The shoulder plates (Sode) protect your upper arm. In ancient japan, the shoulder plates replace a shield. Since samurais at that time where on horse, they could not hold a shield and a sword – and ride a horse at the same time. So they dropped the shield and instead, fixed the sode to their armour. The sode is pretty flexible and movable, allows you to ride a horse and swing a sword and still have a protection agains arrows and sword blows.

Sode - die Schulterplatten der Samurai Rüstung
Sode – shoulder and upper arm protection
Sode - die rechte Schulterplatte über dem Armpanzer (Kote)
Sode – the shoulder shield reaches right above the arm armour (Kote)

I built the sode in lamellar style, as was done on some historical models. This is what you need to build one, yourself

  • Lamellar plates
  • Paracord
  • Kydex plates
  • Coping Saw
  • Emery Paper and grinder
  • Drill
  • Toggle Buttons
  • Needle and threat
  • Ornaments
  • Gloves

The shoulder shield sits on the top of your arm, above the arm armour (kote).

Shoulder Shield / Sode DIY (Lamellar-Stil)

Again it is about lacing lamellar plates to rows and rows to a shield, as done before for the do.

Traditionelles Verknüpfen von Lamellen einer frühmittelalterlichen japanischen Lamellen-Samurai-Rüstung. Hier aus thermoplastischem Kunststoff.
Lacing the plates together in a historically correct way

You can determine the size of your sode yourself simply by designing it larger or smaller by taking more or less plates per row.

Continue lacing until you have your two basic shields done.

Rüstung im Lamellar-Stil. Hier: Sode / Schulterplatten
Sode / Shoulder guard

As with the do, the rows of plates are laced together, overlapping. This gives the shield its flexibility.

Der Schulterschutz besteht aus vier Reihen von Lamellen, die traditionell und flexibel verknüpft sind.
Inside view of a sode consisting of four rows of plates. 

I laced the shield to a solid piece of kydex, which I bent with an angle of ninty degrees. Therfore, I first cut a strip of kydex, heated it in the oven and bent it over the edge of my kitchen table. You might want to wear gloves while doing so, since the kydex is pretty warm.

Oberes Ende der Schulterplatten: Solide Panzerung aus thermoplastischen Kunststoff als oberer Abschluss
Oberes Ende der Schulterplatten: Solide Panzerung aus thermoplastischen Kunststoff als oberer Abschluss

I fies two toggle buttons to each shield. They are used for fixing the shoulder shield to the shoulder pad.

Bau der Befestigung des Sode an dem Schulterten der Rüstung. Mit Knebelknöpfen wird das Sode an die Samurai Rüstung angeknüpft.
Toggle buttons server for fixing the shields to the shoulder pad.
Detailansicht der Knebelknöpfe zur Befestigung über der Schulter.
Toggle buttons where often used in samurai armoury


Die Knebelknöpfe wurden an der stabilen Oberseite des Sode (Lamellar-Stil) befestigt.
Inner view of the lamellar style shoulder shield (sode).


Detailansicht der Befestigung der japanischen Rüstung nach früh-mittelalterlichem Vorbild.
This is pretty close to how historical models where built.

This is how the sode finally looks like.

Die komplette Schulterplatte (Sode) im Lamellar-Stil.
Shoulder Shield (Sode) in Lamellar-Stil.

Many historical models use ornaments. I decided to fix some ornaments, too.

Sode mit Zierrat
Sode and ornaments


Making the shoulder pad which holds Sode (Shoulder shield), Kote (Arm protection) und Do (cuirass)

Shoulder Shield, arm protection and the cuirass are carried suspender stile. The entire weight of all the armour is on the shoulders. All parts are therefore fixed to a shoulder pad.

This part of the armour was hard to investigate because it seldomly shows in pictures. Therefore, I had to re-invent a little. But as it showed later, my approach is not far from the original.

First, I cut a plat of kydex into the desired shape and then bent it, so that it fits my shoulder. This plate carries all the weight of sode, kote and do.

I drilled holes to fix laces, then painted it black.

Die Schulterplatte mit Bohrungen für Riemen. Die Platte hält Do (Brustpanzer) und Sode (Oberarmschutz)
I drilled sixteen holes. They will take laces which will hold the toggle buttons of kote, sode and do. 

A paracord (as usual, the inner core was removed – only the mantle of the paracord is used)will serve as suspender.  It runs over the shoulder pad and carries the do.

Vernähen des Schulterriemens / Schulterträgers. Die Schlaufen halten die Knebelknöpfe
A lot of sewing in order to design the loops which take the toggle buttons

I added some ornaments here, as well.


Schulterträger. Trägt den gesamten Do (Brustpanzer) sowie die Schulterteile (Sode).
The suspender. It carries the do (cuirass).

This lace is fixed to the kydex plate so that the weight is better distributed on the shoulder.

Befestigung des Schulterriemens für den Do an der Schulterplatte.
Shoulder pad with suspender for the do (cuirass)

Additional laces are fixed. They take the arm protection as well as the shoulder shield. both are fixed with toggle buttons.

Schulterhalterung links
left shoulder pad


Die Schulterplatten / Schulterträger: Das lange Ende hält den Do. Die kurzen Enden halten den Schulterschutz.
Both shoulder pads. The long laces are the suspenders for the do. The others take sode and kote.

The shoulder plate is located on the shoulder. The armour parts are fixed with toggle buttons.

Frontansicht des Sode. Zwei Schnüre halten die Schulterplatten. Das gewährleistet Bewegungsfreiheit.
Front view on the sode. It is carried only by two laces. This way, it odes not hinder from swinging a sword.


Mittels Knebelknopf wird der Sode an der Schulterhalterung angeknüpft.
View from further above


Seitenansicht: Sode über dem Oberarmschutz
The shoulder shield sits just above the upper arm protection. While the arm protection is very tight and protects the arm, the sode is flexible and serves more like a shield.