Over the last two years I have been doing more jodo work than any other time in my martial arts training except maybe when I first started and I went to every class offered in every discipline I could find. I have two bokuto at Mossy Creek Dojo – one made from red oak and another made from white oak. They both had the cheap plastic tsuba that come standard with most bokken. I had seen nice leather tsuba at various dojos and decided I would get just a bit fancy here since everything else in the dojo is all utilitarian. I looked around the internet some and found a few people selling leather tsuba and even a few that were custom but nothing really sung to me. Then I remembered seeing a picture of a custom tsuba my friend Blane Bellerud posted on Facebook a few years ago. I contacted Blane and discovered he has been making a lot of custom leather items. You can check them out at his website – B. Bellerud Maker. The tsuba cost more than the bokuto but they are amazing. The stitching is perfect. The color is wonderful. The custom design works great for me. I had to slightly sand the inside to make them fit my bokuto perfectly. I am quite excited by these.
Since putting them on I had a question about orientation. I placed them with the design out toward the blade so that people could see them. All the pictures I see of fancy tsuba on the internet have the pretty side toward the hilt. All of the pictures I could find were of live blades though. The sword spent most of its time in the scabbard with the hilt side seen most often. I have discussed this etiquette issue with a few people and have had both varying opinions.
The dojo name is Mossy Creek Dojo or Kogu Gawa Dojo (which Blane also helped me with the translation). Blane and I decided a fish motif would be a good design. Blane sent a preliminary drawing of his design for my approval before he cut the leather. I could not have been more happy with the design.
Blane has represented the USA international in kata competition in judo and currently trains on the west coast in both judo and jodo. He was one of my first judo instructors from 1990-1993. I believe he was a nidan in judo when I was a beginner. Blane was very difficult for me to move on the mat much less actually throw. My love of ashi waza can probably be directly blamed on Blane. I did not fair too well in ne waza with him either.