Home Basics Stretching and Flexibility

Stretching and Flexibility

Too often underrated, stretching is that ingredient in Martial Arts that cannot be left out, as it is basically responsible for:

  • maximizing the range of your attacks (mainly kicks)
  • reducing recovery times
  • preventing injuries

When I look at that Sapling in my garden, I hope wind will be continuous but nice to him at the beginning of his life, so that he will be adaptable to storms when he grows up and big
Fabio Zambelli

For each Style its Stretching

Depending on the style you are studying, the time you are asked to spend doing stretching is something that varies from style to style, but as a a general rule we can state that stretching sessions are proportional to the physical intensity that specific style bases its training on (for example, Taekwondo is extremely stretching focused, while Wing Chun has barely or no stretching at all).

The ultimate form of Art

It’s not a case that stretching is an extremely essential component of any Martial Art: the fact that you cannot just put your leg on a pole and go up and down marks the difference between a simple jogging session and something that needs all your mental and physical resources. Stretching, in fact, needs the following components to be effective:

  1. warm-up: good stretching sessions need the engine and tires to be warm. Just look at racing cars: why they need a warm-up lap in your opinion..?
  2. relaxation: why would you stretch an elastic band that is already tense? (in this metaphor, you are the band, and the tension is your muscles controlled by your mind)
  3. focus: not every single second in a stretching session is the same, so you need to adapt to that particular stage (for example, when you feel that your tendons have already reached their limit, you would relax rather than pushing them further)
  4. time: if you think “today I’m going to do the whole sequence in half of the time” – well – prepare to get injured, then

Something you cannot mess up with

Stretching cannot be underestimated: if you are young and flexible, but you like doing splits in front of your friends without proper warmup, be prepared to pay the bill later in life. Also stretching everyday (if done too deeply) can lead to the opposite effect: always adapt your stretching strategy to your weekly training plan.

The fact that you cannot see scars like you would do after cutting yourself with a knife, does not mean that they are not there.

Above all, recovery times shorten with age, so you have to make sure you choose the path of “a minimum each day” rather than “all at once”. Something we really feel like recommending you, in the end, is to listen to your body, as everyone is different, and the same stretching exercise or pattern may not work for anybody else.

Pro et Contra: our Verdict

Pros
  • if practiced on a daily basis, it really makes the difference
  • gives you a wider range of movements
  • it’s the best thing you can do to your body before and after an intense workout
  • kicking requires less energy as your legs don’t have to overcome much resistance
  • it allows athletes of all Martial Arts to get the best out of a style
  • risk of cramps is reduced
Cons
  • it’s something that gives results at small doses, and usually after one year of constant practice.
  • it’s merciless: you overstretch once, and your range will be affected forever
  • Power-stretching can be dangerous if received by novice trainers or unprofessional persons

Fabio Zambellihttps://www.martialartsexplained.com/master-fabio-zambelli/
Founder of the Shunlian Shenghuo Kungfu Academy - Master Craftsman of Heart of The Orient - Designer of Martial Arts Explained

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