What is Tameshiwari?

‘Tameshi-wari’ is the karate term for testing or attempting to break. Sword quality and technique are tested in ‘tameshi-giri’, the test-cutting of objects. Similarly, the weapon of karate, the empty hand, is tested with tameshiwari. So often, a legitimate technique is learned, but the practitioner lacks the sufficient power to properly apply it. What good is it to learn swordsmanship, and then carry a blade with no edge? By honing your skills with breaking, you improve your ability to finish the fight (if your strikes reach their target). It is true that bricks do not hit back, but neither does a broken opponent. “One hit, one kill,” is the ultimate goal of your training.

The heart of combative skill is the ability to inflict damage. Power striking is definitely one path towards this. Power striking is rooted in tameshiwari.

Regardless of your years of endless training or the color of your belt, tameshiwari is an objective measure of your ability. You may be ordained Supreme Grandmaster of all martial arts, but if your strike is less than sufficient, the target will remain intact. You must stay sharp in order to succeed.

Heavy bags and sparring partners give limited and unreliable feedback, but legitimate tameshiwari demands that your skills are genuine. Concrete does not compromise to meet you half way on your off days. You must learn to strike with all of your power.

Some people insist that striking inanimate objects, whether for conditioning or breaking, is not a useful form of training because it does not address the dynamic aspects of live fighting. Such reasoning would have basis if tameshiwari excluded training in all of the other dynamic aspects such as drills and sparring. Of course, this is not the case, as breaking is done in addition to the other training methods. After all, a heavy bag is also an inanimate object, but few will deny the usefulness of good bag work.

Those who are so quick to put down breaking often do so as a means of dismissing something that they do not possess the ability, heart, or knowledge to do themselves. If such a person were to wake up tomorrow with incredible breaking skills, you would see how quickly he would take to endorsing tameshiwari and all its newfound virtues.