Movement Inspiration & Imagination

Why should you even bother trying to imagine you are an animal or anything else than a human in general? What could be found in such an imaginative practice?

 

Imagination opens doors to a world full of boundless inspiration and joy. When I immerse myself in this world, I can experience myself anew and explore other traits of myself. I momentarily leave our „reality“ and enter a state where the only limit is my own imagination. In this world, it doesn’t matter what skills I have or what I can do, it doesn’t matter how I perform or what expectations I meet. I can try and experiment, I can change my perspective and see the world through the eyes of a jaguar, for example. Instead of moving through an empty studio, I can sneak through a dense jungle and acquire exciting and vivid qualities through that alone.

 

For me personally, vivid is the key word here. Since I have not only been working on pure skills in my practice (e.g. Cartwheel) but have been trying to change the quality, the HOW of a skill through imagination exercises (Jaguar sneaking up on prey in Cartwheel), new ways of moving have been revealed to me which are based on personal experience and connection and which have a deeper meaning. When I do this new cartwheel, it doesn’t feel like just a skill – a container without content – but very vivid and full of details – a container filled with memories, feelings, ideas.

 

It is very important that the imagination is based on my own experiences. So I choose images with which I feel connected. Maybe for you it is not a jaguar, but an eagle or a mouse. Maybe it’s not an animal, maybe it’s the thought of water. 

 

As I said, imagination has no limits – which does not mean that it is immediately accessible. Like everything else, it takes practice for the images to become more and more real and vivid.

To conclude this topic for now, a few words from a great artist:

 

„Everything you can imagine is real.“ – Picasso

The insecure spider

 

Was the Motto of this little impro a while back in Portugal at intensive practice week.

Basically we tried to find a quality which is connected to crawling, direction changes and ”odd“ movements.

 

I often propose for myself or others a motto, it keeps things interesting and opens an opportunity to look at same things a different way.

We enjoyed it!

As you might know I draw a lot of inspiration for my practice from nature and especially the animal kingdom. One animal or family of animals I feel especially inspired by are felines. The gracefulness and power, the elegance and suppleness, the wild and the lethal, the playfulness of their movements provokes something inside of me which I feel very connected to.

 

This year I have been researching a lot how I can integrate such qualities into my movement and what outcome this produces. I won’t give you any insights into what I found out but invite you to study for yourself. Amongst many drills and tasks here are some of my favorite ones.

 

Grow claws and a long tail, shift your weight to create potential, attack and observe with your eyes.

Obviously, any other animal or image could be as interesting as this one. Maybe you will find a personal image that keeps inspiring you and seems connected to you.

The Boneless Skin-Only Alien

 

Or: Spinal Awareness, Head-Pelvis Connection and Suppleness

I have been researching within my practice of acrobatics, dance and improvisation a certain quality a lot which I connect to the image of said Alien. The research consciously started while working with @tomweksler on a quality he calls “squeeze“: activating a larger amount of muscle while moving. While working on this quality I immediately felt connected to it and noticed I have been using a similar quality mostly unconsciously when practicing spinal articulations and generally when moving in way to “self massage“ from the inside. Since Tom introduced me to his squeezing quality, I have been adding personal experience and meaningful information in order to integrate this quality deeper in my own practice. The outcome is “The Boneless Skin-Only Alien“.

 

In this video I am sharing some ideas that are connected to this concept and some drills which could be seen as a container in which you could place said content (the quality). The quality could be relevant in many other disciplines and I invite you to study this for yourself. What exactly you will get from the study you will have to figure out, I personally feel that practicing this quality can reward me with more suppleness, spinal awareness and relaxation and on top of that plenty of inspiration for deepening my practice.

 

What? While moving lie full awareness on spine and especially connection from head to tail. I personally like to engage my center (corset around torso) and let the movement originate from there. Be aware of the sensation around your skin and how moving this way massages your muscle from the inside. See how this study affects fluidity and connectivity in your body.

