How Does An Olympic Karateka Train?
Olympic Karateka: Gakuji Tozaki
My name is Gakuji Tozaki. I am 28 years old, and I participate in the Traditional Japanese Karate-Do for Team USA. I am currently training for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Premier Leagues, and Series A. Above all, I train every day to become a better karate practitioner than I was the day before.
Biggest athletic accomplishment so far:
- ANOC (Association of National Olympic Committees) World beach Games 2019 Bronze medalist
- FISU University world championships Bronze medalist
- PASO (Pan-American Sports Organization) Olympic festival silver medalist
- Multiple time National Champion in AAU and NKF for Kata and Kumite
- Morocco Premier League 2019 11th place
- Santiago Series A 9th place
I train a minimum of 3 times per day and a maximum of 4 times per day. These training sessions include recovery sessions. My training consists of 4 different kinds of workouts: Sport-specific exercises (karate basics and forms), weight training (Olympic lifting), traditional karate weight training, and cardio (running, springs, and sport-specific exercises).
I start my training with jogging and dynamic stretching (20~30 minutes). I try to increase my range of motion in my scapula and hips (arm/shoulder rotation, hip external, and internal rotation, hip flexion, and extension) as much as possible since karate requires both soft and strong techniques.
Then, I start practicing standing basics for 30 minutes. Different blocks, punches, and kicks are checked to make sure I am striking the proper point every time with good form.
The majority of my training consists of performance-specific training (2 hours). I combine some, or even all these types of training to better my performance in the ring. Some of my practices include:
- Bubun (“Parts”) practice: Practicing partial sequence of my kata (form) over and over again
- Tooshi (“flow”) training: practicing the kata as a whole to check the rhythm and flow of my kata
- Kokyu (“breathing”) training: Some katas train specifically the breathing aspect of karate, to increase the strength of body and muscles.
Lastly, I finish my training with 15~30 minutes of static stretching to decrease fatigue and to prepare for the next training session. I may be tired mentally and physically, but stretching is the most important part of training since I want to train at 100% every time.
aminoVITAL & Olympic Training
I use aminoVITAL's Fast charge, Focus Zone, Action, and Rapid Recovery. Fast Charge I take 15-30 minutes before to help keep my energy throughout my training. If I need more hydration, I will use either Focus Zone or Action 15-30 minutes and immediately before to decrease fatigue. They increase my energy levels and replenish my body with electrolytes. I also drink Rapid Recovery after training to decrease soreness and enhance muscle repair.
I am a big-time ectomorph, so I eat anything I can, as much as I can. Although caloric intake is important to me, I do my best to balance out my nutrition as much as possible. Karate is a year-round sport, so there is not much of an "off-season." The most time we get off is about one month. So, throughout the year, I try to maintain the body type I am at now to avoid muscle imbalance and poor body alignment. If there are any changes in my nutritional diet, I try to continue it every day until it becomes a habit.