100-man kumite.

by Ryan Gregory, August 19th, 2012

One of the most exhausting drills that we do in our dojo (at least at the junior belt levels) is one in which we’re surrounded by four partners with kicking shields, and we have to do an intense 45 seconds or so of multiple attacks on one shield after another. For comparison, 45 seconds is about the length of time it takes the best runners to do the 400m, how long it takes the best swimmers to complete the 100m freestyle, and is the average duration of an NHL hockey shift.  Those are top athletes — for the rest of us, 45 seconds of all-out exertion can be draining. (And we usually do 2-3 rounds).

But it’s nothing compared to the marathon of sparring that some karateka from the Kyokushin style have managed to accomplish. I’m speaking, of course, about the 100-man kumite.

The 100-man kumite, as the name implies, is a gruelling test of endurance in which an individual must fight 100 opponents in succession, clearly defeating at least 50% of them. Full contact. Without pads. It was devised by the founder of Kyokushin, Mas Oyama, as a test of his own skill. In fact, he went on to complete it three times over the course of three days.

Since Oyama, only a handful of karateka have finished a 100-man kumite. A list posted on this Kyokushin website includes only 15 people who have successfully completed the 100-man kumite since 1965.

Forget sparring for 45 seconds. If you imagine 2 minutes per round, that’s more than 3 hours of full contact kumite. Here are some stats from Hajime Kazumi’s 100-man kumite in 1999:

Average time per round: 1 minute 30 seconds
Total Fighting Time: 3 hours 20 minutes
Results 58 wins, 42 draws, no losses
Ippons: 16 (Ippon: 2, Awase-Ippon: 14)
Wins by decision: 42

Several of the more recent examples were captured on video, and some of them are available on YouTube.

Shokei Matsui (1986):

Akira Masuda (1991):

Francisco Filho (1995):

Hajime Kazumi (1999):

Stuff on Martial Makers so far.

by Ryan Gregory, August 3rd, 2012
In case you haven’t been to check out Martial Makers, here’s what I have posted there so far.

What is the solar plexus?

by Ryan Gregory, July 29th, 2012

We’re often instructed to “aim for the solar plexus” with our strikes. Obviously it’s an important target — but where, or what, is it?

If you ask a New-Ager, the solar plexus is the site of a “chakra”, specifically the one dealing with power and will and self-esteem and whatever. It’s associated with the colour yellow and there’s also a point on the foot that you can press to relieve headaches, apparently.

Needless to say, I am not particularly interested in this take on the solar plexus.

In scientific terms, the “solar plexus” is better known as the “celiac plexus”. The term “plexus” refers to a network — in this case, a network of nerves. “Celiac” refers to the abdomen. So, the celiac plexus is a network of nerves located in the abdomen. It is one of several nerve networks in the body.

Medline Entry: celiac plexus
A nerve plexus that is situated in the abdomen behind the stomach and in front of the aorta and the crura of the diaphragm, surrounds the celiac artery and the root of the superior mesenteric artery, contains several ganglia of which the most important are the celiac ganglia, and distributes nerve fibers to all the abdominal viscera — called also solar plexus

The colloquial name “solar plexus” comes from the radiating pattern of nerves, like the rays of the Sun.

The target in question is located along the midline of the body a few inches above the navel and just below the bottom of the ribs.

When you strike this area, you are not actually hitting the celiac plexus directly; it is located behind the stomach, after all. Indeed, it would probably be more accurate to just say that you’re punching the opponent “in the stomach” — except that most people don’t know where the stomach is, and take “stomach” to mean the belly (which would actually be the intestines). In any case, a strike to the solar plexus region commonly causes a spasm of the diaphragm that leads to the sensation of “having the wind knocked out”. Of course, the same result can occur from falling hard onto one’s back. In some cases, the celiac plexus itself can be affected by a strike, which may lead to effects on the organs to which it is connected.

Results may vary if you try to punch the “solar plexus” point on the bottom of the feet.

Reflections on my (second) orange belt grading.

by Ryan Gregory, July 20th, 2012

The first two karate gradings in which I participated took place at McMaster University, when I was still training in Japanese Goju-ryu as a first-year undergraduate. They were rather mechanical affairs, with a series of stations set up around a gymnasium — one for basics, one for kata, one for sparring, etc. — and we simply rotated through to complete each component. It wasn’t until the summer after my first year, when I began training in Okinawan (Jundokan) Goju-ryu, that I experienced a more personal and meaningful style of grading.

