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Folding A Hand

The other day, a gentleman from the mainland visited me at the Hawaii Karate Museum. He was about 9 years older than me, taller, and more muscular. One of my sons was at my office. This son likes to lift weights and is almost 6 feet tall. My son shook the gentleman's hand.

Later that night, my son told me that he had tried to give the guest a firm handshake because he looked strong. When my son (who is pretty strong himself) began to squeeze the gentleman's hand, the gentleman squashed my son's hand with ease!

I then told my son that this gentleman had studied the Uechi-Ryu form of Karate for almost 40 years. In Uechi-Ryu, tremendous grip strength is developed. Students practice with stone jars (kame) and work on hand and arm strength.

I told my son, "Never engage in a hand squeezing contest with an Uechi-Ryu instructor."

This reminds me of something one of my other sons did. When visiting Sensei Pat Nakata's dojo, my youngest son saw a small punching bag. Without much thought, he punched it pretty hard. This small bag was filled with sand that had settled, making the back essentially as hard as cement!

Never punch a bag until you have felt it.

This remind me of still another story. A student of Chokotu Kyan trained at the master's house. Each day, he would strike the makiwara in the backyard. One day as he was about the begin his striking session, he decided to check the rope wound around the wood. Someone had planted broken pieces of glass in the rope. Had he hit the makiwara, the student would have be seriously injured.

So, don't engage in handshaking contests with Uechi-Ryu sensei, don't hit punching bags until you check them, and check your makiwara too!

Of course, when greeting someone, you should always be courteous. My son was not trying to be rude.

But in the martial arts, we must always assess our opponents. We should use our strengths against their weaknesses. We cannot do this unless we know their strengths and weaknesses, as well as our own.

Never underestimate an opponent.


Charles C. Goodin