Kāmi mixing beauty and usefulness
Practitioners of Okinawa karate use various daily utensils in their training regimen to condition their body. Among them are what is called Nigiri-gāmi or Sanchin-gāmi. These jug of various shapes and weight are found in many Okinawa karate dōjō, particularly in Gōjū-ryū and Uechi-ryū. Traditionally, practitioners add a little more water or sand every day to weigh down the jugs, thus developing gripping power, among other skills.
Ideally, the mouth of the jugs would be mold to fit the hands of the person to use it. While this tradition tends to disappear, the outside design of the jug is something people care for, as the jugs are part of a dōjō, serving both a practical and an esthetic purposes.
Gushiken Zenshin (photo below) is a ceramics master from Katsuren, Uruma City. In Okinawan language, Katsuren is said Kacchin, thus the name of his kiln Kacchin-gama or Katsuren Kiln. After making earthenware pots, jugs and other common pottery artifacts all his life, Mr. Gushiken had the brilliant idea to combine his skills with the needs of karate.
He designed and created gripping jars with various beautiful designs of Daruma – Bodhidharma, founder of China Zen sect and the Buddha who became bones and skin after severe yoga practice. As explains Gushiken Zenshin, “Both are symbols of fearless asceticism”.
Next to beauty, another characteristic makes his jars special: each of the jug is inserted with a rope to prevent the beautiful but delicate jug from falling when being gripped.
For the 5th time, Gushiken Zenshin will be exhibiting his artwork at the Seisa Gallery, 3-17-5 1F Kumoji, Naha City February 6th~18th.
Furthermore, the special feature of these karate jars having been registered, these corded grip jars should soon be available at the Okinawa Karate Kaikan’s shop.