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





In the last article Myths and Facts about Training Periodization, we concluded that:


  1. Studies give us “averaged” responses of a specific population to a given training intervention. But those results are very different between the individuals of that group.

         Mean values help you to define general principles for Karate training and to better understand the challenges you face as a coach but don’t allow you to achieve each athlete’s full potential.


  1. Training Variation is the most important scientific evidence that supports the concept of Periodization. It’s the main Key!! Independently of the Periodization model you use.


  1. You have to manage Training Variation very carefully. So you can give your Karate students and athletes enough time for learning and retain each skill, but without reaching Training Monotony


We’ve also seen two mistakes that happen all the time in Karate and sports training:


  1. The belief that averaged group-based results accurately reflect individual responses to training.


  1. The belief that planning methodologies of Top Karate Athletes – like Aghayev, Kiyuna, Shimizu or Lofty – can be generalized and extrapolated to other Karateka.




All the Periodization models have created champions, in sports history!!


They have different time frames and progression schemes… But we can identify 2 things that all of them have:


  1. Regular Training Variation – 1st Key Stone


  1. High-Intensity Periods – 2nd Key Stone


To know more about the importance of Training Variation read our article “Myths and Facts about Training Periodization”.


Regarding to High-Intensity Periods we are talking about all training dimensions: Physical, Technical, Tactical and Psychological!

You should plan periods that include maximal stimulus for each of these dimensions. Some times you can isolate each training area and other times you can integrate them in the same period.


These High-Intensity Periods are all intercalated with moderate or low-intensity periods.


So you can manage Training Variation and Intensity with success, you need a third Key Stone.




In Karate we are totally familiarized with evaluation, right?


That’s the way we use to see if our students are learning and improving their skills!


With Karate students that don’t follow an athlete’s pathway you can make some things as simple as these:


  • SUGGESTION 1 – You can add some Physical Tests in your Belt Exams. So you can evaluate if your training periodization is giving you the results you want in terms of Power, Speed, Flexibility and so on. With the proper test battery, you can understand where you need to intervene so your Karate students can improve their Kata and Kumite.


  • SUGGESTION 2 – You can make the same thing we propose in Suggestion 1, but out of the Belt Exams. You can put a test battery on each of your classes with regularity. In Karate Science Academy we propose you 4 times a year. Every 3 months you dedicate 1 or 2 training sessions to that evaluation.


You’ll see two very positive things:


  • First of all, your “laziest” students will have an extra motivation to dedicate more energy in the physical part of the training because the majority of us increase our motivation when we have objective goals to reach. That’s why the mobile apps that we use for measuring our running performances are such a huge success!


  • Secondly, the evaluation sessions themselves are very motivating for your students – no matter their age! And they break the routine.


With children or with Karateka that train 2 or 3 times per week just for leisure, these suggestions are great and allow you to make some generic and important corrections in your training plans!


You must know where you’re going! Stop training your students at sight and with the so popular training methods called “lucky-guessing” or “my Masters do it like this”…

But when we talk about Karate Athletes – competitive athletes and free athletes -, people who want to reach their highest potential, we must plan their evaluation much more often!




Because you must be always adapting your training sessions to the results and fatigue levels of your athletes! As regularly as possible…


In this article, we are going to give some general principles you should have inside your mind.


In another future article, we will go deeper on the best evaluation scientific methods you can use in your Dojo!




Don’t understand me wrong!


We all have to be thankful for Matveyev’s work because he was the first to awaken the Sport’s World to the importance of Training planning and Variability!


(Matveyev wasn’t really the first author that dedicated his time to this questions – Kotov, Grantyn, Ozolin, Pinkala, and Letunov were the first ones -, but was the first to spread a systematic model of Periodization inside of a more scientific period).


Matveyev’s Classic Periodization model has a great merit…


It launched the baseline to modern training planning!!


And allowed the development of more Periodization models and made professional trainers think about the best ways of training their athletes and students.


But why do we say you must forget Classic Periodization?


Classic Periodization is also effective for athletic performance’s improvement…


Let’s see what are the characteristics of Classic Periodization.


Classic Periodization divides a long-term training period called the macrocycle (which typically involves six months to one year but may be up to four years, such as with Olympic athletes)…


Macrocycles are divided into smaller phases called mesocycles (usually lasting several weeks to months)…


Mesocycles are also subdivided into weekly microcycles.


