domenica 23 aprile 2017

Thailand - movement camp 2017.

Dear Thailand, you were good.

The land of smiles is a real jungle, from a perfect nature to an imperfect architecture. Everything is blended together in a unique characteristic randomness - as if somebody had played a giant Mikado with the landscape elements.
The wilderness heavily governs the roads: few traffic lights, huge unpredictable intersections, families riding all together on a single scooter with the family dog held by the neck. Helmets? What’s a helmet, can I eat it? …and yet people manage somehow to stay alive. Well I did not check the statistics though. It could just have been a lucky month.
The creatures you find can kill you in all the possible ways. All of them. Yes, that beautiful tiny frog too. I touched and ran after most of them. The sun is just too heavy to take, put your sunscreen on or expect burns all over your body and fever the next day. Not sure someone can get used to those laser rays, ever.
I have even almost missed part of the event on a free afternoon. I got lost in a beach with a handful of monks and some friends because the taxi driver (that didn’t speak a single word of English) decided to drop us where he felt more comfortable.

I had to find my way back to the facility. It all started with me having a coconut, a quick massage and a gesture chat with an old lady. I mean, to live in a different culture you gotta live a different paradigm.
Things in Asia apparently happen, unfold, unravel differently than in the west. The approach to life is much more fluid. People react more and plan less.

The Camp

The camp itself has been a great experience. It ran flawless and I never got the feeling something was not organized by the clock or was partially unrefined. 3 training sessions a day with a lecture / discussion / Q&A in the evening.
Every morning the alarm was at 6.30 am, breathings, shower, buffet breakfast and fully switched on for the first activity of the day. I’ll post down here the quick description of the class given in the preliminary pdf of the Movement Camp with some comments to it. Don’t expect too much, all this should be felt on the skin and practiced, words can be misleading when touching these themes.
1. 1H4W - Ido Portal Ido's class will focus on the Quadrivium of movement, time, space and movement in time and space. Physical tasks will be supported by smaller segments of practice, with a pinch of insight from our collective physical knowledge.

Ido has exposed us to a variety of principles and concepts expressed through physical practices. However, all the exercises he used could have easily been switched along with others. It was very clear to me that those were just examples on how to apply precise ideas into reality. As Rasmus Ölme said during his lecture quoting Heidegger: the technique is a revelation of a concept. Not the other way around, not the way in between. Do you have a collection of techniques without a fine line connecting them all? You have a bag of garbage. A big part of this workshop came from his research with Connor, Gunnar, Michael Venom and all the other fighters. It was astonishing.
We were given example of tools on how to soften and harden a structure, how to create more reactive, intelligent and connected bodies.
I must say I was critical with this in the beginning, but this approach works. In 4 days of full in training and attention to details I felt a huge difference and improvement in the games we were playing. The neuroplasticity systems installed inside our bodies work extremely well if you are pushed in the right scenario and you try hard enough. A lot of frustration seemed to fade off session by session and the solutions appeared just clearer.

We used a wide range of drills, spacing from bouncing boxing drills from the Russian school all the way to traditional tai chi to eyes and reflex training. I am just telling you I am going home with tennis balls, eye patches and all sort of weird material. If you are still thinking about dynamic correspondence, classic transfer theories, the Verkhoshansky, Siff and the others you are misled. This is not only strength or track and field training. This is way forward. In this perspective, the movement coach should be considered a strategic coach (not the technical nor the tactical). How? Using riddles and scenarios as diagnosis tools to discover an athlete’s weakness.

If you want to look at one of the many things that we did, check out my friend Aviad trying his best in this symbol recognition drill:
2. Microbatics - Odelia Goldschmidt
Odelia's research into air/ground play, smooth emergency landings, crawl/flight and comfort in the face of fear through worst case scenario practice. - Get your wings.

In this workshop, the direction and the clarity of the analytical information proposed were the key. Too often I see people teaching progressions that are way too hard for the level of the participant. Thus, deliberately ignoring that the person cannot deal with them. Either as a skill or as a capacity problem, the coach should be able to see, correct, regress the proposition into something possible for the student.
Practically, we have built up into a closed system flow (check it out here) of new elements: kicks, standing, low gate, air material, rolling and entries.
The principle underlying each section was the loss of control, as the maximum form of developing control.

