Shinai Maintenance

originally printed in May 2003

The Shinai, or practice sword, was developed around 1750. It is constructed of four well-seasoned, highly polished staves of bamboo. A square piece of metal is wedged into a slot on the inside of the butt of each stave, to keep the staves aligned. A T-shaped rubber grommet separates the tips, which are covered by the leather tip. The center leather keeps the staves from spreading apart in the middle, and the handle serves both as handle and to bind the butt ends together. The string keeps the leather pieces bound together, and indicates the blunt side of the single-edged sword the shinai represents. The guard is made of either plastic or whaleskin and is held in place by a rubber grommet called the guard stop.

  • Check your shinai before practice for any dangerous cracks or splinters in the staves!
  • Sand the staves. When new, be sure to round the edges. When old, sand away splinters or roughness.
  • Coat them with light oil such as gun or sewing machine oil, and let soak for at least 3 days (preferably a week). While they are soaking, check them daily and recoat them if the oil has been absorbed. New shinai are dry and need quite a lot of oil. Before reassembling, wipe away any excess oil.
  • This information is courtesy of Saskatoon Kendo Club. The on-line version is more complete, with illustrations: 

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