One auspicious Miami weekend in September, we had the good fortune to host Movement-X, a creation of Ido Portal used to disseminate his methods and philosophy. The event was led by Odelia Goldschmidt and Johnny Sapinoso, and covered a variety of topics, including handbalance, gymnastic/bodyweight strength training, locomotion, joint preparation, movement terminology/refinement, and “kinetic koans” (movement riddles).
There isn’t much that can be said that hasn’t already been said, such as by Kuslikis & Evans. But I found myself with some particularly salient thoughts based on what I learned at Movement-X. These are reflections; I wouldn’t want them construed as misrepresentations of what was taught. I’ve had two months to digest what we were taught, and this is my mental poop.
We were instructed through some basic riddles in the event, such as getting a stick from one position to another. The catch is that there is some restriction on how you are allowed to do this. This means that your body has to find a way around it’s limitations.
At first, you approach this aggressively, muscling through the resistance. You think there is a big success when you solve the riddle, even though you splintered the stick and aggravated your joints.
But if you practice over and over again, you gradually begin to realize that there is a smoother way, and you begin to refine your efforts.
As you approximate the path of least resistance (either by increasing your efficiency or mobility), you reduce the need for strength to push through the path. At some point, you will need to find a different path, one that once again provides resistance, to challenge both your mobility and your efficiency (which is a product of the learning process).
In the past few years, “movement” has become such a sexy word and many people have committed themselves to being “movers” before they understand what this means (and we’re all guilty as charged here).
At the event, Odelia gave a great metaphor for understanding the process of becoming a mover: the cloud. Most people see something inspiring, and are motivated to escape the box in which they find themselves. So they break the walls of this box, and think they’ve transcended to the level of their inspiration. But too often, they’ve simply entered a larger box.
Enter: the cloud.
This cloud has an infinite number of entry points. You move through it, always exploring, always discovering. It’s not easy though, not nearly as easy as remaining in a box. If you grasp anything in the cloud too tightly, you fall out. You want rules, instructions, guidance. None is forthcoming in this cloud, not in the sense you are used to.
Sure, this is only a metaphor. But language is a powerful force for determining how we act, by shaping how we see/understand. When you begin to see your practice as a cloud, suddenly you see yourself as having to keep moving.
Don’t slip out of the cloud!
Don’t exit through the entrance
When I go to an event, I expect that my physical practice will change in one way or another. I better come out a different person.
I went into Movement-X with a good deal of experience with the Ido Portal method (having been an online coaching student for a while), and still I found so much with which to refine my current practice. Since then, my warm-ups have evolved beyond “joint mobility” into “joint terminology”, I’ve added time at the end of each workout to allow for exploring some of the new movements I’d learned, and a new process of synthesis has opened itself up to feed my dance work.
You don’t acquire a complete grasp of how broad movement can be in one weekend. You need to take these abstract ideas of clouds & movement practice and experiment with them in your own life before they take on the kind of meaning that they are capable of.
This review comes exactly two months after Movement-X Miami, giving me time to “digest” what I learned. My eyes are slightly more open now: looking for movement riddles in everyday activities, exploring the articulation of each joint, bending and arching in new ways. These are things you can easily write off, until you experience them in your own life.
Thinking about attending a Movement-X?
Do it. My recommendation is not just for the gymnastic strength and handbalance progressions, the opportunity to learn locomotion (a creation of Ido’s), or insight into joint preparation. Those are great, and if you go with an empty cup, you will definitely learn something useful to apply in all of the above.
But the real value behind Movement-X is in acquiring a taste for a broader philosophy. Like I said, it isn’t understood in one weekend.