I have something that I affectionately call “The Routine”. Its a group of exercises I do as often as possible to maintain blood flow and flexibility. It was great at the beginning, but lately its been lacking. I’ve taken the old routine and changed the way its done and added another two steps to it. It may take a bit more time, but with tweaks here and there and increasing the time as I get stronger, it’ll help keep me in kung fu shape and build a great foundation for what we learn and do in class. I should note I do other drills and technique training outside of class, the routine is ideally done before anything else. This isn’t always true, but its ideal.
Unfortunately I’m not going to go into the exact exercises that are within the routine, I don’t have time for that. I will make a static page about it later, this post is about three changes to the routine.
The first is how the stretches and warm-ups are performed. Since I’ve started, I’ve taken a given stretch and held it for 2 seconds for 10 reps per stretch. While this wasn’t bad for the beginner, its now clear why my flexibility wasn’t improving. The change is to take a given stretch, get into it, and hold it for a minute. I’m combining this with a recent tip from a friend to bend at the waist and not the back when bending, which takes stretching to the next level and is really what makes holding it for a minute so worthwhile. While a minute doesn’t seem that long, when you’re getting as deep into a given stretch as possible time seems to slow down. As I’m able to bend further and feel less exhausted after the minute, I’ll be increasing the time. A side effect is that it makes it really easy to stay on track when warming up (I often get lost in playing with new ways to stretch, which is great when there’s time set aside for it but I try not to waste time when I’m just warming up). The stretching routine takes about 20 minutes. I did it for the first time tonight and I’m still fine tuning which stretches to do.
The second addition to the routine is stance training. I hold each stance I know for 5 minutes. This includes the following for now:
- Side Crane Stance
- Front Crane Stance
- Horse Stance
- Cat stance
While this may not seem like much, each stance (other than horse stance) has two sides, which will each be done for 5 minutes. With a few minute breaks here and there, it should take about 35 minutes. If you aren’t familiar with kung fu stances it may not seem like much, but just bend like you’re sitting down on air and hold that for as long as you can. Maybe at some point I’ll add a description of the stances, but alas that is not now. It was extremely gruelling. However, I definitely recommend it.
The third addition is punching. I do a number of drills to build punching power and speed in the warmup/stretching part of the routine. However, it occurred to me that while I do all these things to build up punching skill, I don’t do very much punching. That makes no sense. Now, I’ll be doing the two punches in my system 500 times a day each. So 1000 punches a day. It may be every other day because life happens, but ideally it’ll be every day. I just completed the first run through and it was amazing. I haven’t been so sweaty and sore in a long time! With the first 100-200 punches I was muscling it, then you get sore and start to realize the technique behind shifting weight and twisting the waist to throw the punch. Its like what Sifu always says, its best to practice kung fu when tired or sore because the body will do things in the most efficient way possible. Eventually I’ll be doing this with kicks, but for now my body is destroyed by 1000 punches. Maybe next week.
While this seems like it takes a long time, it really doesn’t. A solid hour or two, but that’s less than most people spend at the computer or watching tv a day.