How The Ido Portal “Movement X” Seminar Transformed My View Of Fitness

Written By: Todd Kuslikis
September 25, 2014

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.

ido portal seminar

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.

-Todd Kuslikis

P.S. I’m gunning for you Johnny! One-arm handstand in three months… challenge accepted. 😉

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Show/Hide Comments (26 comments)
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26 Comments
  1. Mel

    Awesome! Thanks Todd. That’s exactly why I love your blog so much, you are always open to learning and in return we learn so much from your insights as well.

    Reply
  2. Gavin

    Inspirational and completely open and honest but then that’s what we’ve come to expect from you.

    I have played with martial arts, bouldering, parkour and calisthenics and it all felt like it was leading to something. I think this might be it!

    Thanks for this article and sharing your experiences.

    Reply
  3. Dave Bass

    Todd,
    A journey of a thousand miles begins with but one step. Some of us (myself) are just starting down that road. Some have made many miles on this journey like yourself. Just as I look ahead to you, you look ahead to others, and they look ahead to even others. A look ahead is good as long as you also take a look at how far you have come and from time to time take a look back to know from where you have come.

    In two months I have come from seeing very little change to seeing unbelievable breakthroughs all because Todd reached out to me from many miles ahead. I would not be where I’m at today if it was not for Todd… I may have even given up. I thank God for placing you in my path Todd; I’m so excited about where I’m at and where I’m headed through the help of SOA. I’m also so exited about your continuing the look ahead as one day I too would love to move fluidly having complete control of my body. I very exited to see where you are leading us.

    Thank you
    Dave

    Reply
  4. Jonathan Millard

    I came home today and opened up Netflix and my email at the same time fully expecting to pick out some silly thing to watch to numb my brain after a stressful 12 hrs shift… Your email and subsequently this post has had me moving around my apartment (cleaning as I go so that I have more space to move) I’ve done some tai chi and qui gong so kind of incorporating the ideology into all this movement. I gotta say I don’t remember ever enjoying cleaning before. Movement really can be incorporated into everything we do. I’m loving this, and loving that I won’t hate myself for wasting another evening in front of Netflix.. again…

    Reply
  5. Jim O'Meara

    This is absolutely awesome training. Thank you for constantly expanding your growth in movement and sharing it with others. If youth were trained early on, folks would have a real sense of life long body awareness that one can’t achieve through standard sports training.

    Reply
    • Todd Kuslikis

      I think is especially important nowadays as technology becomes more widespread. Kids spend too much time on technology (Man! Have I really turned into THAT guy!) LOL! Ahhhh…. the good ‘ol days.

      Reply
  6. Charles Burleigh

    Todd,

    Fantastic article. I second the call for where to start on movements for beginners.

    I’ve seen some pretty incredible videos of I do followers and I’m a true wannabe.

    Thank you for sharing.

    Love the new look of the site. You’re making great progress and I look forward to learning more from you in the future.

    Charles

    Reply
    • Todd Kuslikis

      Thanks Charles. Glad you like the new site. Yep, I am definitely a wannabe too. 🙂

      Reply
  7. Rocco

    Great post and awesome videos. In reading your lessons learned ,# 1 and# 2 really made me take notice. I have always strived to do too much too soon and as a result had lots of little injuries. I really like the direction SOA is headed.

    Reply
    • Todd Kuslikis

      Awesome Rocco! Yeah, I think excitement can propel you forward but sometimes too fast… to the point where injuries can happen.

      Reply
  8. Walter

    Thanks Todd. This is great inspiration. 🙂

    Reply
    • Todd Kuslikis

      For sure Walter! Glad you enjoyed it!

      Reply
  9. Christine

    Great article — glad you enjoyed the weekend!

    Would love to see you put something together about movement for beginners, who can’t yet do all the wickedly awesome gymnastic/bodyweight moves like Ido. The challenging movements he demonstrates are something to strive for, but how some someone who’s focused mainly on strength in the past learn how to move and progress it to something more fluid?

    Reply
    • Todd Kuslikis

      Hi Christine,

      That’s the great thing about the Ido Portal method. Although he has a lot of advanced stuff, they work with beginners too. No matter where you are at in your own journey the goal is to move! As Ido says in one of his videos, “The only criteria is that you have a body!”

      Aha! Passed test #1. 😉

      Reply
  10. Len Richardson

    Very nice post Todd. I enjoy your blog very much. I purchased one of your products awhile back and I’ve enjoyed learning from your experience with body-weight exercises. This post takes body-weight training to the next level which I am finding to be more and more interesting at this point in my own personal strength training journey.

    Reply
    • Todd Kuslikis

      Hey Len,

      That’s awesome! I highly recommend checking out some of the links above. It’s where I’m heading in my own journey too.

      Reply
  11. Stuart

    wow todd, now you have a massive job do, you`ll have to start doing some serious routines for all us wannabes, you`ve wetted our appetites now shoooooooowww us. Cannot wait to see what you come up with. By the way just wanted to say the sites a true inspiration, and your personal honesty is refreshing to say the least.
    Keep up the good work we all appreciate you`re work
    best wishes to you and your family
    Stuart

    Reply
    • Todd Kuslikis

      Hey Stuart.

      LOL! I’ll definitely be keeping you posted as I learn more. 🙂

      I appreciate you saying that. I strive for transparency in where I am at in my own journey.

      Best to you and yours!

      Reply
    • Bob

      I agree with Stuart,
      I’ve been training mostly with weights for more than 40 years now and I tried almost every method in the book…I feel it’s time now to make a move and evolve…:)…but WHERE and HOW to begin??? That’s the question…

      I rely on you Todd to help us…

      TY and keep up the good work!

      Bob

      Reply
  12. Cholin

    Todd,

    Thank you for this! I am mesmerized by the videos!

    Reply
    • Todd Kuslikis

      Yep, me too. Ido is a fantastic mover!

      Reply
  13. Tiffany

    Awesome article! I’ve been waiting for you to write on your experiences from the seminar. I hope some of your future articles incorporate some of the moves you learned with all of us…I am already humbled by Ido, GMB, yourself and many others so I would love to learn the principles of movement and how they can fit into my life. Super happy for you that you were able to go to such an amazing seminar 🙂

    Reply
    • Todd Kuslikis

      Awesome Tiffany! So glad you liked the article. As I learn more I will definitely share more with the community!

      Reply
  14. Kofi

    Great, love the article, I really ish I could attend one of these seminars but this is the next best thing, experiencing it vicariously, I’ll definitely be incoporating his lessons and methods into my training. Also I have to say, I looked for you in the photo before I read the article, and you weren’t hard to spot at all … hehehe …

    Reply
    • Todd Kuslikis

      LOL! Thanks Kofi! So you’re saying the bald head gives me away huh? 😉

      Reply
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