We made chishi at the dojo today. Chishi are training tools. The name translates as ‘strength stone.’ They are used in Okinawan karate to develop our arms and shoulders. They pour concrete into a mold and make the handle from a dowel. We use them the same way and we make them the same way. It’s simple and it works.
We use free weights and other kinds of resistance training for some ranges of motion. We use chishi to develop strength along axes of shoulder and elbow rotation that the lifting and resistance exercises miss. For striking, deflecting and seizing techniques this is advantageous. For countering them it can be decisive.
Some new members had never seen a chishi before. Some people had seen them but never used one. Some people had used them but never made one. So we made a plan.
To make a chishi that will work well is not hard, but you need to have an idea of what you want to end up with; you need a rough design of size, shape, and weight; you need to assemble the materials you will use; and you pick a place and time to make it. Then you make it.
Some folks did it on their own. Some worked in groups. It worked out well. Now we have plenty of chishi, they are the right fit for the people using them, and we can achieve what we want to achieve. In a new dojo there are a lot of do-it-yourself projects. And there is a lot of good advice on how to go about it.
We could pursue our whole life of training this way: Know what we want to achieve, plan, get what we need, pick our times and place, work together, do it, and get the results we want. We can modify plans as we go – as we change and our needs or aspirations change.
If you just wing it, without a plan, without a sound method, without knowledgeable collaborators then you take your chances and you never know what result you will get. You might get none. That is not optimal.
Having a goal, having a plan, and finding a good teacher and group that can skillfully help you fulfill it, are essential to success in karate.
Chishis are a concrete example of this principle.
Post and photo by Jeff Brooks
Copyright © Jeffrey M. Brooks 2019