Solo and Partner home drills/games

There are times where training in a school is forbidden or not possible. There are always ways to hone the inner blade as many cultures have shown us before, from adopting agricultural tools into weapons to masking fighting moves in dance and song.

Here I focus on the family unit. Here are twenty drills or games to do by yourself or with the kids to better their attributes and emotional capacity to do good under pressure.

Solo drills/games

  1. Take a ball and throw it in the air and catch it again using the same hand. Transition from laying down to standing without stopping movement and breathing.
  2. Take a ball and throw it to the ceiling and catch it. Throw it again and catch it after turning a full turn in one way and then in the other. Continue to add turns as much as you can and remember to let your eyes time the motion.
  3. Stand two steps away from a wall and lean on it with one hand. Throw the ball up or bounce it off the floor and switch hands and catch it with the other hand. Continue and if possible, add distance from the wall.
  4. Place yourself in the push up position while holding a ball in one hand. Roll it toward the hand on the ground and place it to replace the support. Mind the breath to lead each shift in mass.
  5. Stand two steps away from the wall and throw the ball at the wall and catch it using your arms and body or legs but not the hands. Repeat and see of you can free your hands from the drill altogether.
  6. Place the ball on the wall and keep it there using the top of your head. Roll it down the body using just the body movements down and up. Think how sails can move a ship sideways from the direction of the wind.
  7. Throw the ball away from you and see exactly where it is. Close your eyes and retrieve the ball without touching anything other than the ground and the ball.

Partner drills/games

  1. Start with one laying down on the ground and one is standing up. Throw the ball between each other as you continuously switch from laying down to standing up. Remember to keep breathing and let the body angle play its course on its own.
  2. Take two balls and throw them to each other at the same time. Continue to throw them with the rhythm of your breathing and start walking together as you keep throwing the balls with the same tempo.
  3. Stand together facing the wall. Throw the ball to each other by bouncing it off the wall. Aim to catch it by moving from its path and pulling it to your body with an arm and keep going.
  4. Stand back to back and move the ball from one to the other around you, above you and and underneath you. Continue to do so and try to surprise each other with the delivery as the other side senses the direction from the body contact.
  5. Stand five steps from each other with your backs to each other. Any side can start turning and throwing the ball at the other and the other needs to avoid getting hit while hitting back with their ball. Listen to the shift in mass and the change in breath before the move. Listen to yourself first.
  6. Place the ball on the ground and pass it from one to the other using just one foot at a time. You cannot stop to kick the ball but must move continuously and time the steps so every kick is also a step.
  7. Stand one step from each other and hold the ball at shoulder level. One drops the ball as the other has to catch it and to step away before being touched by the one who dropped the ball. Here you are allowed to go to the ground, move in any direction as long as you avoid hurting each other. The more we pay attention, the more it pays forward.


The bridge defense

The human body is an amazing mechanism when treated with care.

Balance is overlooked these days. We try to become strong but mirror strong or strong toward just a few tasks and not for life.

Here is an imbalanced plan to help balance the spine activation and power arches. To stand tall, we must build two arches. One to pull forward and one to pull backwards. In the middle we find our balance.

  1. Lie on your stomach and on the inhale, raise your head upward and to one side. Exhale and relax downward. Repeat this right and left ten times.
  2. Lie on your stomach and on the inhale raise one arm straight up till the body rests on the opposing shoulder. Relax down on the exhale.
  3. Lie on your stomach and raise one arm and opposite side leg to form a straight line on the inhale and slowly relax downward on the exhale.
  4. Lie on your stomach and raise all limbs together in the air to form an X on the inhale and slowly relax downward on the exhale.
  5. lie on your back with all limbs in the air. Breathe and move to balance on one side (balancing on the side of the body) with all limbs in the air and then the other with no bounce or sway.
  6. lie on your stomach with all limbs in the air. Breathe and turn to balance on one side and then the other with no sway or bounce.
  7. Lie on your back with your knees together and your heels touching your behind. Inhale and arch up to a shoulder stand and release on the exhale.
  8. Lie on your back with your knees touching the ground and your heels touching your behind. Raise your hips upwards on the inhale and release on the exhale.
  9. Lie on your back with your legs straight together upwards and parallel and touching a wall or a tree. Inhale and arch your hips up and backwards to form an arch with the heels on the wall and one shoulder blade on the ground. Exhale and release.
  10. Stand a step and a half facing away from the wall or tree. Arch back and do push ups with both hands touching on the support. Move from almost touching the wall with your behind to fully extended away.
  11. Stand two steps away from a wall or tree and walk your hands down into a hand bridge and back. Focus on starting each step with a breath and shift the weight from one leg to another. Walking is a full body motion.
  12. Stand a step away from the wall and place both hands on it. Step aside and turn to face the in the other direction in a slight arch and repeat this movement until fully comfortable. Repeat with increasing distance from the wall and no small children passing underneath 🙂