My green belt grading was very different from the two that preceded it. Only one thing was going on at a time, rather than passing through the martial arts equivalent of an assembly line. There was a lot more attention paid to each student, and Sensei knew each of us and how to challenge us. And, in addition to basic techniques and kata, we were expected to know some history of the art, to demonstrate at least basic knowledge of bunkai, and to perform various breakfalls and self-defense moves. It was a lot more intense, and I can remember both how nervous we all were beforehand and what a sense of personal achievement we felt when it was over.

Working up the kyu ranks for the second time.

I am glad to say that my second orange belt grading, which I completed this previous weekend, was both challenging and rewarding. In many ways, it reminded me of the gradings I had from green belt and up in the past. What was different this time around wasn’t so much the grading itself, but me. Indeed, I am finding my perceptions of most aspects of karate training to be rather different this time. This reflects greater maturity on my part, certainly, and it is also because I now consider it within the context of other life experiences, especially with regard to my career in academia. And so, from this perspective, here are some reflections on the most recent grading.

The multiple purposes of a grading

When I have PhD students preparing for their qualifying exam — an admittedly gruelling process in which they answer questions from multiple professors for 3 hours, which takes place about one year into their 3-5 year program — I point out to them that the “exam” actually has several objectives.  The first, and most obvious, is to ensure that the student is cut out for continued PhD-level studies. People can and do fail the exam, and in some cases they choose a different career path as a result.  However, this is only one reason that we undertake the procedure. Another, equally important one is to require students to think about the bigger picture in their discipline. They do not simply memorize trivia, they have to present plans for a research program.  This is not the same thing as laying out the idea for a research project; a research program encompasses many projects and has both short- and long-term goals for an entire lab group. Students have research projects, but professors have research programs.  We also want to make sure that the student understands the broader context of their field, rather than only knowing a lot about their specific study. Finally, we use the exam to test the boundaries of a student’s understanding of his or her research area and of science in general. If we find that a student knows plenty about a certain topic, we move on — there is no point dwelling on it. What we’re interested in is finding what they don’t know.  This allows us to propose strategies for how any missing skills or knowledge can be acquired during the remainder of their PhD studies.  The fact that faculty from other labs are involved in the exam is particularly useful here.  So, a qualifying exam is not just a pass-fail test, it is also an exercise in evaluating broader skills that are not necessarily used day to day, a way to make sure that the student is developing a well-rounded understanding of their field and of scientific research as a whole, and a means of identifying and correcting any shortcomings early in the PhD program.

So I believe it is with karate gradings. Yes, there is the element of testing and of moving to a higher rank upon completion of the test. But it is also about seeing how students perform under pressure, of pushing the boundaries of their endurance and abilities, of identifying areas that need particular attention, and of providing a marker along the path of a student’s training.  In the latter sense, it is as much an initiation into the new rank as it is a test of proficiency in the techniques learned at the old rank.  You made it through. Here’s your new rank. You’ve earned it.

A karate grading has an added purpose that is not found in graduate-level academic exams and thesis defences, namely that it serves as a bonding exercise for participants.  Going through a trial of mind and body together can bring people closer together. Likewise, having more senior students and black belts from other dojos come to participate in the grading and to offer their support in subtle ways (a pat on the back here, a “you’re doing great” there) can make students feel like they are part of a tight-knit group.

Constructive criticism

One of the major benefits of a formal grading is that it provides an opportunity to obtain feedback from an entire panel of black belts, some of whom come from other dojos.  One thing I definitely noticed at this grading, and which I greatly appreciated, is that the black belts know their stuff. They were able to pick out errors both large and small in the kata and kumite performed by students at every rank, and — just as importantly — to provide constructive comments on how to fix those errors.  Being able to identify problems and to offer specific solutions requires a great deal of knowledge, and it is gratifying to see that the higher ranked members of the dojo (and those from elsewhere within the organization) have gained this level of insight. Again, it’s encouraging because it means that the training we undertake as junior students is headed in the right direction.

A panel of black belts: intimidating, sure, but also a fantastic source of constructive criticism.

