NIGIRI GAMAE
GRIPPING JARS

These jars are found in many traditional Okinawan karate dojos, especially Goju ryu and Uechi ryu. Many history books show drawings and photographs of powerfully built individuals walking and moving in various stances and postures while gripping stone storage jars by the mouth or neck. These jars are often replaced by dumbbells as a modern equivalent. The main benefits of these exercises is that your grip strength is massively improved, giving a phenomenally powerful grip on an opponent. The grip on the jars must be a constant pressure throughout the exercise, with forearm muscles and tendons used to the maximum.

To increase resistance here, use heavier dumbbells or add sand, stone or water to the jars to increase their weight.  The various exercises will place extra emphasis on muscle groups all over the body including legs, back and shoulders as the exercises vary.

Start by picking up the jars, gripping by the neck only and with the arms at your sides, step forward in a short powerful Sanchin stance, tensing all the body muscles.  As you become accustomed to the step forward routine with the jars other movements can be added to the exercise such as front raises, side raises, or upright rowing. The strength is generated using many muscle groups but primarily the fingers, wrists and forearms which are ideally developed and strengthened for applying close quarter combat techniques such as holds, chokes, locks and when grappling. The stone jars shown here have been specially made to replicate those used in Okinawa and their weight can be varied by filling them with water or sand which obviously increases the weight and further improves your grip. The photographs show modern equivalents, solid steel dumbbells weighing around 17 lbs or 8 kgs.

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