8 Simple Steps for a Tidy Tenugui

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We had a request yesterday for a guide to wearing the tenugui, which was a great idea! Here today to help us demonstrate is none other than KendoGirl.com CEO and President, Lot. She is excited to take us through the steps in her pink leggings … claiming she didn’t want to have to re-fold her hakama, insert eye roll.

1 . Take a look at your tenugui

While sitting in seiza, look at the tenugui, holding it by the top corners. For two sided tenugui, make sure any calligraphy or design is facing you. For one sided tenugui, make sure the pattern or words are facing away from you. Or in Lot’s case, since her tenugui is two sided and has no calligraphy, either side facing you will work just fine.

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2. Pull it over the top of your head

Pull the tenugui over your head so the edge is against your hair line / nape of your neck and then pull the corners forward.

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Here is a view from the back …

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3. Pull first corner across your forehead

Starting with either corner, pull the tenugui across your forehead, right above the eyebrows. It is helpful to keep your elbows up to give yourself enough room to maneuver.

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 4. Do the thumb tuck (optional, it’s a “Lot” thing)

Before you bring the other corner around the forehead, Lot suggests holding the first corner against your head with your thumb. When you bring the second corner around, slowly wiggle your thumb/hand out, and the other side of the tenugui will now be holding the first corner in place.

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5. Pull second corner across your forehead

The second corner will wrap around the forehead the same way as the first. Try to keep the fabric tight enough to stay secure, but not too tight as to cause discomfort.

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6. Pull the tenugui upwards so you can see!

Now you can pull the corner by your chin upwards and toward the back of your head carefully, which will tuck the second corner into place.

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7. Tidy up a little

Do a little straightening if need be, along the sides or back. Sometimes you need to fold the little flap on top under itself, so there is no “chicken tail” flapping out the back of your men. Also make sure the tenugui is not riding too close to your eyebrows, so that when wearing men, you cannot see the tenugui through the mengane.

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8. If need be, try again!

If it feels weird or you make a mistake, just try again! You will find that pretty soon, you will be able to put it on with no problem at all, similar to this goofball.

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Thank you to Lot for being an excellent instructor for the low, low cost of a $5 bribe. If you are interested in the tenugui in this demonstration, you can find it by clicking here.

Until next time, happy keiko!

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Kendo, the perfect patchwork quilt

One of my favorite type of shinai bags to make is the quilted shinai bag. These are really one of a kind, and I love making them because I was a quilter before I was a kenshi and it brings back good memories of lazy, quiet days before kiai and stomping became the norm. So even though it takes all day (as quilting projects should), I really love making these bags more than any other. And here I will explain why!

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The way that I make these bags is very fun for me. As I make other bags, whether it be iaido, kendo, naginata or other accessories like tenugui or furoshiki, I inevitably have left over fabric, scraps, or remnants that I put in a specific tote next to my sewing table. When I notice the tote is beginning to overflow on to the ground, I dump it out on my expansive table in the workshop and organize the pieces by color.

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If any of you are crafty like myself, you know that this is a very fun project indeed. So many colors and patterns that I had forgotten existed. And a reminder that I don’t necessarily need to buy any more fabric (but will anyway!)

Whichever color is the most plentiful (in kendo usually navy blue takes first place) is the color of the day, and I begin sorting them out, deciding which patterns go together – really my favorite part of the quilting experience (if you don’t count the final product!)

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Breaking out the less-often-used quilting accoutrement, I set about cutting squares, fussing over patterns, and the normal quilting ins and outs. I must admit, I adore this part, because with every scrap and fabric remnant, I am reminded of what bag or item it came from. Was this the shinai bag I sent to New Zealand, for the birthday party? Or perhaps my first iaido bag, when I didn’t even know what iaido was? Maybe it was the shinpanki bag I made for my own sensei birthday party, or one of the (many) shinai bags I have made for my daughter as she, and her shinai, grow faster and faster before my eyes. It is like a trip down memory lane.

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I have been very lucky to make items for friends, family, for sword artisans all over the world and I like to remember each one as I fuss and fret over lining up corners and struggle to find the fabric I swear I just had in my hand a second ago (oh there it is, under the massive mountain of similarly colored fabrics!)

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I think there is something very cool about how not only are the bags completely unique, but they include pieces of fabric from another kenshi’s bag, sometimes across the world. I wonder if someday two of these people will run into one another and notice that one square of their bag matches the entirely of someone else’s. How cool would that be?

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At the end of the day, making these bags really reminds me of what is so wonderful about kendo, in that every time we share keiko with others, whether it be beginners, high ranking sensei, visitors, or team members, we take pieces of knowledge from our fellow kenshi. And they have taken pieces of knowledge, just like pieces of fabric, from others along their journey. Our kendo becomes a patchwork quilt of skills and lessons learned, and we are all unique, but all have tiny pieces that are the same.

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And that thought to me is very lovely indeed.

Until next time, happy keiko!

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5 Fun Facts About the Girl Behind Kendo Girl

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Meet Lot, the loud, powerful, confident, and funny kenshi who needed a tiny shinai bag and started a unique textile empire.

5. Lot has practiced kendo for half of her life, since the age of 4.

Lot has been quite serious since day one!

4. Lot’s small-ness led to the launch of Kendo Girl Inc in 2014 due to the need for a super tiny shinai bag and none being available online.

Lot with her first fun size shinai bag and bogu bag

3. Her favorite parts of going to taikai are …  “smiling and hugging all the sensei, pocky sticks, playing with my friends, ramen noodles, and staying at a hotel with a pool”

Lot showing her deep dedication to kendo

2. Lot participated in two tournaments before she started kindergarten. New hashtags emerged such as #kendokindergarten #tinykendo and #minikenshi.

No fear!

1. Lot is a fantastic kendo student, but at times needs a little motivation to go to kendo class.

But don’t we all? 


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