Video on How To Clean Your Gi

We wear white for a lot of good reasons (hygiene, symbolism, neatness), but it is a pain to keep it looking bright and fresh over time. If, like us, you have invested in a good quality gi and you want it to last, follow our short, simple guide to keeping it fresh, clean and snappy. Our full guide to gi care can be found here: https://zoehinis.com/2016/12/30/how-t…

Video on Why We Wear White in the Dojo

The karate gi has a longer (and shorter) history than most people realize. We trace the famous angry white pajamas to their origins, explore the logic and history behind the use of white fabric, and the modern stylings of keiko-gi, and cover it in 10 minutes flat. Sort of.

May contain some opinions around hideous modern gi. Featuring: Japanese firefighters, Florence Nightingale, 5 famous Sensei, Wimbledon, Cobra Kai and the Battle of Okinawa. PS: The cards don’t pop up if you watch this on a TV, so you can watch our gi-cleaning guide here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s1qJ0… As for the weird floating arrow, and the random text card – I can’t fix those without losing this video. Forgive me, I’m learning as I go.

I have started making videos based on my blog posts, and learning a great deal in the progress.

I enjoy the extra research, choosing pictures and going down rabbit holes of knowledge as I go. The one above was particularly time-consuming, but I am proud of the end result, even if it is a bit glitchy.

Read the original article here: Why We Wear White. Please give the video a like and/or comment, and hit subscribe for new videos every Friday.

But Still. I’m So Sorry.

I read something the other day about anticipatory grief, and how globally we are all mourning present and future loss. Not just the lost lives, the covid dead, but things, and events, and traditions.

This Grown and Flown article encompasses the pain us parents are feeling all around the world. There is so much we are sorry to see – the missed graduations, matric dances, and big matches. At least my son is little and hopefully won’t be too affected by everything we are going through. All he has had to endure so far is a birthday in lockdown, and frazzled parents who are trying their best but can’t get it right or together every day.

Dojo life has been put on hold, for who knows how long. In South Africa, we are unlikely to be allowed to operate until maybe level 1, and even then, only under very stringent conditions. And I respect this, and applaud the efforts made by our government to try keep us all safe. The dojo, unfortunately, is the kind of place the ‘Rona would love. Lots of communal surfaces, physical interaction, shouting and hugs after class. Keeping students safe, and alive, comes before any grading or kata.

But still. I am sorry.

I am sorry, for the gradings that will have to be changed and taken online, all the thrill and pressure gone. I am sorry for the students hoping to grade to black belt, who were hoping to make this coveted grade after so, so many years.

I am sorry that you can’t be with your dojo mates, with the friends you’ve made over the years and shared memories and snacks and gradings with. For adults, the friends you’ve made at the dojo are ones you’ve bonded with in sweat and self-conscious laughter and shared gashuku adventures. They’re people that you might only see in the dojo, but damn if you don’t miss them when they’re not there.

I’m sorry, for all the cancelled events. The tournaments, the trials, the gashukus. The Olympic dream, that so many have dreamed of, karate’s one shot at gold medal glory, has been deferred. It doesn’t matter, in this moment, whether sport karate is the same as traditional; what matters is that so many athletes have been training for so long, and they have been robbed of their time to shine.

I am sorry for all the instructors who will have to close their dojo doors. I am sorry for all those lost pockets of martial arts, regardless of style. It is heartbreaking to see instructors lose their day jobs, and/or their dojo too. I am sorry for the students who will lose access to the benefits of martial arts, to the mentorship of a good instructor and the proving ground that is the mat.

There is so much we have already lost, and it has been less than six months. With more than 200,000 dead and waves of trauma rippling across the planet as economies tank and livelihoods are lost, we are all living through collective turbulence with no frame of reference for how we should handle it.

What gives me hope, though, is that the men who gave us karate lived through the horror of world war, and Okinawa was an especially brutal theatre of war.

Because of the Battle of Okinawa, a great number of very talented karate instructors and students were killed. Miyagi Sensei himself lost three children (his third and fourth daughters, and his third son). The neighbourhood had been reduced to scorched earth, and all the valuable Karate and Kenpo equipment and literature that had been collected over the years was lost in the fires. It was a time of overwhelming grief and mourning.

Okinawan Den Goju Ryu Karate-Do, Eii’chi Miyazato, 1978

Miyagi buried his children and his most promising student, Jinan Shinzato. He lost his home, his dojo, his collected works. And yet. He returned to the work of karate, continued to teach and realised that for karate to survive and be of use, it had to be shared. And now, more than 60 years since his passing, his style still continues, all over the world, across dozens of countries and languages.

