HOJO UNDO

Hojo Undo translates as “supplementary exercises”. It is the study and practice of the ancient Kigu (equipment) used in Okinawan Goju-Ryu Karate-Do. Most of the Hojo Undo equipment, with the exception of the Okinawan Makiwara and the Kongo Ken, were brought to Okinawa by Master Kanyro Higaonna upon his return from Foochow, China. Hojo Undo strengthens and toughens the body, develops Qigong (practice of internal and external universal energy) and Kokyu-Ho (inhale/exhale breathing method). Ancient implements of Hojo Undo are Makiwara (striking post), Chiishi (stone lever weight), Nigiri Game (gripping jars), Ishi Sashi (stone padlocks), Tan (Chinese barbell), Tetsuarei (dumbbells), Kongo Ken (oval metal weight), Sashi Ishi (heavy stone), Tou (bamboo bundle), Tetsuwa (iron rings) and Makiagi Kigu (wrist roller).

‘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. Some of the equipments used in supplementary exercices are:

CHISHI (Stone lever weights) :The Chishi is also known as Chikaraishi (power stone). It’s  a weight training equipment consisting of a wooden handle which is fitted in a concrete weight. Many of the exercises with the Chishi develops strength in the grip and wrist , something which is necessary for the ability to execute many of throwing and locking techniques which exist within the katas. Chishi  develops even the focus in the punch and to increase the strength in the blocking techniques. Many of the movements are made in shiko dachi with focus in the Tanden. Chishi helps you to get better balance , stance and taisabaki. The length for each Chi-Ishi should be eighteen to twenty inches (46 to 51cm) as a rule of thumb the top of the handle should be level with the top of your knee.

NIGIRI-GAME (Gripping Jar) :The Nigirigame “gripping jar” is a jar of clay with mouth specially designed to train the strength of finger gripping. Okinawan karate relies heavily on gripping, grabbing and tearing techniques and another device that is wonderful in these aspects is the gripping jar. Using this implement while stepping in Sanchin , Zenkutsu , Shiko or Neko ashi dachi also assists the lower body and posture. A good exercise is to step in Sanchin dachi, root yourself then lift the Nigirigame in front of you , until it is horizontal to the ground, hold it out there. Jars are filled with sand or water.

MAKIWARA (Striking Post):The Makiwara is one of the most valuable tools available to the serious Karateka. Correct alignment is vital for generating power. Hands, wrists, forearms, shoulders, back, waist, legs and feet all combine to deliver the trademark of Karate, the closed fist punch.

The are two types of makiwara, the tachi-makiwara and the age-makiwara. The most common version of the makiwara is the standing makiwara (tachi makiwara). However, there are also two types of standing makiwara:

(a) a flat wooden post extending up from the ground with a pad (or straw wrap-around) on the top. This makiwara is struck from the front only.

(b) The other type of standing makiwara is constructed of a round pole which is set into the ground as well. Straw padding is wound around the pole, and it can be hit from all sides.

The very first thing to remember when working with a makiwara is that it will always win. If you punch it too hard, too soon, you will damage a knuckle…and it will still be there waiting for you the next time! (This is particularly a problem with young male students, finally given an opportunity to hit something.) The student of the makiwara should initially just push the pad with their punch, taking care to get all the little things right.

With practice the pad can be struck harder, but always keep your priorities straight. If you let your enthusiasm carry you away, you’ll be hurting…and the maki will still be waiting.What’s important is not how hard it’s hitten but how many times. Repetition is a hallmark of good training with a makiwara.

ISHI SASHI (Stone Padlock) :The Ishisashi was originally used as “ stone padlocks” for buildings. Often used as an extra load in punching and blocking training. The open handle on the ishisashi makes it possible to put ones feet into it which also enables one to train the feet and ankle with kicking exercises. Develops and strengthens the muscles of the fore arm , upper arms and wrist. A pair of 6-10 pound dumb-bells serve the same purpose.

TAN (Barbell) : The Tan is originally from the wheels of a trolley and strongly resembles a barbell. It has a weight bare of wood and either stone or iron weight on the ends.  The Tan can be used in several different exercises and conditions the arms for blocking and develops the muscles which is used in the performance of the kata Sanchin.

TOU (Cane or Bamboo bundle)  :This is a bundle of bamboo sticks taped together at the ends, and is used for nukite practice and conditioning.

JARI BAKO / SUNABAKO  (Sand box) :This is just a box or bowl filled with sand, beans, gravel or similar material. Fingers are thrust into it to toughen the hands.

TETSU GETA (Iron Clogs) : These are iron clogs, used to strengthen kicking techniques. The Tetsu-geta or iron sandals, for leg strength and kicking. (Much better for foot strength than modern ankle weights. The foot actually must grip the sandal, and the weight is at the far extremity of the limb, adding to the difficulty of the device. Because of this, fast kicking, which would be dangerous to the joints if using ankle weights, is not possible, and therefore the use of the tetsu-geta is preferred to the modern devices.)

KONGOKEN (Oval Metal weight) :Chojun Miyagi Sensei made this training equipment after having observed wrestlers on Hawaii who were training with a heavy round iron ring. Miyagis man-sized oval version are very good for developing a strong upper body and to strength the grip and arms muscles and of cause the body conditioning. The Kongoken can be used alone or together with another student in different exercises. Basically it should be 5 foot (153cm) elongated oval and about 18 inches (46cm) wide with a tube diameter of about one and a half to two inches (4-5cm). It’s weight will depend upon the metal used and if the metal is solid or tubular. Weights for Kongo Ken can vary, it would be useful to have two of differing weights maybe one of around 30kg and the other of 50kg.

SASHI ISHI (Natural stone weight) :This is a short wooden handle with a stone weight in the center. This strength training device is use for blocking techniques, stance and striking strength.

MAKIAGE KIGU (Wrist Roller) :This is a wrist roller, a wooden handle with a weight hung in the center on a rope. You twist the handle and wrap the rope onto it, raising and lowering the weight, and strengthening the wrists and grip.