Jumping involves two things:
- Purpose for the jump
- The jump itself
In Taekwondo, the purpose of a jump is usually to perform a kick; therefore, Taekwondo jumps are performed in a specific way.
- Preparation (without alerting the opponent)
- Jump (as high as needed)
- Chamber (for power in the kick, usually achieved by tucking)
- Kick (as quickly and powerful as possible)
- Re-camber (to regain stability and prepare for the landing)
- Controlled landing (to softly land in a stable stance, in a guard position)
To train for jumping, running and weight lifting certainly help, but as with other activities, the best way to train for an activity is to perform the activity repeatedly. To help speed the training, it helps to break the activity into its component parts, train in each of the parts, and then train the activity using in all the parts together.
The following is a training sequence to use in training for jumps. The sequence trains each component of the jump, starting with the feet, and then it trains the jump itself.
- Warm-up. First, perform some light warm-up exercises.
- Stretch. Then perform some light stretches, finishing with some lower back and leg stretches.
- Starting/Landing Position. Stand in your fighting stance with the arms held in guard position. Start with the feet a shoulder apart. Instead of keeping the feet parallel, stand with the feet with a comfortable, natural angle between them.
- Repetitions. Repeat each exercise until it becomes difficult to perform the movement smoothly and perfectly. When fatigue sets in, form suffers and you are then training the muscles to perform in an undesired manner. Stretch the legs between component exercises if necessary.
REMEMBER. The arms are used to guard, block, and attack, they are not used to add height to a jump and they are not waved about to maintain balance. If you train using your arms to pump for a jump, you will do it while sparring and will telegraph your intention to jump to your opponent. If you reach up for a jump, you expose yourself to a counterattack.
- Foot/Calf Strengthening. To help put “spring” into a jump, we will train the toe, ankle, and calf muscles. Hold your hands in your guard position and do not move them around to maintain balance; instead, use toe pressure and minute body movements. Keeping your legs straight, raise your body weight up to the balls of your feet and straighten the feet to raise the body as high as it will reach. Hold for a few seconds while balancing on the balls of the feet and then slowly lower the feet back to having the heels on the floor.
- Foot Jumping. Keeping the legs straight, jump straight up only using the feet, springing off the balls of the feet, using the same motion as above. Land on the balls of the feet, hold there for a second or two, and slowly lower back to the heels.
- Jumping with slight knee bend. We were keeping the knees relatively straight in the previous exercises to isolate the calf muscles. Now we will add the knee muscles to the jump. Slightly bend the knees, about a 20-degree bend. Still concentrating on the calf muscles, jump off the floor using the same motion as in the component 1 exercises. Land on the balls of the feet and let the knees bend to help absorb the landing. As in the foot jumping, stay on the toes a second and then slowly lower the heels to the floor.
- Jumping with shallow knee bend. Perform the same jump, but start and end with more of a bend in the knees, about 30 degrees
- Jumping with deep knee bend. Same jump as before but start and finish with a deep knee bend. Jump with full power as high as you can while thrusting upward with the body and shoulders, but keep the arms held in guard. Land on the balls of the feet, with a keep knee bend, hesitate, and slowly lower to the heels. Make sure to get the feet to the floor as you land, do not let the floor come to the feet; if you do, you will land with a jolt.
- Same jump as before but start with a knee bend that you would use while sparring. If you bend your knees before you jump, you will telegraph the jump to your opponent. Therefore, your normal fighting stance should be with the knees bent, and that is the amount of bend you must learn to jump from. This is not a diving exercise, so you do not spring up and down as if you were diving off a diving board into a pool.
- As you jump. Jerk the knees upward toward the shoulders. Do not pick the feet up directly under the hips and do not pull them backward as if you were kicking yourself in the butt; let the feet follow the knees and left slightly in front of the hips. Do not think about jumping the feet off the floor; think about lifting the knees to the shoulders, the feet will come along for the ride. Then quickly thrust the knees back toward the floor. Land on the balls of the feet, with a deep knee bend, hesitate, and slowly lower to the heels. Make sure to get the feet to the floor as you land, do not let the floor come to the feet; if you do, you will land with a jolt.
- Same as for the tuck, except, after landing on the balls of the feet, immediately jump again.
Walk or jog for a couple of minutes.
Then perform some heavy leg and lower back stretches.