Fitness is in a great place right now. Cross Training is the norm. Athleticism is the ideal. Athletes and everyday people alike are striving for complete development of the body and mind.
Movement culture is alive and well.
We’re excited about running, jumping, climbing, throwing, kicking and punching. We’re training for strength, mobility, explosiveness, balance and coordination. We’re lifting big, moving fast and expressing great control over our bodies.
And no matter what ‘sport’ we do, we’re prepared to learn from other disciplines.
For a very long time this wasn’t the case though. Most people were obsessed with image alone. Bodybuilders were the poster boys for fitness and the mantra was get as big and as ripped as possible, by any means necessary.
Nothing else mattered.
This affected the way everybody trained, from the average joe to the professional athlete. We focussed on the pump and mass building exercises. We used machines that locked us into unnatural positions and limited our range of motion. We stopped doing anything outside of the gym because it slowed recovery and kept us small.
How we looked was more important than how we moved. It didn’t matter if we were strong, as long as we looked strong. It didn’t matter if we were healthy, as long as we looked healthy.
Form eclipsed function.
Thankfully we now see through the facade. Most people know that this kind of training is useless for anything other than posing. Most people know that this kind of training will let you down in a real world or sporting environment.
We’re a well educated bunch these days and that’s thanks to all those movement minded athletes, coaches, and martial artists grinding away under the radar for all those years.
Pioneers Of Movement
Many people have played their part in the growth of movement culture including Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Tony Jaa, Rickson Gracie and Conor McGregor.
Then there’s David Belle, Sebastien Foucan, Tim Schieff, Damien Walters and Ido Portal.
And don’t forget Gray Cook, Eric Cressey, Tony Gentilcore, Ross Enamait, Steve Maxwell, Andy McKenzie, Alvaro Romano, Christopher Sommer and Ryan Hurst to name but a few.
The list is long and there are many books, essays and videos by these great people to get your teeth into.
The Movement Mindset
A few simple thoughts from Ido Portal serve as a primer for the mindset of a mover: “We are all HUMAN first, MOVERS second and only then SPECIALISTS.” – Ido Portal
“The body will become better at whatever you do, or don’t do. If you don’t move, your body will make you better at not moving. If you move, your body will allow more movement.” – Ido Portal
When we think in terms of movement we become free in a sense, from set patterns and set philosophies. We can take ideas from any discipline and cultivate our own movement style.
The same way a musician can pull from jazz, blues, rock, reggae and afro-cuban, an athlete (a mover) can pull from martial arts, dance, gymnastics, yoga and beyond.
This gives us a large vocabulary for self-expression and can boost our abilities significantly.
We train movements, not individual muscles. We learn diverse patterns and how to integrate them. We develop strength, power, rhythm, timing, precision and endurance across a number of skills.
And become well rounded athletes as a result.
Whether we apply this sensibility to fighting, football, dance or play is up to the individual, but to be a student of movement is to take our bodies to a whole different place.
And most of all, movement is fun. It’s great to try new kinds of exercise. It’s great to learn new skills and to test our limits. It’s great to suck at something, then after 12 months of practice be able to do it with proficiency.
Movement practice offers fresh challenges every day. It builds our bodies, boosts our confidence, strengthens our character and gives us a sense of flow.
Playing Our Part In The Future Of Movement
As a dad, I feel it’s my responsibility to get my son moving as often as possible. It’s not difficult because he’s 3 years old and full of energy, but helping him discover the different ways he can use his body and develop habits that will last a lifetime is something I’ll continually work on.
And I’ve got to lead the way. I can’t just tell him what to do then sit on my ass and hope he gets it. I need to work on myself and be someone he wants to emulate. I need to have a few tricks up my sleeve that I can show him. As he gets older he’ll be exposed to other teachers and mentors but it all starts at home.
We shape our children and if we want them to be fit, confident and roused by the spirit of adventure, then it’s up to us to instill that in them.
Let’s keep that flame alive.
Image: Giratorio Quintal