Is squat kick a medically incorrect training method? スクワットキックは医学的に間違ったトレーニング方法か？
I have posted many video clips of the training at Goiania (April 2016) on my Facebook page. One of them was squat kicks. Instead of explaining what it is, I will put the link to it (shown below) so you can see the video clip for yourself.
Some of the readers who saw this exercise criticized that it was medically incorrect and it was harmful to the knees. I expected these negative comments and this is why I decided to write this article to explain why I did and still do this exercise.
Note: The first two images are from the seminar I taught in Louisiana several years ago. I shared both types of squat kicks (narrow and wide squat) with the participants.
Here is the video from this seminar: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wlsH7RNmihQ
So, you may ask if their claim is correct or not, my answer is “yes” and “no”. The answer can be yes and this exercise can be harmful to the practitioners whose legs and lower body are not strong enough and who do not know the correct way of doing this exercise. On the other hand, if one knows the correct way of execution and they have developed a strong lower body, then my answer is no as it will not harm their knees.
I emphasize that this exercise is not medically incorrect if it is done properly. I guarantee that it will not harm your knees. I think if you regularly jog on a hard paved road it would give you more knee problems than this exercise. You may ask how I can guarantee this. I guarantee this because there are at least two people I know who exercised with this type of kicking for many years well into their sixties. Those two persons are Master Asai and myself. Of course, Master Asai had a much better form than I but I have included this exercise in my daily training for over fifteen years (I will be 69 years old this July). I have included squat kicking (50 times) daily in my self-training menu. So, I have done this kick thousands of times in the last fifteen years and I have, so far, no problems with my knees or legs. Master Asai told me he had done this daily self-training as well and as far as I know, he did not develop any knee or leg problems. Why can we do this exercise without harming our knees? Is this because we are Japanese? Are we the exceptions? I must say “no”. Yes, our daily life style of frequent squatting and seiza gives us an advantage because it builds strong legs and lower body. However, the intensive repetition of this exercise by a regular Japanese student may still result in a knee injury if one is not properly conditioned. We are not medically exempt. We happened to have trained our legs and have learned the correct way to execute this way of kicking. The key point here is not the strong legs, but rather is knowing how to do it correctly. This is a technique that needs to be learned and acquired.
Asai karate techniques are at the master class level. They can be compared to the “Ultra C” techniques of Olympic gymnastics. If you ask a high school gymnast to do one of the Ultra C techniques you can easily imagine that it may damage his or her body. But you cannot say that this Ultra C technique is medically wrong or can be harmful to an Olympic gymnast. The Olympic gymnasts have trained their bodies for just such a technique and more importantly they have learned the correct way to do the technique. So, at my seminar I share these Asai ryu (“Ultra C”) techniques with the participants to show how much more they need to train to get up to the Asai karate level. If I sound like I am bragging about Asai karate, it is definitely not my true intention. I was juating the fact that the Asai karate is an advanced form of Shotokan karate and you can see this (though you may not be thoroughly convinced) from the complexity and difficulty of the techniques you see in the Asai kata such as Joko, Kakuyoku, Hachimon, Suishu, Seiryu, Rakuyo, Fushu, etc.
So, how am I able to do this challenging kick that is claimed by some as “medically incorrect”? I could try to write several key points of this technique here. Initially I thought I would do that but I decided not to, because I realized that one cannot learn a high level technique by just reading the explanation. My explanation may even give you the wrong impression or idea. If you saw the video of squat kicks with your own eyes you know how it is performed but if you did not see the technique, then understanding it from the written words would be impossible. Having said that I am not hiding the “secret” of this technique. In fact, I want to show and share more. This is exactly why I am spending my time right now writing this article instead of ignoring the criticism which is much easier to do. What I recommend is that you should find an opportunity to participate in one of my seminars. See my techniques and try it with me. You can ask questions and discover host stw to do it correctly. It is like trying to learn how to ride a bike. You have to get on a bike and fall several (or many) times before you learn how to ride it. It is also like learning how to swim. You need to jump into the water to learn. You cannot learn how to swim by reading a “how to swim” article.
The fact is a squat kick we did in the video is far from an Ultra C technique. It is definitely not an Olympic level technique. I consider it an intermediate level technique that any karate senior ranking practitioner should be able to do (of course, those who suffer a knee problem are exempt). If you do not believe my statement, I want to share a video of the Russian soldiers doing the famous Cossack dance. Here is the video for you to see:
This type of exercise is found not only in Russia but also in a Ukrainian folk dance.
If this dance is bad for their knees then the Russian army and the Ukrainian people would never allow them to engage in such a dance. What they are doing here cannot be medically incorrect. If the dancers and the soldiers can do this, then why not the martial artists?
To prepare for this exercise, we do many different exercises including but not limited to bunny hops, duck walk, jumping squats, one leg squats and the kick from a kneeling position. In order to master this technique, all karateka must strengthen their lower body first. Instead of criticizing a difficult exercise, I ask everyone to train harder so that you can do it too. Isn’t it better to improve your karate level than to stay at the same level?