'Hojo undo' means literally "supplementary training". These should be practised as often as possible in order to acheive effective techniques and to prepare the body (and mind) for combat situations. 'Hojo undo' is one of the things that seperates traditional karate from sport karate, so that techniques can be delivered with devastating effectiveness without causing any harm to the karateka yet rendering the assailant incapable of continuing his attack. The aim is to acheive the one blow - one win situation.

Various traditional training aids are used for 'hojo undo'. They must be used regularly in order to acheive the desired effect.

Makiwara - punching board

The Makawara is by far most commonly used by the most serious karate-ka. A traditional makawara is made from a tapered piece of wood with a rice straw cover for striking although today we mostly use a leather cover. If you do not have access to a fixed makawara then modern focus pads may be used, although not an ideal substitute they will improve timing and distance whilst moving. The visible signs of makawara training are callused knuckles and hands though the main idea is to strengthen the wrist, elbow and shoulder joints to improve focus and power in striking techniques. Makawara training should be built up over a period of months before full power is used.

Chi'ishi - strength stone

The chi-ishi origins are thought to have come from China, though it is widely used in Okinawa. The chi-ishi consists of a stone weight with a long wooden handle. The length of the handle is determined by either of the following. In an upright position the top of the handle should come up to the knee joint, also if the user hold the chi-ishi at both ends of the handle the hands should be able to go to the side of the body as in basic punching. There are many exercises with chi-ishi for strengthening the grip, shoulders and arms. It can also be used to condition the forearms by performing Kakie like exercises.

Ishi sashi - stone padlock

The ishi-sashi is based on a stone padlock formally used in China and Okinawa and its uses are very similar to modern dumb bells. Being more stable in design the ishi-sashi can be used also with the foot to develop the muscles and tendons we use in kicking techniques. Most of the blocking and striking techniques with the arms can be performed with the ishi-sashi. This helps to develop strong shoulder and back muscles and increase ones kime (focus). A modern version of the ishi-sashi can be made from metal hence the name Tetsu-Sashi.

Kongoken - iron ring

The kongoken is unique to Okinawan Goju-ryu and was based on a steel ring used by Hawaiian wrestlers. After seeing this in Hawaii Miyagi Chojun Sensei on his return to Okinawa decided to develop a similar piece of equipment changing the shape to oval. The oval shaped kongoken better represented the shape of the human body and a greater number of exercises may be employed. The kongoken can weigh from 30Kgs upwards depending on the user, care must be taken if the kongoken is too heavy. Exercises may be performed with a partner or alone. The kongoken helps us to achieve power in the hips and legs and also helps us with the strength and co-ordination required to perform throwing techniques.

Nigiri game - gripping jars

The nigiri game translates as gripping jars, these are specifically designed to develop the strong grip needed to execute many of the advanced blocking and holding techniques. They also help to improve the posture and endurance in certain stances. The jars are generally cylindrical in design with the width of the upper rim being the width of the users grip from the tips of the fingers to the inside of the thumb joint. Additional practice calls for the students to combine moving from one stance to another gripping the additional weights in the fashion described, suspended at arms length, to assist in developing the legs, upper body, and in aligning the shoulders and hips for improved kata.

The nigiri game is occasionally used for blocking practice, calling for exceptional strength in the hands and arms, to hold the weights in the correct position. When students become proficient at this exercise, the nigiri game may be filled with beans, rice or pebbles to increase the weights.

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Courtesy of the I.O.G.K.F.

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