Lesson 4 – Stretching exercises for flexibility
A few premises
As you could see in Lesson 6.3, stretching can have a variety of applications. After seeing its function of preparation for a good training performance (after warm-up, read Lesson 1.3) let’s pass to the next step: gain flexibility.
Before starting let’s repeat that:
- You cannot start a tendons transformation training without having consulted your physician
- At the same exercise each person reacts differently, someone can get results faster, someone slower (read The right age to start practice)
- Each time you cannot skip the practice of the introductory exercises (read Basic soft stretching and Basic warm-up); avoid to force your body, especially if you are at the first experiences
- A flexibility workout should be done after a correct warm-up (How to correctly perform warm-up), after a good basic stretching (read How to correctly perform stretching) and possibly after other martial exercises, never alone
Remember, your goal is not to try to rapidly become better than the others (if you think this you’d better forget Kung Fu), the goal is to be better than yourself, every day.
How to gain flexibility
To obtain a valid flexibility for combat you need to:
- Reinforce the involved muscles – So they can sustain the elongations without suffering damage even in dynamic situations (read Lesson 6.1)
- Practice correct breathing – It is fundamental to sync your breathing with the movements of opening and closure, elongation and relaxation (read Meditation method 5)
- Eat and drink correctly – Drink a lot of water (at least 30ml / Kg), opt for white meat, fruit, vegetables, and everything that contains Magnesium (read Qi and proper nutrition)
- Avoid stress and psychological tension – Life problems (read Accept problems to find solutions) can cause enough tension to even paralyze part of our body; no one can control what happens outside his mind, you can control what happens inside, through Meditation
- Learn to listen to your body – Understanding when it is at the limit, predicting how far it can go, distinguish for example when it is aching for a physical effort from when it is due to excessive inactivity, etc.
- Practice specific tendons transformation session – At least every 2-3 days you have to dedicate time to elongation (5-15 minutes are enough, do not practice them if you are in pain)
About the last two points:
- Normal stretching must be performed every day (before every training) but, as you can check by yourself, it does not guarantee any high-level result (all the sportive perform stretching but not all of them are able to reach certain levels of flexibility)
- Do not stop or skip your tendons transformation path (eg. because you are listless), if you stop to train elongation in a few days you will start to lose all the hard work done on your flexibility; nothing is irreparable but to waste time for nothing is simply silly
- Being able to listen to your body it’s not immediate, it’s a skill that comes with time, practice and focus on what happens inside of you; after the first period of wrong perceptions (due to inexperience) you will start to feel things that you never expected
Static flexibility exercises
Here you can find a few good exercises for static flexibility (intermediate level):
- Side split – Read The easiest method to do the side split and Side split: a few tricks
- Upper limbs – Read Stretch the upper limbs: 3 easy exercises
Dynamic flexibility exercises
Here you can find exercises for dynamic flexibility (intermediate level):
- Lower limbs – Read Dynamic stretching: an exercise for the lower limbs
- Body flexibility: martial arts – An explanation of why flexibility is so important for a martial artist
- Conditioning check for flexibility – A deepening of what a good conditioning for flexibility requires
Author: Master Kongling
Founder of 6 Dragons Kung Fu.