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singularity6
Pre-Black Belt
Pre-Black Belt

Joined: 26 Jun 2017
Posts: 958
Location: Michigan
Styles: Jidokwan Taekwondo and Hapkido, Yoshokai Aikido, ZNIR Iaido, Kendo

PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2018 6:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

JR 137 wrote:
Then there’s posture and other lifestyle stuff. Sitting in a chair at a computer for 8 hours a day is going take its toll and undo a lot of gains you’d ultimately make. My father bent down under a hood of a car working on an engine for a few hours every day throws off his posture. Our bodies adapt to the demands we put on them most, regardless of if they’re adaptations we want to not. Physical therapists have seen work related conditions since physical therapy became a thing - housemaid’s knees (prepatellar bursitis), thoracic outlet syndrome (people having circulatory and nerve issues) due to rounding of the shoulders at a typewriter/keyboard, etc. I’ve recently seen what’s now being called “tech neck” - people’s head and neck slumping forward due to smartphone screen time. The list of stuff caused by work and lifestyle is endless. Then I hear about how people get old and their bodies start to deteriorate


You've pretty much nailed why people need to do something physical, like martial arts or yoga (or just general stretching.) Our bodies have a range of motion that must be used. If you don't use it, you lose it!
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bushido_man96
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 31 Mar 2006
Posts: 27542
Location: Hays, KS
Styles: Taekwondo, Combat Hapkido, Aikido, GRACIE

PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2018 7:48 pm    Post subject: Re: Stretching - is it overrated? Reply with quote

OneKickWonder wrote:
A staple in many martial arts training regimes is the stretching exercises.

But is it overrated?

I know, if you want to deliver a roundhouse kick to a jaw line, you need to be a bit flexible. I get that.

But here's the thing. I know a number of ex military people from all sections of the military. They all have two things in common that I think are relevant to our civilian martial arts. They are all tough as hell and very combat worthy not only with weapons but also unarmed. And they don't specifically stretch. They keep fit by running. They stay strong by weight training. They do endurance activities. And they hit bags. But they don't spend a lot of time with stretches. Yet they could kick most civilian butts without drawing a sweat.

So this gets me wondering. Apart from display team acrobatics, is there really as much value in stretching as many of us are led to believe?


Its a good question, and one well worth considering. I follow a guy who talks extensively about weight training with the big barbell movements, one of the main ones being the squat. When asked about the necessity of stretching, he's fond of saying that if an athlete can perform a proper depth parallel squat, then the athlete is sufficiently flexible.

With that said, I think it depends on what a particular practitioner wants to accomplish. If you like to do head kicks, but lack the natural flexibility to do so, then you'll have to spend some time stretching. But, I think as Martial Artists in general, we get stuck in the rut of thinking that static stretching is the only way to go. Getting the body good and warmed up, and then using dynamic stretching techniques that force you to move your body into the positions the activity demands will help the body to attain the necessary flexibility to perform the movement, over time.

Now, when you think about the kind of combat military or law enforcement personnel will get into, developing flexibility isn't a major point of concern (I'm an LEO, and teach police defensive tactics, so I have experience here). The duty belt we wear severely limits the types of kicks we can do and how high we can do them. I'm not going to be kicking much over belt high, and most of the kicking I teach are front snapping kicks, front thrust kicks, and low round kicks. The basic idea is strike targets below the waist with the feet, and targets above the waist with the hands. Its simple and allows us to work to our duty belt to end the fights. So, with waist down kicking, flexibility isn't a major concern.
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LLLEARNER
Brown Belt
Brown Belt

Joined: 10 Feb 2016
Posts: 687
Location: Central Maine

PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2018 3:15 pm    Post subject: Re: Stretching - is it overrated? Reply with quote

bushido_man96 wrote:
OneKickWonder wrote:
A staple in many martial arts training regimes is the stretching exercises.

But is it overrated?

I know, if you want to deliver a roundhouse kick to a jaw line, you need to be a bit flexible. I get that.

But here's the thing. I know a number of ex military people from all sections of the military. They all have two things in common that I think are relevant to our civilian martial arts. They are all tough as hell and very combat worthy not only with weapons but also unarmed. And they don't specifically stretch. They keep fit by running. They stay strong by weight training. They do endurance activities. And they hit bags. But they don't spend a lot of time with stretches. Yet they could kick most civilian butts without drawing a sweat.

