Tag Archives: break brick

How to Make a Makiwara!

To make a makiwara…

you need a shovel
a board
and some rope.

You use the shovel to dig a hole
maybe four feet deep.
At the bottom of the hole you put a big rock,
and you slide the board in next to the rock.
This will brace the board
so the hole doesn’t widen while you punch.

The board should be,
as I recall,
about eight feet long,
and it should be a two by four.
The top half should be cut slantwise,
so that the top is maybe one inch,
and half way down,
at the four foot mark,
the board should be intact,
the regular two inches.

cutting the board this way will enable it to bend.
You don’t want something that doesn’t bend,
it’s just too tough on the knuckles,
and doesn’t build your strength properly.

You fill in the hole with dirt,
at the top of the hole
you place a big rock,
on the other side of the makiwara
than the one at the bottom.
will brace the board.

You don’t want to just cement it in.
That is just too unforgiving.
if you want to replace it,
nobody wants to dig up a big chunk of cement.

at the top of the board
you wrap the rope.
I have heard that some people
will put a pad of some sort
under the rope,
they will wrap the pad and board together.
Not a bad idea.

The thing to remember about this,
is that rope is tough on the knucks,
so you might want to look around
and find something
that will not cut the knucks
or rough them up too badly.

I know a lot of people think
that good karate conditioning
is broken knuckles.
That just damages the hands,
and makes punching harder.
Take it slow,
don’t try to damage your knuckles,
just try to improve your punching power.

I said I haven’t practiced on a makiwara,
that’s true.
I’ve hit just about everything else in the world,
short of an elephant
and your granny’s bloomers.

I’ve struck
suspended balls,
large and small,
and that was fun.

When I began,
I tacked a couple of rug samples
to a giant redwood tree,
that was very fun.

Made my own kicking bags,
and there is a fascinating article,
if I do say so myself,
called ‘The Bag from Hell.’
Google it,
see if you can find it.
It’s a VERY good article.

one of my favorites,
hitting tires.
It’s fun to just hang them and whack them.
It’s better to cut a section out
and tack it to a tree
and hit the bulge.
Tires are good.

there are LOTS of other things.
what is extra fun,
they aren’t expensive!
I have nothing against buying a kicking bag,
or maybe the bozo bob thing
with the water base
and all that,
I’m frugal.
So I make my own,
and the thing I try to think about
when making these things
is this:

Does the thing feel like a human body?

Better to just practice on a human body,
of course,
but you tend to run out of students.

But that’s the skinny on making yourself a makiwara,
or whatever.
Just remember,
the rules I list here are not cut in stone.
try different length of boards,
different thickness,
different wraps,
even different stones in the pit.
Come up with something good,
let me know.
I’m always looking for something good to hit!

you guys and gals
have a most delicious work out,
and don’t forget to go to…


If you’re going to be hitting something,
you better know the truth about
what a punch really is.


zen martial arts

How to Break Anything!

Karate Breaking the hard way!

I received an email,

and the fellow asked about breaking.

How do you break a board.


let me tell you how to break

anything you want.

Quick and easy.

martial arts breaking image

Four boards, no spacers, no hand conditioning!

I studied at the Kang Duk Won

for some seven years.

In that time

my instructor said

maybe a dozen things to me.

That’s all.

I was pretty slow,

didn’t understand a lot,

didn’t ask a lot,

and that was the extent of our conversing.


that wasn’t bad.

You learn more by being silent

than any other method.

You learn more by being silent

than you do by studying.

You learn more by being silent

than you do by asking questions.

You learn more by being silent

even than by…making mistakes.

Silence gets rid of distractions

Silence gives you the mental room

to cogitate

over what you see.

Silence means you don’t alter

what you see.

Silence is the natural state

of the spirit

that you are.

Silence is good.


of the things I asked Bob (my instructor),

I don’t remember all of them.

I remember he would always ask me,

‘How’s work?

Or some variation.


I asked him about other systems,

and he said,

‘There’s many ways to the top of the mountain.’


once on the mat,

I wasn’t doing something right with my punch,

I wasn’t opening and closing it hard enough,

and he said,

‘A tight fist is a heavy fist.’


that’s all I remember.

