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A Small Punching Bag

In my good friend's dojo, there are two punching bags. One is a large leather bag (about 6 feet long) and the other is a short canvas bag (only about 2 feet long).

When I went to his dojo, I tapped the large bag and it gave pretty easily. I then tapped the small bag and it was hard as cement! The small bag was filled with sand that had settled and compacted over the years.

My friend mentioned that some people come into his dojo and punch the small bag hard without checking it first. They are shocked to find that they are essentially punching a rock.

I only knew to check first because we had a similar bag in another dojo. It was also filled with sand. We would try to reshape it from time to time to loosen the sand. When we punched this bag, we did not hit very hard. We hit with short punches to condition our knuckles.

A student of Chotoku Kyan told me that one day he went to Kyan Sensei's house and was about to punch his favorite makiwara in the yard. Something caught his eye and he carefully examined the straw rope wound around the top of the makiwara. Someone had embedded broken pieces of glass in the rope. If he had punched it, his knuckles would have been badly cut. He told me that malicious students from other dojo sometimes did these kinds of things.

You should always carefully examine any object you are going to punch or strike.

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin