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Old 11-04-2009, 01:35 PM   #1
Paul Conway
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Bokken with longer tsuka?

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
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Old 11-04-2009, 01:57 PM   #2
Janet Rosen
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Re: Bokken with longer tsuka?

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/

Janet Rosen
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Old 11-04-2009, 03:27 PM   #3
Marc Abrams
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Re: Bokken with longer tsuka?

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
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Old 11-04-2009, 04:15 PM   #4
jbblack
 
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Re: Bokken with longer tsuka?

I agree about Kingfisher. I have several weapons from him. They last and feel great in the hand.

Cheers,
Jeff
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Old 11-04-2009, 07:39 PM   #5
Lyle Laizure
 
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Re: Bokken with longer tsuka?

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.

Lyle Laizure
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Old 11-05-2009, 10:43 AM   #6
Paul Conway
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Re: Bokken with longer tsuka?

Thanks, guys.
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Old 11-05-2009, 04:20 PM   #7
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Re: Bokken with longer tsuka?

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
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Old 11-05-2009, 08:06 PM   #8
Kent Enfield
 
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Re: Bokken with longer tsuka?

Quote:
Drew Gardner wrote: View Post
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.

Kentokuseisei
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Old 11-05-2009, 09:24 PM   #9
cguzik
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Re: Bokken with longer tsuka?

Take a look at the Shindo Yoshin Ryu bokken from Bujin Design.

http://www.bujindesign.com/training-...yu-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

Last edited by cguzik : 11-05-2009 at 09:29 PM.
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Old 11-06-2009, 02:35 AM   #10
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Thumbs up Re: Bokken with longer tsuka?

Quote:
Kent Enfield wrote: View Post
Unless, of course, that's not how your style does it.
+1
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Old 11-07-2009, 12:39 PM   #11
Paul Conway
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Re: Bokken with longer tsuka?

Quote:
Drew Gardner wrote: View Post
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?
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Old 11-07-2009, 01:48 PM   #12
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Re: Bokken with longer tsuka?

Quote:
Paul Conway wrote: View Post
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
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Old 11-07-2009, 01:55 PM   #13
Paul Conway
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Re: Bokken with longer tsuka?

Quote:
Drew Gardner wrote: View Post
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".
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Old 11-07-2009, 04:06 PM   #14
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Re: Bokken with longer tsuka?

Quote:
Paul Conway wrote: View Post
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-...yu-bokken-p-91
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Old 11-08-2009, 01:28 PM   #15
Paul Conway
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Re: Bokken with longer tsuka?

Quote:
Drew Gardner wrote: View Post
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-...yu-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....
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Old 11-08-2009, 03:44 PM   #16
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Re: Bokken with longer tsuka?

Quote:
Paul Conway wrote: View Post
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?

Kentokuseisei
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Old 11-08-2009, 05:33 PM   #17
Keith Larman
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Re: Bokken with longer tsuka?

Quote:
Drew Gardner wrote: View Post
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.

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Old 11-08-2009, 05:40 PM   #18
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Re: Bokken with longer tsuka?

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.

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Old 11-09-2009, 09:32 AM   #19
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Re: Bokken with longer tsuka?

Quote:
Keith Larman wrote: View Post
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.

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Old 11-09-2009, 10:33 AM   #20
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Re: Bokken with longer tsuka?

Quote:
Doug Walker wrote: View Post
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!

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.

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Old 11-09-2009, 10:42 AM   #21
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Re: Bokken with longer tsuka?

Quote:
Christian Moses wrote: View Post
I didn't realize you and David were so close Doug!

Couldn't help it...
Freudian Underwear... I mean typo.

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

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Old 11-09-2009, 11:26 AM   #22
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Re: Bokken with longer tsuka?

Quote:
Doug Walker wrote: View Post
Freudian Underwear... I mean typo.

The really funny part is I caught the my/by Takamura typo, but not the my/by Dave one.
It's what happens when left coasters type before the second pot of coffee. ^^;

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Old 11-09-2009, 12:22 PM   #23
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Re: Bokken with longer tsuka?

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
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Old 11-09-2009, 12:25 PM   #24
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Re: Bokken with longer tsuka?

Quote:
Keith Larman wrote: View Post
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.
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Old 11-09-2009, 01:42 PM   #25
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Re: Bokken with longer tsuka?

Quote:
Drew Gardner wrote: View Post
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.

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