Shinai. Seems to be one of those things HEMA people either hate or love.

I love them. I think they are a fantastic tool for the great triangulation, especially when I want to bout and the heat is too great for gambesons. A shinai is not, however, born a good HEMA tool. It has a round guard; it is too light and possesses no discernible edge; and people tend to treat it as a flicky stick, not a sword. To be similar to a longsword, it must be nurtured and moulded into a fine specimen.

This usually involves slapping on a wooden or plastic crossguard and taping some lead on it. One man, Paul Bennett, has gone above and beyond the call of duty and made shinai modification into a science. Not only that, he has shared the love and even made 2 videos! I present to you, ladies and gentlemen, Paul Bennett’s Übershinai Mk. 6!

Design is based on a compromise between accuracy of training tool and fuss/expertise required. I dont suggest that this is better/worse than any other training tool when used with its limitations in mind, but it is better than any other shinai mod I have tried.

This should take about 10 minutes.

get some 3mm roofing lead
a hammer
electrical tape
A shinai (oval grip – this is what the measurements are based on)

1) cut one 15x12cm sheet of lead, and one 15X11cm sheet.
fold these into the centre twice, so you get two strips, both just over an inch wide, one 12 cm long, one 11cm long. Hammer flat. (Avariation is shown below, this tapers out the “Pommel” into a pear-shape)

2) Use the hammer to bend the strips around the shinai hilt, the longer one above the cross, the shorter one about 3/4 of an inch from the base of the hilt as a pommel. Secure with electrical tape.

3) jam some wedges into the shinai, so you can get some string in to bind the flats of the blade together (1/3rd of the way from the tip, 1/2 way down, and another as far down as you can get it.). Cover with tape (optional).

Congratulations, you have now made a Mk6 Ubershinai!

If you dont want an oval grip shinai, measure round the shinai at the same points and add 1.5cm. Trim to fit.

Rotational nodes:

1-2″ from cross = 1-2″ from tip

1-2″ from base of pommel = 4-6″ from cross

Click on the image below for the plans.


Paul has also made two videos on the Übershinai. The first explains why you need to weight the shinai. The second shows the process of making one.

I highly recommend these modifications to your shinai. It makes it feel much more sword like. Of course, when using it, you must remember that you are trying to replicate a sword, so treat the fight accordingly.

~ by Magnus on 31 January, 2008.

One Response to “Übershinai”

  1. Cheers mate, thats very flattering.
    “into a science” – well, only if you mean the sort of science where some beardy guy turns up on brekfast newas after having generated cold fusionin his shed.

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