So what is it? Aerobic or anaerobic activity?

Where does karate belong? In the aerobic or anaerobic activities? The answer to this question lies somewhere in-between. It is a place where many variables dictate your performance from the begging to the end of the kata or kumite match. For this reason, every practice requires appropriate planning and most importantly, individualized approach.

More information does not mean anything. One quote that keeps coming over and over again is:

“If more information was the answer, that we all would have been billionaires with perfect abs.” Derek Sivers

Getting more information is easy. Just ask Google. What you need to do is plan and adjust that information according to your personal or other’s needs. A moment where the individualized approach kicks in. This means it is for you and maybe for your twin brother or sister, and no one else.

I have witnessed and have been part of a workout where all do the same exercises. Lift the same weight, use the same GROUP intensity, or better say the fittest person intensity for all. The real man. One for all and all for one. And if some go behind, that person does not try enough. Nonsense.

So this is why you should not believe everything I write about and always question every information. Or at least tailor it to your needs.

Where to start from?

For the begging, you need to determine your sport. That should be karate. Checked. Then you choose the discipline you compete in. Kata or kumite? Kata. Check. Kumite. Check.

With this, you have determined your primary objective, which is the required abilities together with energy systems and training modalities.


So you are a kata competitor. Taking into consideration the information shared in the previous posts (post 1and post 2) we can conclude that both aerobic and anaerobic glycolic systems work together to support the performance.

The aerobic system supports the kata performance to a certain extent, especial during performances over 2 min such as bunkai in kata team category. On the other hand, a significant portion of the work in the body related to energy supply can rely on the anaerobic system. Here we talk about phosphocreatine and glycolytic energy system. The first is the one that allows having fast transitions from one to another stance at the begging of kata. The letter will enable you to endure in the presence of high lactate level and sustain high power output at the end of a kata. You know what I mean. Close your eyes and image the last few parts of Gogjushiho sho before the first kiai. Ok now close your eyes.



As for kumite, here we have a slightly different situation. As said before, kumite has different dynamic comparing to the kata performance. The difference also exists in the engagement during training and competition performance, resulting in different physiological responses. Unlike kata performance, in kumite, when observing from a perspective of the activity performed, time under exertion and intensity, we can rely on the aerobic energy system for a long time comparing to a kata performance.

Now, if you take into consideration the epic match between Pinna and Benetelo (video), all this is a BIG BS, and you might say that I have no idea what I am talking. But if you look at the match between Luigi Busa vs. Rafael Aghayev (video), then everything makes sense. Movement with a periodical execution of explosive kicks and punches, supported by the phosphocreatine energy system for a significant portion of the match.

We have concluded that all three, the aerobic, glycolytic and phosphocreatine energy system contribute to effective performance. Below I focus on the anaerobic glycolytic and phosphocreatine energy system and give some practical examples for their development.


Phosphocreatine energy system

For its development, the focus should be on short intensive movement using light high, medium or lightweight and a small number of repetitions.



Intensity: high

Time under exertion: 5-10 seconds or 6-8 repetitions;

Work-rest ratio: 1:10. Many people make a mistake at this point. They think the rest is too long and cut the rest period not allowing enough time for full recovery.


How does it look in practice


Workout 1

5 X 5 seconds djako zuki with an elastic band.

Each set starts after 60-second rest.

Perform two cycles of 5 X 5. Rest 3 minutes after each cycle. DONE.


Workout 2

5X5 second sled pull/push

Each set starts after 60 seconds rest

Perform two cycles of 5×5. Rest 3+ minutes after each set.


Workout 3

Two cycles of 5×20 meters sprint.

Rest: walking back

3 + minutes rest between each cycle.


Workout 4


3 x 6-8 repetitions of plyometric pushups.

Rest 2 minutes between each set.

The same can be done with medicine ball throw or medicine ball slam.


For more plyometric exercises that you can use for working on your ATP-CP energy system check this database.



The anaerobic glycolytic energy system


Now you can shorten the rest periods, and it usually it is around 1:3 work:rest ration.

The practices that target this energy system are meant to increase your body’s lactate tolerance and its efficiency for recycling it into energy for your muscles.


Workout 1

One of my favorite workouts.

  • 2-3 sets of 10×100 meters sprint with 60 seconds test between repetition and 5 min rest between sets.
  • You should tend to run the 100 meters for 16 seconds. Nothing more nothing less. To not get intimidated by the idea that you are not giving your best. Wait until next day, and you’ll see what am I talking about.
  • If you have not done this type of training before, I highly suggest you start with one set of 10×100 meters sprint.
  • The same practice can be done with practicing kihon instead of running in a later stage of the season.


Workout 2

Tabata or modified Tabata workouts

  • 20 seconds work followed with 10 seconds rest X 8 sets
  • 15 seconds work followed with 15 seconds rest X 8 sets
  • 10 seconds work followed with 20 seconds rest X 8 sets – this is the one you what to start with if you have not done Tabata before.


Workout 3

  • From laying on the on the back/stomach, get up, run 5 meters, get down, get up run 5 meters. Do this for 20 seconds.
  • Rest for 60 seconds
  • Repeat the sequence to times.


This is only a fraction of the number of workouts you can develop and successfully use in your practice. Also, know that every workout including running can be converted into karate practice. You need some creativity.

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