The Need for Speed Part I

The Need for Speed -sport specific Training for Competition Karate Christian Gruener & Ken Oesterreich

After more than twelve years of both training and competition, karate is still one of the most exciting journeys we have been on. Although karate is one of the most popular martial arts of the world and hopefully one of the Olympic disciplines of the future, there is still a lot to be done.

While karate articles mainly focus on historical and traditional aspects, competition is either ignored or at least downplayed. This article is intended to fill this gap. For us, karate is first and foremost a competitive sport. We leave tradition and kata to the respective experts and concentrate on what we like most and hopefully can do best- kumite.
By watching a karate tournament on any skill level the first thing that becomes obvious, is the fact that there are only a hand full of techniques successfully used for scoring points.

Mostly different kinds of Gyaku Zuki (reverse punch) and Ura/Mawashi Geri (roundhouse kicks). These are the basics. And as we all know, it is never wrong to stick to them. If everybody is doing literally the same thing all the time, it cannot be the technique itself but the way it is trained and timed. This leads us directly back to the title - The Need for Speed.

The second and even more important aspect of most karate tournaments is the fact that most of the participants are of pretty young age. Since children are first of all children and not young adults, they have to be treated and trained as such. The training cannot be conducted the same way a twenty year veteran competitor is training. Training has to be interesting, exciting as well as demanding. Traditional line training is most probably not the right way. While karate specific training gear has been developed greatly during the last decades, most training practices seems to be caught in the middle ages. As an example, when asking an instructor how to increase speed the answer is most likely to be something like "train faster." Definitely right but not very satisfying, isn't it.

Other sports have never hesitated to borrow from external sources, why should we? Although much has been theorised about how we learn, there are probably only two reliable one should never forget. Firstly, you learn best if you are interested in learning something. It's that easy. Secondly, learning basically includes the following steps: you are shown how to do something, then you practice it and then you decide if it works for you or not. In reading this article you have already proven your interest in new thoughts and ideas about training. The following series is intended to give a few possible and more substantial answers to the question: "How can I get faster?" We decided to start with one of the most elementary skills, which is used up to World Championship level. The direct counter - Gyaku Zuki Deai.

We wish you much success in your karate and your competition career.

1.) Basic drills & Scenario training for the direct counter punch - Gyaku Zuki De-Ai

1.1) Training the right distance Complex distance & reaction training forward - backward; left - right: Forward - Backward:

Both partners start from kamae position (fighting stance)

One partner always moves forward and backward with varying speed The other partner has to maintain his fighting distance all the time through stepping forward and backward Right - Left:

Additionally, one partner can now step to the right or left The other has to re-centre himself all the time through stepping to the right or left Speed and length of Steps should be varied after both partners got used to this exercise next time.

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