Karate Speed Work

Has anyone any suggestions for speed work for sport karate (kata and kumite)? Bearing in mind that the area is only 10m square, therefore, speed endurance not really an issue. During Kumite (fighting) a competitor needs to be quick off the mark to score points, and if successful the fight is stopped. A bit more endurance is needed during a kata but power and speed of technique a the main requisites.

Many thanks.

Is this point kumite (stop after each hit) or are there timed rounds? This makes a large difference both in strategy and training philosophy.

As far a kata competition is concerned, is this tradition kata or “acrobatic” kata?

Sorry for the questions, but there are a lot of “flavors” of sport karate, each which different emphasis (as you probably know). Training to improve speed can depend greatly on this emphasis.

Olympic lifting will help. Bruce Lee’s Tao of Jeet Kune Do will help. Work on evasion footwork rather than blocks, and work on two or three money shots for your attack like reverse punch and front leg side kick. work on your abs lots. Bruce Lee said something to the effect that if you want to kick fast, then kick fast; if you want to punch fast, then punch fast.

I don’t know if oly lifting is worth the effort for martial artists to learn. Martial arts already have a heavy skill component, so it seems counter-productive to add more skills to learn. In my experience, most martial artists (especially strikers) already have good speed/RFD anyways. What most don’t have is a good foundation of strength.

RE: tao of jeet kune do

This is an excellent book, but don’t treat it as the one gospel (i am not claiming that you are). I have noticed that in some ways Lee has risen to be a pedestalled figure of martial arts, a type of idol that he felt was a detriment to the developement/refinement of martial arts.

If one is interested in the origins/philosophy of okinawin karate, Funakoshi Gichen is a good author to read. His ideas on how a martial artist should train were surprising “modern”.

There are many more authors than Funakoshi though, if anyone is interested, i can post more authors/books…

RE: tactics

“There are many ways…”, i personally like to block over evasive footwork sometimes, as often allows for throwing waza. I would love to debate this though. :slight_smile:

How about we just fight about it and whoever wins the fight wins the argument? I did Traditional Karate for 7 years, 2 years of Boxing, and have been doing MMA (jiu jitsu, muay thai, wrestling) for the last 5.

I am pretty sure Olympic Lifting is a good thing for any athlete wanting to increase speed and power. It isn’t necessary, and some athletes can’t get a hold of equipment or a proper instructor. BJ didn’t use Oly Lifts, but there are always exceptions. There isn’t any more USEFUL skills in Karate than in any other sport. Most tournaments (point kumite) are won with the athlete using the same techniques over and over and over again.

As someone already noticed power of the hips is crucial in developing fast strikes. Core/torso should be stiff , allowing this power to be transmited into the arms in whip-like fascion (kinetic link).
Ability to coordinate joint extentions (timing) in the strike is far more important then strength or speed of individual joints! And this people is skill…
Also, it is misleadin to look at the “speeding up” if his reflexes (anticipation) and timing with his oponent is poor! Sometimes, improve this, and the speed will blast!
As for hip power development, I would prefer medball throws (explosive etc.). Olys coud be done if the technique is good. General strength also, but dont forget that in striking load is very small, thus there is large ESD (explosive strenth deficit), so maybe the strength (of arms- bench press) is not neccesery…

UFC is a sport (nasty one), and street fight is something else… You can be in advantage training this stuff, but also you can be in danger using it to self defence… Try wrestling with someone who has broken bottle, and you will see the difference emediatelly!
I trained Vale Tudo with ex coach of CroCop, but soon I was attracted with JeetKuneDo and ProgressiveFightingSystem of Vunak and Kali, but again these are choreographyed arts… Search for Systema and AttackProof, look at their methodology…

Fighting about it would be fine :), but that would be beneith the purpose of martial development. I think that the rift between tradition martial arts and MMA is a sad thing. Both sides could learn much from each other. Personally, i feel that many useful techniques and methods have been lost to history (WWII did a lot of damage to korean and japanese martial arts) and MMA’s obsession with what works has a tendancy to miss techniques that take longer to learn, but are quite useful. (Maybe my statement on Oly lifts, was hypocritical in this context). On the other hand, traditional martial artists need to stop purely following tradition just because it is tradition. My personal background is 10 years of both a traditional korean striking art and some “MMA” (before the term was coined as such) with TKD and muay tai. (My instructor did both, an odd combination). As i moved away from that school recently, i have been doing hapkido for the last 6 years while continuing to practice my previous arts.

