How to Choreograph Cardio-kickboxing Combos


Cardio-kickboxing is an aerobic format based on martial arts. Traditional martial arts employ combinations of motions often called forms, poomse or kata, to keep students fit and teach them how to apply what they've learned. These can take anywhere from three to six months to master. Cardio-kickboxing has no formal advancement system; so rather than learning one long combination and then demonstrating mastery to the instructor, a student learns several short combinations in the space of a single class.

Things You'll Need

  • Fitness mix CD
  • fitness clothing
  • Listen to your mix and count the beats. Practice counting to eight as if you were choreographing a dance routine, then start over. When you are comfortable with this exercise, group four eight-counts together. You may choose to keep track by changing the first number at the beginning of each eight-count as follows: "ONE-two-three-four-...-eight; TWO-two-three-four-...-eight; THREE-..." You will notice a distinct change in the music or vocals at the end of your fourth eight-count. Four counts of eight grouped together is called a "phrase," and aerobic formats that use this method are said to use "32-count phrasing." You will base your routine around these phrases, so practice counting frequently if it proves challenging for you.

  • Anticipate class level to the best of your ability. Will you be required to teach both beginning and advanced classes? If so, you’ll need two separate routines. If your gym only has one class level, you will need to be more flexible. Your best option is to plan enough easy combos to fill out your class, but have a couple difficult ones ready to go in case all the students catch on quickly. Also, keep in mind that you will need to show simple variations for any advanced moves you plan to introduce.

  • Attend other instructors' classes to familiarize yourself with the basic movements of cardio-kickboxing. Examples of hand motions include the jab punch, cross punch, hook punch, and upper cut; while the front kick and side kick are examples of basic kicks. Note how the best instructors will include basic movements in the warm-up or demonstrate them before class. This keeps inexperienced students from becoming overwhelmed later when combinations are introduced. Another trick to keep your students from getting lost is to pick a theme for the class. For instance, you may choose to incorporate a side kick into each of your combinations.

  • Base the body of your workout on combos between two and 16 counts long. If you prefer to use longer combos, you will have fewer of them. In any combo that involves more than four moves and/or is to be done very quickly, you will need to break it down and then add the different components together later. Be sure that every component is compatible with your 32-count phrasing; for instance, you may start out a combo with three moves, but be sure it takes either four or eight counts to complete them. “Jab, cross, hook” could become “jab, cross, hook, pause,” even if you plan to fill in that pause later. Repeat every component on both sides of the body.

  • Consider the transitions between your combos. Some instructors prefer to build up an arsenal of simple moves such as jumping jacks, shuffling, rope-less jump rope and speed drill; then arrange them on the fly in a way that will help students switch sides of the body or end up in a different part of the room. For instance, if you need everyone to move back because you plan to move forward with the next combo, you might speed drill in place for 16 counts and then do jumping jacks in a straight line backward for 16 more. Other instructors choreograph their transitions with as much care as they do their combos. Experiment with both these methods to find out which works best for you.

  • Keep your routines fresh. Try attending other instructors’ classes, looking up new moves online, participating in workshops and playing with the rhythm of combos you’ve done previously.

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