Knee joints are pretty mysterious things. Underneath the skin, all sorts of complex tissue structures are handling mind-boggling forces generated by our activities. To the average person who is involved in an athletic activity (martial arts are not exempt from this categorization), the knees are absolutely vital as the foundation of most all movement activities. If we don’t train them properly they can be injured through activity. If we do train them properly, they can be injured through activity. Martial artists in particular often treat them as if they were sprung steel shock absorbers that can/will tolerate whatever we ask of them. Many injurious, pointless techniques such as side snap kick are defended along the lines of “it’s part of karate and I must do it, never mind this anatomy stuff” or my favorite, “my teacher did it for years and he’s OK” (BTW, when’s the last time you actually saw someone apply a side snap kick with any effect?).
Not so. Watching my teacher David Campbell sustain a major knee injury and then fight his way back to full training after two surgeries (in an admirably short amount of time) has made it abundantly clear that the knees cannot be taken for granted if we expect to continue training through the years. I’ve found that a look at the bits and pieces that make up these joints can go a long way in building appreciation for how we use them- and how not to use them.
Follow the link below for a pictorial dissection of the knee:
For a look into the shoulders, elbows, wrist, back, hip and ankles, continue on to: