View Full Version : Fukuro-Shinai 2.0

sven beulke
26th August 2007, 22:10
Hi All!
It’s now almost two years ago that I started offering fukuro-shinai here at e-budo.
Time to start a new one because my shinai does not look like the shinai you see on the pictures of the old thread (http://www.e-budo.com/forum/showthread.php?t=32115) anymore and some other stuff is outdated. Feel free to check it for critics about my work and servive. I researched and tested methods to make shinai in a way that could be called traditional. I had correspondence with people like Dave Lowry and Karl Friday who has been very kind answering my questions about the fukuro-shinai of there ryuha.
I changed my method of lacing. The older versions of my shinai are laced through holes, know I cut small slots. This method makes the work not easier because you have to force the leather cord through a very narrow slot, but this is not only the traditional way to do it also produces better fukuro. I know use only leather with a thickness of at least 1, 4 mm. I could make fukuro-shinai in many different ways and sizes. From a ca.35cm long, lacquered “tanto-shinai” (I made much smaller shinai!:-)), like the one used in Sekiguchi ryu kogusuko up to a 150cm nagamaki-fukuri-shinai shinai I made as an experiment.
My “flagship” is the red-brown lacquered Yagyu-Shinkage ryu fukuro-shinai but I also make shinai in the style of the Shinkage-ryu without lacquer and with a wider lacing in different types of leather. The ca. 1m shinai start from 60 Euros up to 100Euro for the laquered version with a narrow lacing. Shipping cost to the US will be 25Euros (others please ask!). Here are the pictures. If you have any questions just ask!
With regards

sven beulke
26th August 2007, 22:21
I also made Kashima Shinryu fukuro-shinai but i am not at the point where i could say they are 100% or at least 90% traditional. The main problem here is the bamboo, but I am working on it. I made several shinai with a bamboo like a Shinkage-ryu shinai(split eight times) and around 1m but completly covered in leather and with a wooden tsuba covered with leather in the same way as a KSR-shinai. Some thing like that will cost 110€, because making the tsuba is extremly time consuming and difficult.The white one has exactly the same size (huge!) as a KSR-shinai. The yellow-brown one is much slender and shorter.

sven beulke
26th August 2007, 22:29
Here a modification i figured out for the classical YSR-fukuro shinai. In made the wrapping of the handle longer( you normally have a "tsuka" of ca 21 cm an alway grip a bit of the fukuro!) and fixed a leather tsuba on the shinai(check out my leather tsuba here (http://www.e-budo.com/forum/showthread.php?t=32095) ).
This shinai is perfect for shiai. Making the handle longer cost nothing extra, the tsuba cost 10€.

sven beulke
26th August 2007, 22:38
As i said before in this thread i could make shinai in almost any size. This one was more a joke but maybe someone of you feels the need for something like this. Its like the big thing, laquered leather fukuro (goat leather), the bamboo is eight times split! Maybe you own a katana-letter opener and you feel the need for a save way of practicing the vicious moves to open letters? Maybe your Gi-Joe you are playing with since 20 years want to learn YSR? Right now there is just one of it but i could make more. So feel free to persuade me with money! :)

sven beulke
26th August 2007, 22:58
Its my opinion that the principle of the fukuro shinai could also be used in other martial arts, for example historical fencing or escrima. A friend of mine is runnig a school for historical fencing here in Bremen. He comes up with the ideas of a Katzbalger-version of a fukuro-shinai. The Katzbalger was the favorite close combat weapon of the german landknecht, a double bladed short sword with a huge handguard. This is what i made of this idea. The handle is made in a special way so it has an oval shape. The white lacing is on both sides of the "blade", a good optical control for correct use of the sharp edges! The huge hand guard is made from laminated leather. This is just an example whats possible when i work completely free from traditional backgrounds. I also made escrima sticks, sixteen times split bamboo (70cm) completly covered with leather. I started testing them with two senior escrimadores her in Bremen! If you have an idea, no matter what let me know!

Bob Blackburn
27th August 2007, 12:58
Nice work.

Chuck Clark
27th August 2007, 13:49
Sven (and everyone),

We've been using your well-crafted fukuro shinai in the Jiyushinkan for about six weeks now and are enjoying the practice with these tools.

The Valley of the Sun (Phoenix area) summer climate wasn't that welcoming. Within a few minutes of opening the package three of the shinai had cracked from the dry heat. No fault of Sven's workmanship or the material for sure. We solved the problem by filling in the cracks with epoxy and wrapping the cracked areas of the tsuka with kevlar material attached with the epoxy. That seems to have solved the problem of the cracks. Of course we'll have to take care of the bamboo with oil, etc.

The leather work is on par with traditional Yagyu ryu fukuro shinai that we've brought back from Japan. Of course Sven's prices are way more affordable than the traditional shinai. We've tried the Bujin shinai and found that we didn't like them for several reasons. The feel of Sven's shinai is pretty much the same as Japanese made fukuro shinai. I wouldn't want to get hit very many times in a row with full force/speed cuts with them but, they don't injure. Kinda makes you feel the real need to MOVE at the right time and direction!

