Side Splits for Kyokushin Karate

The illusive side splits. Wanted by all, had by few. There was a time… many, many years ago, that I could perform the side splits, along with the front splits. But alas, with age and many years without martial arts, I “lost” the ability. I am now on a quest to regain that split.

Science and knowledge have come a long way since I was a kid, when you forced your way into a stretch. Luckily now, with the incredible amount of free knowledge on the internet, you can find help. Below are what I feel are the best instruction for the side split. Utilizing PIR (Post-Isometric- Relaxation), Isometric and Loaded stretching.

These routines demonstrated by Tom Merrick are based on the work of the incredible Emmet Louis.

1. Middle Split Loaded Mobility Routine

Exercise 1: Weighted Tailor Pose

Exercise 2: Weighted Horse Stance Squat

Exercise 3: Isometric Side Split

Exercise 4: Weighted Pancake (Seated Good-morning)

Minimum of 2 x / week



Group A:

A1. Weighted Tailor Pose – 10r + 30-60s
A2. Weighted Horse Stance Squat – 10r + 10-30s
Repeat 3-5 sets.
Rest 60s between sets.

Group B:

B1: Weighted Pancake – 10r + 10-30s (Optional)
Repeat 1-3+ sets.
Rest 60s between sets.

Group C:

C1. Side Split Isometric – 20-60s
Repeat 3-5 sets.
Rest 60s between sets.


Perform the routine 2x a week. To adjust, more volume less often or less volume more often.
Increase by 1 set per exercise weekly and deload to 3 sets on week 4.




2.  3 Months Middle Split Progress + Tips

Tip #1 (2:22): Foot Positioning
Tip #2 (3:15): Anterior Tilt The Hips(Twerk)



3.  7 Months Middle Split Progress with tips


4.  PIR (Post-Isometric- Relaxation) * Note… video states PNF but is actually PIR.

EXERCISE 1 – Frog Pose – 1:30 (10secs hold – 5 secs relax – 3 reps) Pinch + Lift
EXERCISE 2 – “Pissing Dog” – 4:11 (10secs hold – 5 secs relax – 3 reps)
EXERCISE 3 – Middle Split PNF – 6:51  (10secs hold – 5 secs relax – 3 reps) Pinch + Lift


The number one tip from Emmet Louis:

So after the last year of workshop tours I can say conclusively that the main reason 90% of people can’t do side splits or have limited success with them is that they can’t twerk.

If people (mainly guys  ) mastered the twerk stance they’d have a lot more success with side splits.

This is the twerk stance, butt out lower back arched…/Should-a-footballe…

mastering this and maintaining this position as the legs extend is the key to unlocking the side split along with a few other factors. 

Bonus… Front Splits

EXERCISE 1 – Single Leg Good Morning – 0:56
EXERCISE 2 – Active Lunge – 2:14
EXERCISE 3 – Middle Split PNF – 3:15

A1. Single Leg Good Morning – 10r + 10s
A2. Active Lunge – 10r + 10s Sets: 1-3 Rest: 30-60s between exercises

B1. Active Front Split PNF – 10s + 3r (10s, 5s)
Sets: 1-3 Rest: 30-60s between exercises




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *