Sunday, 8 February 2015

Preparatory exercises for Karate-Do

 Recently I was asked by some of my students to provide how I personally warm up (at present) and, pertaining to this, what I recommend for a general Karate-Do class. Whilst there are many variations of `junbi-undo’ I personally divided my `preparatory exercises’ into two sections. I will fully outline my personal junbi-undo below but, firstly, I’d like to outline my philosophy: in regards to `preparing the body for karate’. Before I go on, a quick search on here and you will find that this subject has been addressed at least twice. If you wish to search for a topic simply type it in using the search function (at the top left side of the screen).

Approach in my personal training and for the people I teach: I treat my junbi-undo as a day-by-day/case-by-case and highly variable matter; likewise, I do not push students to harder or lighter—JUNBI UNDO MUST BE A PERSONAL THING… NOT BASED ON EVERYONE PUSHING TO THE SAME LEVEL. Using myself as an example, some days I am sitting in the splits and my hips feel as soft as a baby’s. The next day my muscles can be extremely tight. In both scenarios, I just go with the flow, doing my junbi-undo at my own pace (and this is what I encourage others to do). The good thing to point out here is that in both scenarios, with `case-by-case preparation’, the quality of one’s karate will be equally good. Always remember: the junbi-undo is never a competition to beat others i.e. – stretch lower etcetera; rather, it is a competition for you to not let your ego kick in and specifically “prepare yourself for your karate”. Anything else is asking for an injury and is, therefore, imprudence.

MY PERSONAL ‘JUNBI-UNDO’: (Total time: 10—15 minutes)

Warm up (Approx. 6. Mins)

  1. After seiza, begin with light aerobic exercise; for example, jogging around the dojo, hopping/skipping, star jumps, squats, push ups, light kata and the like. Mix it up!—don’t stick to one thing!!! The key is not to excessively tire the body but, rather, to get the blood flowing. Indicative of this is a light sweat, increased heartrate and a getting a little puffed. This should take about five minutes but will naturally depend on your training environment (e.g. – if training outside in the cold this section might take up 15 minute by itself).

  1. Once nice and warm, joint rotations/movements, and the like, should be completed. Use karate stances i.e. – hachiji-dachi for shoulder circles, hip rotations, neck movements; heisoku-dachi for knee circles etc… Don’t do this slowly, move quickly between exercises (working up or down the body) to ‘keep in a state of warmth’. Around one minute and this section will be finished if the instructor is on the ball; i.e. – neck, shoulders, trunk, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, ankles—over... 
Stretching (Approx. 4—9 minutes)

a. Firstly use the stances to execute passive static stretches; for example, extended zenkutsu-dachi and so forth. Work down to floor stretches and gently hold them all for at least 10 seconds. The variations here are virtually endless, however, the key is relax, not to overstretch, and breath naturally (in essence, this stretching should never be painful; rather, `very comfortable with a light pulling feeling’). After completing these stretches, loosen up the hips again with some rotations for the final phase of preparation. I’d like to add here that there is much debate about using passive static stretches prior to technical practice; nonetheless, from my experience I recommend them to simply loosen up. Please note: if one wishes to work towards more intensive flexibility with deep and long held static stretches; isometric stretches; PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation); and the like, I recommend doing such exercises this at the conclusion of karate-do training; alternatively, as a part of home training or a supplementary strength/fitness/flexibility regime.    

b. The final phase of the preparatory exercises in karate-do is dynamic stretching with the legs. The trainees will all have a very good sweat by this stage and feel very ‘elastic’; furthermore, they will be psychologically well into `karate mode’. Essentially this section can include various knee raises; and controlled straight leg swings to the front, side, rear (and both inside and outside crescent actions). It is possible that you only need to do 10 reps with each leg (per exercise); however, the instructor might opt to do a couple of sets with each leg. That concludes the junbi-undo that I personally utilise and advocate. Osu, André.

© André Bertel. Aso-shi, Kumamoto. Japan (2015).

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