A bokken (木剣, bok(u), "wood", and ken, "sword") (or a bokutō 木刀) is a Japanese wooden sword used for training in kenjutsu. It is usually the size and shape of a katana, but is sometimes shaped like other swords, such as the wakizashi and tantō. Some ornamental bokken are decorated with mother-of-pearl work and elaborate carvings. Sometimes it is spelled "boken" in English.
Bokken are traditionally composed of red oak or white oak, although any hard wood can be used. In comparison, practice swords made of flexible, soft wood such as bamboo are referred to as a shinai.
Bokken can be made to represent any style of weapon required such as nagamaki, no-dachi, yari, naginata, kama, etc. The most widely used styles are:
- daitō or tachi (katana-sized), long sword
- shoto or kodachi or wakizashi bo, short sword, (wakizashi-sized)
- tantō bo (tantō-sized)
- suburito can be made in daitō and shoto sizes
Additionally, various koryu (traditional Japanese martial arts) have their own distinct styles of bokken which can vary slightly in length, tip shape, or in whether or not a tsuba (hilt guard) is added.
The All Japan Kendo Federation specify the dimensions of bokken for use in the modern kendo kata, called Nippon kendo kata.
- Tachi: Total length, approx. 102 cm; tsuka (handle) approx. 24 cm.
- Kodachi: Total length, approx. 55 cm; tsuka (handle) approx. 14 cm.
Bokken are traditionally composed of red oak or white oak, with white oak varieties being slightly more expensive and prestigious. Other common tree varieties used included ebony, biwa, and sunuke in Japan, and hickory, persimmon, ironwood, and walnut for trees native to the Americas. Biwa trees were used at least partially due to a folk superstition that wounds inflicted by biwa wood would never heal.