Differences between Okinawan makiwara training and JKA makiwara training



The JKA version seems to be using more external mechanics in terms of a push or mass type strike. The Okinawan method seems to be using an external application of fajin, using the momentum and power of opening the qua (the hip seam). This illustrates one of the divergence points of karate, when it was imported from Okinawa to Japan. The Japanese chose to specialize in striking for karate, due to various reasons.

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6 Comments on “Differences between Okinawan makiwara training and JKA makiwara training”

  1. For me it seems that their purposes for using the makiwara is different.

    The JKA Karateka seems to be using the makiwara primarily for conditioning purpuses — hardening his attacking and blocking tools. He keeps pressing his attacking / blocking tool against the makiwara pad even after the hit, this is a typical hardening exercise. His focus doesn’t seem to be on actual power, I think. If it is, then I think he could benefit from activating more of his body, rather than using primarily his arm.

    The Okinawan Karateka in the video seems to be using the makiwara to hone penetrating force. The purpose of the pendulum is to ensure that the makiwara is pushed back far enough to hit the pendulum — this shows good penetrative power. The karateka does indeed use a type of fajin (sequential motion) method, to create a whipping-type strike that is quickly uncoiled and equally fast retracted. Because the attacking / blocking tool is not kept and pressed onto the pad after the strike, the focus here is clearly not primarily the hardening of the attacking / blocking tool.

    Now it is difficult to make a general judgement as we only have here two practitioners demonstrating their styles, other practitioners of these styles may actually do it differently. In other words, one may find JKA Karateka using the makiwara not chiefly for hardening the attacking / blocking tools, but for testing power; or one might find an Okinawan Karateka using the makiwara for hardening of the attacking tools, rather than just power testing. It could be useful to look for more videos on how makiwaras are used, or corresponding with practitioners from these styles to find out for what primarily purpose they employ the makiwara. For instance, the primary purpose of the makiwara in ITF Taekwon-Do is for hardening the blocking / attacking tools. Power testing is achieved through other methods like board breaking.

  2. ymarsakar Says:

    The female karateka in the Okinawan vid is a sixth dan, but in a sequence of the video, it showed her hands. Which did not look deformed or had been conditioned at all. This, along with other stories about Okinawan karate vs Japanese karate, leads me to believe that the external type conditioning showed up only in Japan, and thus was exported to Korea. Which would make me expect that TKD uses the makiwara, if it ever does use it, in a similar fashion.

    The Okinawans did do some hardening, such as with toe kicks, but I’m not sure where the influence for that came from. Or even if it was originally Okinawan to begin with.

    It is interesting that you say TKD uses similar methods, because I’ve heard that these types of external conditioning produces arthritis in the hands since people impact it so hard/often without waiting 2-4 weeks for it to heal. Also another karateka trained by the Japanese styles, started training in the makiwara and wrote an article about it (somewhere). He said that the harder he punched the makwara, the harder the hit from the makiwara. Thus leading to bruising of his knuckles. That was one of the ideas I had for key differences between Japanese and Okinawan karate.

    Thanks for your response. I sent Dan a msg on his blog and if he chooses to provide his opinion on this matter, it might provide details concerning his Goju Ryu Okinawan roots.


    Many of these stories are corroborated by other sources I’ve seen and read.

    Further research points to an important divergence. The Japanese concept of one hit, one kill came from kenjutsu but was improperly applied to Okinawan kara-te, and since the world was peaceful, not much data could be acquired from real life shinken shoubu, so they relied on the use of pads or armor. But armor is not flesh and organs. So an impact that would not be able to stop armor, might indeed be able to explode and damage the central nervous system and organs of a human body. There in, lies a disproportionately large reason why the divergence between Okinawan and japanese karate happened.

    One of the things I noticed by talking to beginners on martial arts topics and my own experimentation is that a fajin or shock type power transfer doesn’t look like it did much of anything on a heavy bag. Whereas a push or mass type strike will make the bag move a lot further. In determining just what exactly was happening there, I came across other stories of people “dropping” their partners that had been armored/padded up, with one type of kick, when another type of kick did an impressive move that moved the other person back a long way. Yet it was the “hit and drop” method that was far more debilitating, even though the person was wearing pads. This could only normally be done by a kick. But internal martial arts in China tried to develop that same power with a hand strike, even going beyond the power of a kick sometimes using only the hands rooted to the ground via the legs.

    Most people probably use the maki this way. I think the Shaolin guys over in China used a stack of paper nailed up against a wall. There’s a dent in the wall after a few years though.

  3. “I came across other stories of people “dropping” their partners that had been armored/padded up, with one type of kick, when another type of kick did an impressive move that moved the other person back a long way. Yet it was the “hit and drop” method that was far more debilitating, even though the person was wearing pads.”

    I think that was me: http://sooshimkwan.blogspot.com/2011/06/is-balgyeong-valuable-contribution-to.html

    As for the makiwara in (ITF) Taekwon-Do: It’s assembly and use is described in the ITF Encyclopaedia, but honestly, I haven’t seen that many ITF practitioners that use it. In my around two decades of TKD practise, I’ve only seen it maybe two or three times. I personally do not use it.

  4. ymarsakar Says:

    There was another person that said the same thing as you concerning the kick that dropped a person. He’s a student of Albert C. Church from Charleston, S.C. In both cases, the specific kick was never mentioned, only the outcome.

  5. Tom Tordi Says:

    He is using his body by rotating his hips. Not just using his arm. He is also opening and closing his hip seam or qua. And also using the floor up through the legs and into his rotating hip with pressure from the floor. Hardening and power.

  6. Tom Tordi Says:

    I was in Urechi Ryu. They do not fail to harden anything. In fact they harden the whole body. I’ve been in Shotokan JKA now since 1991. They do not fail to rotate the hips, close the hip seam and utilize the whole body. Makiwara is for power and hardening.

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