Even after I got my first black belt, I could not do a side split. My friends and fellow martial artists could, but not this guy. It was the 80’s and Jean Claude was doing all kinds of Van-Dammage. He made it a thing. Damn you, Jean Claude!
I tried all kinds of things, including a torture device created from the same technology that made William Wallace taller. That is, until it broke him. Freedom! Still, I cranked the gears, while my groin shouted obscenities at me.
It didn’t work.
I tried PNF; or, proprioceptive muscular facilitation, which is just a complicated way to say torture. I tried dynamic stretching and even went full Russian in my training program. Thanks Pavel, but still no split.
Then, someone suggested yoga, to which I responded, “Pffshhhh. Right. What’s next; ballet?”
But then, Raquel Welch launched her “Total Beauty and Fitness” video on VHS. The commercials showed her doing yoga, so I thought, “Hmm, Raquel Welch in a onesy, doing yoga like exercises in my living room?” Now that put a bustle in my hedgerow! I purchased the video and to be quite honest, Raquel or not, it wasn’t very good. And after falling over several times, trying to do Warrior 3 like the Raq, that tape never saw the inside of a VCR again.
Years turned into decades, while I trained in Judo, Aikido, and Hapkido, but still no side split. Actually, it lost its importance and I let it go. But then, five years ago, I began training in yoga at a real school. Hmm; no Raquel Welch. Weird. Anyways, I got to experience some really talented instructors and in witnessing they’re body maneuverability, the spark was reignited.
While greater flexibility in my muscles, improved joint mobility, and some increased strength came as byproducts of the doing of yoga, there’s no specific focus on side splits. No … splitasana. However, this improvement of range of motion also improved my outlook and attitude on many things, including a possible splitasana.
After all the science, torture devices, and doing weird things to improve flexibility and range of motion, it comes down this: there is no magic pill. No such thing as 6-minute abs or straddling two folding chairs in two weeks. It’s like Bruce Lee said, “The best way to learn how to fight is to fight.”
In any venture, achievement comes from the doing. Keep doing. Be consistent. Love the process and want the goal. I found Jujimufu on YouTube and his side splits are legendary. How did he do it? By practicing side splits. That’s it. Every day. So much time wasted on vudu, when reality was right there.
Success is in the process. And … it’s never too late to restart.