The Questionable Origin of the Majority of Martial Arts Clothing
Moral Arrangements We All Make When Facing this Sad Truth
As Budoka, most of us feel having moral values superior to those only practicing “sports”, we like to believe that we are better. Are you—as Budoka—more concerned by human conditions and human rights? Are you concerned with the origin of the products you buy and wear? Take your Dogi, your belt and have a look at the label. Pakistan? Bangladesh? China? Japan? Let us examine under what conditions your equipment is manufactured.
The origin and manufacture of the Iaito, replica of the Japanese sword, the Katana
Visits to the workshops Minosaka and Jisei
The origin of the Iaito does not date back very far, to the 60s or so. The creation of this tool for practice was primarily driven by new laws and regulations, enacted after World War ll. Since then, with the experience of many trades in the manufacture of the Nihonto (Japanese sword), some Japanese craftsmen have developed an expertise, still unparalleled outside the archipelago.
We went to the region called Gifu to visit the workshops Minosaka and Nihon Token (Jisei), two of the most famous in Japan. Familiar with this topic for some years, we had many questions to ask – which we are summarizing here.
How to choose your Aikido belt
A short guide
Many practitioners choose their Aikido belt by chance, one takes what one finds. This may work out, at least for a certain time. However, white belts usually start falling apart after one or two years of practice, black belts are often too thick and uncomfortable under a Hakama. So how to choose one’s belt? Here is the answer to this question.
Traditional manufacturing: The Sashiko fabric
The core of the Keikogi manufacturing
The Sashiko fabric, also called “rice grain” fabric in the west is the core of the Keikogi (Kimono) manufacturing and is worn in Aikido, Judo and also Kendo. Although there are many prestigious designers worldwide, there are only a few artisans who are capable of weaving a high quality Sashiko fabric. In this article we will open the doors to Seido’s partner workshops, the only two workshops in the world to master the entire production line from weaving to sewing, to show you how your Keikogi is made.
Comparative: How to choose your Aikido Gi (Kimono)
The different Seido models
Choosing a Dogi is not a simple task, especially if you are a beginner. Light-, standard-, heavy-weight, traditional cut, modern cut, original cut: There are many models and choosing the one that best suits you does not only depend on the thickness of the fabric! Here we will discuss the different Seido models, fully representative of all the existing “Made in Japan” Aikido Gi. However, low-end Dogi made outside of Japan are not to be part of the topic.
Handmade Bokken, Jo, Tanto, …
At the workshop Aramaki Bokuto Mokojo
Enjoying the quiet summer months, we travelled across Japan to visit the officially recognized workshops manufacturing wooden weapons in Japan: “Aramaki Budogu Mokojo”, “Nidome Bokuto Seisakujo“, “Horinouchi Noboru Seisakujo” and “Matsuzashi Bokuto Seisakujo”. These last four companies fabricating wooden weapons are all located in “Miyakonojo”, a small town on the peninsula of Kyushu (southern Japan), enclosed by two mountain ranges. In this article we will show all the steps of the making of a Bokken, guided through by an artisan of the workshop Aramaki Bokuto Mojojo, led by master Aramaki Kazuhiro, the 3rd.
History of the Japanese Bokken & interview with master Nidome Yoshiaki
An encounter in the mountains of Kyushu: Between the art and its craftsman
The Bokken, wooden imitation of the famous Katana, is almost as old as the latter. Its poor quality in the beginning made it a “consumable item” which could easily be replaced if broken. The Bokken’s quality improved gradually over time but it was not until the early 20th century, with the birth of the workshop in Miyakonojo (Kyushu) that the Bokken, the wooden sword, became a piece of art. At this workshop the ancient art of woodworking met the traditional martial arts, both of them sharing common values.
The different types of Bokken
A visit at the Horinouchi workshop
The Bokken is a tool. It can either faithfully represent a sword, be used for muscle training or, if it is very light, become an instrument in order to work on precision. Some schools even consider the Bokken as weapon itself and study it as such. In Aikido, Kendo or Iaido, relatively conventional Bokken are used, compared to some schools of Kenjutsu, Koryu and Kobudo, for which specific weapons are chosen, especially to support the physical development and the specific techniques of the school.
Since 1923, the Horinouchi workshop takes pride in keeping a copy of every manufactured weapon. Even though the exact number of the available models is unclear, there are certainly over a hundred types displayed in the small private museum of the workshop.
Introducing our new Blog
By Jordy Delage
My name is Jordy Delage, I’m the founder of Seido and I’d like to introduce you to our new blog today.
As Aikido equipment specialists and Aikidoists, we – the Seido staff – have acquired some knowledge and skills overtime, and I thought it was time to start sharing.