Masaaki Ikemiyagi, Hanshi 9th dan, Goju-ryu Okinawa Meibukan photographed at Naha’s Budokan on July 16th 2014.
Gaja-sensei, a lovely Okinawan man in his late 60’s, who after years of conditioning, has become both the unstoppable force and the immovable object. Uechiryu Karate is in my opinion the toughest of the karate styles. It is based around brutal conditioning of the body so that, if required, the person can endure heavy blows and then deal out a devastating response. Conditioning fists, forearms and shins is done through striking punch bags, wooden boards and even concrete pillars. Gaja-sensei demonstrated his technique for conditioning fingertips. Fill a bucket with stones (or sand if you’re taking it easy) and then punch with an open hand deep into the bucket of stones. So why condition the fingers to such an extent? The answer is simple and brutal. Poking someone in the ribs is more effective if you can literally reach in through the rib cage and remove some of them.