Three Simple Core Exercises for Karate Classes

In a previous post on the biomechanics of striking, we described how the abdominals should be utilised as an area of force transfer between the upper and lower body ( As such, the majority of our abdominal training should be performed as isometric holds, teaching the body to resist excessive movement at the lower back.

Whilst a gym setting allows us to utilise whatever equipment we have at our disposal, a implementing abdominal training in a class environment may prove somewhat more difficult. Whilst we can use various plank, leg lower and side plank exercises with little or no equipment, we can also perform some simple partner-assisted isometric drills with the use of our obi.

The three exercises described below teach the athlete to resisted movement at the lower back in 3 different directions, extension, lateral flexion and rotation. These exercises have the added advantage of being performed in standing, increasing the potential transfer to combat practice.

#1 Anti-extension press

Have the athlete hold a belt overhead, and have the partner pull backwards. The aim here is to resist arching at the lower back .

#2 Anti-rotation press

Have the athlete hold a belt out in front, and have the parter pull at a right angle to the direction of the arms. The aim here is to resist the rotary pull on the belt.


#3 Anti-lateral flexion press


Have the athlete hold a belt overhead, and have the partner pull the belt down to the side. The aim here is to stay upright and resist the sideways pull on the belt.

All three of these exercises may be performed with one athlete performing the exercise while their partner guides the resistance on the belt, or alternatively, if both athletes are reasonably matched in terms of strength, the exercise may be performed as a competition.

These exercises may also be performed in a variety of different stances, including parallel stance, split stance, 1/2 kneeling or tall kneeling.

Holds of 10-20 seconds should be performed for sets of 3-5 reps.

A full exercise database, complete with technique guides and links to over 450 youtube videos, is featured in the science of striking, available in both hard-copy and kindle formats (

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