by Ethan Miller
Many people use the heavy bag for practicing hand strikes. I generally do about 100 strikes left, right with a seiken fist, then do combinations in threes also with a seiken fist. I will then usually practice shuto left and right on the edge of the bag and boshiken strikes to the sides of the bag. Everyone knows Mr. H. Bag never quits.
All that is pretty ordinary for a martial artist doing solo work. So what do you do when your Not at the dojo in a class, or working out on your own? With a busy schedule or a regular job do your time for additional training is scarce and the risk of creating problems increase. Or do you just want to gab your was to greatness over a couple of lattes? Here’s something that worked for me.
Write down 3, 5 or even 10 of your favorite hand strikes. Currently I chose Seiken, Shuto, Boshiken, Shoken or Hiraken. Write them down in a couple of different sequences. As you say the names shift your hand from one to the other strike positions. Sensei Mike Aceto once described a good fist as a “snug fist” I think he got it from Sifu Calvin Chin. That to me, is a good description of a desirable position, not straining more like fitting into a good position or groove. After a while you might find it surprisingly difficult, and find flaws in your hand positions and other weaknesses. Go from one to the other for a few minutes or a much time as you have. Maybe before meditating or in bed before you go to sleep. If your mate is sick of karate stories tell them that you are practicing sign language for a deaf co-worker.
This creates a low level training technique that requires little prep and can be done at any time even traffic stops, for example. The idea was inspired by reading Toughness Training for Sports by Jim Loehrer a sports psychologist who works with pros. I recommend his book, his description of what to do with your down time, like in between points in a tennis match is valuable and gets the idea across. The result is I found my self much more confident trying different strikes or more target specific strikes, say in a light sparring contest. It works, your hands flow into position much more naturally. I would bet that the health benefits of this type of training are there as well. Have to check with a TCM practitioner though, to be certain….
Best of luck training.