We had a lovely night of good, hard training on Tuesday, and I brought along the camera to get some examples of our performance/power phase training on video.

The first clip demonstrates a side plank. To many, “core exercise” is interpreted as doing lots of situps. Situps target the hip flexors more than the abdominal muscles, and are actually counter productive for this purpose.  Side planks strengthen the recruitment of the abdominal obliques and associated core stabilizer muscles. The variations demonstrated here further involve the stabilizer muscles around the shoulder, elbow, hip and knee joints in conjunction with added leverage against the core muscles.

The next few clips demonstrate agility work on a tape “agility ladder.” While moving down the ladder, the student is focusing on exploiting the rebound from stored kinetic energy to move lightly and quickly but powerfully. Hitting the pad at the end of the ladder gives the student an opportunity to experience how momentum and the drop-step can produce fast, powerful punches. As the pad holder advances, the student works on employing the same stability and agility while moving backwards and throwing punches as fast as possible, using the feet to dig in to strike forward powerfully.

Dave Campbell,  shown in two of these clips, underwent complete reconstruction of his left knee two years ago. This type of training, progressing gradually from slow to full speed, has helped him to regain mobility, power and speed.

This last clip is a very short sample  of makiwara work done in a more dynamic fashion. Instead of thrusting with the body as is commonly seen in karate, the student is punching ballistically, initiating with the chest and arm to generate speed. The momentum and drive of the body is linked upon impact. Although the hips are involved as a rotational center, the drive is primarily generated by the active propulsion of the legs. The rear heel is allowed to lift and drive forward, contributing to the forward momentum and allowing stored kinetic energy to rebound into the strike. Keeping the heels flat negates the rebound, lessening the dynamism and power generated, and also encourages excessive strain on the medial aspect of the knee and compression on the posterior lumbar spine.

Thrusting with the body produces a punch that is encumbered by the agonism of the latissiumus dorsi. Although it may feel powerful, such thrusting actually lessens the velocity of the punch, subtracting substantially from the power generated.