So this gets me wondering. Apart from display team acrobatics, is there really as much value in stretching as many of us are led to believe?


Its a good question, and one well worth considering. I follow a guy who talks extensively about weight training with the big barbell movements, one of the main ones being the squat. When asked about the necessity of stretching, he's fond of saying that if an athlete can perform a proper depth parallel squat, then the athlete is sufficiently flexible.

With that said, I think it depends on what a particular practitioner wants to accomplish. If you like to do head kicks, but lack the natural flexibility to do so, then you'll have to spend some time stretching. But, I think as Martial Artists in general, we get stuck in the rut of thinking that static stretching is the only way to go. Getting the body good and warmed up, and then using dynamic stretching techniques that force you to move your body into the positions the activity demands will help the body to attain the necessary flexibility to perform the movement, over time.

Now, when you think about the kind of combat military or law enforcement personnel will get into, developing flexibility isn't a major point of concern (I'm an LEO, and teach police defensive tactics, so I have experience here). The duty belt we wear severely limits the types of kicks we can do and how high we can do them. I'm not going to be kicking much over belt high, and most of the kicking I teach are front snapping kicks, front thrust kicks, and low round kicks. The basic idea is strike targets below the waist with the feet, and targets above the waist with the hands. Its simple and allows us to work to our duty belt to end the fights. So, with waist down kicking, flexibility isn't a major concern.


Body armor is even more limiting.
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"Those who know don't talk. Those who talk don't know." ~ Lao-tzu, Tao Te Ching

"Walk a single path, becoming neither cocky with victory nor broken with defeat, without forgetting caution when all is quiet or becoming frightened when danger threatens." ~ Jigaro Kano
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OneKickWonder
Purple Belt
Purple Belt

Joined: 17 Feb 2018
Posts: 513

Styles: Tang soo do

PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2018 3:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The average civilian won't be wearing body armour or a duty belt. But if caught up in a violent encounter in the street or in a bar, they are unlikely to be dressed in their pyjamas and fully warmed up and stretched either.

As martial artists, typically were in our pyjamas and bare feet. We'll loosen off and stretch and ease into training. Then with our warmed up muscles and joints, in our nice loose fitting purpose made pyjamas, on a perfectly flat and level surface, in the presence of like minded people, we'll do some awesome moves and convince ourselves we have great combat skills.

This is why, although I'm not for a second suggesting that stretching is pointless. Gentle stretching is always good. The urge to gently stretch is natural. Even animals do it. More intense stretches are good if the goal is to be good at gymnastics or displays. Probably also the sport aspect of martial arts. But what I was really thinking about when I started this thread was the genuine everyday self defense readiness. My own experience is that after a session of hard training with stretching to the max, I will actually feel less combat ready the next day, due to aches and pains, than if I'd skipped training. To that end, I've changed my focus in recent months. Instead of stretching hard, I barely bother. I probably look quite lazy in class during the stretching part, and most of my kicks have come down a bit except when I specifically want them high. What I'm finding is that since putting less effort into stretching, my natural flexibility seems to be increasing faster than ever before, and I remain more flexible even when not warmed up.

I asked one of my ex military buddies what his thoughts are on stretching. He said simply, it's pointless. He said practice doing what you want to improve, and if that requires more flexibility, it will just come.
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JR 137
KF Sempai
KF Sempai

Joined: 10 May 2015
Posts: 2277
Location: In the dojo
Styles: Seido Juku

PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2018 4:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OneKickWonder wrote:
The average civilian won't be wearing body armour or a duty belt. But if caught up in a violent encounter in the street or in a bar, they are unlikely to be dressed in their pyjamas and fully warmed up and stretched either.

As martial artists, typically were in our pyjamas and bare feet. We'll loosen off and stretch and ease into training. Then with our warmed up muscles and joints, in our nice loose fitting purpose made pyjamas, on a perfectly flat and level surface, in the presence of like minded people, we'll do some awesome moves and convince ourselves we have great combat skills.

