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.

The 4 pull up challenge

There is no perfect plan. Each fits the bill for a situation.

This plan aims to build stamina and healthy connective tissue and joints.

Do this once each morning and don’t confine yourself to pull ups.

We begin with doing 4 pull ups where we inhale on the upwards motion and exhale on the downward motion.

Next we progress to talking a full relaxed inhale and an exhale on both the upward and downward parts of each motion.

Now we add an inhale and an exhale to each part of the motion once we feel comfortable with the current pace and add a few breaths in between if need be. Mind to count the rest breaths if needed and keep them consistent or lowering in numbers.

Once you can do 4 consecutive pull ups with 10 relaxed breaths going up and the same going down, you will have a better foundation of connective tissue and lasting strength in your upper body and again, do this in the appropriate numbers for other movements such as the squat, pushup and the bridge.

Steps to have a better moving vessel

Posture today seems to be a silly word. We expect Captain America to stand tall but fail to recognize that it is a significant part we can improve in our health, movement and even self-worth. The way we hold ourselves transmits our image back to the nervous system and it is a free healthy way to improve inside and out.

Here are ten simple and easy movements to improve the posture.

  • The hard part is the consistency but that is where the true magic lies.
  1. Vacuum holds – Press your back to the wall or lie down, Exhale for a number of heart beats (start low and aim high) and hold while pulling the stomach in and up and creating a vacuum. Release slowly  and repeat three times a day. Allow for the heartbeat to normalize between each time.
  2. De Vinci wall press – lean your back to the wall with your feet between one to two steps away from the wall. Place your arms parallel to the ground and with an inhale press them straight backwards and raise your body straight forward. Hold for a breath and release on the exhale. Repeat thirty times and play with angles and distance from the wall to find the right angle for right now.
  3. Wall head swivels  – Stand a step away from a wall and place your hands one over the other on the top of your head. Touch the top of your hands  on the wall and circle in place, creating a revolving light neck bridge. Avoid leaning on the wall and simply allow the movement to ease tension out naturally. Perform ten turns in each direction.
  4. Wall bridge walking side to side – Stand a step away from the wall and facing away from it. Arch the entire spine and raise your arms to form a bridge on the wall. Use your breath as tempo and body shifts to walk side to side on the wall. Walk twenty double steps in each direction.
  5. Wall bridge walking down and up – Stand a step away from the wall and facing away from it. Arch the entire spine and raise your arms to form a bridge on the wall. Use your breath as tempo and body shifts to walk up and down on the wall and relax your hips, knees and ankles to spread the load evenly. Walk 20 double steps up and down and let the comfort of breath determine depth.
  6. Low walking – Keep your torso perpendicular to the ground and relax your hips, knees and ankles to lower yourself to half a full squat. Keep your hip bone in line with the spine instead of allowing it to hinge and walk by relaxing from leg to leg and letting the breath lead the tempo. Do sixty  double steps playing with direction and turn at will.
  7. L sit hold – Sit on your behind with your legs straight together. Inhale and raise yourself by pressing your fists downward at the sides of your hips and tensing the body as much as needed to maintain the body and legs in the air. Hold for sixty breaths.
  8. Air walking while hanging on a bar – hang on a bar or tree limb with palms facing forward (pull up position) Use your breath as tempo and walk in the air forward and back and twist your body to “walk” side to side. Let the body release the compression and build tissue health naturally while releasing tension. Do sixty double steps.
  9. Stomach to back rolls with all limbs in the air – Lie on your back or stomach and suspend all limbs and head in the air. Breathe and roll your body from front to back and allow the body to align and lead from the center outward. Play with where you start the motion to renew the natural ingenuity of the body. Do twenty turns in each direction but keep it from becoming a momentum movement.
  10. Sleeping with no pillows – Letting your spine rest when you rest – We are meant to keep the spine relaxed and pillows tend to bend the spine for hours a day. Lie down and find a position of comfort with a relaxed natural spine. Let go of excess.  Sleep well while you can 🙂

Notes from class: partner power lines

Relaxation is but a direction of activation. Try saying that really fast 🙂

In these series of drills, I present you with learning to balance and tense in the best alignment for the particular movement. Aim to move yourself and the rest will follow or not. Freedom stands beyond.

