Last Post…

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I haven’t been to the blog in a while.  Mostly because I’ve answered the question I had, what is the type of wooden bokken that will take the most impact.  The short answer is hickory, though there are some decent alternatives out there (Japanese white oak, also called shiro kashi, and Brazilian ironwood come to mind).  I plan on keeping the blog up, as well as the videos, so that others can learn from my experiment.

English Brown Oak (Sessile)

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Got this update on a test from Ellis Amdur:

Oak (Sessile AKA English Brown Oak – Quercus petraea) – Its qualities are similar to American  Oak rather than kashi.  The grain is rather wild. I received a thick straight bokken, very well crafted.  I tested it against a Japanese kashi bokken.  At 20% strength impact, the Sessile Oak bokken dented rather deeply, while there were no dents in the kashi bokken.  We increased the impact to about 30-40% and there was a marked difference in the feel of the weapons. Kashi absorbs shock, whereas the Sessile Oak “rings” unpleasantly in the hands.  At the fourth impact, it broke at an angle along the grain line, as if was cut.  I do not recommend this wood for weapons.  Janka Hardness Scale  1120

Old Jigen Ryu footage

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I got a link to this video of old footage of Jigen Ryu style.  It’s apparent the style emphasizes a heavy, strong bokken for impact practice.  In fact, the bokken do not seem to be “finished” in most of the clips.  Great footage for those questioning why I beat a stick against a tree.  Apparently, I wasn’t the first one… 🙂

How To Pronounce “Vitae”


My first posts on lignum vitae were about the Blizniak Lignum Vitae bokken.  This lignum is from Argentina (among other S. American countries).  This wood is also called vera wood, and I am having another maker make me one with a different style (more on that to come).

The problem I am having is that everyone seems to agree on how to say “lignum”- it sounds like it is spelled.  But no one agrees on how to say “vitae”.  So I did some digging, and here is what I came up with:

Classical Latin: weet-eye

British/southern S. America: vee-ty

northern S. American: vih-ty

French/Italian: vee-tay

Romanian: vee-tuh

So, as you can see, there are several ways to pronounce it without being incorrect.  Though, I would tend to lean towards either Latin (due to the way plants are named) or either of the ways for S. America, as that is where vera wood is from.

World’s Longest Bokken?

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Just wanted to share a blog I came across where someone made a wooden copy of the longest katana in Japan.  This piece of wood goes from floor to ceiling!

Wood for Weapons

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I have had the privilege of emailing with Ellis Amdur about the different types of woods used for practice weapons and in particular, bokken.  He and I will be sharing thoughts on our respective sites, and I encourage others to go to his page and see his thoughts on what he considers to be good types of wood for impact weapons training:

In the meantime, check out the above video from his page and see the type of impact that bokken takes!

Honduras Rosewood vs. African Rosewood (Bubinga)

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SDK Honduras Rosewood- SDK style
Polish finish
No tsuba cut
36″ length
Tsuka 11″ length, 4.5″ circumference
565 grams
SDK African Rosewood (Bubinga)- SDK style
Polish finish
No tsuba cut
40.75″ length
Tsuka 11.5″ length, 4.1″ circumference
584 grams
Not much to say that the video and pics don’t cover, except to say that I am starting to seriously consider the length of the bokken as an indicator of strength for impact.  On a swing it probably creates less of a fulcrum (physics genius’ jump in here, please) and can better redistribute the force.  For example, a 50-inch bokken is more likely to break on a swing than a 12 inch tanto; hence the 36-inch bokken are less prone to break than the 41 inch bokken.  That may have been the case here, though I think Honduras Rosewood is more durable than Bubinga in general.  Thoughts?

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