I was recently listening to a great in depth interview of competition phenom Keenan Cornelius by BJJ black belt and the man behind Grapplearts.com Stephan Kesting. Stephan is an expert journalist and really presses his interviewees for thorough and detailed responses. I liked a lot of Keenan's answers and it's always enlightening to hear what competitors in the top echelons have to say so expect many more posts inspired by that interview. Nevertheless, he said a few things that I disagreed with and want to bring up here.
Keenan has great hip flexibility (the kind that allows you to put your foot close to, or even behind, your head). He does not, according to his own account, have much hamstring flexibility. He told Stephan that he actually struggles to touch his toes with straight legs! Keenan had recently attended a yoga session, as he admittedly does very little stretching, and said uhe discovered he was no good at yoga positions and he decided he didn't want to do it anymore. He felt yoga 'makes you flexible for yoga, not jiujitsu'.
Yoga means unity, referring to harmony and unity of purpose and intention between mind, body and spirit. The goal of yoga is for you to become a complete, well-rounded person. From just the physical point of view, yoga aims to balance you. Back to front. Side to side. Upper to lower. Strength to flexibility. Perfect balance.
By his own admission, Keenan said he had a very clear imbalance in his lower body flexibility. He even admitted that other parts of his body, such as his back and neck, have to occasionally compromise for his hamstring inflexibility. That just screams "risk for injury" which Keenan had had a few of but being young and carefree he saw injuries as opportunities to rest when burnt out.
I will never achieve half of what Keenan has in BJJ nor is that important to me, but I feel his routines and attitude towards yoga would prove hazardous to most part time grapplers. Obviously, he's not necessarily preaching to them, but idol worship is a mean mistress.
ZHOO ZHITSU IS FOR EVERYONE!
Liam "The Part Time Grappler" Wandi
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