Movement is the new constant.

Hard contact

There is a buffer between real violence and training and there has to be one to allow progress both mental and physical.

Many martial arts today rely on padded surfaces and body padding. This allows for higher throws in practice and greater force exerted in contact in striking and impact.

There is however also negative in this sport application. It is we do not know how to move our bodies on hard surfaces and most do not know how to strike and get struck with no padding. Bone and flesh.

Give yourself the gift of the hard floor and the wall.

Learn to place your body from standing up to laying down on hard ground first slowly and then with awareness and smoothness it will become faster naturally and you will gain a real world ability.

Stand in front of a wall ( A good one. Many crumble) and place your hand and then fist on it. Learn to push first and to sink second and allow the entire body to become one.

There is no limit except what we place on ourselves and hard contact allow us to open new awareness and ability inside us.

Start slow and start now.

Undoing the damage of sitting

Our bodies were not meant for the position they are in during many working and resting hours. We are built to walk, run, squat and lie down but sitting for prolonged periods harms the dynamic structure of tension and strength throughout.

Here are four static holds that require no gear to undo this damage and help us naturally align the body upright.

  1. The wall triangle – Stand a step or a bit more away from a wall and form a triangle with the ground and the wall. Keep your body straight with the contact points with the ground are your heels and the contact point with the wall are your hands on the back of the head.
  2. The parallel – Place your elbows on your rib cage and place your fists or hands on the ground. Keep the body parallel to the ground and look forward and a bit up.
  3. The hip opener – Stand on one leg and open both hips so the toes point away from each other on the same line or aiming toward that. Raise your knee and place your palm on the outside of it and as you inhale, press further out to open the hip and alignment further.
  4. The crucifix press – Lean lightly on the wall or between two tree/columns and place your legs together and your arms to the sides as the name suggests. Inhale as it is a contraction and press your arms straight back to rise from the parallel and create a healthy tension alignment in the back and shoulders

Do these daily and they will help relieve the causes of your back pain and remember to avoid moving vehicles 🙂


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 🙂

Wall walking










There is a saying “It is easy to be a monk at the top of the mountain“. It is indeed much easier to be excess free if the environment is calm and smooth but the universe is a better teacher than that 🙂

As it is easier to be smart when you watch mayhem from the sidelines (There were aristocrats in carriages at the Waterloo battle who came to view the spectacle) so we cannot overload our awareness and expect logically to deal with it as a spectator. Instead, we will go from parameter to parameter and build a greater web to catch the moment. Calmness is a large net.

