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

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.

Seeing with closed eyes

Are there secrets that hide behind our eyes ? Perhaps so.

We enjoy a waterfall of input from our eyes on a regular basis. This overabundance overrides other input streams causing us to devote less time to our hearing, smell, taste and body sensation. A monochrome painting gives less input but allows us to see other aspects that would be lost otherwise.

Closed eyes release a great deal of mental bandwidth to process other flavors as the next suggestions suggest:

  1. Start a constant sound (sometimes, owning a smart phone is good) place the sound in a static place and navigate the space according to the distance, angle and height of the sound.
  2. Start a constant sound and have it moving in a repetitive way. A friend or a toy truck can be or service here. Repeat the navigation drill and let your mind and senses feel the path of the sound in space.
  3. Find a quiet place. Not always an easy task and listen to your own breath and heart beat. Find your own sound reflected in the trees, walls or whatever is around you. Let your sound become a part of the surroundings and with breath, let it dissipate and grow more efficient.
  4. Lie on the ground and crawl around a safe location. Find your way with your body and limbs and feel the different textures of the ground and what is around you. Let the temperature of the different materials tell you where you are and where the sun warms the surface and how. Let the smell and residue on the ground tell you again where you are. The same will work with your eyes open as the capability spans and grows with deep practice.

Breathe, move, communicate with yourself and others.

Stand straight and smile

There are many ways to correct things. One of the best is to show that there is an alternative to an imbalance.

We hurt in the shoulders neck and back due to posture and movement and more. To heal it, we begin in alignment and how to heal movement patterns from the base.

Begin in sitting on your behind and placing your hands at the sides of the body. Raise the knees up and keep the body from the knees to the shoulders parallel to the ground for 30 breaths and relax down. This is a start in reclaiming your balance of muscle activation back.

Continue to the same hold only with body straight from the ankles all the way to the shoulders with just the hands and heels touching the ground.

Continue to the same hold only with palms facing away from the body for the same amount of breaths.

Continue to placing a sliding surface under your heels ( a plastic box on a rug or an expensive exercise device, you decide and with each inhale, push up to the straight hold and relax down on the exhale. Repeat 60 times.

There is very little our bodies cannot do with the right guidance and care. Care for your body and 🙂 Come to my class.

Rope Agility

I love to see commercials for expensive devices in fitness and the martial arts. I love even more to find solutions hiding under my nose to bring fun, progress and health to myself, my students and anyone else.

Here are four rope drills that get the job done:

  1. Take a rope that extends from one hand to the ground and back to the other hand and cross over it forward and back. Shorten the rope a by a wrist width and repeat moving forward and back over the rope until the rope is nothing but a connection between the arms. Once the hands are touching, slowly lengthen the rope till it reaches the ground again. You will find that moving and articulating the hips in all directions is key to spreading the movement needed to traverse the shortening loop. The other part lies in letting the breath lead the motion so no excess tension is created.
  2. Take a length of rope as long as both of your arms and hold it in one hand. swing it overhead in a circle and then under your legs as you jump over it. Repeat for both directions and hands and let the breath lead the pace.
  3. Have a partner hold a length of rope about your height and stand two steps away from you. Have them swing the rope at knee height as you jump over the rope. Start while facing the rope and then progress to being sideways to the rope and almost facing away from it to learn to complete the picture from slivers of sight. That is an important skill to acquire.
  4. Tie a loop at one end of the rope and loop it over one foot. Give the other end to a partner and have them work slowly to imbalance you as you work to maintain your standing balance or roll with it when needed. Remember to release your eyes from the partner to allow free movement and use both legs and hips to spread the pull and twist generated by the rope.

And have fun doing so.

All the rage

we train on controlled environment for safety and to gain self control. Achieving higher levels of self control comes from destabilizing from inside so we unravel the ability to ride the wave of rage both up and DOWN.

We all have things that bug us, that annoy us, that bring the rage in us.

Use them,

Have a partner slap the back of your head while you contend with the rising emotion and perform your chosen task from getting up and sitting down to avoiding getting struck by a third party.

Think of a bad memory, from getting run over by a tank (long story) to a crying baby at night and again, let the emotion run its course and use that energy to do what needs to be done instead of holding it bottled up and letting it surface in another manner.

Imagine a foe in front of you from a bad teacher in your past to Ra’s al Ghul. Let the emotion of hate, loathing and rage come up and use that energy to better move and navigate the thoughts inside.

Within all these drills, one thing remains.

Breathe with the emotion instead of trying to control it.

What we hold, holds us in its grip. Remember this.

And a special note from my son:

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Podcast 2 – Learning from other branches of movement

Topics –using the theme of healing from an injury or encounter shock

Learning from other fields of study:

Gymnastics, coordination and force, understanding leverage

Climbing – strength and structure awareness in hanging and moving,economy of motion

Dance – balance, lightness on feet, coordination, reading people and tempo

Circus – juggling, rope walking, riding on animals and moving objects

Podcast 1 – Questions and Answers

Here are the topics

  1. What is falling down and why we need never practice it
  2. Training around injuries
  3. Remaining calm under pressure – why should we
  4. How to build a training program – imbalance creates balance
  5. Should we cross train – give example of a joint class with sifu (teacher) Jonathan Bluestein
  6. What physical tools I use in my daily training