Without superior flexibility, Mirko Crocop could not have decapitated hundreds of training partners and opponents in the ring. Eddie Bravo could have never created the innovative rubber guard had he not been able to get his legs all the way up to his head off his back. There are plenty of great examples in MMA of extreme flexibility, so how can you, the average reader of this wonderful website, attain those same attributes? How about we start with this book?
“Ultimate Flexibility: A Complete Guide to Stretching for Martial Arts” by Sang H. Kim is your guide to achieving maximum flexibility in your everyday training and helping you more effectively kick butt. Want to finally be able to do a split? This book might be the answer to your problems. Is “Ultimate Flexibility” the ultimate book in stretching for fighters, or will this book be as offensive as the bicycle tights that creepy male yoga instructor with the ponytail wears at the gym?
Hit the jump to find out!
At over 300 pages long, “Ultimate Flexibility” is simply huge. Kim is not shy in sharing his knowledge of flexibility, and starts the book by explaining his past with stretching and why you should do it. Much talk is also given on how to safely stretch, as there is a right way and wrong way to do it, and the right way will also yield results more rapidly. I would say that the first half of the book, or close to that amount, is spent on safety precautions, mental preparation for the long road ahead, and on the basics of how to stretch. You may think you know how to stretch, but this book will reinvent the way you touch your toes.
Sections on stretching are essentially broken up by body part, ranging from neck, arms, back, shoulder, arms, hips, torso and more. Each chapter is very expansive in terms of details and photos, with very clear explanations written in great care about how to make sure you are stretching the right way. Throughout each technique, there are tips and reminders to reinforce your form and progression into each stretch to truly maximize each move. One of my favorite sections from early in the book is the chapter on setting goals and what constitutes an action versus an accomplishment. This section puts your training into better perspective, and teaches you humility while helping you stay focused and motivated, a very important aspect when it comes to any kind of physical conditioning.
At the end of the book, workout plans are offered to the reader so that they can begin to get into proper routines (pending they can not make their own or incorporate the stretches into their pre-existing routines). I read some reviews on Amazon.com about the book, and one of the reviewers complained about the routines taking too long. Serious stretching takes time, so frankly, the complaint that this reader had just comes off to me as they were simply too lazy to do what it takes to get the most benefits out of this book. On one hand, I can understand if you are trying to do this on a day when your workout routine is already an hour or more, but stretching should not be overlooked, and the reader should have simply re-organized the stretches into their routine so as not to take up more time than they needed. Essentially, it’s one or the other – either do the full routines offered, or implement the ones you feel most relevant into your everyday workout. No reason to complain, since each routine is detailed with stretches that compliment each other, either maximizing the effects or realigning your body back to normal.
There is a very short section at the very end of the book on the best stretches for getting higher kicks, and while overall this book has plenty of great moves for combat sports enthusiasts, I do wish there were more sections explicitly made for martial artists. While I may have just gone on a tirade in the paragraph above about the routines, more specific workouts would have been nice as they typically are built for body part groups and not for kicking, punching, grappling, etc. I am sure a good reader can put one together themselves or adapt a pre-existing routine, but I wished there was more direct emphasis on stretching for a specific goal outlined to make your life easier.
You can order Ultimate Flexibility: A Complete Guide to Stretching for Martial Arts from Amazon.com for about $18 new, and it is definitely worth it. To say you get a lot of bang for your buck is an understatement, and this will be a reference and sourcebook that you can use for a long time.