Most karate students will know that class begins from the moment they step across the threshold of the dojo door on the way in and does not end until they step across again on the way out. Arguably, training does not end when you walk out of the dojo and therefore, the next time you walk back in, it's not really another beginning, just a continuation from where you left off last time.
To some, the attitude appears to be that the karate training does not begin until the warm up has concluded. This is incorrect. Most instructors are aware of their students deficiencies; they are also keenly aware of their students attitudes by observing the way they carry and conduct themselves before, during and after class. There's not much that goes unnoticed.
At the start of training as discussed in the ‘Health and Fitness’ blog our objective is to gradually reach our optimum aerobic training zone. This mobilizes the body’s fatty acids into the bloodstream so that they will be burned up rather than sugar. This is achieved by starting up with light exercises and gradually building up so that the body will distribute the blood flow to the areas that need it rather than immediately diverting it from vital organs when sudden intense demands are made on the system.
"The human body is the best picture of the human soul."
- LUDWIG WITTGENSTEIN
Many people seem to think that fitness implies health; however fitness and health do not always go hand in hand. The optimum balance to be achieved in health and fitness is achieved in training the metabolism. This is what dictates the quality of life and ultimately the physical destiny that we set for ourselves in developing a ripped physique.
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
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.