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RKG
04-06-2011, 04:51 AM
My wife recently bought me a Handcut Jo from Kingfisher and I was amazed at the quality and feel of the wood, especially compared to my old Red Oak Jo.

I am now looking into getting a Kingfisher Bokken but would like some advice on what style to pick. I currently am using an Iwama Ken, I like the solid feel and stout appearence of the weapon but the Kingfisher Aiki Ken looks great.

Does anyone know how the Kingfisher Iwama compares to the Aiki Ken during training?

Any response is appreciated.

Cliff Judge
04-06-2011, 09:17 AM
My wife recently bought me a Handcut Jo from Kingfisher and I was amazed at the quality and feel of the wood, especially compared to my old Red Oak Jo.

I am now looking into getting a Kingfisher Bokken but would like some advice on what style to pick. I currently am using an Iwama Ken, I like the solid feel and stout appearence of the weapon but the Kingfisher Aiki Ken looks great.

Does anyone know how the Kingfisher Iwama compares to the Aiki Ken during training?

Any response is appreciated.

Hickory has a much more lively feel to it than oak. It warps though, guaranteed. Just find yourself a friendly tree with an arragement of branches that you can use to carefully bend it back into shape. Kingfisher's site has a page about this.

You are likely to find that, if your existing bokken is shiro kashi, the Kingfisher iwama style bokken will be an entirely different animal. its going to be faster and send less vibration to your hands when it takes an impact.

Their Aikiken is the best choice, IMO, if you are looking for a bokken with a tsuba. I believe the larger Aikiken will be a bit longer than the Iwama bokken and with a tsuba it will be balanced closer to the tsuka. Without the tsuba, I think you will find that its much quicker than your current bokken; it'll feel like you are holding a lightning bolt in your hands.

FYI, the "standard" bokkens are very nice and if you get one you won't feel half as bad the first time you have to sand out a dimple. Sanding a hand-cut bokken is a shame. Actually I can't believe people use those hand-cut bokken in regular training. Makes me want to cry. :(

RKG
04-06-2011, 10:58 AM
Thank you for the response, Cliff.

The Aiki Ken does look like a fine bokken. Though I do not use a Tsuba, I am leaning toward getting the Aiki Ken.

Michael Hackett
04-06-2011, 01:09 PM
I have the Iwama style from Kingfisher and have been absolutely pleased with it. My only complaint is that I had a sharp edge on the omote side of the tsuka and I actually sanded it down a tad. I hated applying sandpaper to it, but it was only about a half-inch edge and took maybe ten strokes with 200 grit sandpaper. I also spent hours tapping the striking surfaces to harden them before I ever used it. They give you detailed instructions on surface hardening and I don't have any visible dents. I understand what Cliff is saying about using the handcut bokken and jo in regular training, but then again, what were they made for? If I ever wear these out, I will replace them with exactly the same thing and use them regularly. They are works of art but are most beautiful when being used.

Cliff Judge
04-06-2011, 01:30 PM
I understand what Cliff is saying about using the handcut bokken and jo in regular training, but then again, what were they made for? If I ever wear these out, I will replace them with exactly the same thing and use them regularly. They are works of art but are most beautiful when being used.

I know, I know. But long before they wear out completely, you are likely going to have to sand out some dents and re-apply a finish to them; that turns them into the sanded model anyways, you just spent $100 more for it. :)

In all seriousness I think the hand-cut bokken are great for sitting under the shomen for the instructor to pick up and demonstrate something during class.

Now, if you don't mind spending a lot of money on a bokken and actually intend to use it for a lot of rough practice, then you should drop Kingfisher an email and ask them about the enhanced hickory practice weapons.

Michael Hackett
04-06-2011, 02:28 PM
No argument there, Cliff. Mine are about two years old now and I think the time spent surfacing hardening them has paid off. I check my weapons for dents, splinters, cracks and the like each time I pick them up and can feel slight denting after a lot of hard use, but nothing really visible. I can "see" the dents after I feel them.

