Nail 'em

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Nail 'em

Postby Lori » Mon Oct 26, 1998 2:19 pm

During last Saturday's workout, in between kata - I went through a couple boisterous dan kumites - slick with persperation, an open hand strike slipped off my partner's block, resulting in a nick just above his eye from my fingernail. A fraction lower could have really injured the eyeball itself.

As I like to point out in this forum - being a martial artist does not mean we have to compromise our femininity...and I'm certainly not worried about "breaking a nail" but neither am I going to saw them off to mere stubs because I happen to study karate. Dragon lady style nails are not only impractical in the dojo, but also dangerous. My personal length of nails depends on whether or not I can still make a comfortable fist. I also feel like my nails are part of my always accessible weapons - very useful against eyes if necessary. But because of that - I have to use care during workouts so that I don't take out chunks of skin from my partners during drills or arm conditioning.

So, what's the point? Neat, clean and trimmed nails should be part of the dojo dress code for males as well as females - and as far as a woman's manicure, like so many other practical aspects of working out - needs to be governed by common sense and safety. And watch those open handed strikes!
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Postby Robb in Sacramento » Tue Oct 27, 1998 3:49 am

Finger nails are not necessarily a gender issue. When I first started karate I was also involved in a Blue Grass band and was regularly playing folk music on guitar. I also briefly studied classical guitar. The point. I was unwilling to forgo finger picking for martial arts. And, in truth, many articles have been written in guitar magazines about finding the perfect spot (the perfect length) for fingernails when one is interested in finger picking. (My classical guitar teacher was a finger nail care fanatic, and even attended seminars are the proper length, care, and use of finger nails in classical guitar.) Most of the articles describe a spot that would be considered too long for martial arts. Fortunately, however, the spot still allows one to make an adequate fist.

Given the length and structure of my fingers it is not likely I will ever do a fingertip breaking demonstration. So, the length of my nails on the guitar picking hand is not an issue. (On the other hand, literally, my nails are kept quite short to avoid interferring while I play at guitar. Not that it really matters much.)

The key issue, at least for me, has been being conscious of my choice and being concerned for the safety of those who practice with me. I too would not want to injure a partner. I attempt to remain cognizant of this as I would attempt to remain cognizant of other physical limitations or enhancements.

As to using your nails for defense, I am not sure I would recommend it. If you break one, you won't be able pick guitar for awhile. Peace.
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Postby Drew Doolin » Tue Oct 27, 1998 5:26 am

Loftus Sensei,
Your discussion brings to mind a few thoughts. As Robb stated, nails are not-gender specific. Your point is well taken regarding grooming (toe nails can be a problem as well). Additionally, your post begs the question of distancing in kumite (and bunkai, for that matter.) (Which has been discussed quite a bit before on other forums) It seems that many agree (and some may not) that we can display, demonstrate/show our technique at full speed without making contact with the powered up strikes. (I know we've all been taught that from day one, but we seem to slip into habits) In this way, a missed block will not result in injury to our partner, but will still demonstrate the application of proper technique, control, and power. In fact, your "point of impact" might be a couple of inches away from the "known target". This in no way will make your technique "weak", but will make it much safer. I have seen and experienced kumite, two-person drills, bunkai that have been painful and quite dangerous. We must remember, I believe, that we are "partners" demonstrating technique, power, focus, and control using the full range of our Uechi art. Too often I have seen these drills become strictly "hard" exercises, ignoring the "soft" aspect to the art. Also, I have seen women and smaller statured men who have taken an unnecessary pounding when partnered with physically larger men, who still apply these "muscled up" hard blocks and strikes and don't adjust for the height and physical capabilities of their partners, resulting in punches to the nose and other hard contact injuries. If the distancing is correct, it seems to me to be much safer and enjoyable for both partners. Dont' misunderstand, I am a big proponent of vigorous body conditioning, and have posted about this subject before. This is a separate subject, however. I realize that I got off on a tangent here, and strayed away from the grooming issue, but it seemed to relate.
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Postby Lori » Tue Oct 27, 1998 6:00 am


Nice to see you back on the forums. Your point on distancing is well taken and adds an important dimension to this thread - my original post was more as a result of the potential injury than the grooming issue so what you mention is more than appropriate.

On my old forum, we had discussed some inappropriate checking techniques, specifically as applied to women. I mentioned overzealous bankais and sanchin checking techniques that had caused injury in the past and received a number of responses confirming that I was not the only one! Only a few months back I participated in a seisan bankai with a visiting senior who performed such a strong downward block on the temple strike technique that my neck and shoulders were stiff and sore for over a week! Now, as you also write, we are strong proponents of conditioning in our dojo - but bankai and other two-person techniques can cause serious injury when concerns like distancing and target are not paid attention to! Personally, I teach my students that bankai can be very dangerous - and have a different set of applications that are used by those beginning to learn the demonstaration (usually kyu ranks) and those who, having reached a dan level, have proven themselves as far as control and knowledge of how we execute these techniques with a partner with care in our dojo.

Thank you for the input! Please feel free to elaborate any time!

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Postby Cecil » Tue Oct 27, 1998 2:07 pm


You have hit on one of my pet peeves.
Having slipped a toenail to the eye from a former teacher, having been cut on the forearms many a times in high school from fellow students, and having been stratched on the shins by clawful feet, I must beg you all (pardon the grammar)


I don't like being scraped by you. If I want to get cut, I'll take up knife fighting. Please, I'm a man, not a scratching post, and you are not a cat.

In kicking styles like I've studied (Tangsoodo and Taekwondo), a long toenail can make a foot a lethal weapon. And besides all of that, it just looks plain old nasty because we men don't take care of our nails like women do (for the most part--not that there's anything wrong with that. Some of these guys toe AND finger nails look like they could give you tetanus or something.) I prefer to keep my toe nails and finger nails short because it's easier for me to keep them clean, I don't have to worry about scratching people, and I used to hate to get a fingernail pulled back when playing basketball.

Peace, and clip the nails


[This message has been edited by Cecil (edited 10-27-98).]

[This message has been edited by Cecil (edited 10-27-98).]
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