Rodrigo Hänggi

Researcher, designer, software writer, mover, hobby philosopher and lifelong learner.

Movement

15. March 2018 (updated: 7. March 2020)


Note: This article is a work in progress. It will be updated as I learn more and more about human movement.

Introduction

Movement is everywhere. Where there is life, there is movement. It is part of our DNA, as that of every species. It is a basic need we all feel, like the one for food, water and sleep. Movement training is a crucial part of health, right up there with food and rest. Yet, somehow, movement didn’t make into countless aspects of modern daily life, especially in the western world. Sitting in a chair, which is arguably the number one movement killing practice today, is an integral part of our societal lifestyle.

Why should we move? And why do we move in complex ways? Because movement complexity is the reason why we became human. The reason for our brain development and our departure and ascent to the top of the food-chain is related to movement complexity. You are the best movers on the planet.

-Ido Portal

In the modern world the complex movement patterns we evolved with have become overly simplistic. We traded variety (crawling, hanging, climbing, swimming, jumping, running, tumbling, wrestling, fighting) for simplicity (sitting, standing, walking or lying down) - and most of that time is spent staring into screens.

We’re not born with these “sedentary” patterns – they are learned. You’ll come to this realization quickly if you watch kids play closely. They tumble, roll around, play tag and fall down while trying to do handstands. They climb trees and explore new areas. To them, the whole world is a playground.

But once they enter school, we confine them to a chair and slowly deprive them of those natural movements.

The need to move and play is intrinsic to every human being - even adults. But our modern buildings and cities are not designed to make full use of the variety of movement patterns available to our body.

If we want to evolve, we need to reclaim those patterns and make sure, that we don’t just develop our body for aesthetic reasons.

Upper Body basics

This is a video showing what Ido defines as basic. Basic in this case doesn’t mean that it is easy. It’s in terms of the so called movement complexity. A handstand is just standing on your hands, it doesn’t involve a lot of movement but it is still a hard skill to master.

So how do we get to a “basic” level as defined by Ido. Here’s a compilation of all the skills necessary and their corresponding progression.

Basic - Handstand

For me, learning to do a handstand has been one of the more fulfilling experiences in my life so far. It’s something that takes a lot of dedication, time and practice. Once you pass the beginner and get to the intermediate level, a whole new world of movement starts opening up to you.

Learning to be “upside-down” enables you to do a lot of other fun movmenets – like the Au Cortado for example.

Beginner handstand routine

If you’re just starting out with handstands I can highly recommend this Routine that you can easily do every day by Tom Merrick.

Handstand presses

Once you have mastered a handstan and can balance it for at least a minute you can start working on a handstand press. This is just another way to get into a handstand other than kicking up. It requires a lot of active mobility and flexibility.