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Strength vs. Flexibility

June 7, 2010

Matt Boronkay is a Blue Snake intern and will be providing his insights and experiences as a student of Jiu-Jitsu throughout the Summer. Have questions for Matt? Email him at publicity [@] bluesnakebooks.com

Weight and health have been reoccurring themes within my family and America as a whole.  With diabetes, high cholesterol, childhood obesity on the rise, our country is striving to maintain healthy bodies.  My family represents a typically overweight American household.  My parents both struggle with proper diet and daily exercise, due to poor genetic inheritances.  I have also developed these less than perfect genes, but I have made it my mission to change my lifestyle and habits to preserve my health at all costs.

Dating back to my 14th Birthday, I was a member of The Right Stuff Gym.  Since then, I have maintained a constant work out regime, working out at least five times a week. Concerned with my Body Fat Index, weight, and muscles, I worked out strenuously and vigorously to maintain a fit body. I always figured that maintaining strength was the key element to a healthy body—until I began to realize that I had completely forgotten a key element for exercise: flexibility.

Flexibility is by far, the most difficult and physically demanding aspect of a work out regime.  I first learned of the benefits of flexibility when I began practicing Jiu-Jitsu. Literally meaning “the art of softness,” Jiu-Jitsu is a form of martial arts that promotes neutralizing one’s opponent with multiple forms of joint locks, but above all, values flexibility over strength.  Without relying on my strength, I found myself losing the majority of my grapples to those weighing less than myself.

These defeats crippled my ego until I learned the value of flexibility and breath conservation.  By using every muscle in the body, while simultaneously conserving strength, I found it possible to face each opponent with a “chess match like mentality”, by constantly thinking ahead and trying to map out plans of attack.  In terms of an amazing work out, I find that my body is sorer the day following a Jiu-Jitsu match, than after a normal work out at the gym.  Although I have tried to promote strength training my entire life, Jiu-Jitsu has taught me that flexibility is a much more vital form of exercise, and that it will help the body stay fit.

What do you think helps train body the most?

Want to learn more about Jiu-Jitsu? Check out Hans-Erik Petermann’s book, Jiu-Jitsu – The Essential Guide for an understanding of the essential techniques, basic elements, self-defense skills, and more in this exciting martial art!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 8, 2010 1:36 pm

    The key for me personally is to stretch out the bodies muscles as much as possible. All different forms of martial arts do wonders in stretching out the body, but if you don’t have time for a class, there are a few things that can be done simply at home. I use my yoga pad at nights and sometimes in the mornings to get a quick stretch in. I do different yoga exercises and stretches and slowly gain more and more flexibility. As silly as this may sound, I recently discovered Wii fit, and it has changed my work out / stretch regime greatly. The game has allowed me to build up my flexibility and practice yoga on a daily basis in the comfort of my own home.

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