Pressing tension

We are so used to pain and tension that we do not even know how it is possible to live without it. One example is the high level of tension in the legs and how it affects the hips turnout and our mobility and general health. The way to press this excess out of the body is not pleasant to say the least 🙂 Yet the outcome is worth it.

Do as few movement drills `before and then after this set of drills and note how the shift in tension affects your movement, awareness and impact acceptance.

We begin with static holds, we progress to gentle rocking in place and then further and deeper with narrower placed pressure (less contact and same mass or for example side of foot instead of sole of foot) and later on we move intuitively as we feel the tendrils and arches of pressure and how one interacts with the other.

Static holds:

  • Apply pressure to the center of the muscle belly and slowly edge toward a third up and down. Start with flat pressure by a fist, sole of foot and so on and then proceed to edgier pressure and always avoid going too fast. Slow becomes fast with good breath and attention.
  1. Sit with both legs straight and together and with toes pointing up. Have a partner apply pressure on the middle of the rectus femoris. Focus on breathing and communicating with your partner. Some will feel nothing but the pressures while others may scream in pain. Enjoy both ends of the spectrum and move slowly on the arch of the muscle while avoiding any pressure on the knee joint from above.
  2. Sit with both legs bent so the sides of the legs is on the ground and one knee is in contact with the sole of the other. Have a partner stand or apply pressure on the Iliotibial tract and again focus on breathing and on paying attention.
  3. Squat with your feet flat on the ground and your spine upright. Have a partner stand on the upper third of your rectus femoris ( have him or her balance using your head or anything else in the area. Breathe, note the shift in the hips and enjoy the process as well. After 30-60 breaths, descend and watch as the body naturally adjusts.
  4. Lie on your front and bend the knees so the toes point to the heavens. Have a partner apply pressure downward as you breathe and press from the hips upwards.

For more, come to class or be in touch 🙂

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.

TENDON STRENGTH MONTH

A car is powered by its engine and fuel but the transmission carries the power to where it is manifested.

Let’s focus also on our transmission which is our joints and connective tissue.

Here is a three month plan to build up the the tendon mind health and connection. Tendons take longer than muscle to grow and change so take care to listen to your body and never play the music out of tune. Practice the holds and movements below in an alternating manner where you spread them. Do each one three times a week to let the body build itself and come together in a new way of locomotion.

Three times a week:

  1. LOWER BODY – Bend at the ankles, knees and hips till you reach a ninety degree angle at the knees and the feet are under the hips. Walk 120 breaths forward and the same backwards, sideways and turning. Keep your back upright at all times and allow yourself to relax your face and neck.
  2. LOWER BODY – Place your feet on a sliding surface ( a sock on a stone floor or smooth plastic on a rug) as you lie face up on the ground. Inhale and lift the hips up by pressing one foot backwards and repeat 60 times per side and alternate with each step.
  3. SPINE – Lie on your back and arch to for a full body arch with all limbs joining the arch. Breath and rock forward and back for 120 breaths. Repeat while on your stomach and on each side. Allow one arm on the ground when you are doing the sides to ease into the movement. Keep the arch alive instead of stiff and move from your breath.
  4. UPPER BODY – Hang on the bar and sway forward and back for 120 breaths. Avoid straining yourself in the beginning and build to a full 120 breath of swinging forward and back. Once you can do it in one go, advance to playing and swaying in different directions and heights. Swaying is much more taxing than static holds so progress with care.
  5. UPPER BODY – Hang on the parallel bars for a 120 breaths. Sway the body forward and back and again, take your time in getting to doing this in one set. Make sure your shoulders do not sag and on the other hand are not tense and your entire body moves as one.

Enjoy the movement.

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.

How to learn and improve from injury/illness

We are sick and injured from time to time and it is a hidden gift in reminding us of our mortality and we learn to move with and around those areas and come out of the tunnel even stronger and in better neural and mental shape.

Examples:

The cement mixer: torso

Sit on your behind and have your legs together and your back straight in the air. Use your breath as tempo and rotate your legs in the air in small circles in one direction and then in the other. It may help to do circles with your arms as well.

The doorway into heaven: shoulders

Stand in front of a stout door-frame. Place your palms on the inside of the frame and do a standing push up as you press the arms outward.

Repeat the push up with the back of the palms and then with the sides of the hands and alter the angle to fit the tension needed.

Rope ladder: Legs and arms

Hold a looped rope in one hand straight overhead and place the bottom of the loop to hold the middle of the sole of the opposite leg. Press the leg downward as the arm and shoulder deliver resistance and reverse it on the way up. Keep your spine and head neutral to keep the work where you want it to be.

