The bokken is a Japanese training weapon used when learning the art of the sword. Originally, the wooden bokken was most likely copied from similar training tools in China. The bokken, or boken, became popular as a training sword during the Muromachi period in Japan, between 1336 and 1600 A.D. during the beginning of the age of the samurai and one on one combat.
In martial arts such as Jujitsu, swords and wooden bokken are only used to train a number of disciplines – footwork, control, coordination, focus etc. There are many Japanese stories of of men overcoming their enemies with the wooden practice sword. Bokken were often kept near sleeping warriors, as they could use their bokken to disarm an intruder without spilling blood inside the bed chamber.
The rise of popularity in the bokken as a weapon on the battlefield has been attributed to its relative sturdiness. Unlike a katana, which is very heavy and can rust and snap in wet weather, damage to the wooden bokken could easily be spotted before entering battle. Many samurai carried both weapons.
Learning more about the Wooden Bokken
The bokken, or as it’s also spelt boken is a single piece of wood, usually red or white oak. Modern bokken are usually sealed and varnished. It mirrors the shape of the katana, or Japanese sword. The bokken should be smooth and free of knots, other wise the owner may suffer splinters or breakage.
These days, wooden bokken are used extensively in many martial arts to train as a substitute for real swords, and are often a sensible training step before a Jujitsuka begins training with a real blade.
Training with the bokken is usually focused upon disarming your opponent, such as in Jujitsu. Regardless, the bokken can cause serious injury or even result in death if it is not used with care and proper training.