Grandmaster Joe Manley talks a lot about “matter of fact” (MOF) exercises that can be done in small doses. These aren’t things that require you to get into workout clothes or to build up a sweat. They are instead small movements that create a foundation for Bando techniques.
One of the most important MOFs that I practice is wrist figure 8s. I do these all the time and the are the key to subtle moves, quick strikes, grabs, and parries. The Figure 8 is actually a sideways Figure 8, or an “infinity sign”, but we still call it a Figure 8 (see below).
This is one of those times when describing something feels much more awkward than just showing it. But here’s a go….
If you’re not sure how to start it, imagine you are placing the back of the right hand on the upper left hand side of the Figure 8 (so your palm is facing up). As the right hand slides down from left to right, the palm is still facing up when the hand is on the lower portion of the right hand side. If the back of your hand continues to follow the line, your hand will be near the top of the right hand lobe, with the palm facing down. It then sides down from right to left, until at the bottom of the left side lobe (palm is still facing down). If the hand continues along that line, you’ll end up back at the top of the left lobe, palm up.
You can also do this movement in reverse with the right hand, sliding down the left side until reaching the bottom, and then sliding up from left to right with palm down.
You can also do these figure 8s with the left hand, and of course you’ll want to practice both ways with both hands. If you’re looking at the sideways figure 8 above, imagine the left hand is on top of the left lobe, but this time palm down. The left hand can then slide along the lines to follow the figure 8.
Figure 8s can be made very small (using only the wrist), medium (involving the elbow) or large, using your shoulder to move the entire arm as one unit. Give all three sizes a try, and play with wrist figure 8s here and there.