As a historical training tool in the Japanese martial arts and as a starting place we are first going to ask “What is the kyoketsu shoge?” and “What places does such an item have in modern martial arts training?”
Kyoketsu shoge movement is “to run in the fields and mountains” and it is from this simple statement that the movement of the tool is hidden.
The kyoketsu shoge is about movement, the movement of the rope, the movement of your body, feet, and posture, layered over the movement of your training partner.
This is the hidden use of the kyoketsu shoge as a training tool for our taijutsu movement- never stop moving with it, integrating the tool with your body (kentaiichijo). The moment you stop, that is the moment you get tangled up in your own rope, can’t hit the target, etc.
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.
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.