I was practicing Hangestu this morning with a lot of focus and tension. Throughout the final move I kept the tension, with my muscles working against each other, and felt a definite pain within my biceps. I was wondering if anybody else had encountered this, and if it is possible to injure yourself by doing this. Is it beneficial to do Hangetsu with a lot of tension? It's not a kata I have trained much in the past.

  • I heard that in Goju-ryu, a style of karate that emphasizes dynamic tension, many of the art's masters have died earlier than those in other styles which do not practice dynamic tension. This is just a rumor in so far as I can't substantiate it with hard evidence. I wish I had the data or the time to investigate it. It would make for a great paper. Apr 7, 2014 at 2:22

1 Answer 1


If Hangetsu is really similar to the Seisan I know, it is indeed a kata traditionally performed with a lot of tension. Most of the tension should be in your core however, as if you were preparing to get punched and wanted to reduce the damage. While your arms should be tensed, they shouldn't be as tense as your abdominal muscles. One of the goal of seisan is to teach you to put your core into your blocks and punches. Combined with a good leg stance and proper weight shifting, you'll be able to generate a lot more power compared to simply using your arms to perform these movements.

What you describe in your question looks a lot like improper stretching to me, though. If you are performing the kata with heavy tension in your arms and legs, you're putting your muscles under constant strain. That kata is also done pretty slowly, too, with short bursts of speed and power where it's easy to put even more strain on your already tense muscles.

You seem to imply doing katas as part of your morning workout. Do you stretch beforehand? If so, do you give enough attention to your biceps? If they aren't warmed up properly, it's entirely possible that the pain you're feeling is due to the constant strain you're putting your unprepared muscles under. Ask your sensei (and maybe a certified trainer if you have a gym membership somewhere) for proper bicep stretching techniques and try to perform this kata while properly warmed up.

If the pain persists, try to talk your sensei into looking at your stance, posture, movements and technique carefully. You mention not having much experience with this kata, and this could be why you're feeling some pain, as it's not impossible that you're simply doing the movements slightly off. Correcting your technique might alleviate the strain on your muscles. I'd still suggest investigating proper stretching techniques, though. Usually can't go wrong with that anyways.

  • Great bit of info regarding putting your core into the blocks & punches. I used to train three times a week but now I only get an hour before spin class at the gym, so other than slow Heian/Pinan katas to warm up there is no stretching. I'll give that a try, thanks. Apr 6, 2014 at 13:56
  • 2
    Starting with slow katas and gradually increasing speed is a good way to get into a rythm before training, but it doesn't stretch your muscles enough for the more demanding stuff. Keep up the good work, and be sure to check with your sensei and/or a doctor if the pain persists despite proper stretches!
    – Dungarth
    Apr 6, 2014 at 16:01

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