The surface hardening process takes some time, or at least it did me. I used a long screwdriver with a plastic handle to tap all the impact surfaces literally hundreds of times in three phases. The first was light tapping, then moderate tapping, and then hard striking. It took me about a month to do as I had to wait until I had the house to myself as the tapping would drive any spectator insane.

If and when it becomes necessary I will look into the enhanced products, but I'm sure I will stick with Kingfisher in any event.

RKG
04-07-2011, 04:40 AM
I haven't work hardened my Jo yet, I have a week till next practice and I think I'll have to consign myself to the shed for an evening so I can tap away without the dreaded Wife monster appearing :).

Seriously though, I really like the look of the Aiki Ken and I think I'll save up for the grade 7. I don't think I could afford the extra 100 for the enhanced version. I don't expect the Aiki Ken to never get any dents, but I'll look after it well so it should last me a long time.

Can you use any hard surface for work hardening? For example another Jo.

Michael Hackett
04-07-2011, 09:35 AM
Ralph,

You could certainly, but it would have to be harder than the object jo. I found that sitting with the jo or bokken across my knees and using the plastic handle of the screwdriver as the striking surface to be the most satisfactory. Just take care to use the flat surface of the handle to contact the wood or you will get dents. I have two of the long screwdrivers; one has a square handle with rounded edges and the other has the more traditional grooved handle. Both work, but the square handle was easier. It will take about a week to get the sound of pounding out of your head......

Rob Watson
04-07-2011, 08:56 PM
I've put ~ 5 years of countless hard strikes on my Iwama style Kingfisher grade 7 bokken. I love it. Sensei says I need to get a real Iwama style bokken - meaning the Kingfishers is not 'correct'. I have not pressed for a specifc detailed answer as to exactly why it is not right but in terms of shape and balance it essentially is identical to senseis so all that is left is the coloration (gorgeous compared to lame old kashi if you as me) and feel.

The strong impression I got was I'd never get the weapons right until I get a correct bokken. I am mystified by this.

danj
04-08-2011, 12:45 AM
their weapons stands look like a serious indulgence too

RKG
04-08-2011, 03:36 AM
I am going to begin the first phase of Jo tapping tonight. I have a seminar to attend on the 17th and I'd like it to be ready by then. I've decided to get the Aiki Ken in a couple of months when I save up enough money. It does look gorgeous.

I've put ~ 5 years of countless hard strikes on my Iwama style Kingfisher grade 7 bokken. I love it. Sensei says I need to get a real Iwama style bokken - meaning the Kingfishers is not 'correct'. I have not pressed for a specifc detailed answer as to exactly why it is not right but in terms of shape and balance it essentially is identical to senseis so all that is left is the coloration (gorgeous compared to lame old kashi if you as me) and feel.

The strong impression I got was I'd never get the weapons right until I get a correct bokken. I am mystified by this.

Perhaps you should ask your Sensei what is wrong with your Bokken. Besides, I wasn't aware that there was a correct Bokken for Aikido.

Surely it shouldn't matter what style of Bokken you have, its the person who wields the weapon, not the weapon itself.

Randy Sexton
04-08-2011, 07:00 AM
Bought the large Aikiken hand cut top grade several years ago. Did the hardening thing as well. Still gorgeous and looks brand new except for the hard won surface from many hours of hard training. I bought the large but knda wish I had got the regular but I am 230 and six feet so I went large. Works very well but I had a friend get the regular and it felt good as well. The cost is a little prohibitive but makes a great Christmas present (which mine was).
Doc

RKG
04-08-2011, 07:30 AM
I'm not sure on whether to get the large or medium Aiki Ken. I'm 5'8 and my current bokken is 41" so its slap bang in the middle of the large and medium sizes.

I think I'll measure up my Iaito and size the Aiki Ken according to that.

Cliff Judge
04-08-2011, 11:37 AM
Bought the large Aikiken hand cut top grade several years ago. Did the hardening thing as well. Still gorgeous and looks brand new except for the hard won surface from many hours of hard training. I bought the large but knda wish I had got the regular but I am 230 and six feet so I went large. Works very well but I had a friend get the regular and it felt good as well. The cost is a little prohibitive but makes a great Christmas present (which mine was).
Doc

I got a top-grade (on the older grading system, which was like A, A+, A++ or something) Aikiken in 2002 and despite being very careful about storage and maintenance it finally splintered at ASU DC summer camp in 2007. I replaced it with one of his Yagyu bokken and found that I don't need to be nearly as smashy. The thing is like the toothpick of death.

SeaGrass
04-08-2011, 02:21 PM
I don't really see the need to sand a bokken, for a jo yes, since you need it to slide between your hands. I have Iwama style Kingfisher's hand cut, regular sanded finish grade 5 and enhanced. I actually like the dents and patina on my bokkens.

I suggest you go for the enhaced bokkens, save you the work of sanding since they're dent resistant and don't warp that easily.

Cliff Judge
04-08-2011, 02:36 PM
I don't really see the need to sand a bokken, for a jo yes, since you need it to slide between your hands. I have Iwama style Kingfisher's hand cut, regular sanded finish grade 5 and enhanced. I actually like the dents and patina on my bokkens.

I suggest you go for the enhaced bokkens, save you the work of sanding since they're dent resistant and don't warp that easily.

If you never ever do kumi tachi where there is wood-on-skin contact, you are fine, but its just not cool to use a splintery bokken if you are going to touch someone's wrists or arms with it.

SeaGrass
04-08-2011, 05:39 PM
If you never ever do kumi tachi where there is wood-on-skin contact, you are fine, but its just not cool to use a splintery bokken if you are going to touch someone's wrists or arms with it.

Aren't you supposed to stop about roughly an inch from hitting your uke?

Michael Hackett
04-08-2011, 06:03 PM
Bien,
It depends on the tradition of your school. On one kumi tachi we prevent a strike by holding the edge of the bokken against our partner's forearms/wrists.

JO
04-08-2011, 07:18 PM
We do several kumi tachi were you make contact and "slice" across your partner. Usually against the gi, but splinters are not welcome. Even without contact with skin, any loose piece of wood that can fly off is unwelcome.

I just replaced a splintery bujin bokken with a large enhanced aikiken from Kingfisher. I'm happy with my big heavy stick (compared to any bokken I've had) but have not yet used it in paired practice. The jo has held out well so far though.

RKG
04-13-2011, 12:48 PM
Well, I spent an hour last night tapping away at my jo and I feel confident about using it during training on thursday night, though I can still feel shaking in my hand :)

bkedelen
04-14-2011, 12:13 AM
Overall I would say that if the shape and size of the bokkens them make works for you, Kingfisher makes the best weapons out there. I have a Kingfisher Woodworks A+ Hickory Aiki Ken that is hand cut and has never been touched by sand paper. Back in the day I had a composite bokken from them that had some problems. I sent it back and got back another one with problems. I had a conversation with the owner and he told me that he would make me the last bokken I would ever need to resolve the issue. He was not wrong. Unfortunately my bokken training has changed such that I now use much lighter and much narrower swords. I am actually thinking about selling the Kingfisher bokken since it is a shame for such a nice sword to go unused. If anyone is interested, let me know.

bkedelen
04-14-2011, 12:22 AM
I am looking at this piece of wood now and it is so nice, I am wondering if I could ask Kingfisher to cut it down to the Yagyu Shinkage shape from the Aiki Ken shape. It never hurts to ask, right?

RKG
04-15-2011, 04:45 AM
I am looking at this piece of wood now and it is so nice, I am wondering if I could ask Kingfisher to cut it down to the Yagyu Shinkage shape from the Aiki Ken shape. It never hurts to ask, right?

Nothing wrong with asking.

Used my Kingfisher Jo for the first time last night, it feels so much better than my old red oak Jo. Much much lighter but faster and it feels very sturdy. Very impressed with this weapon.

jester
05-18-2011, 10:30 AM
I just got an Enhanced Kingfisher Shinto Bokken. The craftsmanship is amazing! I'm very impressed with this weapon. The balance and weight is prefect.

