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I need a fukuro shinai to practise kenjustu (Kashima no tachi). I’m vegan and Fukuro shinais are typically covered with leather, and I think the shinai itself contains some parts that are made of leather. Is there any version of this weapon that is made without using any animal product? If not, is there any other training weapon that I can use instead?

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  • I searched for Fukuro Shinai with the keywords "Synthetic" and also with "Faux Leather" and did find at least this - bujinkanmthelena.com.au/store/p/… I'd contact them to see.
    – JohnP
    Commented Jan 23 at 20:21
  • @JohnP Excellent find! Your google skills are better than mine. It looks like they do in fact have vegan fukuro shinai. Even the bindings look vegan, but it must be confirmed. That group is in Australia, I believe. Commented Jan 23 at 20:34

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It's a pity I didn't write it down, but I do recall there was a place selling non-leather fukuro shinai. But that was probably 25 years ago. And I didn't find anything in a google search just now.

So then the next best thing is to construct your own fukuro shinai, which is actually not that difficult! Here are some links that go over it:

https://content.instructables.com/pdfs/E4I/ZI4O/GRTHT02X/Make-a-Fukuro-Shinai-15th-century-Japanese-traini.pdf

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pK46aT3H5YE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cz6k1EG-tGA

https://www.e-bogu.com/Specialized-Shinai-s/535.htm

That last link is to a store that sells just the bamboo. So the idea is you buy the bamboo from them or someone else who sells it, and then add your own cover and grip yourself. And if you get raw bamboo instead of fukuro shinai bamboo, then you just need to split it in the way a fukuro shinai would be split. And there are videos on the web showing how to do that.

Now you'll just need to cut a section of vegan leather to use. A video I linked to above shows what to do for normal leather, but you'd just use vegan leather instead. You can find vegan leather at crafts and fabric stores. You can find it for sale on Amazon as well. If it's not called "vegan leather", look for "synthetic leather". Get something that's thick. Probably need something on the order of 2mm thick.

I've seen fukuro shinai with canvas material used on the outside instead of leather, also. To make that kind of shinai, you would first create a cover in vegan leather on the inside, and then cover that in a canvas cover.

There are two methods for stitching the leather, as you can see in the links I gave above. First method is to do it the traditional way which involves punching holes in the leather and stitching leather rope into them to tie it off.

That won't work for vegan leather, because vegan leather is weaker and needs shoe eyelets added to protect the holes from tearing. Because shoe eyelets are made from metal, they would not be allowed on a fukuro shinai.

So the only other option is to stitch the vegan leather in the modern way by using a sewing machine and thread. One of the links above shows that method. You can do it by hand if you don't have a sewing machine, if you're good at that sort of thing.

I think the next step is to then turn the cover inside out and insert the bamboo into the cover. Before you do that, you might want to add some extra padding to the bamboo, by wrapping it in some cotton fabric. Old t-shirts you plan to throw away, for example.

Then once the cover is on, you have to fasten it to the bamboo. The links above go over some methods. The easiest is just to use tape.

And finally, you can use tape or rope to fashion a grip. Some people add a tsuba from a regular kendo shinai (the round shaped one).

If you get the hang of it, you have the possibility of forming your own e-store. You could make these for others. There might be a market for this.

Hope that helps.

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