Hojo Undo

One of the areas that is sometimes neglected in karate practice is hojo undo. In Okinawan karate, this type of training is largely associated with Goju-Ryu and Uechi-Ryu, although it is found in some Shorin groups. At our dojo, hojo undo is a very important part of the training regiment and students come to perform hojo undo before and after class. Hojo Undo training benefits include the strengthening of tendons and muscle in numerous areas of the body. However, Major William R. Hayes, Kyoshi/ Shorin-Ryu Karate, emphasizes that hojo undo is an essential part of training and the effects are not so much to strengthen but to protect the body.

The makiwara is a very important device used to develop striking, blocking and kicking mechanics, power, focus and spirit. Students should be at least 16-18 years of age before striking the makiwara and even then should strike for focus and repetition rather than power. Novices should begin by assuming a shizentai-dachi or zenkutsu dachi and simply push the makiwara so that the upper and lower body aid in the training together. It is not important that you strike the makiwara with all of your power in the beginning but that you hit or strike it in high repetitions. Many people suffer severe joint and hand injuries by thinking that they should be using all of their power when starting makiwara training. You should also double repetitions on your non-dominant hand.

A good makiwara regiment is to start warming up with tate-tsuki (inverted punch). These helps condition and build the first knuckle since it is smaller in size than the middle knuckle. Make sure that you do not over rotate the hand and miss the correct surface area.

The next set should be in a 2/3 punch.

Then finish with a full twist punch.

100 (each hand) tate tsuki

100 (each hand) 2/3 punch

100 (each hand) full twist punch

Makiwara can have a variety of surfaces. All serve their purpose and really cater to the practitioner. These are some of the makiwara used in our dojo:

"Itosu no Makiwara"

Nigiri Game

The nigiri game are gripping jars that vary in size and design. They are normally filled with sand or gravel to alter the weight as preferred. The jars are to be gripped with the tips of the fingers and then the inside of the second joint of the thumb. It may be gripped by all of the fingers if necessary and by the lips themselves.

A variety of exercises are used to strengthen the arms, shoulders, back and legs.

Move up and down the floor in shizentai, zenkutsu or shiko-dachi/shiko dachi hanmi holding the jars in side grip and forward position. Move back in neko-ashi dachi, zenkutsu dachi, shiko dachi or shizentai dachi.
Squat in shiko dachi switching the nigiri game from front to back.
Flys and shrugs.


The chi shi are concrete weights that are excellent tools for developing wrist and arm strength while also developing the deltoids, trapezoids and latissimus dorsi. Translated roughly power stone, the chi shi have long been a staple device in hojo undo training on Okinawa.

Ishi Sashi

These interesting form of Okinawan equipment is works the same muscle groups as the chishi however due to their size, a broader range of exercises can be performed. Using these during kata is extremely useful as well.

Tsumisaki tanren