Physical Therapy Stretches.

Some of the stretches depicted for the Si-Stretcher require a certain level of flexibility and physicality, but most of them can be performed by anybody in any physical condition. Here are some basic low impact stretches that can be performed by anybody. Most of them are either on the floor or in a chair.

Tricep and Lats

Place the loop on one foot. The strap goes up your body and behind your back. Place the other loop in your opposite hand. Put that hand behind your head. Use your non looped hand to tighten the strap. Feel the stretch in your triceps and lats.










 Place the padded section on your upper back. Run the straps under your armpits. Place the loops on the balls of your feet. Extend your legs up and out. Lean backwards. You can use your hands to support your balance or not.



 Place the padded section of the strap behind your shoulders. Run the straps over each shoulder, over your chest and down either side of your legs. Place the loops on your feet. Keep your knees on top of the strap and tighten the straps. Relax your legs and let your hips open up.


 Sit in a backed chair. Place one loop on your arm up above the elbow. Run the strap across your chest, behind the chair and onto your opposite side foot. Tighten the strap and extend the looped leg until you have enough pressure on the elbow to stretch your shoulder and triceps and upper back.








 Place padded section of the strap on your lower back. Run the straps over your thighs and place the loops on your feet. Tighten the straps and lean forward. Push down gently on your knees.




 Place strap over one shoulder so that one strap crosses your chest and the other crosses your back. Lay on your back. Place the top loop on your opposite foot. Run the other strap from behind your back onto the same foot. Tighten the straps and let the Si-Stretcher pull your leg towards your chest.


 Place the strap on your lower or upper back. Run the straps under your arms and to your closed and extended feet. Cross the strap over your legs and place each loop on the opposite foot. This will hold your legs together. Tighten the straps and lean forward.









 Place the padded middle section of the strap on your waist. Place both loops on one of your feet. Lay down on your side. Straighten the looped leg to the side and upwards. Adjust the straps so that you are getting an uncomfortable, but painless stretch.


 Sit in a backed chair. Wrap the strap around the back of the chair. Place both straps on one of your feet. Tighten the strap so that your foot is pulled towards your hip. Press gently down on your raised knee. Feel your hips open up, and your legs stretch.









 Stand up straight. Place one loop on one foot. Grab the other loop with the opposite hand. Extend the hand and feel the stretch in your lats. Adjust the length of the strap to increase the intensity of the stretch.









   Sit in a backed chair. Place the padded section of the strap around the back of the chair. Place both loops on the same foot. Extend the leg and tighten the strap until you feel a stretch.










 Sit in a backed chair. Place one loop on one of your feet. Run the strap across your body and under your armpit. Reach behind your back and grab the other loop with your other hand. Tighten the strap. Use the position of   your foot to adjust intensity of the stretch.



More Floor Stretches for the Si-Stretcher

Hamstring and Hip Rotator

  Extend one leg in front of you and the other to the back or side of your body. Place one loop on your front foot. Run the strap over the same shoulder as the leg that is in front. Place the second loop on your back foot. Tighten the strap until you feel a stretch.



Front Split

Place one loop on your bottom foot. Run the strap up the back of your leg and over the shoulder opposite the bottom leg. Lay on your back so that the strap is under you. Lift your top leg bent for comfort. Place the second loop on the top foot. Extend the top foot. Tighten the strap until you feel a stretch.


Quad Stretch

Lay on your side. Place one loop on your extended bottom foot. Run the strap under your bottom arm pit, across your shoulders and over your top shoulder. Run it down your body and behind your back. Bend your top foot so that the heel comes towards your sit bone. Place the second loop around your top foot. Tighten the strap and extend your bottom leg to regulate the stretch on your top leg and hip and quad.


Place one loop around each ankle. Lay on your back. Place your hands behind your shoulders and your elbows up. Press into a bridge. Arc your back as much as possible. Place your hands inside of the padded section of the strap. Press against the strap with your legs and hands to increase pressure on your back arch.









Hamstring and Quad (optional)

Lay on your back. Place the padded section of the strap on your mid back. Place both loops on the same foot. Extend that leg. Tighten the straps until you feel a stretch. The non looped leg can either be extended or tucked under you. If it is tucked, make sure that the heel is touching your gluteus to avoid undue pressure on the knee joint.


Reverse bridge

Lay on your stomach. Place the padded section of the strap on your upper chest. Run the straps under your arm pits. Bend your knees and place one loop on each foot. Extend your legs and arch your back. Adjust the straps to increase or decrease your stretch.









Single leg back extension stretch

Lay on your stomach. Place the padded section of strap on your upper chest. Run the straps under your armpits. Place both loops on one foot. Lift and extend that leg. Adjust the straps to give you the ideal stretch.










Straddle forward lean

Place the padded section of strap on your upper back. Place one loop on each foot. Extend the legs to the side but still in front of your. Lean forward and tighten the straps so that you are pulled forward in your stretch.




