By Dr. Yeruham Levitt
The AKBAN short chain, the one that Lior has made, is called Kusari Fundo. When I showed it to my friends from Kashima Shin Ryu in Japan, they told me that there it’s simply called Nunchaku. It may be most easily described as “Combat chain”.
I have been training with a combat chain for a few years under Lior’s supervision. After six months of practicing with a rope (imperative in order to learn not to be hurt or hurt others), I switched to a metal chain. Practicing without a target did not suffice, so I turned to metal poles. After a while, Lior asked to inspect my chain and found one link to be cracked.
A cracked link can easily break. It’s very dangerous; the weight can get loose and fly into somebody’s face. I removed the cracked link and shortened the chain. (You need to use a hammer and a nail to remove the hinge), before putting it back together, I rounded the edges (the place where the link and the weight connect) in order to lessen the strains on the chain.
I stopped working on metal poles and began working on wooden ones. I refuse to practice on trees. The tree has done nothing to harm me, and I don’t want to harm it (not to mention bad karma – Song of Songs 1:6 – the evil created when needlessly harming a creature).
In the Taubel community center in Beer Sheva where we train, there are two unused electric poles; these are great for all sorts of training. One of them has knife and ax marks and also some from my chain. After a while I broke another link. I didn’t want to shorten the chain, and Lior gave me one for free. I attached the old hinges and weights to it.
I understood I needed a softer target. I took a piece of wood the length of my head and about 2.5 cm in depth. I drilled a whole on one side, tied a two meter rope to it and a big bolt at the end. The bolt is used to throw the rope over a branch or a goalpost.
The higher the branch or beam, the less the chance of the target getting tangled up. Only, if the branch or beam is too high, untangling becomes more difficult. This target it also useful for boken training (wooden sword), and if one is nearby, it becomes very useful for untangling the target.
The problem with using a piece of wood, is traveling abroad, when you want to spare weight and room in your luggage (especially if youâ€™d ever been caught at the airport with overweight). The wood takes up both space and weight. When I traveled to Japan on Sabbatical for two and a half months, I took only the rope. In Japan I bought a bottle of Coke, drank it and tied the empty bottle to the rope. An empty plastic bottle swings nicely in the wind, making a more challenging target than a piece of wood. I started off with a bottle of a 1.5 litter, worked my way down to a half liter bottle, then to a 400 ml one. This is a challenge of precision.
In order to improve my aim, I took a rubber ball the size of a tennis ball, drilled a hole in it and put the rope in it with a plastic bit at the end so it wouldnâ€™t fall apart. I still have not managed to hit the ball well, but it is fun. Even if I miss the ball, I would still hit an enemies head. A rope with a plastic bottle on one side and a rubber ball on the other is also good. It’s fun to work it 1 and 2: striking the first target, and, even if you miss, striking the second.
Itâ€™s nice to work with pine cones, playing â€œminiature golfâ€ with a small improvised goal. I don’t know if this is a useful skill. Maybe working on a low target is good against dog attacks. Though I wouldn’t want to hurt a dog, even an aggressive one, before I try techniques like smart calm behavior combined with self confidence. The wild dogs in the Negev and the Hebron mountains are used to being attacked by stones for generations. If you just stop to pick up a stone, they will usually run away. However, the chain may be useful in case of crazy dogs.
The targets listed above are useful for precision and speed training. However, I wanted something with the size and feel of a human body. I have a punching bag at home. I wrap it in a heavy blanket to protect the sac. Then I work freely. It also helps to tape small targets on the blanket with masking tape.
The nice thing about the punching bag is that the chain bounces back in unpredictable directions and can hurt you. I hear that there are those who practice while wearing protective clothing against the stinging. Good for them!! I prefer working without protective gear and get some painful injuries occasionally. I also get injured sometime, even with quite a bit of experience. Just as while rolling on a stone floor, every ache is a sign of a mistake, that helps me to correct it.
Instructors note: It is not recommended and unprofessional to be injured, even a little, not from the floor and not by a 300 gram weight at the end of a chain – please do not practice without supervision and guidance of your instructor!
You can, with the proper technique, protect yourself from injuries. But I leave the matter of technique to the AKBAN instructors. I just wanted to write about targets for the short chain.