Saturday, March 5, 2011

How to train, condition for performance and injury prevention?

Although the predominant focus of this blog is Budo Karate, I am going to post some articles about proper movement and conditioning of the body. You may wonder why I would post such articles on this blog, but before you question, allow me to explain. While karate to me is primarily about Budo, a martial art, I believe that the better we can understand how the body is designed, the more effective our karate can be. Moreover, one must concede that for many people, karate is a means of remaining healthy and functional through old age; therefore, we want to train karate according to the principles of functional biomechanics in order to perform better and free of injury. As a result of the aforementioned reasons, I have studied the science of functional movement for the past years. I have discovered and continued to discover that sports science findings run in accordance with orally transmitted karate principles.

How to effectively train and condition, rehabilitate and prehabilitate (prevent injury) the whole and the part

First we must understand how the part functions, it’s relationships to other parts of the body, how it influence its friends and how its friends influence it, and according to this understanding we make strategy for training and conditioning for performance or rehabilitation.

Lets take the hamstrings as example, the anatomy text book says that the hamstring is knee flexor and therefore most traditional training programs will train the hamstrings in leg curl machine in saggital (forward and back) plane of motion.

In reality the hamstrings are knee flexors only when we take gravity and momentum out of the picture.

In upright function the hamstrings not only do not flex the knee but doing exactly the opposite, it decelerates knee flexion and it does it in 3 planes of motion.

The 3 hamstrings are responsible for decelerating the knee as we rotate and change directions; the hamstrings also control the torso and are driven by the torso.

As the hamstrings decelerate the knee in 3 planes they receive prorioceptive feedback from the golgi ligament endings in the collateral ligaments and in our training and conditioning we need to develop and make more accurate this sensory feedback. If sensory feedback is not accurate the hamstrings will react to gravity, momentum and the movement of other parts of the body late and not accurate.

Flexion of the knee in function is given by gravity as we walk or squat or prepare for a jump.

If range of motion in the foot and ankle or hip are lacking the hamstrings will likely become overactive.

Even a head forward posture can cause the hamstring to become overactive because it constantly have to support a body with a center of gravity too much to the front.

When we train or rehabilitate on leg curl machine we are saying that proprioception is not important, the butt and the foot interaction with the hamstrings is not important, we do not consider the hamstrings interaction with its friends.. We do not consider that there are 3 hamstrings that function in the very important transverse and frontal planes as well.

Bad hamstrings are a result of something causing the hamstrings to become bad.

That is why we have to look at the whole and train the whole.

Training and conditioning need to concurrently deal with stability, mobility and proprioceptive reaction.

I f you do functional training the hamstrings will perform functionally, and sometimes even if one does not identify the cause functional training will solve the problem.

When you functionally train the hamstrings you automatically train the whole body functionally.

Functional training prepares one for the demands of functional activities.

Comparison of two rehabilitaion programs in the treatment of acute hamstrings strains, a traditional one plane, isolation vs. 3 planes, prorioceptive training.

In the traditional program return to activity was on average 37 days, in the functional 22 days.

Re-injury rate within first 2 weeks of activity in traditional program 50% versus 0% in functional.

Re-injury within one year 50% versus 5%.


  1. Greetings Avi Sensei from Las Vegas

    I've many happy memories training under your expert guidance when I lived in LA.

    I'm glad to see life is good for you & you are continuing The Nishiyama legacy (and I look forward to reading your articles here)

    You might like to check out
    to read the 'AVI' article on his Karate blog.

    I'm continuing my Karate journey at SKI Las Vegas. I'll be training w/ Sensie Paul Walker (he's comming up from his dojo in Apple Vally CA next week. I'm also training under the watchful eye of the great Kanazawa Kancho (he'll be comming in with his son from Japan for a few days)...that's in a few months.

    Give my best regards to your brother Moisha.

    (the English guy who use to cut your hair).

  2. Hi Pete,
    That is real nice to hear from you and to know that you keep training.
    Keep it up, hope to see you sometimes soon.