3 Martial Arts Lifehacks for Flexibility, Strength & Health

3 Martial Arts Lifehacks for Flexibility, Strength & Health

– Everyone knows that martial arts should be good for your
life but I think your life should also be good for your martial art. Unfortunately, some
things in life are harmful for your martial art. They actually destroy
your martial arts skills. And some of these things
you might not even notice because there habitual. In today's video I'm gonna reveal three counterintuitive things in your
life, in your everyday life, common things that might be worsening or even ruining your martial arts skills. Keep watching. What's up? I'm Jesse from karatebyjesse.com
a.k.a. "The Karate Nerd". And I love to find out
what's holding me back in my martial arts journey. Are you the same? then I think that you need to
know about these three things that all of us are doing
on an everyday basis that might be holding us back
from reaching our potential, no matter what martial art we practice. The first thing that we need to talk about is the act of sitting, or
sedentary behavior in general, which is symbolized by the chair. And let me tell you, sitting down for example, when you're
studying at school or at work it's ruining not only your
health, but your performance. Sitting down is making your lower body super constricted and tight. It keeps your hip flexors really stiff, and it keeps your glutes from firing, which means that you can
end up with gluteal amnesia which essentially means
that you're not able to use the largest muscle in your body. So when you carry these things over into your martial arts practice. Whether that's a dojo or an
MMA gym, it doesn't matter. You will feel your limitations kicking in. And that kick might be
the last thing you do, because so many people end
up with hamstring injuries or ankle dislocations or
hip replacement surgeries, or the list goes on. Because their lifestyle is not benefiting their martial arts practice. In fact, the World Health Organization places sedentary behavior at the top list of killers when it comes
to your health problems. This is why your hips are so stiff. This is why your lower
back is constantly hurting. This is why you knees are buckling in. This is why your ankles lack mobility, because you are simply
sitting way too much for what's good for you. Now the answer to this might be difficult, especially if you cannot
get a standup desk. But that's my first recommendation. I've been using using one for years and it made wonders to my
own martial arts skills. Suddenly, I was able to stretch out all those stiff ligaments and muscles that had been fixed in
this constricted positions for hours and hours and
hours, day in and day out. But if you don't have the option
of getting a standup desk, then at least try to switch
positions all throughout the day even if you're sitting down. So don't just sit in the same
stiff pose hour after hour. Try to maybe put one leg
up on top of the other, or lean to one way and
then lean to another way, or maybe move around or turn sideways, whatever you need to do to
have some kind of freedom in the way you're sitting
will help you move out and in of different ranges of motion when it comes to your joints. Which is what your joints are designed to. Because they're not made for stability, they're made for mobility. And if you don't move around, well, like the saying goes; "if
you don't use it you lose it". So the first thing that
you need to be aware of is how much are you sitting each day. There is a reason doctors say
sitting is the new smoking. If you can try to stand up
more, try to get a standup desk. And if that's not possible, at least vary the positions
you're sitting in. Or just try to sit less. And trust me, you will
notice the difference in your martial arts skill. It's like day and night. After a few months when
your ligaments have had time and your tissues to adapt
to your new lifestyle of less sedentary behavior, you will be able to kick
higher and go to deeper stances and do everything else that your newfound
mobility freedom allows. Number two is something
that you might have noticed if you watched a lot of my other videos. You see I don't wear regular shoes and I haven't done that for years. When I'm not barefoot,
like when I'm training, I'm actually using barefoot shoes. Because shoes are so
constricting to your feet that they basically mean that, imagine I'm wearing a cast around my arm, as if it's broken. That's what you're doing
when you force your feet into tight shoes. It's like you're walking around with a cast around your foot. And this super stiff and
constricted environment for your foot has some
upstream negative effects because your foot affects the next joint, which affects the next joint. Because nothing in the body's isolated. Everything is integrated. It's kind of like if
you're wearing a t-shirt and you pull the fabric down there, it affects the fibers up here. So one thing leads to the other. And before you know it your whole body is one biomechanical
