Diesen Beitrag schrieb ich am 20. April 2008 im Forum auf parkour.net. Der Thread, auf den ich antwortete, drehte sich um Landung im Allgemeinen und versuchte, Tipps für Landung insgesamt zusammenzutragen.
Mir persönlich fehlten in der Diskussion einige wichtige Aspekte. Daher schrieb ich diesen Beitrag, um weitere Elemente aus meiner Sicht in die Diskussion einzubringen.
Wie die gesamte Diskussion ist dieser Artikel auch auf englisch.
I agree in some way – there is not really a need for high jumps. But anyway, after performing any technique you have a landing, not only as a drop. Reaching the ground again after a saut de chat or another passement is a landing as well. And for sure, you should not risk too high impacts, even on that. But the way of landing may decide whether you can still use your knees in ten years or so, bearing the memories of some thousands of small landings which you did in training sessions while performing passements of all kinds.
For that reason, I find it to be important to discuss about landing technique – even if you do not plan to perform drops.
But besides that, I want to open another point of view. Me personally, I do not care which muscles I use for what kind of landing. I do care much more for [i]how [/i]I use them. I think I have to explain that a little…
Look at our bodies. Ever recognized what a miracle they are? It is composed of many, many different parts, working all together. For our purposes, we often do focus only on our muscles. But even them, there are hundreds of them, working all together to keep us moving.
When we move – and much more in a complex process as landing – there NEVER is only one muscle working. There is always the whole system of your body involved.
Look what is happening in a landing situation. Try that: go out, perform some landings (not too high impact, of course, but in a way that you can watch your body working). Feel inside of you: what parts of the body are used? Which muscles are really in tension? You will see that it is much more than only your legs. Also feel in parts of the body which you absolutely do not expect to be working…
I think you will feel tension in your abs, your arms, shoulders, maybe in your back or belly, even in your feet, in your neck, in your face and anywhere else. So it is absolutely not only your legs involved.
Hey, ain’t that great? Your whole body is involved in landing! There is much more about landing than only working with your legs.
When you dive deeper into that topic, you will recognize some more things being involved. Maybe your heartbeat changes. Maybe there is adrenaline. And watch about the activity of your breath – is it stocking, is it pressing, does it work normally? When pressing or stocking, also the diaphragm is involved. And as the diaphragm massages your inner organs, even they are influenced. And what about the fascia (which are wrongly seen as not important in body culture)?
What you will not feel is what your adenoids do.
But maybe you also feel influence on the working of your brain – in some drops the brain stops awareness for one moment and works automatically for the time of the landing.
Hey, landing involves your whole body system! See how incomplete it is to discuss only about squads?
And, see the good message in it? When you can use your whole body for landing (as you usually DO), it is not only your legs and knees who have to handle the impact. You have a whole body to deal with that.
This whole system is really complex. Me personally, I will never get to the point that I really can influence all that happens in my body while landing. So conscious control has its limits here. Especially, as even more important than the fact that very many components work togehter is that all there components have to be coordinated, so that they act together well. This cannot be controlled totally by conscious mind. Any try in that direction always has to be incomplete.
But our body itself has a – subconscious – coordinating system which will help us act properly. My question now is, how can I use this automatic system to improve my landings?
First, some reflections about muscular tension. There are in general several ways you can use your muscles. And this has enormous relevance for landing. Imagine pressure hitting one of your extremities. Your muscles (and the whole system) have to interact with it. What will happen if a muscle is too loose? it will not give any resistance, the shock will go through completely – into other muscles or into the bones and joints. What will happen if a muslce is under full tension? – it will try to absorb the shock alone, may take damage, and as it is not flexible any more, the things surrounding it will take part of the shock. What happens if a muscle is exactly in between, not too much, but not too less in tension? Yes. It will take a part of the shock and leave the rest for other muscles (which are hopefully in the same state). And it will act flexibly, so that there will be less problem with the surrounding parts of the body.
In my experience, I found the body to be enormeously strong when completely being in that state – not being relaxced, but not too much under tension.
Those of you doing T’ai Chi or similar forms may know this state. And maybe have experienced that there is much more about this state – maybe I tell of that later, it is the key to some really fascinating things around body strength. In this state my body can bear much more – REALLY much more – than it could ever with pure force. Those who meet me in trainings can ask me about that, I will be glad to share that.
