Tag Archives: martial arts equipment

The Karate Gi that Wouldn’t Smell

Karate Gi…and How Clothes Make the Man

I put on my first gi back in 1967. It was pretty cool, my school had actually found a company that could supply us regularly. Very difficult to find sometimes, back then. We didn’t mind the $15 we had to pay.

It was yellowish, too short, looked ridiculous, but I found something interesting: it taught you how to focus. When you punched right it ‘popped!’

So I made everything I did pop, every kind of kick and punch and even block that I could…I popped.

I bought my first Tokaido, and it was a day in heaven. I’m not a clothes hound, but when I stepped on to the mat in that Tokaido, I felt…BIG!

And, my techniques were better. It took more power to pop, the material was thicker.

Of course, I had to buy the Tokaido, I had been made into an instructor, and I was told to look the part, or else!

I wore that uniform til it literally disintegrated. I went through the ‘don’t wash’ period, for a couple of weeks. Then the smell made me realize that I wanted to wash it, and I used to wash it and press it and fold it with absolute devotion and respect.

Yet I knew, always, that it was always in my mind. It was my uniform, my way of ‘preparing’ for my mock combat, my lessons in mortality and immortality.

Don’t want to wear one? That’s cool. Choice.

But look inside the uniform first, look under the skin. Check out to see whether you have the requisite pride, and in the proper degree and form, before you hold them in disregard.

As for me, they’ll have to pry my gi from my cold, dead…body.

Have a great work out! Al from monstermartialarts.

Don’t forget to check out the new Kenpo Karate Instruction Manual!

No Martial Arts Equipment…Great Workout!

Here’s Some Wild Martial Arts Equipment!

You guys may think that this is a tongue in check article on getting the best martial arts equipment, but it isn’t. I have personally tried the methods here, and they are top notch body calisthenic methods.

First, I tried cinderblocks. I didn’t want to dig holes and sink poles for the Plum Flower Fist, which is a form of Praying Mantis Gung Fu. This was great. Jumping up down gave me strength, as well improving my balance.

martial arts equipment

Kickin’ it!

From there I look for other things to use for martial arts equipment.

Tires were great. I learned to use tires originally for swinging a wooden sword. Took a lot of strength and control to make the tire turn and bounce the way you wanted it to. So I grabbed nine of them, arranged them in a simple grid of three by three, and started walking the circle, Pa Kua Chang style. This was odd, hard to ground through the springiness of the tires. but, you often learn more from what doesnt’ work than what does, so I moved on.

My my next experiment in Martial Arts Training Equipment.I put four by fours on edge and practiced forms on them. This was interesting, and taken directly from Ton Toi Northern Shaolin Gung Fu. Ton Toi means springy legs, and I learned all sorts of things about balance while springing from beam to beam.

And, I tried doing forms on top of fences. It was wild. Trying to spin and move, six feet above the ground, without falling al-l-l the way down! I don’t know how much I got out of this martial arts equipment, but if was fun!

And, in between these things I tried hanging balls from the rafters, punching tennis balls at a wall, and other sorts of things. But my next big foray into martial arts equipment was at the old Los Angeles Zoo.

The old zoo, now sort of gone, or at least redone into a picnic area, was a mess of cages and bounders strewn about in the cages to give the animals some sort of sense of nature. So I worked out in cages…lions and tiger and me…oh my!

And I learned a lot! I especially grew in arm strength. Having to hang on to the side of a cage, or going across the top monkey style, built up a lot of strength in the arms. Trying to do kicks while so perched was especially educated. You get a whole new appreciation for how the hip joints work.

Now, last in my martial arts equipment were trees. At the Los Angeles zoo there were all sorts of low hanging trees. I could walk on the trunks of some of them, climb to joints, and generally swing around and do all sorts of stuff. The interesting thing about this was that I could practice sinking my weight.

One of the places I got this idea from, aside from my experiences in the cages, was a fellow wrote an article where he had to hang from a tree limb for an hour a day for a few months before the master would teach him.

Well, having done a little hanging myself, I can definitely attest to the benefits in the arms and shoulders. It stretches them out and gives truth to the old saying, ‘A long muscle is a strong muscle.’

Now, that about does it except for one thing…all of the equipment I used cost nothing. That’s right, I didn’t have to spend any money at my martial arts equipment suppliers, and I got a better work out than some big nautilus machine could ever give!

Here’s a good article with no martial arts exercise equipment. Here’s the Monkey Boxing Course itself.

Martial Arts Equipment Needs to Be Eliminated

Martial Arts Equipment To Be Tossed in Trash

I was there when the first martial arts equipment appeared in the dojos of America. I strapped on the brand new protective pads the Martial Arts gear pushers had brought over, and I experienced the difference between reality and martial arts protective gear.

