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A Tale of Two Bag Hooks

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Published in 2007

It was the best of sessions; it was the worst of sessions.

We had finally got the new bag hook up on the wall. As we train at a community centre it had to be a folding bag hook but finally it was up there.

‘Well lets christen it shall we?’ I said, and with that we hung the brand new bag on its brand new chains on the brand new hook.

‘Fantastic’ said one of the students in an almost relieved way. I had been planning this for some time. As any of you who know me know, I like to hit things. Marching up and down getting the technique is all well and good but there comes a time when you must, absolutely must, hit something. And no, I don’t mean brown belts either.

The relief was that we had finally got the bracket on the wall with screws that I am convinced came straight out of Frankenstein’s neck (yes I know Frankenstein was the doctor and the monster was his creation, but it sounds better, you pub quiz nerd), they were huge!

So we hung the bag that slowly rocked back and forth like a cadaver from a hangman’s noose. We looked at each other, OK I said and off I went, kizami, gyaku, uraken. Hmmm feels good so I continued, mawashi, uraken and gyaku again. The first few flurries were testers and not much more. Then I decided to step up the pace and power somewhat and started really laying into the bag.

The way the folding bracket is constructed means that the arm that actually holds the bag at the top which when folded out does move a touch. The bracket was bought from Blitz and I am sorry to say it was just not up to the job it was designed for.

I’d like to say it was because my punches had reached such a level of destruction that we heard a creak and a snap but I really don’t believe this is the case. I had managed to damage the bracket and it was hanging at a slight angle. Caution to the wind two or three more stepped up to administer punishment to the bag and its groaning hook, another clang and the unnatural angle had increased, the bag bracket was knackered. Working out the amount I paid for it and the time it was up, calculations were it cost me £3.26 per minute and that’s without postage!

A friend who trains with another karate club but comes along to our sessions now and again knows a man, or said he knew a man, who may be able to fix it and spot weld it back together or something and that sounded great.

A couple of months later and the hook is back, new, improved and welded. It isn’t the prettiest job but feels more solid than last time; we reattached it to the wall and looked at it apprehensively. ‘Lets get the bag up’ I state bravely and once again we attach it to the hooks. My first few attacks are rather ginger and then I get into my groove again. I don’t go mad but I hit it a few times. It seems to hold, everyone is still looking apprehensive. ‘Next’ I shout and off we go, everyone has a turn, no one goes mad and we decide to give it a rest till next session. We all thank Pete and go home happy.

Next session we do some kihon and kata and decide it is once again time to attack the bag, it is hoisted into place and up I step.

Bang, Bang, Bang.

Bang

Bang, bang, creak, snap.

‘Shit!’

The whole thing is once again listing at a totally unnatural angle; the bag is hanging on but only just. ‘Oh well, so much for that’ I say Pete is looking at the bag and saying ‘He won’t be able to re-weld that, it’s knackered’ and everyone realises we have spent more time taking the bag up and down than hitting it!

After we all stand round looking at the bag as though it were a fallen comrade Pete pipes up and says ‘I know a man………’

Roll on another year, the dojo has been bag less and all trace of it taken down and painted over by, I believe, some people who were on community service. The same people who later tried to steal stuff from the back of the centre when the ‘supervisor’ was elsewhere!

‘We’re nearly there’ said Pete excitedly as he bowed and entered the dojo

‘Where?’ I replied

‘My friend has fixed the first box set part together’

‘What?’

‘The bag hook’

‘Oh’ I was conserving my energy you see, for the session later. Talking is hard work!

Another month or so later and Pete walked in funnily, not like John Cleese may have done, but because he was holding a rather large bit of metal. I could have helped him through the door but watching him try and bow with it was much more fun.

This was the first part of the new improved Bag Hook 2 – Son of Bag Hook. It was big and looked impressive, this part attached to the wall and the hook part would slot into it, it was welded sheet metal and looked rather robust, in fact if the original bag hook had seen it, it would have felt inadequate.

The second bit arrived the next session and Pete reckoned they would get it up before Christmas ‘Which Year?’ I asked uncharitably

Son of Bag Hook was not up before Christmas. As it was so robust it was decided that extra long screws through the double breezeblock wall would attached it to some sort of back plate so that it was even stronger just in case Mike Tyson came to visit the dojo.

The first session back from Christmas and Son of Bag Hook was ready; it was up, bolted and secure. We slipped in the 3ft top section and hung the bag. It looked big and solid, this time we had a bag hook to be reckoned with.

We punched, kicked, palm heeled and elbowed that bag into oblivion and the hook just laughed at us, my super punches that destroyed Bag Hook didn’t seem to have the same effect on his offspring. What a great piece of kit I thought as I laid into it once again, pity about the colour.

Son of Bag Hook is a great piece of work, it does exactly what it says on the tin and holds the bag solidly and likes to be hit, and as I keep stating, you need to hit things. Not only is the bag a great stress reliever it is a great teacher as well, punching in the air is one thing but transferring your power into a target is something different indeed. Give it a go; believe me it’s worth it.

So thanks to Pete for eventually coming up with the goods and thanks to ‘the man’ that he knows who engineered Son of Bag Hook, long may he reign!

It is a far, far better hook I’ve got than I have ever had, it is a far, far more satisfying training I go to than I have ever known.

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