It always starts with an inspiration from one of our elite heroes of fencing. In part 2 of "The Journey of a Master's Glove", founder T.K. Wong recounts the process of how a ZZUMA x SCHERMA glove is made. This is the story behind TOKYO ZSPEED, a glove inspired by Olympic and national fencing hero of Japan – Yuki Ota.
I recall the first time I saw Yuki in action. It was some 13 years ago, when he was only 17 years old. I was mesmerized by his lightning quick moves - all executed with precision and control. It was like watching perfection in motion. Indeed, he defined the very way of Japanese fencing - precision and speed - a beautiful sight to behold. I have been a fan ever since.
As I got to know Yuki more over the years, I learned that he loved cars and had a taste for speed. This served as our first inspiration.
The Japan fencing team, like many other top sports teams, would go to the TOGO Shrine, next to popular fashion district Harajuku, to pray for good luck and victory in their tournaments. Admiral Togo, in real life, was a successful war hero who defeated the Russian fleet at the Battle of Tsushima on May 27, 1905 – one of the most important naval battles of history. During the war, he flew the nautical Z Flag as an indication to all troops to fight until the very end and to do their utmost best.
The Japanese Fencing Team seen here holding up the Z Flag at Togo shrine before the 2012 London Olympics. The team won a Silver medal – the first ever Japanese Fencing Team Medal (Yuki created history by winning the individual silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics).
This Z Flag became the national icon in Japanese mythology, and in popular culture, as a symbol of putting in one's all during a momentous battle – whether in life, business or a sporting event. After the war, Admiral Togo was enshrined and this flag is now flying at TOGO Shrine. Every year, hundreds of people visit the shrine and its flag to pray for assured victory in their quest.
"The fate of the Empire rests on the outcome of this battle.
Let each man do his utmost".
- Hoisting the Z Flag by Admiral Togo on Battleship Mikasa
A "Z Flag" amulet one can purchase at the Togo Shrine to seek victory in battle.
The Z flag and its heroic story, became the vision behind the Tokyo ZSPEED glove and thus our second inspiration.
Representing the concept of speed bursting through the air like that of Yuki Ota, protected and guided by the colors of the nautical Z flag – yellow, blue, red and black – and wrapped around a beautiful pure white suede glove representing perfection. This one of a kind design was specially imprinted onto the suede, working with a global technology manufacturer, that does not come off during washing, and allows the glove to breathe and yet attain its vibrant color.
It takes over 20 parts to craft a ZZUMA x SCHERMA glove to ensure maximum flexibility and control. All the parts then handcrafted together with care and years of experience. Parts of the cutting mold shown above.
Working closely with the master craftsman Mr Hosokawa, a ZZUMA x SCHERMA glove is made from over 20 parts to achieve the kind of feeling, mobiity and responsiveness an elite fencerwould need to control his blade and moves.
To ensure maximum protection, the upper layers are made of up to three layers weaving in suede upper, ultra-strong kevlar, and an impact diffusing gel, to prevent hits by the opponents blade that often stun the nerves on the back of the palm during duels.
A unique 3D anti-slip design wraps around the thumb and first finger portion to give total control of the grip handle with good padding yet feel of the blade.
The fingers portion are made from a patented anti-cut material that prevents a blade to cut through to hurt the fingers.
Inside the glove is a layer of moisture wicking material to quickly remove sweat in the palm and forearm, and the light weight sweat repelling cuff stops the fencers sweat from soaking into the glove from the cuff, preventing it from becoming heavy and soggy.
It is our hope that this glove would protect the wearer, give him or her countless victories, and grant him the will he needs to fight the ultimate fight.
Founder of ZZUMA & Co.
The Tokyo ZSPEED glove was presented to Yuki Ota in Tokyo earlier this year at the JISS Olympic Training Center. We wish Yuki Ota the very best as he goes to the RIO Olympics as the sole individual Foil male fencer from Japan. May the Z Flag fly high as he seeks victory!
Limited versions of the first edition Yuki Ota inspired TOKYO ZSPEED, part of the First Flight SS16 Collection are now ready for pre-orders.