First of all, let’s answer this question… (this is the first part of two articles about Periodization in Karate)
Today, the term Periodization is frequently indiscriminately used to describe any form of training plan, regardless of structure.
The periodization of training was made popular by Matveyev from Russia and was later implemented in the United States by Stone, O’Bryant, & Garhammer.
This hypothetical model for strength training was initially intended for competitive weightlifters and was later adopted by athletes in the sport.
There are several Periodization models proposed by several authors: linear, nonlinear, block, fractal, conjugate sequence, etc.
These models differ in terms of structure but all have some common basic ideas (or should we call it beliefs and myths?!?)!
Let’s see what those ideas are:
The concept of periodization is based on Selye’s General Adaptation Syndrome.
General Adaptation Syndrome consists of three different stages and describes how an organism will respond to stress:
STAGE 1: Alarm Reaction (AR)
The first stage of the General Adaptation Syndrome is the Alarm Reaction. In this initial phase, humans exhibit a “fight or flight” response, which prepares the body for physical activity. However, this initial response can also decrease the effectiveness of the immune system, making persons more susceptible to illness during this phase.
STAGE 2: Stage of Resistance (SR)
This stage can also be named the Stage of Adaptation. During this phase, if the stress continues, the body adapts to the stressors it is exposed to. Those changes take place in order to reduce the effect of the stressor.
STAGE 3: Stage of Exhaustion (SE)
At this stage, the stress has continued for some time. The body’s resistance to the stress may be gradually reduced or may collapse quickly. This means the immune system and body’s ability to resist disease is partially or totally eliminated.
As you can see, this model states that chronic exposure to a particular stressor may lead to an exhaustion phase in which adaptation is lost.
For example, if you make your Karate students or athletes training High-Intensity Plyometric exercises every day, they won’t be able to develop muscle power. And that will be especially true during Competition or Grading’s performance.
To know more about Plyometric Training, read this articles:
The main goal of Karate training Periodization is to change volume, intensity, and training frequency to maximize performance and reduce the odds of overtraining.
Well, the first and more relevant scientific evidence about Periodization is this…
Periodized training is statistically superior for performance improvements when compared with constant-repetition programs.
Reinforcing this is the evidence that strength training Periodization leads to greater results, in comparison with non-periodized models. This is true for men and women, various training levels and a range of age groups!
Science also shows that a more generalized Periodization training program has positive effects, especially, in Karate students with low fitness levels.
Of course, when you have sedentary new students coming into your Dojo every type of training will help them to develop more strength, coordination, and endurance!
The challenge is to plan your Karate classes to all the other students and athletes…
What Science has shown until today is that, in most cases, there are no significant differences between the several Periodization models!!
Read the article KARATE + SCIENCE = SUCCESS to understand how Science is fundamental for Karate evolution.
What scientific studies showed until today is that Variation is a critical aspect of effective training…
… it did NOT show that this or that Periodization model is the best and ultimate guide to increase performance!
There are several studies advocating the superiority of some Periodization structures. But that is an illusion, until any scientific evidence in contrary.
To understand the importance of Training Variation you need to look to the opposite side of the coin: Training Monotony!
Research shows that high levels of Training Monotony lead to lack of motivation, poor performance, overtraining syndrome and even more frequent banal infections…
Don’t massacre your Karate students, please!!!
Dedication cannot be confused with the ability to do 1000 Oi-Zuki every single class or the same Kata for 6 months in a row. If you think repetition is the only key to improve your Karate…
…YOU ARE COMPLETELY WRONG!!!
Repetition is an important factor for mastery, but you need to manage it well…
… Because “More is not always Better”!!
One of the most difficult tasks you’ll have as a Karate Sensei is to manage how much Variation should you implemente in your classes.
Think with us…
… Training Variation is a critical component of long-term planning, BUT if your students’ adaptative energy is too widely distributed, gains will be very slow or nonexistent…
… If Training Variation is smaller and the program focus in a small number of skills your students may have rapid improvements, BUT if that concentrated focus is too prolonged they will be exposed to the negative effects of Monotony.
Let’s start with a Karate Science Academy statement…
“The problem of means and averages is that they are means and averages”
Well, when you read a scientific training intervention, generally, you look for mean values of the results.
