Saturday, November 21, 2009

Universal Body Language: The Exultation

When my good friend Ken Leistner (High-intensity Training) and I used to hang out together in New York and Boston in the '70s, and talk about training ideas as we wandered all over the cities gesticulating our points, we'd invariably spot an individual who stood out and apart from the masses of people, and note to one another, that that person must be "somebody" -- to stand out in that way, just in moving about in their daily business. That individual would usually see us coming and seem to read our thoughts and expressions as they greeted us knowingly with a smile as though familiar old friends.

It is also well known that in the animal kingdom, accomplished predators are those that can pick out the weak (and probably also the strong) just in their "normal" movements, so as to predispose their success ratios, and avoid risky encounters and maneuvers. That is a large part of the survival of the fittest -- that before they challenge another, they know fairly well the probable capabilities of the other -- while those who are less successful at such judgments, usually aren't around for very long.

In human societies, we usually only notice such overt behaviors in the fields of athletic competition most familiarly, and in "professional wrestling," as a parody or caricature of those basic human tendencies. The most familiar, is raising one's arms in victory and triumph -- before the matches even begin.

In "real" competitions, people are generally not so brash and flamboyant -- except when acknowledging their own quite extraordinary and unbelievable accomplishment -- usually when they set a world's record. Then everybody expects it -- and it would be almost a violation of protocol to deprive everyone of such moments of triumph -- because it marks a milestone not only as an individual, but establishes new ground for all mankind -- and thus both arms poised defiantly towards the sky, announces that great triumph for all mankind to bear witness.

Such expressions of joy and dynamism, is also available and allowable to everyday living, to a much greater extent than most people think possible. Probably only those whose professions or avocations approve of such flaunting -- are the competitive forums of gymnastics, where walking to the start, is just as important as the event performance itself. One has to make a majestic entrance worthy of their performance -- because at such competitions, many things are going on simultaneously, and one is also competing for that attention. It's less pronounced at track meets -- but certain especially charismatic individuals, manage to direct all eyes and ears, to their performance.

Shakespeare was one to point out that all of life was a stage in this way -- so one should put on their best performance as though even God was watching. But modern psychologists and students of behavior and performance, know that caring deeply oneself, is the primal driver to any excellence. One has to first care deeply themselves, to then be able to convince anyone else, that they know what they are doing -- and showing that confidence. Many times, assessments are based mainly on that confidence and flair, than for the actual execution, if done without that conviction. Human beings, after all, are influenced by the thinking of others -- in deciding for themselves, whether something is good, bad or indifferent.

Such judgments are an interaction and communication between people -- and no longer just the practice in isolation and privacy. But what one practices, is what one becomes good at. If one is in the habit of thinking that one is not good enough, as their own motivation, they will convince others of those thoughts also. Some even undermine and contradict everything they ever do -- and so despite all that they do, have nothing substantive to show for it, because they cancel every positive with an immediate negative. That is their value system and cosmology of what they think the universe is all about -- a positive action immediately canceled out by a equal, and opposite reaction. Such people invariably pride themselves in their understanding of the nature of duality and think it is a higher understanding yet, to fragment, divide and compartmentalize every aspect of reality so that it no longer has its essential wholeness.

In their conditioning activities, they will choose to define their objective, as "burning" as many calories as possible, rather than in any constructive manner of building something worthwhile -- and thus realizing, the need to go about it in the most energy-, time-, and resource-efficient manner possible.

It turns out that one of the most useful exercises (movements) to do is simply to raise one's arms up in triumph for 50 repetitions -- as one would do in a commonly performed movement called the overhead press, or lifting a weight overhead to arm lockout. However, added weight is not necessary to obtain superior results. The expression itself, which is not ordinarily performed except in the press, done without weight but rotating the fist in the knuckleward direction, effects the maximal contraction of the dorsal (backside) line of the body in a comprehensive and integrated way, that is a much better movement than virtually any other exercise (movement) or athletic activity done to merit this supreme posture of victory -- that states emphatically, one is a "winner."

One might as well start at the top -- to go higher.


At November 22, 2009 1:20 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

"Dr. Ken" owns his own gym and designs gym equipment; furthermore, his entire life revolves around training, and the 5% of the population naturally disposed towards those activities, so there is always a fresh supply of these genetic freaks. These people are what they are but that doesn't necessarily mean that extrapolating from a highly self-selected and exclusive population sample, is appropriate for the 95% of the population that is isn't so dispoosed or gifted.

If one person is gifted as a musician or athlete and loves to do nothing else but their event for which they uniquely are blessed for, that doesn't mean that if everybody else does the same thing, they will be equally gifted and proficient -- yet that seems to be the primitive model of prescientific self-selection at work in conditioning (education) models.

Most of those who are in any 5% of any population sample, are very different from the general population. That's what statistics should tell us -- that the extreme 5% at either end, have very little in common with the general, universal population, and that is true in any measurement.

So to use as a selection method, that which excludes the 95% as the principle for inclusion, makes no sense at all -- yet that is done in athletics, but should not be the basis of fitness programs for the 95%.

In this objective, one would look for those few movements that occur quite naturally to the entirety of the population. Of course 5% of the population will be good at running, or walking, or swimming, or gymnastics, martial arts or yoga, but that doesn't mean that everyone can run a marathon and should.

Instead, one should ask, "What are the universal movements characteristic of all?" And then that would be the basis of a conditioning program for all -- universally, and not deduce, that if one can run a marathon, only those with that profile are fit -- because the question is, fit for what?

The Boston marathoner will be the first guy throwing up if one designs a weightlifting exercise
for a duration of only 5 minutes because they are not designed for releasing explosive energy in that manner -- which is toxic to them. But that's why he's a marathoner and not a weightlifter.

So any "objective" measurement along that line, is extremely "subjective" and prejudicial beforehand. So one has to ask, what basis of measurement, becomes meaningful to everyone?

And that becomes, increasing one's range of motion, or maintaining it throughout one's life. And that is when it is measured at the extremities of movement at the head, hands and feet -- which is how animated (lively), even the most elderly and disabled appear to be.

Those are also the sites at which they will have the most success activating, rather than lifting their entire leg while bedridden and incapacitated.

Movement at these sites will indicate a prognosis for future recovery -- better than movement at the hip, which may be impractical or ill-advised.


Post a Comment

<< Home