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Lessons from the Ido Portal Movement Camp in Berlin…

August 16, 2012

On the plane home from Berlin (with a connection through Frankfurt), I had the opportunity to reflect on the happenings of the last 4 days taking part in the 2012 Ido Portal Movement Camp as both a presenter/lecture, as well as student.  As with all great experiences, you can’t help feel that more time would have meant even more inspiration…however this, not being conducive to my hectic schedule, was not afforded.   I will therefore try not to concentrate on it electing to redirect my energies on reflecting on some of the things that I both taught, and learned.

1.  If you gather a group of people who hunger for knowledge, and pay attention to the finite details of what they do…they will more often than not arrive at the same, if not similar conclusions.

The lectures that I presented to the movement camp focused on Functional Anatomy not only from a gross tissue perspective…but also extending the concept to the cellular level as well.  At this level, the extensive continuity of the human body is even more apparent as tissues seamlessly flow into one another in a vast continuum of cells, and extracellular matrix (Look for more posts on Connective Tissue in the coming weeks).  This prompted me to coin the term “Biological Flow” to describe the physiology of human movement, replacing the less conducive term “Biomechanics” which fails to accurately account for tissue continuity (i.e. Flow).

It was quite apparent as the lectures went on that the concepts I was presenting were in complete agreement with those of the camps host, movement master Mr. Ido Portal.  The question was actually posted as to wether or not Ido and I had planned it as such…the answer was no as I explained that we had no prior communication as to what I would be presenting.

Although looking at it from a different set of eyes, mine representing that of tissue healing, injury prevention, and rehabilitation….whilst his representing a more advanced conditioning and performance, our observations regarding biological tissue and they way it adapts to stress, heals, and moves were eerily similar.  How is this so?  As I noted above, when one pays attention, real attention to the details of their craft; registering the results of trial and error, then using said results to guide future efforts, whilst simultaneously ingesting new literature, they are bound to come up with very similar conclusions.

I believe the group was pleased by the result.  My lectures justified, in a sense, what they have been doing in terms of movement training with Ido as well as in their respective professions which included Ballet dancers, Cirque Du Soleil performers, Crossfitters, break dancers, martial artists, acrobats, MovNat specialists, Parkour practitioners, and more.

2.  To become great, you must train with great people.

This old adage relates to the quest for mental knowledge and/or physical accomplishment.  I was humbled to train with such an eclectic group of artists, performers, and athletes.  I learned a lot…I taught a lot, the combination was inspiring.

3.  North American coffee sucks….no really!

In between a training session Ido took me to what he described as one of the top 5 best places in the world for coffee (being the world traveler that he is that means a lot).  The place was called “Bonanza Coffee Heroes” and their slogan, which I originally thought of as being ‘clever,’ was actually a factual statement – “Don’t die Before Trying.”  Located in the heart of downtown Berlin, this quant, unassuming coffee shop, which has the authentic décor of a WWII bunker, succeeded in making me appalled by the ‘java’ that I so enjoy every morning in TO.  Something I didn’t know, black coffee, good black coffee, doesn’t require milk or cream, the addition of which would simply subtract from the richness of the many, many flavors.

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4.  With training, limits exist…but you probably haven’t come even close to achieving them

On our way to the frigid Flughafensee Lake in Berlin for our water-training course with MovNat Master trainer Vic Verdier, Ido and I had a great conversation as we walked though the forest to our destination.  We were discussing the concepts of “over-training” as well as work/training capacities.  More specifically, we discussed how the mere knowledge by most individuals that a ‘limit’ exists, prompts them to believe that they have reached said limit prematurely.  You here it all the time… “I took two weeks off to ‘rest’ my body,” or “I am definitely overtraining because my progressions are not consistently rising.”  Ido described capacities like stairs, you can be working within the confines of a certain level of capacity…but unless you push yourself (hard), you will never reach the next step to change your capacity.  Thus the idea of ‘capacity’ is not a final destination, but more a spectrum to work in.  Only by pushing yourself, making progressive adaptation, can a new capacity be reached.

4.  Proper Hand Balancing…Not to be learned from Youtube 

If you are like me and are endlessly training on improving your hand balancing (which anybody who desired upper body strength and control should)…proceed to your Youtube account, find the folder which you have created containing the numerous hand balancing tutorials that you have accumulated, send your finger to the ‘delete’ key…and push it.  I have improved my ability more in the last two days than I have over the past years.  As with every other skill worth acquiring, to achieve it you need to take the necessary progressive steps.  Sign up for an Ido Portal seminar when it comes to your area to learn said steps the right way.

5.  Connective Tissue, Fascia, continuity…people are just not understanding the concept

I didn’t necessarily ‘learn’ this from being in Berlin (actually by the end, the attendee’s understood this concept quite well), rather whilst putting together my lecture material for this camp, I had time to really reflect on some of the concepts that I try to promote in my writing, lecturing, and systems.  One of said concepts is that of full body continuity.  As with most concepts, once they are taken on by the ‘masses,’ they become watered down to the point that they are un-recognizable to those who fronted the concepts.  A good example is the disaster that occurred when the training community took hold of the idea of “proprioception,” or of the horrible term “core.”  I fear that the same is being done with the term ‘fascia.’  When I originally began discussing fascia, I used the term encompassed all connective tissues….i.e. all of those tissues who’s origins can be traced back to a fibroblast precursor cell (spawning tenocytes, desmocytes, chondrocytes, osteoblasts, etc.).  I tried to make it apparent that I was not only referring to the tissues that surround organs and muscles.  In addition, when discussing the connectivity/continuity of these tissues, I was not only discussing the “connections” between muscles….a concept which has somehow become synonymous with the term “Kinetic Chain.”

Anyway, without being too cryptic about it…I plan on re-visiting some of these concepts in some upcoming blog posts.

And Finally…

6.  “Movers” are weird people…I like weird people 🙂

I would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who participated in the Movement Camp.  I am privileged to have met each and every one of you…and I sincerely hope that our paths cross again soon.

I would also like to again thank Ido for allowing me to participate in the camp, and the opportunity to work and collaborate with him….this is something that I would like to continue to do in the future.  EPIC SHIT my friend.


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