsuka a little on the cramped side. So, I'm on the hunt for a bokken with suitable dimensions. I'm guessing about 11-12" grip would do it, and preferably not too pricey. Any suggestions? (Especially in the UK/Europe).

Many thanks ;)

Janet Rosen
11-04-2009, 02:57 PM
Don't know about Europe but in Canada Kim Taylor does very reasonably priced custom wood weapons and I bet he'd be happy to work with you. No, I don't get a commission, I'm just a big fan!
http://sdksupplies.netfirms.com/

Marc Abrams
11-04-2009, 04:27 PM
Kingfisher Woodworks offers numerous bokken styles and will make yours to fit your specific needs. The owner, Brad, is a GREAT guy and swordsman who makes one of the most "alive" wooden weapons that you can invest in. He also offers a variety of qualities and price ranges.

Marc Abrams

jbblack
11-04-2009, 05:15 PM
I agree about Kingfisher. I have several weapons from him. They last and feel great in the hand.

Cheers,
Jeff

Lyle Laizure
11-04-2009, 08:39 PM
I feel your pain, I have the same problem. One of my students made a couple of bokken for me with longer tsuka. It feels much better having a tsuka that is longer.

Paul Conway
11-05-2009, 11:43 AM
Thanks, guys.

Suru
11-05-2009, 05:20 PM
There should be an approximate one-fist gap between the right hand near the tsuba or tsuba mark, and the left hand at the base. Personal preference may vary, but I believe this is a simple though valid test for optimal tsuka length.

Drew

Kent Enfield
11-05-2009, 09:06 PM
There should be an approximate one-fist gap between the right hand near the tsuba or tsuba mark, and the left hand at the base. Personal preference may vary, but I believe this is a simple though valid test for optimal tsuka length.
Unless, of course, that's not how your style does it.

cguzik
11-05-2009, 10:24 PM
Take a look at the Shindo Yoshin Ryu bokken from Bujin Design.

http://www.bujindesign.com/training-weapons-hickory-training-weapons-c-32_42/hickory-shindo-yoshin-ryu-bokken-p-91

EDIT: Oops... I just noticed you are in the UK. I don't think Bujin ships bokken outside the US anymore.

You could try Bugei:

http://www.bugei.com/product_985_detailed.htm

Flintstone
11-06-2009, 03:35 AM
Unless, of course, that's not how your style does it.
+1

Paul Conway
11-07-2009, 01:39 PM
There should be an approximate one-fist gap between the right hand near the tsuba or tsuba mark, and the left hand at the base. Personal preference may vary, but I believe this is a simple though valid test for optimal tsuka length.

Drew

So 3x the size of your fist? My fist is ca. 10 cm measured from the top of the second joint of my thumb to the outer edge of my little finger. That would make it about 30 cm or 11.8" - call it 12". Yes?

Suru
11-07-2009, 02:48 PM
So 3x the size of your fist? My fist is ca. 10 cm measured from the top of the second joint of my thumb to the outer edge of my little finger. That would make it about 30 cm or 11.8" - call it 12". Yes?

I think 11.5" is more standard and would be easier to find. Therefore, I would suggest with 11.8", go 11.5". A better method than thumb to pinkie measure might be to hold a jo or broomstick like a bokken. One fist at the very base, another gripping it while touching the bottom fist, then moving the bottom fist above the mid-fist and touching it. Mark your spot, and that may not be you're exact optimal tsuka length to the hundredths, but I believe it would be close enough for comfortable and proper handling.

Drew

Paul Conway
11-07-2009, 02:55 PM
I think 11.5" is more standard and would be easier to find. Therefore, I would suggest with 11.8", go 11.5". A better method than thumb to pinkie measure might be to hold a jo or broomstick like a bokken. One fist at the very base, another gripping it while touching the bottom fist, then moving the bottom fist above the mid-fist and touching it. Mark your spot, and that may not be you're exact optimal tsuka length to the hundredths, but I believe it would be close enough for comfortable and proper handling.

