Over the years, kendo clubs have developed a range of different types of equipment and clothing. The main purpose of these is to protect the combatant. They also serve to continue the traditions of kendo that have existed for hundreds of years.
Using a real katana would be dangerous for novices. Therefore, the people learning kendo need to use a wooden version of the popular Japanese sword. This is referred to as a shinai. It is usually constructed from four separate pieces of bamboo, which are held in place with leather fittings.
There is also a modern shinai variant that is made from carbon fiber and resin. Sometimes a hard wooden sword called a bokutō is used.
Even when non-lethal sticks are utilized, there is still the danger of sustaining an injury. For this reason, armor is worn, which protects the head, arms, and body. A helmet called a “men” is worn on the head. A men-gane (metal grate) shields the face.
Meanwhile, tsuki-dare (leather straps) keeps the throat concealed. Padded gloves, known as kote, are worn on the hands. A large breastplate (dō) protects the torso.
The protective gear (bōgu) merely comprises the outer layer of the fighter. Underneath this a jacket and two wide trouser legs are worn. These are referred to as kendogi and hakama, respectively. Western practitioners who want to emulate kendo as close to the Japanese as possible will need to acquire both the body armor and under another layer of clothing.
Perspiration can be a problem for some people. Sweat from their head could end up getting in their eyes and distracting them. This can be solved by placing a cotton towel underneath the helmet.