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Tandoku Renshu Kata: First Set, Leg & Other Stretches

Tandoku Renshu Stretching

In a previous post I explained how to use handgrips in the Kata Tandoku Renshu. In this post I like to try to explain the stretching involved, particularly the leg stretches but including the punches, kicks and the neck stretches in the Kata in a bit more detail.
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Tandoku Renshu & Leg stretching

I will start with the leg stretching just because I spent the time to do the photos (Fig. 1 & Fig. 2). Your first movements in this Kata are, of course, purely punches. The second set your step with the legs and it is this stepping that you can do the leg stretches.

As can be seen from the photos if you want to turn these moments into a genuine stretching exercise all you have to do is apply pressure to the front leg (Fig. 1) and fully straighten the back (Fig. 2). This is done on both sides and similarly as you do the strikes to the front and the elbow strikes.

It is important to make sure that you are also fully extending your arms as you do the punches

Image of me doing a forward punch from the Tandoku Renshu emphasizing the legs stretching
(Fig 1.)Tandoku Renshu Forward Punch and Leg Stretch

Image of me doing a forward punch from the Tandoku Renshu emphasizing the legs stretching seem from behind
(Fig 2.)Tandoku Renshu Forward Punch and Back Leg Stretch

The full extension of the arms is something that is often overlooked by practitioners, particularly Judo practitioners because we don't normally practise punching. This is of course because we don't do anything like that in competition. But if you are going to do this exercise you should take full advantage of it.

Just as an aside, the full extension not only improves the stretch but it is critical in any strike if you want it to be fully effective as a strike. So even if you are not doing punches for competition by fully extending you will get the full benefit and you will be respecting the tradition of the Kata.

When I say respect the traditions I mean, it should be remembered that Judo is a martial art and many of the punches are retained in a number of Katas. This is important because Judo is still in very competent self-defence, if it is practised that way, so these katas need to be retained. Besides it is Kata that stops Judo from degenerating.

Tandoku Renshu & The Neck

I used to think that you should do a separate neck stretch before you did this Kata if you were using it as stretching before training. But I have come to realise that, if you are doing the Kata properly, there is already plenty of correct neck stretching happening. Therefore separate exercise is obsolete. All you need to do is watch and follow your hand closely with your eyes and head as you do the punches. It also helps with your balance when you are on your toes doing the punch up.

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Kicks & Stretching

There is however no extension stretching for the legs in the Tendoku Renshu. By that, I mean placing your leg out straight in front of you on any surface and bending forward and touching your toes. Because of this, I recommend that you do such stretches before the Kata so that when you do the kicks you will not overextend your leg.

The kicks in themselves are great stretches and therefore great to do before training or competition but they are ballistic movements and hence should need preparation. So make sure you have done a 15-second leg stretch on each leg at least 3 times before the Kata to avoid any potential leg injury. Any kind of extension legs stretch will do really as long as you do it at least 3 times on each leg and hold it for at least 15 seconds for each leg.

Balance while kicking

Keeping your balance when you are doing the kicks is sometimes a challenge. At least it has been for me. The thing to remember is it is always the position of your head when you are kicking. Whatever leg you are kicking with make sure you tilt your head to the opposite side to maintain your balance. A little cheat if you need it is to pull slightly on the opposite ear lobe of the leg you have off the ground.

Just don't pull too hard or you will not only hurt you ear lobe but pull yourself off balance in the opposite direction. ;)

Practically A Complete Workout

Now that you have learned to do Tandoku Renshu as a stretch. In a previous post you learned to do some strength building with it. All you need is to do the whole thing again, without grips or weights as fast as you can to improve your cardio. Then you will have done practically a complete workout.

A complete workout (practically) could look like this

  1. Do the Tandoku Renshu (done here at normal speed) at about half speed. This is your warmup
  2. Repeat with instructions from this blog post at the same speed but with emphasised movements to do it as a stretch
  3. Repeat with handgrips to improve gripping strength Repeat with weights to improve upper body strength Repeat it as fast as you can to improve your cardio

Finally, don't forget to do the Kata as a Kata occasionally so that you come to appreciate the Kata for itself and to improve the Art in your Martial Art.

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