The studies have a sample of 20 or 50 subjects. Meta-analyses get together several researches of the same theme and that allows to have much bigger samples and calculate more robust and significant effect sizes of the training protocols.
But the final results are often presented with mean values!
That’s a good practical solution that helps us to improve our work as Karate Coaches.
And it’s enough if you are talking about general Karate classes, like children, recreational students, etc.
It gives you guidelines to manage heterogeneous groups.
But if you train athletes or more advanced Karate students that train 4-5 times per week and want to the best Karateka they can, mean values are not enough!
We are going to give you a few examples…
… the Heritage Family Study (2001) tried to understand the training-induced changes in maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max). The average increase in Vo2max was 19%. However, 5% of participants had little or no change in VO2max and 5% had an increase of 40% to +50%.
And they all did the same training protocol!!
… Similar diversity among individuals was reported after strength-training interventions. For example, when 585 young men and women strength-trained for 12 weeks the average strength gain was 54%. However, there were individuals that had 0% of results and other ones had 250% of strength gains!! (Timmons, 2011; Hubal et al, 2005).
Learn more about Strength Training in the article WHAT DO YOU MEAN WHEN YOU SAY YOU ARE STRONG?
What are the reasons for this?
There are several variables working together when you train your Karate students and athletes:
Preexisting levels of strength and/or endurance don’t tell you reliably what are going to be the future responses of your students or athletes.
THAT’S WHY YOU SHOULDN’T TRY TO COPY-PASTE THE TRAINING METHODS OF THE BIG STARS: Aghayev, Kiyuna, Recchia, Sanchez!!!
If you had access to the training plans of the 20 Top Karate Athletes Kumite and Kata, female and male, you would see that they follow the same principles but not the same structure!!
Because they are individuals!! Not clones…
And your athletes aren’t clones of them, as well.
You must know why, how and when to apply each training method to each one of your Karate athletes or free-athletes (Karatekas that train like athletes but don’t participate in competitive events).
You can even pick examples of exercises from the videos of Ivan Leal, Junior Lefevre, Alexandra Recchia, Douglas Brose, Sandra Sanchez, Antonio Oliva, Antonio Diaz, Ryo Kiyuna, and so on…
That’s a great idea for assuring Training Variation!!
But you need to know why, how and when to use each one of those exercises with each athlete or group of Karate students…
Don’t copy… UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU ARE SEEING!!
That’s what makes you a real Karate professional…
First, individual athletes will respond differently, to one another, to identical training sessions.
Second, identical sessions performed by the same Karate student will always elicit a unique training response, for that student, depending on the functional states of his subsystems (physiological and psychological).
Third, group-based patterns and observations may be highly misleading when generalized to each athlete or student.
I know what you are thinking: “That’s great, but how can I do it in my daily Karate classes with 20 kids with ages between 5 and 9 years old?”; or even worse “You are insane, how can I manage all these things in a class where I have kids with 8 years old and adults with 40 years old. Besides that, I have White Belts and Brown Belts in the same class!!!”
Well, first of all, you really shouldn’t have kids and adults into the same group. Even if they have the same belt levels!!! Because they are physiological and psychological too much different and have completely unique responses and needs…
If you tell me that you have one or more Karate instructors helping you and that you can divide the groups, that’s another context. Because it’s like you have different classes, but training in the same room…
Of course, if you are talking about general classes that practice Karate for recreation (2 or 3 times per week) you have to plan more generic sessions that work for the majority. Although I think you must have the flexibility to adapt some of the exercises to specific students whenever is possible.
In the next article, we will show you the best Periodization structures to use in this more general Karate groups.
But if you have advanced classes where your students can be much more autonomous or if your train competitive athletes you must individualize their training as much as you can!!
It’s quite a hard job, but you want to be called a Karate specialist, right?
Karate Science Academy was created to support you in these harder tasks…
You must know why, how and when to introduce and manage each training component. You must be able to adapt Training Variation and Periodization to each athlete and advanced student!!
They will get more results, will be more motivated, healthier and you gain a great amount of credibility!!
Stay tuned because in the next article we will deepen this fundamental and controversial theme of Periodization and Training Organization… Thank you for following Karate Science Academy!
P.S. – In the next article, we will see what are the best Periodization strategies and some tips on how to manage your Karate training sessions!