I recommend Sven's shinai and would do business with him again.

sven beulke
27th August 2007, 14:35
Hi Chuck!
Thanks for your kind words. Good to hear that you managed to fix the cracked bamboo. I hope the bamboo will do its work now for a long time. I started thinking about something i called "valley of the sun fukuro-shinai", a kind of shinai that withstands bad climate conditions for bamboo.I wanted something with a traditional look so i ended up with a tsuka(at leats 40-45cm) made from bamboo and carbon or glassfiber ( if you like it heavy!) rods (around 3mm-5mm), availble at shops specialised in sport kites, that stick in a bundle of "as much as possible" in the bamboo. The rods does not have to be fixated, they are hold in place by the fukuro, snuggling fixed at the handle by the binding. Sounds easy! I never tried it. It must be possible to adjust the stiffness by inhibiting the movement with tape for example. The tips of the rod should be taped for safety.This is just in the stadium of pure theory. I personally started my way in making fukuro-shinai with padded glass fiber constructions, looking like inflated chanbara sword but weight around 800gr! Heavy hitters with a nasty whiplash effect. I used just one fat glass fiber for them. In bundles this material must perform very similar to bamboo segments. So put one of my fukuro over it and it will look like a old school traditional fukuro shinai. The high tech "bamboo" will cost some bucks (especially when using carbon fiber) but i would bet the durability will be a lot of times longer than normal bamboo.
Just some thoughts, i hope it helps!

Greetings from Bremen!

Josh Reyer
27th August 2007, 15:22
Sven, this might be a stupid question, but where do you get your bamboo?

sven beulke
27th August 2007, 16:11
Hi Josh!
A very good question!! Actually bamboo, or better how to get good bamboo is my biggest problem. I live in northern Germany so there is no bamboo available in the area. I use imported bamboo from china or India. I try to get it at gardening centers or do it yourself markets. Over the year i get the knowledge and the eye for what bamboo is good and what is not. I am very picky. There are also specialized dealers on the net but you have to order larger quantity's than i can use and i don't have a control of the quality. You are located in Japan? I would bet its no problem to find a bamboo-dealer in your area. If you choose the bamboo take care that its not to dry and it should have a good wall thickness(min 3mm). So my output of shinai is very limited but i never planned to make hundreds of them a year. Sewing thick leather with a leather cord, forcing it somtimes more than 100 time through narrow slots, is hard work. After two fukuro you get a painfully sensitivity in the tips of your fingers. There are many reasons to be pleased that another job is finished! :)

29th August 2007, 06:05
Heya Sven,

We have yet to actually deploy our new fukuroshinai (as I'm recovering from hip surgery still), but when I get more mobile, we're looking forward to using them.

I will attest that the quality of the leatherwork and construction, at first glance, is extremely nice.

When I get back on two feet, I'll give a better report.


sven beulke
29th August 2007, 07:38
Hi Chuck!
Thanks for posting here! I hope you will be back on your feet soon!

All the best for you!


13th March 2016, 21:50
Thank you very much for sharing your knowledge on the construction of fukuro-shinai. About a year ago, I was asked to make a presentation weapon for a visiting sensei from Japan, as I had some experience making different weapons for our club. We practice Aikido primarily, but have also been introduced to 'Heart-reflection' style Kenjutsu. In that style, they use a very traditional fukuroshinai that I was asked to reproduce for this gift. Because it had been many years since our Kenjutsu sensei had actually made one of these shinai, he had forgotten some of the details of construction, and had to dismantle one of his that had worn out the leather. I noticed a few differences between his and what you have posted here that I would like to note for comparison. Probably the first and most obvious was that the bamboo had been soaked in an oil and then had all the sharp edges sanded down to prevent excess wear on the inside of the fukuro. The leather used was also 4-4.5 oz. deer hide (bleached white), with a small leather cap to cover just the tip of the bamboo, (with its own leather ties down to the handle.) Another interesting difference was the use of a cord made from horsehair to bind the bamboo slats about mid-way down the "blade" portion, down to the handle. Sensei explained the purpose of this was to help hold the bamboo in shape, and to provide some small amount of padding to help distribute impact. Lastly, the leather was layered in 7-8 coats of clear lacquer (sanding between each coat,) to provide a smooth firm surface to the weapon. In making the gift, I pretty much stuck to this, with two fairly minor variations: The first was the addition of a small rounded-end wooden dowling placed between the bamboo slats at the tip and extending into the bamboo until it encountered the first inner node. This was added to help prevent the bamboo slats from twisting and interlacing during use, and to help protect the outer fukuro from excess wear from the bamboo a the tip. The second variation was in the horse-hair cord. The original cord appeared to have been made by grabbing small hanks of hair and twisting them together, gradually adding more hair until an appropriate length of cord was achieved. This appeared to me to be quite a difficult process to get right, and one that caused the cord to be extremely variable in thickness along the lenght. It also looked quite messy, with lots of random hair sticking out at odd angles. I did some internet searching, and found some instruction on making horsehair cord used in fly fishing. Using these instructions as a base, I made a very consistent diameter cord that was both strong and clean. The method is fairly simple (I can email anyone interested a PDF with instructions.) but quite time-consuming. I've since made a couple more of these, and I think that the overall process is quite straight-forward, such that anyone with a little bit of time and patience can make a good-quality and usable piece of equipment.