Having the possibility to explore and fail 

 

In my current personal practice there is no need or pressure to perform, compete or fulfill certain guidelines (I mean there is gravity, potential for injury and stuff like that that I need to respect). Because of that I have a lot of freedom to express myself in as many different ways and forms as I want to.

 

In this Demonstration I played with the idea of not having bones, just skin and musculature.

The outcome is a very special quality that is very interesting and intriguing. At other times I played with different qualities/ways of doing which led into nothing. No inspiration, didn’t work!

And that is great. Being able to experiment and not having to fear failure is very freeing.

 

I think practicing exploring over and over leads to more curiosity for a given subject. And curiosity is what I thrive on.

Not only in my physical practice but in many aspects of live I feel this very deep curiosity and interest to see what lies beyond my current understanding/knowledge/experience.

Having the possibility to explore and fail Pt. 2

 

In my last post I described how much freedom I get by experimenting through my movement practice without needing to fear failure.

 

Very important to add now is that this concept can be applied to many disciplines BUT depending on WHERE you want to go or WHAT you want to achieve, this open exploration may be used more or less. If there are certain rules that you have to follow, using an open exploration like this can add value by opening new ways of looking at things BUT can also very much hinder your progress.

 

You can see in this video that many if not all of the tricks/moves I tried where quite sloppy and that’s fine, since this was NOT about going for technical quality. Here I tried to play with the idea of going for something, noticing what I was doing and last second trying to go for something else. Very interesting and quite hard.

Interacting with Nature and connecting with the Not-So-Human

Moving in and with nature has been a vital part of not only my practice but my wellbeing in general. To interact with nature and connect with the not-so-human is possible in so many different ways. In this article I share a collection of reflections about moving in nature as well of examples how you can interact with nature in a playful way.

Moving in and with nature  

 

Summertime means also shifting my practice a bit more towards outdoor practices.

This video is a brief intro towards how I personally like to move with the not-so-human. Also in my work the natural world plays a central role.

As much as I love beautiful studios, dojos and urban environments I can’t neglect the fact that the place we came from – nature – needs to be taken care more of and through a deeper connection with it we can lay a first step in this direction.

Outdoor practices

A glimpse into some of my outdoor practices. All the spots I reached with Mountainbike in between. The spots are there, you need to find them: a (fallen) tree, a slope/hill, stones, rails, stairs, whatever.

The day ended with a lovely meal under a huge umbrella with pouring rain and thunder.

”I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life..“
~Thoreau

Immersing in the Not-so-human

 

Usually I share videos of my specific practice of acrobatics, dance and the in-between here. Apart from this very enjoyable and to me meaningful practice I simply love to move, feel my body and even better, use movement to get in contact with the not-so-human, which is nature.

 

Experiencing nature with all of my senses – smelling thick jungle scents, tasting salty ocean air, hearing wind blowing through thousands of leaves, seeing microscopic biospheres on top of mossy rocks, feeling particles of sand gliding thorough my hands – is partaking in nature and interacting with it. In those moments I momentarily forget my ordinary life and it seems that the waves (mind) of the ocean (awareness) come to rest. Whenever I feel I get too overwhelmed by everyday life, I know how to exit for a moment.

 

The other day I was cycling up a steep hill in pouring rain.. Droplets of water and sweat running over my skin, heart pounding, heavy but floating breath and a happy mind.

 

Getting in contact with nature, in whatever way, and I mean contact with all of our senses, seems to be not a nice-to-have but a necessity. Climbing a tree in a city park, taking the shoes off while going through a puddle, hands into moist humus, smelling flowers on the way home, taking a brief moment to look up to the sky – possibilities to experience the not-so-human are endless and always available. If not with all senses, at least with one. As was @nelsonjsol writing in a post: “Find the bird singing … there is always one.“

Inspired by two books: The spell of the Sensuous by David Abram and Being Aware of being Aware by Rupert Spira

Algarve Aliveness

 

is a short movie in which I try to capture what moved me in that beautiful and wild cliff in the Algarve, Portugal.

