Cold Steel Bokken
Better than traditional wood? (maybe not)

I'll admit I enjoyed making the cold steel bokken review - because as you will see in a moment, with a bokken like this that is touted as 'virtually unbreakable' - if you know me, you'll know that if anyone can find a way to break it, it will be me.. ;-)

Just HOW I broke it though is quite interesting, and in some ways, it is better than a traditional wooden bokken. But I think Miyamoto Musashi may have just stuck with his wooden oar...

Cold Steel Polypropylene Bokken Review

Review by SBG Editor in Chief, Paul Southren

Made from the 'heaviest grade polypropylene', the Cold Steel Bokken is anything but traditional, though I had heard from members of the Japanese sword art community that it was not too badly balanced considering what it was.

But it was the concept of using a modern material to make an unbreakable bokken that was far too interesting to ignore..

The bokken arrived in a clear plastic bag containing the 'blade', a polypropylene tsuba and a thick rubber 'habaki' blade collar.

It also included instructions, which I guess is nice, though it is really not all that complicated (bit like the hairdryer in the bath kind of thing, if you need to read it you probably shouldn't be using it)...

I've often found that with bokken that have this kind of tsuba/habaki set up that the habaki is never tight enough, and shifts when I use it (though that is probably just my bag technique rubbing on the tsuba), but I was pleased to find no such problem with the Cold Steel bokken - the fit was very tight and not easy to budge.

Definitely a plus.

Now of course, this Cold Steel bokken review cannot go into too much detail at this point as, well, it is a bokken - and there is not a lot of detail to tell cosmetically..!

The surface is textured in a nostalgic kind of way that I can best describe as 'like the chairs I had when I was a kid in school' - the handle more so to prevent slippage.

Being approx 1" thick, the blade does kind of have an edge, and the tip is shaped to do business..!

Otherwise, I think the picture below pretty much sums it up.

Now of course, the only other thing to tell you at this point is the handling - which is actually pretty darned good..!

Cold Steel describe it as closely duplicating "a real Katana and Wakazashi in length, size, weight and feel. While they're not quite as rigid as wood, they have the advantages of being virtually unbreakable and remarkably stiff and cut resistant."

And after conducting all the tests for the Cold Steel Bokken review, I agree with all the statements but one..

It DOES feel quite similar to a real Katana as far as handling goes. And while it is NOT as rigid as wood - it feels solid enough and isn't wobbly when in use, though heavy impacts cause it to bend much like a real katana would (it can be bent back like a real sword having taken a minor set too).

But to determine the reality of the last two points - well, I'll let the video show you which one is not exactly 100% accurate..

VIDEO: "How to Kill the Cold Steel Bokken..."

More impact resistant: Yes. More cut resistant.. Well..

I must admit, I was a bit surprised at the end result!

As far as impact resistance goes, it seems tougher than a regular bokken - I think you could bash these things against each other all day long and it would never break or splinter..

BUT, it ain't cut resistant..!

My trusty Kuramono Katana made short work of it without breaking a sweat, while a regular bokken is simply too dense for a sword to go through it in one slice (as much as the movies might make you want to think otherwise)..

Overall, it's fun, modern and tough as nails against impacts - but I'll bet if Miyamoto Musashi had to face Kojiro's live blade, he would have stuck to his wooden bokken..!


  • Excellent balance and handling
  • Can withstand all impact damage without breaking or splintering

  • Fit of the 'tsuba' is perfect
  • Can be bent a bit out of shape by heavy impacts
  • If fighting a samurai duel Musashi style (i.e using wood vs steel), use a real bokken..!


There is not a huge margin on these products it would seem, with prices only really fluctuating between $30 to $35. However, when you factor in shipping time and customer service, the best place to pick one up from (and where I bought mine) is HERE at Kult of Athena where they sell for $27.95 (and you can, if you prefer, also pick up a sturdy Wooden Bokken here for $11.95

I hope the Cold Steel Bokken Review was helpful. To return to Sword Fighting and Training Basics from the Cold Steel Bokken Review, click here

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