So recently I made the mistake of replying to a thread on the internet while attempting to give advice and use logic.
Needless to say, it didn't go well. It could have continued as a conversation about handstand technicalities, but my logic was met with a personal attack on myself and my teaching style(which I completely accept) and eventually a comment on my appearance.
I won't bore you with the full conversation, but let's say I am once again put off by trying to help people over public forums on the internet.
When I saw the argument was turned to being about me instead of the subject in question, I tried to end the argument and concede internet superiority, after which this classy gentleman pulled the LOTR card and called me Gimli.
I'm not mad. I fully respect peoples opinions and perspectives when there is logic and reason behind them. It's just difficult to help sometimes in the age where everyone is an expert/guru.
First off, Gimli was my favorite character in LOTR(apart from Tom Bombadil) so I don't take that as an insult but rather hilarity.
Anyway, before I get side tracked I want to address the grievances against me. It's more of an internal dialogue for me, but since I can express myself better through writing this might help some of my readers might learn more about how I teach.
Luckily I mostly view the world from a negative/realist(none of this optimism/positive BS) point of view so this makes it easy to anticipate potential negative backlash(since I am more harsh on myself than anyone else can be). I hate receiving compliments anyway.
Below are some of the grievances about my person and my responses to them:
-"Spends countless hours on Bailouts"
It's true, the bailout of the HS is a big part of my curriculum, especially in my beginner workshops. Not being able to bail out safely is something that holds many people back from developing their freestanding handstand as it creates a psychological limitation for the skill. I often see very fast results in students' handstand from just working on bailouts, as it gives them more confidence in their entry and takes away the fear of falling.
Now I understand that this might be a trivial concept for intermediate and advanced practitioners attending a mixed level workshop. I never thought much of bailouts myself(I learned it naturally from years of actual falling) until I started teaching adults with no prior inversion experience.
To keep the higher level students entertained, I try to offer different challenges and perspectives within the context. In addition I offer advice on how to teach this to beginners, since teaching cues and perspectives are also something that many of my workshop attendees are interested in(I take the time to ask).
In an advanced workshop, the bailout is not something I touch on since I assume participants can already do it and have the control to not need to use it.
-"Does not like presses very much"
I think this may have been taking out of context. I think the press to HS is an incredibly valuable skill for anyone to learn, even if they are not handstand obsessed. The combination of strength, flexibility, balance, timing, and control needed for a press is a huge achievement and it is worth anyone interested in the physical arts to pursue it.
However for most people the press takes more energy than kicking or jumping to handstand.
The original thread was about one-arm handstands, which is a very specific skill. When learning this, I generally discourage students from using the press to go into their one-arm sets. The reason is mainly for efficiency since you can save energy in the entry that can be used for additional one-arm training(you'll need it). The press can(and should) then be trained separately in the practice and eventually combined with the OAH work.
The main reason I give this advice is because I have seen too many occurrences of people wasting energy and tiring themselves out quickly by trying to press into every OAH attempt.
No right or wrong here, just viewing the skill from a specific perspective. If your goal is OAH, the more reps you can do the better you will be.
Of course there are also times when the press is the safest method of entry, like doing HS on something high or unstable but once again we are talking about as very specific context here as to why not to use the press.
I had also recommended the OP to avoid training OAH on mats and stick to hard floor or blocks. The reason is that the mats change the weight distribution in the hand and dampen the sensation a bit. This may not make much difference for two arm HS but will make the OAH more frustrating to learn(even more so than it already is).
Part of the conversation before it turned into the typical internet troll stupidity was about doing the HS on different surfaces to build versatility. I am absolutely for this, in fact I wrote an ARTICLE about performing the HS on different surfaces and how it leads to different adaptations and a better understanding of the skill as a whole.
However, for initial OAH training it will be a lot less frustrating if you can give yourself consistent conditions as there are already enough variables to worry about.
The progressions here are skill-specific so being versatile is a good thing. However no amount of versatility will get you to balance on one arm as it's something you have to specifically work on.
