How important is Flexibility?

MattofSilat

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I picked up a book on 'Flexibility in the Martial Arts' yesterday because I wanted to be able to kick higher. There wasn't any real reason that I needed to kick higher, and I don't even know if I'll improve that much by being able to kick higher, but I just want to be able to as it may be a useful skill. So, I bought the book, and was surprised to see a list of 5-6 stretches for all of the main body parts.

This book contains stretches for: Neck, Shoulder, Arm, Back, Torso, Chest, Hip and Legs, alongside stretches for Fingers, Wrists, etc.

I was wondering how much use all these other stretches could be to somebody who isn't feeling at all stiff (I'm 15), is fit enough and doesn't have any joint issues. There are a number of 'Stretch Routines' which combine a single core stretch routine with specific lists made by the author in order to cater for your needs. For example, I currently do Jujitsu and plan to do boxing soon, but I also want to do high kicks. Therefore, I chose to make my own list comprised of the core routine, a mix of the boxer and grappling routines as well as a few stretches for high kicks.

It states why those specific stretches are useful, E.G : The Seated Torso Twist improves flexibility for striking, throwing and spinning skills.

I suppose I see where flexibility may come into spinning skills, but (bear in mind that I'm a bit of a novice and just looking for some friendly advice) where does flexibility come into striking and throwing ( I only do the most basic throws, do more advanced throws require flexibility? )

I intend to practice my routine as I want to become a good all-around martial artist, which requires I assume requires general flexibility, but can you think of any individual non-kicking/suplex techniques that require good flexibility?

I already have flexibility of the spine being practiced as I'm training bridges as part of my strength training, and flexibility of the spine (and therefore core) seems to be important.
 

Buka

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If you listen to the leaders in the health industry concerning exercise, even the ones that don't get along, almost to a man they say, "If you give up every kind of exercises except one - you're better off to keep flexibility exercises. They usually point to a variety of reasons, including injury prevention and good movement. But, at 15, that's probably not a concern. Sure as hell wasn't with me, either.

Sounds like you're on the right track, brother. As for specifics, probably best to ask your instructors. And keep an eye on your fellow students who are flexible and on those who aren't. You'll probably notice differences.
 

Argus

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Flexibility exercises are most valuable for preventing injury, I believe.

High kicks are not generally a good idea outside of sportive competitions with rule-sets that encourage that kind of thing. But, as such, I suppose its usefulness depends on what you're training and why.
 
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MattofSilat

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To be fair, I'd like to know how to perform High Kicks just for the personal satisfaction, it's one of the few ways you can display Martial Arts without getting into a fight. I'm sure they could come in useful at some point.
 

Dirty Dog

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Flexibility is more important for injury prevention than for kicks.
And while high kicks are not likely to be the "go to" technique for very many, they most certainly are useful for self defense. And YouTube can be counted on to provide any number of clips showing a kick to the head being the first and only strike used.

Flexibility is only half the equation for kicking. The other half is core strength. Throw your leg up in the air and I'll bet you can get it pretty high. That does not mean you'll be able to kick effectively at that height. Now pick up your foot and throw whatever kick you're thinking of low. Leave the leg extended. Now lift. How high can you lift (not throw) the leg and hold it there? That's how high you can effectively kick. Any kick above that height will lose power. The further above that point, the more power it will lose.
 

donald1

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Agreed., in my class that's why stretching is always done first. To stay limber stretching can be good for not getting hurt, if it helps kicks that Is a bonus
 

Touch Of Death

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There is no real need for flexibility in wax on and wax off, but the further you wane from this idea, the more important it becomes. Yeah I'm talking to you TKD. ;)
 

Touch Of Death

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Flexibility is more important for injury prevention than for kicks.
And while high kicks are not likely to be the "go to" technique for very many, they most certainly are useful for self defense. And YouTube can be counted on to provide any number of clips showing a kick to the head being the first and only strike used.

Flexibility is only half the equation for kicking. The other half is core strength. Throw your leg up in the air and I'll bet you can get it pretty high. That does not mean you'll be able to kick effectively at that height. Now pick up your foot and throw whatever kick you're thinking of low. Leave the leg extended. Now lift. How high can you lift (not throw) the leg and hold it there? That's how high you can effectively kick. Any kick above that height will lose power. The further above that point, the more power it will lose.
Forget holding it there. As soon as you feel a pull, you have gone too far. :)
 
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MattofSilat

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Can Flexibility add to your prior skills?

