Stretch for Success

How to stretch past your limits

(photo: J.D.Gregory)


Be open to change and adaptable in your mindset.

Now we can go on to the second part of a good warm up and do a little stretching.  It is important to note that (just as before training), your purpose for stretching is only to warm up and not to increase your flexibility.

There are two aspects of stretching:

1) To warm up the muscles

2) To increase muscle and joint flexibility

If you stretch for long periods before an intensive training session, you will actually increase the chance of injury.

The same principles can be successfully applied in all areas of your life.   This concept is simply being aware of your limitations.  If we know our limitations, we can keep from setting ourselves and others up for disappointment.

Let me ask you a question: “Can you do the splits?”

If you can’t, do you think the best way to do so is to just plant one foot and lunge into the splits?  When the muscles stop, you just keep pushing, tearing, and going down until you are in the splits.  Do you know what will happen if you do this?  You will scream loud enough to wake the dead, and when you’re done, you won’t be able to walk for a very long time, if ever.

If you can do the splits, you then understand the amount of time and energy you put into attaining this amount of stretch.  I spent many hours and used a variety of strategies to get and maintain my stretch.  But I did it in less than six weeks, and so can you.

I did not do it in six seconds, or six minutes, or even six hours.  I had the goal and the desire, but also the understanding that it was going to take time.  When we know how far we can stretch, we keep from overdoing it, and when we are at home, we can practice to increase our stretch so that we can do more.  If I asked you to choose between having six seconds or six weeks to get the splits, which would you choose?   Do you prefer the scalding, tasteless microwave brew, or the slow-cooked perfection?

Many students overestimate their abilities and train too hard for their current skill level.  They believe that since they are in condition for one sport (say jogging), that they can easily transition to a martial art.  What ends up happening is they develop either an injury or total confusion as to what it is they are doing.  They can’t understand why they are not succeeding, and end up sitting on the bench unable to train at all.  This goes against achieving your long-term goal.

It’s not all physical

Another important area is mental flexibility: your ability to adapt.  When things suddenly change direction, do you tighten up or relax?  Just as physical flexibility will help you avoid breaking bones during a fall, mental flexibility will help you avoid making tragic mistakes of judgment or behavior.

How do you react in a crisis?  What do you do when the schedule changes?  How do you communicate when someone doesn’t speak the way you do?  Are you flexible in your skills, or are you firm (inflexible) and force everyone to adapt to you?

Can you not only accept change, but welcome it?

Without change, you will not go very far.  If everything in life were static, how much joy would there be?  Change breathes life and excitement into our existence, and challenges us to adapt and thrive or stand still and get run over.

What must you change to survive?  What must change in your life to improve your odds of survival?  Just as a person lost in the woods trying to survive must constantly change his or her strategy in order to survive, you must do the same.  Don’t change the goal; just change the direction of the small steps toward achieving it.  If you keep changing your goals, you will rarely get anywhere.  If you simply change your approach, you will eventually reach your destination.

Remember:  GOAL begins with GO.  And if one pathway is blocked, try a different route.  GO around the obstacle, over it, under it, or through it.  Don’t give up.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives.  It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”

-Charles Darwin

How adaptable can you be if you are not flexible?  Can you adapt to me pulling your legs into the splits?  Being flexible will save you from being overstretched.  Think of a sapling in a hurricane.  The one that can bend the farthest is the one that will live to stand again when the sun comes out.

If you’re not getting the results you desire, it may be because you need to change your approach.  If you are to change your approach, you need to be flexible enough to change before you are overstretched.  There is more than one way to throw a kick.  Perhaps your goal is to break through a door.  You can throw a front snap kick, which uses the ball of your foot (not wise) or you can throw a front thrust kick, which uses the heel of your foot.  You can kick with your bare feet (not suggested) or you can wear boots.  The approach you take requires being open-minded to your options.

In boxing there are four basic ways to throw a punch.  There is a jab, a cross, a hook, and an uppercut.  A jab is a punch, but it isn’t the correct punch to get a knock out.  A hook punch or cross is far more powerful.  Having the flexibility to adjust the way you attack your challenges is imperative for success.  Flexibility provides you with options; you don’t know just one kick or punch, you know several.

How will you know you need change?  Well, if you are not getting the results you are looking for, try something else.  If you keep doing what you are doing, then the odds are you will keep getting what you have gotten in the past.

If one martial arts school doesn’t give you the training that meets your needs, then try another.  Think of every obstacle like a maze.  If you tried going down one path and it leads to a dead end, then try going down a different path.  You don’t continue going down the same path expecting it to change.  So although we maintain the same goal and the same desire to find the end of the maze, we must constantly adjust our strategy.  Sometimes it even means a reversal, but that’s okay, as long as the goal remains firmly affixed, like a hunk of cheese at the exit of the maze.  (No, I’m not comparing anyone to a rat!)

If you do not willingly accept change and keep an open mind, it will be very hard for you to adapt and therefore to grow.  People need desire (motivation) and must have the ability to accept change; to accept new ideas.

Learning new strategies is part of adapting

When I teach memory courses, some of the participants state that it seems to use up energy and time to utilize a memory system. I tell them it is the natural course of learning.  At first, it might seem more challenging.  It only becomes easy once you learn the skills and start applying them.

If you only know how to ride a horse, you might maintain the thought that it is still the fastest method of travel. But if you want to get from Los Angeles to San Francisco in a day, you are going to have to learn how to drive or fly.  Sometimes we have to take one step back to go three steps forward.  Spending the time to learn a different mode of travel will ultimately save time in the future.

Winjitsu Work Out

Think about the concept of Riding the Rainbow.

My ultimate long-term goal is: _______________________.

Is achieving that goal (wealth, becoming CEO, etc.) stealing the joy from my everyday life?

Am I ignoring my children/wife/family/friends in an effort to further my long-term goals?

List 3 ways you can begin to Ride the Rainbow and enjoy your life, while still maintaining steady progress toward achieving your long-term goal:

1) __________________________________

2) __________________________________

3) __________________________________

About the Author RICK TEW

I will do the splits for you too. I provide edutainment events that help you to be a Ninja in what you do. I offer Martial Arts Therapy Retreats on Samui Island in Thailand. My unique Winjitsu Mind-Body system of coaching inspires you to BE more fulfilled and to DO more to KickStart your ideas.

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