I hope you're putting these tips to good use and beginning to see results in your training. This time, I want to give you a little advice on stretching that you can apply in every practice. As in the last tip on balance, I mentioned this one in my warm-up article. I'm repeating it here because it's important on it's own. It also complements the last tip in improving your kicking skills.
Building Dynamic Flexibility For Kicks
Dynamic flexibility is the ability of muscle tissue to allow a particular range of motion in a dynamic fashion. Taido is a dynamic martial art, and kicks especially require muscles to release quickly.
The common method of dynamic stretching is the swing kick. Most students have done this. Before I describe the technique, allow me to emphasize that swing kicks should only be done after the muscles are warm. They can be a component of the overall warm-up routine, but take extra care not to force the muscles into these stretches without adequate preparation.
The stretch is very simple. Stand as if about to execute a front kick. Swing the rear leg forward as if kicking, but do not bend the knee. Start out low - about knee height - and gradually increase the amplitude (height) of the swing for five or ten repetitions. Then switch legs and do the other side.
I recommend doing at least two sets per side. You should also do leg swings to the side and back. I'll let you figure out the specific technique for these on your own, as they are both "easier done than said."
If you're unsure of how to do dynamic stretching in a particular direction, ask your instructor. I tend to do swing kicks after doing my slow kicks or 4CBD for balance. So my warm-up usually includes a sequence that looks like this:
- balance work
- swing kicks
- basic kicks
Of course, I do other things, too, but that should give you an idea of how to plug these in to your training.
Other Dynamic Stretches
Swing kicks are not the only way to stretch the body for dynamic action. Not all dynamic stretches target the legs. However, these are the most basic and important dynamic stretches to make sure you include at every practice (and even between practices if you want to dramatically increase your kicking ability).
If you have the time and space, I recommend doing these three movements (front, back, and side leg swings) every day after warming up the body and working on your balance. If you can't do it every day, at least take about two minutes during your Taido practice to fit them it.
For more information of dynamic stretching and overall flexibility, check out Tricks Tutorials:
I recommend incorporating these techniques into your training gradually. Doing too much too soon will certainly cause you more harm than good. Begin with building the habit and build your abilities from that base.
Finally, don't forget to keep a training journal. It was the first tip for a reason - it's probably the most important- if you're doing it, you've probably already seen why. If you don't try it, you'll never know how much it can help.