In various soft arts people like to talk about “no muscle”, e.g., for a throw, you relax and do the same motions as if the other person wasn’t there and a throw feels pretty much the same. However, of course there is some muscle at work even when things feel clean or effortless. Then again, I don’t want to “muscle” everything and reinforce inefficiency and hinder learning better, cleaner techniques. I also have a messed up arm so it’s hard to do typical modern weight exercises. So what to do? A lot of people advocate various body weight exercises. One of my favorites I read about is the one-legged squats in all its variations. In something like a hip throw, the other person’s weight will be on you momentarily and so if you can support all your body weight on one leg in multiple reps, on two, or one and a half (sort of), you are pretty good, at least with similar weighted opponents or partners.

My dad showed me a one-leg squat variation a master used to demonstrate in which you stick one leg out horizontally and straight in front of you. Grab your foot with the same side hand or for a variation, the opposite side hand. Squat down to 90 degrees and stand back up. I can’t quite do that one, mostly due to lack of flexibility, but it seems like a good exercise for me to work toward, since I can do it anywhere any time. Also, when I can finally do it well, I’ll have attained an ok minimum of leg strength, balance, and flexibility, without reinforcing some kind of “muscling” habit. Maybe I can fix my tight hip and back issue. I’m guessing this is an easy one for the experienced body weight folks. I’ll move on to something harder eventually, but this one is my main one for the moment. It seems attainable by a mere mortal. Crazy pull-ups, push-ups, ring exercises, etc., well, we’ll see…

Come to think of it, now that I think about rings, one of the coolest, most fun, outdoor exercise pieces of equipment I ever tried (and was horrible at) are these rings in Santa Monica, CA:

http://www.pbase.com/gusitar/image/42278076
http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=santa+monica+rings

The stuff some people can do on them is just so cool. Those folks must build incredible grip strength, whole body strength, air sense, and so on. There’s some weird, fun, primal sense you get on them, too, like some connection to some primate ancestor who could really swing effortlessly through the trees, or some sense that people could really swing like Tarzan, or a feeling recapturing the sensation of being a little kid finally succeeding in crossing the monkey bars. Or, for the dismount, a weightless feeling of sailing through the air like a little kid jumping off the swings or from a tire swing into a lake. Check out this cool video or the other ones on Youtube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dd19yxhi_cM

Some guys can even swing, hanging from their feet. Dang. If I could do any of this stuff, my fascination with martial arts might end and a new one would begin.

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