Drew

Yes, sounds good. If I've been making do with 10", 11.5 is certainly do-able. Although the only guys I've seen doing 11.5" are Kingfisher....yes? Their large aikiken is apparently 'stout'..anyone tried it?

But certainly, all the standard bokken I've seen and tried appear to be around 10".

Suru
11-07-2009, 05:06 PM
Yes, sounds good. If I've been making do with 10", 11.5 is certainly do-able. Although the only guys I've seen doing 11.5" are Kingfisher....yes? Their large aikiken is apparently 'stout'..anyone tried it?

But certainly, all the standard bokken I've seen and tried appear to be around 10".

I find it strange for the average to be 10". I do believe most katana-zuki (a grammar guess) are longer than that. This bokken at bujindesign.com has a 14" tsuka, so I'm certain that company can accommodate you. Even though other companies do make good supplies, Bujin does indeed have the best of the best, as well as often more affordable but high-grade alternatives. http://www.bujindesign.com/training-weapons-bokken-c-32_79/hickory-shindo-yoshin-ryu-bokken-p-91

Paul Conway
11-08-2009, 02:28 PM
I find it strange for the average to be 10". I do believe most katana-zuki (a grammar guess) are longer than that. This bokken at bujindesign.com has a 14" tsuka, so I'm certain that company can accommodate you. Even though other companies do make good supplies, Bujin does indeed have the best of the best, as well as often more affordable but high-grade alternatives. http://www.bujindesign.com/training-weapons-bokken-c-32_79/hickory-shindo-yoshin-ryu-bokken-p-91

Maybe companies supplying the UK imagine us to be a nation of midgets. ;) But that's my experience.

Anyway, many thanks for all your help, chaps. I've just discovered Okenjo.ie, so I think I'll try them. Maybe Kingfisher down the road....

Kent Enfield
11-08-2009, 04:44 PM
My fist is ca. 10 cm measured from the top of the second joint of my thumb to the outer edge of my little finger.
My hands are just about the same width as yours, and I have no trouble with a 10" tsuka. What exactly do you mean by "a little on the cramped side"? What exactly is the problem you're encountering?

Keith Larman
11-08-2009, 06:33 PM
I find it strange for the average to be 10". I do believe most katana-zuki (a grammar guess) are longer than that.

No.

Not long after Sekigahara (mid-1600's) the Tokugawa shogunate standardized "official" sword parameters for samurai. There are of course exceptions, especially the further you get away from the official court, but antique katana tsuka are almost universally about 9.5" in length because that's what the Tokugawa enforced.

For better or worse that became the official length of tsuka for most schools and styles in Japan and those restrictions stayed in effect for hundreds of years. But heck, after the first hundred or so it didn't matter much because most schools had adopted and adapted to that length by then. So it became the de facto "standard" length.

As I said, there were exceptions, but those are vastly less common. What you will see is table after table of antique tsuka that are virtually all about 9.5" long. 'Cause that's how long most were.

Keith Larman
11-08-2009, 06:40 PM
And fwiw, the link to Bujin's bokken that was designed for Takamura Ha Shindo Yoshin Ryu. I'm assuming Toby Threadgill designed that with Ikeda for Bujin Design.

Shindo Yoshin Ryu is one of those exceptions that have a longer tsuka. The same is true of those who came out of Don Angier's groups.

There are other "out of the norm" groups out there too. Satsuma Koshirae are rather "off the beaten track" at times. And a few years ago I saw a marvelous blade with an antique koshirae papered Tokubetsu Hozon by the NBTHK with an 11.5" tsuka, double-mekugi and gyaku mounting of the menuki. Very outside the "official specs" but quite authentic.

Walker
11-09-2009, 10:32 AM
And fwiw, the link to Bujin's bokken that was designed for Takamura Ha Shindo Yoshin Ryu. I'm assuming Toby Threadgill designed that with Ikeda for Bujin Design.

Shindo Yoshin Ryu is one of those exceptions that have a longer tsuka.

BTW - The Bujin THSYR Bokken are based on a prototype carved by Takamura himself who would make them for his students. It was preserved my David Maynard, given to Toby and used for the design when Ikeda agreed to produce the bokken.