  1. Squat down a step away from your partner and place the flat of your fist on his or hers. Push each other’s arms back and forth and check your alignment in the squat. This teachers the right tension dynamic for movement without excess.
  2. Place yourself in the push up position and repeat the previous drill. This will add a new angle to the work and also the balance of tension in holding the torso in place J You want abs, eat right and do my drills.
  3. Repeat drills 1 and 2 only now you hold each other’s wrists and pull instead of push.
  4. Repeat drills 1 and 2 only now you aim to move each other’s arm in a circle as they aim to give you some resistance and guide you otherwise.
  5. Stand back to back and hold each other in the bend of your elbows. Arch your spine to bring your partner airborne as they offer some resistance and repeat. This aids in learning to use the curvature of the body to your advantage and also to ease back pain when done right. Breath leads motion and aim to do good.
  6. Stand shoulder to shoulder while facing to opposite sides. Place your arms over each other’s shoulder and put the leg close to your partner around your partners one also in the air. Now press the partner leg back and forth as they resist and balance together or fall and adjust.
  7. Stand a step away from each other and place your hands on each other’s shoulders. Keep them with enough tension to stay straight but without locking them or getting stiff. Push each other back and forth using the entire body to spread the tension to the needed but without exceeding it.
  8. Stand back to back and push each other back and forth. Focus on the movement and don’t cling to the ground or to any contact. Breathe and move and if it does not work, align yourself with whatever is happening.
  9. Stand shoulder to opposite shoulder and push each other side to side. Enjoy but hold your spine with control. Never push yourself out of alignment.

Play with your body and have a purpose.

Enjoy and preserve your health.



Strong hands

Here are proven methods of increasing the ability of hands and fingers. They come to make us more capable and less fragile in a world of impact and shearing.

Make yourself strong so you can do the work you want done.

  1. Hanging on rough surfaces – We all hanged on rounded bars on gym classes. Some even use gloves. Hang on tree branches and on square beams. Take it a step further and hang on different parts of the palm to learn to relax further and allow the body adept and grow stronger in all angles.
  2. Walking on your fists – Start walking on your fists on a wall. Walk sideways and up and down. Let your breath create the tempo and move from the body. Keep your wrist relaxed to move while under pressure and continue to do so on the ground. Make sure you move silently and without excess tension. Allow the fingers to move while under pressure and not fight the contact. Take it a step further and walk on the sides of the fist and on the back of the fist. Close your hand around a fragile object such as an origami bird and walk on your fists without breaking the object.
  3. Walking on your finger palms – Walk on the flats of last joint of each finger (Distals) while maintaining an arch on each finger. Maintain the least amount of tension to keep the arch and walk on the wall side to side and up and down. Mind to breathe out the excess tension instead of letting it sink in the body.
  4. Pulling rope – Tie a strong rope to a strong anchor. Sit on your behind and pull yourself up by pulling on the rope and easing yourself down under control. Stand a step away from the rope and fall forward. Grab the rope on the way down and swing with it.
  5. Hammer throw – Take a light hammer (1 kg or a bit more) throw and catch it by a predetermined part. This goes beyond throw and catch into hand eye coordination and body mind relaxation. The uneven mass creates the greater learning experience and fun here. ( do not do this on tiles….)

Notes from Class: The inner constelation

The inner constelation.

Draw an imaginary line from one toe to each hip. Draw an imaginary life from each hip to each shoulder. Divide the body by half side to side and front and back. Repeat the drawing of the lines to the front and back and side and side of each hip and shoulder. Now divide each foot to front and back and side and side and center (I know, Its so easy…) and repeat the entire process.

Now, Tense and relax each line in turn and play the inner harp, moving the tension from line to line and feel the interwoven (pun intended) resonance between the lines.

Extra credit. Start from that place in your abdomen where you push and move from and draw lines to every location we mentioned so far. Add the spine coulum and notice while walking how the lines shift and arch.

Have a partner place a a knife or a fist on your body. Tense a line and release a strike from the arms to that contact from each side and then from above and below. Repeat the play all around the body and at different heights and angles. Enjoy the process.

Have a partner push a fist or blade gently to your body. Repeat the previous work, starting with releasing your frame tension and creating with that release, one continous movement sequence.

Have a partner push a fist or blade to your body. Repeat the previous work and relax your hips to step toward your pusher.

Have your partner push you continously as they try to move through you. Repeat the previous work and allow your body to shift angles to be able to move in any direction you choose, while maintaining the freedom of choice.

Have a partner grab you and pull. Repeat the previous work and work to avoid being dragged. Choose your direction by both relaxing and initiating. Don’t just surf the wave.

Move toward a standing partner and innitiate contact  as you enter and exit their static engagement zone. Notice how this changes your eye focus and body tension. Keep yourself in your breath and maintain your freedom to move, pivot and angle while in contact.

Move toward a parten that is pushing always toward you.  Repeat the previous work as you engage and disengege. Notice where you are and how you choose your angle in the movement and where your eyes are drawn.

