Movement and Health Re-de-fined?

Qi Gong Practice, A Reflection
At first the mind was restless. About 30 breathes the monkey became the turtle as my mind slowed with my breath and I moved from the shallow to the deep. With each deep breath the qi spread to the extremities as I could feel the fingers and feet become more energized with a tingling type sensation. As the practice continued my feet rooted deeper, my sacrum softened and my body relaxed with the breath

Flowing from thoughts to clearing the mind. Awareness to grounded. Resistance to allowance. A quiet, slow breathe from short and shallow to long and deep. Distraction to concentration. An easy awareness, a natural and open flow.

The above is 2 separate reflections from my Qi Gong practice, in which I was lead by a teacher. 15 minutes of amazing practice. Certainly a worthwhile practice to include in daily or weekly movement, or meditation practice. We often do some of the movements in our normal daily physical practice, such as squats both dynamic and static, yoga movements related to tadasana and sun salutation, spinal twist, etc. One of the aspects of this particular form/philosophy of practice that I appreciate is the perspective and esoteric nature.

From my limited understanding we are cultivating, moving, channeling energy/Qi, removing stagnation, etc. From a Chinese Medical perspective I understand the ability and power to do this through use of acupuncture, herbal remedies, exercise, etc. and Qi Gong is a beautiful if not completely tangible and well understood practice (by the general populous).

I am a believer and certainly hope Qi Gong continues to grow in the consciousness of people and health/wellness practitioners.

As Thomas Edison once said, “The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in the care of the human body, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.”

Qi Gong, Tai Chi, Yoga are interested in exactly this. It is wonderful to explore the numerous possibilities for health and well-being.

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Greatness!

Today I took some time to study what it takes to great, to be the best you can possibly be. On Yahoo Sports there was a piece with Kobe Bryant speaking about What it takes to be great. Link below

http://sports.yahoo.com/video/player/news/Graham_Bensinger_InDepth/29976358

I thought to myself how I wish I knew this as a young athlete or just a young man in life. As I have alluded to in the past I have underachieved in the past. I have changed this though and now I am putting in the effort, dedication, work, study, practice necessary to be the best at what I do. Watching videos and listening, or even reading books, quotes by others who I feel have achieved such greatness following these concepts above has deepened my understanding.

Greatness encompasses many factors. Kobe touches on these in this interview, how much time, effort, and dedication it takes to be the best. You have to sacrifice many things including relationships, and beyond. You have to be a nerd, a student of yourself and what it is you wish to be great at. You need to understand how to meet the demands given your abilities. I appreciate Kobe sharing this. I never had this teaching, this coaching in my life but as a coach I share this concept to help people understand what it takes to achieve their goals.

Often we set goals not truly understanding what it means to achieve them. As a coach it is my responsibility to study the movements, the strategies, the positions, the game, etc. But even more so It is up to me to study what it takes to be a great coach, a leader, a guide, a support system to help our people set goals that they can achieve and to understand what it takes to achieve those goals.

Proper goal setting is essential. With knowledge and experience comes trust and understanding. These factors help to be a better and more effective leader. This process never ends. As an example, since I have taken the path of becoming a Doctor in TCM I understand that I have added another element to my personal and professional practice. And with this the responsibility to be a committed student to Medicine in order to bring my patients the best and most appropriate care for their complaint/concern.

We need an undying passion, a laser sharp focus, a curious mind with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, the ability to implement and possible make a mistake and learn from it and pure dedication. But, it is available to us, but we need to understand what it means, what it takes and as a coach, leader, manager we need to help others understand in order to put them in the best possible position to succeed.

 

Systems, Limitations and Human Potential

A student, I have and continue to explore numerous systems of movement. My purpose is simple, learn through experience and expand my potential as a coach. Through this examination and practice I have learned many invaluable tools. When studying, observing and practicing I place myself in the shoes of those whom I coach. It is key for me to take the essentials of what I am learning and apply as necessary.

I have found a number of excellent if not amazing systems. I have also found that none of these is the end all be all, therefore my continually exploration. This is not a knock on any system, just an honest observation. It also maybe more of a reflection on the simple sheer number of people and varying interests of these people that i serve.

In reading some works by Bruce Lee, recently a penny dropped along with a moment of clarity that feels as if i peeled another layer. It used to be the concept of jack of all trades, master of none. But this i do not feel is the case for me, what i see is myself becoming a master of my own system. It is not about reinventing the wheel, or branding a business to sell and make money. Instead it is truly about life, art, science and the wisdom that comes from being curious, willing to explore and learn, the openness to all things possible. Yes, it is like water, taking the form of what it touches, continually flowing and evolving.

These 3 quotes from Bruce Lee resonated with me on a certain level. I have spent much time reading the Tao Te Ching and from many authors. Much like Bruce Lee, it has a profound impact on my being.

“I am learning to understand rather than immediately judge or to be judged. I cannot blindly follow the crowd and accept their approach. I will not allow myself to indulge in the usual manipulating game of role creation. Fortunately for me, my self-knowledge has transcended that and I have come to understand that life is best to be lived and not to be conceptualized. I am happy because I am growing daily and I am honestly not knowing where the limit lies. To be certain, every day there can be a revelation or a new discovery. I treasure the memory of the past misfortunes. It has added more to my bank of fortitude.”

“When there is freedom from mechanical conditioning, there is simplicity. The classical man is just a bundle of routine, ideas and tradition. If you follow the classical pattern, you are understanding the routine, the tradition, the shadow – you are not understanding yourself.”

