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Old 04-08-2005, 14:33   #1
bluemeanie
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Makiwara boards/toughening hands

I partake in my share of knuckle pushups and forearm stretches to strengthen and protect my hands and arms from damage. My instructor has us do pushups on harder surfaces from time to time as well.

When is a good time to begin further toughening the hands, and what is a good point at which to stop? Is striking a makiwara(sp?) board an effective and relatively safe way to do this? How can I make a board with sufficient padding to accomplish the task without breaking bones? Does anyone here advocate not using a board at all?

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Old 04-08-2005, 22:37   #2
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I have used a softball sized river stone for 15 years. You will need to make some "Dit Da Jow" (bruise wine) to assist with healing and to relieve conjestion in the joints of the hand. Begin training with the stone by tapping with the fingertips and all joints of the hand lightly for anytime you have a few minutes. Increase length and intensity of these sessions over time. In time, your hands will become very hard.
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Old 04-09-2005, 07:01   #3
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I've mounted some makwara boards at the school and use them not so much to toughen up the hands, but more to de-sensitize the nerves in the meaty part of my hands between the thumb and index finger. This is just because I like to throw a lot of ridgehands, and this area has a lot of nerves. It has definitely helped, but I really don't spend the time involved to seriously desensitize them. I probably hit them for 5-8 minutes, 3 or 4 times a week, for the past couple of years. I incorporate that part of my training into the warm-up.
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Old 04-09-2005, 17:48   #4
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Dimmak, please list the ingredients for bruise wine, I may need to have some on hand for daily life, karate training or not.

Blackbelt, can you explain the construction of your boards? Are they padded, as the commercially available ones are, or just covered with some para cord or something?
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Old 04-10-2005, 08:02   #5
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The boards that I've got I bought from Century. I don't remember how much they cost, but they weren't expensive. They are some sort of really heavy canvas w/a burlap type texture, and have some sort of really stiff padding underneath. All that is mounted on a thin piece of plywood.
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Old 04-10-2005, 16:01   #6
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The way I've always done it is this:

Find a nice smooth surface, preferably wood.

Hit ten times, lightly. On the tenth time you should feel a little pain. STOP HERE.

Each time you can go a little harder. And when I say that, please understand that I am speaking of increasing in miniscule increments.

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Old 04-11-2005, 15:05   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by bluemeanie
Dimmak, please list the ingredients for bruise wine, I may need to have some on hand for daily life, karate training or not.

Blackbelt, can you explain the construction of your boards? Are they padded, as the commercially available ones are, or just covered with some para cord or something?
Email sent...
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Old 04-29-2005, 20:58   #8
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I am by no means an expert on this subject, but I think I have a useful thing to add. I think about these things a bit differently now that I'm bordering on middle-aged.

I assume that you guys talk this stuff over with your doctors before doing something like this, right? I know several people who have joint damage in their hands from various sources. It is impossible to adequately describe the debilitating nature of serious joint damage and the damage might not be reversible. Also, it might seem like you're adapting now and getting tougher and better, but I don't think that means that you're not causing permanent long-term damage. Not being a doctor, I can't be sure of this assertion. I sure as heck can't be sure of the opposite statement -- can you? If you're not a doctor then you can't.

If there's any kind of serious risk of long-term problems, then you should steer clear of this kind of stuff. You only get one set of hands and will be borderline handicapped if you mess them up. Also, you'll be a lot better fighter when you're older if your hands actually work.

There's no way I would consider doing anything like this without a doctor's advice. A martial arts instructor (with all due respect) might focus on turning you into a better fighter NOW, more than whether you are able to write, type, etc when you're older.

That's my two cents worth. I emphasize again that I'm not claiming to be an expert on this subject.

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Old 04-29-2005, 21:51   #9
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Gentlemen:

Kudos to DBradD.

His suggestion that you seek the opinion of a physician before you try makiwara training is valid.

My best friend, a retired Captain in the California State Police, and at one time Ronald Reagan's bodyguard studied the hard Korean martial arts for twenty years.

He trained daily during that time, and used the makiwara regularly. His hands became very tough and calloused. He had no problems with the flexibility of his hands until he passed forty five years of age. Since that time his hands have caused him constant pain and he has have developed arthritis in all the joints of his fingers, including the wrist. He no longer can type, nor can he grasp common household tools.

