Category Archives: Photos and Images

4/28 VA Class: Get up For the Down Strike

One of our VA students exploring the utility of the elbows at close range to strike upwards and/or cover, then strike downwards into the throat or clavicles on the return. The collar tie can come out of the strike or cover, or from the other arm, and gives her the ability to create a force couple between elbow and target.


4/21 VA class: Fun With Shoulder Locks

Last Saturday’s class featured an introduction to kneeling shoulder locks. After class, I was going through some of the pictures taken for review purposes, and noticed this uncanny (but unintentional) resemblance to Michelangelo’s “Creation of Adam.” During semi-open randori, both students threw their partner in the same direction, and applied the lock at the same time, resulting in the visual pun. Next weekend, we’ll try for da Vinci’s “Vitruvian Man” out of juji gatame.

FSRI Video: Throws, Pins & Escapes

The Virginia FSRI group has been learning this throw (basic hip spiral/o-goshi) and reviewing falling skills for the last few weeks. The clip shows some different semi-open randori exchanges designed to integrate it with related pin/escape skills.  Continual role switching makes it a bit more challenging and dynamic, but within an environment that’s still conducive to some experimentation (from the 4/7 VA class).

VA Snow Day

Last Sunday’s view of the backyard, complete with Jeremiah Johnson-style striking equipment:

Random Training Notes 17

In the words of our favorite Sumo wrestlers, Eric Gaspar and Tyler Hawkins:

Train hard, eat plenty.

Get More Out of Your Chishi With Efficient Kinematics

Back in the days when I identified myself as a karate practitioner, I enthusiastically pursued all forms of supplemental conditioning that I could find throughout the branches of the folk art. I spent a considerable amount of time researching, constructing and using various makiwara, kakiya, and weights according to the notes left by early authors such as Motobu, Funakoshi, Mabuni & Miyagi. Among these, the chishi soon became a favorite in my training regimens. The chishi is an example of a class of asymmetrical lever weights that can be found in physical culture around the world. “Indian Clubs” are another example of the concept, and Chinese martial arts may also include them in their conditioning methods (Kennedy & Guo, 2005). The early Okinawan karate culture discovered its utility as a training device, and several branches of karate adopted them as part of their “hojo undo”, or supplemental training.

Despite my enthusiasm for the chishi, my concurrent study of kinesiology eventually began to make me question the effects some of the traditional methods of usage, and my formal education in this field has only confirmed that some common practices are dangerous to the shoulder joint system.

Continue reading

Fun With Duct Tape: Refurbished Chest Protector

The VA club has spent the last couple of weekends cleaning out the dojo space to make more room and get rid of  damaged equipment. Among the debris was a cheap old chest protector that had seen better days.  Fraying straps  rendered it a poor fit for some members of the group and the compressed padding really didn’t take anything off of impacts anymore.  But this thing has been around since my college days (a friend broke some of my ribs through it with a well-placed back kick, so there is a sentimental attachment), so I decided to see what some heavy luggage straps,  a sliced up cheap foam mat, a little patience, and plenty of duct tape could do for it:

$7.95 later and…viola. Refurbished chest protector. One of the advantages of the upgrade is that the slide-adjustable straps make it  a tighter fit. Each segment of added padding consists of a strip of heavy 1/2″ foam running in the direction of the musculature and ribs of the front and sides of the torso. There is a quarter inch of space between each strip so that they can move and flex to better distribute impact while retaining a firm shape. Cross-hatched reinforcements protect more of the upper chest area. I’m curious to see whether or not the orientation and structure of the padding makes a significant difference over the original,  a synthetic fluff.

It’s slightly more rigid than before, but does a much better job of dispersing blunt impact forces and keeping smaller weapons (point of the elbow, fists) from compressing single ribs. The side panels are now wide enough to actually cover the kidneys and a wider, heavier belt (visible) helps to keep this protection from shifting around during movement.