Makiwara Board For Karate: What It Is And How To Train With It?


Karate has been evolving for centuries and has become increasingly diverse. Modern ways of training are taking hold over the traditional ones. Still, there are dedicated students of the martial art who repose their faith in the old school ways. One of these old ways of training is using a Makiwara board. So, what is a Makiwara Board? Well, let us try to find out. 

What is Makiwara?

The “Makiwara” is a striking board used to practice kicks, punches and other strikes. But, the Makiwara has a strong surface and it does not cushion your strikes. Therefore, practicing on a Makiwara is instrumental for toughening up your limbs. 

We can trace the origin of the Makiwara to ancient Okinawa. There is no doubt that the roots of the Makiwara board are almost as old as the martial art itself. 

Types of Makiwara Boards

Yes, Makiwara boards come in different types depending upon numerous factors. I have tried to elaborate on all of it below:

  • Traditional Board: It is made out of wood and is buried on a post in the ground. This proves to be the hardest board to train with due to lack of any padding. It allows you to work on different strikes and techniques. There is a lot of versatility when it comes to adjustments. But, it proves to be tougher to hit with force. Therefore, if you have not built up endurance in your limbs, it may not be the best choice. However, one cannot brush aside the importance it has on building your posture and conditioning your body. 
  • Wall-mounted Board: The wall mounted board provides you with less recoil. So, students have used it to build the endurance of their bones and muscles. A proper training regimen can help perfect your posture, precision and increase the power of your strikes. This board can also be padded to ensure protection while hitting. The board can also be padded while hitting for conditioning and strength. But, a bare Makiwara proves to be useful in the long run as it teaches you the correct techniques. 

Benefits of Makiwara Training 

There is a debate whether Makiwara training is actually useful or not. People seem to be divided in their opinions. Some of them believe that using a Makiwara can do more harm than good. So, let us look at whether these arguments derive any credence. 

The major opposition stems from the argument that training with Makiwara can cause serious injury. People say that the same results can be derived by using a punching bag. 

But, most of these arguments fall flat if you know how to use the board properly. The point of a Makiwara board is not to hit as hard as you can. This will cause serious injury and lead to inconsistent training. 

The point of Makiwara training is building precision of your strikes. Training on a Makiwara board allows you to focus energy on the correct spots. This allows you to reduce the chance of injuries in a real situation. It will also help to increase the impact of your strikes. 

It is usually recommended that the students should gradually work with the boards. There is no point in going for a traditional board at the outset. We should start by using a padded board and move up the order as we build durability. Repetitive training will toughen up your muscles and bones, which will allow you to train with wooden Makiwaras. So, the point is not pushing yourself outside the limit to cause injuries. The key to Makiwara training lies in patience, focus and discipline. 

How to train with Makiwara?

Now, there are a number of ways to train with a Makiwara board. It plays an important role and allows you to work on different aspects of your martial arts training. The best part is that Makiwara is used by beginners as well as experienced practitioners. Let us look at some ways to use the Makiwara board. 

We will start with the most basic Makiwara training. You can use the board to practice your chops, strikes and punches. To start, stand at an arm’s length from the board. This will act as your neutral position. Your neutral position allows you to work with a variety of strikes. Try to land straight punches to perfect your position. 

Training with Makiwara is also based on observing. Try to observe how your punch lands on the board. If it manages to ricochet off the board, then put more weight into successive strikes. If your punch lands the board and sticks with your index and middle knuckles, you have got it. Repeat the strike at least 10 times with each strike being as hard as you can. Please note that this impact should also be based on your comfort. Do not try to push outside your limits to avoid injuries. 

The same rule applies to other strikes as well. Try to work on your combinations to effectively connect your strikes. 

How to Make a Makiwara Board?

Traditional Makiwara boards can be constructed with ease. Here are the steps to building your own Makiwara Board:

  1. Selecting the lumber: You can use fir, redwood, whitewood or others as your lumber. Just ensure that the lumber is knot free and grains run parallel to the length of the post. 
  2. Planning your Makiwara: Decide on the length of the Makiwara depending on the training you wish to take. Common heights are between 4-5ft. 
  3. Cutting the lumber: Draw a straight line along your lumber and cut along the lines. We recommend using a large diameter saw to cut the lumber. 
  4. Building your base: Measure the desired height of your makiwara and draw your ground surface line. Cut two 18” pieces from 4”x2” lumber for your cross braces. Affix these cross braces on the post using long wood screws or nails. Your first cross brace should be 6” below the surface of the ground and the bottom brace should be the same distance from the bottom of your post. 
  5. Burying the Makiwara: Before burying, invest in a good wood preservative to ensure a long life to your Makiwara post. 

To Wrap It Up

So, that’s pretty much it folks! I have elaborated on the various intricacies of makiwara and its types. If you are having trouble building your post, or have any other questions, feel free to reach out to me at The Karate Blog! So, what are you waiting for? 

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Span Chen
Span Chen
I have been practicing karate for more than 6 years, and now at the sixth level (green belt) of the Okinawa Goju-Ryu Karatedo Kugekai. Though I haven’t earned my Black Belt yet, I am deeply passionate about my training.