Balancing: Corollaries of the manifesto
If you know me, you know I have a thing towards nice gadgets. I totally love them, and I do not plan to hide it. I do not cover myself up like a late baroque fetishist, but I use some.
They help me keep in my daily life in order, they save some time and they make my hours lighter.
I use a small chalk bag to carry everything I might need with me, I have a basic pair of shoes that can serve me in any situation, I wear comfortable clothes that often can be used both to train and to casually exist into different situations. When traveling I have a satellite bag that can come out of my backpack in case I need to drop the bigger luggage somewhere. When training I do not look for water, I have a big bag of many liters in capacity to become a camel myself.
Now the core of the matter. All these elements came out of the necessities I have encountered along the way, not the other way around. Therefore, this is a bottom-up approach, the practical theorists’ one.
On the other side of the spectrum, we have people like the preppers. They prepare for things that they have not lived. They think they are going to need certain things and they build from there. They do not actually know the specific needs that every situation will ask for, because they have no actual experience of them. The second approach is the top-down approach, that starts from an idea and from there it creates a practice.
Between the two ways of living my life, I prefer the first one, especially for the most relevant things that I do. I am a believer in field testing and from there investigation and development.
And I have had many confirmations of this in my life by many high level (in commitment, experience, and understanding) practitioners.
Now transfer this concept into a practice of balance. One can either go out and start to look around into space and from there create something out of practice or start thinking: what can I create in order to balance on it? And from there the Bosu and all the dark companies.
Ascending from an element up, descending from a concept down. Very different processes.
On those busy evenings, one hilarious thing happens in many cities around the world. The treadmill runners are released. As if they were possessed by the Adédjé spirit or bitten by la Tarantula Siciliana, people of all ages suddenly fill the gyms. Usually, this comes with the realization that they need to take care of their bodies. Hence, they start a race against their lipids. You can see them all from the crystal-clear façade of big buildings running in a line and in a frustrating loop leading them nowhere. The valorous alleys are the unmissable perfect ultimate model cushioned shoes, the fancy gloves, the perfect matching outfit and last but not least the headbands against sweating.
What happens if all the elements are not in place? I.e. the treadmills are full, the gym is closed, the clothes are yet to be washed, the shoes are broken etc. – The only solution is “I’ll do it tomorrow”. Let me tell you, this sentence is already the root of the very end of your physical development.
“Cuttlefish bones” was writing E. Montale in regard to his poetry. It was a hymn to minimalism, an invitation to strip it down to the bone.
Did you want to go for a run? Go run. Nothing more, nothing less. Before thinking about it, get out, so it with what you have, it will be more than enough.
From here my view of using what is there, to never have the problem of not having something. A million of excuses are out of the windows and it all comes down to personal accountability.
You do not want to go out practicing on a floor? It’s on you. The soil will always be there, waiting for your soft body to interact with it.
On the other hand, a slackliner that is traveling and doesn’t have a slackline will sit on the sofa forgetting to be a practitioner. A skater without a skate becomes a hero without the costume. A juggler without …well you know where this is going.
Wherever I have been in the world, I scouted a bit and I found bars, I found walls, I found floors.
So, let’s start from this question. What is the purpose of your practice?
Let’s create a fictional character for this: Johanna.
Now imagine J. wants to train her balance. However, she’s a thoughtful creature so she doesn’t rush onto the Bosu without any research. She wants to get some evidence-based perspectives, so she goes through the literature.
After some hours of research and many disappointing findings later, Hoppa: a beautiful systematic review pops out. Damn, she rushes into it “…A total of 2395 articles were evaluated, yet only 50 studies met the inclusion criteria” wow, that’s kinda bad but still a lot of articles to draw conclusion from, she continues excited “The main aim of this review was to identify a training protocol based on most commonly used interventions that led to improvements in balance”.
Good she goes through the methods for inclusion into the study, she reads the influences of different balance practices for different sports, she goes through the exercises used.
The findings suggest that “8 weeks, with a frequency of two training sessions per week, and a single training session of 45 min” appears to be the minimum requirement of time to produce substantial changes in a body in terms of both static and dynamic balance acquisition.
Everything is absolutely rocking.
Until the very bitter moment in the end: “…it may be very difficult to establish one model of training that would be appropriate for each sports discipline, including its characteristics and demands […] No gold standard is apparent in this field”.
And suddenly she realizes, balance, likewise many other abilities, is specific. Also, she figured out by looking at the studies that almost exercise if applied correctly will produce a positive outcome in the exercise itself and with some near transfer to similar activities both in the scenario and in the skill.
But the question is yet to be answered: What is the purpose of your practice?
She is a bit confused now. A lot of methods work, which one should she use?
Please, Johanna, step aside, I’ll take it with my two cents.
Personally, I want to be able to apply my learnings to open as many possibilities as possible in future practices.
Training like this you will be able to do something that you couldn’t do before and then apply it in an open scenario. You will suddenly have developed some skills to take out of your deck of cards at any moment when exploring an area everywhere in the world.
Put it like this: the mean of practice becomes the tool, and the tool supports the mean.
(If not clear, re-read the last paragraph a couple of times).
Now some last words from a practitioner to the real practitioners out there.
I am going deeper and deeper down this road, but not because I did not experiment with others.
My philosophy comes from reflections that have started on the field, not the other way around. And slowly I have refined them to arrive at these conclusions. I have experimented with many but stayed with this one because I found it convenient, empowering, liberating.
This is my view, your honor,
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