A balance of strength

Strength gives way to capability. We aim for strength but we usually forget to aim for a balance of strength.

Our bodies are made for forward motion mostly, for climbing, running, swimming and working with tools for building and war.

Balance in strength allows our bodies to manifest our will in movement over time instead of attempting to maintain a balance with tension and posture adjustments.

Drills to manifest balance:

  1. Stand on one leg. Swing the other leg forward and back as you clap your hand in the opposite side to create a balance. Breathe and let your arms find the same reach in front of you and at the back.
  2. Place yourself on your fists and feet. move side to side, move forward and back, and turn in circles. Turn from facing down to facing up or vice versa and repeat the movement patterns. Enjoy moving and move with your breath and from the center outward.
  3. Stand a step away from a wall or a tree. Place your hands of fists on it and start walking it side to side. Turn away from the wall and repeat.
  4. Pick someone or something up in your arms. It can be your kid or mate or a log you aim to use for heating. Start walking and pay attention to the mass distribution in your feet. Walk forward and backwards side to side and turn right and left. Walk tall and in a partial squat. Let your feet relearn how to walk by shifting instead of pressing.
  5. Take a broomstick or any other rolling pin that can bear your mass. Stand on it with both feet using the center of each foot. Breathe and slowly look up and down side to side and turn your head. Breathe and release excess tension and slowly let the body align on the rolling pin to gain greater balance in each direction.

Enjoy and join our classes.

Art by Natalia Friedman

Co-ordination

Coordination and coordination under pressure are related sets of skills.

I was playing with my son Gideon and together we came up with a set of drills for coordination under pressure.

Here is the progression.

  1. Stand and hold a tennis ball in your hand. Throw it from rib height to eye height along with your breath tempo.
  2. Repeat the previous drill and close your eyes. Feel before you see.
  3. Repeat the previous drill and hold your breath and throw and catch the ball continuously until pressure rises and a bit further.
  4. Have your son or anyone else stand only slightly out of reach and as you throw the ball, have them throw a ball at you. Catch it with your other hand and throw it back minding to continue your initial rhythm and your breath continuous.
  5. Repeat the previous drill but move out of the way of the incoming ball and return to your position as you throw it back.
  6. Walk with the ball in one hand and throw it as in the first drill as you walk.
  7. Have your son or anyone else throw the ball at you. Catch it as you move out of the way and throw it back. Keep your breath continuous and your eyes relaxed from fixating on the incoming.
  8. Repeat the previous drill only with more than one ball flying your way. Choose which to catch and which to avoid. Color of balls can help here.

Enjoy, Grow through play and live free.

The four horsemen to counter commercial medicine

Ask yourself who you are. Are you a consumer who follows or a man who chooses his path ?

The four horsemen to counter commercial medicine

  1. Doctor FAST Fasting has been a successful prescription to countless ailments and promotes health and mental and emotional clarity. It is the definition of cheap and can be applied in moderation from not eating for a fixed number of hours each day to fasting for a day or two weekly. Keeping things simple will ease your entry into this highly beneficial practice and the joy of finding that we are not reliant on constant feeding may bring more freedom in other areas to your life.
  2. Doctor MOVEMENT Movement is a key ingredient in staying and building both ability and health. Physical labor from building a fence to digging a ditch helps in strengthen and harnessing the physical body and creating a more aware, healthy and happy individual. We can practice many arts from dancing to martial art when we have the time and we become more vibrant and effective in our lives in both the physical and mental plane. Breath, dance, move and be happy.
  3. Doctor TEMPERATURE heat and cold are primal catalyst for body and mind integration and health. Our bodies and minds clear the mist and release the breaks when it feels the need to stay alive and heat from a sauna or a hot shower and cold from an ice bath or taking a cold shower will clear the head, bring about great hormonal changes in the body for the better and help build a better working and better feeling machine for us to use.
  4. Doctor SILENCE Silence is often misunderstood. Any person can be happy for a little bit with the aid of drugs (sugar, spirits and worse) but long lasting happiness comes from having a purpose and being in alignment with your true self instead of following a trend or trying to fit in. When I speak of silence, I speak of the clear content of following your purpose, the silence of not listening to the screaming voices of media and fashion trying to push and prod you to fit in a mold which benefits them. Be your own man or woman. Be truly happy. I wish you all the best in this challenge and hope to learn together on the way.

Water training

Being in the water is a natural experience. We’ve all spend months in liquid and returning to it is second nature.

Standing neck deep in water is relaxing and can be challenging in the right mindset and conditions. If the temperature is low, then the body needs to contend with the elements and the blood flow and heat generation is getting a workout. If the temperature is mild, the body can receive the same by swimming and diving.