  1. Stand next to the wall and have one person push and twist your body toward it. Work with your eyes closed on keeping your breath continuous and avoid letting expectation control your breathing tempo.
  2. Repeat with eyes open.
  3. Lie on the ground and breathe continuously. have one or more people pull and push on you in different directions as you maintain your comfort by moving the least you can and breathing.
  4. Repeat as you actively tense your body on every other inhale. This teaches to let go of accumulated tension and surprise postural (think loud noise reactions 🙂 ) tension on the go.
  5. Stand and let a trusted partner grab your neck or head with a pressure hold and turn and twist you by that contact. Work to breathe and to let your eyes see what is in front of them instead of trying to fixate to a horizon or any exiting location like the door to the room. Move your entire body and remain as comfortable as you can be.
  6. Repeat as your partner also uses their legs to give you further contact 🙂
  7. Start a delicate task (arranging a balance structure using small rocks, typing a poem and so on) and have one or more people lean on you with slowly increasing speed. Breathe and work to allow your spine muscles and body and eyes to move with the contact the moment you pay attention to them or simply move the entire time with your breath to lead.
  8. Tense your upper body and start walking. Move from standing to siting and laying down and back up while keeping the tension in the upper body. Work to keep the tension from bleeding to the lower body while in movement.
  9. Tense your lower body and move on the ground continuously. Have a partner create obstacles for your to navigate and work to keep the tension from bleeding to the upper body and your eyes from fixating on your heading.
  10. Stand and tense just your arm on the inhale. Exhale and “move” the tension to the other arm and repeat faster and faster until you reach a current end. remember this changes from day to day and with practice.
  11. Repeat as you move to avoid getting caught by a partner or more. Creating and letting go of tension while engaging with a partner is key to learning to manifest tension as a tool instead of working with the default of someone else.
  12. Start walking and have one or more partners grab you with force and torque. Work in turn on keeping your breath continuous, keeping your movement in the direction you want or angling toward it (getting to somewhere can happen in an arch, it helps in letting go of tension), letting your eyes move without fixating on the horizon or your heading.
  13. Engage your partners in pushing and pulling and grabbing. Talk about a non connected subject as you continue to move together and against each other. Being a human is not a one way road. Embody this in your lessons.

Work on the basics in simple combinations. Work on one thing at a time and progress will come before you know it.

Enjoy the road. Tension is your friend when applied correctly.

Notes from Class: Save your back

We break weather we overload our spine or if we completely avoid loading it. Being smart about it will keep us both able and mobile. Let’s start.

Make your breath the regulator of beginning and end. The tempo setter.

  1. Stand a step away from the wall and place the top of your head on it with your palms between your top and wall. Relax slightly and walk turning right and left letting your cervical spine release tension and build strength.
  2. Stand a step away from the wall and place both hands or fists on the wall overhead. Release one fist and opposing foot and rotate the body to one side and the other and then repeat with the other fist and foot. Allow the spine to lightly twist and unwind.
  3. Stand a step away from the wall and with your side to the wall. Raise your arm that is further from the wall overhead and arch your spine upwards and toward the wall. Once you touch the wall, press against it from your feet and return to the start. Repeat to each side.
  4. Place your back on the ground and your legs folded together with your ankles close to your behind. Raise your hips in a circle in one way and then the other. Make sure you allow your lower back to relax to the ground each time and initiate the movement from the breath and at the same time the back and the legs.
  5. Place yourself on one fist and both feet. Bend at the hips till you create a straight line with your upper body and arm and back down. Change arms and repeat. Focus on moving smoothly under control and balancing.
  6. Place yourself on your fists and toes facing downward. Bring your ground contact points to the sides of your body and slide from side to side parallel to the ground and close to it.
  7. Place yourself on your fists and toes facing upwards. Bring your contact points in alignment with your spine and slide forward and back side parallel to the ground and close to it.
  8. Place yourself on your fists and toes facing downward. Bring one arm and opposing leg in the air and arch them to meet over your back. Repeat for both sides. Allow the neck to move with the movement of the rest of the spine.
  9. Place yourself on your feet in a squat. Release one knee forward and opposing behind backwards and roll back into a shoulders stand without placing yourself on your spine. Rock back with your breath to your feet and repeat to the other side.
  10. Place yourself on your knees and shins. Rock forward and transfer your mass to your fists and advance yourself a step. Repeat and let the breath distribute the tension in your body evenly.
  11. Place yourself on your feet in a squat. Lean backwards and rest yourself smoothly on one fist and then both. Advance one step and repeat.

It is easier to help yourself and others when you are well.

The ten best gyms you already have

Here is a list of gyms you already have. Gyms that give you results and are always open and free of charge.

