The first time I ever came across Thai Yoga Massage was during my first trip to Hong Kong to study Wing Chun at Grand Master Ip Chun’s school. I didn’t know what it was but one of my travel companions recommended it highly and I was sold on the idea of being stretched as that was an area of my personal fitness journey that had a lot of room for improvement. It still is, actually.
For those of you not familiar with Wing Chun, it’s a style of Kung Fu that involves quick and sharp movements to hit and overcome an opponent. It’s famous for teaching students the art of the 1 inch punch and fighting inside a phone box, i.e. up close and personal with your opponent.
When you learn Wing Chun in the West most people are of European built: fairly tall, strong, muscular and with good sized bones. However, being a martial art that originates from China it evolved to suit people with a smaller frame, not particularly muscular and typically minute.
It’s the combination of this body type plus the ability to stay relaxed under pressure that gives them the edge when practicing the art. Especially when they train with Westerners.
My travel companions and I learned this lesson the hard way when we arrived in Hong Kong: we watched several accomplished martial artists from the UK and USA being slapped around by their tiny Chinese training companions. These were the kind of guys that would intimidate anyone just with their physique. We were all actually trying very hard to improve our techniques and become more proficient but the secret wasn’t to get stronger, it was staying more relaxed and therefore becoming quicker and more unpredictable.
The importance of staying relaxed under pressure
Fast forward a few years and I started studying Brazilian Jujitsu and Escrima at my local Dojo. Again, especially with BJJ, being able to stay relaxed under pressure as well as being agile and flexible were the key to success. It was the same with Escrima: you start your training with long range weapons (rattan sticks) and again being able to flow instead of forcing the movements gives you an advantage.
When you are relaxed you can throw punches quicker and you can move faster around your opponent. You can call on your strength at the moment of impact to make your strike felt or to pin down your opponent. It won’t matter so much what the other person tries to do to you because you will be able to counter their martial arts moves with ease.
A big part of the martial arts classes that I attended at Shen-Ti were the stretching sessions at the end of training. These were great to help us increase our natural range of movement to help us move better around our opponent as well as prevent injuries. They were also great for relaxation after all the exciting stuff during each class.
The thing is if you focus your training on building mass and getting stronger you are also creating muscular tension, i.e. what women call a “toned body”. This is brilliant for any physical activity and/or fat loss programs BUT, if you want your martial arts moves to really improve, you need to put just as much effort into relaxing and stretching as you do building your body.
Think about people who spend a lot of time sitting at their desks and how they develop hunched shoulders and short chest and abdominal muscles… that’s also what happens when you do too many sit-ups or chest flyes without stretching adequately afterwards.
The secret to unleashing your best martial arts moves
That’s where Thai Yoga Massage becomes your secret training aid that will give you the edge over your fellow students and competitors.
Unless you are naturally flexible in the beginning most stretches will be uncomfortable to get into and hold for any period of time. If you are really struggling with your flexibility doing the stretches on your own won’t help you much because they will feel like torture and you will wiggle and compensate and twist to get comfortable defeating the object of the exercise.
I know this because when I got back to exercising at full speed after a 3 years convalescence I was stiff like a plank and even the stretches I always found easy were really painful. It takes time, skill and patience to get a lot out of stretching and actually see improvements.
Or you could cheat and get somebody to stretch you.
Thai Yoga Massage isn’t that dissimilar from PNF stretching however it doesn’t involve any active participation from the client in the form of contracting the muscles to resist the stretch. Quite the opposite, in fact. The secret to successfully stretching past your comfort zone in Thai Yoga Massage is to relax and let the stretch happen as opposed to try and force it.
I worked with many martial artists in the past 6 years or so and they all reported being able to fight better because they were more relaxed and had more reach whether they were sparring or rolling. They had regular treatments and they reaped massive ROI for their investment.
But wait… what about this?! 👇👇👇👇
Although I only studied Capoeira for a short period of time I can promise you it’s very difficult to pull off these martial arts moves unless you spend insane amounts of time preparing your body for it.
Again it’s all about being smart with the tools available to you. If they are not good enough come and find me. I know I am. 😉
Jokes aside… when you invest in the right training, and you could say that Thai Yoga Massage treatments would be an ideal addition to any serious training program, the limits of what you can expect to achieve suddenly get that much broader. When you are more flexible you can deploy your strength better. You can balance better. You can kick people in the head. You can windmill yourself out of a sticky situation. You can swing at your opponent better. You can get out of chokes and bear hugs easily.
Get the picture?
If you are ready to take your martial arts moves to the next level (and the next, and the next) don’t hang around and book your first treatment today.
As a lifelong student of martial arts I would be honoured to show you just how much better you can become. Your fellow students might call you a pain in the arse but, trust me, it’s worth it.