Hip, Glut, and AB Ductor Stretch

Place the padded section of strap over one shoulder. Place both loops on the foot of the opposite leg. Bend that knee and tighten the straps. As your foot is pulled to your chest use your hand to push down on that knee. Feel your Hip, Glut, AB ductors and rotator muscles stretch.











Programming Your Opponent

Guaranteed Victory
The Smartest Way to Win in Sparring Is to Program Your Opponent to Lose!

Youʼre standing in the ring facing your opponent. Youʼre waiting for an opening, asking yourself, “Whatʼs he going to do next?”

You try to guess what it will be. A bead of sweat trickles down your forehead as you think, I wish I could make him throw a round kick—then Iʼd know the perfect move to defeat him.

Suddenly, he acts. Itʼs not the round kick you wanted but a series of fast punches. You manage to block them, but he surprises you by following up with a jump spinning kick that knocks you out of the ring. Game over!


The Concept

What martial artist hasnʼt had an encounter like this? What fighter wouldnʼt want to be able to control what his opponent does next? Controlling another person may seem like itʼs straight out of Star Wars—“These are not the droids youʼre looking for.”—but itʼs entirely possible. It doesnʼt involve the Force or even chi energy. It does, however, involve a learning curve.

To control what your opponent does in the ring, you must condition him to act and react on cue. The best way to think of it is to imagine heʼs a computer. To make a computer act the way you want it to, you must program it. Your tool is a programming language. Master it, and youʼll be able to make the machine do anything you want.

The tools you use to program a human being are:






Believe it or not, theyʼll enable you to set up a mental and emotional reaction that will open the door to your follow-up. In other words, by merely twitching your foot or flexing your hand, youʼll be able to elicit a specific kick, a lowered guard or even a hasty retreat.


The Method

How do you get started on the path of programming? For the answer, you need only look to a scientist named Ivan Pavlov.

Synopsis: He ran a series of experiments with his dog. Every day, heʼd ring a bell before feeding it. The dog grew to equate the sound of the bell with food. Eventually, Pavlov could ring the bell, and the dog would salivate even before the treat was presented.

Part 1:  +     = 

Part 2:    =  

If youʼre a fan of NBCʼs The Office, you probably watched Jim perform a similar experiment on his co-worker Dwight. Every time his computer turned on and chimed, heʼd offer Dwight a mint. Eventually, whenever Jimʼs computer turned on, Dwight— without any conscious thought—would hold out his hand for a mint. When Jim asked him what he wanted, Dwight commented that he didnʼt know but his mouth felt dirty. (I know, itʼs a sitcom, but for the most part, itʼs based on Pavlovʼs work.)


The Procedure

You can use the same concept to influence your sparring opponent—not with a bell and a treat but with a slight movement and the expected avoidance of pain.

Example: Every time your foe tries to switch his stance from left lead to right lead (or vice versa), yell as you move forward and strike. Heʼll be startled. After a few iterations, heʼll start to subconsciously equate switching stances with being startled and will no longer switch stances. Ergo, you now control whether he stands with his left side forward or his right side.

Want to really confuse him? Shout from time to time as you go on the offensive. Now the noise you make will become inextricably linked in his mind with being attacked, which will cause him to prepare his defenses. All you need to do now is yell and wait for him to react. Once heʼs in that confused state, attack with a different technique.


The Routine

Hereʼs another tactic for the ring: Say you want your opponent to lower his guard on command. You simply strike at his arms when theyʼre in the guard position and show your teeth. At regular intervals, repeat the sequence, inflicting pain just before you bare your fangs. Heʼll eventually equate your teeth with arm pain—which means youʼll be able to pull your lips back and show a little white, then watch his guard fall. Thatʼs your cue to attack—hopefully without interference from his limbs.

There are many other ways to use the Pavlovian method to control your opponent. All you need to do to succeed is tailor your programming to mesh with your preferred fighting style. However, keep in mind that he already has his own programming in place—specifically, the habits and reactions that have been drilled into him during years of training.


The Corollary

Another way to take advantage of the Pavlovian response is to capitalize on the programming your opponent inadvertently gets from his martial arts training— specifically, while reacting to exercises, drills and forms at his school.

Example: If you want him to throw a round kick (Turning Kick), you can make him want to throw a round kick. Just create the illusion that a target exists at the right distance and orientation, and chances are heʼll throw that round kick, either consciously or subconsciously.

If you know the combinations heʼs drilled the most, you can make him perform more easily. For example, if students at his school are taught to react to a turning round kick by performing a jump spinning kick, just execute that round kick and then wait for the jump spinning kick to come. If you know itʼs coming, you can easily jam it, evade it or counter it.


The Overview

Like many other facets of life, the martial arts are all about control—control of yourself, control of your emotions and control of other people. Once youʼve sufficiently developed your knowledge and skills, youʼll find there are very few things in this world that cannot be controlled. Itʼs this control that separates the master from the beginner.