There will be losses. There have already been losses. But I also have seen a wellspring of hope, and a resilience shining through. We can get through this, but not alone. Instructors must now rely on more than just good karate knowledge – we need to be creative, resilient, humble and patient. We need to find new ways to teach, and flex our different skill sets, and hold on with our entire spirit, even if it’s just by our fingernails, we must hold on.

Karate has survived two world wars, Spanish flu, numerous recessions and the worst McDojos in the world. It will survive this. I’m not worried about karate – I am worried about you. The student. The instructor. The dojo parent. Wherever you land in the constellation of people that make up a dojo, I worry. I hope you are okay. I hope you have your health and your livelihood.

We will do everything we can to make sure we are still here when this blows over. From hardcore social distancing to extra work to online classes, we will do our best to make sure that Goju Ryu Karate Centre does not close its doors after 42 years.

We are sorry that so much is going on, and we can’t fix it. But we will do everything we can to still be here when it is over, and try pick up again where we all left off, ready to welcome our students back to the tatami.

When your body gets tired, fight with your heart, and remember who you are.

Hojo Undo 101: Chishi

A number of people look at martial artists and think, ‘do you even lift, bro?’

Actually, yes, we do lift, bro. We lift asymmetrical weights and grip things and punch objects of high resistance (ie: planks of wood). Hoju undo is supplementary training, designed to improve the physique through simple, repetitive weight and resistance training. Correct training with hojo undo implements assists in faster and stronger movement as well as improved posture and coordination. It sounds too good to be true, but be warned – the work is hard and doesn’t come in shiny plastics and coordinated colours. The implements used in hojo undo are made from stone and wood, and now have their modern counterparts in kettlebells and barbells.

For this post, I will be focussing on the chishi. If there’s anything you think I’ve missed or should be corrected on, please let me know in the comments.

Disclaimer: as with all martial arts techniques/ideas/training, your mileage may vary, and please consult your local wise Sensei and a physio/biokinectist before attempting anything. All of the below is the product of my own research and could be wrong. (It happens.)

 

chishi

What is the chishi?

Made up of the words power/strength (chi) and ishi (stone), it sounds like something the Power Rangers might use (and now you’ll never forget what it means). Made up of a wooden rod embedded in a stone, it is used to strengthen the wrists, grip and forearms. With the correct exercises, it can also build the triceps, lats and deltoids. It is relatively cheap to make yourself – you just need a broomstick, some grout or leftover concrete, and a yoghurt container. Here’s a video on making your ownHere’s an example of an adjustable, home-made chishi made using gym equipment by Goju.com.

In essence:

The chishi, or stone lever weight, provides resistance by forcing the user to overcome the effects of leverage and load, which aids in strengthening muscles, joints, tendons, ligaments, and bones. The range of motion with the chishi is greater than with a conventional dumbbell, and since it is unbalanced on one end, more effort is required to control the weight, and various muscle groups can be exercised at one time within a sequence of movements.

– Supplementary Training For Miyagi Chojun’s Goju Ryu Karate hosted by Porta’s Karate (this entire article is a wonderful insight into the history of supplementary training in Goju Ryu.

How to use chishi

No matter how strong you may think you are, if you’re just starting out with chishi it is best to start with a light one – under 2kgs, if possible. It requires a great deal of concentration and precision to do the exercises without injury, and a heavy chishi coupled with inexperience is asking for a long term injury. Incorrect usage can damage the soft tissues and ligaments. As mentioned in this excellent and well-researched post:

However, the chishi is also capable of causing and encouraging poor movement and control of the shoulder joints (particularly the glenohumeral and acromioclavicular articulations) and scapulae. Several of the standard chishi training exercises involve two movements that are especially problematic for these structures:

  • movement of the weight over head and behind one’s back, a la a back scratcher or a triceps kick back

  • internal rotation, or moving the end of the weight towards the body’s center with an extended arm

– Fight Sciences Research Institute (it is a very long and complex post, but it is filled with important wisdom regarding proper form)

And as further mentioned in the article regarding Sensei Miyagi’s chishi training:

As to the actual motions, the chishi should always be moved slowly and deliberately with the weight under control at all times, never using momentum or “swing” to move from one position to another. This controlled motion aids in neuroeducating the muscles, joints, and ligaments to not only work in communication with each other, but also to react quickly and forcefully when called upon to do so. (emphasis mine)

And now for shiny videos!

A series of chishi combinations: techniques only

Further resources:

Dento Karate – Traditional Chishi Training Video 

Get More Out of Your Chishi Training with Proper Kinematics – Fight Sciences Research Institute