I took some pics next to an Iwama Bokken from S&P.

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abraxis
05-19-2011, 06:04 AM
This thread is of real interest to me. I started ordering a Kingfisher jo a few weeks ago but got stuck on the inscription so I started a few threads here to help me decide on the kanji.

If you're interested please see:
http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=19792&highlight=peace+kanji
http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=19835

In the second thread Peter A Goldsbury Sensei wrote:

"Of course, if you have the Japanese carved on a jo and/or bokken, you will have the best of both worlds: a pole or implement you can actually use, as well as pray with."

Can't say that I've decided yet myself but I'm wondering what ya'll have inscribed on your practice weapons or do you prefer to not have an inscription?

Also, do any of you listen to music during solitary practice? I know there are pros and cons to this and many people feel strongly that music is an impediment to their focus and performance while there are others who are extremely attached to their "Aiki Music".

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=19803

jester
05-19-2011, 08:23 AM
Music?? No way. I like to hear my surroundings. I like it when I drive though!! :D You might get the word 残心 (Zanshin) on your Jo. ;)

What art is your Jo for? Why not get that on the Jo or just your initials. I have a logo I designed for myself back in High School that I wood burned on my bokken handle.

Kingfisher has all the inscriptions listed on their website: http://kingfisherwoodworks.com/inscriptions.html

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abraxis
05-19-2011, 11:04 AM
...What art is your Jo for? Why not get that on the Jo....-

"The Art of World Peace", experts disagree about the kanji though.

Cliff Judge
05-19-2011, 02:54 PM
"The Art of World Peace", experts disagree about the kanji though.

I had the kanji for "mu" engraved on my old Aikiken. No real reason, and i felt kinda dumb about it most of the time. Though people would ask me what it meant and I'd be like "nuthin'." :)

abraxis
05-19-2011, 03:07 PM
I had the kanji for "mu" engraved on my old Aikiken. No real reason, and i felt kinda dumb about it most of the time. Though people would ask me what it meant and I'd be like "nuthin'." :)

I like that, but which script?

jester
05-19-2011, 05:28 PM
I like that, but which script?

Rudy, try a Google search for "mu Japanese" :p

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mu_%28negative%29

abraxis
05-19-2011, 06:01 PM
Rudy, try a Google search for "mu Japanese" :p

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mu_%28negative%29

I did but then I looked at http://www.ehow.com/how_4464423_write-japanese-script.html
and then http://www.fontspace.com/category/japanese,calligraphic and :confused: thought I'd ask for a bit more info.

Guess I'll check with Kingfisher, I might even drive there in June.

Best regards...

Cliff Judge
05-20-2011, 09:03 AM
I like that, but which script?

This one:



You know what would be cool is if you could get the sanskrit for seed syllables engraved....

abraxis
05-20-2011, 09:33 AM
This one:



You know what would be cool is if you could get the sanskrit for seed syllables engraved....

Thanks for 無 ;) ; I'll study a bit on sanskrit seed syllables.

Robert A. Wilkins
06-21-2011, 07:40 AM
We tried Kingfisher bokkens at our dojo and they all broke/splintered within a couple of weeks of use.

This was maybe ten years ago so their quality may have improved, but I would not personally be willing to pay for another one of their bokkens given my personal experience with them.

jester
06-21-2011, 09:16 AM
This was maybe ten years ago so their quality may have improved,

Not sure what he was making 10 years ago but the Kingfisher Bokken is the only one that didn't break during this guys tests. He has 7 grades of wood to choose from.

http://youtu.be/U6alV4ASeyg

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Robert A. Wilkins
06-21-2011, 09:50 AM
Not sure what he was making 10 years ago but the Kingfisher Bokken is the only one that didn't break during this guys tests. He has 7 grades of wood to choose from.

http://youtu.be/U6alV4ASeyg

-

When we purchased from Kingfisher, they had 3 grades to choose from. We put an order in for something like 10+ bokkens and each of those began splintering within a week or two. We ordered another batch and had the same thing happen.

Looking back, those particular bokken seemed very light, much lighter and denser feeling than the white oak bokken we had at the dojo at the time.

