Few would think that working on their vertical-jump height could improve their martial arts, but it can. Although martial arts training does not primarily depend on the vertical jump, improving it will develop strength, speed, power, and explosiveness in kicking, punching, hopping, and skipping — all of which are needed for agility in martial arts.
Anytime you improve power or augment the rate of force absorption in your muscles, you create the potential to be faster and more explosive. But being fast and explosive also comes down to coordination and synchronization of movements. Vertical jumping develops both. It builds power and teaches you how to coordinate and synchronize the movements of the jump — much like learning a new martial arts technique and then working on coordination and synchronization to maximize effectiveness.
Improve Your Vertical Jump: Body Fat
Body fat has a significant impact on your vertical jump height. Therefore, reducing body fat through a proper diet will help improve your jump height, speed, explosiveness, and power.
Improve Your Vertical Jump: Breathing
Intra-abdominal pressure is crucial to augment force in your jump. Before you jump, inhale through your nose to create core tension and pressure. The intra-abdominal pressure will stabilize your spine. And when you compress the force in your core as you jump, it acts like a compressed coil that springs your torso elastically in your countermovement, which is the jump.
Improve Your Vertical Jump: Knee Bend
The knee bend is what creates the spring or coil. The optimal angle for this is 70 degrees. At this angle, you will maximize the force of your jump by using your hips, knees, and ankles. It creates a spring that works like a trampoline. If you jump with your legs bent at a 90-degree angle, you will lose power from your hips, knees, and ankles because you will deactivate the spring. The knee bend helps the ankles stiffen and absorb force to transfer into your jump. And the knee bend allows your hips to move to compress and create force from the floor.
Improve Your Vertical Jump: Fast Eccentric Motion
Fast eccentric motion initiates the stretch reflex. The stretch reflex is an elastic mechanism in your muscles that acts like a spring. The best way to visualize the stretch reflex is to think of a trampoline. The harder and more forcefully you jump on the trampoline, the higher you will go into the air. Your muscles can do the same thing. However, the stretch-reflex elastic energy must be used within a second or it will dissipate. So it’s essential to teach your muscles how to absorb force.
For example, when you squat down to the floor in your vertical jump, how fast you move eccentrically is crucial. If you move slowly, you won’t gain or gather enough force elastically to transfer into the concentric part, which is the jump.
Consider this: If you drop a ball, it will bounce back. But if you slam the ball down, it will bounce higher. You can see that there’s a difference in the eccentric motion of bouncing a ball. It’s the same when you jump. And that’s why you need to go into your squat fast to activate the stretch reflex. Don’t go into the squat slowly, or you won’t gain the elastic energy you need to jump high and fast.
Improve Your Vertical Jump: Arm Swing
Arm swing is another component that helps create force. If you don’t swing your arms, you won’t gather or gain enough force to jump as high as possible. The motion of the arms swinging down and back will create more force, enabling you to jump higher and faster.
Improve Your Vertical Jump: Compress
The final step is to compress all the components together. Think about compressing your core and feet into the floor by bending your knees and swinging your arms back.
Here is a video to help you develop your vertical jump to maximize power in your martial arts.
Now that you have all the elements of an optimized vertical jump, you must synchronize and coordinate each one into a sequence. You won’t maximize your jump speed and height if even one of them is off.
Remember that vertical-jump power will enhance and improve your speed jumps, hops, and skips. In addition, it will transfer to other movements and techniques in your martial arts training.
By Jason Kelly