Balancing – a manifesto

Balancing – a manifesto

A balancing manifesto

Why would people choose to use a Bosu ball to work on balance?

It’s a real question, not a rhetorical one.

The answer (when is a good one) that I often get is:

“To develop leg stability and work the intrinsic musculature of my foot”

Well, to me this answer is wrong. Not because it is a bad answer in general, it might even be correct from a very pragmatic point of view but because it doesn’t address the core of the matter.

More specifically this question is asking the reason to pick an exercise (over another). Therefore, it is primarily a philosophical one.

One could then reformulate the answer and say:

A. “Because I like the portability of the object, in my view the capacity to bring the gear with me at all times it is more relevant the gear itself. Minimalism is my way of life. ”

To which I answer: A million other things are portable. Why specifically this one and not another basic proprioceptive board or another object?

B. “Because it’s versatile, I can use it with different populations, for different reasons”

To which I answer: Versatility is a state of mind, you can be versatile by balancing on a bumper plate, or on a line. An object in itself doesn’t possess connotations of any sort.

C. “Because it’s cheap” – ah, no wait, nobody says this because it’s NOT.

D. “Because the experts told me…”

To which I answer: who is this expert’s opinion? Does that person have a philosophy you comprehend and share? Does that person have any economic advantage in proposing that methodology? Did that person offer other options for you to choose from?

E. “Because they are highly available”

To which I shortly answer: Well, I do not like that answer, because it is false. It is definitely not the most available thing out there.

…but this availability is an interesting factor, isn’t it? Well, we’ll get back to it in a second.

Look let me tell you, no answer that has ever been given to me regarding this blue ball convinced me completely. Not even at 40%. Bosu is an instrument invented to make money, from people who do not practice balance for people who do not practice balance, in any form. It is a twisted conjecture of modern fitness. Period.

Similarly to the Bosu, an infinite number of gym ornaments are being produced with no specific purpose but that of making money by selling them. Cool, now that we are orbiting around the same planet, let’s move on.

Back with the availability view; I asked myself, what do people have available at most times, everywhere, with minimal effort to look for and that:

– can be found everywhere, in any city in the world, with minimal scouting.
– can be built with basic and simple material if needed.
– can be durable yet cheap.
– can produce a real scenario for development.
– can be versatile to produce as many options as possible.

And from here the view: bars, railings, poles, rails, lines, edges, gates, spikes.
These are the elements I train my balance on. When it comes to the root of a practice, awareness, and clarity is needed.

All the material in terms of progressions, regressions, set/reps and methodologies to increase balance via this philosophy will be delivered in details to my live and online students. However, if you follow my socials you’ll pick up a thing or two.

Bottom line: forget about the newest fitness tool you’re seeing on TV and use the ever-present ones. Stop thinking about making your body stronger and make it more intelligent instead. Throw away those Bosu balls people, stand on bars.
Not to mention, I just saved you over 150 €.

You’re welcome,
M.

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Environmental Practices – an introduction

Environmental Practices – an introduction

I see people every day boringly walking the roads or navigating into traffic, totally ignoring all the scenarios surrounding them. Leaving to die infinite possibilities for one’s development.

Environmental Practices: What is this about?

“We open our eyes, see the beauty of the day, marvel at the insignificant, rejoice in the mundane, and allow every moment to be full of meaning. When we are scared we know we exist. Life, previously taken for granted, becomes the most cherished treasure”.

The Bodivoodoo, on a crusade against a modern overprotectist society. (1)

With “Environmental Practices” I refer to all movement practices developed in a relationship with space, whether that’s in a city or in a natural setting. We live in a space, whether we want it or not. We can choose to ignore it, or we can use it to grow. 

Buildering walls, traversing pipes, walking pavements, rolling on floors, flowing on concrete blocks, brachiating on trees, standing on high poles, biking through traffic, balancing on rails and chains, squeezing through fences and so on are all scenarios of the interaction.

In order to do that it is essential to extrapolate a new meaning to the surroundings, removing labels and social conditioning. Things are just as they are: we can deconstruct their reason to be and then, we can add a new meaning to their existence.

“You must walk around rails rather than on them”.

Fixed descriptors of reality are used to build stability in society, however, stability kills challenge and if you kill challenge, good luck with that, it will be like killing the ultimate essence of being human. Get back to tabula rasa.

The reality, if faceless, becomes plastic, allowing creation and dynamicity rather than passivity and dogma.

The façade of a supermarket becomes a climbing gym, the cramped roads full of traffic become the pulsating veins of a macro-organism.
Pipes carrying gas and water on the side of hotels are a web to sit to watch the life silently passing by; the manholes to the sewers are portals to another dimension full of mysteries underneath the cities.

In my research, I have extrapolated elements coming from different fields to then connect them together, with the aim of maintaining the same alchemy of old disciplines, projected into their contemporary shape.

Motives to dive into the environment:

Many people (in extremely recent and documented history) realized the power of interacting with the city.

The main drivers that started these actions have been many through time. Since I have no intention to bore you, oh modern reader, I’ll go through some, just to get my point across.

In Parkour/ADD the Yamakasi at the end of the 80’ were using suburban complexes as a place for discovery, self-expression and search for personal identity (2). They realized that games, challenges, and problems to solve within a given space, could lead to their inner development. Thus, helping to build antifragile bodies and unbreakable minds. In pills, it gave them the motive to wake up every day to face the reality, creating a system of values to help them face life.

In the same period, Don Jean Habrey, founder of Combat Vital was looking for an un-domestication of modernity (3). He was convinced that an open mind towards experiments with the surroundings, refusing comfort and routines will lead to a deeper and more meaningful and aware existence. Adventuring in an “alive” city is a starting point and it constitutes an infinite source of energy.

Bradley Garret in his book’s “Explore Everything” (mixing words from the Situationist International leader Guy Debord and Peter, an explorer), gave one of the best definitions I have heard regarding Urban Exploration (4).

“It is at the same time a subversive response to the late capitalism that encourages spectatorship over participation and just a bit of fucking with people’s heads to help them understand how much they are missing every day”. 

This silent revolution has started many years ago and it’s not going to stop. Digging to find more information, I realized it was everywhere: from the Cave Clan in Australia (1986) to the Diggers of the Underground Planet in Russia (1990). In the USA, from the LTV squad in Brooklyn, NYC (1989) to the San Francisco Suicide Club (1977). In Europe, from the Berlin Underground Association in Germany to the Urban Experiment in Paris. And the list goes on and on, but I will touch upon it in a future article.

Why were they doing it? Well, reading through their manifesto one thing appears clear: because the environment is THERE. And the option to go figure out that space, simply exists. And yes, that is enough to make people take the chance to explore.

What to expect

I am going to release every week a piece both of a story and a practical session that can be added to all these practices in order to understand them and open the eyes towards a more creative use of the environment. We will explore risk and responsibility, tools for experimentation and an introduction to many practical methods for development.

Urban Adventure, Urban Exploration, Elevator surfing, Drifting, Urban Bike riding, Infiltration, Buildering, are just some among the long list.

Facing the deepest fears, exploring the darkest alleys, climbing without a way down, balancing in a world of almosts, ultimately becomes a venture into our own selves.

Get ready and see you next week,
Marcello.

 

References:

1. It’s a secret.

2. Angels, J. (2016). Breaking the Jump (1st ed.). London: Aurum Press.

3. Habrey, D. (1986). Combat Vital (1st ed.). Paris: Robert Laffont.

4. Garrett, B. (2014). Explore everything (1st ed.). London: Verso.

*Pic By Andy Day in a photoshoot for ParkourWave

 

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Impacts Circuit intro

Impacts Circuit intro

An extract from some instructional material produced on learning how to deal with impacts. The instructional set is aimed at learning the basic coordination needed for the action of jumping and landing. The other elements are some classic problems almost ever-present in any outdoor environment.

A. Impacts without impacts instructional set:

A1. Jumping without jumping x 50 reps
A2. Landing without landing x 50 reps
A3. Double arms swing x 5-10 mins
A4. Collapse and stabilize x 25 reps

Horizontal surfaces dominant:

B1. Landing focusing on time to immobilisation: three positions. High – Medium – Low.
B2. Precision jumps: low to high – same level – high to low. Land accurately on the forefoot. No noise and again, focus on time to immobilisation.
B3. Plyo challenge: pick a jump you can’t perform standing, that is possible with a jump in between.

B1-B3. Qualitative training: spend 15-30 mins on each element, according to fatigue. Quit when quality is decreasing too much. However, don’t make a bit of fatigue a reason to quit.

Vertical surfaces dominant:

C1. Vertical landing: Progress aiming to bring the body towards a horizontal position.
C2. Tic tac precision: tap the wall go over an obstacle to start with. Increase the height of the obstacle to clear and then the length of the movement.
C3. Tic tac toc:  Increase the distance between

C1-C3. Qualitative training: spend 15-30 mins on each element, according to fatigue. Quit when quality is decreasing too much. However, don’t make a bit of fatigue a reason to quit.

D. Impacts without impacts instructional set x 1 set.

Here’s the video on it:

A note and a reminder: As the surrealist painter Magritte was saying: “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” – “this is not a pipe” on the description of the painting of a pipe. He was underlying the difference between a real object and its representation.

Similarly, when looking through space, the focus should be placed upon looking at shapes and forms rather than function and perception.

Until next time,

-Marcello.

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