• By: Pedro Candeias
  • Date: 04/18/2017


Here we are for the 5th article about Karate Training Periodization!!!


Yeah, the idea was to be just one… But when we start writing and digging in Karate Science we just can’t stop!

And we have 2 more articles after this one… We promise we’ll stop writing about Periodization models after those 7 articles!! And we’ll go to other themes…


Until now we wrote:


In the last two articles we saw 4 Periodization Strategies that you can use in Karate:

  1. Pendulum Model
  2. ATR Model
  3. Structural Model – Tschiene
  4. Block Periodization – Multi-Targeted vs Concentrated Unidirectional


Now we’re going to write about the two most flexible Periodization strategies that are used with high-performance athletes or private/semi-private Karate lessons…


… They are Flexible Non-Linear Periodization and Bondarchuk model!



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Flexible Non-Linear Periodization uses a nonlinear training model like the structures explained in our previous articles, BUT…


BUT allows changes in the training program based upon the readiness of a Karateka to perform a specific training zone in each session!!


In other words, if you’ve planned a pre-determined volume-intensity Karate session, you’ll change it in response to the physical and mental state of your athletes.


How do you take that decision of changing the pre-determined plan?!?


The decision to change the planned training zone for a specific training session is made using several pieces of information.


Some tests, like a maximal vertical jump, a horizontal jump or a medicine ball throw, can be performed immediately before a training to help determine the readiness of your Karate athletes.

Another way is observing the beginning sets of the first few exercises in a training session. This will help to determine the physical and mental readiness of a Karateka for that specific session.


We will give two practical examples:


  • EXAMPLE 1 – If a Horizontal Jump is performed immediately after a simple warm-up and your athlete cannot achieve at least 90% of his or her previous maximal Horizontal Jump, he or she may be fatigued.


  • EXAMPLE 2 – Let’s assume that the same Karate athlete usually performs 10 repetitions of an exercise with a specific resistance during previous training sessions. But at the start of the next training session can only perform 7 repetitions with the same resistance. This may show you that he or she is fatigued.


This loss of performance may be due to fatigue or delayed onset muscle soreness (muscle pain that you all feel on the next days after a more intense Karate training), for example…


But it can also be caused by psychological stress related to work or any other factor.

No matter what the reason is!!


If you scheduled a moderate-intensity volume (4 sets of 10-12 repetitions) training zone you should change it for a different zone (3 sets of 12-14 repetitions).


Right now, you are asking if this strategy is used only to reduce training load!


Of course not…


You should use exactly the same method to increase volume-intensity training zone if your Karate athletes are “on fire”!


For example, if your athlete achieves 100% or more of his or her best Horizontal Jump or can make 12 repetitions instead of the pre-planned 8-10 maximal repetitions on the first exercise, what should you do?


Rather than continuing with a training zone of 8-10 RM, you can change the stimulus for a more higher-intensity zone (4-6 maximal repetitions).


Another strategy was used by McNamara & Stearne (2010) with success. The participants in the study could choose in which of three training zones (10RM, 15RM, 20RM) they would perform, before each training session. The only demand was that each individual had to perform the same number of training sessions in each training zone as the other group that trained in a fully pre-planned nonlinear Periodization.


Which were the results?


Maximal Strength in Chest Press and Horizontal Jump improvements were the same in both Periodization models: Flexible Non-Linear model and Pre-Planned Non-Linear model.


And Maximal Strength in Leg Press increased significantly more with the Flexible Non-Linear Periodization!!


That’s right…


If you have your Karate athletes with the right mindset and intrinsic motivation they will not make lazy choices! If they can’t reach their full capacity in a given training session it’s because they really can’t…


Don’t be afraid of their laziness…


That’s why we, in Karate Science Academy, think this can be a great Periodization strategy for full committed athletes!


In regular classes where you also are a motivator to a better life, you should not use this model regularly.


Be flexible but in another way.


Another possible tool to monitor training readiness is Total Quality Recovery Scale before each Karate class, for example.

We will approach some practical monitoring tools in the future. Keep with Karate Science Academy!




Anatoly Bondarchuk is a very famous Sports Trainer, born in the ex-Soviet Union (Ukraine).


He won a Gold Medal and a Bronze Medal in the Olympics (1972 and 1976) with Hammer Throw.


As a trainer, he became even more famous by his training methods for explosive strength sports.


One of his most important contributions to training methodology is the concept of “Transfer to Training”.


It’s based on one idea: train with exercises where the improvements will transfer better to each sport!

Bondarchuk model is based on 3 Central Principles:


  1. Adapt the Training Plan to each Athlete


It’s about the process, not the plan!


Most of the Periodization methods give you a plan that you apply to your Karate athletes. What Bondarchuk teaches you is that you must have a process and not a plan. And that process must be adapted to each of your athletes’ characteristics and training response!


The key factor is to understand that athletes are all different.


You fit the program to the athlete, not the athlete to the program!!!



  1. It’s about Exercises, not Volume/Intensity


Change is a central element in Bondarchuk model. You need to change to keep improving…


Traditional Periodization models look for a change in the relationship between volume and intensity.


Bondarchuk looks for it in exercises.


He makes little changes in volume and intensity during a training cycle. He changes the stimulus to the body and mind through changing exercises strategically.



  1. Balance between Change and Consistency


Change things too often and you will not give your Karate athlete’s body and mind time to adapt.


If you don’t introduce enough change your athletes will reach accommodation and stop adapting.


How do you decide when to change?


Remember one of the 5 Key Stones of Training Periodization: EVALUATION!


You should constantly evaluate your Karate athletes development… Constantly!!


But what kind of exercises Bondarchuk recommends so your athletes have more stimulus to improve performance?


Most of the training time should be dedicated to 2 types of exercises:


  • Specific Development Exercises – often referred to as “specific strength” or “special strength”, combines the same muscles and systems as the competitive event. It also includes parts of the competition movements


  • Competitive Exercises – the name speaks for itself. Include the most specific Karate movements and slight variations.

If you look around, most of Karate and Sports trainers devote a lot of time to General Strength development.


In Bondarchuk model General Preparatory exercises are proposed for a short time during a training cycle and also during recovery periods.


Recovery periods must be active and it’s when you integrate General Preparatory exercises that have little relationship to the specific stimulus.


With these group of exercises, you should use energy systems and movements different from the competitive event. This way, your athlete can recover physically and mentally.



This way we reached the end of one more article about Karate Periodization!


We hope you’re receiving really good information so you can plan your training sessions with more confidence and effectiveness…


If you still haven’t read the other 4 articles of this series, we recommend you to do so. If you don’t do it you will lose big pieces of information!!


Invest a little bit more time in your knowledge:



Don’t lose the last 2 articles from this series…


In the next one, we will give you Karate Science Academy’s perspective about the most adapted Periodization models for each of the groups that you have in your Dojo.


And in the 7th and last article of this series, we will write about Tactical Periodization (?!?!) and how José Mourinho’s work can help your athletes to improve their Kumite performance!

Don’t lose it!!!



P.S. – If you are following this series since the first article you can easily see that all the Periodization models we’ve talked about have 5 Key Stones in common… They are Training Variation, High-Intensity Periods, Evaluation/Monitoring, Planning Flexibility and Adequate Volume! If you know how to manage these 5 areas effectively you can create your own Periodization strategy.


P.P.S – But we recommend you to use one or more of the existing models and make your own adaptations! It’s easier and more time-saving than trying to create something from zero. You pick the model or models that better adapt to your Karate groups and make some personal changes… But we are going to help you in that decision with the next article!!