Strength Training Okinawa Style

Thank you to my husband and sensei, Scott Fawcett, for allowing me to reprint the following article he wrote for our dojo newsletter.

A chiishi in an Okinawan dojo – 2008

Chiishi are traditional Okinawan karate training tools which are used to strengthen and condition the muscles; especially the shoulders, forearms, wrists and grip. There are many variations of the chiishi with the most common being a concrete stone of varying weight on the end of a long wooden handle. The handle length can vary but is generally the length from the elbow to the fingertips and about 1-1/2″ in diameter. Chiishi drills can also be practiced from horse stance (Shiko-Dachi or Seiunchin-Dachi) and other stances to develop stronger legs.

Chiishi are believed to have originated from either a tool used to wind thread (around the handle) during the manufacture of Okinawan textiles or from grinding stones used in the preparation of food. Both were common tools that would have been easily available to a karate student looking for something to lift when conditioning. Similar tools have been used throughout Asia for thousands of years to build, strengthen and condition the body to ready the warrior for the rigors of combat.

Tokumura Sensei teaching Alex Choo to use the chiishi.

When visiting different dojo on Okinawa, we noticed that most had chiishi. In 2008, Tokumura Kensho Sensei showed us how to use the chiishi and explained that he works chiishi drills daily to keep his body strong. He added that these exercises have helped him maintain strength into his late 60′s.

I attempted my first batch of home made chiishi a few weeks back and was pleased with the result. I am doing some research and hoping to improve them when I make my next batch.

Mixing concrete to make the chiishi turned into father/son bonding time. :)  I hope the next batch they make are smaller so that I can use them. Concrete is heavy people! Thanks again Scott for allowing me to reprint your article.

So have any of you ever made a homemade training tool? I’d love to hear about it in the comments section!

~K.M. Fawcett

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One response to “Strength Training Okinawa Style

  1. Hello! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a collection of volunteers and
    starting a new initiative in a community in the same niche.
    Your blog provided us valuable information to work on.
    You have done a wonderful job!

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