I mean, does having more flexibility increase other traits such as Strength, Speed or Agility?

If I hit somebody with a low kick without being flexible at all, then hit them again with all the same parameters apart from the fact that I could hit to the head if I wanted to, would there be any difference?

If I don't feel like I'll be experiencing a lot of joint pain/soreness (Apart from after a hard training session, of course, but the only stretches I'd do then would be Warm Up/Cool Down), so is there any real point in training for flexibility anywhere other than the hips? Excluding injury prevention/soreness/etc do, for example, Rotator Cuff Stretches help at all?
 

oftheherd1

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After I was in the US Army a while, I was always encouraged to stretch before I exercised. I didn't when I was a kid, I didn't when I was in the Army Airborne. It didn't bother me. For the short period of time I studied TKD, we did some stretching, especially for improving kicks. It did help. Later, I got involved in Hapkido. We stretched fingers, wrists, torso, back, legs, ankles, you name it. It helped a lot. I cannot imagine, even at your age, if you are studying BJJ, that stretching would not help you. The more flexibility you have, the better you can apply techniques, and the better you can survive techniques (avoid injury). But you decide on that.

As to flashy kicks, you not only need flexibility, you need speed and strength. Flexibility should help in that as well. Go back and read what Dirty Dog said.
 

Buka

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Can Flexibility add to your prior skills?

I mean, does having more flexibility increase other traits such as Strength, Speed or Agility?

If I hit somebody with a low kick without being flexible at all, then hit them again with all the same parameters apart from the fact that I could hit to the head if I wanted to, would there be any difference?

If I don't feel like I'll be experiencing a lot of joint pain/soreness (Apart from after a hard training session, of course, but the only stretches I'd do then would be Warm Up/Cool Down), so is there any real point in training for flexibility anywhere other than the hips? Excluding injury prevention/soreness/etc do, for example, Rotator Cuff Stretches help at all?
I mean, does having more flexibility increase other traits such as Strength, Speed or Agility? - Yes. When you aren't flexible your range of motion suffers. If you were to demonstrate those three attributes to me you would do so in whatever way was comfortable for you to maximize each. But if the exercises were altered slightly, specifically towards areas of less flexibility in your body, the results would go down quite a bit. Why is this important? Two main reasons, - because when one muscle or section of your body is tighter than it should be, everything it's connected to has to alter and adjust, which takes you slightly out of position and tires you. And because fighting is fluid, it is never the way you want it to be.

If I hit somebody with a low kick without being flexible at all, then hit them again with all the same parameters apart from the fact that I could hit to the head if I wanted to, would there be any difference? - Probably not in that individual kick. But being less flexible limits your options in what follows or precedes that kick.

If I don't feel like I'll be experiencing a lot of joint pain/soreness (Apart from after a hard training session, of course, but the only stretches I'd do then would be Warm Up/Cool Down), so is there any real point in training for flexibility anywhere other than the hips?
Only if you want to train and fight at a higher level than you're at now.

Excluding injury prevention/soreness/etc do, for example, Rotator Cuff Stretches help at all? - Yes. Matt, watch these two vids. Not so much for what you do, but to explain how things affect other things.


A good basic to keep in mind as a Martial Artist is muscle is attached to tendons, tendons attach the muscle to bone. When the muscle has less flexibility it shortens the range of motion. And it does more than that. During a stride, whether walking, running or fighting, the Achilles tendon stretches as the ankle joint dorsiflexes (the ankle of your back leg, as the toes move toward the shin) When you get to the last part of that stride (when the toes point down as the foot moves forward) there is a release of stored elasticity from the motion - which allows the muscle to generate a greater force. Better flexibility will also allow the muscle to move unimpeded, which likely results in better endurance, and in more speed of movement.

So....stretch, brother, stretch. You don't have to stretch every part of your body. Just the parts you want to keep. ;)
 
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yak sao

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Whole body flexibility is very important. Many have already laid out several good reasons.
Another to consider is that better flexibility gives you more options from various positions/angles.

If you are stiff, then you are limited in what you can do and from what position you need to be in to execute a given technique.
A more flexible body will allow you to attack from a wider range of possibilities which very well may come into play whether as a sport stylist or more importantly, in a self defense situation.
 
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