At my dojo there’s an old workout we call Death by Kata. The name says it all: we run through our eight katas, three to four times each. It usually takes under 30 minutes, as there’s no break between katas.
Here’s a workout I did on my own today based on the same theme. I ran through the following circuit, and I cycled through the katas between each set.
Max pull-up x4 sets
Max dips x 4 sets
Max Arnold Presses (40lbs bumbbells) x4 sets*
Max flags/push-ups/medicine ball rotation/wrist roller x3 sets
In all, I performed 15 katas, but it’s easy to work in more. I didn’t rest during the workout; instead I used the katas as active rest.
Don’t expect to set any personal records for reps on these exercises because you’ll be fighting physical fatigue the whole time. The best set I completed was my first set of pull-ups; it was all downhill from there!
One of the main benefits of this workout is learning to deal with mental fatigue. By the time I got to dips, I started messing up my katas; by the time I made it through the Arnold Presses, I swear I was doing a different style of karate–one with a lot of flailing about. The important things are to try to keep focus and to try to keep moving! If you’re in a fight, you’re going to get tired. Like Bruce Lee once said, “A fight is not won by one punch or kick. Either learn to endure or hire a bodyguard.” Workouts like this will help you to keep your wind and your wits.
Feel free to tinker and to share your results. I didn’t do any leg exercises because I thought my katas would cover that. If your style has a lot of low stances, you probably won’t want to add squats or anything.
Do you have any workouts that combine more difficult exercises with traditional forms and skills? I love to combine them for challenge and efficiency. Let us know.