is a punching board. It is a piece of equipment
essential in toughening the hands, strengthening
the wrists and giving training in hand techniques.
A makiwara consists of a straight board with the
top portion fitted for punching. The board itself
is made from a seven or eight foot long four-by-four,
cut diagonally so that the very top is about half
an inch thick. Traditionally, the striking surface
of the makiwara consisted of a bundle of straw with
rope tightly wound around it at the top foot of
the board. A piece of sponge rubber, two inches
thick, four inches wide and one foot long, covered
with canvas or leather, is widely used. Anything
that cushions the shock of impact can be used. For
example, a tightly bundled t-shirt attached with
duct tape would work just as well.
Regular use of a makiwara will develop strong technique
and is an excellent way to get the feel of karate
techniques applied to an actual target, rather than
into the empty air. It gives practice in focusing,
muscular control, breath control and as a by-product,
will toughen the skin of the knuckles and other
striking points. Because it is difficult to master
the technique of focus (concentration of strength
at the moment of impact), many karate experts feel
that the techniques of those who don't use the makiwara
are bound to lack power.
How to make and install
Dig a hole in the ground three or four feet deep.
Place the wide end of the board in it so that the
top is at a height near the top of your chest. Pack
the bottom of the hole with stones, bricks or concrete.
Place 2 two-by-fours as shown in the diagram to
brace the makiwara. Fill in the rest of the hole
with dirt. The top of the board
should move five or six inches without exerting
too much pressure. Having a board too flexible is
better than not flexible enough. Attach the striking
surface near the top of the board so that the center
of the striking surface comes to a height even with
your solar plexus.
How to use
The makiwara is used mainly for practicing hand
techniques, although foot techniques are sometimes
practiced as well. Ideally, a second, more sturdy
makiwara would be used for foot techniques. Pay
strict attention to good form, including proper
balance and hip rotation. In most cases, the point
of focus is about two inches on the other side of
the board when it is stationary. At the point of
impact, sharply let out a short breath, breathing
in while withdrawing. This gives good training in
breath control. In hand techniques, take care to
strike correctly with the knuckles of the fist while
keeping the wrist straight. There will be a tendency
for the hand to glance off at first, but constant
practice will correct this. Beginners should start
with 20 to 30 punches per hand and slowly work their
way up. Makiwara training may cause injury to certain
individuals. Makiwara usage is not recommended for
adolescents while their bones are still developing.
The bones in a young person are not hard enough
to withstand the stress placed upon them by this
type of training.