The Manley-Davis Warm-up (Part 1)

Don’t go into a hot place cold

Grandmaster Joe Manley

A major principle in the way I was taught was to focus on “Safety First”. Safety to self, safety to one’s training partners, and safety to the weapons and tools you are using. This warmup routine is named after Grandmasters Joe Manley and Lloyd Davis, who put this sequence together. At Piedmont Bando, we start every class with the Manley-Davis warmup routine – which warms up the joints and prepares them for movement.

Warming the joints is not the same as stretching, which increases the range of extension for muscles. In kicking, for example, you stretch the hamstrings to be able to kick higher, but you also need to warm up the hip, knee, and ankle joints so that they are able to freely move.

The Man-Dav Warmup routine has 3 major parts:

  1. The Opening Sequence, inviting energy into the body and centering
  2. Working the nine major joints
  3. The Closing movements to loosen any remaining stiffness

Here’s part 1!

The Man-Dav Warm-up (Opening Sequence)

  • Energy Pull-ups: With both hands, think about lifting energy from hip level to chest level, like holding the end of a towel. Extend the hands forward and then down; repeat.
  • Opening the Energy Gates. Start with hands in prayer.
    • Extend the right hand and arm to the side, let your gaze follow; return hands to prayer
    • Extend the left hand and arm to the side, gaze follows; return
    • Extend both arms out to the side, return
    • Extend hands forward and downward at an angle, as if the energy of the fingers would go into the ground; return
    • Extend hands to the sides, energy of the fingers reaching to the ground; return
    • Extend arms hands behind you. With straight arms, point fingers upward. (Don’t bend over!). Return
    • Extend hands forward (level with shoulders), fingers up. Return
  • Centering. With hands in prayer and feet together, close your eyes and notice your balance. Feel your feet connect to the earth. After a while, open your eyes.
  • Unstack and Restack the Spine. Starting with the neck, slowly flex the spine, one vertebrae at a time: upper back, middle back, and lower back, until you are fully folded forward. Knees can be softly bent (this is not a hamstring stretch!). Return slowly to upright, restocking the lower back, middle back, upper back, and ending with straightening the neck. Repeat two or more times.
  • Throwing Leaves. With feet wider than hip distance apart, squat low and reach down, as if gathering a pile of leaves. Straighten the legs, extend (arch) the back looking upward and behind you, while reaching the arms behind, as if you are throwing the leaves behind you and watching where they fall. Repeat two or more times.

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