Remember, training is not recommended at all for those under 16 years of age. Those individuals under 18 years of age must get permission from a parent or guardian before starting training. Always consult a physician before beginning any exercise program. Train at your own risk. These training methods only reflect personal experience, and Wesler's Karate, Inc. cannot be held responsible for any injury resulting from attempting to train in these techniques.

The karate (Japanese) method of training the hand is the most common type of hand conditioning. It is found in most hard styles of karate and crosses over into tae kwon do, which is extremely popular and accessible in my area. This is the kind of conditioning to which I was first introduced.

Karate conditioning focuses primarily on the use of the makiwara. Makiwara come in various sizes and shapes, but basically consist of a slightly flexible wood post wrapped with rope. The makiwara is struck repeatedly with increasing intensity, resulting in toughened, calloused hands and enlarged (calcified) knuckles. Seiken (forefist) and tegatana (knifehand) are the two primary techniques, but any surface such as palm heel, elbow, knees, and kicks may be used.

You can make a simple makiwara by digging a 1'x 3' hole in the ground, filling it with quick dry cement, and planting a 4"x 4" wooden post in it. The post should stand at least head high. Straw was traditionally used for its rumored antiseptic properties, but in this modern age, cotton clothesline will do fine. Wrap a double layer (or more) of the clothesline around the target portion of the makiwara (shoulder height).

Wall mounted makiwara are available at martial art stores, but they are often too padded and soft for proper training.

A hand held makiwara is also suitable and can be made by wrapping clothesline around a 14" section of 1"x 2" wooden plank.

Training on the makiwara is fairly basic, simply hit the post as many times and as often as you can withstand without injury. If you suffer a bruise or break in the skin, you should hold off training until the wound is healed.

You can also supplement your training by striking into a bucket filled with sand.

Liniment is often neglected in this form of training, but some karatekas do employ the use of dit da jow liniment. In my opinion, a good dit da jow should always be used before, during, and after training to prevent injury and discourage the development of arthritis down the road. Find a dit da jow that works well for you. The effects will vary depending on your personal physiology.

Makiwara should be trained daily, but there is no strict set regimen. The key is not hitting the makiwara so hard that you hurt yourself, but repetition and consistency.

The down sides are a tendency to neglect training due to the lack of schedule, conditioning only selected surfaces of the hand, possible slow to medium progression, and extensive callousing and/or scarring of the hand as well as an eventual possible loss of dexterity.

However, hand held makiwara can be very convenient to carry with you and use all day long. Makiwara trained hands are rather noticeable and can be ugly (though I personally find them quite beautiful in their deadliness, but that's my problem). If you like to show off, they are a sure sign of dedicated training in the old ways.

Mas Oyama (known, at times, as the Godhand), founder of Kyokushin Kai and world famous for his tameshiwari skill, developed knuckles on the makiwara that could withstand the blow of a hammer. He was best known for fighting bulls and severing their horns with his fearsome knifehand.

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