This is why it is so rare for gymnasts to be able to do OAH, even though their versatility in HS is very high. To get better at OAH you need to specifically work on it and there is no way around that.
-"Does so much other stuff"
I think this was a personal attack on my varied training, as some handstand purists see other training as a negative thing.
The fact is that I have never called myself a hand balancer. There was never a time when i trained only handstand, though there was a period when it was my main focus. I have always trained in multiple disciplines, I just found handstands to be especially interesting.
I think it broadens my perspective(and helps teaching people of different backgrounds) to train HS alongside with many other disciplines, but I understand how someone with a more narrow state of mind can see it as a negative.
I am also well aware that my handstand level is quite mediocre, especially compared to some of the people have had the opportunity to train with. That's why it is best not to compare but still maintain a healthy dose of realism as to where I stand.
I think what I do have under my belt is the mistakes I have made in my journey, and the years of practical experience from teaching people of different backgrounds and abilities around the world. This allows me to see certain perspectives that people with a formal background or narrow minded purists(not using this as a derogatory term) would have trouble expressing.
Teaching to me is less about personal ability and more about communication and managing expectations and standards of your students.
I believe the path I took in learning my skills may have been detrimental in my development as an athlete but was invaluable in my development as a teacher.
I also believe the ultimate goal of a teacher should be to make themselves obsolete, so I try to think more in terms giving students concepts to develop and apply for themselves in their own practice rather than doing the work for them in the moment. I think being largely self-taught also helped me to see things in this way.
I understand this can also be a polarizing point of view if someone is too accustomed to a particular teaching or learning style. No problem there. Sometimes we have to take classes or get lessons to see what doesn't work. A negative lesson is still a positive one as you learn what not to do.
-"Would be pretty boring if we all looked this same"
I guess this is an attack on having people follow similar progressions towards their skill work.
In response, Yes it would. Except we do all look the same. We all have two arms, two legs, head, torso, etc. There's a cliche Bruce Lee quote here, something about 'when people have 3 arms and 4 legs, then you will see some different fighting styles".
I think it is important to make creative variations of skills, but it is equally if not more important to build a base of technique to build that from. That base technique is going to look similar(though never completely the same) for pretty much everyone and there is reason for that.
After technique can come individual style.
Also, one more cliche quite to add: "There is nothing new under the sun". It's all been done, and probably before your lifetime under shittier conditions.
With few exceptions, nobody is really doing anything "new" or unique in the realm of the physical arts. It might be unique to you, but not to the world.
I think what allows people to be unique is to put their own perspective and style behind what they do.
There's nothing wrong with following a set standard, at least for a certain amount of time.
This was the final retort.
Yes, I am bearded. As is the dwarven character in Tolkien's novels. This is a connection noone has made before (cue sarcasm).
It is also very relevant to the original conversation and a super classy move(more sarcasm if the native English readers dd not catch it).
I love being bearded and hate my face, so it's a win/win situation for me. Beards are a long time symbol of manhood, wisdom, and virility. Plus the ladies love it(wink wink).
I will insert a couple of my favorite beard quotes just for grins:
"He who hath a beard is more than a child, and he who hath no beard is less than a man"
"There are two kinds of people without beards, women and children"
"It's better a Jew without a beard than a beard without a Jew."
The gentleman also eventually went on saying he was biased because he did not enjoy my seminar. This is also perfect fine with me. I try to do my best in helping everyone get something out of my workshop.
However, I am well aware I normally work with a mixed group as far as ability, background, expectations and intentions for the class. No matter how good I am, I cannot make everyone happy.
I tell participants to keep an open mind, but I have no doubt that occasionally some are offended or disappointed by my language, delivery, skills, point of view, class organization, etc.
As I say, I do my best but can't win them all. Only can learn from experience and continue to improve.
Those are my thoughts from this experience. If you made it this far I hope you enjoyed the read.
Until next time, you have my axe.