Thursday, 17 December 2015

Maintaining Tradition by Augmenting our Training

Talent and creativity are often judged on how the next generation uses the tools made by the previous generation. So the question is, how are we going to use the tools available to us now?
In the Karate-do Dojo these days there is often a mixture of traditional and sports training. There are training tools, 運動道具 Undo Dogu, that we can use to augment our regular training and facilitate  development in a number of areas. Although I have used both modern and traditional training tools in my personal training in Canada and Japan, I do not consider myself an expert.

In Canada we often practiced drills using common training tools such as ladders, pylons, focus mitts, heavy bags, etc.
In Japan I was often encouraged to think of ways to use the traditional training tools, such as 据石 Chi ishi  巻き藁 Makiwara and 握りがめ Nigirigame with little to no guidance (See Photo below). Even though I am not an expert, I would like to take this opportunity to introduce a few of the traditional Okinawan training tools and suggest that you research this topic further as a way to augment your training and maintain some of the traditional approach to Karate-do strength training.
(Some of the Traditional Training Tools at the Chito-Ryu Honbu Dojo, Kumamoto, Japan, 2015)

This type of alternate training is called 補助運動 Hojo Undo. 補 Ho by itself means assistant, learner, make good, and supplement. 助 Jo also pronounced 助ける Tasukeru is created by combining the characters for Power 力 and Eye 目 and means help, rescue, and assist. Put together, Hojo translates as assistance, support, and aid. I believe that this is how we need to approach this kind of training; as a method to assist us in our regular training.

In order to use these tools well; to positively impact our training, a technical foundation is very important. Okinawan Karate-do masters still regularly exercise using these tools. If given the opportunity to train with these masters using these traditional tools we must make the most of it (please see, "The Trinity of Proficiency in Karate Do: Technical, Cultural, and Linguistic Ability" for advice on how to make the most of your training time in Japan).
During my research on this topic I came across the following video of some examples of Hojo Undo performed by Higaonna Sensei (Published on, Feb. 19th, 2009) watching this can give us some ideas on how to approach Hojo Undo in our personal training.

However, we must be very careful, especially when beginning. I recommend that you try to begin this kind of training under the guidance of an instructor experienced using these tools. After developing our 基本 Kihon Basic technique of this supplement training we should apply our own unique approach to it and explore our creative interpretation. But, we must never drift too far that we forget the basic technique. I believe that this is important in each aspect of our karate-do training.