This article is the class notes for 10/17/2011. It contains:
2) Shin Conditioning
3) Corkscrew Punch
4) Rokushaku Bo
5) Kihon no Bo Shodan no Yamashita
To start class out tonight we did some conditioning drills on the practice target (makiwara). The makiwara is traditionally a rolled up bundle (maki) of straw (wara). Modern ones are made from all sorts of material. The basic concept is that you want something with a little padding in front of (or around) something much harder. You condition the body, in this example our hands, by striking the practice target to build bone density, toughen the skin, and condition the muscles and tendons to the impact of a hard surface (like someone’s face for example).
In our dojo we have a collection of modern practice targets (photos of them are on the site – they have dragons on them). They are [worn out] foam attached to a thin plastic plate and wrapped in canvas. The canvas is then attached to a thicker plastic plate and this is all then screwed into a cement wall. Today we practiced on them with 25 vertical punches, 25 half turned punches, and 25 full turn punches on each hand. It is important to make sure you are striking with the knuckles of the index finger and middle finger, but more important is that you should start slow and gradually get faster and stronger. Worst mistake someone new to practice targets can make is striking so hard they break their hand/wrist. So don’t do that!
After we conditioned our hands, we then went on to condition our shins. I once trained under a pretty cool guy who did Uechi-ryu. They would do some crazy body conditioning, of which included shin to shin conditioning drills. I thought it best to start off slow and rather than do shin to shin kicks, we would kick a practice target. Traditional practice targets for this would be a bundle of bamboo tied together and set upright. Since I don’t have any of those handy, we got out one of the kendo swords and smacked each other with that. As with hand conditioning, take it slow and increase speed and power slowly.
During our warmups I noticed some people doing the corkscrew punch incorrectly. They were chambering their hands correctly (palms up) but rotating them before they fully extended the punch. The correct method is to shoot the hand out palm up and then rotate it so that the palm is down at the point of contact. To demonstrate the increase in power I smacked a few people with a regular punch and then with the corkscrew punch. Without using anything resembling speed or power – I think I made my point nicely.
Tonight my goal was staff initiation so we got out the six foot staffs (Rokushaku Bo). I went through the proper way to hold the staff in Matayoshi style weapons (Kobudo). The big thing is that the stances are narrower than Karate and deeper. The most common mistake is not keeping the back of the staff on the outside of the forearm rather than against the hip or under the armpit. The benefit is added protection to the arms and increased speed of attacks. The “con” is that the staff is not as secure – this is a matter of practice in my opinion, whereas the benefits are inherent in the positioning and no amount of skill is really needed to benefit. Posting some more videos on staff is long term goal for the rest of this semester, but until I can do that I will not pretend that I can explain good staff techniques using only words. Sorry.
Kihon no Bo Shodan no Yamashita
The last thing we went over in class was the first of the basic staff katas created by Tadashi Yamashita. The first is “The First Basic Kata of Bo [Techniques] of [Tadashi] Yamashita” (Kihon no Bo Shodan no Yamashita). To think that everyone thought the Karate katas had complicated and nonsensical names? We could call the kata “First Staff Form”, but what fun would that be? As I mentioned before, more Weapons vidoes (including kata) are on their way, but until then, you will just have to use your imagination and know that we did the kata with “the spinny thing”.