Men is the helmet worn during Kendo, Naginata, Jūkendō, and Tankendo to protect the face, neck, throat, and shoulders of a kendōka. Only the top portion of the menbuton and the tsukidare are used as target areas.
Each Men is constructed out of the following:
- Mengane (面金), which is a metal grill designed to protect the face. Mengane may be made of either duralumin, titanium, or a hybrid of both (such as IBB). Often, the top two bars of the hybrids are made of titanium, which offers resilience against strikes, while the rest of it is made of duralumin, which offers lightness (and thus better balance).
- Menbuton, which is the long rectangular cloth pad that covers the head and the shoulders. The wings of this protective pad cover the shoulders and are known as mendare. Mendare lengths vary slightly and can be customized for specific styles of kendo such as jodan and nito.
- Tsukidare, which is the rigid pad attached to the bottom of the mengane protecting the throat.
- Uchiwa, or the cloth padding that cushions the edge of the face. The part that contacts the forehead is known as the ten, while the portion that contacts the chin is known as the chi.
- Yōjindare, which is the softer pad right behind the tsukidare.
Kanto Style: This is the most common style of tying men. It is simpler than the Kansai style, making it it easier to tie quickly (and important factor in keiko). It requires two mengawa be attached to the 4th mengane from the bottom, each fastening one of the 7 shaku himo.
Kansai Style: This is the less common style. It is more complicated, requiring longer himo to wrap around the head. It is impractical to pre-tie the men, as is possible with the Kanto style, which means it requires more time to tie. It requires a special long mengawa that loops through the top, and 8 shaku himo to attach to it.
When bōgu is being ordered or purchased, measurements must be taken in order to ensure correct fit.
- Hachimaki (around the forehead)
- Chin-crown circumference
- Monomi height (needed only for customized bōgu)
Care and Cleaning EditOne important part of caring for men is drying it after keiko. This prevents the growth of bacteria and foul odors they cause.
It is possible to wash the men. However, one must be careful not to ruin the rawhide leather under the lacquer of the menbuchi. This kind of water damage can ruin a men.
The tsukidare, which protects the throat, is of vital for safe practice. As such, it is important to avoid storing or carrying the men in ways that put weight or undue stress on the tsukidare. A loose tsukidare offers significantly less protection and is very dangerous.