compensatory mechanism trying to make up for that stiff shoe that you forced your foot into. Because everything starts from the feet. And if your feet are not right, then you knees will not be right, and your lower back will not be right, your spine, your shoulders, your neck, and so on and so forth. Meaning find footwear
that does not constrict the natural range of motion of your foot. You were not born wearing shoes and if you look at some indigenous
tribes around the world, their feet look way different
compared to our feet. Because they haven't
been stuffing their feet into tight constrictive
shoes, their whole lives. In fact, researchers noticed
that the way kids run drastically changes around
seven or eight years old. That's when they start doing heel striking as they plant their foot, as opposed to planting their
foot on the ball of their feet, which of course affects
the rest of their body in a negative, harmful way. And so what happens is when
you transfer these stiff and tight feet into a
martial arts environment, you start seeing injuries, you start seeing
biomechanical inefficiencies. Because you lack the full
strength and the range of motion needed to execute some of these most basic martial arts moves. And let's not even get
started on flip-flops. I know, I love flip-flops myself but they really put your foot and especially the
front part of your ankle in a stiff and tight position, because you need to keep
that flip-flop in place as you walk around. So the solution is
either walk more barefoot or find barefoot mimicking shoes, for example Vivobarefoot or FiveFingers or just zero drop shoes like Converse or what's that other brand… Vans! Any kind of shoe basically
that has a flat bottom. Plus, you wanna have
enough space for your toes to be able to spread
out and grip the ground. The worst shoes are the ones
that have a lot of cushioning and a lot of degrees separating the heel from the front part of the foot. Once you make this change you
will see drastic differences, especially if you have tight calves for your martial arts practice. If you have problems with your balance or if you easily injure your ankles. All of that would be
like, poof, disappeared. As soon as you start
changing your footwear or just walking more barefoot. Number three and this might
be the worst killer right now for your martial arts skills, which is this. I'm talking about this weird neck position that all of us adapt when we
start using our smart phones or our laptops or just
sitting down a lot in general. Here's the thing for every extra inch, your head tilts forward, you
add about 10 pounds of pressure to your spine. And then you walk into
your martial arts practice, looking like this and
expecting to perform well. And suddenly, ah, your shoulders are stiff and your neck hurts, and you can't perform
as well as you want to. Because you have adopted this
weird mobile phone posture when in fact you should be
having a straight, neutral spine. And this is such a difficult problem and I struggle with it
myself all the time. Whenever I look at photos of me, for example, when I'm competing or teaching international seminars or traveling around the world, I always notice how my neck is
not in the optimal position, even though I figured it out
the problem of sitting too much and walking around with bad shoes. This is a problem for everybody
and it's only getting worse. And the solution for this
is to bring your phone up towards your face. Instead of bringing your
face down towards the phone. Because you don't want to have
the spinal flexion constantly when you're using your phone. Just like we talked about when sitting, you want to kind of move around more, and not being at fixed
constricted position. But also like we talked
about in the footwear you want your environment and your tools to adapt your physiology, instead of having your physiology
adapt to the environment. In this case; your smart
phone or your laptop. So what I'm trying to say
is take a mental note, next time you're using
some digital device. And see if you can be aware of
how your neck is positioned. Is it straight like it's supposed to be? Are your ears over your
shoulders basically, or not? Is your chin sticking out or not? Step one of fixing it,
is to be aware of it. And then constantly reminding ourselves to have a good straight posture, especially when it comes to the neck, even if you're using a phone. But it shouldn't matter what you're doing. Because your body doesn't
really care what you're doing, it only cares how it's feeling. And that sensation is what
brings joy and happiness to all of our lives. And when you feel good, you do good. The best martial artists are the ones that love what they're doing. And if you're in pain
you will have a hard time loving your martial arts practice. And you might not even know
that the problem is found in your everyday habitual actions. Which one of these things;
sitting down too much, wearing footwear or using your phone is destroying your martial arts skills? What do you think? Take a guess. Leave a comment and let me know. So maybe I can make a new video and go deeper into that specific topic to take your martial arts skills, health and happiness to the next level. Thanks for watching, train
hard, good luck and have fun.