I agree that point kumite is usually won with the same techniques over and over again. That was part of the reason why many of the okinawin (i should know how to spell this) instructors resisted the kumite tournament as long as they could. They felt that it cheapened the development of martial skill, as the rules did not allow for the better karateka to win. (Keep in mind that most of these instructor grew up in the period where dueling was more common). This is part of the reason why i don’t do tournaments anymore. I got sick of the whining over judging and the limits on techniques (i did some oly-style TKD tournaments).

This is partially why old instructors can throw around younger guys all over the place. :slight_smile: Tactical knowledge and experience is supreme in a lot of cases.

“Any additional training must not hinder the development of skill.”
How many times is this quote valid :slight_smile:

Without getting into a “my style is better” holy war, i wouldn’t dismiss the applicability of UFC styled fighting into reality. The philosophy of these systems (at least BJJ) is a descendant of a principle developed by a japanese jui-jutsu instructor (i should remember the name…). His philosophy was to remove any technique that cannot be replicated safely (won’t cripple/kill them) at full power on a sparring partner. Then doing a lot of full power sparring. The idea was that any technique that wasn’t able to be practiced in a combat-like situation wouldn’t be honed enough for when it mattered. UFC sparring is in some ways a culmination of this. In fact, most traditional martial arts schools do a lot more full-contact sparring because of this as well.

In my opinion, most of the military-esque martial systems, have the same failings as any other “system”. “Forgetting tradition just because it is old is as big of a fallacy as keeping tradition because it is old.” My old instructor joked about posting this sign everywhere…

Neither am I! All I am saying is that it can help but in the same time it can cost you a life… Take an example of begginer (someone whos prime interest is in self-defence) starting box training. In start, box training will have great positive transfer to street, but after some time it would be limiting (no elbows, legs, trapping, head buts, gloves, ring) - great negative transfer. So, again, everything is a matter of degree! Same thing for UFC! So, keep the open minded!
I strongly suggest looking for KiChuanDo (attack proof) and Russian Systema! BTW, these are not styles, but rather methods, style is yours… I belive that if Lee was alive, JKD will progress into one of these (shapeless like water)…
Again, it all depends on your goals: if you want to be a champ in the ring, you know where to start, but if you want to survive… different story! I dont belive learning JKD stance for 3 years and nitpicking will help you break a jaw of an assh* trying to break a bottle on your face while you sit with your girl on a chair! Would it?

Part of the issue i have with these systems is that they claim to be the ultimate system… when they use the same techniques as everyone else. There are only so many ways to move the human form. As for your hypothetical situation, i stopped responding to this method of argument years ago, because after some thought and discussion with some teachers of mine, if one is so feared of their ability to survive, their life is meaningless and wasted.

Hi Quark,

nononono! As Charlie stated there is a lot of ways to skin a cat, but which cat do you choose to skin?

The techniques arent important! The method of learning is important!!! There are no techniques in Systema (movement patterns), no techniques in street fight-they are so changed that they dont look like any “school technique”, they are ugly bloodbath!