 

As I was sitting in my car at the edge of the cliff, drinking a coffee and reading an inspiring book, I again noticed the wild beauty of the Atlantic coast.

The rain splattered on the windshield and the wind moved the car.

As I got off the car I felt the rain and wind on my skin, smelled the salty and slightly fishy air and felt the need to express this feeling of aliveness in a dance.

 

The rain, the slightly soft sand and the approaching high tide added a slight element of discomfort which somehow added to the overall feeling of aliveness. I did not focus too much on technical execution in this dance but let myself be moved by the situation and surroundings, allowing myself to simply move, falling for habits and enjoying the sloppiness of acrobatics in wet and soft sand.

 

The song adds to the whole experience with its kinda rough/dark/powerful vibe.

Looking at the finished piece takes me back to the situation – personal goal achieved!

Meeting Earth

 

A short film about a meeting with earth.

 

I smell soil and the forest.

I see light shining through leaves and dust that is flying around me.

I hear birds, the river and my own breath.

I feel the wind playing with my hair and dust all over me.

I taste the earth.

I move and dance and I sense the presence of life all around me.

 

I inhale I rise, I exhale I fall.

 

„To walk in nature is to witness a thousand miracles.“ – Mary Davis

Originally my reaction was ”SEEK SHELTER“, until I realized that I had nothing to do, so why sit under a tree watching the rain when you can also BE in the rain, EXPERIENCE the rain?

.. because we are not made from sugar.

Spent the last five days in the Pyrenees bouldering

 

It’s been a while since I really practiced bouldering and the skin of my hand is showing me now.. If you have been quite new to my page here, you might get the impression that my practice is all about dancing, acrobatics and that like. And while my focus lies exactly on this at the moment (and probably will for a while) I do follow and promote a generalistic approach to movement.

As I have said before, I like to work on „projects“. Pick something that you find inspiring and practice. Keep working and exploring and dig deep within this project. At a certain point you might feel the urge to lay this project aside. Important note: it doesn’t mean to stop fully. It simply means to put the things you have been working on aside to let something new and different and maybe more inspiring to you at the time in. Being a generalist doesn’t mean to do everything at once, eh!

About Falling and Failing

Why do we fall? How do we fall? Can we practice falling? How are falling and failing connected? Since we know through science that failing is key to learning, is falling key to motor learning as well? We all would agree that some falls you better would want not to happen, same with big fails, but what is there to be learned from falling and failing?

An open invitation to research falling and failing and embracing the missteps, seeing beyond them and how we can transform through them.

Falling Practice for Anyone

 

In this video I am showing three simple ideas which I use a the base layer of falling studies.

If you are into more dynamic practices, learning how to fall is such a beneficial practice.

So: How can rolls be used as a way to create a smooth and safe fall?

 

A. Learn rolls – Front, back, side, in between and variations

B. Trust falls: Falling down (eyes closed or open) to get the feeling of how falling feels like – catching the partner

C. Pushing and rolling: proposing a direction, falling and catching oneself with a roll while trying to minimize momentum

D. Falling, catching, rolling: Trustfall, letting go SUDDENLY and using a roll to catch oneself. Step out of the way IMMEDIATELY so exercise can be practiced safely. More lean: faster fall. Eyes closed: more unpredictability.

 

General thoughts: falling is a complex endeavor and should be studied according to specific field (falling in skateboarding and acrobatics are different). This drill is just a basic one, still great to find more relaxation and trust in ones own body. Practice while focused and communication is key!

How to fall Safely  

 

Educational video on how to fall safely from inverted positions.

 

The fear of falling and hence the inability to fully swing into inversions, play with acrobatics is common in adults and hence an approach to overcoming that fear needed.

I’ve been refining my approach to falling since many years and I can confidently say that it does work. The countless glowing eyes after doing the seemingly impossible – not once but with consistency – speak for themselves

 

Disclaimer: practicing falling inherently posses the potential of actual falling. Warm up properly and make sure to practice in a save environment, not going too far beyond your comfort zone and giving yourself time to ease into the practice.