Again, I would stress that this was 10 years ago, so it may very well be the case that Kingfisher bokkens have improved tremendously in terms of performance, but considering that I shelled out $200+ on them and had them splinter and break on me in matter of months, I think I'll be sticking with the white oak.

Marc Abrams
06-21-2011, 03:09 PM
I placed a bulk order for high grade hickory bokkens and jos for my students last year. They take a licking and keep on ticking..... I am a LONG time user of Kingfisher weapons and endorse using them without any reservations whatsoever.

Marc Abrams

Jim Sorrentino
06-21-2011, 03:37 PM
Hello Robert,
Again, I would stress that this was 10 years ago, so it may very well be the case that Kingfisher bokkens have improved tremendously in terms of performance, but considering that I shelled out $200+ on them and had them splinter and break on me in matter of months, I think I'll be sticking with the white oak.
I enthusiastically agree with Marc Abrams's endorsement of Kingfisher Woodworks. This is the first time I have ever heard of such an experience with Kingfisher's products. I have a set of bokken and jo that I got in 1991 that are still going strong.

Did you contact Kingfisher when you had problems with your bokken? In my experience, the company has always gone above and beyond to ensure customer satisfaction.

Please feel free to send me a PM.

Jim

Marc Abrams
06-21-2011, 05:04 PM
Hello Robert,

I enthusiastically agree with Marc Abrams's endorsement of Kingfisher Woodworks. This is the first time I have ever heard of such an experience with Kingfisher's products. I have a set of bokken and jo that I got in 1991 that are still going strong.

Did you contact Kingfisher when you had problems with your bokken? In my experience, the company has always gone above and beyond to ensure customer satisfaction.

Please feel free to send me a PM.

Jim

Jim:

I think we got our weapons around the same time! Think Brad would want to use us as poster children for his products? :eek:

Regards,

Marc

ps- What Jim said regarding Brad and customer service has been my experience as well.

Robert A. Wilkins
06-21-2011, 05:24 PM
Well when the first batch started failing, my teacher called Kingfisher and explained the situation and they sent out some replacements, but they too started to splinter and break. When my teacher called Kingfisher back they told him him it wasn't their bokkens but his teaching methods that were at fault. Okey dokey he said and we stopped ordering anymore bokkens from them.

We've been using white oak bokkens from Kiyota Trading Co. ever since.

inframan
06-24-2011, 08:46 AM
Has anyone done a comparison between the hand cut grades and the lower sanded grades? Just wondering about the difference in weight and durability.

jbblack
06-24-2011, 11:14 AM
Has anyone done a comparison between the hand cut grades and the lower sanded grades? Just wondering about the difference in weight and durability.

I have two sandpaper bokken and one hand cut from Kingfisher. They have all held up very well. The sandpaper units just feel a bit different, but they are just as strong as the hand cuts. Love the feel of both.
Cheers, Jeff

inframan
07-10-2011, 01:31 PM
I got a hold of a kingfisher they other day, I think it was a sanded one, looked great, suprisingly light but felt great. Perhaps their Iwama model or the higher grade wood is a little heavier?

The grip and the finish was very comfortable and it felt well ballanced. I think it would be a good choice if you want something fast and make a lot of contact in your weapons training.

Cynrod
07-11-2011, 02:07 PM
I got a hold of a kingfisher they other day, I think it was a sanded one, looked great, suprisingly light but felt great. Perhaps their Iwama model or the higher grade wood is a little heavier?

The grip and the finish was very comfortable and it felt well ballanced. I think it would be a good choice if you want something fast and make a lot of contact in your weapons training.

I got the shinto bokken and the jo from Kingfisher. Both are hand cut grade 7 and I am very happy with them. I tried some bokkens and jos before (I am not telling which manufactures) but these Kingfishers are by far my favorites. Balance, feel and durability are what counts more for me.

It's true that they cost more than the other manufacturers,,, but hey they will last you for a long time. Maybe they will outlived you :D . "You get what you pay for" is mostly applies here ;) !