Stretching for intermediate practitioners
After seeing the basic exercises for stretching the whole body and the correct modalities of execution, let’s go to the next step with our tendons transformation path: the intermediate level exercises for flexibility.
In this discussion we talk about lower limbs dynamic elongation, it is however fundamental to repeat that it is dangerous and incorrect to proceed in reading without having followed the right path:
- How to correctly perform warm-up and Basic warm-up
- How to correctly perform stretching and Basic soft stretching
The fundamental difference between dynamic and static stretching is that while in the first case the positioning position is maintained, in the second one is reached through a movement. For more detailed information read:
A dynamic stretching exercise for legs
Swings with legs:
- From a standing position let’s open laterally our arms
- Our arms must always be straight and parallel to the ground
- Our hands are perpendicular to the ground, fingers are in upward direction and palms are facing externally
- Our back and our neck must be perfectly straight during the entire execution
- Let’s imagine our head hanging centrally to a thread
- Our shoulders must be relaxed (let’s imagine they are going down)
- Our legs must be straight (not rigid) for the entire execution
- Without any backward loading movement, we have to launch our left foot upwards
- Let’s start gradually, this is not a kick, we have to use a small amount of muscular force
- We have to leave the leg the possibility to take advantage of the momentum derived from inertia
- Ideally we have to try to let the left knee touch the left shoulder (but this happen only at the highest levels of flexibility)
- Reached the feeling of elongation (not pain), let’s leave the legs to return to the starting position
- Especially at the beginning, we have to avoid straining ankles and knees, not bringing them to their limits
- Let’s repeat symmetrically with the right side (always remaining straight and in perfect balance)
- Let’s alternate the execution for a total of (at least) 26 repetitions
Mandatory variations of this exercise
This exercise can (must) be performed also:
- Both walking both standing
- Throwing the legs in the 8 directions
- Doing various kinds of kicks (circular, etc.)
- Positioning our hands as a target for the kicks (arms must still remain parallel / perpendicular to the ground and straight)
- As a warm-up (taking care not to get immediately to the point of tension)
A few tips and notations:
- These exercises are useful to increment our kicking ability (read How to prepare legs to kick effectively)
- By the way, these exercises are not sufficient to develop a strong and safe kick
- We have to condition the muscles involved in the last part of the movement (the one who mostly stress our joints)
- Let’s not forget to wear trousers that do not interfere with our openings (Yoga and Tai Chi ones are perfect)
- This kind of exercises are widely used also in modern Chinese Wushu
- We have not repeated the details of execution already specified in the guides linked at the start of this article
- In future we will see more complex versions of this practice (advanced level)
- If you do not understand something feel free to ask in the comments
In the next articles of this series, we will see a lot of other stretching exercises.
- The use of legs in a real fight – Everything we need to know before using kicks in a self-defense situation
Author: Master Kongling
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