And why do you learn to punch as your teacher, in the same pattern teached by Funakoshi, Ueshiba, Lee, Gracie (continue list)? We have different morphotype then they do, different lever arms etc, so all those arts(?) try to fit human into suit, and not to adapt the suit for an individual man…

The fear isnt an issue here nor is my life as meningless or wasted, but rather a simple question is your art(?) closed in its own history, priciples, able to prepare u for the reality? I see a lot of arts refuse reality as such, and are closed in their own virtual-reality…
No offense quark, just to keep discussion alive :stuck_out_tongue:

Do me a favour and order attack proof from human kinetics. You got sample chapters at www.attackproof.com
Also check this:

  1. The understanding of the process is above the knowledge as such.
  2. The perseverance - the key to the secrets of mastery.
  3. To win the fight, the strenght is not enough. Knowlegde, skill, habit, and reason are also needed.
  4. If the enemy has suprised you, and you are still alive - he’s in your hands.
  5. The more hopeless the situation, the more useful it is.
  6. Give in a little, in order to diminish the resistence.
  7. Do not try to be stronger than your opponent, look to find where he is weaker than you.
  8. Do everything with the minimum vaste of strenght. Too much strenght leads to the opposite results.
  9. Remember the old wisdom: “Give in, to get something back”.
  10. To evade without breaking the contact - that is the goal of your fighting.
  11. Don’t be scared to look funny and clumsy in the training.
  12. The fear and anger are natural and necessary. fear does not have to be completely erased.
  13. Relax, try to relax as much as possible.
  14. Everything must be done with understanding.
  15. There’s no forbidden techniques in self-defense.
  16. Which way to use to run away? Whichever one.
  17. Without defense, there is no offense.
  18. Do not start the fight if there is any other way to develop the situation.
  19. When fighting, do not look for the spectacularity, look for the efficiency.
  20. Don’t spare the opponent if if he presents real treat to your health and life.
  21. In combat, never rely on one strike or action.
  22. Do not fear the little traumas, try to avoid the big ones.
  23. Always be prepared for the unecpected technique or attack.
  24. Repeat the movement again - and then again.
  25. Slow repetition enables the analytical action, which is related to what you want to achieve, and thid wanting will widen your horizon.
  26. The spirit of the system - the spirit of the victory, regardless of the type of the weapon, as it is possible to win anyway.
  27. In combat, the state of your mind shouldn’t differ from your everyday one. In combat, as in life, you must be focused but calm.
  28. Understanding the meaning of the system in its entirety enables you to see the oppotunity to apply it in all the fields.
  29. You don’t have to have any kind of weapon or technique. Do not copy others, act accordingly to the situation.
  30. It is only possible to have a personal style when you know the optimum of the style.
  31. The training - the part of your life that strengtens your spirit.
  32. It is difficult to understand oneself without having any notion of others.
  33. Periodically, separate yourself from the motor, technical assignement in space and time. It will enable you to see it from another perspective, and
    understand it fully. The string of the logical steps is than compressed, and it will be possible to leap into the solution.
  34. Change the value, the meaning of the different parts of the motor assignement. The change of the value of criteria transforms the logical analysis
    and enables the creation of different way of reasoning.
  35. Do not allow any excuse for being pasive and lazy.

The Kadochnikov style is a variation of Systema, but they do a lot of biomechanical teaching and take a lot of time to analyse movements… I like it to do it more on the “feel basis”

duxx, you posted a lot. I appreciate this discussion, no offence taken. Give me a sec to respond.

I think that we are both agreeing on the same implicit point. No reasonable martial artist expects an actual fight to be clean and cut. Part of this is that kata/poomse have been wholely miss-interpreted in the West. In many ways, this was supposed to be “tempo” work. (not necessarily the gold standard for technique) While important, it often gets labeled as the gospel truth, which is a mistake.

Mostly out of respect for them. My teachers have put a lot of effort into training me, learning how they do things is the least i can do. In addition, i find that learning how something works for others is the fastest way to find how it works for me.

Pre-meiji restoration, the emphasis on martial training was to adapt the suit. When meiji turn japanese society on its head, the martial arts took a lot of damage. Maybe i have been really lucky, but my instructors have taken that approach. This perception of traditional martial arts i think is partially due to (again) the miss-interpretation of the use of kata/poomse.

