Maybe your Karate athletes are able to make full-splits to all sides, but what really matters is that they can use all the Flexibility to kick higher or performing wider stances, right?!?
This Article was written to help you understand what Type of Flexibility should your Karatekas train, in order to improve their Jodan-Geri! Enjoy the reading 🙂
Active Flexibility Deficit – What is it and how do you measure it?
First of all, how can you know if you should focus your Karate training on Passive Flexibility or Active Flexibility?
You can measure/observe the difference between Passive Flexibility and Active Flexibility.
Let’s see the example of Sit-and-Reach Test.
First, your students try to reach as further as possible on their own… Without any external help.
Then, you push them from behind.
If the score of the first measure is equal – or almost – to the second one, the Active Flexibility Deficit is low and your focus should go to increase Passive ROM.
In contrary, if they have a significantly greater result when you push them, that means they have a high Passive Flexibility level and your focus should be to develop their Active ROM. The problem is lack of strength in the agonist’s muscles to reach greater amplitude.
From the following pictures, the first one is when the Karateka tries to stretch alone; while the second image is the result achieved with external help… Does this Karate student have an Active Flexibility Deficit?
A Simple Strategy to Observe your Karatekas’ Active Flexibility Deficit!!!
If you don’t know, by now, any method to measure your Karatekas’ Flexibility you can use a simple strategy…
… Observe their performance as in the following examples:
EXAMPLE 1 – Ask your Karate students to sit down and open their legs to both sides. They must do it without any external help from a partner, the Instructor or they own hands. Then, you go there and help them to open as far as they can, without reaching the level of pain. If with your help, they can open their it significantly more that means they have an Active Flexibility Deficit.
EXAMPLE 2 – Use the same strategy with the Shiko Dachi. Tell your Karate students to stand on Shiko Dachi and observe their knees. If they have it pointing to the inside and are able to open to the right position with your help or their hands’ help, they have an Active Flexibility Deficit.
EXAMPLE 3 – Try the same method to the first part of a Jodan Mawashi or Ura-Mawashi (when your students raise the knee before extending the leg). Ask them to raise their knee as high as possible without any external help; then, tell them to help with their hand. What do you observe? Can they reach a greater height with the external help? If yes, what should be their training focus: Passive Stretching or Active Stretching?
If you don’t know the exact difference between Active and Passive Flexibility, please continue reading…
Types of Flexibility
Basically, we have two Types of Flexibility:
What’s More Important: Passive or Active Flexibility?
Above all, both are very important to Karate.
Passive Flexibility is like the first level…
…Is where you increase your Karatekas’ Range-of-Motion so they can achieve wider stances or punches and higher kicks.
Their movement can only go where their Passive Flexibility allows it.
Finally. Active Flexibility is the next step…
It’s the Range-of-Motion that your students or athletes can reach by themselves.
Consequently, it’s where strength becomes equally relevant. Let us explain…
You must have enough strength to take full advantage of your Passive Flexibility. You may have high levels of Passive Flexibility but may not be able to easily execute a Jodan Mawashi-Geri.
If that happens, that means that you don’t have enough Active Flexibility.
That’s why, in a second phase, your Karate sessions must focus on Active Stretching methods – Static, Dynamic or Ballistic.
Let’s see the examples, again:
EXAMPLE 1 – You have a student that when executes a Shiko-Dachi his/her knees get closer than they should.
You go from behind and pull them to the right position and your student supports that stance without any effort.
That demonstrates that his or her problem is lack of strength in the gluteal muscles and not lack of Flexibility.
EXAMPLE 2 – You ask your athlete to raise his/her knee to a Mawashi or Ura-Mawashi Geri – the position before extending the leg.
He/she tries to do it as high as possible but it stays lower than you desire.
You go and help him/her raising the knee with your hands.
If it works, you have to develop his/her Active Flexibility (strength in the agonist’s muscles); if it doesn’t solve the problem, the focus must be in increasing Passive Flexibility of the Adductors.