“A teacher must never impose this student to fit his favourite pattern; a good teacher functions as a pointer, exposing his student’s vulnerability (and) causing him to explore both internally and finally integrating himself with his being. Martial art should not be passed out indiscriminately.”

As a coach I feel it is integral not to limit my clients to a single system. Instead it is my role to give them the best and most appropriate system for the situation. For this reason I keep exploring and studying systems. I have a long list and it goes far beyond simply movement based systems. I must say it is exciting to be a student and share this wisdom I come across with clients and patients.

Failure, and the drive to be your best

It is through countless failures that I have learned how to coach and be an athlete. I have tasted success both as a coach and athlete but it is the failures that provided the greatest of lessons. I would say I have failed well beyond a majority of the time. By setting high standards, by facing daunting challenges, by being told your not good enough, by simply being short in stature the obstacles in my path have challenged me to become better, to become a student of the game of life, sport, etc. These failures, the lessons learned along with coaching and countless hours studying a variety of topics truly have and continue to shape me into being the best coach I can be. Truly nothing worth any while is not without hardworking, struggle, challenge and failure. It is the persistent nature, the desire to grow and improve, to challenge ones self that help define how I have and continue to work to be the best I can be.

I am not the coach who had tremendous athletic success, but the athlete who struggled, underachieved, and missed out on things. It is because of this that I have and continue to strive to help those whom I coach to be their best. I, at least want to put them in the best position possible to succeed at their highest level.

So set your standards high, shoot for the moon and find people who can help you to be your best.

“A goal is not always meant to be reached. It often serves simply as something to aim at.” Bruce lee

” to hell with circumstances, I create opportunities.” Bruce lee

Program Design, Art and Science

Program Design, Art and Science Where do I start. This is always a question I ask myself when setting out to design a program. In order to honestly answer this question I need specifics; such as goals, currents numbers, time commitment, strengths, weaknesses, etc. All this information goes into my brain and correlates with all my experience, knowledge and wisdom to produce my first draft. Let me just say that I find programming extremely stimulating for the simple fact that it is so damn difficult and by no means an exact science. 19 years of doing this and while it is ‘easier’ it still comes with all sorts of challenges. One challenge comes in the form of a valuable lesson, that science only gets you so far. However, without all the years of research and fieldwork by many of the great coaches and scientist before my time I would have an even bigger up hill challenge, so thank you to all those whom have helped lay the foundation.

So let’s talk some key factors of a program design:

1. Goal of athlete
2. Sport or activity
3. Current status including PR’s, fitness level, injuries, strengths, Weaknesses
4. Time constraints
5. Financial constraints
6. Mental state
7. Emotional State
8. Equipment availability
9. Did I mention mental/emotional state
10. Nutrition
11. Stress
12. Recovery
13. Sleep
14. Support system
15. Contest or competition
16. Commitment level
17. Feedback from athlete, including chart, mental notes, etc.
18. Perspective
19. Attitude
20. My observation of them Ok let’s stop here, I am sure I am missing some components but this is by no means comprehensive and is in no particular order.

It is simply a small list to illustrate the complexity in program design. See, program design is fluid and every evolving. All my plans have contingencies and thus are written in pencil with eraser handy. From all my research on design and implementation one thing remains true, that change is inevitable and flexibility paramount. One must build in contingency plans and be able to adapt on the fly. One must also have keen observational skills and be able to take in data and feedback with the ability to read between the lines all while making sure the athlete understands the aim/goal and buys into your philosophy and approach.

A lack of buy in and a lack of the ability of the coach to effectively communicate only makes this relationship more tenuous and the design that much more challenging. Note, it is not so much about selling or convincing the athlete but about communicating that you understand their needs and have their best interests at the forefront. This has to be an honest feeling you have in your heart and brain as a coach. This relationship relies on trust, faith and the experience that each of you have. Currently I am doing program design for a few Crossfit competitors. This is incredible and very challenging. These people are driven, eager, willing, and talented.

Coming from the general Crossfit approach to a more detailed, specific athlete approach is a change. We do not program daily WODs as in my opinion they serve as tests or mini competitions. And, daily testing and competition on this level is not sustainable nor health in my professional opinion. Instead we train, we work on strengths, weaknesses, movements, endurance both muscular and cardiovascular, flexibility, mobility, and mental toughness. This does include working within specific time domains and these will work to increase your ability to move across broad domains. The difference is these are prescribed work to rest ratios with specific reps and sets. Examples include; On the Minute, Tabata, 30sec/30sec, 15sec/15sec, etc.

See training is mentally far more difficult than randomized workouts. Knowing week in and week out that there is a basic approach meant to build and capitalize on the previous weeks’ work is far more difficult than walking into class and doing a random workout. Mental toughness is not scientific, nor is daily life. Some nights you have a bad nights sleep, or a family dinner in which you may eat out of the norm, or work/family stress, etc. those things are not scientific and need to be accounted for. This is the art, this the mental toughness. As I learn through these weeks of planning along with the athletes feedback, I grow more compassionate and much smarter. As the old adage goes, the more I learn the ignorant I realize I am. And through this all, I realize just how damn complex this stuff is. I am humbled daily and love when I get the data and feedback from the athlete that shows they hit the mark, felt really strong and the numbers were right on, etc. Not all workouts or days are this way, as much as I want them to be but this is the point. It is not an exact science, it is in fact art and science combined in an intricate pattern.

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