This training exercise is called “dirty rice,” “rice grips,” or “rice digs,” and is a very effective—and fun!—way to increase grip strength for karate and other martial arts.
Building up strength in your fingers, hands, wrists, and forearms is great for power, but is also a smart idea for combat fighters. Weak muscles are more prone to injury; so building up strength in these areas will be protective for sparring, partner work, and bag work.
Strong muscles in your hands and forearms are also really important for kobudo. You need a good grip for wielding those weapons.
For these exercises you’ll need a bucket and some rice. I use a bucket with a lid, so I can keep the rice covered in between training sessions.
I did originally try a bowl for this, to see if that would work. The bowl is okay, if that’s all you have available. But consider that the deeper you can submerge your hands in the rice, the more resistance you will feel. So a deeper bucket is ideal, so that you can work up to a higher resistance as you build up strength.
Here are a few different techniques you can try. To see a demo of these, check out this video:
The first one is to simply grab a handful of rice in your fist and squeeze. Then release your grip and repeat. A variation you can add to this is to rotate your wrist after you’ve squeezed your fist, both clockwise and counterclockwise.
A second technique is to make a fist, then plunge your closed fist down into the rice, and rotate your fist clockwise and then counterclockwise, repeating as desired in both directions.
A third method is the reverse of the fist squeeze. With this one, instead of closing your fist around a handful of rice and squeezing, you do the opposite. You’ll push your fist down into the rice, then open your hand up, spreading your fingers out as much as possible. Then repeat this motion.
A fourth technique is to pinch all of your fingers together, push them down into the rice, and then spread them apart. Then repeat.
The final method is great for strengthening your shuto, or knife hand. Form a shuto, then stab your fingertips down into the rice. A variation of this is to spread your fingers after you have plunged them into the rice. Then repeat this motion.
With all of these methods, make sure to do the same number of repetitions for both hands, left and right.
So there you have a few different techniques for building up strength in your fingers, hands, wrists, and forearms. You can start off doing 2 sets of 10 reps of each exercise, for 2-3 days per week. As you get stronger, you can increase the number of sets and/or the number of days.
What exercises have you tried for building up strength in your hands and forearms? Please share below!