Few has grasped the details of this pure poetry in motion. Put on the right glasses.
If you want to see what I am talking about:
The secret behind this is: smart consistent practice.
If you meet her, please notice the amount of experience installed in her body, you will be blown away. Odelia, you know you are my favorite!
3. Frozen Shadows - Dudi Malka A glimpse into some of the preliminary practices - Vyayamas, that are used to release some of the obstacles and stagnation in the body, preventing the free flow of the life force alongside the process of reshaping the lower limbs, removing the stress from the knee and loosening the hips. These practices involve different spiral and circular squatting movements and manipulation of the abdominal cavity. The time together will be an opportunity to introduce some basic breathing patterns and the ways it is abused while acquiring tools for observing and developing stillness - so necessary for movement.

What can I say. The name already says it all. Frozen Shadows. You don’t want to know what, why or how.
Go, meet Dudi, practice with him. There is a world to learn and you will develop your questions as you walk the way hand in hand with him. He has not always been a teacher, nor a yogi.
He developed his practice after his youth and saw most of the world. He met the dark side and came back. Only big respect for his work. We spent a lot of words on how to deal with life and death, illness and problems, ethics and culture.

In between the good talks and the reflections, we learned breathing exercises, diaphragm control, abdominal massages, stillness and meditation. Finally got a good insight about those themes that are always touched in a mystical way, very far from a practical application. You can think and talk about deep theories without making them unnecessarily complex. Synthesis and clarity are good markers of understanding.
We have also done some routines to open the hips, the knees and the toes, so much discomfort. I loved it.

I leave you with a reflection, that Dudi shared with me at the end of the last session. We should practice what we find difficult. We should go against the instinct of preservation, the one that wants us to train our good side forever and practice our talents. Fuck talent. If our body does not like stillness we should give it stillness. If our body does not like practicing endurance training, we should go for a run. If our body does not like something it means he needs it. It is shouting for it. Practice your weaknesses. What is difficult is what should be practiced.
4. Rhythmically - Shai Faran We are existing, living and MOVING in and out of various rhythms. Your heart is a beat machine that started working upon conception and will stop at your death. Since movement happens in time - tools to relate it to rhythm and beat are essential. Through this workshop we will be dealing with groove, coordination, musicality, counting and the relationship of all that to movement.
When Shai came to Italy for a workshop I was shocked with the amount of information my brain had to deal with. Her attention to details is just on another level. This time was also an amazing refinement of the previous work we did together, plus, on top of that, some new material to work with. We went all the way from finding our groove and connecting our bodies and minds, to rhythmical training with the drumsticks. We also created a CSF with different material based on the concept of leading soft movement from different part of the bodies to spine positioning. I must say it, at some points I was not enjoying 100% but who cares about fun, it is an overestimated concept. It gave me a lot of dynamics and material to practice on.
I have been working loads with rhythm before, but this drums class finally gave me the skeleton key to write it down. Learning how to deal with pace, cadence, tempo, etc.., brings to you a new awareness but can strip away the naivety of hearing without listening. As the Taoist saying goes: if you take this, you lose that – if you lose that, you take this. Just be conscious of it, embrace it, cringe, accept, smile, move on... we live in an evolving reality.
If you want to know more about her work, check out the brand-new workshop finally coming through Ido’s official channels: “Creative movement tools”.

The first edition will be held in Miami and my friends Sean and Aylin (Republic of Movement) in their new facility soon.
5. Primate - John Sapinoso
Physical attributes should be developed in context or they end up hanging in the clouds. Combining kinetic koans, chaotic tasks, problem solving and open scenarios while using partners, basic instruments and the laws of physics to optimize the development of our abilities. - There will be blood.

