Skills, resources and the fingerwag of judgement.

When a wise man points at the moon, the imbecile examines the finger,
— Confucius

Before you start reading, do this with me.

Chances are that you found this movement to be somewhat challenging. Why, though?

Do you not have mobility to extend your index finger? Is your thumb lacking the strength necessary to move the way it ought to?

Strength and mobility matter, and they always will. Physical resources like these are limiting factors and the more you have of them, the more you can potentially do.

However, they are only limiting.

Your income is a limiting factor as to how much money there can be in your account at the end of the month. Your spending habits and choices are the deciding factors that determine how much money you’ll actually end up with.

As it is with personal economy, it is with movement.

Your physical resources might enable and limit you to and from doing something, but ultimately it is your skill that decides if and how it gets done.


Many of us, myself included, often find ourselves thinking that the reason we are not capable in performing a specific movement is because we lack something equally specific.

It is, after all, more comfortable to think that the reason we can't do something is because of "tight glutes", "weak core" or "oh my god trigger points" than it is to say: "I don't know how to do this".

But you will not improve your chances of doing The Fingerwag if you expect that you are currently lacking something.

This applies to all other movements too: You cannot simply exercise in order to gain the resources you think you need. 
You also have to practice.

You have to address movement as problems you can solve with what you have at your disposal.

You have to be there.

This doesn't only concern our pursuit of specific feats or skills. General movement quality is a type of competency we also tend to neglect when we become to focused on improving our resources.

The presence and attention we need to improve gracefulness in movement is easily forsaken for the anticipation of what the movement might give us.

This is easier said than done, especially if we’re not comfortable in our own skin and as a result become solely focused on changing it. However, if we get our bodies off our minds and get our minds into what our bodies are doing, we open up the door to a very interesting possibility: That movement is a learning opportunity.

Obvious, I know. But like everything else we perceive to be apparent; very underestimated.

The fact is that many people already have what they need to move better right now. What’s stopping them is that their relationship to movement has become one in which they mainly exercise in order to receive something, as opposed to practicing in order to do something better.

Are these two approaches mutually exclusive? And is one better than the other? Most definitely not.

Can they be merged and improve each other? Absolutely. 


Homework.

In next article we'll be talking about some very interesting ways we can work on both the resources and skill of movement at the same time. In other words, how to get stronger, more mobile and more graceful while simultaneously expanding our movement vocabulary.

Until then, I'd recommend that you do one or both of the following assignments:

  • Get your head in the game with these drills. 

  • Create space in your workouts to practice.

    • Choose one or two exercises.

    • Do less of them (fewer reps/less resistance)

    • Use the effort you'd normally use to get fatigued to explore what's left to improve and change:

      • Are there any body parts that are unnecessarily tense?
        How does the movement change if you allow these to relax?

      • Do you have any blindspots? Parts of the body you tend to overlook in the movement? What happens when you engage these?

      • How much freedom has this exercise given you? Can you change your stance/grip? Can you control the tempo? Can you move your spine as you're going through the motions? Can you control your breathing?