Of course there may be no relationship between his training and his present problems. But his physician theorized that hitting of the makiwara the knuckle pushups and the fingertip exercises did irreparable damage to his hands.

The irony is that he never had to use his arts in his profession.

Deathrow: Not a Doctor or a Martial Artist, just an old guy with good hands.
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Old 04-29-2005, 23:35   #10
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Thanks DEATHROW, and, BTW, I hope you just made up your user name because you thought it sounds cool....

I thought I could smell something potentially unwise from about a mile away. The sad thing is that I can see myself about 10 years ago saying, "Yes sir!" and repeatedly punching a board like that without a second thought to the long-term consequences.

I actually did something vaguely like that about 10 years ago. I was a green belt in jiu-jitsu and was taking a judo class also. In judo, we did "bull in the ring" which resulted in me getting thrown about 80 times in one class. The next day, I had a back spasm and ended up in the hospital. To this day, some muscle (have no clue the name) in my back threatens to spasm about every other week. Gee, that was worth it. I was really good at breakfalls and was in tremendous shape at the time. The stupid stuff we do when we're just barely young enough to not say "No. That's stupid."

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Old 05-01-2005, 11:12   #11
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"So," the lawyer says, . . .

"are you telling the court that for the past several years you have been pounding your hands into this 'makiwara board'?"

The defendant replies, "Yes".

The lawyer than relates "And as I understand it, the purpose of such training is to make your hands actually HARDER and more calcified than the average person's hands. Is that not correct?"

The defendant replies, "Yes, but. . . "

The lawyer interrupts, "So your hands are more likely to inflict MAJOR trauma to a person being struck by them, kind of like being hit by a brick??"

"Well, um, NO," replies the defendant.

"Oh, so you don't practice breaking boards or bricks or concrete blocks with your hands?" the lawyer asks.

"Well, yes, we do practice this kind of training," the defendant acknowledges.

The lawyer then argues, "And do you not think that hands capable of breaking multiple boards or concrete or bricks could easily be capable of inflicting lethal force? That's the point, isn't it- to condition your hands beyond normal bounds so that you can strike an individual like my client HARDER without hurting yourself?"
*************************

An idiot with a decent lawyer will own you after the fight is over.

My advice- carry a brick around with you, or a board, or an asp baton. You'll get the same results both legally and physically and you'll at least not end up with arthritis when you hit 55.

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Old 05-01-2005, 15:01   #12
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Re: Makiwara boards/toughening hands

Quote:
Originally posted by bluemeanie
I partake in my share of knuckle pushups and forearm stretches to strengthen and protect my hands and arms from damage. My instructor has us do pushups on harder surfaces from time to time as well.

When is a good time to begin further toughening the hands, and what is a good point at which to stop? Is striking a makiwara(sp?) board an effective and relatively safe way to do this? How can I make a board with sufficient padding to accomplish the task without breaking bones? Does anyone here advocate not using a board at all?

Thanks
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Old 05-01-2005, 15:17   #13
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I like the last posting, but I think I'd reiterate the unquestionably wise move of talking to a doctor about this practice.

Like I typed in a previous post, your instructor might be primarily interested in making you into a better fighter in the near term. Your long-term ability to type, write, etc might not be at the front of his mind. Even if it's something he thought about, he's probably not a doctor. Even if he's older and has no problems, that doesn't tell you much either because people have different levels of vulnerability to health problems, with genetics playing a part.

If you're like the vast majority of us, martial arts is just a temporary hobby (don't kill the messenger -- that's my observation). It's stupid to sacrifice many years (hopefully you'll live that long) of functionality to gain something in a temporary hobby.

Martial arts are great. There's just no reason to be unwise. Get with your doctor before doing much of this.
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Old 05-01-2005, 20:03   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by DBradD
I like the last posting, but I think I'd reiterate the unquestionably wise move of talking to a doctor about this practice...
You may as well just quit. Not many physicians will have a clue about Martial Arts training. Most of them would faint if they knew what went on inside a real dojo.

