“Your arm is a stream; your fist becomes a stone” Nishiyama Sensei

Makiwara_21In any Karate fight chances are you’re going to deliver your attack with your fists. Jab, reverse punch, etc., projected in the classic linear Shotokan fashion directly to the target. What you make contact with will be determined by a number of factors including your opponents ability to protect himself, your aim, or perhaps even your choice of target. As far as your fists are concerned, there is a great difference between making contact with a skull versus the solar plexus.

The question is what happens when you make contact?

In most Karate classes we stress control and barely, if ever, make full contact (for obvious reasons). This begs the question as to what happens when we are in a situation where we have to start landing the strikes that we so arduously practice in the Dojo.

One of my Senpai always comments “You’ve got to be hitting something.” And he is right. Without training with a heavy bag or a Makiwara, how can we test our sense of distance or balance? How do we train our bodies in terms of bone alignment and muscle contraction without the resistance of a striking bag or board?

Simpler still, how do we know the fist we’ve been punching the air with for hours on end will stand up to the jolt we send through it when we make contact with something as dense as an opponent’s jaw bone.

Of course, Makiwara or bag training comes with its cautions, but without ever driving our punches into something with significant resistance, how can we know anything about the power we’re projecting or the way our bodies are handling the feedback.

Pretty punches and nice form look great, but you might want to think about what happens when it comes down to real hand-to-hand combat…