During the last Karate training I gave to my +15 Students, we dedicated time to developing Kata physical performance…
And I found that most of them were able to perform a good level of speed in sequences of movements where they gained momentum and when one movement was potentiated by the previous one (like those in video 1)…
…They experienced some problems when they had to move fast from a static position!
Well, as always, I went to my Scientific Sources and searched for an answer… An answer that helped me to better understand the physiological mechanisms and the principles behind an effective solution to this problem.
Let’s see what I found…
Moving Explosively from a Static Position is Harder than We Think…
Yes, how faster you have to move from a static Shiko-Dachi or Zenkutsu-Dachi the higher inertia you have to overcome…
… If you have to move at a slower speed, overcoming inertia it’s easier!
The same happens if the stance is lower… As you can easily understand, lower stands make fast movements harder.
Be Careful with your Students´ Posture when they Have to Move Fast from a Lower Stance…
Your Karatekas will feel a greater difficulty to maintain a good Body Alignment if they have to move quickly from lower Shiko-Dachis, Kiba-Dachis or Zenkutsu-Dachis.
You must reinforce your corrective feedback about their Posture and train the way they focus on their Centre-of-Mass.
Maximal Strength should Be One of Your Top Priorities with Less Trained Karatekas…
Maximal Strength is the “Mother” of all Types of Strength (Read this article to learn more about Strength Training!)!
Maximal Strength will allow your less trained Karatekas to improve their Explosive Actions, in a safer way, when compared with specific Explosive Strength methods.
Explosive Strength methods are more intense and may increase the risk of injury in less trained or younger Karatekas. Because their technical execution may not be correct or because their muscle-tendon system may not be prepared to very intense stimuli, yet.
Maximal Strength exercises allow those students to balance Performance and Health… And that will increase their sense of success and safety – in other words, their Motivation!
So, When should you Integrate Specific Explosive Strength Training?
Explosive Strength training should only be used with more experienced Karatekas!
With these students/athletes, you can integrate this kind of exercises during the entire season, mixed with the other methods – as Maximal Strength, for example…
…Or in the second phase of the season, more close to the Competitive Periods – closely to the most relevant tournaments or the belt grading tests.
To develop Explosive Strength, you can use two methods:
- Ballistic Training – light loads where you don’t brake the movement, at the end.
As an example, you have jumps, medicine ball throws or throwing bar supine…
To be considered Ballistic Training, your students/athletes must start from a static position, without countermovements before the main movement.
- Rate of Force Development’s specific exercises – heavy weights that your students are or not able to move – it doesn’t matter because what they must do is to contract their muscles as fast as possible against the external resistance.
Here, initial muscle contraction must be real fast!!! What you want to stimulate is Muscle Activation as quick and soon as possible.
And what about Plyometric Training?!?
Plyometric Training is also a great, great way of improving Muscle Power! You can certainly use it to develop a faster take-off from static stances in Kata, because it will increase your athletes’ leg power…
…And it’s a very easy method to apply… and it’s very motivating to all your students… and it really stimulates the muscles of your more experienced Karatekas!
But to solve the specific problem of moving fast from a static position, in Kata, you must reinforce Ballistic and Rate of Force Development methods close to the most important moments in the season – competitions and belt exams. Why? Because it’s more specific, especially in terms of coordination…
Specificity is Always the Key-Factor to Karate Performance!!!
First of all, Karate Performance – as all other Human Movement activities – is optimized by Intermuscular Coordination…
What does that mean?
That your Muscles must learn how to work together, in order to make any movement more effective and efficient. In other words, Intermuscular Coordination helps your Karatekas to take the maximum benefit from less effort!
Intermuscular Coordination improves with a better interaction between muscles that control a movement: Agonists, Synergists, Antagonists, Stabilizers, and Neutralizers.
General Strength training also has several benefits:
- Increases the potential of each muscle to produce strength
- Reduces the risk of injury
- Improves Core stability and strength
- Increases total body mass (if needed)
However, in order to maximize transfer to specific Karate skills, exercises should be as specific as possible… In other words, reproducing what your Karatekas need to do.
For example, if you want to take-off from a Shiko-Dachi to a Zenkutsu-Dahi you should create exercises that are as similar as possible with that type of transition.
Another example: if you want to take-off from a Shiko-Dachi you should make Ballistic Jumps from Shiko-Dachi and not a traditional Squat.
In conclusion, a combination of General and Specific Strength-Training strategies can be used to develop all the Neuromuscular factors that contribute to a fast movement from a Static Stance, in Kata.
The way in which these strategies are integrated, over time, is dependent on Training Periodization & Planning… And this will depend on the needs and developmental level of each Karateka or group of Karatekas.
The General strategy might be appropriated to less trained students… After they achieved a solid foundation, they will benefit more from a Specific training program.
Vertical or Horizontal Exercises?
Well, the answer is both… Why?
Horizontal Exercises are crucial because most of the whole-body displacements, in Kata, are made horizontally… The exception is the jumps you can find in Kata like Unsu or Chatanyara Kushanku. So, in order to achieve Specificity in training, you must develop many exercises that demand your Karatekas to produce strength, horizontally.
But Vertical Exercises are also important because even in Horizontal whole-body displacements the first phase of force production is vertical – when you start pushing the floor. And, as we wrote, you must also consider jumps as whole-body displacements.
Want to Know How to Apply these Methods in Detail?
Go to karatesciencepro.com and become a PRO!
There you’ll find the answer to the following questions:
- What are the Specific Guidelines to achieve the Best Results with the methods explained in this Article?
- What’s the role of Maximal Strength and Explosive Strength in a Fast Movement from a Static Stance, in Kata? Both are very important and your Kata Athletes must keep training them.
- When should your Karatekas start training Specific Explosive Strength, regularly?
- What are the Physiological and Anatomical Mechanisms that allow your Kata students to speed-up their Take-off from Static Stances, in Kata?
Scientific Sources & Complimentary Readings
Suchomel TJ, Nimphius S, Stone MH. The Importance of Muscular Strength in Athletic Performance. Sports Medicine. 2016; 46(10):1419-49
Maffiuletti NA, Aagaard P, Blazevich AJ, Folland J, Tillin N, Duchateau J. Rate of Force Development: Physiological and methodological considerations. European Journal of Applied Physiology. 2016; 116:1091-1116
Maximal Strength Training Improves Work Economy, Rate of Force Development and Maximal Strength More than Conventional Strength Training. European Journal of Applied Physiology. 2013; 113:1565-1573
Requena B, Garcia I, Requena F, Saez-de-Villareal E, Cronin JB. Relationship Between Traditional and Ballistic Squat Exercise With Vertical Jumping and Maximal Sprinting. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2011; 25(8)/2193-2204
Adaptations in Athletic Performance after Ballistic Power versus Strength Training. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2010; 1582-1598
Yoshioka S, Nagano A, Hay DC, Fukashiro S. Biomechanical Analysis of the Relation Between Movement Time and Joint Moment Development During a Sit-to-Stand Task. BioMedical Engineering OnLine. 2009; 8:27
Young WB. Transfer of Strength and Power Training to Sports Performance. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance. 2006; 1:74-83
Janssen WG, Bussmann HB, Stam HJ. Determinants of the Sit-to-Stand Movement: A review. Physical Therapy. 2002; 82(9):866-79