This post is a hard one to write.
There comes a time in the life of every “fitness authority'” that he has to eat humble pie. Today is my day.
Over the weekend, I spent two days at an Ido Portal seminar in Miami, Florida called Movement X. I’ll tell you right now… it was one of the greatest experiences of my life.
Afterwards, I tried to describe the seminar to my wife and family. It was pretty hard. They’d ask, “Is it like CrossFit? Gymnastics? Bodyweight training?”
Yes, but not really. It’s like all of those, and none of those. I described it as learning to move.
I was met with blank stares.
Really, no description of Movement X can do it justice. It is something to be experienced.
However, as promised, I am going to share with you some insights I gained from the seminar.
If you have never heard of Ido Portal than its time to catch you up to speed.
Check out this video interview he did with the RahBrahs.
Before I get into specifics of what I learned, I’d like to share with you three key moments that left a deep impression on me.
The seminar was not taught by Ido. He was teaching outside of the U.S., which I was a little disappointed with at first. But Johnny and Odelia (two of Ido’s students) led the seminar instead, and I couldn’t have asked for better instructors. Their proficiency in movement and teaching was impeccable.
Amazing Moment #1: Bar Control
Toward the end of the first day, we moved toward working on the bar. Johnny did a demonstration of moves that can be done on the bar such as one-arm active hangs, front levers, German hangs, and many other moves. It was a sight to be seen. The level of control that he had was super impressive.
Many calisthenics “experts” on YouTube can do impressive moves on the bar, but they don’t control the movement. I’ve often thought, “Could they actually do the movement if they slowed it down?”
Johnny could. His level of control over his body was amazing. Definitely something to aspire to.
Amazing Moment #2: Zen Archery
Zen Archery is a movement game we played. The instructors first led us through a lot of prep work where we learned how to move in order to increase mobility. This was a progressive process which led into Zen Archery.
What is Zen Archery? I’m glad you asked. 😉
You stand in front of your partner. Your partner begins to slowly move in such a way that they “attack” you using deliberate movements. You then strive to move around these “attacks”. Your partner can use any movement they choose; low or high kicks, head butts, rolls, wide punches… the more creative the better.
You continue to evade the stream of attacks until the leader says “switch”, then you become the attacker and your partner evades you. Zen Archery is like a combination of Tai Chi Push Hands and Capoeira, but with even fewer rules.
What made this session so amazing is that before we “engaged” with a partner, we were asked to walk around the room and lock eyes with different people. We kept walking until the leader yelled “begin”. Whoever we were currently locked with, that’s who we partnered up with. No words were exchanged. We just began to play in this manner.
It’s like a form of communication, but with the body. I got a very clear vision of the whole world communicating like this someday. I felt a strong bond with whoever I was playing with, even though we never said anything. This experience will stay with me for a long time.
Amazing Moment #3: Floor Work
Johnny left a deep impression on me.
On the second day we worked on floor locomotion. This is where we practiced patterned methods of moving.
Here’s a good video of Ido doing some moves… just to give you an idea.
There was a point where Johnny gave us a demonstration of combining these patterned movements into a creative flow of improvised movements.
I’ve written before about my vision of combining Tai Chi and calisthenics into a dynamic flow of movement. I’ve looked hard to find examples of others that are doing this, but have never found any… until now. Johnny was doing exactly what I had envisioned. I was blown away.
At this moment, I became totally hooked on the Ido Portal method. The combination of strength, control, fluidity, creativity and mobility was incredible.
The above three experiences left me with a deep sense of awe for this style of training, but there were also even more concrete lessons that I learned during the seminar. Some of these may seem like common sense, but how often are they practiced in real life?
Sometimes we forget the basics.
6 Lessons Learned From The Ido Portal “Movement X” Seminar
1. Get Rid Of Your Movement Dogmas
Humans are creatures of habit. We tend to fall into routines that we feel comfortable with. Odelia frequently emphasized that we have to experiment and practice new movement patterns if we want to be great movers. The adage “use it or lose it” applies here. It applies on a micro level as well. Our joints can move in so many different combinations. As movers, we need to bring our joints through their full movement patterns.
2. The Goal Shouldn’t Always Be To Do “One More”
Knowing your goal is important. There is always a trade-off in what you’re striving for. Johnny mentioned that he can do several one-arm chin-ups, but his goal is not to increase that number. Not at the moment anyway. He’s focusing on other things. He has resigned himself to the fact that he may even lose some strength in that area. His goal, however, is to be a better mover, not to set a world record in one-arm chin-ups.
3. Know When To Keep Form & When To Break It
In order to perform movements like the handstand and muscle-up, form is critical. There is an efficient way of performing each of these moves. You should follow this closely, but there are other times when you should break form. For example, typical fitness advice states that when you squat your knees should never go over your toes. At Movement X, we performed many movements that were “out of alignment”. These movements were designed to strengthen tendons and ligaments, as well as improve mobility.
4. Learn The Language of Movement
During the seminar, anatomical terminology was used: pronation, supination, internal and external rotation, protraction, retraction, anterior and posterior rotation, etc. Knowing these terms and how they related to the humerus, scapula, and pelvis will help when you actually perform the movements. You’ll be able to visualize where the muscle originates and how it attaches to the bones.
5. Spend Time Improving Mobility
I’ve talked about this before on SOA. Mobility is critically important for developing strength and overall health. If all you are doing is strength work, your strength will suffer. That may seem counter-intuitive, but trust me on this.
6. Find A Community of Movers
I’ll admit, I’ve spent a lot of time building relationships with other fitness entrepreneurs. We share ideas and methods regularly. I have neglected, however, to dive deeper into communities that are strictly devoted to movement. Here are a few that I highly recommend:
Ido Portal on Facebook – Tons of resources and inspiration
Ido Portal on Youtube – Tutorial videos
Movement Culture on Facebook – Very active community
Republic of Movement – Big thanks to Eli and Sean for organizing Movement X!
Gymnastic Bodies Forum – Another very active community devoted to quality movement
Gold Medal Bodies – Ryan is a fantastic mover!
So, How Did Movement X Transform My View of Fitness?
Movement X expanded my view of what it means to be a human. Before I attended this seminar I had a vision for extreme calisthenics. It was a higher level of fitness for the already-fit to aspire to.
Now, I see that being an incredible mover is the right of every human. There is no prerequisite. You don’t need to do HIIT, or fifty push-ups in a row, or have low body fat. Just move! Fitness will not always help you be a better mover, but being a good mover will help you become more fit and healthy.
You’ll be able to experience more of life and in a more functional way.
I mentioned at the very beginning that I ate humble pie.
How did I eat humble pie?
I consider myself a pretty fit guy. Yet after the seminar I realized how poor a mover I am. Sure I can do a few moves, but I realized the potential of where I could go. This got me super excited.
A huge thank you to Ido Portal and his crew for teaching the principles of movement.
I consider myself your student.
P.S. I’m gunning for you Johnny! One-arm handstand in three months… challenge accepted. 😉