- By: Pedro Candeias
- Date: 03/05/2017
WHAT IS THE MOST PRACTICAL METHOD OF EXPLOSIVE TRAINING TO USE IN YOUR DOJO? (1st Part)
How to be More Explosive with this Simple and Practical Training Method… PLYOMETRIC TRAINING
At the end of this article, you’ll better understand how Plyometric training works. After that, read the second part where you will receive very practical knowledge of how to use this method in your Dojo!
Do you really know what makes your Karate students/athletes more explosive?
That’s what everybody seeks in Karate training, right?
So, how can you do it with a simple and practical training method that you easily can apply at your own Dojo?
It’s a simple and practical training method you can put on your Karate classes: Plyometric Training!!
Plyometric training refers to exercises that are designed to enhance strength and speed, mainly through the use of jump training. Plyometric exercises constitute a natural part of Karate, because it involves hopping, jumping and sequenced fast movements (such as body displacements).
Plyometric training is the best way of developing Reactive Strength. And what is Reactive Strength? It’s a type of Rapid Strength and it’s characterized by what it’s called Stretch-Shortening Cycle (SSC). SSC is an eccentric stretching of the muscles followed by a quick concentric shortening of the same muscles, after ground contact of the feet (this is called the amortization phase). SSC can be divided into phases:
- Phase 1 – Pre-Activation (before your feet touch the ground, the quadriceps, for example, are pre-activated so they can absorb the shock)
- Phase 2 – Stretch (in the moment your feet touch the ground, the quadriceps are stretched – Amortization)
- Phase 3 – Shortening (in the take-off from the ground, the quadriceps contract)
It is a form of training designed to develop explosive power for Karate and most of other sports.
You really need to understand Stretch-Shortening Cycle to make progress with Plyometric exercises and drills!!
Stretch-Shortening Cycle (SSC) can be of two types: Fast or Slow.
To be considered “Fast” the amortization phase (remember, the very brief ground contact phase) must last less than 250ms. A top level Triple Jump athlete makes it in a stupendous 100ms (what?!?) – but I bet Aghayev takes the same time when passes from hopping to a fast&furious Gyaku Zuki!!
With over 250ms of ground contact, we are talking about “Slow” SSC: in Karate we have some examples, such as some jumps in Kata or Bunkai or total body direction changes in Kumite and Kata. In other modalities, we have the example of basketball throws (with jump) or volleyball blocks.
As you can see, 250ms or 300ms it’s not really a slow movement. But it’s a way of splitting SSC into two distinct categories. JUST REMEMBER: Plyometric training must always have fast movements (no matter it’s a “Fast” or a “Slow” SSC exercise or drill)!!
SOME PLYOMETRICS HISTORY
Plyometric training it’s an explosiveness-boosting method that started to be used in eastern countries in the 60s (yes, it’s that old and though so misunderstood or even unknown by Karate Instructors).
The leading researcher of Plyometric training was a Russian scientist named Yuri Verkhoshansky and he called it the “shock method”.
On western countries, Plyometrics was first used in 1975 by an American track and field coach named Fred Wilt, that baptized it Plyometric. In the early 1990s, George Davies and Kevin Wilk introduced plyometrics into rehabilitation.
We send you, as a gift, an original video where you can see who Dr. Verkhoshansky and some of his training sessions (is the “beard” man in the first picture). BUT PLEASE, do not try to copy the exercises you’ll see in the vídeo!! Not before you really know how, when and which kind of students can practice it… we promise you’ll get lots of practical information about this.
Keep your students safe!!
A little bit more of simple and practical Science
By now you already know more than most of Karate instructors: what’s reactive strength, stretch-shortening cycle (SSC), types of SSC, who is Yuri Verkhoshansky (not knowing who is this Big Sports Scientist is the same that a movie director who doesn’t know who Steven Spielberg is!!) and that Plyometrics can also be used in rehabilitation, not only for performance.
Now, let’s learn a bit more, before entering the more practical application of this scientific-based method (can’t wait to publish the next post with that precious knowledge).
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Plyometrics enhances a vital thing to explosiveness: ELASTIC ENERGY!
How? So, when the muscle is stretched, mechanical energy is absorbed by the muscle. This energy can be dissipated in the form of heat (what a waste!!) or it can be stored within the muscle as elastic energy. Both situations will happen simultaneously, but you need to potentiate the elastic energy as much as you can.
When you achieve this is when the magic happens!! This storage of elastic energy in the musculotendinous tissues contributes to the increased force produced in the subsequent concentric phase!! But you only potentiate elastic energy if the movement is fast.
Plyometrics should be one of the most important choices when you prepare your training plans. Why? Because it’s amazing to improve leg muscle speed-strength and power. It can also have the same effect on upper limbs, but that’s another story.
Ground reaction time, change of direction speed or powerful and fast Karate techniques benefit a lot from Plyometric drills.
It also has an important role in the prevention of serious knee injury among female athletes, for example! How? Because, with the correct training and coach feedback, it reduces the landing force, having a significant effect on knee stabilization.
Plyometric exercises also facilitate neural adaptations that enhance proprioception, kinesthesia and muscle performance.
Also very important is that continued over a long period of time, during adolescence growth, may increase bone mass. Always with the correct dose.
In the next post (Plyometric Training for Karate – 2nd Part) you’ll receive a lot of practical knowledge. Stay tuned!
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P.S. – MYTH: Plyometrics is not a safe training method for children and weak or old Karatecas! WRONG!!! Plyometrics can be safe for almost every kind of participants, but with the correct guidance and methodology…