At the beginning of MMA Thai Boxing, first we light jog to loosen up, then we stop and do the same exercises every class. Neck circles, arm circles, shoulder circles, hip circles, knee circles, spread feet apart and do 50 toe touches as fast as you can, then stand up, feet together, touch the floor with your hands keeping your legs straight, move right foot to the left side of the left foot, touch the floor with your hands, then switch and put the left foot on the right side of the right foot and touch the floor with your hands.
These exercises get our joints prepared for boxing and kicking.
When I was reading a book called ‘The Power of Prana’ by Master Stephen Co and Eric. B. Robbins, I was interested to see a lot of the same exercises labeled as ‘The Cleansing Physical Exercises’. There are 13, so more than the quick exercises done at the start of class. The book says to do two sets of these exercises and they can be completed in less than 5 minutes. They are designed to clean from head to toe in order to flush the dirty energy from the more delicate areas (head) and chakras (crown, ajna, throat, heart) through the less delicate lower chakras (basic, sex) and then out the feet. These exercises quickly clean the energy body and doesn’t leave any energetic congestion in more sensitive areas. It is best to complete them in the order listed.
- Eye Rotation. Keep your head and neck still rolling your eyes 12 times clockwise and then 12 times counter clockwise.
- Horizontal neck rotations. Start facing forward. Gently twist your head left and then right twelve times. If you have no restrictions while you rotate, you should make a 90 degree turn left and right.
- Vertical neck rotation. Start with your head up and chin slightly back, facing forward. Smoothly pivot your head up and down twelve times.
- Downward hand flings. With your arms hanging at your sides and your hands open, pivot at the elbow and briskly pull your forearms up while balling your fists. Then quickly pivot at the elbow and fling your forearms down while opening your hands. Perform the up and down motion twelve times.
- Hand Looseners. Extend your arms straight out in front of you, with one palm down and one up. Open and close your hands quickly twelve times. Then reverse, putting the other palm down and the first one up and repeat the movement. (Those who have practice any internal martial arts may recognize this as an exercise taught to open the lao gong points [they roughly correspond with the palm chakras] in the center of the hands. It increases your sensitivity to energy and allows your energy to be more easily transferred to an opponent during a fight.)
- Wrist rotations. Extend your arms forward, palm facing down, fingers outstretched. Roll your wrists twelve times each in both directions.
- Shoulder rotations. Stretch your arms out to the side horizontally, palms downward. Make circles with your arms moving backward twelve times. Then reverse the motion, and make twelve forward circles. Perform this at a moderate pace, not so slowly that you don’t feel the shoulders stretch a bit, but not so fast that you feel a strain.
- Torso twist. Extend your arms straight out from your sides so that they are parallel to the ground. With your feet about shoulder-width apart, twist twelve times to the right and to the left. As with the neck rotations, try to get your torso to a 90-dedgree twist, but don’t strain. With each twist, allow your arms to sink down, so that they’re at your sides as you conclude.
- Shoulder shrugs. Drop your chin to your chest and shrug your shoulders slightly forward while allowing your arms to hang loosely in front of you. Breathe in while pulling your head and shoulders back as far as they can comfortably go. Then move your head and shoulders forward while exhaling. Do this twelve times.
- Hip rotations. Put your hands on your hips and bend your knees slightly. Rotate your hips twelve times clockwise and then twelve times counterclockwise.
- Squats. Bend slightly at the knees, and then perform quarter squats. See if you can do one hundred per session. Unlike full squats, in which your buttocks touch your heels when you dip, with a quarter squat, you dip your knees only a little. Energetically, the quarter squat is only slightly less powerful than a full squat, and it is much easier on the knees. If you wish to do a full squat, feel free to do so. The squat charges your basic chakra, which is the principal chakra regulating your overall level of energy.
- Knee rotations. With your legs together and knees slightly flexed, place your palms on your kneecaps and move your legs in circles. Rotate them twelve times clockwise and twelve times counterclockwise.
- Ankle rotations. Balance yourself on your right leg, lift your left leg a few inches off the ground, and extend it slightly in front of you. As you did with your wrists, rotate your ankle twelve times clockwise and twelve times counterclockwise. Then repeat with the right ankle.