The exorcist: spine, back and leg tension balance

Lie on your back with your behind almost touching a wall and your legs straight but not locked resting on the wall. Inhale and roll your shoulders out as you raise your hips up and push your heels against the wall into a bridge that is wall supported. You can do this two legged or one leg at a time and even roll from this to your stomach. Keep your head from pressing to the ground and let your spine and hips decompress.

Teach your child to pay attention

Games and stories are the best way to teach the young and non walking dead.

Here are a few ways to bring your child more into the moment and show that paying attention pays.

VISUAL

  1. One more cat – Choose an animal like a cat or an object and see who calls it out faster and in greater amounts. You can have a cat counting contest or a broken pavement contest it matters only that we pay attention. Change what the object is from time to time as the seasons change (red leaf for example) and enjoy the extra awareness.
  2. What is missing – Take a scene that is well known to everyone and remove one part. See who finds out what it is first and how. For example – take away the favorite picture off the wall and see if it is noticed.
  3. Color blind – Things change color by season or man action. Note the changes the locals make in their yards and clothes, mark the changes in the leaves and trunk and mark the change in the skies and in the horizons.

AUDITORY

  1. Insects birds cats and dogs – Where you have insects making noises, you will not find birds, where you hear birds, you will not find cats and so on. Listen and predict what animals or people you will find about and learn a mighty lesson on rings of association.
  2. Echo lines – There is a distance beneath which no echo is heard by us. Guess and match who finds the line of the echo in different places and ranges. There is a lot to learn about the three dimensional nature of waves thus.
  3. The closing tap – A tune is made out of sound and silence. check who notices when the washing machine has ended its cycle, when do the birds finish their evening calls and gain the full range of the tune.

TACTILE

  1. The lost ant – Hide a small paper clip inside clothes and see when it is detected, Place a plastic bottle cap under the sheets and see who is the true princess or just place an acorn on the ground and see who chooses to step lightly 🙂 The appreciation to touch goes beyond the fingertips.
  2. The right key – Take objects that seem similar and close your eyes to pick the right one. It can be keys, clothes and anything that matches, your fingers and mind will connect past the oversight of the eyes and awaken even more.
  3. The tower – Take very light objects like disposable plastic cups or clean ear cleaning sticks and build towers with them.  aim to make them as gentle as possible to better understand the lightest touch.

For Gideon.

 

 

Increase your natural jumping ability

1 Do walks on toes and ball of feet.

2 Do hill sprints.

3 Lose mass you don’t need.

4 Start the jump on an exhale when possible (inhale as you bend and exhale when you spring up).

5 Swing your arms toward the target (forward or up for example).

6 Do a prep light jump to load the “spring” in the legs.

7 Aim in your mind beyond the target.

8 Work on springing to a straight hip spine relation by jumping from sitting on your shins to a squat.

9 Jump rope on one leg at a time and use a heavy rope like a climbing rope.

10 Work on strengthening your toes for the jump especially the big toe by pulling and pushing on a blanket on the ground with just your toes.

And give it time 🙂

A visual aid to print:

jump skeleton sharon friedman

For Emily 🙂

Strikes 101

Blunt impact comes in many forms. Preparing to give and receive impact can greatly clear the fog of imaginary outcome and grow your awareness to your thoughts, feelings and your physical body.

Practice these methods of movement with consistency and attention and you will feel progress in your impact.

Solo work:

  1. Rest your arms on the ground and roll your shoulders and body to turn your arms palm up and down. Slowly close your fingers together to form a relaxed fist that has room to compress if met with a wall or hard opposition. Now place your arms to your sides and roll your body and shoulders to shake tension from your arms until they move like chains on the ground. In this you can relearn to move with no excess and unleash if you will, the power a demolition ball.
  2. Stand in an open space and with an exhale, relax your spine from the top downward until your upper body is resting on your legs with your legs unlocked. Inhale and straighten up fully and send the momentum to your entire body so your body motion sends you jumping forward. Repeat with awareness to keeping your body relaxed as possible but maintain the needed framework for moving tension around at will. Watch for small children before making the leap. J
  3. Stand with your legs under your hips. Breathe and relax your knees to a semi squat with each exhale. Focus on moving one hip forward and one back in each release of tension and continue to move with your breath. Focus on your hips-spine-shoulder connection and direct the semi squat to your shoulders to swing your shoulders forward and back, Once this is done, direct the movement to travel to the elbow and then to the wrist and hand. Play with speed and slowly become comfortable with changing speed instead of keeping a consistent pace. This will allow you to release the stored energy from your structure without excess tension or changing your posture unnecessarily.
  4. Place yourself on your fists and feet facing downward. Place your mass on your muscles by keeping angles in all your joints. Breathe and sway forward and back and shift your mass from fists to feet and back. Once this is comfortable, lift one limb up and continue to play shift side to side and forward and back. Continue to place one limb on a wall at a time and then two limbs on the wall and play with the mass shift from angle to angle. Repeat the process on your knees and on your forearms and remember to always allow the joints to move on the impact to avoid fixation and damage to yourself. (Some joints such as the wrist if you are hitting with your fist should remain at a comfortable angle but not move too much to avoid hyper tension in the joint)
  5. Stand with your arms to your sides. Inhale and raise your arms slowly. Feel the blood moving in your arms and repeat with attention to moving the blood inside in sync with the movement of your arms. Awareness to your movement inside will allow you to better impact without bouncing back and with greater affect. This connects with the first point of letting the body move as one instead of fixating and pushing in the moment of impact.

