Hokijiri in Technique

Having gotten to play with the hokijiri a bit now I’ve certainly been impressed and surprised by it’s performance.

Hokijiri Design

Illustration from the famous Ito Seiu, illustrating muchiuchi (flogging with the hokijiri) in corporal punishment.

Firstly, it’s very design is rather remarkable. The fact that it’s bamboo, thus filled with sections of hollow air pockets, means that it is inherently quite light. And then the bamboo is split, which assists in absorbing and shock from impact and reducing bounce, thus improving energy transfer for each strike. the layer of tightly bound jute burlap of course provides a certain layer of cushioning (seemingly for the bamboo, not so much for the recipient). Finally, the string binding the entire length of the hokijiri balances it and gives the whole length a certain tension that makes it feel quite elegant in the hand. Over all it is a deceptively light implement that delivers a considerable impact to varying degrees.

Hokijiri Technique

I managed to devise three particular techniques for striking with the hokijiri:

Sharp Strike

This is a sharp, whipping strike delivered largely with the wrist with a sort of snap feeling. Results in a sharp stinging pain and welts. Somewhat similar to the impacts commonly found in kali and escrima.

Weighted Strike

This is allowing the weight of the hokijiri to carry the impact; holding it loosely in your hand, simply drop your arm and allow the balanced weight of the implement to strike the body. This produces more of a “hollow shockwave” feeling upon impact and produces minimal welts or bruising.

Stick and Push Strike

This is a little bit like the follow-through strike with a kendo shinai. Upon striking, don’t let the hokijiri bounce, but instead immediately apply pressure with the strike, “stick” with it and “push-through”. This appears to leave less welting and more bruising, and has a sense of being a very “holistic” pain.

So over about 45 minutes I was able to devise three different strikes with this implement, try to see what else you can do!

Hokijiri in Material Discussion

Closeup of the braiding detail on the Hokijiri.

There was question of binding the hokijiri with hemp or just instead of cotton (currently used) or paper string. What follows is my observations, considerations, and response to the inquiry:

Traditionally the hokijiri was bound in paper string, which added weight and solidity to the implement which was by its nature hollow. The way of binding with hitches all the way up the spine gave it a very elegant balance. I used cotton simply because paper string is expensive in fairly small quantities, while I can get large rolls of cotton string at the dollar store for $1-5 each. I will be implementing paper string binding at a later time and have it as an option on the shop.

For the hemp twine, I’ve been thinking of doing that myself just to see how it turns out. The first thing on my mind is that the hemp and jute are both heavier than either paper or cotton, and in my experience the exquisiteness of the hokijiri comes largely from the deception of it’s weight (light and elegant as a feather, but hits like a horse). The other thing is that depending on the diameter of the twine, it may make it wider, which of course changes the experience as well.

In the near future, I will be offering selective options for variations and design of the hokijiri, but for now it’s on a case by case selection via email or messaging.

If you want to experience the exquisite excellence of this cane, place your order on our Etsy Shop!