 

Step 1: Swing, catch, overextend, breathe, relax

Step 2: After catching, release one leg and by twisting the arms/upper body search for floor with anchoring leg

Step 3: Slowly reduce amount of catching and try to twist out more and more by yourself

Step 4: practice more and more by yourself, condition body of needed (mostly) and practice in dynamic settings using basic acrobatics

Rolling – Awareness & Conditioning (Acrobatics, Martial Arts, Dance, Floor Practice)

 

After my latest post on IG about rolling acrobatics – which was received very well – I thought about creating an educational video about how you can increase rolling awareness and condition your body, mostly the torso for different kind of rolls.

 

The video is divided into three sections: Preparation (Spinal Flexion), Mapping the Back (Increasing Awareness in Spine while in contact with Floor) and Dynamic Application.

 

The practice of rolling can be of great use in disciplines where falling is likely to happen like in Parkour, Skateboarding, Martial Arts or Acrobatics as a risk management tool. I also taught elderly people to roll before, a fantastic way of staying young while aging.

 

If you are mostly looking for ways of moving that enrich physical health and wellness, rolling can be a great way to massage your body, mobilize it and strengthen certain chains. I personally like to practice rolls for autotelic reasons – for the pure joy of it. There is a sense of throwing yourself into the unknown which feels like letting go. The ability to then catch the fall and direct it into something with new potential feels like facing a challenge in life and using the overcoming of this challenge to create something new.

About Falling

 

Very interested in the topic of falling right now.

The technical side, the mental side, the intuitive side, the conceptual side, the applicable side.

More on this in the near future.

 

For now: falling is an excellent skill to practice. Very diverse and exciting.

Rolling

 

So much to say about this art. Simmered down: beautiful and freeing.

Rolling has been in my live since forever, not in the form of this videos content but as an act of breakfalling and communicating with the floor.

 

As you maybe know, my greatest movement teacher so far was skateboarding. I started when I was probably 10 years old and devoted many years solely to this art. Since you’re moving on and with a very unstable object, jumping on and off things you will fall down. Well, since experience shows that just slamming on hard concrete is not so much fun, you adapt a personal and specific way of falling. When the speed is right and when practiced for a while one of the falling maneuvers is rolling over your shoulder – in acro terms a backward shoulder roll.

This move saved my body plenty of times.

 

Until Tom Weksler showed me and the participants at a workshops in 2016 some acrobatic rolls I didn’t practice specific rolling. Over the last years and especially through Toms work I got more and more interested in this art.

Right now, it’s one of the main interests of my practice (not just rolling but falling in general).

 

After working with Tom for some weeks solely on the basics of rolling I yesterday played with some variations and was surprised by a new quality I found within my rolls. On top of that practicing in an Aikido Dojo felt just right, since these folks practice Ukemi a lot and – in my limited understanding of Aikido – are very good at it.

Now, back to refinement and working again on the basics.

 

If you are interested in the Art of rolling, some resources for you:

 

The Art of falling Online Course by @parkouredu

Little big waves – rolling by Tom Weksler on YouTube

Ukemi in Aikido and Systema

 

Thanks for your time and happy rolling. You know how it goes: They see me rolin‘..

The unavoidable.

The necessary.
The not so sexy.
The other side.
The companion.
The stuff that you don’t see so much.
The stuff that you need to get used to.
The stuff that is not fun to be fun.

Embrace the struggle like a good friend!

Having the possibility to explore and fail Pt 1

 

In my current personal practice there is no need or pressure to perform, compete or fulfill certain guidelines (I mean there is gravity, potential for injury and stuff like that that I need to respect). Because of that I have a lot of freedom to express myself in as many different ways and forms as I want to.

