Beginners may wear any loose-fitting athletic clothing, and may borrow a shinai and/or bokutō for their initial practice. We can recommend vendors for the purchase of a shinai and bokuto, or order one for you (we recieve a modest club discount from certain online vendors). Both types typically cost $25-30 for a beginner-grade sword. Bokutō (hardwood swords, also called bokken) last indefinitely, while shinai (bamboo swords) typically need replacement after 6 months to a year of use. We will teach you to properly maintain your shinai for best performance and lifespan.
A student who has been practicing kendo or iaido for a few months is typically ready to purchase a uniform, consisting of a keikogi (top) and hakama (baggy, pleated trousers).
Only after several months of kendo practice are students ready to purchase armor (bōgu) and begin recieving strikes from other students. A beginner-grade set of bōgu is an investment of a few hundred dollars, but will last for many years with proper care. Baltimore-Annapolis Kendo has a limited number of bōgu sets that may be borrowed temporarily by "advanced beginner" students who are ready to transition to wearing bōgu during practice and are considering purchase of their own set. We permit longer-term loans of our club sets to teen students who are still growing and are thus not ready to make an investment in a set they might rapidly outgrow.
Iaido practioners due not wear bōgu, but advanced iaido students typically use a blunt-edged metal sword (iaitō) instead of a wooden sword (bokutō), a transition which also requires a significant investment.