The first thing we students noted was that the stuff didn’t work. In fact, the karate pads we strapped to our shins and forearms and feet and hands and bodies caused heavier impact. In actual fact, we began to accumulate more injuries. Guys were bruising heavily, and there were even a couple of breaks.

martial arts equipment

Martial Arts gear that hurts, doesn’t help, should be tossed out!

The reason for this is simple, when you hit a guy with Karate pads on his forearms or rib cage you think it isn’t going to hurt, so you hit harder. This offsets the pad effect, and the result is heavier impact and injuries.

In addition, there is a false sense of security, and the person being hit doesn’t make his body as tight upon impact. This undercuts the whole effect of having Martial Arts gear, but, more important, it undercuts the purpose of the martial arts!

The martial arts, you see, teach one control. But once you put on martial arts equipment that is protective in nature, you are taking away the need for control, or at least lessening it.

The point to be made here is that Martial Arts equipment, including shin pads and forearm pads and all the other martial arts gear that is protective in nature, should be eliminated. People should be made to understand what a block or punch feels like, how it has the potential for hurt, and then they will immediately begin to learn control.

I know that what I have said here goes against the common belief, and I know there will be parents and martial arts supply house that take objection to this. Parents, however, are ill informed and need to be educated. The martial arts equipment pushers are making money, so their objections should be ignored.

Now, to be sure, I realize that there may be certain exceptions to this. Wrapping an injury may be useful to protecting that injury from further trauma. And I know that a fellow with injured knees, or some such, should possibly wear something to shore up the knees. And when it comes to Martial Arts weapons, real ones should not be employed and full martial arts gear should be implemented.

The few exceptions are rare, however, and the best martial arts instructors are going to be helping students with exercises that will strengthen weaknesses before they put that student out on the dojo floor for a little karate kumite, or whatever your brand of martial arts freestyle.

The point of this article is simple: if we eliminate martial arts equipment, and demand better instruction, we will have less injuries, and not more, and the Martial Arts will be pushed to higher levels.

Don’t like what I said here? Feel free to come to Monster Martial Arts and give me a piece of your mind!

The Lie of Martial Arts Equipment!

Martial Arts Equipment is a money maker!

When it comes to Martial Arts Equipment, three things are true.

martial arts equipment

See? It doesn’t hurt!

One, the guy wearing it is going to hit harder because he thinks he has to to make his technique work.

Two, your technique will tend to get sloppy.

Three, somebody is making money by selling it to you.

I was training back in 1967, and we never used pads or gloves. Just didn’t think about it. And there were virtually no injuries. The reason was that we learned quickly what a fist felt like, so we controlled ourselves.

One day the head instructor came out on the dojo mat with a bag of martial arts equipment. Here’s some pads and gloves!

So we slipped on gloves, tied on chest pads, wore shin guards, even put on head gear, and we started hitting each other.

I don’t mean sparring, or doing karate freestyle, we started hitting each other.

We were convinced, you see, that we were protected. We could beat on each other and it didnt’ matter, nobody would get hurt.

Well, you know where that lead to. Control went out the window, we started fighting, as opposed to learning how to do Karate freestyle, and I, for one, started breaking bones. Broke a bone in my hand, another in my foot.

But I was supposed to be protected! I was wearing martial arts gear!

My body was protected, but my mind was numbed. I was trapped by a false reality.

To this day I watch as people put on gloves and wear padding,a nd think that they can hit harder, lose all control, and don’t learn martial arts freestyle.

Real freestyle, you see, has certain rules and limitations, and it has to, because there is power in the real martial arts. With gloves and pads control tends to slip, and so the truth is this:

While there is an art to destruction, the true art is in control.

Not can you beat somebody up, but can you control them, maybe even control the situation until there is no fight.

Something to think about, eh?

Anyway, that’s what happens, that’s what happened, when we learned how to do karate with martial arts equipment.


Martial Arts Equipment, A Big Rip Off!

Does Martial Arts Equipment Really Protect You?

My first experience with Martial Arts equipment, and I am speaking of shin pads, gloves, and that sort of thing, came in 1968.

martial arts protective gear

Sink and Twist for Ki Power!

I was taking a freestyle class at my Chinese Kenpo school, and the instructor came out with all these pads.

“Got to wear these,” he said, tossing a couple of sets on the mat. “I’ve only got two sets, so you can put them on when your turn comes. You’ll have to have your own protective gear by next week.”

“Why do we have to wear them?” asked somebody.

The school owner said, with a grim smile and a wink of the eye, “So you won’t harm anybody, so you won’t get hurt yourself.” And the delirious message beneath his words, ‘You are so deadly!’

We near shivered with delight as we donned our Martial Arts Equipment.