(This article by Simon Scher, was originally published in Black Belt Magazine in 2014. Edited by Robert Young)

On a related topic, knowing how to Read Telegraphs is a useful skill in developing control over your opponent


More info on the work of Pavlov. A really interesting video by Crash Course

Understanding the Front Kick

The Front Kick is the easiest kick to learn and very difficult to use correctly. Like all martial arts kicks, the Front Kick has innumerable variations and applications. It can be tailored to many situations and opportunities in a fight. If somebody is coming on too strong and you want to push them back you can use the Pushing Front Kick. If you want to stop their progress or stop them from lifting their lead leg you can use the Checking Front Kick. If you want to jam the ball of your foot into their ribs or face you can rely on the Front Snap Kick. If their elbow is angled outward you can sneak under it with the Angled Front Kick. If your opponent bends over or you are hitting a pad you can point your toes and perform an Upward Front Kick. All of the Front Kick variations can be thrown in either a turning (back leg) or lead leg (front leg) motion. One will seldom ever throw a spinning around backward Front Kick, not because it is wrong, but because it is not very effective or logical to do so. A spin will not add more power or speed to the kick, only make its expression more awkward.

No matter what variation of the Front Kick you plan on using it is first and foremost important to understand the three Front Kick foot positions. These are Pointed, Ball, and Flexed. The Pointed foot position strikes with the part of the foot just below the ankle or the bottom section of the shin (see diagram 1a). For the Ball of the Foot variation the ankle is pointed as much as possible while pulling the toes backwards (see diagram 1b). For the Flexed variation the ankle and toes are pulled back and you strike with the Heel (see diagram 1c).

The most common variation of the Front Kick is the Front Snap Kick. Let us assume we are doing a rear leg Turning Front Snap Kick from a front or walking stance. The first thing that must happen is the weight will shift to the non kicking leg. The standing foot may rotate a little bit to open the hips, but not so much as to let the hip rotate. If the standing foot pivots too much or the hip rolls over the kick will become a Round or Turning Kick. If was want to perform a Front Kick, this is not a desirable outcome.The standing heel should move but not leave the floor. One of the most common feux pas performed while throwing the Front Kick is to go up on ones tip toes. This decreases your base and so makes it more difficult to maintain your balance. Falling while kicking is generally considered bad.

After you shift your weight the kicking knee will rise up towards the target. The foot will be tucked in tightly but relaxedly towards the buttock. The foot should be in the ball position. After the knee reaches is apex the lower tucked section of the leg will extend like a hammer arching forward from the wrist after the elbow has been extended to the nail. The section of the foot below the toes will strike the target in an in and up motion.

The next most common variation of the Front Kick is the Pushing Front Kick or Thrusting Front Kick. This variation utilizes the Flexed foot. The beginning motion is very similar to the Front Snap Kick. However you should not tuck the lower section of the leg in as tightly. You need to raise the knee higher then in the front snap kick. You must lift it up so high that the bottom of the heel points directly towards your target. Flexing the gluts and the hamstrings and the abdominal muscles the heel thrusts forward. Your hips should rotate upwards, your tail bone tucking and your shoulders leaning back a little bit. This can be but does not have to be a strike. The Pushing Front Kick is used to create an opening or stop somebody rushing towards you, or to strike an open target that is tall and narrow on your opponents upper body.

The Checking Front Kick is much like the Pushing Front Kick except that it is usually used below the belt. If your opponent plans to throw a kick with their lead leg you can put your foot on that leg as they lift it up to stop them. Following this you can push off their stifled leg to kick them somewhere else.

The Upward Front Kick strikes with the top of the foot or bottom of the shin. This variation is most often used when striking a fore arm shield, or speed paddle. The motion from stance to kick is almost exactly the same as with the Front Snap Kick variation. If you allow your standing foot to turn a little bit and allow your kicking hip to rotate a few inches the kick can approach at a slight angle allowing you to Front Kick the ribs or under and elbow. This variation of the Front Kick is often mistaken for a Round Kick.

Sadly most practitioners pay very little attention to the end of the kick. They strike their opponent and then just stop, put their foot down or move on to the next technique. In order to make the Front Kick most efficacious you must re-chamber after you throw the kick. I usually break the kick down into three parts. Bend the knee and chamber the kick. Extend the lower leg and strike your target. Bend the knee again and prepare for a second kick. All kicks when practiced should end in the same position from which they were initiated: Chamber, Kick, Chamber. If you fail to retract your kicking leg quickly an opponent can easily catch the proffered leg. If this happens you will quickly find yourself at a disadvantage. Having one hand out of commission is better than having one leg out of commission.

There are many drills and exercises you can do to help improve your Front Kick. You can hold a barre and practice various isolated segments of the kick. You can strike a punching bag. You can strike a forearm pad. You can hold the leg up and attempt to improve your speed by trying to keep up with the beats of a metronome. You can wear ankle weights and throw slow motion kicks. You can do sliding kicks up and down the training hall. You an attempt to kick a ping pong ball hanging from a kite string. Many of these variations I have discussed in the video below.

If you have any comments, questions, or things you might like to add I would love to hear form you in the comment section.