Some of us pursue training in bo, sai, etc. But all of us karate-ka train to use four very important weapons. I’m talking about our hands and feet. Many of you dear readers probably already know good methods of caring for your weapons. If that is the case, you might want to pass along this article to some of your students. I know I didn’t just figure these things out on my own – many people shared tips with me (including my Mom, one of the Senseis at a sister dojo, and a few people in a Google+ Martial Arts community). If this article can help someone, I’ll be happy.
Finger Nails and Toe Nails: This is a no-brainer, right? Wrong. Every once in a blue moon, a student will have to be reminded to cut fingernails and toenails. My nails grow pretty fast, so I have to keep after them about once a week. My nails are a bit tough, so I use big toenail clippers on my fingernails and big toes, then little fingernail clippers on the rest of my toes. I leave just the tiniest rim of the white part of my nails. If you’re having problems with your nails, ask your doctor for help – sometimes you just have to eat more carrots (Jesse Enkamp would probably say to eat more carrot cake).
Appealing Feet: When I was a teenager, the other kids and I would peel our feet and Sensei would make us clean it up and do pushups… Ah, the memories! Fascinating as it was to peel our feet, the newly exposed areas were tender and painful. When I resumed training, I knew better than to peel my feet, but my left big toe would slough skin from time to time anyway. That was fixed mostly by correcting foot position while moving in fighting stance. I achieve further prevention on my big toes and heels by the use of a Ped Egg, which is basically a small cheese grater for feet. It beats pumice stones hollow. I use the Ped Egg once a week after I trim my nails.
Dry Skin: Lotion, of course. But it’s not so simple if your skin gets severely dry in the winter, like mine does. This recommendation comes originally from some fishermen: Gold Bond Ultimate Intensive Healing Hand Cream. The fragrance is not too bad – definitely not flowery, so guys, you can use this stuff. I tend to be allergic to perfumes and fragrances, but this lotion doesn’t bother me. Every winter night right before bedtime I use this on my hands. If I skip a night, I’m usually sorry the next day. Hydration of the body helps, a humidifier helps, but nothing beats this lotion for healing and prevention.
Shoes: If your shoes hurt your feet, spend loads of time to find the best deal on shoes that fit you properly. You should be able to run, stop quickly, and change direction instantly in any pair of shoes you wear. Ladies, ditch the heels. If you’re not convinced, go to a nursing home sometime – spines and feet get misshapen and crippled from decades of wearing heels. Replace shoes as needed – my sneakers wear out every three months. I know it’s time to replace them when there’s either a structural failure or my feet start hurting.
That’s it for basic weapon care. Check with your doctor if you have more severe problems, and take good care of your body as a whole.