Random Scribblings (frightened) wrote in karate_do,
Random Scribblings
frightened
karate_do

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Cross-training, especially for kumite

Hi all. I'm a 5th kyu in Shotokan karate, my grading syllabus includes a lot of kibadachi (my kata's tekki shodan/naihanchi), and I'm particularly interested in kumite.

I know people say if you want to get better at karate, do more karate, but a) it's just not possible for me at the moment due to time and money and b) I think cross-training is better for you.

So... do people have any suggestions for cross-training? I own a punchbag and a bike and I get free gym and swimming. I've already noticed that the leg extension machine at the gym (sit with your legs bent, weights on your shins, and straighten your legs) works the same muscles as kibadachi. Quadriceps, I guess. I've also noticed that general fitness is an issue, and that I've got better since I've taken up running, in that my stamina for kumite has improved. I remember reading somewhere that cycling is good for building up leg strength for kicks. Do people have any other suggestions?

Another thing is that most of the long-term Shotokan karateka I know have knee issues. Does anybody know of any particular knee-strengthening exercises that could help prevent these? I already wear knee supports (elasticated bandages) when training or running, and I don't run on concrete.

Thanks for any help.

(Cross-posted to karate_women and karate_do)
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I'm not a Shotokan student, but I agree that you should do cross-training of some kind. You might consider swimming - it gives you a good cardiovascular and strength workout, and also provides a different range of motion for your shoulders. It is also unlikely to damage your knees.
Swimming's good for pretty much everything (except bone density, but hey, can't have it all), that's true. I need to do more of it. It's ridiculous not to, given I get it free and all.
Karate tends to be done in bursts, so I found intensive exercise helps build up that kind of fitness (sprinting, squash, interval training, that kind of thing).

Your muscles will get stronger and more used to the deeper stances with time, and a lot of it is to do with technique too. Make sure your knees are forced out in kibadachi and it'll brace your weight better. If they are pointing more inwards then your muscles have to do more work.

Standing in kibadachi will help, or just doing tekki over and over again (although that can be a little dull).

Stretching too, although I suppose that's kind of obvious!

Never had a problem with my knees personally, and I've been training some 15 years. Although a lot of the people I've trained with have had issues - the deeper stances will bugger them up if you're not careful.

But what people say is true - the more you train the better you'll be!
Although as my wife just pointed out, the people who had knee issues tended to have a pre-existing condition before they started training. I can't think of anyone who has developed a knee problem as a sole result of karate.

And the way we train encourages stubborn behaviour, like training despite dodgy knees!
Although as my wife just pointed out, the people who had knee issues tended to have a pre-existing condition before they started training. I can't think of anyone who has developed a knee problem as a sole result of karate.

That's reassuring. And correlation isn't cause, I know. And I guess I have no idea how common knee injuries are among the middle-aged general population. It's just Shotokan's got a bit of a reputation there, and it makes me nervous, and I figure anything I can do to prevent it won't hurt. Literally, if I'm lucky.

And the way we train encourages stubborn behaviour, like training despite dodgy knees!

Mmmm, no idea what you're talking about. I certainly did not, for instance, go to the gym despite having one hell of a cold this week, and I definitely didn't have a fit of stubborness over the weights on one of the machines I find really difficult. No sir. Not me.
Karate tends to be done in bursts, so I found intensive exercise helps build up that kind of fitness (sprinting, squash, interval training, that kind of thing).

That's a very good point. I think that's where the running's helping, too. What fitness I have is more the 'long slog' kind - I like walking up hills and I tend to pace myself and conserve energy rather than going really fast at the beginning.

Standing in kibadachi will help, or just doing tekki over and over again (although that can be a little dull).

Ah, man, Sensei had us doing kibadachi squats. Like, standing in kibadachi, straightening the legs a very small amount, then going back down. KILLER. Hated it.
Have you considered raising your concerns re: cross training to your sensei? It's not always obvious, but most of the time we tend to have a better idea as to what our student's needs may be than they do themselves.

Squat training is great for building leg strength, and depending on what you're looking to do in terms of endurance, I found that Kettlebell snatches and swings do plenty for increasing my own endurance. Another thing to consider is wind sprints, or just go out to a hill and do some "road work" — Run up as fast as you can, walk down. Repeat. For reps.
I have discovered that my chronic knee pain is actually due to IT band inflammation and tightness. The iliotibial band is a band of fascia that connects hip to knee. If you look up IT band syndrome, it is something that happens to dancers and others who use lots of hip movements (like martial artists, perhaps?). The problem was extreme weakness in some hip muscles, not my knee. So, my PT is helping me with stretch/massages and ice/heat as well as specific exercises that strengthen my left hip.