Dragon Flag Tutorial – Bruce Lee’s Legendary Move!

Dragon Flag is a cool and challenging move.  This is named after Bruce Lee, The legendary Kung Ku Master.  Also appeared in the Movie  《Rocky 4》.  Today, I will show you how to do this move, and some other details to be aware of.


First and foremost, Dragon Flag is a pulling exercise.  It also involves a lot of core strength to stabilise yourself.  You can see it as a Pulling exercise or a Core exercise.


Before anything, we must prepare two things first:

  1. Concrete Thing to hold.   This could be a bar or something solid.  In the whole process, we need to pull this thing tight.
  2. Mat.  To avoid the injury caused by the friction between you and the floor.


Since this move is quite challenging and risky, beginners are warned.


Exercise Execution

Alright, let’s take a look at the ex. execution.  First, we need to lay down on the floor/bench.  Grab the bar tight with both of your hands.  Starting off with raising your body.  At this position, straighten up your body before your first rep.  Your leg and hips should be tighten and straight.  Your Arm/Back/Core should be the primary muscles.


Now, slowly put down your body while maintaining a straight line as possible.  Our upper back will be touching the ground but not the lower back.  When it reaches the bottom, our legs should be above the ground.  Then, we need to pull ourselves up, during which, try to keep our body at a straight line as possible and not let that separate as two parts.  If your are not strong enough, the upper and lower body will be deformed as two portions.  Probably, lower body come first, upper body later.  Not synchronised as one.  Also note that, it is hardest at the bottom while easiest at the top.



Dragon Flag use the same progressions like Front/Back lever.


#1 Tuck

Bend your legs and tuck to the chest.  Try to do the exercise.  If you master this, try next progression.


#2 Advanced Tuck

Extend your legs a bit.  Your Thigh and your upper body form a 90° angle.  If you master this, try next progression.


#3 Single-Leg

Extend one leg and keep it straight while keeping the other tucked like the #1 version.  When you master this, you can extend the tucked leg a bit to form 90° angle (#2 version),  and try this move.


For this progression, make sure you keep your body and lower body straight and the body should be as straight as possible.  If you master this, try next progression.


#4 Straddle

Extend and spread your leg.  The wider the leg spread, the easier because it is closer to the Centre of Gravity.  When you master the widest version, you can reduce the spread bit by bit, then the intensity will increase accordingly, and getting closer to the Full version.


#5 Full

The full version is both legs are extended and straight.  Keep the whole body as straight as possible.


Let’s summarised the progressions.


Training Method

So now, how should we practice these progressions?

First, we should have some basic foundations:  We should be able to do Pull ups and Lying Leg Raise.  These two are the basics for the move.  When you have the basic strength, then you can start your training.


Whatever progression you stuck at, We can apply these training methods:


#1 Slow Eccentric Training (Slow Negative)

Lower yourself slowly by fighting the gravity.  You should be do at least 5 reps before you move on to next one.


#2 Dynamic Back and Forth

Try to keep your body stable.  To move on, you should be able to do at least 5 reps.


#3 Full Rep

Do a full rep including both concentric and eccentric portions for 5+ reps.


#4 Static Isometric Hold

Hold at the bottom for 5-10s.


You may apply all of the above or just one or few that you think it is suitable for you.  Personally, Slow Eccentric & Full Rep are the best.(#1 #3)  You can start by half range of motion,  aka. lower yourself to half height.  When you are getting better, you can do full range (to lowest).



For each progression, how to verify whether you are capable enough for next progression?  You can take 10 reps / 10 seconds as a reference.  If you can do that, you are probably good to go.


But, there’s another option.  You can use 4 training methods for a checklist to verify if you can capable.  Take 10s/ 10 reps as well for each method.


Or you can try to do all them in ONE set.  Like what I did in the video right now.  First: two Eccentrics reps.  Then Two Dynamic back and forth.  Then Two full reps.  Then hold at the bottom for few seconds.  If you can do them all at ONE set, you are good enough for the next progression.


One progression at a time.  Dragon Flag is not that hard.  Those with good foundations can probably be able to do this before any deliberate training.  Maybe the form is not just that perfect.


Training Frequency

If you are experienced lifters and try to learn this move, how should you plan your training?  The frequency and how long?  There is not answer for that.  But I will advise that each Dragon Flag training session should be less than 0.5hr.  As the exercise is quite hard, longer rest between sets can be used.  For instance, 2-3 minute rest.  As long as your abs, arms and back are not sore, you can train the Dragon Flag.  2-3 times/week is ok.  For some advanced lifters, training it everyday is still possible.


Another common issues:


#1 Safety Concern

At the top of the move,  your vertebrate is bending to quite a lot.  Your Neck/Traps/Shoulder/Upper Back is under pressure.  This may cause your some discomfort, or even injury.  So you must pay attention and be safe.  Mat is compulsory.  Or else you may find some clothes/thick (but soft) stuff to support.  Otherwise, your Neck/Shoulder/Back will be perished.


If you are not sure about your capability, better find someone/coaches who knew this move for guidance.


#2 Unable to see if your body is straight

It is very hard to tell from yourself whether you are extend to a straight line.  Better film it with your phone, or find someone to take a look for you.  The possible reasons:

  1. Not Strong Enough.
  2. Your Glute/Thigh are not extend fully.

To be as straight as possible, your Quads (front thigh) & Your Glute must be fully contracted.  Just like a Posterior Pelvic Tilt posture.  Tighten Abs/Glute/Quads.  With your calf extends fully,  then you can have a straight form.


At last, share this video to those who want to learn Dragon Flag.

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