Resistance Bands for Kick Training: Unintended Comedy


Someone has asked me what I think about using resistance bands in kick training, specifically Myosource Kinetic Bands. (You can see a martial arts class using these bands in the video below.)

Here is my answer:

With good technique, they could help. The TKD master in the video is an abysmally poor instructor, so for people in his class, those things may even be harmful.

For adding resistance to a technique to make sense, the form and timing of the technique have to be well learned, otherwise both will be ruined and a bad habit will be ingrained. You can see this ruining of side and roundhouse kicks by a too early application of resistance in the martial arts class shown in the video.

The type of resistance is the next consideration (but no additional resistance helps until technique is learned). Each type of resistance has its pluses and minuses. Elastic resistance slows down movements at the end of their path when their velocity should be increasing. Weights offer the most resistance at the beginning of the move, but then their inertia can overextend the move. Application of the right type and amount of resistance depends on the weak points of the athlete in a given technique. For some that will mean applying resistance only at the beginning phase of a technique, for others at the end phase. Some techniques must be broken into parts that can be safely done against resistance.

The bottom line: If a resistance distorts the correct technique, then it should not be applied or should be applied differently, or a different resistance should be applied. The way to find out is to try, observe, and adjust.

And here are reasons why this TKD master is a poor instructor:

— An instructor worthy of this title doesn’t turn his back on the class, especially a class of children. The first reason has to do with discipline and class control: You don’t turn your back on the class because people, especially children, can do the craziest things when you are not watching. This is taught to all real instructors. The second reason is not taught to people mentally fit to be instructors because it is too obvious: When you are demonstrating something, you have to face the class so students can see what you are doing, and you can see how they are doing it. Further, trained instructors demonstrate all moves as if a mirror image of students facing them. So, when a real instructor shows a move that is to be done with a right limb, the instructor does it with a left limb, so students facing the instructor don’t have to flip the image in their minds. That helps the students concentrate on the essential points of the movement and speeds up learning. With well motivated and focused students, an instructor can get away with such “backward” demonstrating as this TKD master—as witnessed in good-to-excellent results of individual instruction in Dancing with the Stars, for example—but as a rule, in large-group settings it wastes students’ time.

— The class mixes grown-ups and children. That is a sign of incompetence or desperation. In such a setting, group instruction short-changes both young and old. Readers of Children and Sports Training realize that.

— The instructor has students with poor or even no technique (a testimony to his teaching skill) practice moves they don’t know with added resistance. More need not be said….

Such sights are common in martial arts, especially those imported from the Far East. Their exotic origin and language give them an air of mystery, set a rigid hierarchy, and so help obscure incompetence of the “instructors,” grand and utmost masters, and gurus. There are individuals desperate to be in charge, to be authorities, no matter how ignorant they are of the subject. Many of those martial arts organizations give them that opportunity if they are a tad fitter and persistent than the rest of their peers. And there are plenty of gullible people among their peers to keep those masters in business.

<Unbreakable Umbrella vs. Watermelon

6 Responses to “Resistance Bands for Kick Training: Unintended Comedy”

  1. 1 Fabián Barrera

    What bothers me the most is that, apparently, it’s an advanced class (they all have black belts, don’t they?), but their technique it’s just awful.

  2. Don’t be bothered. How can students be any different with such an instructor? Like crow, like egg. Besides, to chose a good instructor one has to have a good common sense, to discern competence or a lack thereof. If by a lapse of judgement they joined such a school, people with high performance standards and/or realistic evaluation of the usefulness of skills acquired there would quit in a hurry. To stay in a school with low standards one has to be self-deluded.

  3. My Dear Good Friend Tom,

    First, I second everything you mentioned! As you know, I have spent most of my athletic life in athletic training, martial arts and various sports. I have also spent much of my professional life as an educator and practitioner in the athletic side of healthcare as an athletic trainer, sports chiropractor and biomechanical engineer. I have instructed at many levels in the martial arts from beginners to MMA World Champions. My first recommendation, in regard to this video is to abandon the use of these bands as they are being used regardless of the level of proficiency or age of the student and especially for children!

    Next, the main reason is because adding any resistance that is not oriented in the same plain-line of the movement intended is not only distorting the direction of the movement that is intended to follow but is causing an imbalance to develop in the primary and stabilizer muscles to develop. Because kicking movements tend to be compound leverage movements (multiple movements in the execution of the technique) without changing the plain-line of the resistance, one is introducing aberrant biomechanical stresses into the movement.

    A simpler example to demonstrate: In a straight punch which is basically a linear movement rather than a compound movement like a hook punch. If you attach one end of the resistance band to the wall directly behind the punching shoulder and the other end to your wrist of the punching hand and throw the punch straight out you are basically keeping things in-line and strengthening the punching muscles. But if you should decide to throw a hook punch which now becomes a simple compound movement (multiple directions are involved). Then the stationary hooked resistance band is no longer continuing to offer resistance exactly in the compound motion of the punch. In fact, as the punch begins to curve or hook the band is no longer offering the correct resistance plain-line unless you reattach it to a side wall so it is in proper alignment with the hook part of the punching movement.

    In most kicking movements alignment planes are changing as the movement and parts of the leg involved come into action. So, just having one end of the band attached to the opposite leg, the resistance plane is already not in the correct alignment and further varies as the kick progresses involving different part of the leg and pelvic girdle. Therefore, causing abnormal directional stresses to the members as these aberrant stresses are being caused by the compound movements. In other words, the resistance’s are not in alignment with the correct movements involved in the correct form of the kick. Therefore, causing imbalances to develop as the repetitions continue over time which is a basis of developing technique in the martial arts. This can affect the joint development especially in children and youths and can lead to injury over time at any age.

    There are some other problems as well but suffice it to say that the malalignments are the main thing in my opinion that are improper as a biomechanical expert as well as a Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician.

    Richard J. Vahl, MSc, DC, Ph.D., F.A.S.B.E.

  4. 4 dennis rohwer

    I want to learn more about your right shoulder, because Im going in for surgery in January for my right shoulder. I was told the rotator cuff muscles are torn in the MRI. I am 43 & have been doing Kyokushin since 73 at age 5.
    So your recovery got my attention.

  5. As I wrote to list, I will write about rebuilding my right shoulder later. In the meantime here is the website of the physical therapist who leads my rehab and helped me do what surgeons considered impossible:

  6. 6 Alfred

    well, what would one expect? the ATA is the epitome of the McDojo…!

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