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As a kendo practitioner one of the most important things we need to develop is good posture and a relaxed kamae. This along with excellent footwork is the key to success in keiko, in shiai and in kendo as a whole. How many times have you felt that you have had to make concessions in your kamae and form because of the gear you are using?
This is a common issue as when you buy a new set of kote they are often quite stiff and need breaking in. Depending on their design it can be difficult to hold the shinai naturally as you would with your bare hands. The natural and relaxed bare-hand grip is of course our ultimate aim as Kendoka, so why do we continue to use equipment that restricts our hands and affects the way we grip the shinai?
The reason many kote restrict our movements is because they are initially designed to protect first and foremost. They need to prevent strikes from injuring vulnerable areas like our fingers and wrists. The common way of designing a kote's atama (the mitt that surrounds your wrist and fingers) means that it is quite restrictive and forces your fingers to curve in a straight manner. This makes it difficult to grip the shinai and to relax.
Ideally you want a kote that guides your fingers into the proper shape that you would use when you are wearing no kote at all. In kendo we grip strongly with our bottom three fingers and more lightly with the index finger and thumb. This is difficult in regular kote.
Furthermore, the wrist joint needs to be flexible and not dead straight. When it is straight it means the walls of the kote impact on your wrist when you perform techniques and this increases discomfort which brings you out of the relaxed and fluid mindset necessary in kendo.
Of course your kote need to protect you, but are they getting in the way of your training? Often we try to work around the limitations of our equipment without realizing that our bogu can support our kendo as well as protect us. Why can't we have protection and comfort?
It is in response to these issues that Tozando's craftsmen decided to design the Tora Kote. It seemed strange to us that kote were being made only with protection in mind, not taking into account the very movements and form of the practitioner. The Tora tackles and solves all of the issues mentioned above with their unique design; a specially braided atama let's you grip the shinai exactly as if you were using your own hands. Combined with a flexible and oblique wrist cut; the Tora Kote settle into a natural kamae leading to effortless swings with correct hasuji.
Every aspect of the Tora's design has been dedicated to providing a natural and correct grip for holding a shinai; without sacrificing any of the protection. The traditional mitten-like shape of the kote can create a pincer-like grip which we normally have to break in or work around as kendoka. This can lead to a very tight grip which has an adverse affect on your kamae and your entire cutting action. Furthermore this type of grip limits your flexibility and can lead to a jerky and tense style of kendo.
The Tora Kote use a unique design for the atama (head of the kote) to alleviate these issues and instantly provide a natural shinai grip as soon as you wear them. This design also displays marked improvements in flexibility over conventional kote designs.
A deeper cut between the thumb and the fingers gives more room for the tsuka of the shinai to move - the flexibility provided allows you to make natural and flowing cuts whilst maintaining a strong and relaxed grip.
The design innovations continue with the unorthodox braids across the head of the kote. Each braid is of a slightly different length and curves the futon into a natural shape perfect for gripping a shinai. The lower fingers grip more closely, whilst the top two wrap loosely. This is a composed and comfortable grip promoted by Sensei to their students - now your kote can support kamae as well.
These design achievements are built upon our traditional commitment to quality in the execution of our products. The Tora is made from genuine indigo-dyed cotton futon and a cotton felt core padding that provides excellent protection against strikes.
The whole kote is finished with durable Orizashi cotton and has a high-quality synthetic leather palm. This results in a rugged and durable kote that also dries incredibly quickly after practice.
All of this is supported by our commitment to making quality equipment. All of our Tora Kote are rigorously tested and inspected by our craftsmen before leaving the workshop. They also fall under our 3-year bogu guarantee. You know that when you purchase a piece of equipment from Tozando that you are getting a genuine article of craftsmanship backed up by decades of experience.
Extra core material is used in the right kote as this receives the most strikes repeatedly. The Tora can withstand strike after strike in regular practice.
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