In John’s class I could see the deep research he has been doing in the last few months: how he connected the dots of the different paths he went through – what a beautiful thing to witness. I cannot write much about this one, it was a performance with the participants as actors of the play.
I know everybody was focused on the exercises for their personal development but to me it has been more an artistic journey than a practical training. A unique mixture of experiences blended together by one catalyst. Classic kinetic koans revisited into some organic strength material, that previously crossed my path during the EMM in Copenhagen, a year back.
Each day, we looked at old material from another perspective, until all the elements summed up into a final deadly heavy day that had the signature of Johnny all over it. You made me smile and gave me goose bumps with your words. Beautiful work, my friend!
6. Functionality without a function - Rasmus Ölme
In this lecture Rasmus will speak about his take on movement from the viewpoint of the artistic research that he has been engaged in that last 8 years. It will involve some philosophical approaches alongside practical efforts to walk the talk.
The evening lectures were probably my favorite bits. Good moments to talk together about the development of the current physical practice. We managed to front issues and reflections about the whys, the hows of most of what we do. We have spoken a lot but also watched performances, that made me corrugate my eyebrows or made me laugh to tears – Martin Kilvadi is a genius. Shai talked about the connection between her life and her dance research and vice versa. A very genuine approach, to which many practitioners can relate, to feel a deeper connection within themselves.

Ido brought on the table interesting thoughts about the paradigms we live in at the moment and the philosophy underlying the movement practice. On top of that, we also discussed about the development of a bright new culture that cares about its growth. All seasoned with a strong Ethics and a critical mindset. Extremely pleasing and meaningful moments that bring our community forward and forward via big fast steps. 
On a final note, I really think you should check out this video from the Mr. Phd down to earth Rasmus Ölme about functionality without function; organic delicious food for the mind:

“The body is not there to be tamed or understood. It is there to dive into and to wonder over. The body is not a tool for the mind, the body is a weapon, a self defence weapon of mass construction. An abstract weapon. […] Where a weapon loses its function, what does it become? […] Functionality transforms into art when it loses its purpose.”

Well, you got the idea of where I have been in this long week.
Oh but, excuse me, you did not do any ring work, hand balancing, locomotion?
Yep exactly.

Not even one single moment. 

Jump on the train folks, it is always in advance. Fight your laziness, the language barriers, the money, the excuses. Let’s make this big. See you at the next movement camp.

Full in or nothing,

domenica 9 aprile 2017

Interpretive dynamics - closed vectors

Are you tired about seeing palm spins, chevaliers and same couple of noisy floppy flips over and over again? 

Yes, me too. 

Creative expression in Parkour has always been underrated and little researched. It's ok and it's understandable. Developing adaptability, discipline, efficiency and a strong body-mind connection is definitely on a higher priority in the list than flowing like water on walls and bars. However, I believe a coin has always two sides. A practitioner that does not explore both of them, ends up incomplete. Big things can happen if parkour crosses other disciplines (dance for example).

In these last few years I came in contact with many amazing people that took me out of my shell and that have shown me many ways to look at physical expression. Out of a lot of practice, thinking and many mind maps later ...interpretive dynamics was born!

Interpretive dynamics is a collection of information related to flow. This categorization though should not be seen as an accumulation of techniques, but more like a lot of principles and vectors that can guide our choices. Harmonic actions do not come from a good connection between a sum of moves, but from a good thought process that is shared throughout a sequence. It is similar to a jazz jam. A flawless technique and a sharp ear are nothing without the heart and the soul that can help merge every single note.

Basically I look for the ideas that can emerge in between a person and an environment. How many layers are out there? I say: potentially infinite.

In order to start easy, look at this video, and make up you mind about these closed vectors.

I call these vectors closed since they do not open space to other possibilities, they can be only be used as a disposable notion and applied straight away, but they cannot be furthermore interpreted or used.

1. Throwing - Throw one of your extremities and let the body follow.

2. Reversing / Shadowing - Create a sequence and play it reverse.

3. Sliding - Glide with any body part on an object. Apply weight on it as you do it. Interesting dynamic balancing situations. Without speed, it does not work.

4. Gluing – (you guess)

5. Guiding – (you guess)

6. Bouncing  - (you guess)

7. Etc...

Home/Class work: 

Develop one movement sequence that combines 3 of these concepts. 
Develop one more closed vector of your choice and build up a movement sequence around it. 

Ok, that's all for now. I am going to Thailand for the movement camp to meet some of my good teachers. I will post here my impressions if I manage to survive the camp and the Thai wilderness in the days after it.

Until the next wifi,