So I think we can all agree that my goal of writing one blog post a month has been a resounding failure.
Part of the problem was getting too tangled up with some of the bigger topics I wanted to write about, and generally overthinking the whole thing. The fact that I usually end up composing sections in my head, while in the shower, and don’t exactly have my laptop to hand, probably didn’t help. Also, if I’m being honest with myself, I just straight up haven’t been making the time for it.
So, starting again, and moving on!
I’ve had this little topic rolling around on paper for a while, and while I was watching “The Gabby Douglas Story” on Netflix there was this particular moment that tied it all together for me. The movie follows Gabby’s gymnastic journey to become the first black gymnast to win the Individual All Around Championship at the 2012 Olympics, with the support of her coach, Liang Chow. A former gymnast himself, he is currently the head coach of China’s gymnastics team. In the scene that I particularly loved in the movie, they are in the gym together training, and Gabby is struggling to successfully visualise and execute a skill. Liang turns to her and says:
“You are not separate from the skill, you are the skill”
Take a moment to let that sink in. You are the skill. The move or trick doesn’t even exist without you. You bring it to life. Something that I have always loved about circus and other movement based practices (whether its pole or parkour) is that when you really get down to it, its a temporary balance of physics and the rules that make up our universe. When you hold a handstand, for example, in that moment the equation balances. The universe and your body have come together for a brief moment to allow you to do that.
(Picture from The Physics Of Pole Volume 1: Torque by Nadia Sharif)
Increasingly more researchers are using circus to study these kinds of things. For extra circus nerd points, you can watch a bio mechanical breakdown of a handstand, see aerial silks used to explain braid theory, and read this great article on the physics of spinning around a pole.
“But how does this science shizzle help me?!” I hear you say. Well, if your brain is into that kind of thing, sometimes understanding a bit about the mechanics behind a move can help break it down. Also I just think its pretty interesting. If you’re not into getting so meta about it all, that’s totally cool too. However, next time you are beating yourself up about not being able to get a particular move or trick, try to think about it like this…
Do not try and do the skill*, that’s impossible. Instead, only try to realize the truth…YOU ARE THE SKILL*. Then you will see it is not the skill* that happens, it is only yourself.
Did that help? Let me know in the comments. Happy training!
(* insert as needed, eg. Do not try and do the one arm flare to meat hook switch. Instead, try to realise that you are the one arm flare to meat hook switch!)
(Bonus pic of Gabby Douglas being an absolute BOSS)