I've seen Chi Ishi workouts in person, but never done them.
I would say they are similar to club bells, but the weight distribution & balance are a bit different.
I saw Judo players using them to improve grip strength, don't see why they wouldn't be good for sword grip.
Myself, I do a few different types of lifting.
Most consistently, I'll do a circuit of various exercises as part of conditioning for martial arts training.
A circuit will usually consist of things like kettle bell swings, basic calisthenics, plyometric type exercises, and weighted exercises at a medium/high rep range to build rotational core strength. Circuits usually last about an hour.
Occasionally I'll do a heavier weight training workout for strength, most often I do this when coming back from time off. This strength workout consists of what I call the Big 4: Squat, Deadlift, Chin-Up, and Dip. Occasionally I'll swap in Olympic lifts like the Clean, pseudo Olympic lifts like the Clean & Press, or more standard Powerlifting lifts like the Bench Press.
I guess it's vanity, but for me it's mostly about sanity.
After experiences with an earlier thread, I don't talk about my own diet.
If you want help with lifting heavy and looking good on a vegetarian diet, I think Bill Pearl definitely has a lot of good info:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Pearlhttp://www.billpearl.com/