As with other types of hojo undo equipment the kongoken can be used alone and or with a partner, thus leading to a greater variety of exercises for all over training with this piece or equipment proving to be very versatile indeed. Originally introduced into Okinawa by the founder of goju ryu karate, Chojun Miyagi, who was teaching karate in the Hawaiian Islands during the mid 1930s, when he witnessed wrestlers using the large iron ring to train their bodies to develop power and strength.

The kongoken shown in these photo’s is made of 2inch or 50mm steel and weighs approximately 60lbs or 30 kgs, (Kongoken used in the dojo vary from 20-35kgs) depending on a person’s strengths and abilities. With the equipment being 2 inches thick, it helps to make it harder to grip than normal barbell sized equipment, helping to increase grip strength from the start.

Exercises with the kongoken can be so versatile that again the whole body can benefit from its use, with all major muscle groups involved either on their own or as compound exercises. Overhead pressing exercises can be done on their own or at the same time as squatting, similar to how an Olympic lifter would practice a snatch lift or clean and jerk movement, these exercises require great balance and co-ordination and dexterity at the same time.

Examples of the various exercises performed with the Kongoken can be found in the book 'Fighting Strength - Effective Power Training for Combat' available from Mona Books at: www.monabooks.co.uk