The first part of the tool was a double edged hooked blade about the size of small shovel or spade with a handle. Attached to this was eighteen feet or more of rope, or a rope substitute like horse hair, finally ending in a large metal ring, which was sometimes sharpened around the edges. Think of the kyoketsu shoge as a martial arts tool that can adapt to a variety of situations.
As a “tool” each part was used as a whole and separately- the
blade could be used to cut, the rope bind, climb, or help carry things, while
the ring could be used as a weighted grappling hook.
So with this understanding, why practice with such a tool as
a modern martial artist?
The kyoketsu shoge is a tool of the times, so practicing with it gives a unique historical perspective of martial arts from that time period. The “how and why” of it offers strategic insight into other lessons providing a unique overview of the skills needed to survive during that time.
On the other hand the kyoketsu shoge also teaches a lot about oneself- distance, timing, and rhythm that are needed to make the tool work and not get tangled up in the rope or hit with the weight are all skills that can transfer over to modern application. In this way one could thing of the kyoketsu shoge as a pair of weights or running shoes that are used to help forge and train the body.
Before we get started with the basic training exercises of the kyoketsu shoge you are going to have to make a safe training version to practice with. Under NO circumstances ever should you practice with a real metal version. Take the time to craft a safe training version and you will have it for years of practice.
The first part of the tool is the blade section which is essentially the size of a large knife with a hook on the bottom. Cut a blank from wood and then sand down the edges so you have a general shape but there are no sharp edges to pull or cut with. Pay special attention to blunt the points of the knife and hook.
At the opposite end punch a small hole to connect the rope
and tie the rope to it with a good knot. With the rope you want around eighteen
to twenty feet of cord, preferably made out of cotton or mostly cotton so it is
nice and flexible and won’t burn your hand with friction as it moves past.
Finally, on the opposite end of the rope you are going to
need to attach a rubber ring. Large washers are one way to do it, while dog
chew toys from a pet supply store offer another quick alternative.
Once you have assembled your kyoketsu shoge check and recheck the cord and knots, especially before and after training to make sure they are secure. Keep some extra rope on hand to replace the old rope as it becomes worn and frayed.
Unique footwork is used to keep distance between you and your training partner so they are unable to close the distance as you are pulling the ring end back in.
Additionally the rope and ring are used to wrap and catch limbs, while also using the hook and edge part of the training tool.
Other aspects of movement with this unique tool are explored and can only really be demonstrated vs. explanation.