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I cannot do any split.Why is it so essential to make a full leg split to learn martial arts? Will I be able to learn martial art without doing it? Please help me.

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    Who says this? Static flexibility may help, but essential seems bold to me. – Philip Klöcking Apr 24 '16 at 10:53
  • I'm a black belt in judo, I've won national competitions, and I've never been able to touch the ground, my feet or do the split. heck, even sitting on the floor with the knee fully expand is hard for me. – Thierry Savard Saucier May 20 '16 at 20:18
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There are two important points to consider:

  1. Full splits are not essential in many martial arts systems. Kicking itself may be secondary. The motivation behind full splits is often high kicking, which is high-risk in combat. See Low kicks vs high kicks in street fight.

  2. No one expects beginning students to have full splits. If your martial arts school considers flexibility to do splits important, then this is part of the training regimen. It is expected that this will take many months (or perhaps a few years) of training to achieve.

  • And, in some cases, full splits may be impossible for some people, due to the angle of the hip socket and the head of the femur. You can lengthen muscle, you can even lengthen tendons (which is a bad idea for your joints), but you can't push bone through bone. – Bankuei Apr 24 '16 at 15:39
  • @Bankuei Are we talking about a maxiumum of 170 degrees instead of 180 degrees? Or something more drastic? – mattm Apr 25 '16 at 13:07
  • It actually depends on the shape of your hip angle. I've seen someone with something as low as 140 degrees in a class, but that was an outlier. The closer the trochanter gets to a 90 degree "L" shape compared to the femur, the less actual ROM you get for side splits. Forward/backward splits don't suffer this problem. – Bankuei Apr 25 '16 at 15:21
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TL;DR

No, it's not essential. Full splits are an impressive display of flexibility, but few martial arts include them as anything other than a nifty party trick or something for exhibitions.

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Flexibility.

It is not required, I don't think it is ever required in any martial art (except maybe ones that actually involve it, like say capoeira and some kicking based martial arts)

It is just good for you, without flexibility you end up having lots of vulnerabilities other martial artists may not have (for example you are more vulnerable to choking and joint locks, and you will find it harder to break free of these kinds of attacks than otherwise if you were flexible) and you will end up in situations where you cannot execute certain moves very well (or at all) because your legs don't bend enough.

I'm sure the focus on full split is probably because for most people, their legs tend to be far more stiff than anything in their upper body, and even with a stiff upper body, you can usually get by pretty well (but you won't be any Floyd Mayweather, do you think he could dodge like that if he wasn't super flexible in both his upper and lower body? He's a boxer, but I bet he can still do the full split even if he doesn't really have to to be able to box well, his style requires it)

Being flexible increases your range of motion, and the efficiency and speeds at which you can move within said range. For example, you may find the range of your punches and kicks significantly increasing thanks to your flexibility (especially the kicks, the punches might improve, but this will be much harder to notice).

And in any fight (inside or outside a ring) being flexible simply increases the range of options you have for every situation, while reducing how predictable you can be to your opponents whoever they may be (especially if you're not in a ring, against an opponent that hasn't studied you, they'll be pretty surprised if they see something like an axe kick, and that may intimidate or confuse them putting odds in your favor)

In the end, let's just look at the basics of a flexible vs stiff body.

When you're stiff, it can be a bit of a struggle to bend at your hips or your knees (so reaching for something on the floor, or tying your shoelaces, it becomes a bit harder to breathe and thus a bit harder to move in any sort of way until you are upright again). When you're flexible all of that goes away, you can easily bend over without struggling, straining yourself or noticable breathing difficulties, and the more flexible you are, the more you can bend without these breathing difficulties which gives you a greater range of freedom for what kind of awkward positions you may need to fight from (I mean come on, the shapes you get bent in when fighting on the floor can get pretty intense, and if you're not flexible, that may just be the end for you).

Your flexibility in your upper and lower body matters, that's why you want to be able to do a full split, but you don't really have to be able to do it when you start, only when you're reaching the higher levels of mastery where new moves are getting more and more complex and harder to execute.

So in short, flexibility as you could guess increases your versatility, and this is crucial to any martial artist, being able to fight in unexpected ways that most normal people probably couldn't do to begin with.

My advice to you if you're a beginner is to work like hell to attain that flexibility, but do it while you're training in your martial arts of choice, don't put martial arts on hold because you can't do this yet. Start doing it with the intention of being able to do it later, and don't just work towards splits, work towards flexibility in all areas of your body (hips and waist are just as important as your legs), perhaps above and beyond whatever you get in actual martial arts classes or in your regular training sessions (maybe even do yoga inbetween your martial arts classes), and for your own safety, remember to try to keep your flexibility balanced (very few things will be more annoying than being noticably more flexible in one leg than the other, or on one side of your hip than the other, the same applies of course to strength, you don't want to have a stronger right leg than a left leg, or right arm than a left arm, balance is important, and if you ignore that you will pay for it later on, unless you were never really serious about martial arts or just keeping your body in a good shape to begin with)

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Yes, you will if you want!

If you can't, your dailly practice will make you able.

Of course, there are some martial arts that focus on kicks or forms like Taekowndo and Wushu that require more legs flexbility and other like boxe that requires less flexbility.

It's up to you to choose a martial art that fits on you or you try to fit on the martial art.

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The thing in general with martial arts and the splits is that it gives you a sense of advantage, even though in most of the time it may just be a symbolic thing.

Well either way it's important to strive to be more splits-capable, especially when we're a bit older; its like a good yawn and hits home in your sense of being adept, whether by genetic ability, or trained for.

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