There are many different martial arts in the world. However, not a lot of them are as diverse as Karate. The ancient Japanese martial art has been evolving for centuries, and there are many different types, styles, and techniques out there. Some of them are modern, while some still use traditional methods of training and equipment, such as a Makiwara board. So, what is a Makiwara board for Karate?
The makiwara is a special striking board used in Karate to train punches, kicks, and different strikes. The surface of a Makiwara board is usually hard because it is used not only to practice technique but to toughen up your fists or legs gradually.
Even though the Makiwara board has been in use for centuries, some suggest that training on such a board is actually counter-productive. They say it causes injury to the knuckles, hands, and fingers. That is not true if you know how to use a Makiwara board properly. It is not about hitting the board until you hurt yourself. It’s about discipline, method, and repetition.
What is a Makiwara board for Karate?
There are several different types of Makiwara board. However, before we get into the types, you should know what it is and what it’s used for. Makiwara board (or simply Makiwara) is a mounted striking board that works as a practice tool for Karate practitioners. Its origin stems from Okinawa and has roots deep into the beginning of Karate and its evolution into a martial art we know today.
There are many different types of Makiwara. The traditional board is made of wood and stands as a post buried in the ground. Its main characteristic is its versatility. You can work on many different strikes and techniques with a Makiwara, and you can adjust it according to the intensity and the purpose of your training.
You can make it stiffer and less flexible when it comes to recoil after the punches. The stiffer it is, the better hang of proper striking technique you will get. However, it will be a lot tougher to hit with force, especially if your hands aren’t trained to endure repetitive hits. On the other hand, if you mount it to be more flexible, it will provide you with a lighter surface for hitting and help you work on your posture and conditioning.
Another type of Makiwara is the wall-mounted board. It works similarly to the floor-mounted kind but provides less recoil, so it is more frequently used for training the endurance of your fists, knuckles, back-fists, etc. There is a lot more a makiwara board does for you, though. If you do your training properly, it will help you get the perfect body posture, precision, and especially the strength and power of your strikes.
The board can be padded, so you have some protection when hitting. That allows you to work on your power and speed more. The thickness of the padding determines how much conditioning you’ll get to toughen up your hands or legs. If you opt for a bare Makiwara (that is, without the padding), the hitting surface will be a lot harder. This kind of Makiwara is used for toughening up your hits, learning the correct technique, etc.
Is Makiwara Training Beneficial?
If you do some research, you’ll see that the opinions on this topic are split in half. Some believe that a Makiwara board does more harm than good for you, while others see more advantages than disadvantages. We agree with the latter more, but we’ll take a look at some of the main arguments for both standpoints.
Those who claim Makiwara training is counter-productive highlight the fact that hitting a hard surface continuously can cause serious injury. Also, the opinion here is that you can do the same, and even more by using a punching bag instead of a Makiwara board. It is tougher to work on combinations on a Makiwara board, too. However, all of these arguments fall into the water if you use the board properly.
People make a big mistake while using the Makiwara because they are missing the point of training on such a tool. It is not about hitting the board as hard as you can until your fists bleed. It will only cause you pain, injury, and will keep you away from training for a longer period.
The proper use of a Makiwara isn’t meant to hit is as hard as you can, but using it to correct your strikes and focus energy in the correct spots to avoid injury. You should work on the boards gradually, starting with the padded board and working on the harder ones step by step. As you train, your knuckles, hands, and other trained body parts will gain durability and toughness gradually. Here is a complete guide on how to train your hands specifically for Karate.
The more you train and repeat the process, the better your technique will get. As a result of a better technique, the power will come naturally. So, to answer the question, Makiwara training is extremely beneficial if used properly. It is not about making yourself bleed, it’s about discipline, focus, precision, and technique.
How Do You Use Makiwara for Karate?
There are many different ways to use a Makiwara for training. It can be used to work on many different aspects of your martial arts skills, but the basics are the most beneficial for any practitioner, be it a beginner or a more experienced fighter.
The first, and obvious way to use a Makiwara is for punches, chops, and other hand striking techniques. Stand in front of the board within arm’s length. From the neutral position, you can work on various strikes. A straight punch will develop your striking posture because it will enable you to adjust your hits depending on what kind of recoil you are getting from the board.
If your punch ricochets off the board, you need to put more weight into each strike to support it with your body. If it sticks to the board, and you hit it straight primarily with your index and middle knuckles, you’re doing it right. Repeat the strike 10 times with each hand consecutively as long as you can. Hit as hard as you feel comfortable – the power will come with time.
The same rules apply for practicing other strikes as well. Hit the board with your back-fists, the base of your hand (Karate chops), with your fingers, elbows, knees, or shins. You can also work on quick 1-2 combinations, which will help you understand how to connect the strikes most effectively.
Check the complete list of Karate moves and what should you focus on.
Best Makiwara Board for Karate – Overall
If you are looking for the best option for your training, not a lot of Makiwara boards can measure with the Bokuto Wooden Wall Traditional Makiwara. As the name suggests, it is a wall-mounted board that’s 73 centimeters tall and 10 centimeters wide, perfect for practicing both strength and precision.
Even though it is wall-mounted, the two-level design will provide you with the same advantages a floor-mounted Makiwara would – the recoil, resistance, and toughness.
It comes with padding on both striking levels, but a great part about it is that the padding is removable and changeable. You can put on thicker padding, or remove it completely, depending on what you feel the most comfortable with. The two levels will also provide you with a chance to work on multiple techniques and strikes, both with your arms and legs.
The only downside of the board is the price, which is around $90. It’s a bit more expensive than some alternative options on the market, but it is certainly worth the investment.
Best Makiwara Board for Karate – Budget Pick
For right around $20, you can build your own Makiwara and design it as you please. However, if you are not that handy, you can buy a professional model for only $30. Our budget pick is the Sedroc Makiwara Board Strike Pad Clapper. It is also a wall-mounted Makiwara board that is padded on one side and bare-wooden on the other.
There are slots in between the sides which provide a clapping sound when hit. That can help you work on your technique and strength by listening to the sound of each impact to determine if it was delivered correctly.
The cover is made out of a foam pad covered with leather, so it can wear off after some use, which can be a problem because it is not interchangeable. However, it is made of high-quality materials, so you’ll need to use it quite a lot for it to wear off. This model might not be as versatile as the Bokuto board, but it will most definitely serve its purpose and give you good quality for your money.
There are some alternatives to a Makiwara board that are also fairly common. For instance, Makiwara bags are a part of ancient Karate training equipment for centuries as well. They are usually made out of canvas and can be filled with sand, rice, pebbles, or any other material, depending on how thick and hard you want the bag to be. It works similarly to a Makiwara board, with a bit more focus on the strength of your strikes instead of technique.