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Strength and flexibility, in addition to a whole host of other factors, are essential aspects of fitness that drive an wushu performance. In order to gain an edge over your competitors, it is necessary to work consistently on your ji ben gong, or basic skills, before moving into the more complex leaps and flips.

Loose front kick

This is usually done to loosen your joints. First, stand in a relaxed position and shake out your limbs, making sure that they are not tensed up. Spread your arms out sideways for better balance. Using one leg, kick as high as you can comfortably go without exerting too much effort. Kick towards the front, bringing your shins up to your forehead. Try not to bend either leg, but do not stiffen your muscles and joints in your bid to do so. Switch sides and practise this rep a few times.

Front kick

Now that you have loosened your joins, it is time to put in some proper kicking to improve your flexibility. Just like with the loose kicking, spread your hands out for balance and kick high in the air with one leg. However, do your best to reach as high as possible this time, and make a conscious effort not to bend either leg when kicking. Keep your body straight at all times, and ensure that your back does not bend in a bid to get closer to the leg in the air. Switch to the other leg and repeat.

When lowering your airborne leg, ensure that you do so in a controlled manner, rather than just letting it drop to the ground. After you have mastered this kick, you can try doing so while travelling across your training area - that is, take each kick as a step. Kick with your right leg, lower it, then step forward with the other, and kick the right one again. Switch sides after you have covered your desired distance.

Leg lifts

The following drill not only improves flexibility, but also your core strength, control, and balance. Keeping both your lower limbs and your body straight, raise one leg into the air in front of your forehead. Do this either by bending your leg and bringing it up to your chest before slowly unfolding it upwards, or by doing a slow, controlled version of a front kick. You may hold on to something with one hand for support if necessary. Using the other hand, support the leg that is in the air, holding it up while maintaining your straight posture as far as possible. Hold your head upright and make sure that you feel the stretch in your limb. Next, remove your hand from your raised leg and lower it gently (do not drop it in a sudden manner!) before switching over. Do this to the side as well, bringing your legs up in a straight line to meet your ear.

Knee-to-chest jumps

This jumping drill focuses on leg strength and agility, and also enhances the power of your jumps. Standing in a horse stance (feet apart, slightly wider than your shoulders, with knees lowered, and your upper body relaxed but upright), one of the most basic stances of wushu, bend in a take-off position. Using the power generated from that small bounce, spring up into the air, as high as you can go, and tuck your knees to your chest. Land lightly - ideally without making any sound - back in your original horse stance.

Split jumps

Split jumps are useful exercises that help to condition both strength and flexibility. Prepare to take off by bending your knees slightly for that power bounce. However, instead of bringing your knees to your chest, stretch both your legs outwards to your sides, doing a side split while in the air. As you jump up, raise your hands, then bring them down to reach both ankles as you elevate your legs. Land gently, bending your legs to absorb the impact.

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