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Old 05-01-2005, 23:35   #15
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Why would anyone want to do all that crap to their hands??
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Old 05-03-2005, 13:56   #16
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your hands

Be careful when conditioning your hands. Do it to some degree but I wouldnt say every day. You also want to make sure you remain finger flexibility. That is your top priority. I do silat and my instructor has known some karate guys that couldnt even hold a glass when they where old. You may be able to break bricks but it is sad if you lose the functioning. So stretch your fingers plenty. I do hit concrete a little but only about twice a week and the other times I use a phone book. YOu dont have to buy anything to condition your hands, that is just a gimmick. Get 2 phonebooks and wrap them in ducktape. YOu can watch tv or whatever and hit them with each part of the hand you want to train. This is more for power than conditioning. YOu should practice being relaxed but let your hand fall heavy instead of accelerating it with your arm. After a while you should practice very close to the phone book and be able to hit it with the same power and then you developed close range power. GOod luck.

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Old 05-04-2005, 13:04   #17
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Thanks Scott, and everyone else.

Ironeagle, to toughen them. I rarely wrap my hands or wear gloves in daily life.

DBradD, I do discuss some aspects of training with my Dr., and take his advice on most things. Individual Doctors don't know everything or take the time to consult journals or other doctors with respect to specific questions.

Just a for-instance, a friend of mine was told by a local ortho doc to stop scuba diving after an injury, and since he was my main dive buddy, I took umbrage at this and consulted the Divers Alert Network headquartered at Duke Universty Medical Center. They are the leaders in medical research related to diving, and told me to find him another doctor fast.

If this thread had yielded a link to some obscure but scientifically solid study on makiwara training, Id've been all over it. It didn't so I continue to seek input from experienced practitioners, my instructor and others.

Thanks, all.
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Old 05-04-2005, 15:41   #18
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In my younger days I played around with makiwara boards. My hands actually got pretty tough. In the last few years, I have discovered the old fashioned heavy bag. I started out with boxing gloves. Then as my hands and wrists adapted I worked through bag gloves, to speed bag gloves, to leather work gloves then finally to bare knuckles.
I find I can put my full blows now into any part of the bag, including that nasty hard bottom of the bag, and have no pain in my knuckles, hands, or wrists. If I am in a fight, my fist and maybe first targets should be the gut, groin, neck, or jaw. None of those are as hard as a makiwara. Hopefully I will be close enough for elbows and head buts pretty quickly. If I am going for a head shot I will probably us a palm strike or "knife hand". I do not like those much because they take too much motor skill.
If I am going to hit something really hard really hard with something really hard, I would rather use a stick I think than my fist. I do lots of exercises for my hands and grip including finger extensions. The thought of not being able to type or hold a glass of water in "old age" is pretty sobering. I had never thought of causing irreversable damage to my hands this way.
BTW, I used to dive with my doctor, so I was lucky;f

Regards,
Gary

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Old 05-06-2005, 07:53   #19
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When I was in my late twenty's and into my mid thirty's I had a board set up in my basement. I worked out on it religiously. I have some great bit knuckles on both hands now. They look unsightly and deformed. I am 48 now and I regret those many hours on the board and now realize it was a big mistake. My opinion is wrap your hands and use some bag gloves and hit the heavy bag. As said above you only have one set of hands, they have to last you a lifetime.
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Old 05-06-2005, 09:34   #20
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Quote:
Originally posted by Beagleboy
When I was in my late twenty's and into my mid thirty's I had a board set up in my basement. I worked out on it religiously. I have some great bit knuckles on both hands now. They look unsightly and deformed. I am 48 now and I regret those many hours on the board and now realize it was a big mistake. My opinion is wrap your hands and use some bag gloves and hit the heavy bag. As said above you only have one set of hands, they have to last you a lifetime.
Now, as personal experience coming from a long-time practitioner, that carries some serious weight with me. Thanks for adding your thoughts. I never considered hitting iron plates or unpadded boards, Travis' advice on using a phone book seemed more in line with the type of training I was considering. Working out with my club for the first time in several weeks has convinced me that there is so much more I need to work on before I even consider making my hands harder that it would be awhile before I tried it anyway.

Thanks again.
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