Embrace your inner Stretch Armstrong.
Pop quiz: what’s one of the most important characteristics for a martial artist’s body? Muscle structure? Endurance? Raw strength? Good answers, but not the one we’re looking for. The answer is flexibility. Many martial arts prioritize a body’s ability to bend and stretch quickly and decisively. Boxing, karate, capoeira, judo; you name a martial art, there’s probably a stretching routine designed to accompany it.
4th-degree karate black belt Sensei Ash of Family Fitness Revolution in Los Angeles employs a dynamic stretch warmup before any match or practice session. Ash’s signature high kicks require a great deal of mobility to pull off properly. If he’s not good and flexible, his body’s not going to work the way he wants, or worse, he could pull something. With a quick, fifteen-minute warmup, Ash preps his arms, legs, and core for some high-intensity mobility.
Step one is planks. Planks seem like a very simple exercise, and that’s because they are, but despite that simplicity, simply holding your body in a non-traditional stance is great for starting up your muscular structure and preparing for what’s to come.
Step two is frog jumps. You’ve probably played leapfrog as a kid, so this should be familiar. Get down into a frog-like squat, then jump forcefully all the way up. This’ll really flex your hips, legs, and ankles. Just remember to keep your feet outside your hands; be the frog!
Step three, bear crawls. Get down on all fours and crawl along the ground on your hands and feet while keeping your knees off the ground and at a 90-degree angle. This sounds easy, but after a few minutes of hovering your knees like this, you’ll feel the burn.
The final step is the duck walk. No, not the Chuck Berry guitar move. You squat down, similar to the frog jump, but instead of jumping, you waddle forward while keeping your torso lifted. This’ll really open up those hips and glutes.