Everyone wants to know how they can improve their Wushu jump kicks. How can you get higher jump fronts, 720 tornado kicks, and an outside jump kick like Yuan Wenqing? Well, the answer is two part:
1. Train your jump kicks! Listen to your coaches suggestions! Having great technique is KEY!
(And today’s topic, drum roll please!!!)
2. GET EXPLOSIVE! In addition to focusing on performing the kicks technically correct, increasing your explosive power and strength is incredibly important! That means that's assuming your kicks technique is correct (the approach, jump, execution of the maneuver and appropriate intention of landing!), being more explosive and jumping higher will help you finally land one legged, get that extra rotation on your inside/outside jump kicks, or give you the extra height on your ariel so that you can either land it more consistently or start working towards an ariel twist, etc.
Many Chinese martial arts practitioners seem to have an aversion to strength training. They think strength training = big, “slow” muscles. They think Bruce Lee, and Shaolin monks didn’t lift weights, and that they shouldn’t either. Well, without spending too much time refuting this, suffice it to say this couldn’t be more false. There are a ton of great strength and conditioning exercises you can use to become more EXPLOSIVE! Many of these exercises target your nervous system and don’t necessarily have an impact on hypertrophy (muscle size) if your rep/set scheme and diet don’t dictate it.
Today I want to address what strength/conditioning Wushu athletes can do to increase their explosive jumping power in order to improve their JUMP KICKS! (While this type of strength training will have a great amount of carry-over to general strength and explosiveness which are of course beneficial to all martial artists, these exercises are more specific to developing the attributes required by wushu athletes to perform a variety of jumping basics/”nandu”?? (difficulties, specific to modern wushu competition).
1. FROG JUMPS!!!The staple of wushu strength and conditioning! If I could only do one form of conditioning for wushu, it would be frog jumps without a doubt. To perform the frog jump you squat ATG (butt to grass;), swing your arms back and jump/explode upwards with a forward arm swing. Fully extending the legs (some athletes try and kick their heels to their butts after they jump), using the arms, and SPEED are key. You should focus on not only jumping explosively, but also connecting your jumps together as fast as possible (ideally, you should coordinate your arm swings with your jumps, and speed up your arms to speed up your jump connection). There are a bunch of rep/set scheme variations. I like a basic 5×5, but will also perform a 5×10 depending on my specific goals/program at the time. Here's an example:
2. V- ups! A hip flexor, and abdominal exercise that will build “core” strength, and the muscles required for a fast kick (straight legged, wushu style). There are several variations. The basic version is to lay on your back, then sit up to form a “V”, piking your body, and using force to slap your feet. This movement should also be performed with speed, linking your V ups as quickly and explosively as possible. Beginners should aim for 3 sets of 10, while advanced athletes will perform 3 sets of 30, or even 1 set of 100.
(*Note – Hyper extensions (superman, airplane, fish) are typically considered another stable of wushu conditioning. I’m not a huge fan, and I think there are better ways to train your posterior chain (PC), which I will list below. However, if you are interested in these then give em a shot! Lay down on your stomach, interlock your fingers behind your head, and then lift your chest/legs of the floor at the same time. They are typically performed alternated with V-Ups. Use the same rep/set scheme as you use for V-ups.)
1. Squat. This is a staple of a wushu athletes conditioning. Wushu guys typically perform ATG (butt to grass) back squats (meaning they put the bar on their back as opposed to ATG front squats). They squat low and go HEAVY! Don't be afraid to put some muscle on your legs! If you can’t squat down as low- don't worry. Squat as low as you feel comfortable (squatting to parallel is perfectly OK). Heres a clip of a wushu athlete squatting:
2. Deadlift. SUPER FUNCTIONAL awesome lift that will make you jump higher!!! Total body exercise that will strengthen everything important to jumping- Do not ignore this lift!
3. Sprint. Run super fast for a short distance, ’nuff said.
Single leg bounds:
5. Jump knee tucks. Sorry, couldn't find any good tutorials online for this, but its super easy. Jump as high as possible, and at the peak of the jump pull your knees up as high as possible. You can do anywhere from 3 sets of 10 (3×10) to a 3×30.
EVEN MORE BETTER!:
Assuming you’re doing the all the above, and you still have more time to train (really? you need to get a life! lol:) these modified variations of basic Olympic lifting movements will be a great addition to your training protocol! When training these lifts, begin with a 5×5, then progress to a 6×3 and eventually work in a few singles.
- Hang Cleans.
- Hang Snatch.
- Push Press.
- Clean and Jerk.
These are just the basics. There are plenty of awesome variations of all the lifts, lots of polymetrics, and a ton of other exercises you can do (lunges, step ups, pistols, etc.) However, these are the “big money” exercises that will give you the most bang for your buck. Save yourself a lot of time and confusion and learn more about these lifts. Get good at them, get more explosive and start jumping higher today!
Coming up next:
Programming– How to come up with a seasonal exercise and rep/set approach so you make sure you’re training things long enough to improve and switching things up enough to get variation and keep improving!