I made an effort to remember the main comments that I received, as well as some of the relevant comments provided to other students. In my case, there was plenty to work on, including:


* When being tested with resistance to the punch, I need to keep rotating my fist and push but don’t lose control when hand released.

* I need to tuck in my elbows more and pull my shoulders back.

Gekisai Ichi

* My kicks need to be higher. In Meibukan Goju-ryu kata, the front kicks are high kicks, whereas they were middle kicks in my old school. I think this one may be about correcting some older muscle memory.

* My middle punches should be slightly higher.

* I need to work on getting the placement of my hands to be correct on the double punches.


* On the kake uke block, there should be an open hand block that then turns over directly into the kake uke block. I had a tendency to bring the hand back in toward my centre line and then push it back outward.

* I need to slow down a bit and really complete each individual technique, for example the double blocks and double shuto.

Ippon kumite, Jo #4

* I had been trying t pull the foot off the ground while pushing on the knee, as though it were two separate moves being performed simultaneously.  Some advice from panel members really helped me to clarify that I should be pushing inward on the ankle and outward on the knee, like a single sandwiching motion. This was a definite “a-ha!” moment for me.

And, finally, there is a new mantra that seemed to emerge from the grading after various students completed their kata: LOWER AND SLOWER.

As one panel member put it to several of us, if you think you’re going slowly, go slower. If you think your stances are low, go lower. And don’t forget to breathe!

No two gradings are alike
If you are familiar with the Meibukan syllabus, you may have noticed that Tenchi and the ippon kumite exercises are not actually requirements for an orange belt grading, though I had to perform them anyway. Well, here’s another thing about karate gradings: they vary. Not just from rank to rank, or from grading to grading, but even among students of the same rank grading on the same day.  It is a mistake to go into a grading thinking that what is on the list is all that there will be. Senseis (and professors) have a tendency to tailor exams like this to each students, to test what they know (or think they know), not just the minimum requirements. It’s a sign that they know their students well and that they have confidence in the progress of their training thus far.

So, knowing this, I made sure to go over Tenchi, Gekisai Ni, and Saifa kata in the lead-up to the grading. I also made sure I was comfortable with the basic execution of the Jo and Chu ippon kumite. And I was not surprised when Sensei had me do five rounds of kakomi kumite rather than the two that were listed.  In my view, it’s an honour to be asked to do more at a grading. It also provides an opportunity to receive additional corrections.  You’ll notice that I learned some important things about both Tenchi and the ippon kumite by being made to perform them in front of the panel.

Difference of degree

This was the sixth formal grading in which I have participated, not counting various kids’ and adult gradings that I assisted with at my old dojo. However, this was the first time that I had seen students grading for their black belts. In my old dojo, gradings were only conducted in-house up to brown belt; black belt gradings were held at a regional level in Toronto. As a result, I never quite knew how a black belt grading might differ from what we did in our own dojo. Many of us concocted scary imaginary versions of what they must be like, which made the prospect seem pretty frightening.

Having now been part of a grading that included three students passing to shodan and one to nidan, I can say definitively that the difference between their grading and mine was one of degree and not of kind. They did more kumite, more kata, and so on, and it was performed and evaluated at a much higher level, but it was not fundamentally different from what junior students also had to do.

Of course, this is not meant to minimize the significance of earning a black belt in any way.  The important point here is simply that there is a continuum all the way up the ranks. Time, practice, good teaching, and help from fellow students is what bridges the path from white belt to shodan and beyond — there is no magical leap from mudansha to yudansha.  The difference is that black belts have stuck with it, worked very hard, and have cultivated a large amount of skill and knowledge along the way.

It’s easy for a junior student to look at what a shodan grading involves and to recognize how far away he or she is from achieving that level of proficiency. I am sure this can be discouraging.  However, seen from the perspective of a continuum, it’s actually very encouraging. No, we may not be able to do the things that the senior students can do. Yet.

It reminds me of the old joke about whether the glass is half empty or half full: it depends on whether you’re emptying it or filling it. In karate, you’re filling it, and the glass is therefore half full and there is cause to be optimistic.

With that in mind, I am already looking forward to my next grading.


The evolution of English (and of kata).

by Ryan Gregory, July 19th, 2012

Picture the scene. Two rap artists, one Canadian and the other British, engaged in a heated lyrical battle to decide once and for all whose version of English is correct.

