The story of the White bogu


My name is Kirsi Höglund. My parents are finnish, my first language was finnish, but I was born and I live in Sweden. I grew up in Rinkeby, Stockholm, infamous for the high percentige of foreigners and violence.

My father worked abroad and when he came home he was out with his friends getting drunk. My mother did her best raising two children. Physical correction of your children wasn’t illegal in Sweden until later. And I had a close older relative who ”liked” little girls. I learned early on how to handle pain and to close my mind. Home was not the safe place one could have hoped for… 

and neither was school. For eight years there was not many schooldays I didn’t fight. The boys at school liked to fight with me, so I guess it became a kind of game for both them and me. What it taught me though was to always be prepared and not to be afraid of a fight.

When I was twelve I told the older relative not to ever touch me again or I’d kick his balls and tell my mother. I don’t know which of these threats was the most effective one, but it worked. And a couple of years later my family left Stockholm and I got a fresh start in a new school with new friends. It was a game changer in my life.

Life turned pretty normal. I studied chemical engeneering both in highschool and at the University. I changed to linguistics and got eventually a PhD-degree in Fenno-Ugric languages. Familywise I married in my early twenties, had two children, divorced after 15 years and I’m just starting out a new life with my new family.

I had always been into sports – dancing, gymnasics, football, swimming etc. In 1999 my friend Mikael Tagai introduced me to Naginata. His description was that is was a little bit like Kendo but much more fun.

I practised a year and a half, until my second pregnancy forced me to stop. I promised to come back. And so I did. I came back at a time when the founder had decided to leave (due to personal matters). I came back to a club with very few students and as I had the highest grade, I was expected to teach.

We were all beginners, really, both me and the other students. We were dedicated and we added asageiko before school once a week to the training sessions we already had. We experimented a lot over the years and we still do. The international seminars play an important role in building a base and confirming to us that we are on the right track.

The white bogu

I’ve heard that I sometimes go by the name ‘white bogu’ due to my … white bogu. The story behind it is simple. When I started bogupractise I needed to buy a bogu and there was one on the Swedish eBay. It happened to be white.

The white bogu is a challenge and responsability. I can’t hide in a crowd or be anonomous. I always need to do my best and that for me is doing Naginata. I really like my white bogu!