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Alexander Castiglione

Pancake and Middle Split Flexibility Progressions?

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Alexander Castiglione

I did a quick search on the forum and didn't come up with anything - but I figured i'd throw it out there. I've been messing with GST and having FANTASTIC results, both with strength and mobility gains (thought i was highly mobile before, but my pikes and weighted pike hangs are effortless now, shoulder mobility and dislocate strength is increasing faster than i ever thought). 

 

One movement I'm still having a rough time with is the pancake (i can get low to the floor, but my groin/inner thigh mobility isn't where i'd like it - my legs are maybe just more than 45 degrees, i'd like them to be way farther) and also the middle split. When I was a kid I was a huge Jean Claude Van Damme fan (go ahead laugh, but when you're 5 years old Bloodsport and Kickboxer are great films lol), and could do middle splits all day, even held myself up between two chairs, could kick up to the wall and do a middle split against the wall even. I don't know if it was from a growth spurt or just not maintaining - but when i was about 12 i lost the ability to do that. I'd like to get at least close to it again. 

 

Does anybody have any good progressions or stretches to specifically develop middle split and pancake mobility? 

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Jon Douglas

The middle split stretch course addresses both split and pancake work. Seems tailor-made :)

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Radoslav Detchev

You may want to consider training your middle splits by using the horse stance method in which you progressively widen your horse stance as you lower your butt to the floor.

 

The idea is to gradually build strength in your adductors through this one movement.

 

Good Luck

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Jon Douglas

I must say I have spent a lot of time in low horse over the years and have always had a pretty good straddle/pancake. I've never actively worked to widen it past shins vertical, but its possible that would have a reasonable effect towards middle split

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Radoslav Detchev

Im currently spending 30 days doing a horse stance protocol. Seems to be getting me lower into the splits each day. Quite painful and potentially a stupid approach. I will post results in about 3 weeks as I am just past the first week

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Tybalt

What kind of horsestance protocol? I do two sets of horsestance everyday but it hasn't done much for me.

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Radoslav Detchev

Im doing something inspired by Antranik's post on his site. 

 

 

His protocol was pretty basic:

  • Every day - 2 sets of horse stance squats 10 reps with a 10s hold on last rep
  • Every day - Accumulate 5 mins in horse stance with a 1:1.5 work rest ratio (30s on 45s off)
  • Piriformis roll for 3-5 mins after the session

I added a pre-warm up as well as post stretch to target the middle splits muscles in a more practical way.

Additionally, I made the horse sets harder by reducing rest time.

 

In terms of a 5-step or a 7-step, I usually start with 5-step and once I sink down I start to open my legs. I find it easier to reach my legs out while keeping my thighs parallel by doing it this way.

 

Also, putting a weight of some sort (dumbell) under my hips allows me to pull myself deeper into the stance

 

 

 

Note: Tips to use Horse Stance to get Middle Splits

  • Always keeping thighs parallel to ground
  • Anterior Pelvic Tilt 
  • Spread knees out to feel the pressure in the front of hips
  • Use hands to put pressure on out side of knee (to force abductors to work)
  • Keep feet facing forwards 
  • Move feet out sideways (get wider into splits) as long as thigh is (near) parallel 
  • Hold the stance for time or do squats to build strength/endurance and to allow your nervous system to adapt to the new range of motion

How to Measure Improvement:

- some days will be better than others. Try to do your measurements on the good days

 

Method One:

- Use 2 blocks (i use handstand blocks) that can slide on your surface (i use carpet) 

- Put one block on the outside of each foot

- Spend 2-5 minutes getting as deep as you can

- Press the blocks out with the back of your heel

 

Come out of the splits and you can now measure the distance between the blocks (the outside of your heels)

 

Method Two:

You may need to get creative with this one, but here is my most used method

  • Get a swiss ball and partially deflate it
  • Position it below your butt when doing the stance
  • Once you can rest your butt on it, you can either;
  1. Widen your feet and try to keep contact or;
  2. Deflate the ball more

 

 

 

PS. You should also be doing passive/static stretches to allow the joints/ligaments to adapt as well. This method primarily trains the muscles and nervous system. Im sure Coach Sommer's Pancake/Middle splits stretch series is good to throw in for the connective tissue element.

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Jon Douglas

Why not try my sifus annual participation low horse 'protocol?'

Beginning at one minute, for 90 days add a minute per day.

Whoever is still going last wins ;)

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Murray Truelove

Why not try my sifus annual participation low horse 'protocol?'

Beginning at one minute, for 90 days add a minute per day.

Whoever is still going last wins ;)

Anyone make it past a week?

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Jon Douglas

Anyone make it past a week?

He and his senior students generally finish it. He's oldschool :) and immovable.

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Ryan Bailey

Why not try my sifus annual participation low horse 'protocol?'

Beginning at one minute, for 90 days add a minute per day.

Whoever is still going last wins ;)

Jon, are you serious about this?

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Murray Truelove

The last day is 1.5 hours of horse stance... Do they do it in a single set?

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Jon Douglas

Yes :)

I don't expect anyone to work on this these days; I certainly don't require it of anyone I train. I don't have anywhere near that long myself-- past half an hour I start to see the face of god, and its been a little while since I've held it that long.

It wasn't so long ago that an hour and a half low horse was required to learn the buk sing forms in choy lay fut too. Very uncommon these days to find someone who can hold it that long, but a fairly standard test of character a generation or two ago. Like Coach Mako building up to hspu, daily work rain hail or shine, and a whole lot of stubbornness, can build up to some amazing things.

I don't really think this is going to get you your middle split and no I've never seen a beginner break a week, I was just sharing a horse stance anecdote :) its a participation thing, an annual touch base thing to keep everyone working the basics and a little competitive, not a training protocol- bad choice of words there ^_^ At seminar coach has us play soccer crabwalking--- everyone was competing.and no one was realising how much time they were spending in rear support :)

Back to stretching, I have derailed quite enough :)

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Romulo Malta

Thanks for the " derailing" Jon, was thinking about asking you which style you were training, but you answered here, Choy Lai Fut, right?

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Jon Douglas

Thanks for the " derailing" Jon, was thinking about asking you which style you were training, but you answered here, Choy Lai Fut, right?

Actually most of my time is in Wing Chun Kuen from several different lineages and BJJ but I've put in a reasonable amount of time in quite a few other styles too ;) my first teacher seemed to know everyone and encouraged us to exchange hands a lot with other schools, out of which a lot of friendships were made. Many happy nights training and talking the $$$$ together :)

Just as an aside, although I haven't spent much time with them, choy lay fut is the spelling taken by the Buk Sing guys in Australia and the US, of schools started by the Lacey brothers. Other romanisations by different schools include cai li fo, choi lee fut, etc. It's very cool and they have a lot of passionate people, if I had the opportunity to spend some time with the buk sing guys I'd definitely like that experience :)

Ok but seriously back to middle splits now :D

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Murray Truelove

Thanks for sharing Jon. I don't doubt your story, I did Kyokushinkai karate for a few years and there are similarly insane stories.

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