  1. Your wall – do leaning pushups, walk up and down the wall using your hands and feet, Do pushups with your legs on the wall and that is just the beginning.
  2. Your stairs – walk up and down the stairs. Walk up and down the stairs on your hands and feet and jump up and down the stairs on one or two legs.
  3. Your belt– Hold it in both hands and push and pull from hand to hand. Use it to open tension in your back and shoulders by slowly decreasing the distance between hands as you move them with tension.
  4. Your backpack – Fill it with water bottles or sand and use it as a dumbbell or better yet hold it in your palm overhead and let your body learn balance as you walk with it.
  5. Your surroundings -trees, fences and so on – Climb them and do pull ups and swings on them. Don’t do the Tarzan voice early on Saturdays.
  6. Big furniture – Lift that sofa with a straight back and put it back softly. Use two sturdy chairs to dip in between and just move your shoulders under tension.
  7. That  giant picture book you got as a present – Strengthen your fingers and wrist by holding that big picture book (1000 pictures no one wants to see …) at its end and moving it about. Use slow deliberate movements and remove the book jacket before the work…
  8. Your wheeled chair – Start on your knees with your hands on the seat and slide forward and back with control, continue to bringing your knees together to lessen the support and then rise to sliding on your feet so your entire body has to work dynamically
  9. Your plastic containers– Cut them in half lengthwise and make them flat with a bit of time under that picture book. Now place them on your rug and either stand on place your hands on them and slide around. Stand and open and close your legs, pushing and pulling from the center. Place your hands on them and spread your hands to the sides and bring them back up. Turn your head if you lose control so your nose stays in tact J
  10. Your rug or big beach towel – Take your small rug or big beach towel outside and hold it at the narrow side. Move your hands up and down to wave the rug/towel and try to keep the movements small and fast so the rug/towel is as parallel to the ground as possible.

Have fun and use that money you saved on the gym to a good cause.

playing/growing with the staff

Here are ten movement drills to enhance and deepen your understanding of space, tension and natural movement. The tool in use is the staff but the lessons apply much further.

Look at the drills as child games so your learning will be fresh and honest. Do not rely on technique. Feel what is right for the moment and swing away 🙂

  1. Hold the staff parallel to the ground at waist height. Work to keep the staff between you and your partner by moving both the stick and your body first with one pursuer and then with more than one. Check how you can remain free in your movement by shifting your point of reference from the staff to the body and in between.
  2. Place one staff end on the ground and the other in your hand. Work to keep the staff between you and your partner by moving both stick and your body. Remember you can move under and over the staff and that you can control the height and angle of the staff at a very low energy expenditure.
  3. Hold one end of the staff in one hand and have a partner mirror your holds. work together to maneuver the stick out of your partner hands with your body position and stepping.  For example place the staff low using your hand and step behind it to push with your body in one direction or place the middle of the staff on your midsection and away from yourself with your arm and turn to dislodge the staff from your partner. Learn to use all of your abilities and options of movement.
  4. Hold one end of the Staff in one hand as you stand facing one direction. work to deter your partners from coming close to you by moving the staff around and up and down. Work first facing just one direction and add the ability to turn as you progress. This is a great drill for eyesight and coordination for any age.
  5. Sit and hold the staff in its middle. Have your partners come at you to step on you and use the movement of your body and staff to move the partners past you. Add to their movement instead of pushing and pulling and let your breath and body lead the way. Sitting will help in learning this as you roll if you try to plant yourself in the ground for support without legs 🙂
  6. Hold the staff in one end and at the center. Work to push your partner in one direction as they relax their legs and center to let the staff slide on their bodies. Once you feel comfortable with the tip, use the rest of the staff and your partner will contend with a two dimensional constraint with their body awareness.
  7. Stand a step away from your partner and swing the staff slowly from side to side through their frame. Have your partner relax with continuous breath and roll or collapse the frame to avoid getting hit by the staff. Once one step away from each other is comfortable, advance half a step and repeat to grow awareness instead of fright.
  8. Have your partner stand touching the wall. Push and pull on them with the staff and have them move toward you all the time. This will release the shifting point of reference in the body and mind. Start by letting your eyes see what is if front of you without fixating on the target. Your target is movement.
  9. Have your partner swing the staff at you and with your own staff add to the movement without tension in your arms and shoulders to avoid contact. Work so you breathe and let the staffs find their own combined paths without governing too strictly over them. Letting your movement blend in is the way to keep swimming in the whirlpool.
  10. Tense your entire body or halt your breathing and repeat any of the drills listed above. This will let you become aware of your excess tension and fear and release that which is superfluous.

And smile. If the tide brings new understanding your way.