Stretching Exercises For Martial Arts

STRETCHING exercises for martial arts stretching are so important that they are the first routines to be done during the warm-up session at the beginning of a class.

The only exception I have come across is where the class omits the warm ups because students are expected to have enough sense to do their own warm-up exercises and stretches before they step on to the training mats.

Stretching exercise are vitally important to reduce training injuries.
Stretching exercise are vitally important to reduce training injuries.

This doesn’t work if there are beginners in the class or newcomers who don’t yet know the routines.

I can’t speak for your style, but in my classes (Shodokan Aikido) we’d always start with warm ups, and usually end the class with warm-downs as well. These were designed to get your breathing slowed down again, and get any adreneline out of your bloodstream. We’d also end with Moksa a sitting, deep-breathing,  relaxation and visualization exercise.

But as far as martial arts stretching goes, the warm up routine went through… All of these were done to two counts of 8, usually four repetitions done one way (clockwise, to the right) – followed by four reps in the opposite direction (anti-clockwise or to the left) – then repeated again until you have done 16 all in all for each repetition.

  • Jumping up and down, while stretching the arms up and in circles, starting left, then to right, etc.
  • Hands on hips, feet shoulder width apart. Loosen up neck muscles. Head exercises forward and back, left to right (90 degree turns), Side to side (lean to each shoulder), then rotate head in circles
  • Then Aikido wrist-strengthening stretches. Then,
  • Feet apart, stretching left and right.
  • Feet apart stretching in large circles, clockwise and anti-clockwise.
  • Feet wide apart, bend one knee and straighten the other. Left then right.
  • Feet wide apart, both knees bent… buttocks down, stretch. (Like a ‘Riding Horse’ stance).
  • Feet together, bend knees and rotate knees in horizontal cirles. Left, right.
  • Feet together, bend knees, and squat, then straighten. Repeat.

Then we’d sit down on the mats or ground and go through leg stretches.

  • Feet together. Legs straight, knees down. Touch your toes, or grab feet and hold on. Stretch.
  • Soles of feet touching together. Buttocks on ground. Hold feet with your hands and use elbows to push your bend knees towards the ground. Bend forwards and try and get your head to the ground in front of you.
  • Feet wide apart, stretch down the center.
  • Feet wide apart, hold left foot and stretch head and body towards it. Repeat on other side.

Some of the routines are sure to have changed slightly by now, and they vary a little from dojo to dojo anyhow. But this should give you a good idea of what stretching exercise are done in many martial arts classes.

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