Saturday, August 11, 2012

Technique Training Toolbox – Elastic Roundhouse

For the majority of Olympic sparring competitors, the roundhouse kicks, and its many variations, are the bread and butter of their sparring game. So what if I told you I knew some great drills for increase the speed and power of your roundhouse?

I have three simple drills using one simple tool; the elastic.

Any sturdy, long piece of elastic with loops for your ankle that can take rapid and repeated stretching (we use bicycle inner tubes tied together, you can buy resistance bands of different strengths,) attached to a solid unmoving anchor (we put our elastic around a door's floor bolt.)

Ideally you'll use the same elastic for each time you do a drill, making comparing your performance each time simple.

The above video is of me demonstrating the three drills:
It comes with some great free commentary by one of our resident eight year olds.

“Why do you use the rubber?”
“To make it harder”

Well put.

Contrast Kicks

The idea is pretty simple; kick the bag pretty much as hard as you can, making sure you have good technique and speed. Take your time with these kicks, no need to rush, do this for about 5-10 kicks.

Then put the elastic around the ankle of the foot you want to kick with. To begin with you'll want to start with the elastic just tense with your foot back (this will stop it suddenly pulling). Record this distance from your anchoring point (we can improve this later). Again, kick as hard and fast as you can, taking your time to get good technique. Once kicking with this much resistance is easy, take a few steps past taut and kick with increased resistance. Do this for the number of reps you want.

Take off the elastic and finish off with another 5-10 unrestrained kicks, using the same technique you used while using the elastic. The power of this set should be more than the power of your initial warm up set.

So how does this work?

I've had students who were big solid men, who would kick your kidneys out with every roundhouse. The problem? They did this huge wind-up that made them slow and easily predictable; they fell in the stereotype of the slow lumbering big guy. This drill causes the wind up technique to become tiring and inefficient in generating power. So what I was finding with these guys was, with very little coaxing, their technique improved a lot, and most of their drive was coming forward, making their kicks much faster.

Similarly with a lot of kids and even women, I found often the problem was they couldn't put any power into their kicks, whatever their hold-back, whether it be fear of injuring themselves, unaccustomed to the idea of hitting others, or any other reason. This drill helped a lot of them generate that raw power when hitting a target, because they had to just to reach the target; so when the contrast of no resistance came, they finally smacked the target and made a solid hit.

I often like to use this drill in sets of 50 each side, because lets face it, you could end up kicking that many times in a round and you want to be able to keep on generating power with speed the whole way through the round.

Over-Speed Kicking

Much like parachute training used for sprinting, adding extra resistance to an already fast and explosive action, we are going to add resistance to our fast roundhouse in the form of the elastic.

Now there are a few ways to approach this, firstly you can just bang out a set of kicks as quickly as you can, this will promote the time from kicking to recovery back to kicking again, quite well; which is a useful skill to promote. Students doing this seem to make great improvement on their recovery as well, as the elastic pulls you back making it difficult to plant properly, meaning an increased concentration on their form.

Another option is to work on single leg doubles and triples, briefly tapping the foot on the ground between kicks up to the number you are aiming for and then back to recovery. When doing this the importance is on the speed between kicks and the power of kicks, not the speed of the overall set. So take your time after recovery. This works well on improving the power of secondary kicks after the initial kick, as well kicking off the clinch. In the video, I do a quick set of a single, double, triple, a four and a five.

With either of these make sure to do a set without the elastic to contrast the kick.

Resistance Peaking

This time we are going to play around with our resistance a bit. We are going to start with the elastic on the foot, but with no tension at the point of kick contact (i.e keep it really loose). We're going to warm up with a few kicks to the bag or shield (I prefer the body shield for this drill as we're practicing scoring.) making sure to kick at a power that scores. Once you've got a feel for the power you want to kick at we'll start the set.

Again starting with no tension in the elastic, kick once at scoring power, then move forward, adding resistance to the elastic and kick again, maintaining that power. Keep moving forward and kicking once at that resistance until you can no longer deliver a kick that scores.

In the video, I show two variations you can play with, in the first one, I drop step forward after the kick, meaning I can get a lot more kicks in the same distance and the resistance doesn't jump as rapidly. In the second, I take a full step between each kick, resulting a in a slower drill with less kicks and a higher jump in resistance between kicks.

This drill utilises the climbing resistance to help athletes push through a plateau in power, think of it as a bit of a range finder for working sets, with the end of the range being a speed working range, and a bit before the end being a power working range.


Part technique practice, part power resistance training, this drill should be treated like any other conditioning drill, with a focus on planning and progressive overload; record your results, and then improve on them.

Elastics have proven themselves with student's I have trained as a great power, speed and technique exercise, as long as you're smart about programming them. Keep in mind that elastic use should be assistance only, and kicking without resistance should make up the bulk of your work. This is because elastic training isn't a natural movement, because let's face it, when in a round have you had someone holding back your leg from kicking?

Try these out and let me know how they go for you.

Alex is a Kukkiowon certified 4th dan and has been training in martial arts for 12 years and instructing for 7. He is also a certified Personal Trainer and constantly works to blend his passion for physiology and fitness into his martial arts instruction; and his passion for martial arts into his fitness instruction.
For more info, check out his Melbourne, Australia based club and business.
Tigers Taekwondo –
New Form Fitness –

No comments: