Karate Warm Up Exercises
Karate warm up exercises are an integral part of training.
This is true not only for Karate, but for all martial arts and fighting styles too.
Formally, these exercises were known as Calisthenics.
It is essential that you always warm up for at least 15 minutes before starting your practice. These exercises are designed to strengthen and loosen your muscles.
You should loosen the body, indulge in arm stretching, back stretching, leg swinging, leg stretching, leg spreading, trunk twisting, etc.
But even before you start stretching your limbs, twisting your neck, and bending your trunk, you should increase your heart beat rate by doing some aerobic exercises.
Aerobic Exercises For Karate
Professional boxers in every weight division — from the lightweight division right up to the heavyweight division — practice rope skipping before each training session.
Rope skipping gives you endurance, increases your body coordination, and gives speed to your feet.
One good thing about rope skipping is that you don't need expensive equipment to do it. If you want to be fancy, of course, you can buy a state of the art skipping rope.
Nevertheless, you do not need to do so. A simple rope will do, as long as it is heavy enough to jump with momentum (light ropes tend to be more difficult to handle).
And if you have never done any skipping, it is very easy to learn. Try one jump and when you have gained confidence and perfection, attempt two jumps per revolution, until you get several in a row.
Whenever you do this exercise, though, be mindful of doing it on a soft surface (on a rug, carpet or mat), as this will reduce the impact on your knees.
Basic Karate Stretching Exercises
Forehead to Knee
Once you have increased your heart beat, you may proceed to your Karate warming up/stretching exercises.
The first one consists of sitting on the ground, keeping your legs straight together, and bending your upper body with the intention of touching your knees with your forehead.
Notice I've said "the intention". :-)
Not everyone is flexible enough to accomplish this exercise, especially when you first begin to practice a martial art or any other sport.
Some would even dare say that some people are naturally too stiff to ever be able to touch their knees with their foreheads... and that's fine too.
The objective of this karate warm up exercise is not to become a contortionist, but to expand the range of limb movement to avoid injury later on.
One Leg Stretch
This is a relatively easy Karate warm up exercise to do. It's actually not an original Karate exercise.
Many other sports encourage you to do it, as it accomplishes 2 things: First, it stregthens your quadriceps (your main leg muscles), and second, it stretches your other leg muscles.
As you can see from the picture, the exercise consists of squatting on one leg as you stretch the other leg on the side.
Be gentle. Don't bounce on your knee, but control your weight downwards. If you have balance problems, you can use a chair to support yourself.
The leg raise is yet another basic Karate warm up exercise, which consists of "throwing" your leg upwards whilst keeping it straight.
Don't overdo it.
Rather than risking injury by overstretching yourself, gradually throw a kick as high as you can without pain and discomfort.
This is not really a kick. It's a streching exercise.
Do a few repetitions for each leg (10 to 15 for starters).
More Karate warm up exercises.