In karate as well as in many other martial arts, kicks are an elementary component. However, many trainers and especially beginners have considerable problems.
Of course you want to start training immediately and kick with full steam, but often the kick fails already because of the correct execution, which can cause injuries that can be avoided by correct training.
In addition to the correct execution of the technique, other factors play a role, such as dynamics or speed, your own physical conditions (flexibility, muscles, etc.) or even the force used when kicking. Especially at the beginning of the learning process of a new technique, one should reduce the dynamics and speed of the execution and also the force used considerably, and concentrate on the correct posture (including foot and hip posture).
In the following I would like to show you some simple exercises to train the coordination and also the muscles for the respective kick. Each exercise can be done with or without weights at the ankle joints . For beginners the weight of the leg should be sufficient, advanced users can experiment with weights between 0,5 kg and 2 kg to increase the efficiency of the exercises. In case of doubt, it is better to use less weight to prevent injuries.
Important: Always warm up well before starting training, e.g. jogging, rope skipping and light dynamic stretching. Between the exercises, depending on how you feel, take a short break, loosen your legs and rotate your hips.
Table of contents:
- Exercises - Coordination and strength training for kicks
- Kicks: Exercise 1
- Kicks: Exercise 2
- Kicks: Exercise 3
- Kicks: Exercise 4
- Kicks: Exercise 5
Exercises - Coordination and strength training for kicks
Kicks: Exercise 1
For the first exercise simply get down on all fours, legs are bent and knees and hands are on the floor. Then slowly move the bent leg to the side until the knee or lower leg is parallel to the floor. In the final position, hold briefly and then slowly return. Repeat this exercise about 10-15 times on each side.
Kicks: Exercise 2
After the first exercise is finished, stay in this position. Now, as in the first exercise, first bring the leg up again and parallel to the ground. Instead of bringing it back, we now stretch the leg forward. Again, hold the leg briefly in the end position and lead it back slowly. Repeat this exercise 10-15 times for each leg. When doing this exercise, make sure that your feet are in the correct position. Either tighten the teeth to kick with the ball later, or stretch the toes and foot forward to kick with the instep.
Kicks: Exercise 3
The next exercise begins like the previous ones on all fours (knees and hands on the floor). Now one leg is stretched backwards and held briefly again before being led back to the starting position. This exercise trains the gluteal muscle and parts of the back muscles, and should be repeated about 10-15 times on each side. Hit area is the heel of the foot.
Kicks: Exercise 4
Next, simply lie on your side, stretch your legs, support with your forearm, and push your hips up so that the weight of your body is on your forearm and the edge of the lower foot. Now guide one leg up and down. At the highest point, hold out for a moment before the leg is returned (do not drop it! ;)). 10-15 repetitions per leg should be sufficient.
Kicks: Exercise 5
The next exercise should train not only the appropriate muscles but also coordination (correct leg, hip and foot posture!). For this purpose, assume a comfortable lateral position with both legs angled. Raise one leg and push the hip forward so that the knee points in the direction of the kick (for Mawashi-Geri / roundhouse kick). Then unfold the lower leg and hold it briefly in the final position. Pay attention to the foot position: If you kick with the ball of the foot, then pull the toes up and ball of the foot forward. Kick with the instep, then pull the foot and stretch the toes forward. Ideally, you should train both of them!
A variation of this exercise would also be conceivable to practice the Ura-Mawashi-Geri. To do this, simply extend the leg as in the final position, only a little further in front of the body, and then bend the lower leg and lead it back or let it snap calmly without weight on the feet.
Then pull the knee towards the chest, hold it briefly, then stretch forward for Yoko-Geri (side kick, push). Again, pay attention to the correct foot and hip position. Hip is stretched forward, and hitting area is the third of the outer edge of the foot from the heel/heel. Hold end position briefly as usual and return to starting position.
These are just some of the exercises how to train strength and coordination during kicks in karate and other martial arts. These are only intended to serve as an incentive and inspiration to get to know the subject matter better. The next part of this series will continue with the topic of kicks and training.
In karate, just like in almost all other martial arts, there are countless punching, thrusting, blocking and throwing techniques as well as several kicks, which are difficult to master without a lot of practice. Techniques like Mawashi-, Uramawashi-, Yoko- and e.g. Ushiro-Geri are quite complex movements, and especially beginners but also advanced Karateka often despair of one or the other kick, especially when it comes to making a strong technique out of it. In previous articles some exercises were already shown. Now I would like to connect to this...
Recently, also because of my work as a trainer, I have been thinking about how to teach these rather unpopular karate techniques and how to train outside the dojo. Which physical conditions have to be given to be able to perform the technique in an optimal way? After all, it is not only about the movement itself. The sequence of movements can be practiced very well in the dojo during kihon training. Beside the sequence of movements of the technique one also strengthens the corresponding musculature when performed correctly. So you have to keep going up the track and down the track through the hall until your legs get tired. Even an extensive jump training can't harm for Karateka 😉
However, this alone is often not enough to see quicker success. So I put together some nice stretching and strength exercises to support the whole thing, and cut a video together. This might motivate some of you to do more than the obligatory program in the holy halls of the dojo. From time to time overdoing is allowed, and exploring your own limits is desired 😉 In this sense, have fun!
-= Continuation: Karate kicks - Part 2 - coordination and precision =-
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