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Gorilla walk

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Call it what you want. Gorilla walk, orang utan walk, monkey walk, this is a standard Kyokushin warm up exercise that strikes fear in the hearts of beginners.

This is what it looks like, in a nutshell:

We Kyokushin karateka like to up the difficulty by using our knuckles, instead of our palms, you know, to strengthen those wrists for punches.

Try doing 1 lap of this and you will understand why this guy has arms like below:

Image result for gorilla

If I had to walk with 70% of my body weight using my arms, I’d have arms that size too!  

Now, back to business. Why do we practise the gorilla walk:

  • Strengthen the wrist for punches
  • Hand and leg coordination : you can choose to move both arms together and then one or both legs, depending on the variation of the exercise
  • Toughen those smooth knuckles
  • Strengthen lower back

To keep things lively, there are some variations to this exercise:

  1. Both arms, then both legs forward
  2. Left then right arms, then left and/or legs
  3. Side gorilla walk
  4. Reverse
  5. Gorilla walk and forward roll

Common mistakes :

  1. Majority of weight on legs, knuckles barely touching floor
  2. Weight on wrong knuckles (anything other than the 1st two)
  3. Buttocks facing downward
  4. Elbows bent (if elbows are bent, it is absorbing some of the bodyweight, that’s cheating!)
  5. Slouched back
  6. Knees can be slightly bent, heels slight raised off the floor

Tips to survive 10 laps of gorilla walk

  1. Put your shoulder, elbows, wrists and knuckles to work as  a team, not individually
  2. Don’t drag it out, move forward faster (without compromising on proper form) 
  3. Use the backward gorilla walk to catch a breather, it is easier than the forward motion (I promise!)
  4. Look up from the floor every now and then to prevent collisions with others
  5. If your knuckle skin peels off, do not blow or pamper your knuckle. Let it peel off, or you do the peeling if it’s hanging stubbornly there by a thread of skin. If there’s blood, you may disinfect later
  6. Most important of all, DO NOT CHEAT!

The great (or not so great, depending how you look at it) thing about this drill is, the longer you do it, the more difficult it gets. Not because of fatigue, but due to the sweat soaking your knuckles which are rubbing raw on the wooden/rubber flooring. The drill forces you to have a properly clenched fist because even a slight misalignment of your wrist, causes the skin to loosen and eventually peel off. And if you have the luck to have the skin peel off before completing your lap, you are performing the drill on raw meat (that used to be your knuckles). Not only that, the effects of gorilla walk is still felt after class. Every time you wash your hands, or bathe, or when it rains, you are reminded of the arm strength of a gorilla walking using his arms.


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