What do you do on a Sunday morning..............?
I nip down the stairs, get the kettle on and have a nice cup of tea in bed. I also have a bit of a read as I do not have to rush out to work like the often hectic mornings of the week and like the thought of relaxing.
Yesterday was no exception to the rule, where I did just that and read a magazine all about Harley Davidsons, which is my other pastime, or lifestyle as you may call it!
I cleaned myself up, ironed my Gi and arrived at the club Dojo just before 1030am for the clubs weekly stretching session.
In the dojo were five other club Karateka, who are obviously as keen as I am, to do a good hour or so of Yoga and Karate based stretching.
The session quickly started with Sensei Michelle Adamason (IJKA 4th Dan), taking the group through various exercises on the floor using mats, which were aimed mainly at freeing up the hips.
The exercises then became partner based to further induce flexibility of the groin, as it well known that you can only achieve a certain amount of stretching alone, hence partner based flexibility exercises will allow you to achieve more.
On of my favourite exercises, not forgetting that we are all different builds and shapes etc, is when you sit down on the floor or mat where you place both soles of your feet together and draw them towards the groin along floor.
It is important to keep good posture as you do this, by keeping your back upright and head looking forwards as you try to push your own knees towards the direction of floor whilst holding your feet in position by using your hands.
Again, this will depend on your own ability a to whether you can or can not touch the floor with your knees at this point.
Again and if you are like me, you may find that you have different abilities with each hip, as in my case one is better than the other in this exercise.
Once you have warmed up unassisted, which is most important, the next phase is to apply equal pressure to both inner thighs or knees using your elbows to apply equal pressure and push your knees downwards to the floor.
I am quite good at this and I can generally get both knees almost down to the floor, but not as far as I would like.
This is where your partner comes in handy! At this point, you can be assisted (as I was with Sensei Dave), who equally applied pressure, who pushed both knees firmly to the floor, hence extending the stretch beyond what you can achieve doing this alone. This can be achieved further where Dave took great care when standing on both my knees,(from the rear) whilst using his body weight to achieve more downwards pressure. The stretch (as in all cases), must be held for a period of time (which has a topic all of its own) and then released.
What I must add, which is most important, is that you must be careful with all types of stretching, where you and your partner must be fully warmed up and conduct your exercises in stages to promote good health and safety. Good communication is required on both parts, to prevent injury and also to achieve the very best in results.
This benefit of this exercise is that it can be directly related to the Kata Tekki Shodan, which frees up the hip rotation during the Kata, as it progresses from Kibadachi into a blocking movement or strike/kick as mentioned in various Bunkai, which are performed at almost groin level.This exercise will without doubt benefit Karateka who perform Tekki-Shodan.
What I have described here, is one very small stretching technique which Sensei Michelle used to form part of a session, which makes you feel like you have had a good service, which 6 Karateka benefit from each Sunday.
And this brings me back to the begining, "What do you do on a sunday morning"?.............
A slightly different stretch is shown here, where Sensei Dave has progressively moved into a full Yoko-geri-kekome stretch, who has been assisted by Kev.
Kevin tries the same, by placing his right ankle over the left shoulder of Sensei Dave who is in Kiba-dachi, from a slow and controlled Mae-Geri front kick
Kevin has then rotated his right hip inwards, whilst at the same time turning his standing foot outwards by bringing his heel round anticlockwise to face Sensei Dave to achieve Yoko-geri-kekome.
From this point, it is important to keep correct form by keeping your upper body as vertical as you can.
Kevin is keeping good form, however Sensei in his image is keeping his form much better.
The key message with this post, is that Kihon, Kata and Kumite may be the basis of all Karate, however good and regular stretching with a partner, will allow you to progress much better along the Karate road, which is often not catered for on regular training nights.
See you next Sunday for a full service!