Raul Landeo is lecturer in Biomechanics in the Australian Catholic University in the school of Behavioral Sciences. He has done research for taekwondo and other sports. He has worked with the Australian Institute of Sport between 2012 and 2017 as an adviser in taekwondo creating a taekwondo talent developement program.
He has worked along with other researchers in the area of Taekwondo, like Coral Falco, Tomas Herrera, and Jesús Ramal.
His life goes between research, teaching at the University and trying to have a happy life.
Raul was born in Peru. He started to practice taekwondo because of his brother, who still is a taekwondo coach. Raul was not very interested in taekwondo because he was not flexible at all, but when he went to see his brother compete the passion was born.
When he started to train most of the training they did was just for passion. Raul considers that he and his team mates didn’t see themselves as athletes, they did all the training just because they liked it.
It was like a trip to the unknown. A thing that maybe is lost a bit, because sport taekwondo (as any high level sport) is very specialized. So sometimes athletes train because they have to train.
Raul gives us the example that sometimes before training with his brother they used to see a Kung Fu movie, and back from training they used to run 5km home just for the love of it, not because of a training program.
Training for the sake of training
Raul teached taekwondo in a club that he inherited from his brother. In 1988 he received the news that Peru would organize the Taekwondo Pan American Championship. By that time, Raul was halfway from being an athlete and a coach.
He was preparing his students for the team trials as he was also preparing himself for it, but he realized that he couldn’t do both things. Reflecting, he thought that by training a good team he could increase the chances of medals for Peru than if he only focused on himself.
That way three of his athletes made it to the national team and of them won the gold medal at the Pan American Championships
Raul was inspired by a presentation of Ireno Fargas in a course for all the Pan American coaches in Puerto Rico, in that course Raul realized that you have to understand all the physiological processes involved in training in order to improve at high level sports.
He started to study a lot, looking for a way to understand biomechanics to improve technique. He adjudicates later success with Peru National Team to that passion for studying and improving. He also was inspired when he testified the improvements of the Cuban Taekwondo in just few years, going from not knowing the sport and being karate practitioners to become medal winners and contenders.
After a successful time with Peru National team, he had the opportunity of moving to Australia, as his wife got a job there and since that time he has made his life there.
Raul often recommends 100 years of solitude of Gabriel Garcia Marquez as an introduction to the Latin American soul
Scientific research in taekwondo
Raul’s research experience is in Biomechanics. Force production, moving patterns, what is efficient? What is not? What kind of training should we do to facilitate the development of certain aspects of taekwondo.
Raul mentions that there are certain interesting areas of scientific research in taekwondo, like pedagogy, injury prevention, biomechanics, among others but is necessary to make that knowledge accessible to coaches.
Raul points that all science should be done for society and not for other researchers. So, there is a need for a way to make the taekwondo research results available for the taekwondo coaches.
Raul’s simple advices for coaches and athletes.
Raul’s current research is about the interaction between the athlete and the floor. When we do a step or footwork before a kick we interact with the floor, if we improve the interaction we can improve the kicking of the athlete.
Raul mentions that is a strategy that can work to be better in taekwondo although taekwondo is complex and success could be due to many different factors.
Raul shared with us some pieces of knowledge supported by all his research.
- Minimize the contact time with the ground. This naturally will be subordinated to the tactical situation and not it applies all the time but as a general rule is a good way to evaluate your progress. You improve as the contact time of your foot with the mats is reduced.
- Watch your posture. Being upright in a natural anatomic posture helps a lot in the quality of the kicking action. If you have a natural posture your pelvis has more freedom and your scope and reach increases.
- Do not wear shoes where you train and try to be barefoot the most time you can. Humans are born without shoes. Our anatomy give us the capacity to live without shoes. We have 70000 receptors on the sole of the foot, from which we receive a lot of information about the environment. Wear shoes is to be blind to all the information we can get from them.
Support the show buying one of Raul favorite books, from the great Argentinian author Julio Cortazar”
The ironies of weight cutting.
Many of our interviewees agree that weight cutting is a problem in taekwondo (as in many other combat sports).
Raul points out something interesting. At elite level, most competitors cut weight. As we all know this can reduce performance. So, it is very probable that as anybody cuts weight, you’ll fight in a competition against a fighter that either way you were gonna fight in the upper weight class. But with both competitors capacities diminished by weight cutting.
Obviously that is a difficult thing to solve, because, who is gonna be the first to stop cutting weight trying to change this behaviour?
A possible solution Raul suggests could be to split each weight category in two, one for athletes above a certain height and another for athletes below that height.
It seems a good idea. For cadets I think europe is starting to change the rules and limit the competition for certain heights.
A scientist with a wide scope and a human heart.
Raul chatted with us in a peaceful and humble manner. I consider him an example of what a science and researcher should be.
A person willing to share his experience with others, and a specialist with profound knowledge in his area but also with a wide scope of life. He recommended us some masterpieces of literature and shared with us that he is one of the top sellers for Gabriel Garcia Marquez 100 years of solitude as he is always giving that book as a gift.
A masterpiece that we both agree should be a great introduction to the soul of Latin America.