Actually, don’t picture the scene — just watch this:

Of course, one could also include Australian, New Zealander, Irish, Scottish, and Welsh versions of English. Not to mention the various regional accents from throughout both North America and the United Kingdom. Which is “true” English? Which preserves the old form of English most faithfully? One might argue, as Prof. Elemental does in his lyrics, that “the Queen’s English” is the true version. Others might point out that today many more people speak English with a North American accent than the one used in Buckingham Palace.

If you ask me, it’s a pointless debate. The history of the English language is very complex, having involved an enormous amount of change from its early Germanic roots, a major influx of words from other languages (especially French after 1066), a “great vowel shift” in pronunciation, and constant evolution of word usage and common slang.

Here’s some Modern English, including a bunch of different accents — all of which can be easily understood:

(Maybe everyone will feel this way when they hear her version of their own accent, but to me the “Toronto” version is at best a lame caricature — sounds much more like Minnesota to me.)

Anyway, these are all relatively minor variations on Modern English, which has been spoken since 1650. Let’s go back to the mid-1500s and listen to an example of Early Modern English. This is the form that was spoken in Shakespeare’s time. The Early Modern English period is also when the “great vowel shift” took place, in which pronunciation of English words changed dramatically. By way of example, listen to Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 in Early Modern English:

Now let’s go back to the Middle English period, between 1066 and the mid-1500s. Here’s an example of The Canterbury Tales in Middle English:

Or how about going back before the Norman invasion of 1066, to the Old English period? Here’s the Lord’s Prayer in Old English:

The point here is that all of the differences among modern accents are extremely minor when considered in the context of deeper English history. Moreover, all of those modern accents are far more similar to each other than any of them is to, say, Middle English. Indeed, Middle English and Old English are indecipherable to modern English speakers.

And so I believe it is with kata. Yes, there are differences among schools within a given style. And yes, you can tell if someone is training in Okinawan or Japanese Goju-ryu or even in Meibukan vs. Jundokan Okinawan Goju-ryu, but these differences are very minor in the context of karate’s history. Most of the techniques, and even some entire kata, trace their origins back well before the rise of modern karate.

Which is the “true” version of a particular kata? I don’t think we can say. All we can do is try to learn what has been passed down to us and to perform it as best we can given how we have been taught to do so. We should also try to avoid obviously sloppy versions, in the same way that you would not learn about English literature from someone with a thick, slang-ridden rural Texas accent.

This here kata ain’t no good for nuthin’, y’all:

Terrible versions aside, I think the diversity of interpretations of kata enriches us as martial artists, in the same way that different accents do. Similarly, the existence of different styles of karate or different martial arts altogether makes the world a more interesting place, just like having many different languages does. After all, if it weren’t for the existence of distinct Germanic and Romance languages, there’d be no English at all.

Kata: a musical analogy.

by Ryan Gregory, June 28th, 2012

As I write this, the 2012 Olympic games are less than a month away. If history is any guide, we can expect the team from the USA to bring home an impressive collection of gold medals. Heck, Michael Phelps alone might get half a dozen or more again this time. In any case, it’s a safe bet that we’ll be hearing the national anthem of the United States quite a bit this summer.

That national anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner, has an interesting history. It began as a poem written during the War of 1812 by Francis Scott Key after he witnessed the bombardment (but survival) of Fort McHenry on September 13, 1814 from his vantage point as a detainee aboard a British naval ship. Later, Key’s poem “Defence of Fort McHenry” was set to the tune of “The Anacreontic Song“, which was the official song of an 18th-century British gentlemen’s club for amateur musicians known as The Anacreontic Society. The combination of Key’s poem (written in 1814) and the tune of The Anacreontic Song (written in the 1760s) did not become the national anthem of the United States in 1931 — almost 120 years after the lyrics were penned and about 165 years after the tune was written. There are four verses in the poem/full song, but usually only the first is sung.

There are a few lessons to take from this example. One, the historical origins of even a very widely performed song can be complex. Many of the people who perform the national anthem may not know much about its origin or the context in which its lyrics were written. Two, the language may be somewhat archaic or convoluted and not easily understood by modern listeners, especially without historical context (“O say can you see by the dawn’s early light, What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming, Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight, O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?”). Three, although the core of the lyrics and the tune are well known, there are innumerable variations, interpretations, and adaptations of the song. Different orchestral arrangements, rock/country/soul versions, different tempos, different series of notes within each line, and so on. Some are faster, some are slower. Some are minimalistic, some are vocally elaborate.

I believe that each of these points is also true of kata. In some cases, we know when, why, and by whom a kata was created. Take, for example, the Goju-ryu kata Gekisai Ichi (also called Gekisai Dai Ichi). It was created by the founder of Goju-ryu, Chojun Miyagi, in 1940 primarily as an exercise for school children and as a means of popularizing karate among the public. Nevertheless, even this basic kata can now be seen performed in a variety of ways among students of different schools of Goju-ryu. The first punch can be either a middle punch or a high punch. The kiai may be on the kick and shuto, or on the reverse punch. The double punch may be slow or fast. There may be some additional moves in some versions that are absent from others. And the time taken to complete the kata can vary two-fold, depending on the style and practitioner. And this is for a kata whose history is well known and whose sequence of moves is relatively simple. Just imagine the potential for variation in kata that are interpretations of adaptations of versions of traditional forms whose historical origins have been lost.

Kata, like songs, are cultural products that can and do evolve and diverge while still maintaining their core characteristics. Even within traditional Okinawan schools of Goju-ryu, with direct links to Chojun Miyagi through his personal students, I have seen significant differences in the way even the basic kata are taught. As such, there simply cannot be one “correct” way of performing the kata. This is why it bothers me to no end when I see smug comments on YouTube pointing out supposed “mistakes” in other people’s rendition of a particular kata. Sometimes there are indeed mistakes, but more often they are differences in interpretation or variations in the way the kata has been taught. What matters is working toward perfecting the execution of the kata within the context of your particular school’s interpretation.

I don’t think we should consider this stylistic diversity to be a bad thing. If people like Chojun Miyagi and other masters did not alter, invent, or interpret kata, there’d be no distinct Okinawan martial art of karate to begin with. Personally, I find it interesting to see the ways in which different branches of a style teach the same kata, what parts they emphasize, what the surface-level bunkai seems to be, and whether they focus on speed and power or detail and technique. That’s the thing about a great song or kata — it is amenable to a lot of variation and personal expression without compromising its distinctiveness.

Variable speed kata.

by Ryan Gregory, June 26th, 2012

In one of my earliest posts on this blog, I mentioned some key differences between the major schools of Goju-ryu in the way that the kata Gekisai Ichi (or Gekisai Dai Ichi) is performed. This includes the height of the first punch (high vs. middle), the locations of the kiai (on the reverse punches vs. on the kicks and shutos), and the inclusion or omission of additional moves at the end.

One aspect of the kata that I did not realize varied substantially among schools within a style is the overall tempo. I have been struggling somewhat to slow down my performance of Gekisai Ichi to the pace expected in my current school (Meibukan), and I am coming to realize that, in part, this is because my muscle memory was trained to do it significantly faster in my old school (Jundokan).

Here are a few examples. Note that “total kata duration” below refers to the time from the first move to a return to the start position.

Here is the kata, as performed by Sensei Akihito Yagi, son of the current head of the Meibukan school:

Total kata duration: 51 seconds.

Here it is performed by an assistant instructor, Sempai Kakazu, at the Jundokan in Okinawa:

Total kata duration: 32 seconds.

And here is the same kata performed by a young Sensei Morio Higaonna, head of the IOGKF:

Total kata duration: 24 seconds.

It’s pretty amazing to me that the same kata performed by high-ranking students with direct links to heads of their respective schools can vary two-fold in overall duration.

Introducing Martial Makers.

by Ryan Gregory, June 8th, 2012

I have been having a great time building training tools, and have decided to launch a website devoted to that topic. I’ll be posting most of my how-to guides and other DIY content at the new site, which is called Martial Makers. Check it out!

Academia vs. karate, part three: everybody gets nervous.

by Ryan Gregory, June 3rd, 2012

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld has a funny bit in which he points out the absurdity of public speaking being reported as most people’s number one fear:

I’m not sure if it’s really the “number one fear”, but certainly it’s true that most people dislike speaking in front of a group. Some find the mere prospect of public speaking terrifying and avoid it altogether. However, if one wishes to pursue a career in academia (or law, or business, or politics, or entertainment, or many others), avoiding the spotlight entirely is not an option.