Pretty bad, eh?


pretty good.

In all that space

of him not talking,

I figured things out,

and I didn’t have incorrect instruction

to distract me

from the real teaching.

And what was his real teaching?

The fourth thing I remember him saying.


I remember him saying this several times.

Fellows came in,

studied for a while,

and they invariably asked him a question.

The question was phrased in one of two ways.

Either they would ask him,

‘How did you get so good?’


the one I and several others

(over a period of time)

asked him.

‘How do you get advanced abilities.’


there were many variants of this question,

but that is basically what they were asking.

‘How do I get to be a superman like you?

And he always said one thing:

‘Do your forms.’

In this day of MMA,

that’s not a popular answer,

but I want you to consider

an experience I had.

My wife was teaching at a private school,

and the principal found out I knew Karate

and asked me if I would put on a demonstration.

I said yes.


part of any demonstration

is breaking boards.

Everybody expects it.


I hadn’t broken any boards,

or bricks,

or conditioned my hands,

or speared them in sand,

or even done push ups,

since I had left the Kang Duk Won.

That was twenty years without ANY breaking.

At all.


I didn’t think about it.

I just went down to the lumber yard

and bought five foot squares.

Number 2 pine.

One inch thick.

I went to the school.

Talked to the kids,

showed them a form,

showed them applications.

And then I said something like,

you need to know how hard you can hit,

you need to know if you can hit somebody that hard,

and I set the five boards on a pair of cinderblocks.


I wasn’t thinking about it,

about the fact that I hadn’t broken anything

in twenty years.

I just had the five boards,

and my mind was pretty silent about it.

So I broke the boards.

Thought about the price of kindling,

when I threw them in the school dumpster.


after it was all over,

I thought about breaking,

and realized that I hadn’t broken anything

in twenty years.

And thought about how I had been able to.

I had been able to,

hadn’t even thought about it,

had the silent confidence and certainty


for twenty years,

I had practiced my forms.

Day in,

day out,

doing those same darn forms,

never thinking about them,

just focusing on when I pushed with the leg,

when I turned the hips,

how I had to be empty (silent)

when I popped a fist.

Just doing my forms.

And the forms create a type of silence within.

You are thinking only about what you are doing,

you are fixing your attention

which is a yoga concept,

eliminating distractions,

and the silence within grows.

Your mind sort of shuts up.

Did you know I have almost no thoughts going on

inside my head these days?

Only a delicious silence,

and I watch people,

and I listen,

and I learn.

Do you know how much is happening in this universe

when you stop generating static,

and generate silence,

just listen?

It is amazing

how rich this life is!


 my core method,

the thing I do that makes me able to put out a candle

from over a foot away,

is the silence

I built up by

doing my forms.

I’m different than Bob,

I knew that,

and I sort of knew that I wouldn’t be putting my finger

into a board

and leave a hole.


I do things that Bob couldn’t have done.

We are just different people.

We are not the hordes of people,

shouting and manic,

creating energy.

We are the individuals,


doing our forms,

and creating silence.

Creating space.

Creating emptiness.



I want you to think about that.

MMA is great fun,

a whole art behind grappling,

I don’t happen to be a grappler.

I do things that create silence.

I do my forms.

Don’t be part of the static,

be part of the silence,

be part of the solution,

for what ails this planet…

too many people,

 too distracted.


my personal favorite

for creating silence…

do the forms.

Okay and ka-dokay.

Talked long enough.


I’ve written long enough.

so let me make my recommendation.

Temple Karate

is based on the forms I did,

and my instructor did,

to create silence.

There’s actually two systems on that course,

one based on the Kang Duk Won,

the other based on other forms I learned,

and all made simple

by matrixing.



 is a form of silence,

it is something without the distractions

of added/incorrect/altered/whatever


You can find out more out about Temple Karate here…



you guys and gals,

have yourself a gorgeous

and most silent

work out.

in the silence you will find the truth of your form.

You will find who is actually doing them,

and what special and unique abilities that person has.

Have a GREAT work out!