Partner work:

  1. Place your fist on your partner and place your awareness in your hips-spine-shoulders. Allow the elbow to move in all direction and relax to allow the fist to sink in the partner without increasing the tension of your movement. It will be wise to separate the idea of movement and tension. You can move from release and you can move from tension and everywhere in between. Repeat the work with your foot on the partner. Working standing and sitting on your behind will add a lot of awareness to the work.
  2. Have your partner walk randomly and work to place your fist, foot or body on them and sink your contact to turn them and change their alignment on the move. Focus on staying relaxed and playing with the contact instead of trying to land the strike. Stay comfortable and work to see existing openings instead of forcing them.
  3. Close your eyes and have your partner push and pull on you. Relax your body toward them and sink your contact on the go. Let your entire body be the instrument.
  4. Have your partner strike you continuously. Relax your body to avoid absorbing the strikes and move up and down as you are being struck. Maintaining freedom within the contact is a key to freedom from being led and true freedom.
  5. Smile and have a good conversation as you strike your partners and move. Mind to keep breathing freely instead of trying to ride the breathe in and out and find how this releases you from being controlled by outside stimulation and inner pressure. This is a combination of your mind, body and feelings together as you maintain your calm mind active while getting struck and striking. Without this, you must shift each time you strike and that is a misfortune.

Enjoy the path as it has no end.

Increase your basic level of awareness

Here are ways to increase your awareness without increasing the energy we put into it. It is easy to be super vigilant for a few seconds and then go back to sleep. Choose instead to grind the wheel a little bit each day. Keep your sword sharp or grow rust.

These are tweaks and small changes to everyday civil life. Take what suits you and make it your own. Do not let the darkness come. Take it in yourself.

 

  1. Use less artificial light. Go to the washroom at night without turning on the light. Take the trash out without using the staircase light. Learn to see and feel with the light you have.
  2. Listen with your feet. Object moving on the ground make vibrational footprints. Pay attention even when you have your boots or shoes on and you will gain sight beyond sight.
  3. Smell your food but not just. Smelling your food give a head start to your stomach to produce what is needed to digest the incoming. Pay attention to cigarette smoke, to car smells within the car, Pay attention to flowers opening in the morning and shifts in people smells in seasons and in health and sickness.
  4. Feel the air on your skin. Moving doors, birds and vehicles create streams of moving air. You can sit with your back to the door and still sense it open in the dark.
  5. Attune before you open the door. People open doors with but a glance or look or even on automatic. Let yourself gather and listen to your senses and intuition each time you open a door. It will pay forward in some way.
  6. Listen to the small voices. Everyone has intuition but not everyone listens to it. Hear the small hunches and voices among the larger voices of hunger and pain. The more you pay attention to, the less one voice controls you.
  7. Look at the long run. We eat and forget, we try to catch the falling glass of the table and forget the firing of the less used nerves. Listen to the long run and pay attention to the reward and price of doing what you choose to do. Many times there will be no connection but sometimes will make this worth the weave of past, present and future together. Eventually it will be just a part of you as it was in youth.
  8. See with your hands. The weight and texture of objects matter. Pressing a button that has warmed up due to electric resistance, feeling sweat on a door handle or the changed weight of a picked pocket. All these things are at your fingertips.

 

For JTMM

Wall walking

WALK THE WALL

100 STEPS WITH YOUR FISTS ON THE WALL SIDE TO SIDE

100 STEPS WITH YOUR FEET ON THE WALL SIDE TO SIDE

100 STEPS WITH YOUR FISTS ON THE WALL UP AND DOWN

100 STEPS WITH YOUR FEET ON THE WALL UP AND DOWN

100 STEPS WITH YOUR FISTS ON THE WALL SIDE TO SIDE WHILE FACING AWAY FROM THE WALL

100 STEPS WITH YOUR FISTS ON THE WALL UP AND DOWN WHILE FACING AWAY FROM THE WALL