The training progresses over the macrocycle from low intensity plus high volume to high intensity plus low volume.


Remember what we talked about Training Variation vs Training Monotony in the first article of this series?

If you don’t, read it.


Well, Training Variation must be applied not only in exercise structure but also in training stimulus…


You don’t need to submit your Karate students or athletes to long periods of high volume training in the beginning of the season and then pass to almost exclusively high-intensity weeks!!


Science shows us that you can manage Variability since the beginning in all training dimensions…


So why don’t you use a Periodization model that have greater effects on your student’s and athlete’s motivation?!?


We are not done yet!


You must know that there is a 4th Key Stone for a successful and motivating training planning.




Kiely (2012) compares training planning with a map…


When you are training a Karate student or group of students you are moving through unknown territory.


Remember that each student is different from the other: biologically, psychologically, historically, etc. Each one of your students is a different territory!


You all want a map that gives you certainty and control, right?


But when you use a map from different terrains (aka Karate athletes and students) they will be inaccurate!!


What you need to do is to have Flexibility in your training progression!




All Karate instructors have Expectations and Goals to their athletes and students.


For example, you have the Goal that some of your athletes win a medal in the next National Championships. Then you plan their training with the Expectation that will be effective for achieving that Goal.

But how do you know if your Expectations will lead your athletes to the Goal?!?


You have two possible ways:

  1. You can wait for the National Championship and discover, at the end, that your training plan worked or didn’t worked. After that, you will adapt the training Periodization for the next year!




  1. You can make several intermediate evaluations until you get your athletes to the National Championship.


Those evaluations can be made weekly, monthly. You must see how much time you have until the National Championship.


You can evaluate physical fitness – speed, power, flexibility. You can evaluate technical ability. You can evaluate decision-making timing and accuracy in Kumite (read more about what really is Agility, clicking What the hell is agility and why is so important to karate? and The 3 phases of agility training for young karateka!! ).


You can organize inside-your-Dojo evaluation sessions and also take your Karate athletes to intermediate tournaments to evaluate their performance in real context. To achieve this purpose you can also organize training meetings with other schools and athletes.


After reading these two hypotheses which do you think would be better?


In Karate Science Academy we totally defend the second version.




Because will allow you to adapt the training process through the way. You can adapt your training Periodization to your athletes’ level of fatigue, readiness, out-of-Karate life, etc.


This will allow your athletes to be physical and physiological more prepared when National Championships arrive.


If you choose the first way you will be like a blind trying to get into a targeted area!


You look to the point you want to achieve, you cover your eyes with a blindfold and make a mental scheme of the best path to get there…


And your success will be dependent on luck!! Your athletes don’t deserve that, right???


With the second way you will look at the goal, you will make a previous observation of the road to get there, you will even prepare a plan.


But you will be able to see all the obstacles in the way. That will allow you to run when you can run, to slow down when you need to slow down or to jump when you have to jump…


Of course, you will begin a training Periodization plan… Based on scientifically proven principles.


But you must have the Flexibility to adapt it through the way, through the weeks of training!!


You cannot stick to a pre-plan no matter what’s happening around your athletes!!!

In the case of your recreational Karate students, you won’t be able to make such a detailed adaptation. But you can adapt training plans periodically as we proposed earlier in this article!


Don’t train your students without a plan and don’t get stuck on what you prepared in the beginning of the season…


Nutrition must be as personalized as possible…


Medicine must be as personalized as possible…


Karate, Sports, and Exercise must follow the same principle, don’t you think?





If you retain and use the 4 Key Stones and the 3 Dimensions of Flexible Periodization you will be well ahead of most of Karate Senseis and Sports Coaches in the world!!


The 4 Key Stones of Periodization are:


  • Training Variation
  • High-Intensity Periods
  • Evaluation / Monitoring
  • Flexibility


The 3 Dimensions of Flexible Periodization are:


  • Goals
  • Expectations
  • Outcomes / Results




Our initial intention was to write one single article about Periodization for Karate… But we’ve already write two and we need at least one more!!


Stay tuned because on Saturday we will see the characteristics of each Periodization model and how you can adapt each one of them to your Dojo…



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P.S. – Do you know there are 12 identified Periodization strategies?!? Yes, that’s right… We will write them down in the next article. And we will focus our attention on the ones we think are best suited to give your Karate students and athletes the best performance, health and, above all, motivation!! Because without motivation it’s very hard to achieve the other two…