Makiwara karate

What Is A Makiwara Board? [All You Need To Know]

In the martial arts world it is very common to see people hitting a wooden board repeatedly, especially in Karate.

You might think “He is crazy!” if you are unfamiliar with this type of training.

Well, from a certain point of view you are right, you have to be really crazy to repeatedly strike a rectangular tablet.

What you may be unaware is that this board is called the Makiwara Board and it is one of the most primitive, traditional and well-known training tool in martial arts.

Especially in Karate, a martial art that doesn’t employ the usage of weapons, your feet and hands are your only weapons and for this reason it is crucial that you train them with the use of Makiwara Boards.

To let you understand how important these boards are, just think that they were used by old Japanese martial artists hundreds of years ago, and despite the evolution, it remains one of the most used training tool by karatekas and athletes all over the world to improve their performance.

Table of Contents

What does makiwara mean?

The term literally means “straw roll“, and this is exactly the material that covers the wooden board and which is wrapped with a rope to be well tied and firm.

straw roll


The Makiwara was born in 1908 when Anko Itosu wrote a letter to the Prefecture’s Education Department.

In that letter Itosu explained his project, which allowed him to bring his karate style to all of Okinawa’s schools.

The importance of the makiwara in karate practice is highlighted in the fourth point of his letter.
Itosu wrote:

“Hands and feet are important and must be strengthened exhaustively with the use of makiwara. 

The practice of makiwara allows to lower your shoulders, open your lungs, become aware of your own power, strengthen your grip on the ground with your feet, transfer, and use the energy in the lower abdomen.
Practice with each arm one hundred or two hundreds times”.

Since then, Makiwara has been implemented as a strengthening training for arm and leg techniques.

Just as a boxer builds his power and improves his punches with the use of the bag, the karateka uses the makiwara.


After more than 110 years, it is still possible to see how the words present in the letter of the master Itosu were correct.

Anko Itosu - the "father of modern karate"


The main goal of makiwara training is to develop a strong and technically correct punch and also to condition the hand and wrist to absorb impact so that the punch can be delivered correctly and efficiently.

The majority of karate trainings are based on kihon and kata, only delivering strikes “in the air”, then it’s critical that you get conditioned hitting something solid like the makiwara.

Makiwara training provides the benefit of ensuring that karate practitioners can train his techniques at full power while maintaining correct technique and breathing.

Nowadays, Makiwara training is also used to prepare martial artists for breaking karate boards.

Do you know those TikTok or YouTube videos where a karateka does flying kicks that smash wooden boards? Well, we’re talking about it; we’ve published an entire article about karate boards, we suggest you to read it!

Benefits Of Makiwara Boards

Using makiwara boards will help you to get many karate benefits, including:

– Correct technique execution, accuracy and power.

– Correct alignment of the bones and joints when you strike

– Body coordination

– Kime development

– Conditioning of your hands and feet to come into contact with hard areas without injuring yourself

How To Train With Makiwara Boards

From the outside, observing a karateka performing makiwara, it might appear simple.

“Well, what does it take to hit a wooden table?”

This is not exactly correct.

To train correctly with makiwara boards you need to be able to combine Focus, Power and Correct execution of the technique. If one of these is missing, training is of no benefit.


Throwing a punch and taking the target can be easy.

Putting all the power in the world on one punch can be easy.

Using the right technique can be a little more complicated, but it’s still not impossible.

Do you get what I’m saying?


Being able to execute each technique with the highest levels of Focus, Power, and Technique is what makes training with a makiwara challenging.

It may seem easy to practice punching or kicking a 15x20cm target, but try doing it a hundred times with the correct power.

If the body is not in a position to support the energy created by the strike, a weak punch will bounce off the makiwara.


So always keep in mind: Focus, Power, Technique.

Is Makiwara Training Dangerous?

Inadequate makiwara training can be dangerous. For makiwara training to be effective, it must be gradual and constant over time.

You don’t need to do 1000 punches a day and get the blood out of your hands if you’re not able to train for the next weeks.

In this kind of training, consistency and discipline are crucial.

Prioritize alignment, strike with form, and ensure that your striking surface aligns with the impact.

