Copyright 1997 by Buddy Govender. Permission to use, copy and/or download any material from this site MUST be sought from the copyright holder.
Hojo Undo : Part 2 of 2 Parts
The techniques of the chi-shi were first introduced to me by, Imtiaz Abdullah Sensei. I was immediately hooked on this wonderful, versatile and yet so simple an implement. At the Jundokan So Hombu Dojo in Naha Okinawa, I would often train with the chi-shi (and other traditional Okinawan hojo undo implements) under the guidance of Yasuda Sensei. The chi-shi consists of a concrete weight attached to an end of a wooden handle (similar to a lollipop). I am convinced that if I take a chi-shi into a modern health club and tell them about the capabilities of this implement, I will be laughed at and asked to leave. It may not look like much, but boy, let me tell you it is the bomb! Chi-shi training is also extremely vital to Okinawa Karate-Doh Goju Ryu. It should be used side by side with the practice of Sanchin and Tensho Kata. Correct use of the chi-shi will improve muscle tone, strength in the fingers, hands, arms and chest (amongst many other parts of the body), however these are only the external benefits. The ligaments and cartilage of the wrist, elbows and shoulder joints will also benefit from this form of training. Initially, I mentioned 'correct use of the chi-shi', as incorrect use will definitely cause great damage, which could become permanent. Jerky movements and using too heavy a chi-shi can contribute to this disaster. Good posture and correct techniques are important, and should never be sacrificed for an increased number of repetition. The shoulders should be kept on a horizontal plane despite the weight being asserted to one side. I often practice with the chi-shi using Shiko-dachi. This helps me keep the hips low thereby aiding my balance. The movements should be performed in a deliberate and slowish way, similar to the movements in Sanchin Kata (with muchimi).
What might not be apparent when watching a person using the chi-shi, is the strong grip required in the wrist and hands. Okinawa Goju Ryu Karate-Doh relies heavily on gripping, grabbing and tearing techniques, therefore the necessity for good strength in the arms, wrist, hands and fingers. At the completion of a movement the grip should be tightened, focused and sustained for a short while. This grip/release grip action will stimulate the muscles of the arms, wrist, hands and fingers. When moving the chi-shi to different angles, focus that grip at those angles as well as this will improve you grip even at unusual angles and directions.
HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN CHI-SHI AT HOME
This is my own recipe, but I am sure that many also use a similar technique in constructing your own chi-shi.
What you need:
- a round cake tin about 10 centimeters deep
- a wooden dowel (stick) about 40 centimeters long
- about 3 fairly long steel nails
- some plastic sheeting
- cement/concrete mix
What to do:
- drive the nails through the dowels until the nail protrudes on either side (this is done so as to bind the wood to the cement)
- line the inside of the cake tin with the plastic and pour the fresh cement into it (make sure that there are no spaces on the sides - the tin must be completely filled)
- push the dowel all the way into the cement making sure that it is centralized and perpendicular (90 degrees) to the cake tin
- allow the cement to completely harden then slowly and carefully remove the hardened mix from the cake tin
- behold a traditional chi-shi!
Make sure that:
- the dowel (stick) is thick enough and strong enough to support the weight of the hardened cement
- the nails driven through the dowels completely protrude at both ends of the dowel
- you check the condition of your chi-shi BEFORE every workout with them and put them down very carefully after using them
NIGIRI-GAME As mentioned previously, Okinawa Karate-Doh Goju Ryu relies heavily on gripping, grabbing and tearing techniques, and another device that is wonderful in these aspects in the nigiri-game, or gripping jar. Using this implement while stepping in Sanchin, Zenkutsu, Shiko or Neko Ashi Dachi also assists the lower body and posture. The lip of the jar is gripped with all the fingers and the thumb is actually positioned underneath the lip (tip of thumb pointing backwards in your direction). A good exercise is to step in Sanchin dachi, root yourself then list the nigiri-game in front of you until it is horizontal to the ground, hold it out there then roll the wrist around turning the nigiri-game around, return the wrist to the original position then slowly bring it down to your side, then step forward and repeat with the other hand. As with the chi-shi all movements should be done with a deliberate movement (muchimi) and not with jerky movements.
The Breathing With all the above devices, a major aspect has not been mentioned as yet, THE BREATH! All the movements must be co-ordinated with the breathing. An example with the chi-shi; breath in on lifting actions, hold the breath and focus on the grip, then breath out with the return action. The breathing must be done slowly, deliberately and in conjunction with the movement of the chi-shi. Again, I must mention Sanchin Kata and it's relevance to everything in Okinawa Karate-Doh Goju Ryu.
Traditional Karatedo Okinawa Goju Ryu Book #1 by Higaonna Morio
Roots: The Harry Cook Column in Terry O'Neill's Fighting Arts International No.69
Phil Snewin's Column in Traditional Karate Vol. 11 No. 10
Goju Ryu Related Articles by John Porta in the Journal of Asian Martial Arts Vol. 5 No. 2