As a professor, I speak in front of a crowd several times per week. Sometimes it’s a small crowd, maybe just the graduate students in my lab, and sometimes it’s several hundred students in an introductory biology class. I also present at various conferences, give seminars at other universities, and deliver public talks at various times during the year.

My first year biology course, in which I speak in front of 600 students for an hour twice per week.

On occasion, I have been asked how I manage to speak in front of an audience without getting nervous. The short answer is that I don’t manage to do this. I have, however, done it enough times that any nervousness is something I can control and does not affect my presentations (hence the question from students). It’s more a matter of suppressing or hiding nervousness than it is of not feeling nervous at all.

Over the years, I have learned a few things about public speaking, in particular within the context of teaching and academic presentations:

1. Everybody gets nervous. I sometimes tell my students about a time when I was part of a small group of speakers at a symposium in Europe, which included a number of very well-known scientists (and me, and I was quite junior then). Before the symposium started, some of the other speakers were lamenting the fact that their talks were not scheduled until the afternoon, meaning that they wouldn’t be able to relax until late in the day. “You guys get nervous?”, I asked, surprised. “Of course,” they said, “every time. If you care at all about doing a good job, you can’t help it.” Now, these were top-rank scientists who had given countless presentations in their careers, and they still did not go into a talk without at least a twinge of nervousness. I figured that if these guys still got nervous, this meant that one could never hope to completely eliminate the fear of public speaking, only to keep it under control.

2. Practice helps, but numbness helps more. No doubt, practising public speaking can help in terms of developing some skills and confidence, and this can translate into less stress in advance of a talk. However, for me there was another effect once I started teaching, which I think has been much more significant. That is, that the body simply can’t maintain a stress response over the span of an entire semester with 2 or 3 lectures every week. One becomes numb to the sensation of fear. Moreover, the fact is that even if one lecture goes badly, you will be giving another one a few days later. And another one after that. And another one after that. And so on, week after week.

3. If you know you can wing it if you have to, it’s much easier when you’re prepared. Once, early after I started teaching, I was asked to give a seminar at another university in the United States. In that department, the graduate students were required to attend the research seminars and to write a report about them. As part of this, my host asked if I would be willing to go to a graduate course before my seminar and interact with the students. What he didn’t mention was that the regular instructor of the course would not be coming — it was just me. So, I basically gave an impromptu hour-long lecture about some topic or other that they were working on as a class, and it went fine. After that, I realized that I can wing it if necessary, which makes it even easier to handle speaking when I am actually prepared.

4. Most of the pressure is self-imposed. If you are in a rock band giving a concert, it’s unlikely that the audience bought tickets in the hope that you will mess up during the performance, and even if you forget some of the lyrics partway through a song, they probably won’t even care. Likewise, students who attend a class or audience members who come to a seminar are hoping you will do well because they want to enjoy the seminar and learn from you. Also, they are not expecting perfection and will probably overlook minor glitches anyway if they’re interested in what you have to say. Any expectation of giving a perfect performance is your own, not the audience’s.

5. It is much easier to speak “down” than “up”. Not physically in terms of direction, but in terms of rank or level of expertise. If you are giving a lecture to undergraduates, you can be sure that you know a lot more than they do about the subject. This is much easier than, say, giving a seminar to one’s peers or to an audience that includes people with more expertise or higher rank. Add in some additional pressure to do well (for example, a seminar given when applying for a job), and you ratchet up the stress considerably. Since most of my public speaking these days is “downward”, this helps to keep the nervousness to a low level, especially if I am speaking on a subject about which I have significant expertise.

Turning now to karate, I think each of these applies to performing kata in front of others, be it in class, at a tournament, as part of a demonstration, or during a grading. You may be able to perform a kata very well on your own (and you may give a great talk to an empty room), but there is an additional component when doing it in front of others, especially if most of them hold a higher rank. I am speaking from experience here, having recently botched a kata performance due to speeding it way up as the adrenaline took hold. Reflecting on the experience afterward, I realized that it was the same thing that often happens to students when they start giving talks and that I had forgotten what that was like for the reasons given above. But, in this new context, I was the same as a graduate student giving her first conference presentation. Recognizing the connection has already helped, and it also indicates clearly what I will need to do. The short answer is that I will always be at least somewhat nervous performing a kata in front of others, but I know that this can be brought under control.

