Blog 2014

It’s All Skill

You can do a split right now.

No, really, you can.  Or rather, your body is capable of mechanically performing a split.  Russian (legs forward and back) or Chinese (legs out to the sides), doesn’t matter.  Your muscles, skin, and connective tissue have the flexibility to take that position.  What inhibits you is the pain reflex.

The pain reflex is an evolutionary tool that has allowed animals, mammals, and humans, to survive across the years.  It keeps us from pushing our boundaries too far by providing us with a warning when we start to approach our limit.  By and large, this is a good thing.  A very, very good thing.  It’s what keeps people alive.  We WANT this pain reflex.  It’s what causes us to jerk our hand away from the hot stove.

The trick however, is that we can calm the pain reflex down.  We can sooth it into being more precise.  But you don’t do this by sitting down and splitting your legs as wide as possible until it hurts.  That will cause the pain reflex to kick in even sharper.  Your body is panicking.  The way you do it is to sit down and split your legs as far as is comfortable…and then just a tiny bit farther.  Not even to the point of pain; just the point of the subtlest discomfort.  ‘Pleasantly stretching’.  And then go no further.  Stay there and breathe.  Relax.  And within seconds, the stretch will begin to subside.  You can then go a little bit farther until you feel the stretch again, or you can call it a day.  But do this every day and your body will discover that it can move wider and wider into the stretch without damage, without injury.  Your body learns to stop panicking.

Flexibility then, isn’t a physical feat that you build up to; it’s a skill you practice.  It’s something you can already do that you simply need to get better at.

Other ‘impossible’ things are the same way.  Can you draw a line?  Then you can become a master artist.  There’s no coordination involved with drawing; at least not that everyone who can sign their name doesn’t already have.  What is needed is practice.

Everything comes down to practice.  The innate abilities already exist inside of us; we just have to spend some time familiarizing ourselves with them and getting better at the skill in question.

Just about everything comes down to skill, a process and practice that can be performed and perfected gradually over time.

So, what skills do you want to master that you’ve thought were impossible?

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