Stretching Challenge

If you haven’t been following Taido/Blog lately (and shame on you if that’s the case), you should read the first two posts in this series before continuing. Here they are:

Those posts really lay the groundwork for what’s to follow, so please read them to make sure that we’re all on the same page. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Inflexibility Insanity

A lot of Taido students and teachers are insane. At least by Einstein’s definition. I’ve often quoted his remark that

doing the same thing twice and expecting different results is definition of insanity.

I think that applies very well to our situation.

The stretching routine most Taido dojo use has been in service for a very long time. It has been taught in Japanese elementary schools for at least fifty years. The thing I notice is that very few Japanese schoolchildren have the kinds of physical abilities I aspire to. Neither do most Taido students.

If I want different results than what most people are getting, I can’t use the same methods they use. To do so would be insane. Many of us have been stretching this way for many years, and we haven’t gotten any more flexible lately.

I wrote that people who have been doing Taido for several years and don’t have fantastic flexibility are ridiculous. Let me be extremely clear about one thing: I include myself in that description.

You see, I recently came to the realization that I am less flexible right now than have been in my entire life. After 25 years of Taido practice, my physical freedom of movement is at its worst, and I’m not happy about it. In fact, it’s embarrassing and makes me feel like a hypocrite in front of my students.

For about a month, I tried to stretch more and stretch harder, but it just didn’t really make much of a difference. I took Einstein to heart and decided to look for a better method.

The Better Method

Actually, I didn’t have to look far. In fact, I’ve been recommending such a method on Taido/Blog for some time. It’s called Elastic Steel, which is a really cheesy name, but it worked really well for me in the past.

I mentioned before two problems with the standard stretching routine. Let me also throw out a third idea. Our usual stretching works on the principle of stretching the hell out of the body’s larger muscles. But what is the large muscles aren’t the problem?

The Central Nervous System allows stronger muscles to release more efficiently than smaller, weaker muscles. What if the thing keeping us stiff is weakness and imbalance in these smaller muscles? If that were the case, we’d get the best results from strengthening these muscles as well as stretching.

Elastic Steel is the best system I have seen for combining strength exercises with stretching in a logical manner that addresses the flexibility needs of martial artists. It was created by a dude named Paul Zaichik, who has some fantastic kicking skills himself. His videos on YouTube clearly demonstrate that he’s the real deal.

I found out about Elastic Steel when I was training in Yokohama a few years ago, and my flexibility and mobility began to improve rapidly. But then I got injured, and then I moved, and then…

Oh, yeah. You don’t want excuses any more than I do. Suffice it to say, I lost that flexibility, and now I plan to get it back.

My Plan

I’m going to do the Elastic Steel course again. This will probably come as no surprise. Still, after reading this far, you may be asking what all this has to do with you.

I’ll tell you.

What All This Has To Do With You

I want you to do this with me. Of course, I don’t expect everyone to go out and buy Elastic Steel (you should buy it, but that’s not really the point here). Instead, I made this video of how I’m applying some of the principles and techniques in the course.

Of course, it wouldn’t be right for me to give away the entire course for free. I left out the “extended length conditioning” and a few advanced protocols. However, this is a good routine that any Taido student can integrate into their weekly routine and begin to see results.

The Challenge

I challenge you to warm up and do this routine (or something similar) three times a week for 20 minutes. Do this for a month and see how you feel.

I’ll be the excuses are already starting to form in your mind: “I’m already flexible enough.” “I don’t need to stretch all that much.” “I can just do a little more of what I’m already doing.” “I don’t need speed or power.”

Let go of that kind of thinking. It’s not making you more flexible, and it’s not making your Taido any better. Remember Einstein, and try changing your methods up for a month. If you don’t like the results, you can always switch back.

Fitting It In

Of course, it won’t be easy. You’ll have to find some way to fit all that extra stretching in.

You can try to work it into your practices. Show up early and do the light stretches before training. Then do the deep stretches later. Better yet, talk to your instructor about doing a one-month trial of some different stretching methods.

Or you can stretch at home on your off nights.

How you get it in isn’t my problem. I’m making this challenge, and I will judge you based on your results.

I’m trying to do the light stretches every morning (most mornings, anyway) and the full routine on my free afternoons. You can do whatever works for you. We’ll have to make a real commitment to see real improvement in our abilities.

The Guarantee

I personally promise that you will see results from this program. I’m so certain that I’m offering a double money-back guarantee. Just return the unused portion of product, and… Seriously, just try it.

What have you got to lose? Excuses.

Let’s Get Going

There is no reason not to try this. There are excuses, but no reasons.

Honestly, what you’re doing now probably isn’t working for you. It probably stopped working years ago. When was the last time you noticed an increase in your flexibility or mobility? If it wasn’t recent, you need to take a hard look at your routine.

In the end, it just comes down to your choice. I can’t make you do this is you don’t want to. Just remember that, if you decide to keep doing the same things you’ve always done, you’re making Einstein cry. Whether or not you can live with that is up to you.

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2 thoughts on “Stretching Challenge”

  1. Hello Andy!

    What you write about stretching (and taido in general) is very interesting and inspiring. What you write about how trying to practice techniques which is beyond your body’s limits I know far to well. Even after the five years I practiced taido in Sweden my flexibility didn’t exceed that of a refrigerator and that made practicing the techniques feel meaningless. Now I haven’t been practicing taido for several years now since there wasn’t any club in my university town, but since I’m living in Tokyo right now I thought it’s about time to get started again. Thinking about trying out the Elastic Steel course you mentioned, but don’t understand which of all their movies and books you are referring to. Could you please clarify that?

    1. Emil, the basic Elastic Steel book will be enough to get started. No need to spend a lot of money on extras unless you think they’ll help you.

      Where are you in Tokyo? I know somebody at almost all of the dojo there and would be happy to help you find the best on near you.

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