Please take a look at Articles on self-defense/conflict/violence for introductions to the references found in the bibliography page.

Please take a look at my bibliography if you do not see a proper reference to a post.

Please take a look at my Notable Quotes

Hey, Attention on Deck!

Hey, NOTHING here is PERSONAL, get over it - Teach Me and I will Learn!

When you begin to feel like you are a tough guy, a warrior, a master of the martial arts or that you have lived a tough life, just take a moment and get some perspective with the following:

I've stopped knives that were coming to disembowel me

I've clawed for my gun while bullets ripped past me

I've dodged as someone tried to put an ax in my skull

I've fought screaming steel and left rubber on the road to avoid death

I've clawed broken glass out of my body after their opening attack failed

I've spit blood and body parts and broke strangle holds before gouging eyes

I've charged into fires, fought through blizzards and run from tornados

I've survived being hunted by gangs, killers and contract killers

The streets were my home, I hunted in the night and was hunted in turn

Please don't brag to me that you're a survivor because someone hit you. And don't tell me how 'tough' you are because of your training. As much as I've been through I know people who have survived much, much worse. - Marc MacYoung


The postings on this blog are my interpretation of readings, studies and experiences therefore errors and omissions are mine and mine alone. The content surrounding the extracts of books, see bibliography on this blog site, are also mine and mine alone therefore errors and omissions are also mine and mine alone and therefore why I highly recommended one read, study, research and fact find the material for clarity. My effort here is self-clarity toward a fuller understanding of the subject matter. See the bibliography for information on the books. Please make note that this article/post is my personal analysis of the subject and the information used was chosen or picked by me. It is not an analysis piece because it lacks complete and comprehensive research, it was not adequately and completely investigated and it is not balanced, i.e., it is my personal view without the views of others including subject experts, etc. Look at this as “Infotainment rather then expert research.” This is an opinion/editorial article/post meant to persuade the reader to think, decide and accept or reject my premise. It is an attempt to cause change or reinforce attitudes, beliefs and values as they apply to martial arts and/or self-defense. It is merely a commentary on the subject in the particular article presented.

Note: I will endevor to provide a bibliography and italicize any direct quotes from the materials I use for this blog. If there are mistakes, errors, and/or omissions, I take full responsibility for them as they are mine and mine alone. If you find any mistakes, errors, and/or omissions please comment and let me know along with the correct information and/or sources.

“What you are reading right now is a blog. It’s written and posted by me, because I want to. I get no financial remuneration for writing it. I don’t have to meet anyone’s criteria in order to post it. Not only I don’t have an employer or publisher, but I’m not even constrained by having to please an audience. If people won’t like it, they won’t read it, but I won’t lose anything by it. Provided I don’t break any laws (libel, incitement to violence, etc.), I can post whatever I want. This means that I can write openly and honestly, however controversial my opinions may be. It also means that I could write total bullshit; there is no quality control. I could be biased. I could be insane. I could be trolling. … not all sources are equivalent, and all sources have their pros and cons. These needs to be taken into account when evaluating information, and all information should be evaluated. - God’s Bastard, Sourcing Sources (this applies to this and other blogs by me as well; if you follow the idea's, advice or information you are on your own, don't come crying to me, it is all on you do do the work to make sure it works for you!)

“You should prepare yourself to dedicate at least five or six years to your training and practice to understand the philosophy and physiokinetics of martial arts and karate so that you can understand the true spirit of everything and dedicate your mind, body and spirit to the discipline of the art.” - cejames (note: you are on your own, make sure you get expert hands-on guidance in all things martial and self-defense)

“All I say is by way of discourse, and nothing by way of advice. I should not speak so boldly if it were my due to be believed.” - Montaigne

I am not a leading authority on any one discipline that I write about and teach, it is my hope and wish that with all the subjects I have studied it provides me an advantage point that I offer in as clear and cohesive writings as possible in introducing the matters in my materials. I hope to serve as one who inspires direction in the practitioner so they can go on to discover greater teachers and professionals that will build on this fundamental foundation. Find the authorities and synthesize a wholehearted and holistic concept, perception and belief that will not drive your practices but rather inspire them to evolve, grow and prosper. My efforts are born of those who are more experienced and knowledgable than I. I hope you find that path! See the bibliography I provide for an initial list of experts, professionals and masters of the subjects.

Karate Knuckles

Blog Article/Post Caveat (Read First Please: Click the Link)

A twelve year old walks down Beach Street when the strangest of noises caused him to freeze in place, turning his head in all directions while trying hard to discern not only the source and direction but the cause of short, terse and powerful spurts of a deafening sound literally causing discomfort to the ear drums. Once the direction was determined the young man moved deliberately and cautiously toward an open door while the sounds increased in volume and intensity.

With caution he stopped just to one side of the door and with a sense of trepidation as to the cause he slowly put one eye around the door frame to observe a strange sight of many men wearing what initially looked like pajamas to see a demonstration of these folks smashing stone slabs into flying dust and debris while larger pieces dropped to the floor.

His effort was easily discovered by a man wearing black pajamas and a black belt at his waist who began walking to the entry where the young man stood, now fully in the doorway with his mouth hanging open out of wonder and curiosity.

Mr. Don Collier began by explaining that the dojo was practicing the art of breaking or tameshiwari. 

Collier Sensei was teaching the ancient discipline of Okinawa karate, a system of fighting with one’s entire body. 

This began the life of study, training, practice and experience in the martial discipline ok karate, judo and kobudo.

In that first day at the Daytona Beach Street dojo he was exposed to the karate fist, the makiwara and the karate fore knuckles that were and would be symbolic of the karate professional. It is and was believed that one with the calloused fore knuckles was and is a karate man and blackbelt!

This brings me to the question(s), what are the calloused knuckles good for? What purpose do they serve? Are they good for fast and decisive use to end an attack, etc.?

These and other questions will be answered in the following posting.

First, it is not about hardening the fist or the knuckles, the bones that make up the knuckles. It is a combination of things from increasing bone density to the strengthening of the musculature's stabilizing ability to hold a fist tight enuough to protect the individual bones from breaking because the bones of the hand are very much vulnerable to breaking. This is why boxers tape the hands and wear gloves because it is rare for bare-knuckle fighters to NOT break the hand bones.

In truth, although the fore-knuckles show the most with its callous's it is about the entire hand but I digress. 

Your punching ability as to power and force DO NOT come from strong hands and conditioning such as found by using the makiwara to develop the knuckles, etc., but rather from applied principles to include, but not limited to, movement of one's mass combined with structure, stability and strength, to name a few, rather than the conditioning of the hand to make a solid fist. 

"Karate as a martial art originally called Chinese Hand or Tote circled around empty hand techniques to be used against an armored samurai who used to exploit them. They were taught to condition their hands in such a way that they could damage if not penetrate through the bamboo armor of their enemies." 

Comment: the use of the hands by karate-ka were never about piercing armor of samurai. No matter how much to condition the hands they will not, ever, have the ability to pierce the armor of the samurai. This is a false statement because in truth the ability to use the hands meant they did the hard-to-soft/soft-to-hard concept and strong durable hands, fists, hitting the right target be it soft or hard, not the armor hard but hard parts of the human body like bone, with strength, power and force meant the samurai would stop. Then again, no one who practiced karate would even attempt to take on a sword wielding samurai, it is just plain ludicrous. 

knuckle conditioning is that it prevents injuries; another false claim because even in training if the fist is not set, stable and tightened upon impact you are sure to injure the hand. There are reasons why the hard-to-soft/soft-to-hard concept along with using open handed methods work better than fist-ta-cuffs. 

Karate is one of those disciplines that seems to focus to much attention to the hands and fists. In truth, even tho it is empty hand by naming convention it is best to use the entire body and mind to handle violence whether sport of self-protection because many karate practitioners tend to focus way too much on hand/fist techniques rather than principled multiple methodologies to get the job done properly.

  1. If done right, helps with confidence.
  2. Conditioning your hands to be able to absorb the impact upon connection determines whether you’ve successfully landed the punch or not.
  3. Calloused skin doesn't break as easily as uncalloused skin.
  4. Gives immediate feedback as to the proper application of a strike due to its spring action. 
  5. The stationary makiwara controls the practice to achieve greater results. 
  6. Aids in the development of technique with use of the whole body working in unison.
  7. Strengthens wrists and joints, body mechanics as well as muscles, ligaments and the mind.
  8. Proper hand and foot positions are developed by practice on the makiwara.
  9. Builds powerful techniques, power and speed.
  10. Feedback allows the practitioner to feel how strong or weak your punches and kicks are, as well as your mind.
  11. Makiwara helps to develop proper karate spirit. 
  12. Builds powerful techniques and teaches proper distancing and hip position to maximize power and force. 
  13. Ikken Hissattsu (one punch victory). Makiwara is the most essential piece of equipment to develop this ability.
  14. Focus (kime). The purpose of makiwara training is to develop focus. This requires coordination of mind, body and breathing techniques. In order to develop proper techniques, it requires repetitive practice.

  1. If done wrong, leads to problems with the hands in a true self-protection violent encounter. 
  2. Calloused skin doesn't break as easily as uncalloused skin ONLY in a controlled training environment and even then can still break off. 
  3. Gives a false sense of ability and proficiency due to the spring action of the device. 
  4. The stationary makiwara takes away the dynamics of a chaotic violent situation and event leaving a false sense of proficiency that can get one into more trouble than benefit in the fight. 
  5. If done incorrectly is a detriment to the method as applied whole body due to its stationary setup unless, like the free swinging heavy bag, one uses a free moving hanging makiwara. 
  6. Even when done correctly and setup with a spring action capability if done incorrectly stresses the wrist, joints, ligaments, etc. 
  7. If done incorrectly fails to provide the ability to strike when moving. 
  8. Gives a false sense of power when striking and does not train one for speed, force and power ergo the moving makiwara or heavy bag is preferred. 
  9. Gives a false sense of strength as to punching or kicking since in a stationary makiwara the movement does not mimi a true active adversary like found in the moving/hanging makiwara and/or heavy bag. 
  10. Gives a false sense of ability to apply the ikken hissattsu or one punch stopping power due to its immobility vs. an active determined adversary. 
  11. Fails to teach methodologies over technique-based self-protection abilities. 
  12. Focuses the practitioner on individual specific techniques over principled-based multiple methodologies. 
Before I begin, what do I think hand, even body, conditioning is meant to achieve, its goals are, 

  1. To test one’s alignment, structure and strength/stabilization of the skeletal system and the muscular system. 
  2. To develop greater bone density be they hands, legs, forearms, etc.
  3. To teach one to maintain structure, alignment and stability in a dynamic process found in sport, kumite and drills, etc. 
  4. To demonstrate how to make use of the concept of soft-hard/hard-soft especially when it comes to hand methods. 
When I mention conditioning, what do I mean? I think this question is critical to the karate community since the current beliefs and methodologies seems to focus on certain concepts and training regimens that are not as beneficial in self-protection. 

Karada-kitae is a body conditioning term and it means the use of methods that condition the body for dealing with certain stressors found in hand-to-hand fighting or self-protection. Think of the following,
  1. Hitting and being hit, i.e., so the mind and body condition themselves to deal with the psychological and physical stresses of being hit or hitting others. 
  2. The process of hitting and being hit conditions the bodies natural armor to protect against pain and damage to the extent possible because there are parts of the body that are vulnerable in spite of any conditioning. 
  3. Body conditioning is about training the skeletal and muscular systems to remain stable under adverse conditions found in violence. It is also about training the mind and body to act and react in the chaos of violence to adjust the body and mind in a creative way. 
  4. Body conditioning is about strengthening the skeletal structure for more density and the mere fact one challenges the body and mind through various exercises, drills and hitting/being-hit processes along with putting the skeletal system through stress conditions, like weight lifting and moving under stress, etc., naturally adds density as long as the fuel, food, put in the body supports the process, i.e., proteins, etc., that the body needs. 
  5. Body conditioning also provides stability, structure and alignment principles while putting the skeletal and muscular systems under stress when practicing with a partner both with and without compliance. Think of it like the difference between lifting weights on a machine vs. lifting free weights, it requires different muscle and skeletal stressors that add or leave out certain benefits like muscular stability ability when striking, kicking or manipulating another human being in the stress of violence. 
As you have already known and realized from the limited list given that conditioning of the body is a lot more than merely striking a hard surface with the fist and/or ball of the foot, etc. That kind of makiwara-esque training is a challenge and it does help condition the mind for confidence but one must make sure that confidence is true, not a false one that sets you up for failure. Many of the karate-ka with fist one’s results still fail to hit in the dynamics of chaos in violence resulting in hand injuries. The dynamics between training and practice vs. the reality of close in violent attacks you need to defend and protect against is vastly different. 

Challenging your body is one thing and very useful especially for the novice but in the end your abilities with your body, hands included but not a dominant tool, matter overall under adrenal stress-conditioned hands on chaotic two or more person activities. Even then, the reality of predatory violence is a real shocker and don’t be fooled into thinking the scuffles you have with a drunk friend at a social event is the same, it isn’t. 

The one exercise, as it pertains to the hands with emphasis on when you need to use your fist, is hitting something like a heavy bag that is solid and doing challenge pushups. The heavy bad is more resistant than a body (it also moves dynamically) except when hitting the hard targets like the head and the challenge pushup’s strengthen the hands, wrists, forearms and elbows along with the shoulder girdle. You want that ability far more than calloused knuckles. 

Using the makiwara is a challenge and it has certain benefits as long as you do it with moderation. Moderation in the force applied and how that is gradually done over time to achieve results WITHOUT causing stress fractures of the bones because those weakening the skeletal structure especially if done continuously over long periods of time. You don’t build bone density by stress fracturing the skeletal structure but you do by stressing it appropriately and properly which is how I did my hands as seen in fist two of the graphic in this article. 

To date, what I have found as the reasoning for the makiwara conditioning, especially of the hands, is vague and the proponent of karate is left to their own devices in belief and that belief becomes karate reality regardless of whether truly necessary or just another means to challenge oneself. Even when I did it as a challenge I learned first hand how important it is to work the device properly and doing so to the point that exceeds the needs of effective and efficient and safe and healthy conditioning is just plain unnecessary. 

For reference and sources and professionals go here: Bibliography (Click the link)

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