One of the things I miss most about training at my local karate dojo is dealing with the lack of a punching bag. I’ve written on occasion about the importance of actually striking something during training. This is important, because form is all well and good but the effectiveness of your strike can’t be achieved unless you learn how it feels at point of impact and get used to it. Further, your knuckles also need to develop; something that can’t be done through forms. Knuckle push-ups will only get you so far and won’t contribute to experiencing the impact. But I digress…
My point is, having a punching bag or a striking surface can be integral to proper martial arts training. I’ve been considering getting my own punching bag ever since we moved to Regina, but there’s always been a lack of location and opportunity. My basement had no spot to safely install a punching bag, and I had to deal with fact that my continued pounding would cause chaos for the rest of the family, upstairs. Not least of which is the fact that our basement was recently demolished, leaving a bare basement with no safe area to work out in.
With the warmer weather becoming more prominent, the time has come to shake some of the cobwebs off and start doing more physical activity outside. As such, I decided to stop being such a cheapskate and purchased a punching bag. Although the garage was effectively full last year as we demolished and braced our basement, we’ve moved enough stuff back into the house that I now had the available space to set up a bag. It didn’t take me long to run out to my local sports outlet and purchase what I needed.
The punching bag stand is made by Century, which if you recall is the same martial arts equipment company that makes the karate gi that we wear at Kenpo. It only took about a half hour to assemble, with nuts, bolts and washers included for easy assembly. The stand is unfortunately required, since the beams of the garage would no doubt hold a heavy bag but likely wouldn’t last under the constant barrage of strikes and impact I would inflict upon it.
Interestingly enough, the sports outlet that sold the stand had no punching bags available. Since it was the last stand they had in stock, I gambled and purchased it, sans punching bag. I really wanted a 100-pound bag, but I knew I would have to do some searching in order to find one. The first place I stopped at was a local retail store, which I won’t name for liability issues but it involves the color blue and usually has a fast food or coffee outlet inside. Draw your own conclusions from that.
Anyway, I managed to find a nice little kit containing a 70-pound bag, bag gloves, hand wraps and binding cords. Not too shabby. I added it to my cart so that I had a bag with which to start training and made my way home. I figured I could wok on getting a heavier bag later, depending on how much time I actually put in on it. I lifted the bag up to the hook and my wife helped by attaching it. A few experimental punches and kicks told me I would be enjoying some garage time, this summer.
Despite the fact that I usually enjoy cycling and swimming, a punching bag offers a wide variety of workouts that one can perform. These can include circuits and drills and even workouts where you incorporate the bag as a “set,” meaning you go do a number of sets of other exercises and keep coming back to the bag. Nathan and I like doing a back-and-forth where one of us punches the bag for a straight minute while the other is on a jump rope for that minute. Then we switch. It makes for a wicked sweat. This is what we did yesterday. Little bugger actually held his own for the whole half hour!
Punching bags can be nice as they allow you to experience the impact of your strike and help to properly develop them. But it also works almost all your muscle groups, provided you maintain correct posture, stance and incorporate punches AND kicks into your workout. Last but not least, sticking it out on punching drills makes it so that you end up with a killer cardio aspect, as well.
I’ve been in a bit of a fitness slump in recent weeks, which I attribute to the fatigue of starting a new job and having no access to my actual karate dojo. So I’m looking forward to doing something that will allow me to work up a sweat and start building back some arm strength. With our basement renovation plans expected to happen over the summer, the next step will be to get a bench and some free weights. here’s hoping it’ll be a good summer… ☯