And for the record, I would much rather give the eulogy.

DIY training equipment collection.

by Ryan Gregory, May 31st, 2012

Below is a series of links to do-it-yourself traditional and modern training equipment from around the internet. I will try to keep this updated as I find new examples. If you know of something that I have missed, or if you would like to start a discussion about making a specific tool, please post a comment.

For overviews of training using traditional and modern equipment, I recommend The Art of Hojo Undo and Shin Gi Tai by Michael Clarke and Solo Training and Solo Training 2 by Loren W. Christensen.

Punching bags and striking dummies
* A do-it-yourself, free-standing striking dummy (Back in the Gi)
* Cheap, light-weight punching bag (Back in the Gi)
* DIY boxing bag (Warrior’s Ark)
* DIY punching bag made from PVC, carpet padding, and duct tape (Danny Lipford)
* Car Tire Punchbag/MMA Kicking Target (Homemade Gym Stuff)
* Tire striking dummy (Arnis Calgary)
* DIY striking dummy (Karate Connection)
* Homemade martial arts dummy I (lloydmtz)
* Homemade martial arts dummy II (lloydmtz)
* Homemade martial arts dummy III (lloydmtz)
* Homemade martial arts dummy IV (lloydmtz)
* Homemade martial arts dummy VI (lloydmtz)
* MA Dummy (plans for purchase)

Breaking boards and other striking targets
* How to build a breaking board holder (Back in the Gi)

Multi-target striking tools
* DIY Multi-Target Grid and “Maize” Bag (Fight Sciences Research Institute blog)
* Free-standing kick target stand — coming soon (Back in the Gi)
* Conceptual sketches from Back In The Gi:

Grappling dummies, arms, and mats
* Arming the heavy bag, part one: trial by wire (Back in the Gi)
* “Lamont” grappling dummy (Matt Wilson)
* “Tapey” grappling dummy (Part 2, Part 3) (Mike’s Formative Years)
* “El Jefe” grappling dummy (The Living Example)
* “Pedro” grappling dummy (Video) (Medford Tools)
* Jiujitsu365’s grappling dummy (Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6) (BJJ365)
* DIY Bubba grappling dummy (PennStateofMind)
* Homemade grappling dummy (WTFE.net)
* DIY grappling dummy (Part 2, Part 3) (Association for Renaissance Martial Arts forum)
* Homemade grappling dummy (Full Contact Events)
* Homemade grappling dummy (kg6lcr)
* Homemade grappling dummy (Part 2, Part 3) (Blog o’ the Jimmy)
* Grappling dummy (Callisto77)
* How to make a PVC grappling dummy (eHow)
* How to make a duct tape grappling dummy (eHow)
* DIY grappling mat (Isk8rduder)
* Making MMA-Jiu-jitsu mats (jmjkd)

Makiwara and other striking posts
* Makiwara training (Lawrence Kane)
* The Ude Makiwara: Notes on History, Construction and Usage (Fight Sciences Research Institute blog)
* How to Make a Makiwara (Karate Tips)
* Build your own home made makiwara (tire type) (SenseiEli)
* Makiwara board training (Metro Michigan Shotokan Karate)
* How to construct your own makiwara (FTSV Jahn Brinkum)
* Makiwara — platform type (Back in the Gi)
* Makiwara — tire type (Back in the Gi)
* Build your own makiwara (24 Fighting Chickens)
* Building a makiwara (Mike Oliveri)
* DIY Wall Mounted Makiwara (Bieneman’s Blog)
* Kicking contraption (Ron Kowsakowski)
* How To: Make Your Own Kakiya (Fight Sciences Research Institute blog)
* Ultimate Makiwara (plans for purchase)
* Makiwara Construction Guide (plans for purchase) (Eclectic Fighter)

Hojo undo, strength training, and conditioning tools
* The Art of Hojo Undo by Michael Clarke
* Making your own supplementary equipment (Okinawan Traditional Goju Ryu Karate-do Association)
* DIY square kongoken (Fight Sciences Research Institute blog)
* DIY blocker sticks (Budo no Kaizen)

* DIY Electric Training Knife (Fight Sciences Research Institute blog)