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.

rope strong

Strength makes life easier. We choose paths and follow them. Choose one that makes you strong in all your faculties and take your friends and loved ones with you.

The cost of being weak is heavier…

1.       Tie the rope to a tree trunk. Climb the rope from laying down prone and see who can do it faster among your pals. Use only your arms.

2.       Lay the rope flat on the ground and tie a kerchief at the middle. Start two people at pulling themselves at each end and see who gets to the middle faster. Try not to get a concussion and use just your arms.

3.       Tie the rope between two trees at shoulder height. Walk on your hands or fists between the trees with your legs walking on the rope. Use the rope as little as you can.

4.       Loop the rope around the waist, while on your hands and feet, and give the two ends to a partner. Pull them forward and maintain the rope around your waist by turning and twisting your hips and thighs.

5.       Tie the rope to a tree above head height. Sit down and climb the rope to a standing position and back. Use the body to create the best angle and mind your elbow angles as well to the best outcome of use of force vs use of structure.

Quality movement

Patterns of movement are everywhere. Do this and get the outcome you want.

We get this everywhere but what stands behind the Kata and drills ?

Focus on the full body motion and freedom that lies behind the pattern.

Step one: Move as one piece

Step two: Move yourself instead of pushing and pulling

 

Your mind governs your body to an extent. Give it a goal but do not limit how to get there to one route. Freedom lies in letting yourself see things as they are.

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.

a movement pairing approach to mobility

Stretching is considered a staple of many movement arts yet no animal practice it. Cats do limber themselves but do not confuse that with stretching.

I present an opposing approach to this paradigm. Movement needs an opposing movement to create both the physical ability and the nerve activation to allow the body to move on its tracks.

Let us take three examples to illustrate this idea.

First let us tackle the arms and shoulders. Many cannot touch a part of their back with their hands or cannot bring their arms up overhead without bending the spine.

  1. Take a stick and hold it with both hands behind you and perpendicular to the ground. Start with the hands together and move them slowly up and down in line with your spine as one arm pushes down and the other up. This creates a closed circuit of tension and mobility in the body both giving fullness to the movement and allows the nervous system to open up to new ranges of motion. As you progress, add distance between the hands on the stick and then you can add speed.
  2. Hold a stick parallel to the ground with both hands at it’s ends. Start moving it across the back with one hand resisting the other pushing and pulling according to the direction. With diligence you will open new ranges of motion and here closing the gap between the hands will increase the range of motion in different parts of the back and shoulder belt.

Now let us tackle the legs and hips. Many cannot spread their legs or squat to the ground without bending or twisting the spine.

  1. Stand with your spine and hips relaxed and place one foot slightly ahead of the hips and the other slightly behind. Keep both pairs of toes forward and slowly squat as you pull both legs toward each other from the hips. This demands you hug the ground with your feet. A quality that needs practice in starting and stopping at will as well. As you progress, you will be able to bring the legs further apart as you keep your hips and spine relaxed and naturally upright.
  2. Stand with your spine and hips relaxed and place both feet to the sides but start the turn at the hips and do not twist your legs at all. Place both legs under your hips and slowly squat and you pull both legs away from the hips. As you progress, you will be able to bring the legs further apart as you keep your hips and spine relaxed and naturally upright.

Last we will tackle the spine. Moving the spine as one unit and in all directions will benefit everyone and open new ways of moving and seeing.

  1. Sit or squat and hold one end of a rope as the other end is secured to a solid anchor. Rise and twist against the rope in one direction and then in the other direction. Your arms are moving in one direction as the body resists slightly.  This with time and a shorter length of rope as you progress, will allow for the spine to move on the twist easier and with no excess brace tension.
  2. Place a stout stick between two stout sticks parallel to the ground or make friends. Relax the middle of your spine where your ribs end on the stick, slowly letting gravity open your vertebrae and use your breathing to slowly go back and arch against the stick.  Repeat the drill facing toward the stick and with your sides to it. Keep your breath continuous and light and once this stage is comfortable, start traveling up and down the spine while on the stick. It is important to do all four sides in any one point along the spine so as to reveal through movement new comfort and ability and health.

Smile. It is sometimes all that is left.

Rope and Chain though for better obstacle work

This drill is fun and great for children and adults alike.

We take a rope long enough to hold in both hands as the middle is on the ground.

Pass through forward and back. make the rope between your hands shorter by two fingers widths. Repeat.

As you progress, you will find it harder and harder to pass through. Use the angles of the body to pass and moving your legs and hips beyond the linear path.

You can see a chain version of this drill in this video:

and there is a second part with much more work:

Take a strong thin rope and hold it with both hands at a comfortable width. Have a partner hold onto the rope and pull and push it in different ways to make you move and unbalance and you work to stay as relaxed and aligned as possible. This is a drill to help you learn to keep your hands full and relaxed. The thin rope is hard to hold without too much tension and you will learn to position and move so you can do the work using everything you have. Change roles and repeat the drill a few times and remember to keep the focus on you. If you concentrate on the rope you will not be aware of all your parts and how they work together.

Another drill with the thin rope is to loop it around a door frame or a pull up bar and lean as you counter with the rope held in your hand. Relax and find the right tension and angle to use so you can rest a part or all of your mass on the rope and it will help you control yourself.

This is a great way to teach children to move and defend themselves in a game way. Give two kids a jump rope or a long belt and each one holds one end. Now they try to loop it around the others neck (without giving it too much pull) as the other moves first with just the body and neck and than with the hand that is free and than with everything. you can also have a two on one where one kid holds two rope ends and two other kids work with him and so on. Adults can do this too with the same effect and move later on to the chain which is less kid friendly.