Whenever I teach a BJJ seminar I take a poll each time. I ask the crowd to raise your hand if you stretch daily for at least 20 minutes? Each time I ask this questions I only get 1 or 2 hands. Very few people stretch on a regular basis. I don’t mean the stretching that you do in class either. I mean at home on the floor and moving your body. If you’re thinking, he’s right I don’t take my flexibility seriously, don’t despair. I wasn’t always as flexible as I am today at 50 years old. When I was 40 I was VERY inflexible. So I did I develop this high level of pliability?
The first step is you simply have to create a stretching ritual. It can’t be a “fly by the seat of your pants” situation. You have to plot and scheme! Start by getting yourself a yoga mat and put it on the floor next to your bed. Not in some other far off room… But where you’ll see it and use it. Spend 20 minutes every day stretching. (minimum – more is better too) If you have a little space, even better. I like the idea of connecting movements to the stretches so you develop strength around your flexibility. In my new instructional the Leg Strangler I show a series of movements designed to promote flexibility, precision and timing. I don’t just show the generic 8th grade gym class stretches. But rather I try to create unique movements and configurations that directly correlate to the moves I teach. You want to approach your stretching in the same way. The movements should be reflective of the Jiu-Jitsu you practice…. or strive to practice. If you want to be a good guard player or triangle choke master… then you have to have loose hips. So your stretching centers around opening the hips.
The two most common questions I get from fans are “How did you get so flexible?” and “How can I avoid injuries?” Part of the key to being injury free is to be more flexible. If it can’t bend it will break is a very important principle in Jiu-Jitsu. You want to be bendable not breakable. But remember it’s about balancing strength with flexibility. Pliancy without strength is like silly putty. Yes, it will stretch but if you pull hard enough it will break too. Adding movements and getting a good sweat is the key!
When / how to stretch?
- At home when you’re reading, listening to music, watching a movie get on the floor and stretch! I call this “down time”…. time to get down and stretch!
- You can make it a workout and add movements so that you’re building strength as well.
- Open Mats – Spend 20 minutes stretching at the end of every open mat when you’re nice and warm!
- Mini Stretches – Find little mini moments at work to stretch. Just 2 to 3 minutes here and there goes a long way!
- Make it a date! Do a marathon partner stretch with your better half. This is a lot of fun and a great bonding experience!
Happy stretching Ninjas! Look for my newest instructional being released on 11/19/19. Unleash your longest, strongest weapon!