Some Assembly Required – Martial Arts Traditional Training Equipment

This week we were assigned a post topic which is an interesting change of pace.  We will each be providing you with a “recipe” so-to-speak on one of the conditioning devices that we’ve been using in our regular meetings.  We got to choose which apparatus we wanted to write on and I’m curious why my classmates chose what they chose.

I will be teaching you how to construct and use some of our newer best friends, Sandye and Samir.  Here’s what this device looks like…

Sandye…or is this Samir?

Sandye and Samir are the affectionate names we have for my least favorite training apparatus that was, ironically, one of the most fun to create.  You may remember a cute little video posted about a particular trip to Home Depot…that was step one in producing this apparatus!

In reality it is isn’t all that hard to construct but you may need to find a few people to help you.  There were three of us putting it together plus Master Pearson to seal the thing which required a bit of force.  I will tell you how to build the apparatus and then explain to you how we used it (get ready for some sore shoulders and bruised hands!)…oh by the way…they’re named Sandye and Samir after the lovely folks at Home Depot (I think they’re colleagues of Mr. Walsh) who gave us their assistance!

What You’ll Need

Clear plastic tubing (we actually bought sanitary food tubing…like for drink machines.  Master Pearson reminisced about how his kali instructor used a simple garden hose to create this apparatus)…The tubing should have a 1″ external diameter and 3/4″ internal diameter.  You’ll need about 10 feet if you want two tubes and about 5 or 6 feet if you only want one.  We made two tubes of increasing weight (hence the names, Sandye being the lighter and Samir being the heavier).

– an internal connector (we could only find a metal one, but you might do better with plastic)

– electrical tape to tape the joint (especially if you have a metal connector…even a small crack in the join can destroy your apparatus and cause serious injury to your hands!!)

– play ground sand

What You’ll Do…

1. Cut your plastic tubing to the desired length…about 5 feet per apparatus

2. Fill the tube with the playground sand until the desired weight is reached (sand should fill nearly the entire tube — if you want a lighter one fill until there is about 2- 3″ of space remaining in the tube).  This is where a partner will come in handy.  Like I said, it took three of us.  One person has to plug the end to make sure that sand does not run out all over your floor and another person needs to fill the tube – we used a funnel.  It is also helpful to have another person to hold the tube upward to allow the sand to flow through the tube.  We also sat on the staircase to enlist the help of our friend gravity in this process!

3. Insert your internal connector into one end of the tube and then the other – some force required!

4. Tape the joint!!!!!!

Now you’re good to go…you’re probably wondering, what am I supposed to do with this big heavy hula hoop?

How to use it…

This apparatus seems to have infinite uses…trust me, infinite!  What makes it stand apart from the other tools we have used is its incredibly practical applications of use.  You can train with this seemingly forever (again…trust me!) and work a variety of martial arts fighting skills.   We first were required to hold the hoop vertically in front of us (SOLAR PLEXUS HEIGHT – DON’T LET IT DROP!!!! — you must say this to yourself repeatedly in Master Pearson’s voice to recreate our experience with the hoop!), and pulled the hoop toward our body hand over hand in rapid succession.  This will strengthen you shoulders as well as your palms (Master Pearson actually burst a blood vessel in his hand doing it – so do be careful please!) but beyond that…imagine doing the same motion to a person’s arm (to their punch for instance). Pull your opponent towards you hand over hand, fist over fist, as you work your way up their body finally slamming your fist into their face or shoulder.

Next try the same exercise only this time spin the hoop the opposite direction…like you’re pushing rather than pulling.

We did about 50 reps of each of these…give or take!

Another way you can use this apparatus for training is a bit trickier to write but I’ll do my best to put it into words.  Put both your hands inside the hoop but stretch them out wide, pulling the hoop apart so that there is maximum tension on it.  At this point, drop one of your hands out of the hoop so that it’s end swings free.  Using your other hand, guide the hoop in a counter clockwise motion overhead.  As the free end of the hoop descends back towards its starting place, quickly throw your free hand back inside to stop the hoop in the same position as you started.  Maybe this sounds easy…the key is to not let it thud down hard on your wrist.  For one thing, this hurts!  For another, it’s bad form.  You want to try to be soft with the hoop.  When you get it right, you’ll know it (and feel it).  There’s almost a moment where the hoop is suspended in the air and then gently flops back down onto you hand.  You can try this with both hands and in both directions (overhead and down by your feet – but don’t let it hit the ground!).  It’s also a great work out for your forearms and shoulders…you’ll feel it for sure! From a practial perspective, each of these techniques, depending on the direction of motion has a different application of a block/deflection which will not only prevent you from getting hit but will instantly open your opponent’s face or chest or back to your counter.

martial arts makes me strong!

I hope you go out and make some of these training devices for yourself.  We may be using modern materials  but these types of apparatuses go back centuries.  There is no need for today’s fancy schools with their fancy equipment and flashy gimmicks…the old methods are tried and true!  Give the hoops a shot and please let us know how they work for you!

Requirement Fulfilled,



  1. Master Shaffer,
    Loving the details. Where do you go to find how to put these together? Google?

  2. Haha no need for google! Master Pearson made the originals and then he taught us how to recreate them. All of these devices are from Master Pearson’s own training days…he didn’t make them up. That’s actually one of the more comforting things about Hagsaeng Naebu. Even while we’re working hard and there is a fair amount of pain in using these things and doing all the things he asks us to do throughout the course of a lesson, we all know in the back of our minds that he’s not making us do anything that he wasn’t asked to do himself at some point (in fact it was likely that he went through much much much harder stuff than we are). But there’s a lot of comfort in that and it helps us to trust the process more. I think it’s really good when an instructor is open and upfront about what their own training was like…their stories can be really motivating. Always ask your teachers if they’ll share these tales from the old days! It will give you a lot of perspective!

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