In this Demonstration I played with the idea of not having bones, just skin and musculature. The outcome is a very special quality that is very interesting and intriguing. At other times I played with different qualities/ways of doing which led into nothing. No inspiration, didn’t work! And that is great. Being able to experiment and not having to fear failure is very freeing.

I think practicing exploring over and over leads to more curiosity for a given subject. And curiosity is what I thrive on. Not only in my physical practice but in many aspects of live I feel this very deep curiosity and interest to see what lies beyond my current understanding/knowledge/experience.

Having the possibility to explore and fail Pt 2

 

In my last post I described how much freedom I get by experimenting through my movement practice without needing to fear failure.

Very important to add now is that this concept can be applied to many disciplines BUT depending on WHERE you want to go or WHAT you want to achieve, this open exploration may be used more or less.

If there are certain rules that you have to follow, using an open exploration like this can add value by opening new ways of looking at things BUT can also very much hinder your progress.

You can see in this video that many if not all of the tricks/moves I tried where quite sloppy and that’s fine, since this was NOT about going for technical quality. Here I tried to play with the idea of going for something, noticing what I was doing and last second trying to go for something else. Very interesting and quite hard.

Diving into the floor – real life version.

 

A big part of my latest research lies in understanding learning processes. When has somebody learned something? How many ways are there to get from A>B? What’s the difference if you learn something one way versus the other?

 

Automatism

If you practice something long enough, it will become part of you. You don’t have to think about speaking, you just speak. You don’t have to think about running, you just run. You don’t have to think about brushing your teeth, you just do. Imagine if you would have to think about every action on its own! You couldn’t do anything.

Now, if you reached the point that you don’t have to think about a skill anymore – I would say you have learned it. Anything else on top is just refinement.

 

Some questions for you critical thinkers:

1. If you can use a skill in an extreme situation, is it there all the times?

2. At which point would you progress with any given skill? Before the point of learning? After? Why?

3. What would be characteristics on a good learning method if you want to be able to perform the skill without thinking while doing?

Well, if your practice involves playing with risks – falling is a certainty.

 

Falling is not only the act of loosing balance and tumbling over but also a very nice skill in itself.

I’ve practiced this skill (directly and indirectly) in various disciplines so far. In skateboarding I did endless repetitions of falling – out of necessity. Not a single session in that I didn’t fall at least once.
Now in acrobatics I fall also very often, throwing yourself in weird places is often accompanied by that..
In Olympic weightlifting I also experienced some falling (losing balance with the bar overhead can be scary..), same as in bouldering, handstands and parkour.

 

Very interestingly: falling in all of these disciplines has different qualities and is basically a different skill. Falling in skateboarding is different than falling in acrobatics (the speed while skateboarding, etc) and needs different falling mechanics.

 

Important question now: can you practice falling or do you only really learn how to fall by actually .. falling?

Throughout the last years I experimented quite a bit here – on my own and with students (thanks for your trust, hehe). While I believe that actually falling and learning how to bail out intuitively and by experience is necessary – there are ways to practice falling!

 

I think of recording a full video on that – here some falling key points in the meanwhile:

– falling and diminishing the momentum by rolling (rolling techniques in all directions)

– falling and diminishing the momentum by stumbling/galloping away (using hands and feet to catch yourself and „walk it out“)

– falling and spreading the impact on soft parts (muscle) while using the largest surface area possible (practice shock absorbing and taking impact)

 

„They noticed that falling becomes floating when you stop clinging to things“ – Käptn Peng

Adapting my practice

 

Since my left wrist is still injured and I am unable to load it, I had to change my practice a bit. Usually my left arm is my dominant arm for Supports (Macacos, Cartwheels, Handstands, etc) so I now have some time to put some practice into my right arm.
Also, when working a bit more dynamically with a degree of chaos and a risk of falling (this feeling I enjoy very much) I have to very quickly react and find ways to catch myself without loading the injured wrist, very interesting.

All in all, despite using my hands is a major part of my practice, I can almost move completely freely.

