What is the best Shorinji Kempo Clothing and Equipment?

What to wear? and what to bring…

All you need for your first class is some comfortable gym clothes (t-shirt/vest, shorts/joggers) and an open mind. You don’t even need any shoes we train barefoot.


Bring a bottle for water. Both our venues provide drinking water so you can top up.

You may also want to bring a towel. If you go full effort for the whole class, then our warm up and techniques can be a fun but sweaty cardio workout. Holborn House has showers in the Male and Female changing rooms (but not in the accessible changing room) – and the water isn’t the warmest!

Once you have paid your membership you will also want to get a few essential things to make training more fun…

The White Uniform

Our white uniform is called a dogi. We keep some for sale in our Holborn House venue where we run our beginner session. There is no set regulation for the kit so you can buy any dogi. We recommend the Karate uniform from Decathlon, Blitz or Amazon.

To grade you will need a BSKF badge which is also available for £5 from the club. We have several optional arm badges as well.

You may wish to wear something under your dogi as some techniques simulate clothing grabs. We highly recommend a specialised high impact sports bra from a sports brand.

What you need to grade

To get a black belt in this sport you first need to earn a yellow, orange, green, blue and then a brown belt. The club will loan you these belts each time you pass a grading.When you earn a black belt, we let you buy your own! We have a club tradition (started by one of our first students) of adding a rainbow ribbon to the end of our belts.
Are you ready to grade? Then, everything you need to know for the grading is listed in the BSKF Kyu grade syllabus. Ask our Club Captain for your copy. Our classes will explain everything you need to know.

We are one of the few Martial Arts that makes philosophy core to the training. We therefore highly recommend getting your own copy of the official Philosophy Book. The club has one that you can borrow.

Our Club Captain Chelsea at the 2022 BSKF Taikai


If you like boxing or sparring then you will want to apply all the things we teach you in a free form fight – safely. The BSKF and International Kempo Associations hold tournaments with a category called Randori (sparring). You also need to complete a bout of Randori during your grading to achieve your black belt. The following is the equipment we recommend. You should consider buying your own kit to break in before a tournament. For the purpose of grading most of it can be supplied by the us, or the BSKF.

Hand wraps

Hands are so important aren’t they? So lets get them protected. Decent quality wraps are available everywhere. If you find some rainbow ones will you let us know? Make sure to get 3.5m or 4.5m (180inches) wraps, to ensure maximum protection. A great method to wash your wraps is to drop them in a pillowcase to avoid having that annoying untangling process at the end.


Sharing gloves can be a little icky so you will want your own. Our Instructors mostly use light weight MMA gloves. For competitions BSKF mandate 4oz MMA gloves or Elastic Hand Pads.

For pad work you may want normal boxing gloves. Our friends at at Knockout Boxing suggest 12oz (if you weigh more than 55kgs) training gloves or 10oz (if you weigh less than 55kgs). If you intend to cross train with boxing Sparring like a number of our students (kenshi) you will need 16oz gloves or above.

Use newspapers or Talcum powder on the inside of your gloves to dry them out between use.

Gums Shields / Mouthguards

Mouthguards are used to protect your teeth, mouth, gums and jaw from any injury. They are optional. Entry-level mouthguards are made to mould at home (known as a boil-and-bite). It comes in a shape that will fit any jaw.


The BSKF mandate a space helmet style guard with a clear shield for Tournaments. Our instructors are using the Kudo Space Helmet.

Groin Guards

All Tournament (Taikai) entrants must wear a groin guard. Either under or over the trousers. Our favorite are the shorts from Decathlon with a removable groin guard.

Body Protectors

All Tournaments entrants and optionally at gradings you will be expected to wear body protectors which ideally has a double skin. As these are imported from Japan the BSKF will supply these.

Foam shin/instep guards

These are optional but great for kicking pads and permissible in a tournament.

Optional – Focused Training

The club and our venues can provide focus pads which you can hit when you need a break from hitting each other.

Optional – Weapons

We train with a number of weapons including bo staff and knives. At black belt it is mandatory to grade on our Shakajo (bo staff) syllabus. Read more about Bo’s and in particular the use by a Ninja Turtle. Or check out bo’s to buy. Our federation the BSKF has not yet mandated any regulations for weapons. You might wish to start by training with a standard 6ft made from a hard wood. Do get a carrying case. Camden is full of interesting people and an unconcealed weapon might get some attention.

We want you to stay safe!