It's been about 1 year and a half since I've been trying to perfect my handstand. In the beginning, it felt like the first time I rode a bicycle. The lack of confidence, the fear of falling and hurting myself ...being in an environment where I had little to no control. There was once I over kicked into inversion and landed square on my back. Shockwaves rippled across my back straight into my fingertips, my vision went blurry and I was dazed. I now know what it means to see stars.
Few months after my epic fall (or fail), my friend DC recommended me to a handstand workshop run by professional hand balancer Miguel Santana. Witnessing Miguel do a routine before the session started, I realised not only was it a marriage of strength and skill, it was art.
From where you place your palms, how you spread your fingers to 'grip' the floor, all the way up to where your elbows are facing, your shoulder alignment, where you gaze, how your hips are stacked, your torso in a hollow position, all the way up to the edge of your toes pointed. Every single muscle fibre engaged, your mind and body in unison. Handstand land is a happy place...your senses heightened, you are completely present and time just stops.
1.5 years on, I am getting closer to increasing my time in handstand land, working to achieve better lines. As Malcolm Gladwell said in his book The Outliers, "Ten thousand hours is the magic number of greatness." I haven't checked how many I have clocked, but I know I am far from it.
Stubborn as hell, a taurus man I am. When I was young, I was one of those kids that would wail in the middle of the mall until I got what I wanted. Good thing I've channelled my flaws to a different direction in recent years.
I remembered my first session at Singapore Calisthenics Academy. My flexibility, mobility and strength, challenged. I thought I went into the session equipped. How wrong I was.
The first few months were spent unlearning my bad habits, then picking up new ones. I realised there are many ways to reach mastery of this skill and it all boils down to this, persistence.
Just because I've fallen thousands of times trying to get my handstand, does that mean that I should give up? Just because I have wasted 1.5 years kicking up the wrong way and doing the wrong thing, should I just say screw it?
At the back of my mind, a tug of war. The little voice that says 'just be realistic..it won't work.. give up.' and the other that goes 'What if it was all possible?'.
It really is.
1. Model success
Sometimes no matter how hard you try, you can't find it within yourself to progress..You might have reached the limits of your own capability. If this is so, maybe get a coach, or even think about who inspires you. This could be a public figure, an athlete, a family member or maybe someone you know. Figure out what about them motivates you, then get obsessed. Be it podcasts, biographies, videos and articles, learn about them. What would be their work ethic? How would they think or feel? What would they read or listen to? Model their actions and replicate their success in your own life.
2. Love being a beginner
Whatever it is you set out to do, make sure you let go of your inhibitions, insecurities and false judgement. Whatever it is you decide to embark on, regardless of how much you know or think you know, open your mind and heart. Strive to be a kid filled with curiosity and wonder, then learn like like it was your very first time.
3. 'Fail' fast
Simply because there is no such thing as 'failure' only feedback. The quicker you fall, the faster you can get back up. Spend time learning not regretting. When you make a mistake, ask yourself productive questions like: 'How could I have done that better?', 'What were my lessons learnt?'. Ask the right ones, you get the right answers.
4. Keep your word.
Whatever you decide to embark on, do this. With others and most importantly... with yourself.
I believe that everyone should live a life of health and happiness...and it starts from the inside out.
Peace and Strength,