This is why, although I'm not for a second suggesting that stretching is pointless. Gentle stretching is always good. The urge to gently stretch is natural. Even animals do it. More intense stretches are good if the goal is to be good at gymnastics or displays. Probably also the sport aspect of martial arts. But what I was really thinking about when I started this thread was the genuine everyday self defense readiness. My own experience is that after a session of hard training with stretching to the max, I will actually feel less combat ready the next day, due to aches and pains, than if I'd skipped training. To that end, I've changed my focus in recent months. Instead of stretching hard, I barely bother. I probably look quite lazy in class during the stretching part, and most of my kicks have come down a bit except when I specifically want them high. What I'm finding is that since putting less effort into stretching, my natural flexibility seems to be increasing faster than ever before, and I remain more flexible even when not warmed up.

I asked one of my ex military buddies what his thoughts are on stretching. He said simply, it's pointless. He said practice doing what you want to improve, and if that requires more flexibility, it will just come.


Stupid question... how old is he? How old are you?

I agree with most of what you’re saying. But as we get old, it seems like we get exponentially less flexible. Or at least I do.
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OneKickWonder
Purple Belt
Purple Belt

Joined: 17 Feb 2018
Posts: 513

Styles: Tang soo do

PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2018 4:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JR 137 wrote:
OneKickWonder wrote:
The average civilian won't be wearing body armour or a duty belt. But if caught up in a violent encounter in the street or in a bar, they are unlikely to be dressed in their pyjamas and fully warmed up and stretched either.

As martial artists, typically were in our pyjamas and bare feet. We'll loosen off and stretch and ease into training. Then with our warmed up muscles and joints, in our nice loose fitting purpose made pyjamas, on a perfectly flat and level surface, in the presence of like minded people, we'll do some awesome moves and convince ourselves we have great combat skills.

This is why, although I'm not for a second suggesting that stretching is pointless. Gentle stretching is always good. The urge to gently stretch is natural. Even animals do it. More intense stretches are good if the goal is to be good at gymnastics or displays. Probably also the sport aspect of martial arts. But what I was really thinking about when I started this thread was the genuine everyday self defense readiness. My own experience is that after a session of hard training with stretching to the max, I will actually feel less combat ready the next day, due to aches and pains, than if I'd skipped training. To that end, I've changed my focus in recent months. Instead of stretching hard, I barely bother. I probably look quite lazy in class during the stretching part, and most of my kicks have come down a bit except when I specifically want them high. What I'm finding is that since putting less effort into stretching, my natural flexibility seems to be increasing faster than ever before, and I remain more flexible even when not warmed up.

I asked one of my ex military buddies what his thoughts are on stretching. He said simply, it's pointless. He said practice doing what you want to improve, and if that requires more flexibility, it will just come.


Stupid question... how old is he? How old are you?

I agree with most of what you’re saying. But as we get old, it seems like we get exponentially less flexible. Or at least I do.


He is late 20s. I'm early 40s. But I don't believe age is as big an influence as many people believe. I've recently added tai chi to my repertoire. Most of the folks there are retired. They're also more flexible and agile than many martial artists I know.
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JR 137
KF Sempai
KF Sempai

Joined: 10 May 2015
Posts: 2277
Location: In the dojo
Styles: Seido Juku

PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2018 5:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I’ll be 42 in June. Not that I was some stretching machine during my first stint in karate when I was 18-25, but I was a hell of a lot more flexible than I am now. I’ve been back at it for just over 3 years, and my flexibility progress is no where near where I thought it would be by now. I’ve tried a ton of things, and honestly, it’s just not working for me.

Everyone’s different. Some people have that natural gorilla strength despite never touching a weight plate. Some are ridiculously fast despite never doing any formal running. Some people can put themselves into a pretzel without ever seriously stretching.

I think with flexibility, there’s a level of “flexible enough,” and beyond that is just for showing off, so to speak. A lot of people are flexible enough to not have any realistic issues in MA. Some, such as myself, aren’t. My lack of flexibility causes me to have to work at it and around it more than the norm.
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OneKickWonder
Purple Belt
Purple Belt

Joined: 17 Feb 2018
Posts: 513

Styles: Tang soo do

PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2018 5:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've come to realise in the last maybe a year or so that strength training is at least as important as, and a precursor to, flexibility.

