Tag Archives: strength

Strength Training Okinawa Style

Thank you to my husband and sensei, Scott Fawcett, for allowing me to reprint the following article he wrote for our dojo newsletter.

A chiishi in an Okinawan dojo – 2008

Chiishi are traditional Okinawan karate training tools which are used to strengthen and condition the muscles; especially the shoulders, forearms, wrists and grip. There are many variations of the chiishi with the most common being a concrete stone of varying weight on the end of a long wooden handle. The handle length can vary but is generally the length from the elbow to the fingertips and about 1-1/2″ in diameter. Chiishi drills can also be practiced from horse stance (Shiko-Dachi or Seiunchin-Dachi) and other stances to develop stronger legs.

Chiishi are believed to have originated from either a tool used to wind thread (around the handle) during the manufacture of Okinawan textiles or from grinding stones used in the preparation of food. Both were common tools that would have been easily available to a karate student looking for something to lift when conditioning. Similar tools have been used throughout Asia for thousands of years to build, strengthen and condition the body to ready the warrior for the rigors of combat.

Tokumura Sensei teaching Alex Choo to use the chiishi.

When visiting different dojo on Okinawa, we noticed that most had chiishi. In 2008, Tokumura Kensho Sensei showed us how to use the chiishi and explained that he works chiishi drills daily to keep his body strong. He added that these exercises have helped him maintain strength into his late 60’s.

I attempted my first batch of home made chiishi a few weeks back and was pleased with the result. I am doing some research and hoping to improve them when I make my next batch.

Mixing concrete to make the chiishi turned into father/son bonding time. 🙂  I hope the next batch they make are smaller so that I can use them. Concrete is heavy people! Thanks again Scott for allowing me to reprint your article.

So have any of you ever made a homemade training tool? I’d love to hear about it in the comments section!

~K.M. Fawcett

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Body Mechanics

Good friends at Sensei Advincula's seminar

I just returned home from another great seminar given by Isshinryu karate master, Sensei A.J. Advincula. Today he discussed and demonstrated body mechanics, which is one of my favorite topics. I find it fascinating how accurate positioning of the body, and proper tensing of the correct muscles can double or even triple a person’s strength. Since I’m a small person, I need all the strength I can get. Conversely, if your positioning is off by a little (even by a half inch) your strength is minimized.

At the seminar, we experimented with many different arm positions to determine how to get the most power from your punches and blocks. I’d like to share some video clips with you on Thursday’s blog (assuming I can figure out how to do that) to demonstrate what I’m talking about. Then you can try it at home and see for yourself what proper body alignment can do for your karate.

UPDATE: Here is the link to the video on body mechanics.

On a personal note, I’d like to wish my grandma Gert a very happy 95th birthday today! I love you grandma!! 🙂

~K.M. Fawcett