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Turkish Get Up and Go

This  isn't a post about my favorite cuisine. There's no mention of yogurt.

I am instead following up my last post on gravity -- 'Exercise' -- is it worth the effort? Discovering Anti-Exercising and G-forces.

I'm following up because I think I overdid the gravity thing the last few days and are now suffering as a consequence.I'm sore, fatigued, and stiff  -- and I suspect that I did too much  'core' play around.

'Core' is of course an exercise buzzword.  Core Exercise usually means focusing on your trunk, especially the abdominals and pelvis.


But anyone with any background in martial arts -- and I have a  'hard' form Tai Chi Chuan past -- will tell you that 'core' is all about Dantien which is located as low as you can lower it. It's a centre-of-gravity thing.  It's a balance point located in the body as it moves about.

Freed of any mystical content, as an abstraction Dantien is a useful concept. But there is more to it than 'core' because it's also about keeping yourself upright and free moving. Pilates deploys 'core' like that.

So it's also about movement awareness rather than just shaping the abs or buns.

Over the last few days I've worked at lowering my Dantien (so to speak) by

  • standing up from a seated position more often (on average at least 3-4 times per hour)
  • standing up from a seated position without using my arms for support
  • standing up from a lying position without using my arms for support
  • altering my exercise routine (more on that later)

...and it hurts. Despite what I may get up to I'm very Dantien weak. I remember when I was Dantien strong because my Tai Chi was good.

But I'm not gonna go back and do Tai Chi again.

Getting Down

My gravitational  shift downwards -- physiologically no more than a conscious and very slight pivot of the pelvis and a bend of the knees -- has shocked my system, constrained and contained as it is by Fibromyalgia. This tells me that I'm carrying around a lot of stressors just to keep myself upright in the manner to which I have been accustomed.

Standing up against gravity takes more work than you realise. The question is: is there a better way to do it than relying on  habit?

This leads into my exercise tweaks.

First tweak: skipping. I like skipping/rope jumping. It gives you a sense of accomplishment. It's cheap and exhausting, thus ticking a lot of boxes. But I haven't skipped seriously for 3 years. So I'm adding 90 seconds of skipping to my HIIT workouts. Ninety seconds. That's all. Just me bouncing up and down, bobbing my head toward the sky, taking on gravity by lifting up my full body weight a wee bit off the ground. (You want an excuse to lose weight? Skip. There's not a better definitive answer about how much you weigh day in day out than the challenge of lifting your own self  up.)

Second tweak: the Turkish Get Up. The videos below explain the Turkish Get Up better than I could in words. It's a kettlebell exercise where you lift yourself and the bell from a starting position flat on the ground. It is hard to master and there is significant skilling up required in order to do it right because the fulcrum of the weight keeps  shifting on a vertical plane (although it also has a G-force mind of its own and will want to drift horizontally).

Since I started doing conscious High Intensity Interval Training I shaved back my kettlebell routines and only lifted vertically rather than swing the weighs away from  my body. I did that because I lift slowly and I don't employ momentum to lift.

The advantages of the Turkish Get Up are that it can still be done slowly, requires no momentum to complete and the lift is vertical. Of course starting so low and reaching up to the sky is a real gravity challenge...especially for all that core/Dantien.

So I've added the Turkish Get Up to my kettlebell sessions. My form is terrible (but you have to start somewhere)...

When you consider the Turkish Get Up and study it from the POV of gravity and posture and balance it is a superb exercise challenge. Like the Tai Chi form itself, your body can learn a lot of good lessons from 'getting up' under the hefty weight of a kettlebell. The quest to do it right is almost a Zen thing, is it not?  A sort of Zen and the art of the Turkish Get-Up. 

Grunt won't get you very far at all. Technique is important, indeed crucial. But an extreme focus and sense of space and movement -- just you and da bell -- without the distraction of time -- is essential.

I'm looking forward to a bit more Turkish get up and go.



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