Replacing mokuju tampo

By Emily Jackman

If you’ve ever replaced the sakigawa on a shinai then this is not likely to be too new to you. This technique is also similar when changing the sakigawa on your tanshinai.

You’ll need:

– a new tampo

– tsuru

– thin flexible wire that can be bent into a hairpin or u-shape

– thin curved blade or scissors with a curved edge

– pliers, needle or thin nose

– possibly some helping hands

Use the scissors/blade to remove the old tampo by cutting and unthreading the tsuru and pulling the tampo off. Use the scissors to enlarge the holes on the tampo a little. Line the holes of the tampo with the holes on the mokuju and slide it on – it may need some encouragement in the form of smacking it on the ground repeatedly – you want the holes to line up.

Next, take the tsuru and bend it in half to create a ‘U’ shape – take the wire, also in a ‘U’ shape and wrap it around the curve of the tsuru so that it becomes a needle with the tsuru going through the eye. Thread the wire needle through the tampo and out the other side, pulling half of the tsuru with it – you may need to use the pliers to enlarge the hole on the tampo further if it’s too tight.

Once tsuru is halfway through you should have the ‘U’ curve on one side and the two cut ends out the other – you can put the metal ‘needle’ aside. Take both cut ends and wrap them halfway around the tampo to meet the ‘U’ curve – take care to ensure the tsuru is flat and doesn’t twist over itself as it goes around. Bring the loose ends through the loop on the other side and tighten.

Continue to take the loose ends around in the same direction to Check and re-arrange the tsuru around the mokuju again if necessary and then use the pliers to tighten. If you wrap the tsuru around with the pliers you can create a greater tension as you snip off the excess tsuru.complete the circuit. When it reaches the hole where the tsuru first comes out, slip the loose ends beneath the wrapped tsuru and then loop it back around to go underneath itself. Keep checking and re-arranging the tsuru if it twists around itself – you want it to be as flat as possible all around.

If necessary, use the pliers to loosen the tampo holes further. Take the metal needle and re-thread it through the mokuju so that the ‘eye’ comes out the same end as the loose tsuru. Thread the loose tsuru through the eye and then use the pliers to draw the needle and tsuru back through the mokuju.

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