One of the great things in water is they resist all movement and give instant feedback. Clap your hands in front and clap them behind you and feel the water resistance to the movement. Try to do this faster and faster and the water will respond in kind.

Kick with your feet and strike with your arms. Roll and turn, switch positions and height. Shadow fight slow and then faster and faster and you will get a great lesson in movement efficiency and your entire body will learn to move more as one unit and forgo excessive tension and movement.

Breathing wise. When the temperature is low. Direct your breath into the places that warm your body. The locations are slightly different for each person so note where your body is warmer in cold environments and study yourself. This is a focus drill of course and through that, you learn to direct and use your nervous system and visualization to generate actual heat.

Also, Just enjoy the water and watch out for gators 🙂

A line in the sand

There is a saying that we are treated as worse as we allow.

I want to introduce a few physical examples of this concept but also urge you to consider where this concept comes to life in everyday life and the relationships we hold with family, friends and the powers that be beyond the people.

  1. Distance – Consider the distance we dynamically hold and mold between ourselves and the world. Aim to determine the distance between people and yourself as well as the position you are in, instead of letting others guide, bully, direct and request you at their will. In many ways, the ability to detect being bullied, guided and circled will aid in avoiding being mugged, attacked and so on. Distance is not just physical, it is a manifestation of our state of mind and the way we position ourselves in the social hierarchy.
  2. Breath control – Speaking cannot happen without breathing. Not much else can happen without it either. Notice and mind your breath as you speak and as you move withing distance and action. Avoid letting people taking your breath away by minding your own breath first and staying within the rhythm which suits you. We are either masters or slaves. There is only freedom or servitude unless you find the golden line of true cooperation or dare I say love.
  3. Conflict – Manipulation, subterfuge and plain use of force are evident everywhere in nature. The fight to feed the young, kill the competition and avoid being mud beneath the wheel of time is everlasting. Consider with each interaction, which role we play and to what extent we are in control of the dynamics. We are only human when we act human. It is easy to lose sight of our humanity when pressed and there again, recognizing the pressure, is the key to letting it pass within without passing it on to us.

Art by my beloved Natalia Friedman.

NICE is a killing word

Today we have many schools for martial art that teach very little while costing us time and even derails us from true understanding and harms us.

How do we distinguish what is good for us and what is harmful ? How do we take this lesson and enact it in our being instead of keeping the lesson in the classroom?

We ask questions and stand for what is good for us even if others call us names and attempt to shame and derail us.

For example:

Does your martial art school elevate students when time passes and money transfers hands or only when the quality of the student rises ?

Does your art benefit you outside your school ? Do you think more clearly? Do you move better? Does your awareness level and breadth rise and are you healthier ?

Does your martial art force you to look inside and acknowledge more strength of character than you thought you had ? This can come in many ways from investing in deep practice to helping others rise.

One of the earliest arts I studies was Korindo Aikido. We learned to roll and move on wooden floors, fight with hands feet staff sword and dagger and to avoid getting hid by one of many. Aikido has a bad name today in the martial art world and many say it is not fit for the ring or octagon. That is not the true test of a martial art. I have seen it help many grow as people and it has saved my skin in the service many a time both in movement, awareness and mortal combat.

I urge you to take this a step further and stop acting nice by abiding by ruling and pressure from outside and start being nice by standing tall and standing for what you believe in no matter what the outside calls you or tries to control you by trying to paint your beliefs in a certain way.

The martial way is not about who wins a bout in the ring, it is not about who has the fastest kick or the hardest fist though they are nice to have.

The martial way is about being a beneficial member in your tribe, about being free to advance your beliefs and keep learning and being able to protect and grow yourself and your loved ones. The best soldiers are leaders, scholars, innovative thinkers and people who answer the question “Am I my brothers keeper?” in the affirmative every day, not by acting nice but by being nice. Being a person of worth instead of a drone in someone else’s plan.

Also,

Do pushups 🙂

Do breathwork and always stand for what is right.

Balance between give and take

In confrontations there is no balance between the streams. There will only be a balance within the theater the confrontation takes place in.

In physical confrontations, we will gain balance once we are mindful to the internal streams of tension and movement within. Knowing the internal theater of war lets the one in conflict see with less distortion both inward and outward.

Our hips are a marvel of engineering. Crafted over eons for the perfect balance between stability mobility, efficiency and effectiveness.

I give you two drills to balance your hip nervous system activation patterns. They are simple on the outside but the multitude of possibilities make them a rich research ground.

