Flexibility is essential to martial arts training. It allows you to move through your full range of motion to execute upper body and lower body strikes and kicks. You will benefit from movements that become smooth. However, injury prevention is a most important benefit of improving your flexibility. Let's begin on improving your flexibility by following these easy to follow methods.
View the videos as you follow along for each stretch.
The first thing you want to do is warm up your muscles. Light shadow boxing, jumping jacks, or marching in place will get those muscles ready for stretching.
Dynamic stretch - Rotate your arms forward and backward, side to side and in and out for a count of 10 times each side. Swing your leg straight up, then swing the leg sideways followed by swinging the leg backward. Do this for 10-20 repetitions. Do not strain with the movements. Simply allow the muscle to gently reach your desired range of motion.
Static Stretch Passive - Sit on the floor and spread legs as wide as possible. Hold the stretch for approximately 30 seconds. You can repeat this method with any upper body or lower body stretch.
Static Stretch Active - Stand against a wall and hold leg out in front. Hold the leg out for 20-30 seconds without dropping the leg from the original position. This helps build strong kicking technique and it is a leg burner!
Contract/Relax Stretch - This is a great way to improve range of motion. Start in a seated split position. Get your legs as wide as possible. Next, contract your leg muscles - concentrate on the muscles inside of your thigh area. Hold for 10 seconds and relax the muscles. Now try to expand the stretch. This stretch should be practiced 2-3 times per week.
These are some examples of stretching that is practiced at Montella's Karate Academy. Good luck with your stretching training!