Kendo-jo Flooring Experts

One kendo-shi’s reflections on the kendo-jo

I began practicing kendo while in primary school. Even today while running a specialty wood flooring company in Shinkiba, Tokyo, I continue to practice kendo.

I used to believe that torn Achilles tendons, heel injuries, calluses and other foot injuries were a natural part of practicing kendo.

Then, a few years ago, I had the opportunity to perform “keiko” at a “real” dojo. The burden placed on my feet was quite different than any other dojo flooring that I had experienced before. This was the first time I had experienced what a real kendo-jo floor was supposed to feel like.

The floor felt cushioned, gentle and warm to the feel. Even when stepping heavily as is done during kendo “keiko”, I felt little of the shock or burden of the step in my feet. With this type of floor, older people with weaker feet and hips and those with big blanks in their practice can practice “keiko” safely with less risk of injury.

As a professional in the wooden flooring industry, I could not help but wonder why the same actions on two different wooden floors felt so differently.

I decided to travel around Japan to the older, traditional kendo-jo and research the reasons why the floors were so much better. What I realized is that the ideal floors were in kendo-jo dedicated solely to kendo, and not a general purpose dojo where other martial arts are practiced.

In other words, gymnasiums are designed primarily for sports where the athletes wear shoes, whereas in kendo where the kendo-shi are barefoot. The non-slip surfacing on the gymnasium floor surfaces has a damaging effect on the kendo-shi’s feet.

The floor of a gymnasium is too hard for the feet of the kendo-shi when the feet thump down upon the floor and often causes pain the heel. During the ten years plus that I and other ken-shi have been practicing kendo mostly in gymnasiums, I realize that this is the reason for so many of the injuries.

So why has this problem arisen?
First of all, in the construction planning stage, planners had insufficient knowledge of kendo floors. Essentially, a gymnasium floor was constructed, but the name “kendo-jo” was slapped onto the structure.

However, even someone like myself who does kendo did not notice the problem, so it is probably too much to ask that architects who do not practice kendo to have specialized knowledge.

Another problem, is the mentality of the contractors and others involved. Often, the modus operandi is “just get it sold and out the door” with insufficient thought into what is the right solution.

Even if the architects, suppliers and others wanted to build a kendo-jo in an ideal manner for the kendo-shi, there are too few experts or available information to make it possible.

In the end, inevitably, the specs become the same, a urethane coated gymnasium floor.
I don’t think that is acceptable.
So, what kind of kendo-jo is really made for the kendo-shi?

I know how easy it is for someone who has only a little experience with kendo to perform “keiko” on a real, solid wood floor built specially for kendo.

There is little demand for new kendo-jo’s, and very few people involved in their construction have ever gotten their hands on the “Kenshi News” publication to help them. The knowledge for constructing a proper kendo-jo has just never been disseminated.

However, although there is little demand for new kendo facilities, it is quite strange that there has been so little research into the safety of the ken-shi.

As a flooring specialist and a practicing ken-shi, I wish to promote greater safety in the kendo-jo. I also wish to promote the greater utilization of native wood.

Based on my own “keiko”, experience and research, I would like to introduce to others around the world real kendo-jo flooring made for real ken-shi. And as an expert wooden flooring, I am committed to furthering my knowledge in this field.

Based on my own “keiko”, experience and research, I would like to introduce to others around the world real kendo-jo flooring made for real ken-shi. And as an expert wooden flooring, I am committed to furthering my knowledge in this field.