The shinai is meant to represent a Japanese sword (katana) and is made up of four bamboo slats, which are held together by leather fittings. A modern variation of a shinai with carbon fiber reinforced resin slats is also used.
Kendōka also use hard wooden swords (木刀 bokutō?) to practice kata.
Kendo employs strikes involving both one edge and the tip of the shinai or bokutō.
Protective armor is worn to protect specified target areas on the head, arms and body. The head is protected by a stylized helmet, called men (面?), with a metal grille (面金 men-gane?) to protect the face, a series of hard leather and fabric flaps (突垂れ tsuki-dare?) to protect the throat, and padded fabric flaps (面垂れ men-dare?) to protect the side of the neck and shoulders. The forearms, wrists, and hands are protected by long, thickly padded fabric gloves called kote (小手?). The torso is protected by a breastplate (胴 dō?), while the waist and groin area is protected by the tare (垂れ?), consisting of three thick vertical fabric flaps or faulds.