One of the most useful techniques in competitive karate is the roundhouse kick and the hook kick which is why improving your karate kicking technique is so important. They are particularly useful because in a competitive setting they score three points. Some of the main barriers that prevent athletes from scoring with such techniques are a lack of proper technique, lack of balance, insufficient muscle strength and lack of flexibility. We will be tackling all of these issues in the following sections.
When kicking, most athletes focus on just hitting the target. The proper execution of a kick helps in both delivering the kick with much better speed and power. An important aspect of kicking is the position of the knee. Before actually extending the lower leg for a kick, it is important that the knee points towards the direction where one wants to hit. Whilst the buttocks should be in line with the kicking knee forming a straight line towards the target.
When improving your karate kicking technique, it is important to not lean the upper body back so that power is not lost. On a personal note, when kicking, I tend to lift the knee up as if I were going to do a front kick. Then I push with the supporting leg and rotate the hips at the same whilst keeping the knee up and facing towards the target. Only after I get a full rotation of the hip do I extend my leg towards the target. This helps in both not giving the kick away and increasing speed. By kicking in this way, the opponent does not know whether I am going to use a hook kick or a roundhouse kick until the last moment, giving them less time to react to the kick.
When the kick is executed, I tend to recoil the kickback to the original position. This way I get more power and impact in the kick. Also, if I want to kick again quickly, I can simply extend the kick again. You can find out more about technique about specific types of karate kicks at well-known resources like Black Belt Wiki.
Balance is a crucial aspect when executing kicks because only one foot is supporting you at this point in time. When kicking it is important that one is not worried about losing balance halfway through the kick. Thus it is important to train how to balance well whilst improving your karate kicking technique and keeping a kicking position.
Another issue most athletes encounter is that they cannot kick multiple times without resting their kicking foot on the floor. This can happen due to a lack of technique, balance and/or muscle strength. Assuming that the athlete has been executing kicks with proper technique and that they have a good level of balance. Muscle strength can be an issue.
During my years of training and sometimes teaching karate, I have found that most athletes have stiff and weak hip flexors (mostly because they sit down for most of the day). Their abductor muscles also tend to have lower strength their required. This leads to an inability to keep the knees up for long periods of time and eventually leads to a lower energy efficiency when kicking (resulting in them getting tired quickly). Some exercises for the hip flexor and abductor strength can be found below.
Flexibility is another important aspect of kicking. This because if athletes are not flexible enough they will tend to lean back when kicking (thus losing power from the kick). Flexibility is also important to avoid injuries and keeping the joints capable of a full range of motion.
Workout for Improving your Karate Kicking Technique
A typical workout that will help in improving your karate kicking technique by leaps and bounds is found below:
- 10-15 minutes warm-up on the skipping rope.
Be careful to not overstretch as this might lead to muscle tears. Only move your legs through their natural range of motion to prevent injuries as at this point your body is still warming up.
- Frontal straight leg kicks (15 per side).
- Lateral straight leg kicks (15 per side).
Technique & Balance Training
Every kick should be executed as slowly as possible with proper technique and keeping maximum control.
- Front leg roundhouse kicks without touching the floor (decreasing pyramid from 10 to 1 decreasing 1 repetition each time) – alternate feet so you work one leg whilst resting the other.
- Front leg hook kicks without touching the floor (decreasing pyramid from 10 to 1 decreasing 1 repetition each time) – alternate feet so you work one leg whilst resting the other.
- Back leg front kick to the legs, stomach, and head without touching the floor (3 sets x 10 per side).
See video below
Muscle Strength & Balance
- Standing isometric straight leg raise (3 sets of 30 seconds – 1 minute).
- Standing isometric side leg raise (3 sets of 30 seconds – 1 minute).
- 5 minutes skipping rope
If you have any questions or queries on improving your karate kicking technique, do get in touch with the team at SAS Nutrition. You can reach us at 0844 740 8021 or send us an email via our online contact form.