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Thoughts on the martial arts: Introducing the Warrior Warmup Routine

The Background
Over the course of the last year or so, I mentioned my new warmup routine on quite a few occasions. Now, after a lot of research and actual field-testing in the dojo, the gym and even the [competition area], I finally feel ready to publish the whole thing. Just about time, considering the fact that come sunday the Shinergy[instructor conference] takes place and I've been invited to hold a class and teach the routine to my fellow instructors. You see, the Shinergy[instructor conference] is an annual meeting of all certified (and active) Shinergy instructors where new topics are discussed, presented and officially declared Shinergy standards. So, presenting this new warmup at this meeting is a great honor for me - after all, it'll be this exact routine that'll form the core of every Shinergy warmup in the future.

On a sidenote, the Warrior Warmup routine is also going to be my black-belt thesis. You see, earning a Shinergy black-belt isn't limited to taking an exam. Obviously, the exam is mandatory, just as in other martial arts, but additionally, you need to contribute to the system by writing a paper on a martial-arts related topic. I can't tell for sure, but I believe that Ronny, Shinergy founder and mastermind, took that idea from a german guy named Ralph Pfeiffer. Pfeiffer comes from a Wing Tsun background and has written two books so far (I believe), namely "Struktur und Mechanik der Kampfsportarten" and "Das Geheimnis des Erfolgs". Good man, if you ask me. In any case, I totally agree with the requirement to write a paper - after all, if you don't have any thoughts on the martial arts on your own, you probably shouldn't be wearing a black belt. Now you probably mentioned I said that the Warrior Warmup is going to be my black-belt thesis, so that's future tense. I haven't written a scientific paper on the topic yet (yes, I have, but much has changed since then...), so please bear with me when I don't cite correctly in the following article. I'll do things properly as soon as I have some time at my hands.

The Routine
Ok, so let's go through the routine itself. First off, we start with some easy joint-mobilization, as proposed in [1]. Beginning at the neck, we work our way down to the ankles. Those simple drills can be scaled up so they require a higher amount of coordination by introducing diametrically opposed movements.

After thoroughly preparing the joints, it's time to warm up the muscles and get the heart rate up to an appropriate level. The exercise of choice is a lunge with a knee thrust. To reinforce proper movement patterns, the movement should be in sync with your breathing. After a couple of reps, we do some light, dynamic pre-stretches for the quads, hip flexors and knee flexors. To get back to a proper muscle tone and avoid cooling down, we toss in some mountain climbers after the stretches. We then get back up the the initial position.

For dynamic stability and more hip mobility, we now do drop lunges, as presented in [2] and [3]. It's important to pay close attention to the leg's mechanical axis. This exercise will do quite a lot in terms of flexibility for your glutes and IT-band. After each lunge, we take a big lateral step and dynamically stretch the hip adductors. After a couple of reps to each side, we get back up to the initial position.

To further work on dynamic stability and the mechanical axis, it's time to do some hindu squats as seen in [4]. Besides working your ankles, knees and hips, this exercise will also help you improve your posture by opening up the chest and retracting the scapulae. On your way down, point your arms and fingers to the ceiling. Squeeze your scapulae hard. To acquire even more upper back mobility, we do some standing thoracic rotation windmills[5]. From this position, we directly go to a V-position and stretch the calves. Taking advantage of our position, we toss in some hindu-pushups (also found in [4]) to work the shoulders and arms. To complement all those stretches for the upper back, we sit back and take some time to stretch the pecs.

After getting back up to a push-up position, we do what I like to call a "stability marathon". Actually, I learned that one from Yvonne, an S&C instructor at Ronny's gym a couple of years ago. Although I did modify the whole thing a bit to suit our needs, it's still a great anti-flexion and anti-rotation exercise. Now it's down to a lying position again to do some Scorpion stretches, also from [2]. To get the spinal erectors and upper back muscles back to a combat-ready tone, we do some rowing movements. To transition to the next sequence, we push back into a push-up position and take a little jump forward, so that our feet get to stand in between our hands.

From here, you can really get creative. It's really all about coming to a sitting position. Since we have to transition anyways, we can as well use the time to work on our gymnastik skills. Having come to a sitting position, we roll the pelvis to tone up the hip flexors.

To optimally prepare for high and explosive kicks, we now spend some time working on out hip flexibility. As a general rule, we'll use whatever method works ([6] and [7], amongst others). More specifically, this means we'll do
  •     dynamic stretches
  •     isometric stretches
  •     stretches that exploit the reciprocal inhibition
Applying those techniques, we'll stretch the hamstrings, hip abductors and hip adductors, in that order. Afterwards, we'll tone up all those muscles again. Finally, we get back into a sitting position. From here, it's all about getting back to our feet. This is another oportunity to get creative - lots of scalability here.

Once you're back on your feet, you're most likely warmed up and good to go - if not, try putting in some effort next time you're doing the Warrior Warmup.

The Video
The below presented clip will show you how to actually perform the Warrior Warmup step by step. Sound quality is kind of bad, I'm totally aware of that. Also, I don't show a lot of scalability. Fret not, as I'll be producing this in higher quality soon.

The References
[1] "Super Joints: Russian Longevity Secrets for Pain-Free Movement, Maximum Mobility & Flexible Strength", Pavel Tsatsouline
[2] "The Core Performance: The Revolutionary Workout Program to Transform Your Body & Your Life", Mark Verstegen
[3] http://www.coreperformance.com/knowledge/movements/drop-lunge.html
[4] "Combat Conditioning: Functional Exercises for Fitness and Combat Sports", Matt Furey
[5] http://www.tonygentilcore.com/blog/teaching-neutral-spine-part-i/
[6] "Stretching Scientifically: A Guide to Flexibility Training", Thomas Kurz
[7] "Relax into Stretch : Instant Flexibility Through Mastering Muscle Tension", Pavel Tsatsouline


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