I somehow missed that I got not one, but three (3) responses to this thread in a very short interval. Thanks to Glenn for his response, but I have two more to address.
I've been searching for the name of the gentleman who invented and manufactured a modern device to replace the classic Uechi jar (kami). The inventor came to camp one year and gave me a set. (which I gave to someone) It was a really neat setup that could use regular weights that could be added as strength increased.
Thank you for this post, George.
Yes, I was at this camp. Yes, I met the gentleman and tried out his device.
I had a fairly long conversation with the inventor and his wife.
The first thing that became apparent was that neither he nor the majority of our Uechi brethren understood the exercise. Consequently most people were coming up to this device, grabbing it "the wrong way", and then asking what the big deal was.
This is key - the tip of the thumb needs to be orthogonal to the tips of the fingers. This device allowed - and in fact encouraged - folks to grab the end so that the tips of all fingers and the thumb were pointing to each other with the grip. That accomplishes nothing.
The exercise with the jars accomplishes several very, very important things for the Uechika.
- It helps with the hand strength, coordination, and flexibility needed to form and use a striking shoken, hiraken, and boshiken.
- It helps with the hand strength, coordination, and flexibility needed to form and use a grabbing shoken, hiraken, and boshiken. On this latter part... nothing has given me more instincts for doing many really nasty (and sometimes lethal) things to a bad guy than this exercise. Most people have no idea...
- It teaches the karateka to fight with thumbs tucked in. This is taught in principle in kata training, but the muscle memory doesn't stick without proper exercise. One of the more common injuries I see with new students is a sprained thumb. We naturally reach out with the thumb outstretched. In doing so we offer chaos a long lever arm against the base joint of the thumb, making it vulnerable to the cruelties of Murphy's Law. Thumbs flexed at the most distal joint and rotated at the base joint rarely get caught on things and injured.
I can now look at photographs of people doing Uechi, and tell whether or not they've done this training. The effect is as unmistakably a marker of the Uechi stylist as tucked hips, rounded shoulders, and hands forward. To you folks out there NOT doing the jar training, your thumbs are unwittingly exposing you as Uechi impostors. (I can't
be the only one who notices...)
That said... this device doesn't do it. It's too easy to "cheat" with the thumb, and frankly difficult to grab the device "correctly" once you load weight on.
The neck of a jar helps keep you from cheating. Once you rotate your thumb 90 degrees in the socket to grab the jar at the neck, the skinny part of the neck keeps the thumb from rotating back around again. This device does not.
I encouraged this inventor to make a few modifications to his device. He ALMOST got it right. ALMOST... but no cigar. Bummer.
That's the nature of R&D. Our first efforts are rarely spot on. But we learn from our mistakes. The people who succeed (such as Tony Blauer and his combat suits) aren't afraid to tinker and tinker until they get it right.
I'll endorse this guy's product when he gets it right. It wouldn't take much to fix it. And the notch he has very well may be a nice (and perhaps patentable) enhancement to the original jar concept. But he needs that "thumb stabilizer" part...
Just saw this thread...and I just happen to own a machine
shop. I manufacture steeling cutting,carbide tipped,mill cutters
and your little project/idea should be a wee piece of cake. I'll
put together something that will employ the use of barbell weights. What I need from you is a "grip diameter" thumb
knuckle to fingertips measurement you're comfortable with.
Maybe a large soup can,jar lid,etc. that feels right to you.
Give me that measurement and from that dimension I will
radius a lip out larger to insure a good hold.
Bump me a measurement and a mailing address and I'll
send in a week or so the prototype. Bison13148@frontier.com
Will do, guy! Thanks so much. We will be in contact.
I have a relatively common thing found in most vitamin stores that's the perfect mold for me.