Karate Training – 5 Tips to Develop Explosive Speed


I love watching people with explosive speed.  It looks impressive and it can scare the life out of your opponent.  In karate kumite, speed is one of the critical factors along with range and timing that we must develop to give us an edge.  Timing and range I will leave to a future post, for now we will focus on speed and how we can incorporate this into our karate kumite training.

If you look around the dojo the karate-ka that stand out both in kata or kumite are the ones with explosive speed.  And when we are competing in the dojo or competitions we want to be the most explosive so we can land the first and successive points.

The following 5 Karate Kumite Tips are guaranteed to develop your explosive speed and give you the edge in karate kumite.

Build a ‘Cast Iron Will’

Kenton on Sea Kareiga Beach Training 1

The will to win is the single most important factor in landing the first hit.  Every technique must be thrown with 100% commitment and anything less is a sure fire way to ensure that your opponent will score before you.  The will to win and to keep going no matter what the odds are, is the difference between 1st and 2nd place.

Read Your Opponent

Your opponent maybe faster, however if you learn to read your opponent like a book, you will ensure you are ready to attack, counter or block before they are ready to launch their technique.  All opponents will have a ‘show’, whether it is a facial expression or a change in body position, and if you learn to recognise their show then you will be the first to score. Read my three part post on Kumite Styles to help you understand your opponent.

Learn to Relax

Of all the 5 tips this is the hardest to do however it is extremely important, remember what my years of karate classes in Bethpage taught me: “a relaxed muscle is a fast muscle”!  It is unnatural to relax in a kumite environment where there are a million and one emotions running through your head.  One of these emotions ‘fear’ is the biggest single killer in any competitive environment.  Fortunately there are numerous techniques which can help you control your fear and by doing so you will learn to relax.  The best way to do this is find your own pre-fight ritual. This could be listening to your favourite music or visualising your game plan – there are numerous ways to control them so please post them below to give other readers some great ideas.  Personally I like to practice my techniques and listen to my favourite music.

Develop a Rock Solid Stance

Your stance should be roughly 1.5 times your shoulder width at a 45 degree angle, hip and shoulder back to reduce your target area and primed ready for an attack.  A shorter stance is less stable making you prone to attack from a sweep, and a long stance is tiring on the legs making you less explosive.  Lightly bouncing on the balls of your feet ensures your fast twitch fibres are permanently firing.

Incorporate Plyometric Training

Players fight against the sky. Karate.

It is important to incorporate plyometric exercises into your training at least once if not twice a week.  Some basic moves would consist of clapping push-ups, jump squats, lateral lunge jumps to name but a few. There are plenty of YouTube videos out there to give you some ideas, and if you find any good ones then post the links below.  Plyometric exercises develop your fast twitch fibres and will greatly increase your speed.

I am sure if you use these 5 karate kumite training tips your speed will dramatically improve, and you will have to look for new training partners because your old ones will be to slow.  If you like this post, or you have something to add to this topic then please comment below.

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