Tuesday, February 16, 2010

DIY Training Equipment #3 - kakete striking post (wooden dummy)

This is actually the first piece of DIY training equipment I made.  It's just over a year old now.  I have long been attracted to the mook jong (wooden dummy of Wing Chun kungfu, and have often thought it would be useful somehow to a karateka.  But until I started doing goju, with its emphasis on close-range technique, I hadn't been able to quite work out how. 

While the primary inspiration for me was the Wing Chun mook jong, I actually based the main part on the Choy Lay Fut mook jong which has a counterweight arm.  Under this, I put Wing Chun-like lower limbs, creating a hybrid I felt would be useful to practice the range of karate technique I wanted to.

Then, in doing some research, I came across Mario McKenna's blog (listed on the left) in which he makes mention of the kakete.  Right! I thought, it's a valid thing to do for karate! (and it has a name into the bargain)  So I set off to make one.

It's very, very hard to get an untreated round post.  Everything is treated with either cyanide or arsenic based compounds, none of which I want to pound into my skin.  So I opted for a 90mm (4") square fence post of untreated pine.

At the time, I had no idea where to put it, so I opted to make a "mobile" kakete by placing the post upright in a large tub, and filling it with quick-set concrete.  A couple of cross pieces on the post help keep it firm in the concrete.   I'm using the term mobile fairly loosely, as it ended up being around70kg in finished weight.
The centrepiece of the kakete is the swinging arm.  I made the rectangular hole by drilling out inside the hole and squaring it up with a chisel.
You can see below how I worked out the dimensions it should be.  It gives me a nose-navel swing range, with the centre position at my solar plexus.

It's held in place by a 100mm bolt through the arm.

The arm itself is mountain ash, an Australian eucalypt.  The length of the arm is the same as my extended arm from my body with hips square and fist clenched.  I made the "wrist" with a jigsaw and sandpaper.

An angled hole drilled through for the leg, and a partial hole to put in a lower arm, and the work on the body was done.  I used 30mm mountain ash dowel for the leg and PVC pipe for the lower arm (because I ran out of dowel).

To give resistance in the main arm, I opted for a non-traditional approach, using bungy cords to give me resistance when pressing up or down on the arm.  It worked fairly well, but the degree of resistance isn't huge and the hooks I used to attach the cord keep pulling out every month or so.

Recently, I have switched to a more traditional design, hanging 12kg of window sashes from the rear of the arm. 

To start with, the kakete sat on the floor of my garage, and would move as I struck it.  This meant I could use it like a makiwara, and follow its movements around.  On the down side, it meant that there wasn't a great deal of horizontal resistance.

So about 6 months ago, I buried it in the garden.  Now it is solid, provides good resistance, but has no give so isn't the best for makiwara-work.

I have also built an additional piece that slots in, in place of the main arm, converting the kakete into a wing chun dummy.  I have found that different kata lend themselves to this:  tensho, for instance, works very well with the single arm, but seienchin works best with the double arm arrangement.

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