Place yourself on both feet and hands. Make your body into an X with your feet and arms slightly parted. Use your breath to time each movement and lift each limb in turn minding to keep the body centered. There may be a slight shift before each lift that with attention will clean out as awareness grows.

Repeat the same standing up. Lift each leg in turn. Think of peeling the sole off the ground instead of lifting it like a robot. Move as if all limbs act in union and enjoy the new found balance and health this releases.

In a confrontation or when walking on a slippery surface, this will aid in maintaining and regaining your level and allow for less telegraphing motion when in maneuver.

Power allows for grace

There is a strong trend in martial art and in life where we claim technique is greater than brute force. In many cases, it is true yet there is no place for us to neglect our force production when we consider the full human or any system we are upholding and wishing to thrive, from computer networks needing bandwidth as well as proper routing tables and rules to humans needing healthy strong joints and muscles to facilitate what the nervous systems wishes it to accomplish.

Here is a snapshot from our Friday focus on power before we worked on grace/technique

600 push ups in variations

600 inverted push ups or ropes

50 rope dips (similar to ring dips but on held rope)

50 rope pull ups (similar to ring pull ups but on held rope)

100 rolls from standing to ground to standing on one leg

50 Leg raises on dip bars

300 breaths in the neck bridge

300 breaths in the upside down bars hold ( see picture) It is a favorite of mine and very healthy when worked in progression into a routine.

Force and health allow us to be graceful. Without force, we are nothing, Without grace, we are nothing. We have to balance it out constantly and never neglect either of them.

Death and life in one step

We live two lives. The one before we know our mortality and the one which follows the understanding we are but leaves in the wind. Merits are held by both and none is better than the other.

The martial world is thus divided too. There are martial arts that come to win, harm, maim and gain superiority and those we deal with life and death. I am partial to the later and for many reasons.

To win is a story we tell ourselves and others. We bested one or more and proved momentary superiority. How nice.

To live and to be willing to take a life to defend the living and your way of live involves a more binary a choice. A nature type of choice. A father will give his life without second though for his child, a teacher will devote himself to his students and a boy will fight a losing battle in the vanguard, without hope yet with purpose.

The movements of a stick fight and a sword fight have many similarities yet start differences. To learn the sword is to learn the stick as well but the other way does not flow.

Why do I write Death and life and not life and death? It is death that gives life in the battle field. We exist in a gray world. Many would sell their souls and their loved ones for momentary crumbs. Yet, the choice is ever present in each and every step to become more than who we are. To stand for something whose value lies deep like the roots of a tree.

Breathe without pause yet without haste,

Move in a dance but without outside rhythm.

keep your heart free from following thoughts and feelings in its tempo

Hear what is said and see what transpires by abandoning the anchor of knowledge for knowing

Respect life. Even one’s own

That is all.

Running

Running a one of the movements humans excel in. Most people do not know we can outrun almost any animal on earth in long distance running and we can carry quite a bit of mass as well.

Getting there from a modern sedentary life is less of a straight line. Several factors require treatment and vigilance to fulfill the genetic gift our predecessors created in a life of hard work, hunting and war.

Let us begin from the bottom and move up.

Feet – Most stomp their feet flatly on the ground due to lack of nature time and footwear. Aim to walk barefoot when possible and to allow the foot to hug the ground. Mobilize the toes and especially the big toe to be a part of the step and to make contact with the ground without force.

The first contact is one of three keys to effortless running. A person has to move all limbs from the center and avoid pushing against the contact as much as possible. This is very simple but not easy. Moving the limbs and legs in particular from the hips and body and only moving the mass to the leg on the ground after the contact has been established and confirmed as safe.

A side note is that once of the earliest signs of a culture is a healed leg bone. Before culture, once you broke your leg, you were dead. a sure step is more vital to our survival than we know.

Stand and slowly peel one foot off the ground by moving your body and hips. Place the foot back on the ground using the same frame of mind and movement and only then, place your mass on it.

Legs and hips – The best way to learn to move your feet on the ground is off the ground. water walking as water polo players practice or hanging on a tree branch we can swing our legs and move our hips easily and without unyielding contact. Practice air or water walking as often as you can and it will translate to a full body movement that goes past pushing and pulling.

Body and head – leaning forward and twisting creates tension and disrupts the movement of the entire body as one when they don’t happen out of purpose. keep the body upright and the sight forward and open to avoid excess tension and to allow the body what it is good at.

Breath – Letting the breath lead action takes both listening and letting go. Allow the breath to be the first movement of each step, the exhale to be the channel where the ground contact ends toward the skies (nothing supernatural here, just continuous movement) and keep the breath incoming and outgoing through the nose.

If you run for fun, run. If you run because you must, look behind you from time to time and see where it brings you.