In the previous section of “How not to stretch” I covered some basic stuff. If you haven’t done so, please read that part first. For now, let’s look at something so obvious, loads of people don’t even consider it:
How flexible do you need to be?
Look at me, a certified rocket scientist! But seriously, how much flexibility is enough for your martial arts training? To answer that question, just look at the style you practice and ask yourself: What’s the required range of motion for the most common movements and techniques? If every kick you do only goes as high as the opponent’s knee, do you really need to be able to do full splits? Nope. If you happen to do those high kicks, is it sufficient to be able to pull them off and leave it at that? Again, the answer is no.
While we’re at it, don’t just look at hip flexibility but look at all your joints and muscles. Even the ones you don’t think need much flexibility: Arms, shoulders, ankles, calves, neck, etc. In many cases, your whole body performs movements that require a great range of motion but because you don’t think about it, you don’t recognize it.
Other times, flexibility is a necessity for a specific technique but you don’t use it as much elsewhere. For instance: There’s a technique called “snake creeps down” in the tai chi form I practice. It opens up your hips big time if you do it right and is a really good stretch in and of itself. The more flexible you are, the easier it is to perform. If you can do it correctly, you’ll probably have the flexibility to do a high kick. That said, we don’t do high kicks in our tai chi, so we don’t use the flexibility gained from “snake creeps down” that way.
Back on track, so how flexible do you need to be anyway? Here’s the rule of thumb I use: [Read more…]