Martial Arts Stretching Exercises, Do’s and Don’ts

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Martial Arts Stretching ExercisesMartial Arts Stretching Exercises are a big part of most warm up routines and achieving box splits is a real goal for many. In fact, someone who can do box splits is seen as a shining light in many classes even if their martial arts stink.

I have a very different view on martial arts stretching exercises and would like to see classes approach the whole thing differently. This, I think, would allow people to hit their goals faster and easier but a change in thinking in needed. Let’s see what we can do.

How do Classes currently approach Martial Arts Stretching Exercises

Firstly, let’s think about how most martial arts classes approach stretching. You’ll run around the class to warm up, then maybe some press up, sit ups, possibly a mini circuit training routine, then hardcore stretching. Straight after than you go into your martial arts, with kicking, punching, forms, drills and sparring. Is this best for your body and development? Or is there another way.

This has pretty much been the standard for Martial Arts Stretching Exercises for the last 5 decades, so don’t get me wrong it’s okay but it could be better. It could be improved so students develop faster and with less injuries, this then equals a better club more achievements and less drop outs.

So what’s the issue with the current format? Well nothing, on paper. The order makes sense. I personally would add Martial Arts Stretching Exercises at the end of a session too, when you at your warmest. I’d also add in a gentle stretch all the muscles fibres first before the run, just to pull the muscles fibres apart. Not by static stretching but by rotating all the joints, thus gently stretching everywhere and getting everything moving. But in essence all is fine with the format.

What’s the problem with Martial Arts Stretching Exercises

My issue is with the actual Martial Arts Stretching Exercises done. Almost everything is focused on the legs with hamstring stretching, box splits and front splits being a huge focus of the time. These are stretched in mainly static positions too. Just think for a minute. Is this how you will use your legs for martial arts? Extending slowly into a static position to hold for a time. No, I can’t think of any style that does that. Yoga would be the closest thing to that, but not martial arts.

Martial Arts Stretching Exercises

My advice on Martial Arts Stretching Exercises

Surely, it makes more sense to stretch in a way that is fit for purpose. As in stretch in the position you need to use it. For side kick, for instance rather than forcing yourself down into box splits, why not stand and lift you leg as high as possible. Get someone to lift it up as high as you can, then try and hold it there. What about slowly lifting your leg into side kick position slowly up and down 50 times.

Martial Arts Stretching Exercises like this help stretch but also work the muscles, which builds the leg strength. From a standard box split there is no building of strength, so you may be able to get your legs into a full box split but when standing you don’t have the strength to lift your leg up above your head.

Lets also think about a full box split, if you can do this it theoretically it means, when standing, you can kick directly up towards the ceiling. When do you need this in martial arts. Who is that high you need to kick. The Taekwodno argument is that it’s for foot soldiers fighting cavalry, so they can kick a soldier of a horse. I’m all for that and the pursuit of what’s ‘traditional’ is something I love. But never kicking directly upwards, you will always kick sideways to an extent, so you’ll never need a full box split. It’s better to have the muscles to support the kick and flexibility. Apart from when you want to impress you mates, then a box split is great.

This applies to all kicking techniques, drill the kick and stretching together. Do it slowly to avoid injury and the results will be massive.

For me it’s all about moving when stretching. When increasing your flexibility do so in a way the muscles can develop too and build strength.

Think about all the Martial Arts Stretching Exercises you do

Whenever you stretch think to yourself, “Is this fit for purpose?” “how will I use this movement in my forms, drills or sparring? Once you do that, you training will come on leaps and bounds.

Try it for yourself and see

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