Tag Archives: training

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

Training for Martial Artists

Martial arts in and of itself is an awesome, full body workout. But most martial artists also train to improve their speed, conditioning and skill level. If your hero or heroine practices martial arts or depends on his fighting skills for survival, practice and conditioning will a significant part of his lifestyle.

A fighter’s power originates in his center. Kicking, punching and grappling require core strength. Weight training is utilized, but so are exercises like yoga and pilates, which also improve balance and flexibility necessary for martial arts.

Fighting requires aerobic conditioning or endurance, but being able to respond with a short burst of intense energy is also important.  Martial artists commonly use interval training to improve their anaerobic conditioning.  An example of interval training would be three minutes of easy jogging followed by a one minute sprint, two minutes of easy jogging, then a thirty second full-out run.  The lengths of the intervals are varied, as is the intensity of each.  The more irregular the workout, the better.

Fighters workout in constantly varying ways to continue to challenge their bodies.  Jumping rope is a popular cardio exercise for boxers and martial artists.  It encompasses physical exertion, rhythm, and coordination, three vital skills for all types of fighting.  Fighters run, they climb ropes, lift kettle bells, throw and carry medicine balls.  They drill with repetitive kicks and punches on heavy bags and with partners using hand-held mitts and bags.  Fighters do endless varieties of push-ups.  And this is a MMA (mixed martial arts) fighter’s idea of a sit-up.

Drills are specific exercises meant to teach patterns in fighting.  An example would be something like this.  The trainer throws a punch.  The fighter move his head out of the path, parries or blocks the punch, then counters with a punch to a practice mitt held next to the trainer’s jaw.  The same pattern is repeated many times.  Drills help fighters develop muscle memory so they respond to a strike quickly.

Sparring is practice fighting.  Participants typically pad up with protective head gear, mouth guards, padded gloves and boots. Sometimes even shin and forearm pads area worn to avoid the painful bruises that result from blocking kicks and punches. Male fighters wear special, heavy-duty athletic cups.

The type and intensity of training will depend upon the martial artist’s need and style.  A character who studies Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu will utilize different exercises that someone who trains in Kenpo.  Do some research to add the proper detail to your hero or heroine’s workout.