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Modern Martial Arts Stretching – Take the Scientific Approach

by admin on November 12, 2009

Flexibility is of primary importance in any form of martial art. The ability to move easily and effortlessly in an extended range of motion is a key to effective technique. Unfortunately too many martial artists don’t know modern martial arts stretching techniques and the science which would enable them to safely increasing this range of motion in a rapid fashion.  Our understanding  of the nervous system’s role in flexibility and new knowledge discovered in the last few decades of the physiology behind muscle and fascia elongation has brought an opportunity for the martial artist to increase flexibility at a speed not known before. The modern martial artist can achieve elasticity in weeks or months that it previously took years to accomplish.

Advancements in the knowledge of the proper order of flexibility stretches, the correct way to warm-up before stretching and cool-down afterwards, and the understanding of the physical structure of muscle and connective tissue with neuromuscular factors have led to advanced techniques and routines which will allow you to realize expert levels flexibility in almost no time at all.

Most martial arts stretching routines have been passed down from teacher to student, from generation to generation and are relatively identical to the routines performed hundreds of years ago. When most advanced martial artists are asked why they follow a particular stretching regimen they say, “I do it this way because my instructor did it this way and he was flexible, my instructor did it this way because his instructor did it this way,”  and so on, and so on…  This brings us to the “Story of the Trimmed Ham.”

The Story of the Trimmed Ham

There was once a young homemaker who had a special recipe for a holiday ham she prepared for her family every Christmas. Her husband and children delighted in the rich flavor of the dish and talked year round of its favor with them. One Christmas the lady’s husband watched his wife prepare the ham, and noticed how she carefully trimmed off exactly three quarters of an inch from each side of the piece of meat before placing it in the oven. When he queried her about this practice she admitted that she didn’t exactly know why she did this. She said she had learned the recipe from watching her mother fix the same dish each Christmas.

Later the wife called her mother and asked her why the family’s holiday ham recipe called for trimming off the ends of the ham and her mother also admitted that she didn’t know the purpose for trimming the ends because she too had learned the recipe from her mother. So, of course the young homemaker called her grandmother to find the purpose behind the secret of  trimming precisely three quarters of an inch from each end of the holiday ham. The grandmother replied, “It’s no secret, I always had to trim each end of the ham to fit it in the small pan I had to cook it in.”

The moral of this short fable is it is not wise to perform an act a certain way just because the person you learned from did it that way.

Why the Way They Used to Stretch is Not the Best Way to Stretch Today

Study of martial arts in from the early twentieth century backwards was a lifelong commitment. and as more of an occupation than a pastime, more vocation than avocation. When a student would start his martial arts stretching at five years old and continue with two to ten hour flexibility routines for life, it was easy to remain flexible through adulthood. Not many of us in today’s modern world have the spare time to devote this sort of diligence to the commitment of flexibility, we have to find a better way. This is where modern scientific stretching methods come into play.  Using modern stretching techniques and procedures by taking advantage of our greater understanding of the human physiology we can achieve greater gains in flexibility than our ancestors in a fraction of the time.

MartialArtsStretching.com will explore the many reasons muscles and fascia resist elongation and we will continually bring you cutting edge knowledge and insight to allow you to enjoy rapid progress in flexibility using proven modern scientific knowledge and techniques.

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