|Hojo undo kigu on display|
High quality hojo undo kigu–literally “supplementary training tools”–can be hard to come by. Thankfully, you can often improvise, or make your own! Chi-ishi (stone mallets) are the most common tool for people to make, and I’ve actually written about that before. For ishi-sashi (stone locks), most people use kettlebells. For the tan (barbell), most people just use modern barbells, or make what is, essentially a long double-ended chi-ishi. Makiage kigu (lifting wrapping tool) is easy to make with a dowel, some rope, and a weight. The gripping tools, like nigiri-game (gripping jars) and nigiri-ishi (gripping stones) are harder to come by and improvise. Recently, though, I found a decent substitute!
I don’t normally buy bottled water–I have a reusable one that I fill up from the tap, water cooler, or filter pitcher–but my cousin recently visited, and she left this 3 liter bottle of water in our refrigerator. For days, I didn’t think about it. Then, I noticed it had handle indentations on the back of it. As my wife can attest, I constantly check random items to see if they fit my grip, so I could use them for grip training. It turned out that this bottle fit my hands perfectly! Unlike gripping jars and stones, the weight can be easily adjusted by removing or adding water. On top of that, dropping it just dents the bottle, instead of shattering an expensive piece of equipment! I also like the fact that the water sloshes around when you move it, which adds some complexity to its weight.
After playing with different exercises for a while, this is the one that I kept coming back to. The first movement is a chudan-uchi-uke (middle inside receiver), followed by a short hikite (pulling hand) motion, followed by a tsuki (thrust) of the hand, followed by a long hikite motion. You can do the movements quickly, which really tests your grip as the bottle tries to fly away from you (I actually dropped it while filming this), or you can do them slowly, which burns out your upper arm, shoulders, and back. Of course, you can also mix up the tempo to make things interesting!