Originally posted by Bruce Baker
One way to determine if the bokken you have is right for practice is to practice ... say 1000 cuts. This will determine right away if it is too heavy or just right.
This is pretty common advice, but I wouldn't put too much faith in it. It might tell you if the bokuto is too heavy - or it might tell you that you are tiny and puny - or it might tell you that you're just cutting completely incorrectly. With no experience there's no way for you to tell which one.
Further, as I stated further up in the other thread, different schools use different weights of bokuto because they train in different ways. Some places use heavy weights - for everybody, some places use light weights - for everybody. Often the weight is tied into the methodology of the training - too heavy or too light and it may be difficult to stick with the pedagogy in that particular school. Too light - too heavy - there's really not much of a standard, it depends what you're doing.
Best thing - ask your instructor. If they think it's ok then go with it - it's not a life choice, you can always switch later on.
As a side note - I'd stay away from red oak, in general.