  1. This is just a thought. But do folks who read lots of books have the same neck issue as the typical cell phone addict? People have been reading for thousands of years yet we are only now talking about the effects of reading something while looking downward. Still, I think the whole bad posture thing IS probably true. I will try to fix mine weather I am reading a book or scrolling social media.

  2. I think sitting tooooo much infront of tv playing video games is the main problem, secondly which is worse is neck position.

  3. Using my phone is the one which has put my neck in a wrong position.
    From where do you get all the knowledge? Books, videos, experience.
    Which software do you use for editing a video?

  4. Hola Jesse! Sería genial que hagas un vídeo enseñando a usar la cadera para entrenamiento específico de Kata. Saludos desde Argentina!!

  5. All good comments, i was getting plantar fasciitis and i found it was my business shoes that were causing the issue . I have changed to a Black almost running shoe style of shoe and no longer have sore feet. But i had to stop karate for a while due to Knee injuries caused from a bike accident years ago. Left knee was doing all the work as the right knee injured and after out of habit i did everything on the left leg, eventually the left knee went "stuff this for a games of soldiers" and went out in sympathy. slowly getting better almost ready to get back to training.

  6. I'm a cashier and I stand 40 hours a week. I'm in good shape but lots of cashiers I know are fat despite all the standing they do.

  7. I just never stop learning whenever I watch your videos. I always find useful and interesting topics, that I put into use in my own work.
    Talking about shoes, what's your opinion on the classic Feiyue sneakers? You know, the ones that kung fu practicioners often use…
    Greetings, Jesse! 🙏🏻

  8. Thanks Jesse! I commute a long distance for work! I see my posture is suffering from this, unfortunately I can change jobs. I try to remember and fix my posture, can you recommend any other exercises?

  9. One of the best videos yet and I feel like this video was made specifically for me (don't tell me it wasn't because I like to feel special). But seriously this type of video is much needed and I can certainly appreciate what you are doing to share true, accurate and helpful information for karate-ka about focusing on ideas outside the dojo and not just inside the dojo. After all, we all spend more time in our "daily lives" that are not in training mode more than in the dojo training mode anyway. The sitting at a desk job is the number 1 killer for me and I've been doing it for over 20 years now. It wreaks havoc on my hips. Hey by the way, it's nice to see Louise on the other side of the camera and putting her acting skills on display. Please keep sharing the knowledge.

  10. Are cowboy boots and work boots OK? That's all I wear when I go out in public. I will try to adjust my seating position, but it's going to be difficult, seeing I'm a delivery driver. All in all, those were helpful tips to improve my training.

  11. Jesse, you ve helped me so much.I was progressing with your videos for 1 year and won my medal on European Championship

  12. Difficult being a lorry driver but I think I can try and put these principles into practice for better life and karate . Many thanks

  13. Educational video, these are all universal facts and simple truth. I would add some things that can make your training in general to become unpleasant, hard, inefficient or even painful, it is wrong choice of heavy food and drinks (especially near before the training time, but also during the day that you are going to have training), then there can be problem with not quality warming time before practicing technics or sparing which can make smaller or bigger injuries. Considering problem with lot of sitting at work or at home, one way to reduce this problem is to walk as much as you can, for example take walk instead using car or public transportation, go by stairs instead using elevators or escalators, and similar things. People are underestimating health influence of walking in general, it is very healthy activity, even for young people. That is that I could remember for now, thank you Jesse.

  14. I often get cramp in the foot when I train Bjj can the problem being the schoes that I wearing? I have very soft footpad so I cant wear to flat shoes without insoles 🙈🙊🙉 so hour with converse kill my poor feet

  15. Jesse, I never thought about my shoes. I got a Standing desk 7 Months ago (it is sit to stand desk so I switch from sitting to standing as I want), and am always trying to remind myself about my neck position when using technology. I even get on my kids for hunching over devices. I never thought about shoes though. I love being bare foot, but usually wear outdoor Tabi when not at home. At the dojo, I wear cotton tabi. Admittedly I only recently started this practice, but really love the tabi! My feet feel free and my bunion is not restricted at all. Do you think that is good enough?

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