Generally, most martial arts have flexibility as a vital part of their training.
For example, high levels of flexibility allow taekwondo artists to kick high, and jiu-jitsu artists to be highly efficient and mobile, reducing the risk of injuries for all students and practitioners.
But while most martial arts styles generally encourage flexibility, some emphasize it more than others.
So, what martial arts are the best of the best when it comes to developing and improving your flexibility skills?
Continue reading as I reveal to you the 5 best martial arts for flexibility.
#5. Shaolin Kung Fu
Shaolin Kung Fu certainly can’t be left off this list as its training exercises can put the joints of the body through their full range of motion, increasing flexibility and mobility.
Interestingly, unlike many other martial arts exercises which focus on either strength or flexibility, Kung Fu helps to develop both strength and flexibility.
Repeated practice of punches, kicks, and pivots of the hips stretches the entire body and develops flexibility while increasing strength at the same time.
Special stretching techniques are also involved in kung fu training which helps to increase flexibility in various muscle groups in the body.
The benefit of Kung Fu not only increases your flexibility for higher kicks but also provides a wide range of physical benefits which can have a positive effect on your overall well-being.
Here is YouTube Shaolin Kung Fu flexibility training from Master Song Kung Fu.
#4. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ)
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (which is a defensive-oriented gentle art) is not only a great martial art but also one of the bests in flexibility training.
Jiu-Jitsu fighters always have to be efficient and quick in their movements, and it is nearly impossible to achieve this with stiff muscles and joints.
This art involves ground fighting, takedowns, and submission techniques all of which require flexibility and agility to execute.
So, there is a need to emphasize flexibility since BJJ athletes are required to have greater flexibility to sweep their opponents, resist takedowns, escape submission attacks, and apply chokeholds.
Also, flexibility helps them immobilize their opponents with different back and guard positions.
Remember, jiu-jitsu submission techniques involve different joint locks and chokeholds which you might struggle to avoid if you are not flexible.
Flexible muscles and joints tend to have less damage from these holds and locks. Hence the BJJ fighters need to be flexible for a lesser risk of injury.
Taekwondo, which is a Korean martial art, obviously can’t be far off this list!
In Taekwondo you learn to be fast, to be coordinated, and to hit hard.
And to execute these, you need to achieve the one thing that is common to them all: flexibility.
To be successful in Taekwondo, the athlete must have optimum flexibility to attack and defend, maintain his strength and speed, apply a combined technique, to minimize the rate of injury, and recover quickly afterward.
So, the athlete must have comprehensive skills including good flexibility to be able to efficiently perform specific taekwondo techniques.
If you ever watched taekwondo sparring or matches, you would realize just how necessary it is to have a pair of seriously flexible legs.
Taekwondo training and competitive bouts involve kicks, high jumps, flips, and spinning jumps that are even more difficult to perform if you are inflexible.
The flexibility of the hamstrings is especially important, and the stretches and flexibility exercises that are being offered in class are often not enough.
As a result, taekwondo emphasizes stretching for greater flexibility which is indispensable.
Here is Taekwondo flexibility training from the Henrikusko Webimuska YouTube channel.
On the number two spot is this Brazilian art that combines elements of martial arts, music, dance, acrobatics, and spirituality.
Capoeira, which is also known as the dancing martial art, is undoubtedly one that requires a lot of flexibility.
A study has shown that Capoeira is now a commonly used sport that helps to enhance physical fitness components, including flexibility.
Capoeira requires flexibility and stability on an extremely high level as the movements are often broader than other martial arts.
Capoeira is all about moving fast and steady, with flexibility usually being an enormously helpful tool for this purpose.
It’s easy to think that you are fit enough to try capoeira without any preparation, but the reality is that you need to be strong, balanced, and above all, flexible.
Flexibility is one of the fundamental building blocks of expert capoeiristas when performing kicks, handstands, cartwheels, and backflips.
There’s no way around it when it comes down to flexibility as this allows you to maximize your potential as a capoeira practitioner.
Here is the capoeira flexibility training YouTube clip, courtesy of Sayam Ali.
This is undoubtedly a surprise mention which (in our opinion) is worthy of mention.
Yes, it is true that yoga cannot be seen as a martial art per se. However, the ancient practice of yoga shares many similarities with traditional eastern practices of martial arts with their roots deeply intertwined.
This is why I decided to add this to the list, especially because martial arts such as neijia quan (Tai Chi, Chinese internal martial arts, and Qi Gong), Aikido, Capoeira, and Muay Thai have in a way influenced Yoga.
According to Yoga Journal, flexibility is the top reason why many people start yoga.
And while flexibility isn’t all that yoga is about, 61 percent of Americans chose yoga as their additional or primary routine for gaining mobility and increasing motion range.
It’s not just a marketing fad that yoga does improve flexibility. Yoga can make you flexible regardless of your age or gender.
A 2015 research summoned over 150 Chinese adults, dividing them into two groups.
For three months, the first group did one hour of Hatha yoga weekly, while participants from the other group were asked to continue with their normal lives.
It was shown that those who practiced yoga demonstrated greater flexibility in their hamstrings, ankle, lower back, and spine.
So, yoga poses help to stretch your muscles and increase your range of motion.
Without a doubt, Yoga blends perfectly with any martial art flexibility routine out there. It’s like a match made in heaven!
Here is what yoga flexibility exercise looks like. This YouTube video below is credited to Sveta Ananda Yoga.
Here is my list of the best martial arts for flexibility, and I hope you find it helpful.
If there is any martial art that you feel should be included in the list, do let me know in the comment section.
Hi, my name is Godwin. I am a passionate martial artist with black belts in Taekwondo and Karate. I have over 15 years of martial art experience. I created this platform to enable me to help you learn martial art the right way.