Now, truth. It wasn’t our deadliness that was the issue, because we had all learned not to hit too hard, and there were very few accidents, and those weren’t serious. So what was it all about? Money. Money for the school owner.

And, more truth, there were more injuries as a result of wearing that Martial Arts Equipment. We simply felt we had to hit harder to get the job done, and we thought the chest pads were going to protect us.

Now, that is the simple truth of it all, but let me take a further step. A few months later I quit that school and went to a classical Karate school, the Kang Duk Won. There I learned some interesting things about freestyle.

At the Kang Duk Won we never used pads. Never. You were expected to control yourself, and you did. And, if you didn’t, you would find yourself freestyling with an advanced Black Belt, and he taught you control the hard way. Learn easy, or get taught. Period.

Now, you might think there is a brutality here, but there wasn’t. It is just that the advanced black belt would control you, pop you just hard enough to take your breath away, and stare at you. And the message was clear: ‘Control yourself, don’t be a danger to your partner, or we’re going to do this lesson again, and as many times as it takes.

And, I learned something interesting. At Kenpo we would fight, and you could get points on the black belts. They were better, but you could point them every once in a while.

At the Kang Duk Won, unless a black belt wanted you to point them, you weren’t going to. Simply, they were in control, and the only way you were going to win a fight was by learning your lessons well.

So the Kenpo black belts were good, but they weren’t in control.

The Kang Duk Won black belts were in control, and they were fantastic.

And, at the Kang Duk Won we never did full freestyle until brown belt.

At Kenpo I was thrown in the mix on my sixth lesson (right after I signed a contract). At Kang Duk Won I spent two years doing supplementary exercises so that I could actually freestyle. In other wards, I spent two years learning the bits and pieces. This explained an awful lot about the differences here.

Now, back to protective gear.

At the Kang Duk Won we learned how to control our punch, and through this control we learned how to ‘feel inside’ our opponent with our fists. This enabled us to develop ‘Ki power’ strikes, and these strikes were totally different than the regular strikes. These are the strikes that, the softer you hit the more they hurt. This is the ability to move energy around in our bodies so as to make the body immune to a strike.

And we never wold have learned this ability if we had worn protective gear, if we had worn martial arts Equipment.

Martial Arts Equipment

The End of Martial Arts…The End of Life

I was teaching Martial Arts one day. Had a school in Tujunga, maybe ten or twelve students in the class, and this old guy walks in. Not tremendously old, maybe fifty. And he had his arms filled with martial arts equipment. A couple of uniforms, a few colored belts, focus glove, kicking bag, some pads. I think he even had a couple of martial arts books.

I introduced myself and asked what I could do for him, and I was curious. He didn’t look like a martial artist.

“I thought maybe you could use this stuff.”

I couldn’t, but there was a sadness coming out of the guy that told me to take it and be grateful. “Sure,” I said. “We can certainly use this, and thank you.”

And he said: “My son died, you see. Couple of years ago. This stuff was sitting in the garage, and he loved to do the martial arts more than anything. I looked at it the other day, and I realized what he wouldn’t want it to go to waste.”

I took the stuff and placed it on a desk and shook his hand. He told me briefly about his son, and I could see that he had gone through the worst pain a man could go through. For a father, you could lose a limb, catch a dread disease, suffer agonizing pain,  but not the son…no. Not the son. That hurts more.

So we chatted, I tried to be very upbeat, got him to the point where I could quip, “We’ll use the heck out of it, then enshrine it.”

He laughed, a good laugh that actually bypassed the pain in his soul. “You don’t have to shrine it…just use it. Use it good.”

We shook hands and he left.

Now, I don’t like to dwell on death and despair, but I wanted to tell you this story for a reason: that fellows son died and won’t do martial arts again. The thing that he loved the most…no more.

When I was running schools I would get a visitor every single month that wanted to tell me about when he was young, how he loved the martial arts, and how he still had his uniform hanging in the closet. Didn’t fit anymore, but that uniform was pressed and ready to go.

The message is this: do what you want to do, or your life is wasted. Don’t buy an excuse; don’t buy old age as an excuse.

I suppose what made me think of all this is that my wife and I were talking about my instructor the other day, and I mentioned that he quit the martial arts when he was about forty-five. I remember him always saying that he always had a cold. I remember him slowly stopping teaching the classes, and relying on his black belts to teach, and one day he went out and bought bar…and he sold the school to one of his students.

I went through that ‘got a cold’ thing. But I went through it, now I’m 63, and I do martial arts every day, really feel like I’ve cheated myself if I don’t work out enough.

So, whatever you have to go through, go through it, and keep doing the martial arts. And if you’re reading this and you want to do the martial arts but never did…why are you wasting your life.

Enough for now. You guys have fun.

martial arts