What Are Some Basic Stretches for Karate?

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Stretching for karate is most important when done at the end of class, and the most effective when the muscles are tired. Discover methods for doing dynamic and simple stretches for karate with help from an eighth-degree black belt in this free video on martial arts and karate stretching.

Part of the Video Series: Martial Arts & Ninjutsu
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Video Transcript

Hi, everybody. I'm John Graden for the Martial Arts Teachers Association. Boy, I tell you what, when it comes to martial arts, there is an area of a lot of misinformation and that has to do with stretching. Number one, first off, this is the twenty-first century. A lot of the stretches we inherited go back decades and we know a lot better now about how to stretch. Number one, stretching is part of the workout and cool down. It's not part of the warm up. The warm up is meant to get the big muscles warm, blood flowing so then when we do stretch and kick, we don't pull a muscle and damage ourselves. So, stretching typically, is most effective at the end of class when the muscles are really tired and not resisting. Second thing, here's some of the stretches that I was raised with, and I certainly hope you're not doing it at your school. We would do things like the high foreleg raise and you'd swing your leg up and it was very easy to blow out a hamstring. We did the high side leg raise and we'd raise our legs this way and it was just archaic, ancient stretching. So, we've done a lot of research and here are some stretches that we know work for martial arts. This is a simple routine that I like to do with my students. I start in a horse stance and I'm going to take my forearms, push them against my knee. I'm trying to get my hips just to open up and relax right now. I might do some dynamic stretching, which is not bouncing like ballistic. That would be real hard. Very simple motions. Then from here, my hands go to the ground and I'm going to go and turn sideways for this, so I don't lean on the microphone, into a mini split. I'm just going to rock back and forth. Again, I'm opening my hips. I want a straight line between my knee, my rear end and my other knee. I'm not sitting back. I'm not sitting forward, but I can kind of rock a little bit. Next, from this position, I extend a side kick and then I roll into the side kick. Again, keeping a straight line from the knee, over the hips into the leg. I'm rolling into my side kick. Then, I go back to my mini split. And then, I'll do the other leg. And then, with my advanced students, we would push into a full split, using the arms for support. And the key here is that you will -- I'm going to come up now -- you will naturally guard against the stretch. What does that mean? When you feel the discomfort of the stretch, your body instinctively tightens up a little bit. You've got to mentally override that and relax. You have to mentally override that and, what I call, receive the stretch. So, those are some great ideas for martial arts stretching. I'm John Graden for the Martial Arts Teachers Association. Thanks.

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