Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Why Hojo Undo Equipment is Cool and Stupid

Doing supplementary training exercises in the old fashioned way is pretty cool as a cultural study. I've used these old tools and it's pretty neat to discover exactly which muscles these old karate tools are used to develop. These are usually the deltoids, trapizious, the lats and the forearms. The exercises are performed for endurance because power endurance exercises are the kind of movements you want for physical conflict, but besides cultural study these tools are not necessary.

"If you don't use kigu, you're not practicing karate."

Read this recently and it made me roll my eyes. Almost all of these tools were some form of heavy household object. They ground rice were locks for doors or were just heavy stones. They were whatever you could find that was heavy. A modern equivalent would be lifting milk jugs or bags of kitty litter. In a hundred years it would look pretty silly to come across someone lifting their ancient traditional milk jugs because that's the true way that poor old great grandpa used to do. Besides the fact that the kigu came from Hawaii in the 1920s. The author of the above quote knows this, but I think some people are confusing form for function.

These grand old karateka were looking for results. Remember that there were no organizations, no belts, no ranks (as we know them) and no syllabus. You practiced however you felt made you stronger and you learned from others. You used what came to hand. Skill was what was important and not the kind you showed off to your friends, but the type that got you home at night. I'm fairly positive that if you could drop an Olympic weight set off at Matsumora's house and showed him how to use it, he'd be all over it. It's a lot more versatile than a rock.

If something is not about what you do, but how you do it than that's called aesthetics. Function has it's own kind of beauty, but form by itself is empty. It's an illusion. What counts are results.

There are plenty of free exercises that can work these same muscles. They're called calisthenics. You can look them up online and they only need a body. Your body. But then you'd just need to work hard, instead of playing with cool toys. Granted many of these tools can be made very inexpensively, but five dollars in my pocket is better than some more crap filling up my house.

The practice of one kata is the same. If I can learn karate from one kata than why should I pay someone for 20 if one will serve? Should I buy 20 different cars just in case, or twenty different corkscrews, 20 different kinds of axes? People love collecting this junk, but skill and creativity counts for more than possessions.