To perform Tae Kwon Do high kicks, and ballet moves are not the only reasons to improve flexibility. And benefits of flexibility are not limited to martial arts and dance.
The confusion of what exactly is flexibility makes many flexibility training programs ineffective or inappropriate. This confusion prevents most to give flexibility stretches the priority it needs as part of conditioning.
Flexibility used to have its advocates among training specialist as an important step in injury prevention until research made that argument debatable.
Flexibility in some cases could be counterproductive. Many version or ankle inversion practiced as part of the warm up like in running makes the ankle unstable.
To help clear the air lets defined what flexibility actually is.
Flexibility is not a function of muscles even though you feel your muscles stretch during flexibility training. Flexibility is a function of your joints. You have increased flexibility when you increase your ability to move your joints through their complete range of motion.
To accomplish this, your muscles must cooperate. Muscles that are too short or too tight will not allow your joints to go through their full range of motion.
Why is the distinction important?
Consider a simple quadriceps stretch.
Imagine how runners grab their toe or ankle and yanked it back toward the buttocks. They believe that they are stretching the quadriceps. Even when the heel or ankle touches their buttocks, they continue to pull. In individuals who do not carry a lot of extra fat around the thighs, glutes and buttocks, those individuals who can run safely, when the heel touches the buttocks, the knee joint has reached its maximum natural healthy range.
If all is well, you should not feel any stretch feeling at that point. However, you may feel the stretch if you continue pulling. This additional pull moves your knee joint out of its natural range of motion and stress the ligaments holding it in place.
This is an example of how focusing on the feeling of the muscle can backfire on the joint.
Same flexibility training principle applies to every joint in your body. You need to focus on joint motion through their full range of natural, safe motion but no more.
By trying to move the joint beyond their range, to “feel” the muscle, you will hurt the joint. While your flexibility exercises pay attention to a specific joint you are trying to move, understand its range of motion and stay within that range.
Those who believe bulk interferes with speed are missing out a lot especially if they avoid resistance training. The primary source of confusion behind bulk and speed originates from the confusion between power and strength.
Martial arts revolves around power from physics stand point.
What is power?
Power includes your ability to move a load (force) over a distance (point a to point b) within certain time (one second).
In a high kick to the head, the force is your foot and your leg. The distance is from your foot to your opponents head. The time is how fast you can do it.
When you practice moving heavier loads over the same distance, your strength which is the ability to move weights increases.
When you practice moving heavier loads and do it faster, your power increases.
Adding wrist and ankle weights during practicing your punches and kicks is one way, not necessarily a safe way, to increase your strength and power.
Try to punch faster without the additional load and you limit how much your power increases.
Increasing power may or not add bulk as in muscle mass. Adding muscle mass requires specific type training that only in part is power related.
Comprehensive martial arts training includes power training even when the motions of the art do not directly associate with the motions within the power training. Remember not to go too far in the way you power train and the way you fight. Practice the way you fight or compete.
For example, as a grappler practice pulling power, as puncher practice plyo pushups.
What does speed training mean without a frame of reference?
Imagine a bullet train that goes 200 miles per hour and ant that goes 0.03 miles an hour. Obviously the bullet train is faster, right?
Not necessarily. Take the train off track, and it will derail and cannot move at all. The snail becomes faster. Without the frame of reference of the track, speed means nothing.
In sports, an 100 meter sprinter may not be able to cut and turn as fast as a soccer player. An American football player may tackle well, but ask them to dive in an MMA match, and their head may get bashed in.
In fitness equipment, jump rope drills cannot help you deliver a fast, high side kick. And ladder drills or cone drills have nothing to do with increasing punching power.
Speed training is the track in which you wish to improve your speed. Speed training equipment build the track for you. The first element of speed training is to evaluate yours strengths and weaknesses.
A dislocated shoulder like the one during the process of healing Is restructured internally. I need to b careful with the ligaments in high-speed punching techniques. On the other hand, I have not limitations with my legs.
I am choosing my speed training protocol and my speed training equipment like rdx jump rope, I consider these step.
1- Without over complicating it, I write down what I want to accomplish by my drills. I am not going to write down something general like “faster footwork.” Instead, I write down something like, “I want to develop faster footwork and fakes to confuse the opponent in a match.” By remembering that fake is part of your winning match strategy, you practice it in your drills.
2- Resistance training is part of my speed training. This doesn't mean I want to become a power-lifter or a bodybuilder. It does mean that I recognize the limitation with shadow boxing. Again, I don’t over complicate things. A set of inexpensive rubber bands may be enough. With a bit of research and some imagination, you can attach rubber bands in ways that match exactly what part of your body and in what position must develop speed.
3- Deceleration training. The most stress is placed on your ligaments during the deceleration. Speed training includes both accelerations and deceleration techniques. Don’t focus on acceleration so much that you forget how to declare. The same ligaments that help you transfer incredibly fast contraction power of your muscle to your bones are the same ones that get stronger during deceleration or eccentric phase of the motion.
Deceleration ties into retraction. A fast punch that cannot be retracted quickly leaves you open to a counter attack including grabbing.
Expand your vision of what speed training is. Then choose the drills that help you reach your outcome.
Category: martial arts styles
It is true that martial arts means arts of war, however, combat is only part of war. If you focus on the combat techniques that is part of martial arts from Aikido to Wing Chun, you may not only lose the battle but also the war. One of the stories in the Bible is how Cain killed his brother Abel. That is a reference to a combat technique that could lose you a war.
If you follow the theory of evolution, the first monkey that yanking the tail of another monkey engaged in combat. The same monkey yanking the tail of a tree climbing Jaguar did not live to tell the tale.
In recorded human history of Egyptian painting dating several thousand years, wrestling came into the scene which makes it the most ancient of recorded martial arts you could teach and learn.
Understanding that martial arts has a violent combative side is important to dispel any illusions about its training. Every punch, every form of kick, every grappling and throwing technique is designed to be harmful and even deadly.
If you plan to learn self-defense and you struggle within yourself with the potential harm you could cause you need to resolve that internal conflict. In a fight for self-defense that unresolved inner conflict will impact your ability to think and execute your techniques.
You cannot look to be a peaceful warrior because martial arts is the art of war. However, you can be a detached warrior who does not seek combat and does not mind it either. He or she uses combat as means to an end.
The end in many forms of marital arts is not physical and has a mystical appeal. The possibility that you can, through martial arts training reach something beyond war is intriguing and attractive.
The training becomes like a hot forge that provides you an opportunity to create a delicate glass sculpture or a deadly sword. A detached warrior can do both according to the objective.
Lives of contemporary masters of Martial arts including Mas Oyama, Ip Man, General Choi Hong Hi and Bruce Lee reveals how they struggled to share a path to internal transformation.
Many martial arts styles have clear training for the spirit and the mind separate from the physical aspects. I remember one of my childhood favorite TV series, Kung Fu starring David Carradine. In each episode there was a merging of the present struggles of the hero-teacher and his past. The solutions were often reliance on an inner aspect of life with a touch of combat.
I wonder how the series would have been if Bruce Lee had a chance to play the role instead of David Carradine since it the series was Bruce Lees idea.
As they said in the series, Grasshopper, you have choice.
In finding the martial arts training that is most suitable to you, you can reflect on your inner struggles, understand your motivations and your goals. Or focus on the explosive exhibition of combat training that is most appealing to you.
What is appealing to your mind may not be in harmony with what is in your heart. Your physical training will suffer if there is too much of a disconnect between what is in your mind and what is in your heart.