ChrisMoses
11-09-2009, 11:33 AM
It was preserved my David Maynard, given to Toby and used for the design when Ikeda agreed to produce the bokken.

I didn't realize you and David were so close Doug! :D

Couldn't help it...

As folks have pointed out, the 'right' length is a complicated question based on body geometry and the specifics of your ryu-ha or aikido teacher. If you don't use a tsuba on your bokken, you can just cheat and give yourself a bit more grip. The overall length won't be affected that much.

When I started Shinto Ryu, I could only get a 9.5" tsuka for my iaito (all that was shipping in those days). I found it a bit too short and wished I could find something longer. Now on my shinken I have a 10.5" tsuka and it could be shorter... The style I do doesn't use a mechanic that works with a long tsuka. I could argue that's actually impossible to do a lot of our stuff with a long (generally over 12") tsuka correctly, just as it's very difficult to do TSYR or Yanagi Ryu with a short tsuka.

Walker
11-09-2009, 11:42 AM
I didn't realize you and David were so close Doug! :D

Couldn't help it...

Freudian Underwear... I mean typo. :eek:

The really funny part is I caught the my/by Takamura typo, but not the my/by Dave one. :mad:

ChrisMoses
11-09-2009, 12:26 PM
Freudian Underwear... I mean typo. :eek:

The really funny part is I caught the my/by Takamura typo, but not the my/by Dave one. :mad:

It's what happens when left coasters type before the second pot of coffee. ^^;

Suru
11-09-2009, 01:22 PM
A bit surprised by the 14" tsuka at Bu Jin, I remembered a guy I trained with for awhile had a Bu Jin bokken (I've only had their jo), and it was plenty heavier. Maybe if a bokken is heavier than mine, like the many full-weight ken at Bujin, a longer tsuka means better control, whether one's hands are a fist-apart or not. My cherry bokken (I don't think Brazilian cherry) is lighter. A fist apart may work well with my bokken weight, but perhaps not with full-weight pieces. "Blade" length may be a factor also, but probably only how it relates with weight.

Any thoughts on this?

Drew

Suru
11-09-2009, 01:25 PM
No.

Not long after Sekigahara (mid-1600's) the Tokugawa shogunate standardized "official" sword parameters for samurai. There are of course exceptions, especially the further you get away from the official court, but antique katana tsuka are almost universally about 9.5" in length because that's what the Tokugawa enforced.

For better or worse that became the official length of tsuka for most schools and styles in Japan and those restrictions stayed in effect for hundreds of years. But heck, after the first hundred or so it didn't matter much because most schools had adopted and adapted to that length by then. So it became the de facto "standard" length.

As I said, there were exceptions, but those are vastly less common. What you will see is table after table of antique tsuka that are virtually all about 9.5" long. 'Cause that's how long most were.

Do keep in mind that Asian hands are generally on average the smallest in the world. I haven't researched it, but that's my best guess.

ChrisMoses
11-09-2009, 02:42 PM
A bit surprised by the 14" tsuka at Bu Jin, I remembered a guy I trained with for awhile had a Bu Jin bokken (I've only had their jo), and it was plenty heavier. Maybe if a bokken is heavier than mine, like the many full-weight ken at Bujin, a longer tsuka means better control, whether one's hands are a fist-apart or not. My cherry bokken (I don't think Brazilian cherry) is lighter. A fist apart may work well with my bokken weight, but perhaps not with full-weight pieces. "Blade" length may be a factor also, but probably only how it relates with weight.

Any thoughts on this?

Drew

Short tsuka schools will generally use the arms together (think push-push) and not moving the wrists very much. Longer tsuka schools will allow/use more leverage between the arms (push-pull). TSYR also uses a slightly shorter blade length. My 'ideal' blade length in my ryu ha is about 29.5-30" (although my shinken is only 28.5"). I would use a sword no longer than 28" if I used TSYR's critera. The overall length of the blade+ tsuka is almost identical however.

There are folks who use very heavy or long swords with *relatively* short tsuka, the Komei Juku line of MSER under Sekiguchi Sensei being an obvious example.

Kent Enfield
11-09-2009, 04:56 PM
Do keep in mind that Asian hands are generally on average the smallest in the world. I haven't researched it, but that's my best guess.
:freaky:
Really?
We really need to keep in mind something that you made up?

In my years in Japan, I never noticed that people had tiny hands, especially not adult men.

Suru
11-09-2009, 04:59 PM
It is looking like my theories on appropriate tsuka length are too simplistic. Comfort in slicing with the bokken may not be all-important, since apparently there are schools that treat the wooden sword and the iaito or shinken as different animals. If using a bokken to simulate a live blade, it is used in a slicing or piercing fashion. This is how I have possibly always trained with it. I all-too-often forget that the bokken can and has been used in place of a shinken, when it thereby becomes used for its own properties of bashing - or even thrusting - to critical points.

Drew

Keith Larman
11-09-2009, 07:51 PM
BTW - The Bujin THSYR Bokken are based on a prototype carved by Takamura himself who would make them for his students. It was preserved my David Maynard, given to Toby and used for the design when Ikeda agreed to produce the bokken.

Ah, thanks, Doug. That's sort of what I remembered hearing, but I was hesitant to add any more mythology to the thread than it already has.

Keith Larman
11-09-2009, 08:18 PM
A bit surprised by the 14" tsuka at Bu Jin, I remembered a guy I trained with for awhile had a Bu Jin bokken (I've only had their jo), and it was plenty heavier. Maybe if a bokken is heavier than mine, like the many full-weight ken at Bujin, a longer tsuka means better control, whether one's hands are a fist-apart or not. My cherry bokken (I don't think Brazilian cherry) is lighter. A fist apart may work well with my bokken weight, but perhaps not with full-weight pieces. "Blade" length may be a factor also, but probably only how it relates with weight.

Any thoughts on this?

Drew

I think you're "overthinking" it. What is right in this area is context specific. I put together a *lot* of swords for a lot of people and while I try to understand each group's rationale (so I can best meet their needs), ultimately it comes down to saying the answer to "why?" is "because.". That's it. Nothing more. Swords vary tremendously in feel, mounting, etc. As do bokken. But bokken don't feel at all like swords to me and I wouldn't bother trying to find a bokken that feels like a sword since they're so very different. Bokken are for certain types of training (safety, cost, etc.). Shinken are for another type of training. Yes, one does illuminate the other, but they don't swap out and making generalizations about what is right or better for a sword art based on bokken dynamics and feel is really going off in a weird direction.

Walker
11-10-2009, 12:51 AM
One more tidbit about the Bujin THSYR Bokken is that the tsuka was intentionally left long so that it can be cut to fit the individual - Big Tony to Tom Wharton.

Oh and Denver/Boulder is a relatively arid place so it is a good idea to get some kind of oil into your Bujin bokken before you go bashing away.

Suru
11-10-2009, 09:16 AM
One more tidbit about the Bujin THSYR Bokken is that the tsuka was intentionally left long so that it can be cut to fit the individual - Big Tony to Tom Wharton.

Oh and Denver/Boulder is a relatively arid place so it is a good idea to get some kind of oil into your Bujin bokken before you go bashing away.

If you want to sand a Bujin bokken and - say - Tung oil it, that is probably just fine. This might have a slightly positive effect, no effect, or slightly negative effect on the piece. It is more work than necessary in my opinion, since dry climate or humid, my jo from there was ready to go when I received it in Florida, maybe the most humid state in the States. If I recall correctly, Bujin actually has it written on its website that training weapons are "good to go" upon delivery. From my jo order, I believe that is more than just marketing, that it is correct. Cutting a bokken to personal tsuka preference then sanding the elliptical corner is always an option, but then the base should be oiled. I don't know what Bujin uses, but Tung is one good option.

Drew

Suru
11-10-2009, 11:29 AM
Doug, I can read the "hikari" kanji, but what do the other two say?

Drew

Walker
11-10-2009, 12:05 PM
Drew,
I assume you are referring to the name of my dojo in the side info.
光 light - hikari, k
道 way - michi, d
館 building, hall - tate, kan
We pronounce it kdkan.