Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Quest for Balance...

Why is it that at home, watching tv, I can stand on one foot in the half lotus position for hours? Okay, not hours, but a good 3-5 minutes without even flinching.

But get me in the dojo with 20 other people and I get my foot 2" off the ground and I'm already teetering? I would guess it has a lot to do with focus. Last night in class, Sensei mentioned that some people find it helpful to find a small spot on the floor on which to focus. And when he said focus, he explained he didn't mean to hyperfocus, but more just kind of stare and let your vision blur on that small little focus point. I know that helps me at home and also at work when I practice, but the difference is that I'm alone when I'm balancing at home or work. So, one could probably safely say that the other people just being in the room distracts me. It does make perfect sense. After doing research on my son's ADHD, (remember I told you I'm a Research Girl) I found that I have many of the classic symptoms of mild ADD. So, that would account for why I'm so easily distracted in the presence of others.

So, like Julia Roberts was a "Safety Girl" in the movie "Pretty Woman", when it comes to ANYTHING, I am a "Research Girl", and I just had to start the google process. I typed in "Balance Training" or "Exercises to Improve Your Balance" or something like that - I don't remember. (But don't fear, I'm going to give you the link later in this post). I found some pretty interesting exercises, but one program stood out from the others…Three Dimensional Balance: No Equipment. No Fuss. No Cost!" Well you have all probably figured out by now, I am broke all the time so the "No Cost" aspect was a big selling point for me. The author, Coach Scott Sonnon was pretty darn convincing when he said in his article, "As far as balance training, this set of drills is the only exercise you'll ever need. Period." After reading the article, I was sold. After all, Coach Sonnon seems to be a pretty accomplished guy (see Wikipedia:
Scott Sonnon - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia because you know I had to do my research on him before I relied on results of my original search for information on balance exercises.)

Coach Sonnon gives a timetable for practicing his "Four Corner Balance Drill" and I like the orderly way you are instructed to start with the least difficult exercises, take your time and master those before moving on to the next, more challenging set. Same with the next more difficult set until you finish with the "Elite" drills for a total of about 2 years of perfecting your balance. I found that I admire that feature in a program…any program…patience and thoroughness. I also admire that attribute in a person...patience and thoroughness. I hope I possess those attributes at least somewhat in my character - despite my self-diagnosed mild ADD.

Tonight, I am going to begin the first leg of my well-balanced journey of 1-3 months with the first 3 exercises of the "Basic Level" Four Corner Balance Drills. I printed out Coach Sonnon's article, "Three Dimensional Balance: No Equipment. No Fuss. No Cost!"
Scott Sonnon - Flow Coach of the Internet » Blog Archive » FREE Program Improves Your Heart Health? and am going to embark, with patience and thoroughness, on my "Quest for Balance". I will update every few months and let you know how much / if my balance is improving.

Anyone care to join me? (Don't 'ya just love a challenge??)


jeffrey.embry said...

I am up for the challenge...need to work on that anyway.


Martial Arts Mom said...

Sounds good, Jeff! I'll give mini updates when I make new progress and you can comment back on how it's going for you. I started last night and I can certainly see why it is suggested practicing each level so long before progressing. I could not do it for even close to 10 minutes, let alone 15. I started with about 5 minutes, maybe 7 and thrusting forward and sideways, I kept my balance pretty well, but wasn't able to lift the legs that high yet. Now backward thrust, I was almost able to get a right angle to the vertical leg. Looking forward to steady improvement as article promises. Stay tuned...

Alicia said...

Balance has always been so hard for me. I can't believe you found this. I will follow along, too.

Steve said...

Looks good, and he's a sambo guy, so he can't be all bad! :D

Good luck with it. I'll see if I can work those into my routine as well.

Martial Arts Mom said...

I know this is gonna be one of the "groaner" moments (mind out of the gutter, folks!) but we can all be "balance buddies"...oooohhhhhhhhh

Ikigai said...

Very cool looking program ma mom! I definitely don't think I could pull off all of those stretches, but it's worth a try. May I add one into your mix?

When doing my stretches before class, I always do quadricep stretching, and it looks something like this. I do this stretch standing, without the aid of a wall or any other balancing points. For awhile, I shimmied and shaked while trying to regain balance, but eventually it became very natural. I used the strategy of lightly focusing on a single spot to steady myself.

After that, I slowly rotate my hips while still holding that quad stretch into a sidekick position, like this, only still holding the leg.

Finally I slowly lean down and touch the ground with the hand not holding my leg, and slowly come back up to normal position.

I love doing this routine because it really stretches out the leg, practices kicking position, and trains balance (not only for general use, but for specific karate use as well).

Great post and I hope this can be useful!

Martial Arts Mom said...

Ikigai-Yes - throw that into the mix. Even tho Coach Sonnon said his were the only ones a person would ever need - which may be true - it never hurts to go above and beyond. (Well it may hurt, but like they say: No pain, no gain) Thanks for the ideas! (and the compliment and comments, too!)