• By: Pedro Candeias
  • Date: 02/14/2017

Youth Physical Development Model: A Scientific Compass for Every Karate Sensei!! (PART 2)

Here we are to continue with the Youth Physical Development Model!


If you didn’t read the first part, please click here and you can read all from the start…


If you read our first article, we need to know if you already saved the charts of YPD-Model on your smartphone or laptop. If you don’t, we give it to you again: right below.



Let’s continue with some examples of the relation between the Youth Physical Development Model and some several physical components. Today, we’re going to talk about Power, Speed, Agility, Endurance, Initial Training Level and the importance of YPD-Model for our Karateka well-being.






The key period for Power development starts at the onset of adolescence and continues throughout adulthood. Why? Because at that time the maturation process influences a quick muscle power increase.


But scientific evidence also shows that Power improves with training in prepubertal phase (before 10-11 years old in girls and 11-12 years old in boys). Despite Power training have more results during and after adolescence, some Power training focus should be implemented with younger kids.


To know more about what makes a Karateka more explosive, click here.






Speed is trainable throughout childhood and adolescence!


Rumpf et al (2013), for example, showed that pre-adolescents benefit more from training that requires high levels of neural activation (plyometrics and sprint training). While adolescents respond better to training programs that target both neural and structural components (strength training and plyometrics).


In a practical perspective, when you want to train your younger kids speed you should focus on plyometrics, technical skills, and sprint work. With adolescents you should add strength training to this methods, so you can develop faster Karateka. And this is also true with adults.


Science shows us clearly that asking your students just to punch faster it’s not enough to develop their movement speed… Most of them are not lazy, it’s you that don’t give them the right scientific-proven tools!!


To know more about what makes a Karateka more explosive, click here.





Agility is one of the most under-researched training components when we are talking about children scientific research.


What YPD-Model does is an analysis of the subcomponents of agility: Cognitive Function (perceptual and decision-making processes) and Change of Direction Speed (technique and physical qualities).


Physical qualities have already been analyzed before in this article and in the previous post dedicated to this theme.


Let’s focus on cognitive factors! The area where there is less scientific knowledge in children and adolescents.


Cognitive factors like:

  • Visual Scanning
  • Knowledge of situations
  • Pattern Recognition
  • Anticipatory Skills


Outside sporting situations, scientific research suggests that cognitive capacities increase during late childhood and adolescence. This means that repeated exposure to a given stimulus will result in faster response times because of an apparent strengthening of synaptic pathways.


With the lack of existing scientific research in this area, Lloyd and Oliver (2012) suggest that the training focus of agility should be more challenging during the progression from childhood to adulthood. This can be made using more open and unplanned training methods to continually overload the training stimulus.


When we are talking about young Karateka the playing dimension of the training is very, very important! So, it’s ok if you use several general games to stimulate their perception and decision-making…


But when you increase the Karate Kumite specific training, you really need to plan specific Kumite exercises! The exercises should replicate combat movements, as demanded in a fight.


If you train WKF Rules, the exercises should be specific to this… If you train Kyokushinkai, the exercises should be specific… If you train Karate for Self-Defence the exercises should be specific…


That’s it!!


To learn more about Agility, go to What the hell is Agility: Do you know how to explain it without hesitations?






The YPD-Model recommends that mobility/flexibility should be a crucial part of any sport. In Karate is very important, to have great Jodan Geri, Shiko Dachi, Neko Ashi Dachi, etc. It’s important that your students approximate as much as possible the required Range of Motion in Karate.


The YPD-Model proposes middle childhood (5-11 years old) as the most important period to incorporate flexibility and mobility training. Malina (2007), for example, suggests this as a critical period for flexibility development.





According to YPD-Model focus on endurance increases over the time. In other words, as the child approaches the adult age.


Lloyd and Oliver (2012) proposes that endurance should not be the main focus at any stage. Why?


Because endurance is sport-specific! In a Dojo language is Karate-specific…


Endurance for Kata is specific to the type of Kata your young Karateka practice. Endurance for Kumite is specific to the type of fight that you want your kids to develop…


Who is the kid or teenager that likes to run 15 or 30 minutes? Make them improve endurance with intermittent technical sessions, for example. Simulate fights with the characteristics of your Karate style or type of competition…


The motivation is much higher and you stimulate your students’ endurance with much more specificity. With the stoppage, high-intensity explosive movements, the and cognitive intensity that your Karate style demands.


And remember your role in the physical education of your Karateka! In schools, the cardiovascular endurance is inadvertently the most commonly developed fitness component. Because teachers consider that submaximal effort is safer and relegate strength training for a second plan (or even no-existing plan)…


If you want a read one of our posts about the importance of strength training for children and adolescents click here.





What do you do to the young Karateka that already is approaching adulthood and starts practicing Karate in your Dojo?



There is an important concept that you should remember: Training Age…


Training age is the number of years a Karateka is participating in Karate classes and is very important when you design your programs. A Karateka with 12 years old that trains for 6 years should not have the same priorities when compared with a kid with the same age but that practices Karate for 6 months.


But even there, you should take into account sports background of that beginner kid, his maturational stage, and evolution…


No matter the age we are talking about, every Karateka should begin with Fundamental Movement Skills and muscular strength, before embarking on the training content suggested to his chronological age. But once again you must take into consideration their training background in other modalities.






Well-being has been defined by Huppert et al (2004) as a positive and sustainable state that allows every each of us to thrive and flourish.


YPD-Model is based on this philosophy: Development of the Child is more important than Performance Results!


This means that every responsible Karate Sensei should sacrifice short-term performance success while maximizing the opportunity to achieve a well-being state and long-term gains.


This will help our kids to appreciate the benefits of training and develop intrinsic motivation for Karate!


Your Kids should perceive that they are competent… We are not talking about easy exercises and medals for everyone. We are talking about challenging but achievable exercises in a positive and reinforcing environment!!


Do you know what this provokes? Will increase the chance of your students being able to persist in the face of adversity and to sustain long-term motivation in Karate and sport.


Make the Difference!! In your Dojo and your Community…



If you want to know more about Strength Training for Karate, click here.

Karate Science Academy has a mission: to take Science into all Dojos in the world.



P.S. – All the Kids and Teenagers in your Dojo deserve the best Karate Senseis, don’t you agree? Please, learn as much as you can about training them… They are the future of Karate and you have a really important roll on his life!