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Paul Herbert 5th Dan
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Intelligent Training

 Dutch Farinas, FSKA


During my seminars I’m normally asked by my fellow instructors or attendees regarding the specifics of the karate training.  Karate training does not have specifics is the answer I always give and I believe there is no single workout that satisfies the need of the karate-ka.  Each practitioner of the art has their unique strengths and weaknesses, each have their own individual motive or purpose. For example a karate-ka who is fast with their hands will favor training hand techniques and vice versa for a karate-ka who is fast with their legs. However, to develop into a well rounded fighter it is important to incorporate a variety of arsenal into one’s specific training.

In my experience, when I plan my workouts, I always try (key word : try) to keep my goals in mind. If you wish to become a competitive karate-ka, therefore you must train accordingly.  In the old days, I’ve always spared regularly focusing on mastering the fundamentals as well as experimenting on new ways to deliver my techniques. However, the downside of this old way of training was that continuous sparring took its toll, as I grew older.  I’ve learned that you must modify your training routine to adapt to the stresses your body will endure.  Listening to your body is a great feedback mechanism.  If you are tired or worn out, the body will tell you. You must learn to listen to its advice.

Do not become so structured that each workout is identical.  We all have weaknesses that must be addressed and improved. Work on your weak points, rather than spending the entire workout throwing the combinations that you have already mastered.  For example; if you cannot fight while moving to your right or to your left, then practice this movement for an entire workout. Practice moving and throwing all of your combinations in this direction. The same goes for kata training. These days, under the Sport Karate competition, competitors are mandated to do the compulsory katas- the Shitei’s and Sentei’s, therefore it’s beneficial to train these compulsories over and over until you’ve perfected them.  However, you need to keep in mind the fine line between training hard and over training.

I've crossed this line several times.  I have learned through experience that it is sometimes best to back off when your body is in need of rest.  This is particularly true if you have a busy training schedule, even more importantly for athletes on the national/collegiate teams.   NOTE: Athletes, Coaches and Trainers: There is no shame in postponing a morning of interval training if you have a big training session planned for later that day. You are not training for a road race. You are training to fight.  Focus your energy on karate.  If this means you must lighten up on your roadwork, then you need to make the adjustment.

Always remain flexible and improvise your routine to maximize results. Modify your routines according to your goals and weaknesses you must overcome.  Strength and conditioning workouts are excellent, but they are not a replacement to the conventional training. These drills should supplement your overall routine.  Karate involves a combination of strength, stamina, power, speed, and most importantly SKILL.  You can run and weight lift but that will not make you a fighter.  You’ll be in great shape but you won’t have the skill to beat your opponents.  So keep in mind that you are a karate-ka so you will need to train like a karate-ka.

You must pay your dues in the dojo and learn the fundamentals of the sport. Conditioning drills will only benefit those fighters who have mastered the fundamentals. Karate as a sport relies on skill and strategy. Conditioning drills will help you perform at your best, but will need these skills to apply in your conditioning.  Study and learn what to do inside the mat, and let the conditioning drills prepare your body to perform round after round.

Train smart by mastering your skills while conditioning your body. Different opponents will require different fight strategies, thus different training routines. Recognize this fact and work with your Senseis, trainers, coaches to devise a routine that targets your objectives. Don’t underestimate the intelligence that you will need both inside and outside of the mat. Smart fighters equate to good fighters.

Train hard, but most importantly train smart.

Dutch Farinas