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One of the most overlooked aspects of true karate training is daily makiwara
practice. Constant repetition builds power and kime. Without kime, you
do not have effective karate. When I first started training at Takushoku
University is was mandatory that we hit the makiwara 50 times per hand.
Even though this does not seem like a high number, a senior student would
place his hand two inches behind the board and count only the punches that
made the board slap into his palm. As you can imagine, sometimes it took
over 200 punches to do 50 correctly! This practice quickly forced us to
fully commit to each punch without thinking about how many repetitions
were ahead because only the focused techniques were counted. Master Funakoshi
and Master Nakayama both hit the makiwara before and after training.
Makiwara training also develops mushin, which literally means "no mind". If you only concentrate on the pad in front of you, your sense of awareness is limited to the board alone. The moment you make impact the mind, the spirit, and the body must join together and then instantly relax, again allowing the spirit to absorb whatever is going on around you. This total physical/spiritual contraction and then relaxation is essential to develop the ability to defend yourself against multiple opponents. Commit just as fully to the completion of the technique as you commit to the execution. The mind should be the same throughtout and only with mushin can this be accomplished.
Technically speaking, makiwara training builds strength and power the same way hitting the heavy bag does for a boxer. Consistent practice has developed punches that registered close to 2000 lbs. per square inch. This is as high as humanly possible. Training for speed and form is not true karate training and any experienced karate person can tell the difference between someone who hits the makiwara and someone who does not.
The makiwara is a key tool for physical, spiritual and overall karate development. Try it for yourself. If you break the skin, however, stop and wrap the hand or allow it to heal first.
Text and Calligraphy by Master Okazaki