Makiwara (which means "roll of straw") is a training tool in Karate, consisting of a padded wooden striking post fixed on the ground with a straw pad at the top. Other models use duct tape and foam rubber padding.
It is used to train the techniques of punches, kicks, elbow and knee blows. Because the target area is small (usually 4x5"), a makiwara helps to develop aim and accuracy, along with punching strength.
As it bends after a punch, the resistance the puncher feels will increase progressively according to the power of the blow (unlike a heavy bag which provides the same resistance to a strike). If the body posture is not good or the technique not done properly, the punch will bounce off the makiwara.
Its use must be done carefully as it may cause injury in the hands and joint problems. It is not recommended for children or teenagers.
Its regular employment develops calluses on hands, helping the practice of breaking with bare hands.
There are two basic types:
• Soft makiwara: used by beginners and often positioned at a greater angle from vertical.
• Stiff makiwara: used by more experienced practitioners and positioned at a small angle from vertical.
There are the following models of makiwara:
• Shuri makiwara: flat board, measured to be as high as the breastbone. Used when punching from a short stance.
• Naha makiwara: similar to Shuri, but measured to be as high as the solar plexus. Used traditionally by goju-ryu practitioners, who train in a deep stance.
• Ude makiwara: it is round on all sides, allowing the practitioner to use a variety of punchs and kicks.
There is also another rounded model that is traditionally used by Kyudo (Japanese archery) practitioners.