Again, no offence taken, i used to read some MA forums in the past and this question usually started ad hominen attacks. I may sound like a walking history book (the history of martial arts is very interesting to me). I aggree that a lot of traditional forms have mis-interpreted their roots and have forgotten reality. The reason why i say miss-interpreted was that these “styles” were at some point based on combat condictions. Unfortunately, the karate crazes and hollywood can do a lot of damage.


Looking into it. Give me a moment to read more, so i am not reacting to something i read too fast. :slight_smile:

Interesting. Nothing i disagree with. I agree on the feel aspect, biomechanical analysis seems too serile. :slight_smile: (this is coming from a person who reads math books for fun).

Regarding the attackproof stuff, I do not see anything revolutionary here. Nothing of it is bad advice, but the marketing aura makes me fishy :). When i was an undergrad, i knew some krav maga-ist who pretty much had the same approach, nothing wrong with it. Personally, i find that approach un-necessarily aggressive.

Regardless, should we talk more about training?

Hi quark,

to conclude our out-of-topic discussion here:
Everything depends on goal settings, and there are lot of ways to skin a cat if you choose appropriate one, so keep open minded!

Just now, my faculty friend (her) asked me about gym work for tae-kwon do… So, this is my short opinion about training for karate/taekwondo style MA:

  1. Specific work should come only from the practice itself. Dont try to invent special exercises because you could get “too much of a good thing” (read overtraining, injury). During kicking, punching external load is very small, thus there is a great ESD, which can be adressed only via practice itself, and not some “special explosive exercises”
  2. There is still a need for optimal strentgth level to increase, because advenced athletes tend to decrease ESD, so one option is to increase max strength and general explosive strength (GPP)
  3. GPP exercises can include squats, lungest and other one-leg variants, Olys and dumbell snatches/cleans, bench presses, but it should also include pulley work (star exercise), explosive medball work and high rep medball work (“hot potato”), plyos should also be included (long jump, triple) but there should be also emphasis on lateral movement capability (lateral box jumps, side shuffle with elastic bands) and agility. Torso/core strength/stability could be adressed via Big Three and various isom/neutral spine exercises. Sled pull can be used (with band on each leg) to develop hip flexors, but should be carefull with this because large spine stress induced with practice itself.
  4. After increase in GPP, complex methods could be done later in PREP period. (doing 5RM load and then doing sme punches/kicking for facilitation etc)
  5. Aerobic work should be mostly interval type, and include lot of easy jumping and change of direction, medball throws, kalistenics…
  6. There is a need for LA toleration but this is done only with practice itself (sparrings etc, work/rest combinations), not need to do it with weight and something not specific!

I belive that Martin Rooney and James Smith could argue about this issue. What are your opinions quark? I would really pursuit medball traning for martial arts!

I remeber very brightly my first hour at biomechanic course in 2nd year at faculty, when teacher asked how we could improve strike power/speed when agonists (prime movers) are very improved and dont react to more training.
I shouted: “Antagonists. We should improve antagonists”. And the whole amphiteatar turned and looked at me. I explained that stronger anatagonists (the one that stop the movement) allow greater peek speeds and their duration, because are able to stop the movement faster, so prime movers have longer time to accelerate during ROM! And this was the moment when I started to dominate in biomeh course :cool:
This is in very agreement with my Homoeostasis Performance Model! Stronger anatgonists would not only allow greater speed and greater time for acc of prime movers, but can also protect from injury!
So my 7th principle is:
7) Train anatagonist also (but with less emphasis). This includes retractors of scapulate, shoulder external rotators, hip extensors etc, via rowing, puling (inlcude some exercises in standin posture with pulley system), RDL etc. This will not only improve performance, but it may actually protect from injury!!!

Crud. I had a long post and it didn’t get through. I will post it later…I definately agree with the stuff of antagonists.