Assisted Clap Pushups

If you’ve ever had your class attempt clap pushups you’ll know it’s funnier than heck when they just try to clap without pushing up first. You’ll hear loads of clapping sounds followed by dull thuds and plenty of grunting noises as gravity does its work…

So I came up with a creative training method to help students develop their clap pushups.

Rather than me try to explain, watch the video below…

In fact you could use this same method to help your struggling students with virtually any kind of pushup…

  • regular pushups
  • one armed pushups
  • diamond pushups
  • deltoid pushups
  • etc.

Just place the belt under the part of the body that requires assistance. For example if you have a student who suffers from “hammock back syndrome” when doing regular pushups, you might place the belt under their hips to give them a little lift…

With this kind of assisted training, students can learn proper technique when before they had no hope of even getting started. Do this kind of training regularly and over time their strength and technique will develop.

What other ways could you use a belt to assist your students with developing core strength or karate technique?


Am I doing it right?

So I recently enrolled a new 10 year old boy in my junior program who’s done 6 months or so of MMA.

I spoke with his dad for quite a while on the phone, talking about their previous training (both father and son). Turns out the dad studied Shotokan years ago and though his son liked the MMA classes he was taking, he had recently become bored.

He was learning the same content over and over for the last few months. And as new kids joined the program, the students who had been there longer simply weren’t getting to learn any more new stuff.


(Common problem when you don’t have a ranking system and you don’t split your classes by rank.)

Anyway, the son is a great kid.

Pays attention.

Listens well.

And is open to corrections and loves learning.

In short, so far he’s a model student.

However, what surprised me was something his dad said to me on the phone after the second class.

“You know my son loves your class. He is really enjoying it and he loves it when you tell him when he’s doing it right. He told me that at the other school they never told him when he was doing it right, so he was never really sure….”

**** NEWSFLASH ***

Praise your students when they do well! It raises their self-esteem and confidence in their ability. When students FEEL they do well, they try harder. A simple “Nice job Nick!” or “That’s it Sarah, keep working hard!”, is all it takes.

If the only time you ever personally speak to a student is when you’re being critical, they’ll live in fear while in your dojo. Who wants to be called out in front of their peers for mistakes?

I sure as heck didn’t like that early on in my training.

How about you?

Remember as instructors our job is to not to “treat ’em mean and keep ’em keen”. It’s to empower our students to strive harder, to push further, and ultimately do better.

What do you tell your students when they excel?

Turning on your heels – Part 2

So a couple of weeks ago I told you about when somebody once told me to make rear leg mawashi geri it’s best to turn on the heel of the supporting leg.

I think we all agree that advice was absolute %$%3!

I then talked about my preference for turning on the balls of the feet for EVERY other transition (kihon and kata) as in my experience it gives more control and balance. However, I did discover one time when turning on the heel can actually be a good thing, and I promised to share that with you today.

I’m sure you’re familiar with at least some of the following kata:

  1. Pinan Godan / Heian Godan
  2. Kanku Sho
  3. Kosokun Shiho (Shiho Kosokun)
  4. Kokokun Dai / Kushanku
  5. Chatanyara Kushanku
  6. Empi

Can you tell me what all of these kata have in common?

They all have a turn with a JUMP.

I’m not going to go into the purpose or bunkai of the jump as there are many interpretations, but typically the person performing the kata will do one of two things immediately preceding the jump.

  1. They take a small step with the launching leg to gain momentum to give height to the jump.
  2. They shift both legs, bend both knees and then jump, again to give height to the jump.

Take a look at these videos below and note the launching leg each time. First the Japanese team at the WKF World Champs performing the kata Empi. Watch at 1:25.

See the little step before the jump?  

What about this one of Rika Usami in her instructional video, shifting BOTH legs before the jump? Watch the video at 5:13. You’ll have to watch it a few times to catch it, pause it to see. She moves both feet closer together before the jump, then takes a step to gain momentum!

Some time back someone asked me how to get height in the jump without taking the step?

I’m glad I’ve now got the answer. Check out this video from Jesse Enkamp of the Turkish team at the 21st WKF World Championships.

Watch at 1:08 and you’ll see both the guys on the left use a heel turn and the guy on the right seems to use the ball. Either way, nice clean jump.

Then watch again at 1:30 and you’ll see them all use the heel turn before the jump.

I like this because I like simple, clean and sharp karate. There is no extra step and no double leg shift. Just a simple, clean turn and jump using the HEEL as they pivot. And they get some serious air!

The reason this works so nicely is because the weight is not over the ball of the foot during the 180 pivot. The heel provides the swivel point which allows the ball of the foot to whip around and then make contact with the floor and launch the players into orbit. It gives the momentum without the need for the extra step.

(It’s a little different to Taikyoku kata in that the 180 deg turn goes counter clockwise, not clockwise, in which case I still prefer to use the ball during that time of 180 turn.)

Pretty neat, huh?

Nice one Turkish Team!

Finally I just found this one of the female Serbian Team doing Unsu. This is really nice. No noticeable heel turn, or ball of the foot turn. Very clean. Watch at around 2:45.

So there you have it… there are times to use the heel and times to use the ball of the foot.

Like the old adage says, “There’s more than one way to skin a cat.”

(Weird visual – who thought of that anyway?)

Until next time…

– Jason