Extra credit. Draw lines from each toe to the center of the foot and to the heel. Bring one leg up by releasing the hips to move and avoid freezing one leg in a fixed position. Move on these lines with the grounded foot and from there, continoue to move the airborne leg from the hip. Draw shapes in the air and repeat.

Havea partner stab you with a rounded stick at any level. Move on one leg to avoid getting impaled as you engage with the airborne leg. Change legs often and move around to avoid getting fixed on a pattern.



Three methods of hand/wrist work

In this piece we will explore three methods of hand work for a more capable and healthy hand and wrist.

Wall work

  1. Stand a step away from a wall and place the flats of your fingers on the wall. Press your body gradually to the wall with increasing activation in the hand and wrist to maintain the shape and gradually release the tension. Work this in different angles and distances from the wall.
  2. Stand a step or two away from the wall and place your hands on it. Lean slightly on the wall and with combined body and wrist work, rotate your hands around the forearms.  Vary the work in the same manner.
  3. Stand an arm length away from the wall and place both hands on it. Walk side to side with a slight lean forward and then the same while facing away from the wall with arms both over and under head. Progress to walking down and up the wall in the same way with varying in the regular method.
  4. Stand or sit a step away from the wall and place your hand on it. Lean on it and under this pressure, close and open your hand in various angles. Make sure your eyes and breath are free to move and continue to function.
  5. Stand a step away from the wall and place the back of your palms on the wall. Walk on the wall on the back of your palms and then on your fists and lastly using your fingers acting as spiders. Remember to breathe and keep your spine free to shape itself to the needs of the movement.

Rope work

  1. Take a long towel and place a  light soft wight in the middle ( a sack with some sand or a water sack). Fold the towel over the wight and secure it with strand. Now hold the ends in one or two hands and start rotating it around you in the air. You will learn to vary the resistance by angle and speed and learn to coordinate better while creating healthy tissue.
  2. Hang a rope from a sturdy tree or beam and stand while holding onto the rope at various heights. gradually move the wight to the rope by using your arms and body and return to the ground in the same graduation.
  3. Hang a rope from a sturdy tree or beam (a rope can be made of 550 cord and a towel with a bit of thought) sit under it and with some help from your lower body, climb up and down the rope in sync with your breath.
  4. Stand by your hanging rope and climb up and down the rope once facing the ground and once facing away from the ground. Remember to release tension from your back and hips by letting them move freely.
  5. stand a step away from the rope and fall forward. Catch the rope on the way down and swing your way back into a standing position. Breathe continuously.

Stick work

  1. Take a stick ( a shovel handle works well) and hold it in the middle. Rotate it in your hand so both ends swing in circles and hold it in various angles to the body and at various heights. The more you are acquainted with working dynamic angles, the better your inner map of self will be.
  2. hold a stick in one hand at its end with your hand relaxed at your side and slowly move it up and down. Breathe continuously and slowly draw circles in the air and work to use the least amount of tension and your best form to move the changing resistance. Your can load the end of the stick with a hammer head or heavy rope. Stay light and work on control before tension.
  3. Hold the stick at both ends. Tense arm against arm in different directions and twists through the stick and make sure you are tension only the parts you want to use. Move the stick overhead and place it on the flat of your back and vary the drill further by placing your hands on various locations on  the stick.
  4. lie on the ground and hold the stick at one end and further on the length. Place the free end on the ground and drag your body in various directions while maintaining a relaxed face and body.
  5. Take a heavy object suck as a rucksack or rock and hold the stick with both hands. Breathe and work to move the heavy object around using just the free tip of the stick and with the least amount of tension in your body. You can also do this with a partner laying down and relaxing and learn further about tension and appearance.

The wait a minute drill



The least amount of pull ups you can do

The drill is simple. The lesson is too. The reward is awareness and long time health.

Let us take the pull up as an example. Take a time frame such as a minute or two and try to do two things:

  1. Keep in movement during the entire time frame.
  2. Move as slowly as you can.

This drill is trying to most when choosing the pull up but you can build up to it over a duration. Keep in your mind that it is the hunter that returns home which feeds his family. Not the fastest runner.

Footless and handless

This drill helps in getting past the push/pull movement and into moving ourselves as one unit. Continuous attention to this practice will give you more fluidity in motion and thought.

Solo version:

Sit and start moving from one side of the area to the other with no contact with the ground with either your feet or hands. Keep your breathing continuous and and your eyes relaxed from focusing on one direction or object.

Partner version:

Repeat the previous drill but have a partner walk through where you are and avoid impact. Continue to work as your partner or partners try to push you and pull you with their arms and hands as you move about and then add the lower limbs in the fun.

The more you pay attention the more it pays forward afterwards.