Jump training has long been an integral part of training for competitive athletes to improve strength, power and speed. The musculature is strengthened by the repeated fast stretch reflex and the subsequent landing.
Also for Karateka, fitness freaks and amateur athletes and sportsmen, the jump training can be a valuable and useful addition to the workout, if it is done correctly and the exercises are performed safely and cleanly.
In any case, a few clean repetitions of an exercise are better than many uncoordinated and incorrect ones. As the jump training puts a lot of strain on the legs and the circulation, well cushioned shoes and a mat (e.g. soft floor mat ) are recommended to avoid unnecessary strain on the joints. In case of problems with the knees or e.g. ankle joints, jumping training should generally be avoided.
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Jump training and karate
Jump training in karate can under certain circumstances not only be useful but also essential. Most of the practitioners in karate refrain from explicit jump training, because jumps in karate (at least in Shotokan Karate) and self-defense are not too common, and with the exception of some kata (e.g. Heian-Godan, Enpi, Kanku-Dai/-Sho, Unsu), they are not found in the Kihon/primary school program either.
One reason why jump training makes sense is that the risk of injury (twisting, spraining, etc.) can be minimized. Trained joints and muscles are less susceptible. Also the coordination of the body or the interaction of the individual muscle groups during the jump plays an essential role in order to master it successfully and uninjured. Therefore, the sequence of movements and the required musculature must be trained, just as with all other techniques in karate.
Plyometric training - explosive strength
Plyometric training primarily improves the explosive power. With this training method long ground contact times are avoided. For example, one jumps from a step or flat bench and immediately after touching the ground, one tries to spring up again reflexively. This triggers a muscle stretching reflex which improves intramuscular coordination and thus the height of the jump.
In the broadest sense, skipping also falls into this category because of the movement sequence. However, plyometric exercises with explosive and powerful jumps should be performed so that only a few repetitions (5-10) are done. Here, as so often, it is better to do less clean repetitions of the exercise rather than many incorrect ones!
Jump training with maximum strength
One possibility to improve his jumping power, jumping height and jumping distance are the so-called "squat jumps" and "frog jumps". Here you jump impulsively with all your strength from squatting or standing up. When you jump up, your arms also go up with you to take maximum momentum with you. Here you can vary. In order to get a rotation or more control in the jump later on, you should lead your arms back towards your body after lifting off. The same applies to the legs, so pull the knees towards the chest.
Another variation and increase in difficulty is to first install a rotation around an axis. You jump as usual, but this time you try to add a 180 degree rotation to the left and to the right. Here it helps to stay as "tight" as possible (pull your arms and knees towards your body). Of course you can also start with a 90 degree rotation or even increase it, this is up to the athlete and his possibilities.
If this exercise works out well, you have a good basis to at least optimize your jump out of the Shotokan-Kata Heian-Godan (90 degree turn), and you can slowly move on to Enpi (270 degrees), Kanku-Sho (270 and 360 degrees), while the principles remain the same. Jump cleanly high, pay attention to the axis of rotation so that it remains as straight as possible, and make it "narrow".
Further training methods and exercises on the subject of jump training will follow in the next parts of this series. Click here to continue with the second part: Jump Training - Improving Jumping Height and Jumping Distance.
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