After some practice, you should be able to strike with a force that causes you no more than minor discomfort when you strike 50 or more times on each side.

Learn to pay attention to your body; if your hand hurts, back off a little; if your wrist buckles, perform a few no-power reps to straighten it out before continuing; and so on.

Makiwara training is very helpful in preventing hand and wrist injuries if you practice it safely.

Does Makiwara Training Lead to Arthrosis?

Again… yes, if done improperly. The most common legend is that the best way to train with makiwara boards is by getting microfractures. As the bone heals, it creates the famous bone callus that will allow the hand to resist shocks.

Thinking about it and training in this way, in the space of a few years you will end up spending many of them treating arthritis and osteoarthritis.

As we previously stated, the strenghtening and conditioning work must be constant and done with progressive strength.

Karate black belt performing push ups on knuckles

Alternatives to Makiwara Training

An excellent, simpler and less destructive alternative to makiwara boards are push-ups on the knuckles.

This type of training is very specific and beneficial because it reproposes the same direction that a hypothetical punch follows without stressing the bones and joints.

This alternative is highly recommended for kids and seniors.

 You can’t practice push-ups? Then use a heavy bag instead of a makiwara!

Makiwara types

According to one’s needs and possibilities, karate schools have created different types of makiwara.

Before going to see into detail all the types, it is good to specify that the Makiwara exercise must be performed with a tool that allows the blow to be absorbed.

Hitting a piece of tatami attached to the wall doesn’t allow the blow to be absorbed, therefore the karateka will receive a knockback on the shoulder.

This can cause serious bone and joint problems.


Now, let’s discover all the types of makiwara boards:



Tachi-makiwara: The “standing” makiwara


Ude-makiwara: is very similar to tachi-makiwara, except that it employs a pole cylinder with padding that completely covers the top of the pole.

Age-makiwara: Traditional age-makiwara was a bundle of neatly wrapped rice straw tied with rope.

age makiwara

Tou-makiwara: It is a particular form of makiwara. It is a straw-tied bundle of reed or bamboo stems tied together with a straw rope that is used to train finger strokes that penetrate the spaces between the reeds.

tou makiwara

Makiwara boardsThey’re normally made up of a small plank covered with canvas and mounted on the wall. Some have cuts in the section to create a shock absorber, others have real springs, others have the sum of softer support materials.

makiwara board
Portable Makiwara: These are small boards with linings that may be carried around with you.
portable makiwara

How To Build a DIY Makiwara

if you have previously researched on the internet the cost of a makiwara you may have realized that the price is not affordable for everyone.

Not just the price, even building one can be quite difficult if you don’t have the right skills.

Well, we give you the necessary skills!

As an alternative to the traditional makiwara, our team suggests using:

Tire Makiwara

This type of makiwara is really easy to build and replicates exactly the functioning of the traditional makiwara.

Do you want to build it? We wrote a detailed article on how to build a diy makiwara at home, you must read it!

diy makiwara tire

Anyway, this is the material you need:


– A wooden board, you can detach it from a pallet.

– A car tire, you can find it anywhere, from the landfill, from your car after you’ve replaced the tires or you may ask a clocal auto repair company near your home that is always full of tires to throw away. (Don’t be afraid to ask them, you’re doing them a favor by taking one away.)

Tip: Choose a fairly soft tire rather than a rigid one; otherwise the makiwara will not vibrate on impact and the punches will not be well amortized.)

– Something to cover the wooden board that softens the blow, a piece, a belt, leather or thin cushions. You also decide based on how hard you want it.

– A threaded rod

– 4 washers and 4 nuts

– A wrench

– A drill

– A hand saw for wood

– A hammer

diy makiwara tools

After you have all the materials, you will be ready to build your DIY makiwara.

We recommend watching the following video, which is only 3 minutes long, to fully comprehend how to build the makiwara without making any mistakes!


We have come to the end of this article, we have analyzed and answered the main fundamental points to know in the use and construction of makiwara boards.

Remember again: Focus, Power, Technique.

See you!

Karate Martial Art Team

Karate Martial Art Team

The Karate Martial Art Team is made up of 3 contributors who have full-time job and in their free time are dedicated to martial arts and writing. Do you want to become one of the Team? Get in touch on the contact page.

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