Makiwara - How to Build and Use

Makiwara 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 diagnonally 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.

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By Christopher Caile and Deborah Klens-Bigman, Ph.D.

There is an old Japanese samurai saying, “When the battle is over, tighten your chin strap.” This refers to constant awareness, preparedness for danger and readiness for action. The Japanese saying itself focuses on the end of a combat engagement when it is natural to relax awareness, thinking the danger is over, when in reality it often is not. “This concept carries over into the dojo which is not just a training hall but a place where a certain awareness of the possibility of serious combat must constantly be maintained,” said John Donohue in his article Kendo: The Way of the Sword. But, for the serious martial artist this heightened state of awareness becomes a natural part of the psyche, something that is automatically turned on while awake as well as during sleep.

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Stillness Training: The Basis of Movement

By Aaron Hoopes

One of the most important things I have learned in teaching breathing to martial artists is that one can only understand its importance by actually practicing deep breathing oneself. The same is true with stillness training. It is impossible to adequately understand the benefits of contrasting movement with stillness without actually trying it yourself.

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Secret to developing an Effective Personal Karate Training Plan

By Paul Walker

If you are a member of any serious martial arts school with a reputable instructor then you will have no doubt heard in class the words "Be sure to practice at home. Martial arts training goes beyond the dojo." Often, this advice is given without any suggestions or tips on how to actually do this. How do you practice at home? How do you develop an effective training plan? How often should you practice?

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Your Journey to a Karate Black Belt: 10 Training Tips

By Paul A. Walker

The primary goal of any beginner or intermediate student of karate is usually to attain the coveted black belt. The black belt represents technical excellence, high ethical standards and the ability of a student to endure a strict and rigorous training regimen. To those "in the know," people with black belts are seen as being more than just average practitioners. They are rightfully seen as being highly disciplined and skillful proponents of the art.

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