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The Lighter Side of Martial Arts


By Christopher Caile

The other day I was talking to a friend in karate, and he told me this story about his trip with his teacher to Okinawa. He and his teacher had visited several dojos and teachers on Okinawa and finally started to train for a while under a new master.

The first day in class the master paired up my friend with one of his senior students who suggested they do some body hardening drills. It is customary for new students to sometimes be introduced to a little right of passage when entering a new dojo on Okinawa, and this exercise was perfect. With this drill you face your opponent and both do a series of simultaneous inside, down and outside blocks, the forearm of each student hitting, usually painfully, against the others. This is an old exercise in many Okinawan karate schools used to harden the bones and deaden the nerves of the arms.

My friend said "I was pretty used to these drills and had done them for years, so the suggestion that we do some didn't bother me one bit." So they started out, the other senior student beginning to hit harder and harder, no expression on his face. He just smiled. "So I just went on even though it began to hurt. I wasn't going to be the first to give up or show pain."

So they continued harder and harder. "My forearms started to swell up a bit, but I was determined," he said. Finally after what seemed to be an interminable time, the senior student said, "Ok," and we quit. He just smiled at me. "By that time my arms were really swollen and soon dark black and blue blotches began to appear. Well, later after we wrapped up for the night, I went back to my room and found some ice to bathe my arms in. The next morning they were still swollen and hurt a lot. We got dressed, ate and then went back to the dojo for more training."

Before practice as they were getting dressed in their uniforms, the senior student came up and said hello. "There was absolutely no pain on his face, and his arms didn't look swollen. So I reached over and with my fingers just gave his forearm a little squeeze, as if saying to him, you really have hard arms."

In response the other student jumped back saying "Ow." Then he looked  at me realizing he had given away the fact that his arms really hurt too, and so he began to laugh. I started to laughed also. We both found it quite funny.

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About The Author:

Christopher Caile is the founder and Editor of

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karate, karate on Okianwa, body hardening in karate

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