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Developing flexibility and agility in the shoulders

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  • Developing flexibility and agility in the shoulders

    Hi all,

    I'm new to Kendo (only 2 months into it!) and I am looking for some idea's on developing flexibility in the shoulders. I'm on the mascular side being someone who works out a couple of times a week so I have fairly mascular shoulders but I've found that the better Kendo members seem to have almost 'elastic' type shoulders (sorry about the vague description).

    I'm wondering if anyone can suggest some exercises, besides doing lots of daily suburi which I do, which may help to attain the flexibility needed in the shoulders.

    Thanking you in advance.

  • #2
    As long as you have normal flexibility in your shoulders, you shouldn't really have to worry about it. What you should be focusing on instead is good swing mechanics and good tenouchi. Best exercise for this is suburi.

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    • #3
      A good stretching routine is essential for any athlete that wants to avoid injury. This is true if you are doing resistance training, kendo, or any other sport. But, the stretches you do before and after shouldn't be all that different: a light warm up, dynamic stretches, workout, static stretches. Either stretching period should take less than five minutes. An internet search for both dynamic and static stretches will yield you plenty of options.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by JThoma View Post
        A good stretching routine is essential for any athlete that wants to avoid injury. This is true if you are doing resistance training, kendo, or any other sport. But, the stretches you do before and after shouldn't be all that different: a light warm up, dynamic stretches, workout, static stretches. Either stretching period should take less than five minutes. An internet search for both dynamic and static stretches will yield you plenty of options.
        I'm afraid this is one of the persistent myths of sports. Whether stretching helps prevent injury is shrouded in mystery. There have been no conclusive studies on whether stretching -- static or dynamic -- helps prevent injury. What HAS been shown in that warming up prevents injury. What has also been shown is that static stretching for too long before an activity actually decreases the muscle's ability to produce explosive power.

        Take home message is this: If stretching makes you feel good, do some dynamic stretching before an activity. If you want to avoid injury -- warm up.

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        • #5
          You are correct Paul. It is really interesting the back and forth. I did mention that dynamic stretching, after a warm up, should be the routine, which is supported by research.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Cellisimo View Post
            Hi all,

            I'm new to Kendo (only 2 months into it!) and I am looking for some idea's on developing flexibility in the shoulders. I'm on the mascular side being someone who works out a couple of times a week so I have fairly mascular shoulders but I've found that the better Kendo members seem to have almost 'elastic' type shoulders (sorry about the vague description).

            I'm wondering if anyone can suggest some exercises, besides doing lots of daily suburi which I do, which may help to attain the flexibility needed in the shoulders.

            Thanking you in advance.
            I was at a seminar this weekend and the hachidan instructing made a very interesting point (okay he made several but this one is relevant to your question). If I understood him correctly, he said you cannot have both tense shoulders and tense abdomen (and conversely both cannot be relaxed). His point was: tighten up your abdonmen to keep your shoulders loose. Perhaps that will help you as well.

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            • #7
              Thank you all for the great comments. I just think it will take time to feel that looseness (or apparently appearance of looseness that I see when the experienced people here are practising).

              I'll just continue to stretch and work daily on my suburi and perhaps do less heavier weights at gym. My initial comment was due to being quite muscular in the shoulders and arms (I can shoulder press quite a heavy weight), however, I think this is detrimental to kendo as you obviously don't need that kind of strength. After all, it's not one of those medieval broadswords!

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              • #8
                Originally posted by jjcruiser View Post
                I was at a seminar this weekend and the hachidan instructing made a very interesting point (okay he made several but this one is relevant to your question). If I understood him correctly, he said you cannot have both tense shoulders and tense abdomen (and conversely both cannot be relaxed). His point was: tighten up your abdonmen to keep your shoulders loose. Perhaps that will help you as well.
                It is kind of funny that this came up here, I was going to write part of this in the kiriotoshi thread elsewhere.

                You will find that to be true if you work on the sort of body skill i talk about, but for that one its probabably better to do it in a static position. The problem is, you can't immediately jump from the shoulders holding up the shoulders to the abdomen (really the crotch and legs). You need to progressively move that pressure or load lower. As you learn to activate different muscle groups, the muscles on top of those will relax.

                Try this exercise.

                Take your fists out in front of your body like you see karate or kung fu guys do in a horse stance (you dont need to stand in a horse stance just have your arms out reached straight out infront of you).

                Where do you feel the weight of your hand? Is it in the forearm? Relax that and the triceps will take it up. Now do you feel it in the triceps? Relax that and the top of your shoulder will take it up. Next try and relax the top of the shoulder and let the area around the arm pit take it up. Next figure out how to let the area under your nipple take it up, then the upper abs, then the lower abs, the the crotch/hip/inner thigh.

                Now why is this important? Well, when you cut, the load will immedaitely be transfered to the "middle" of the body leading to a signifigantly stronger cut, it will be aso though you are hitting with the middle of the body not the upper body. Not only is this stronger, but it is more stable, because the feeling is much like as if someone shorter than you hit you. If you try certain other exercises you will learn that you can intiate and control the arms from this area, but thats beyond where I'm willing to write at the moment.

                Now being able to do the above while cutting is pretty difficult, but you need to move from static to dynamic training to pull it off. Some of the more strange exercises in various martial arts (or the purpose of kata) may make a bit more sense after this post.

                I'm personally of the opinion that figuring this out is a heck of a lot more useful than endless reps of solo suburi and I have my iaido students work on it from time to time.
                Last edited by hl1978; 9th April 2012, 11:11 PM.

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