Our Appalachian Hickory is our flagship wood for bokken production. It has outstanding beauty, impact strength, and durability. Appalachian Hickory is found in a small area of the central Appalachian Mountains. These trees are known to have a slow growth rate which aids in their density and strength.
The Japanese bokken craftsman have used their native Japanese White oak (Shiro Kashi) for centuries, however, many years of research have proven that American Appalachian Hickory is far superior in impact strength, density, and stability. With the proper break-in period on one of our Hickory bokkens, it should easily last many life times. Break-in is very easy; simply use light contact for a while, and gradually increase to medium contact week by week. You will start to notice a very nice patina of dents all over the striking area, and at this point you have literally forged the fibers on your edge. We hand select our Hickory from the finest trees. They are at least 200 years old, and have been slowly air-dried for several years to reduce warpage.
After many long conversations with Sekiguchi Komei Sensei (21st Soke of Yamauchi-Ha Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu Iaijutsu) and Shimizu Nobuko Sensei (Ryoen Ryu Naginatajutsu), they were kind enough to instruct me on how they would like their practice weapons made. They want all of their wooded weapons to come from the heart wood of the tree, so we hand select all of our Hickory from heart wood. This is the most dense / strongest part of the tree, and is considered high impact grade hickory. Weapons in this grade will be mostly light red in color with the possibility of some white streaking. This is also known as our generation Hickory, because with proper break-in and responsible usage, these will be a very nice gift to be passed down.
Below is an image of the grain on our hickory wood. You can click them for a high resolution image.