I think that has something to do with the body’s ability to really work together in this state instead of some muscles trying to be the „heroes“ alone or doing nothing. When I am able to land in this state nearly everything happens on its own. The impact distributes itself throughout my muscles, my body acts well, and so it is.
But – in our modern world there are only very few people being able to get into this equilibrium of body structure. Many people have muscle areas which are always under tension, others that are not activated at all. This has different reasons – unnatural way of movement and body usage is a part of that. Emotional aspects are the other thing – they easily find their similarities in body structure.
There are many people in this world pulling up the shoulders all the time, stretching their heads forward or pulling it between the shoulders, rounding the back, lacking of tension in the abs (which is a well-spread problem in learning a proper roll). Usually exactly those parts of the body which do not have equilibrium tension are not even felt by those people. At these places, they often simply do not have awareness of themselves. When you talk to them, you will often find shy persons, often with fear in their backgrounds, watching out all the time for things which they do not like, not living the Greatness which we definitely do have as human beings.
And this is only one example. Many of us have such „dead spots“ of their bodies where tension is too high or too low.
Maybe you have discovered some of them in the training I told you about before. Maybe you have found out that your neck was in tension while landing. When you felt inside properly you may also have felt that a part of the shock hits right into this muscle, if it was the neck shaking through your whole head…
So my personal first goal is to get back to medium tension on my whole body again. There are several ways to do. Basic for all is just to stand anywhere – stand really on your feet – and to feel oneself. Do you feel comfortabely? Do you feel any tensions or subtensions? Can you feel your whole body? Can you fell your legs, your feet, your toes, your knees, your belly, your abs, your back, your whole spinal column, your shoulders, arms, hands, every single finger, your neck, your face, your head, your mandible, your…
When there are any dead spots in your awareness, try to feel inside. Do not get inpatient, do not force it – maybe first time you do not get all, and thats okay, thats normal.
When you recognise any things with much tension, let go. Surrender, let it loose. When you recognise places with low tension, maybe you do a little in it – but not too much, as our conscious muscles are not made to hold our bodies up. So when you let go of hard muscles, it is often only a thing of allowing the sub-tensioned muscles to take up their tension again. As this may be unusual for those muscles, sometimes you need a little more tension there than you feel to be medium.
Get your head back into its position. It should not be stretched forward; its place is right on top of you, on top of your spinal column. There is one position where you do not have to carry your head, it is levitating there. Your view should be slightly above the horizon. And yes – this may be an emotional thing. It definitely helps to open up, feeling big into all directions, letting go of worries and allowing yourself to be a big, great, room-filling person. Many of us do not allow themselfes such a thing, but that’s what we are made for. Everyone is a leader.
Your body is able to hold himself up completely without the help of ANY consciously controlled muscle. When it is right, you do not feel any more working muscle. It truly is like levitating…
So now, try to move. But very slowly. Maybe you already feel the impulse of moving inside of you. Then just let your body do. Also in moving, you should not work with your muscles, it should be completely easy and flowing. Do not move faster than you can feel this feeling.
There are many more things to go further; I stop here, I only wanted to set you on a path if you are interested.
Using that in a landing has still another problem.
You can have THE perfect balanced body before you jump. But you will soon recognize that your body gets out of this equilibrium once you are in the air. So why that!?
Our body has a natural reaction to falling, acts in an instinctive way to protect itself. It is a very old part of our brains which coordinates that. In this process tensions appear.
There are two ways to handle that, from my point of view: either, you learn to hold medium tension even in that situation. Or, you take this instinctive reaction in your way of landing; I do that when I roll, and since my rolls have become much softer. But this second option you should do with a teacher who can guide you. Many people dealing with Feldenkrais Theory can help you with that.
So, much talk, time for bed. I would be glad to hear some opinions about this, and for sure I answer questions. When I do not answer here – I do not look in here too often – feel free to contact me on parkour (at) maltehoevel.de.
Maybe not everyone shares my experiences on that. But even then I hope I could open your view for some more things being relevant in landing and in body cultivation in general.