So, a few months ago someone posted a comment on the kenshi 24/7 Facebook page saying that I have a kote fetish… they were right!
Kote, along with men and of course shinai, are one of the most important equipment needed by any serious kenshi and are worth, I believe, investing time and money in.
I have, I am almost ashamed to say, about 10 pairs of kote. I keep my best two pairs at home (see below) with another backup pair, two in my police dojo, and five in my work dojo. If five seems too much – and it almost cetainly is gratuitous! – I do in fact use them all in constant rotation, especially in the summer months, sometimes swapping them in and out during a single 3 hour session.
Oh, I forgot: I have another set of bogu that I keep in Scotland as well!
You can never have too many sets of kote, so when I had the chance to get another pair of what was almost certainly great quality kote I was, of course, keen.
“Shinobu” by KendoStar
As I mentioned in a prior post, this year again I headed to Edinburgh to teach a summer kendo seminar. Before going, I confirmed Andy from KendoStar would be attending and ordered some equipment from him, including a pair of SHINOBU Hybrid-Stitched kote.
When I first got the kote I was first struck by how nice they looked as well as the quality of the build. Lately, many newer models of kote sometimes cut a few corners for the sake of cost or or to make them lighter, these certainly did not fall into that category.
After using them for the last 8 weeks-or-so, and after an initial tightness across the fingers (which disappeared after a few uses), I am pleased to say that the kote exceeded expectations. In fact, they are so good that I have already pulled them out of rotation at work (all my equipment gets tested in the crucible of my daily work keiko regime first) and now group them with the two “mystery” kote mentioned below.
(Obviously, any equipment I use at work on a daily basis gets beaten up pretty badly and ends up having a shorter shelf-life than normal. Therefore, the best stuff I have at work I take out of rotation and only wear during jigeiko with visiting students or teachers.)
To be totally honest, these kote, along with a men that I got from KendoStar a couple of years back, are the most comfortable peices of bogu I own, hands down.
I am someone who almost always emphasises simple practicality (does it do the job? how much is it?) and never really seriously factors comfort in to the equation when considering bogu. I think, however, these kote have changed my viewpoint!
Verdict: awesome kote for the serious pracitioner, whatever their experience level.
BTW, kote fetishist should be sure and check out the following couple of articles regarding some custom kote I had made:
Bonus: mystery kote
I semi-often (not as much nowadays as I used to) have things given to me. Over the years I have received pretty much any piece of second-hand kendo equipment you can imagine (last month I received a WWII katana… more on that in a future article). Mostly there is nothing I can do with what was recieved, so I tend to hand them off to people that need it more (in a couple of cases I have actually donated boxes of equipment to clubs abroad), but every now and then I find a diamond in the rough.
The two kote pictured below, the first of which (on the left) I was given about maybe seven or eight years ago (re-palmed since), and the second that I was only given a few weeks back, are pretty much the highest quality kote I have. The problem I have is that neither have any tags and nobody can identify which company sold them or where they were made… at any rate, these strays have at least found a good home!