A few years ago, a friend asked me what I’d do if I had a million dollars. I didn’t have to think before answering – "I’d move to Okinawa, Japan to train under Grand Master, Morio Higaonna-Sensei". It was only later, that it dawned on me I didn't actually need a million dollars to pursue this dream...
So now here I am, living in a little apartment above a busy Japanese restaurant barely 2 minutes walk from Sensei's Honbu dojo. I've been training with him daily now for 6 months and decided it was finally time to start recording some of my experiences and "ah-haa!" moments.
Building a chiishi is one of the first things I set about doing when I got back to Aus and since then I've had a few additional requests. Lukily, like most traditional hojo undo equipment, the chiishi is relatively inexpensive and easy to make. For those interested, I've put together a simple little step-by-step guide with pics:
1. Get your hands on the following ingredients:
A bag of white cement (you can mix it with some gravel to add strength)
Some dowel (Tasmanian Oak's nice, but even a broom handle will do)
Two large bolts and,
A bucket (approx 27cm in diameter)
2. Decide on the length of your chiishi. The handle
length should be approximately the same as the distance from the ground to the knee joint.
3. Drill two holes in one end of the handle and twist the screws through so that they form a cross
4. Create your concrete/cement mixture in a separate bucket (I used a 50-50 mix) to help prevent cracking and crumbling
5. Put your chiishi handle in the bucket and gradually pack the cement mixture in. Aim for an even distribution. It's important to get the handle straight in the very center of the bucket and for the mix to be spread evenly (lop-sided chiishi are harder to work with).
6. Once you're happy with the position and mix is even, smooth it out and let it set (leaving it for at least 24-48hrs is probably a good idea).
7. And voila, pop it out of the bucket and you've got a shiny new chiishi to play with. Just be kind to it for the first month since it can take this long for it to fully dry and harden.