Christmas Came In Early

men tenugui star wars

It’s been 12 months since I resumed doing kendo again after months-long hiatus! Isn’t that astounding? Time flew by in hyperspeed and it’s already been one year of regular practice. I will dare say, I have come very far!

To my amazement, I seem to have inspired (or fascinated)  many people, regardless if they are high-dan senseis, regular practitioners, or even beginners.  They all seem to say the same thing — they are impressed with my passion; my determination to get better (except for Crushie-sensei, who thinks I’m obsessed with kendo).

I have received encouraging messages from kenshis I admire. What was even more encouraging (and shocking) is that two people sent me some kendo supplies as Christmas gifts!!! Allow me to relate them to you… .

1. There is a bogu craftsman from Chiba, Japan, whom I’ve been following on Instagram, who contacted me through my website here and asked me if I wanted a menchigawa. I was completely agog with excitement! What gives?, I thought. What have I done to deserve this? I responded that I would very much want a menchigawa, to which he replied he will make me one at once. Several e-mail exchanges later, and I was once again rendered dumbfounded when he implied I am getting — not just one pair, but — two pairs of menchigawas! Merry Christmas to me!

 

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The handmade menchigawas he created himself is a complex design from the 1930’s-1990’s no longer being made or sold today. He considers it “nearly extinct.” One pair is made of deep blue deerskin leather, while the other is of Japanese  lacquer coating leather. Crushie-sensei, who attached the menchigawa for me, remarked that the menchigawa I am currently using (the deep blue deerskin one), probably costs about $20 a pair.

menchigawa on men

That is way too fabulous! …and I got it for freee!!! ^^

2. Not long after that, a lady kenshi from Hiroshima, whom I admire and is friends with, offered to make me a shinai bag. She says it is because of my hard work and persistence in kendo that she felt like rewarding me.  She asked me what colors I wanted, to which I replied “kendo colors.” Two weeks later, I was flabbergasted to open my package from the post office and find — not one, but — TWO shinai bags of the fabrics I liked! Merry Christmas to me again!

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A week later, Crushie-sensei came with my much-awaited bogu!

3. I really like how he had carefully chosen my bogu. Although I did make the final decision in the end (when he offered me two choices from the sets he had), but I noticed that he took the best of what he had in his stock and offered it to me. For example, my dou is this rather subtle but unique kind with an aizome-dyed cowhide cotton dou mune instead of the traditional kurozan leather one. It’s my size and it feels rather light. To me, it’s the most beautiful thing!

 

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Then I have two pairs of kote. One has a deerskin tenouchi (palm), while the other is an Eiko Budogu (another good bogu-making company) kote with cow leather tenouchi, which originally belongs to the other set I did not choose.  In fact, I just realized, my men is also an Eiko product.  I was really surprised about that!

What’s more, he chose two high-quality shinais, which he said he got for cheap, which are rather too thick to the grip for me but I later on found out were what’s often used for tournaments and intense practices. One of them is a 38AA. I’ve never heard of a 38AA shinai before, so this was a real education to me!

So basically, he really thought through what equipment he was giving me (or selling me) and I really appreciate that about him. I guess he did pay attention when I told him that I was intending to push my training to 4x a week, and that I am training for my grading exam next year, so the equipment he prepared for me was geared towards the fact. This only made me like him even more.

I also got one brand-new tsukagawa and one cool Miyamoto Musashi tenugui for free!

musashi tenugui dou

What’s funny is, after our jigeiko last Saturday night, when I asked him for advice about my kendo, he taught me how to ‘guard.’ That is, he taught me how to ‘block.’ You see, last August, he was teaching me how to hit kote correctly. That was a major challenge for me back then. But now that I somehow can manage that, he seems to be telling me this time, “you don’t know know how to block. Let’s practice that!”

He also told me… :

CS: “When kissaki touches kissaki, it’s not okay to hit kote. Why???”

Me: ” …  ”

CS: [motions with fingers] “You hit from [toma]. Good!”

Me: ” …???”

 

Yes. I’m still trying to figure out what he’s trying to teach me from above. I’ll get it… eventually. So to show Crushie-sensei how much I appreciate him and how grateful I am for his kindness, I painted him a card and gave him a tenugui as a present. He chuckled at my depiction of him in the painting, and he told me that likes tenuguis, and seemed pleased about my choice of a gift. Yay! Anyway, I’m really broke now, but I’m happy! I’ve got my own bogu; I received extra special accessories as presents, and I get to keiko with my crush (whom I also consider as another of my senseis). All is well with the world!

 

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