We've all heard about thinking outside of the box. Have you ever thought about moving outside of it?
We all have a volume of space we are accustomed to moving in. Within this volume which in this article I will refer to as our 'box', we are under conscious control of our movements meaning they are easy and we can maintain our balance while doing them.
The closer towards the edge of our box we take our movements, the harder and more unbalanced they become. Anything beyond the edge of our box would take us out of balance.
Everybody's box is a different size. Imagine the size and shape of a box of a rhythmic gymnast and compare it to that of a shuffling elderly person. The rhythmic gymnast has a much greater mastery of themselves in the space immediately around them because the boundaries of their movement are set so much further out from themselves. This makes closer movements more effortless and movements further away from their centre more possible.
However good our movement is, we can always conceptualise it as being surrounded by a box therefore, it is inescapable (maybe unless you're Neo or the the blue guy out of Watchmen) but totally expandable.
How can we expand our box to make all our our movements easier and new and longer range movements more possible?
One really great way of expanding your movement capacity is through gaining new perspective of the current volume you can easily occupy.
Turn to look over one of your shoulders as far as you comfortably can keeping your breathing normal. Notice where you can look to, making a note of a visual reference point.
Come back to face forward. Now turn to look at that exact point again. Keeping your head in this exact position, slowly turn your eyes back to where you came from and back to look at your reference point five times. Keep the head still and only move the eyes slowly back and forth and then turn back to fully face forward.
Now keeping the eyes and the head facing forward, slowly turn the chest and shoulders towards the reference point and back to the front five times, breathing evenly as you do this.
Now do the first movement again, turning to look as far as you can over your shoulder. The majority of people after this very short experiment will see further round than they did at the start. This is after just one minute of experimenting with unfamiliar movements within your present volume.
Your box can be expanded without even pushing against its edges!
Ask yourself – where can I currently move with ease that I am just completely unfamiliar with?
Getting more familiar with the space directly around you in new ways alone will increase your athleticism. What would happen if you take a movement you cannot do easily and play with variations around it? For example, could a forward bend be expanded by simply exploring comfortable variations of forward bends with twists and turns of the eyes, neck and spine?
I think the question is well worth exploring if you're fed up of your conventional training not really getting you anywhere because you are limited by the volume of your present box.
Expand your box. Move smoother. Strike harder.
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