Because of my skateboarding background (where falling and injuries are not a possibility but a certainty) I am used to adapting my practice in times when I am injured. It’s always interesting and a challenge to keep the spirits high and continue regardless. ”An obstacle is often a stepping stone.“

Play

„Für was ist diese Übung?“, „Warum machst du diese Sachen?“, „WAS trainierst du damit?“ – schonmal gehört?

 

Ich schon – dauernd. Zurecht!
Denn es gibt so viele verschiedene Trainingskonzepte und Methoden und Pläne und Übungsvarianten etc. die spezifische Ziele oder Resultate erfüllen sollen.
Das macht auch meistens Sinn: spezielle Übungen um körperliche Fehlhaltungen auszugleichen, spezifische Bewegungen um einzelne Muskelgruppen isoliert zum Superwachstum zu verhelfen, Übungsvorstufen zu einem schwierigem Turnelement, Atemtechniken zur Entspannung, und so weiter – die Liste ist endlos!
Das Hauptaugenmerk liegt meist auf dem „WAS“. WAS bringt mir diese Übung? WAS trainiere ich damit. (Übrigens auch bei der Ernährung: WAS muss ich essen um Vitamin X45 in groben Mengen zu mir führen zu können – EGAL wies schmeckt..)
Und für viele Personen mag es wichtig sein, genau eine Übung zu trainieren, die zum Beispiel einen Hohlkreuz entgegenwirkt (oder genau dieses Megafood zu essen, weil ein Mangel vorliegt) – verständlich!
Doch wohin führt es, wenn wir uns nur noch Bewegen um Ziel XY zu erfüllen (oder Superfood Z essen, nur um Vit X45 und so weiter..)?

 

Versuche doch mal das ganze von der anderen Seite zu sehen:
Kinder bewegen sich sicher nicht um ihr Herz-Kreislauf System in Schuss zu halten oder klettern am Klettergerüst um ihre Koordination zu schulen. Meist ist Spaß ein großer Faktor – MIT dem Nebeneffekt der Koordinationsschulung und der Stärkung des HK Systems.
Jede Bewegung bringt Vorteile mit sich. Wenn du dich vielseitig bewegst, bekommst du auch vielseitigen Nutzen.
Mit einem sehr guten Freund habe ich letztens romgesponnen und wir sind auf folgende Phrase gekommen: sich der Bewegung wegen bewegen – mit all ihren Vorteilen. Mach es dir nicht komplizierter als es ist!

 

Das soll wirklich kein „rant“ gegen Zielgerichtete Übungen etc. sein – in speziellen Fällen ist es auf jeden Fall nötig nach dem WARUM zu fragen.
Aber versuche doch mal öfter einfach zu „spielen“. Einfach mal Bewegen ohne groß nachzudenken und ohne große Struktur – play!

 

 

Jonglieren Breakdown Analysis

In diesem Video eine Anleitung zum Erlernen des jonglieren mit drei Bällen.

Wieso?

Je nach dem, mit welcher Brille man drauf schaut:

• ganz einfach zum Spaß (jeder braucht mindestens einen Partytrick..)

• Hand-Auge Koordination: Ball fliegt – Ball fangen – ohne den Ball dabei anzusehen -> super wichtig für viele Sportarten (Ballsportarten generell, aber auch Kampfsport, ..) und für den Alltag: Glas kippt über die Tischkante – auffangen usw.

• „Lifekinetik“: Verbindung koordinativer und kognitiver Fähig- und Fertigkeiten -> Alterungsprozess verlangsamen „TRAIN THE BRAIN“

• Langeweile überwinden

Wie auch immer: jonglieren trägt viele schöne Benefits mit sich – man kann es überall üben – wieso also nicht?

Stay young,

Nil

Dieses Video dient natürlich nur als Anhaltspunkt – in meinem Online Coaching erhältst du viele andere Videos mit Drills und Tips um das Training noch effektiver zu gestalten.

 

Hier zudem noch ein paar Übungen mit kleinen Bällen zur Förderung der Auge-Hand Koordination.