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Martial Arts Flexibility

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Most martial arts styles require some level of flexibility and therefore improving flexibility for martial arts will help you grow to new heights in your practice while still remaining safe from injury. While some people seem to have a natural ability to be flexible most of us need to work at improving our level of flexibility for martial arts. This article gives you a basic introduction of the types of information and training which professional martial artists carry out.

Doing stretches correctly will increase your flexibility but if they are done incorrectly you can actually cause more harm than good. It is important to remember that a large portion of injuries experienced in martial arts are caused by flexibility issues, mostly because the person does not have flexible muscles or fails to stretch the muscles properly before carrying out techniques. 

So to get more flexible we need to learn how to do stretches correctly. The fundamental point regarding stretching techniques is that they can be either dynamic (involving motion) or static (those that involve no motion). The six main types of stretching which incorporate these are listed and discussed below.

Improving Flexibility for Martial Arts

First lets start by examining the different methods of stretching. 

  • Ballistic Stretching
  • Dynamic Stretching
  • Active Stretching
  • Passive (or relaxed) Stretching
  • Isometric Stretching
  • PNF Stretching

Ballistic Stretching

Here you attempt to use the momentum of your weight to stretch beyond your normal comfort zone. Ballistic stretching involves bouncing to the end of your natural stretch and using the momentum of your weight to force you beyond your normal range of motion. An example of ballistic stretching is when you bounce up and down on your toes by bending your knees and stretching your hamstrings, then using the stretch to bounce back upright. In general Ballistic stretching is not considered helpful and may actually decrease your flexibility by not allowing your muscles to stretch into or relax in the stretched position.

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Pakour

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The roots of Parkour go back over 100 years. It begins with Hebertism. Hebertism was created about 100 years ago by George Hebert.

George Hébert (1875-1957) exerted a major influence on the development of physical education in France. A former naval officer, he travelled throughout the world before World War 1 and was struck by the physical development and skill of indigenous peoples in Africa and elsewhere;

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Metabolism 101

Introduction

An average adult consumes nearly a million calories a year. Despite this huge number, some healthy people are able to maintain a relatively stable body weight over years and decades without much conscious effort. When “calories in” equals “calories out,” a state of energy balance is achieved and body weight remains constant.

Metabolism is the process of converting food to fuel for the body. Metabolic rate is the number of calories used to fuel the body. Therefore, your resting metabolism is the amount of energy your body uses at rest.

The energy balance equation is driven by common laws of physics and thermodynamics:

  • Energy cannot be created or destroyed.
  • Energy is either used or stored. When “calories in” are less than “calories out,” a state of negative energy balance occurs and body weight decreases.

In contrast, when “calories in” are greater than “calories out,” a state of positive energy balance occurs and body weight increases.

Being overweight is a result of being in a positive energy balance where “calories in” is greater than “calories out”. This can be caused by:

  • eating too much
  • not enough exercise or activity
  • having a low metabolic rate

Food provides calories (fuel) for the body in the form of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Any calories from food that are not used immediately for energy production are stored. Each source of calories is unique in the way it is used and stored by the body.

Carbohydrates are usually the main source of energy for the body. Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose (sugar) and stored in individual muscle cells in the form of glycogen. The body can only store limited amounts of carbohydrates as glycogen. Carbohydrates contains four calories per gram.

Proteins are used by the body to build and maintain body tissues and is rarely used by the body for energy. Like carbohydrates, the body can only store limited amounts of protein. Protein also contains four calories per gram.

Fat is the most calorie-dense of the nutrients. Unlike carbohydrate and protein, the body has an almost unlimited capacity to store fat and body fat stores act as the long term fuel reserves to prevent against starvation. A common misunderstanding is that you can only increase body fat by eating too much fat but studies show that an abundance of fuels, especially carbohydrates, also leads to increased body fat storage. Fat contains nine calories per gram.

Watching the number of calories in the food you eat helps manage your “calories in,” but to achieve energy balance you also need to know your “calories out.” The body uses (burns) calories in three ways: Physical Activity, Digestion of Food, and your Resting Metabolism.

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