I think in traditional styles, there is a tendency to overlook strength training somewhat. I have a theory as to why that might be. Prior to the last couple or so decades, pretty much all forms of employment were hard physical work. So to develop the fighters muscles, you're already building on a solid foundation. That being the case, holding stances for 30 seconds or more at a time combined with kick drill and forms would be plenty to ensure all the strength was there.

My theory continues that strong muscles are less likely to tear without warning during fairly normal activities. Therefore strong muscles have the potential to be more flexible.

That at least is my theory. I can't back it up with hard facts at this stage.

But following on with that, we often look back on our youth through rose tinted glasses. Often as youths we were leaner and most importantly perhaps, more active, and therefore strong. I don't believe we grow old until the very end. I believe we simply grow more damaged and less active. The less active muscles have poorer blood circulation, and therefore take longer to develop. They've also had more time to sustain injuries and so will contain more scar tissue. But I don't believe that age per se is an issue. I think the challenges we face as we get older are not so much about, how do we train at our age. But more about, how do we start to reverse some of the damage we've done through neglect and bad practices.

Again, that's just my theory. But taking that theory, I've made some significant changes to my personal approach to training. I'm focusing more on gently developing strength, more on being generally active. A lot less on pushing to the limit. I've even taken the stance that I'm never going to 'train' but instead will 'do', but only while it's fun. It's early days yet, but so far seems to be paying dividends.
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bushido_man96
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 31 Mar 2006
Posts: 27542
Location: Hays, KS
Styles: Taekwondo, Combat Hapkido, Aikido, GRACIE

PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2018 6:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OneKickWonder wrote:
I asked one of my ex military buddies what his thoughts are on stretching. He said simply, it's pointless. He said practice doing what you want to improve, and if that requires more flexibility, it will just come.


I do believe there is something to this.
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TJ-Jitsu
Blue Belt
Blue Belt

Joined: 30 Sep 2014
Posts: 316
Location: PA
Styles: Gracie Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai

PostPosted: Sun May 20, 2018 3:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OneKickWonder wrote:
I've come to realise in the last maybe a year or so that strength training is at least as important as, and a precursor to, flexibility.

I think in traditional styles, there is a tendency to overlook strength training somewhat. I have a theory as to why that might be. Prior to the last couple or so decades, pretty much all forms of employment were hard physical work. So to develop the fighters muscles, you're already building on a solid foundation. That being the case, holding stances for 30 seconds or more at a time combined with kick drill and forms would be plenty to ensure all the strength was there.

My theory continues that strong muscles are less likely to tear without warning during fairly normal activities. Therefore strong muscles have the potential to be more flexible.

That at least is my theory. I can't back it up with hard facts at this stage.

But following on with that, we often look back on our youth through rose tinted glasses. Often as youths we were leaner and most importantly perhaps, more active, and therefore strong. I don't believe we grow old until the very end. I believe we simply grow more damaged and less active. The less active muscles have poorer blood circulation, and therefore take longer to develop. They've also had more time to sustain injuries and so will contain more scar tissue. But I don't believe that age per se is an issue. I think the challenges we face as we get older are not so much about, how do we train at our age. But more about, how do we start to reverse some of the damage we've done through neglect and bad practices.

Again, that's just my theory. But taking that theory, I've made some significant changes to my personal approach to training. I'm focusing more on gently developing strength, more on being generally active. A lot less on pushing to the limit. I've even taken the stance that I'm never going to 'train' but instead will 'do', but only while it's fun. It's early days yet, but so far seems to be paying dividends.


In terms of injury prevention, you are absolutely correct. One of my first coaches was first and foremost a strength and conditioning coach- for numerous professional athletes and fighters no less. He was quite clear about the importance of strength over flexibility for injury prevention. I remember him saying that strength is THE number one factor for injury prevention, and flexibility was far down on the list, like number 4 or something like that.

I can attest to this on a personal level. I was insanely flexible when I started jiu jitsu. Not strong so much. Who got hurt all the time? Me. Who didn't? the bigger stronger guys. Of course, I was also doing something like 17 classes a week so....
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