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Mikael Kristiansen

handbalancing video

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Mikael Kristiansen

seems there is some interest for hanstand work on this forum. i am in the 1st year of the circus school in Stockholm at the moment, studying handbalancing as a primary circus discipline(aerial straps being my second). here is a video of some training at the end of the first term. i had a bboy background before starting with handbalancing, and had done balancing for a year before starting school.

this is all training on canes, though most of my training is on the floor. I changed the clip to include some other stuff.

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jutajata

Amazing progress in just 2 years. Can you tell me what kind of exercises do you think that are good to improve stabilty and control on the one arm? I train one arm too but never have been into any circus school or meet any handbalancing coach instead of online advices from Ido and Yuval, so i dunno what are the optimal exercises for faster improvements because im already training one arms since 2005 and my level is far below yours.

Congratulations on the video its great!

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Richard Duelley

This is really really sweet! Nice job! I have been practicing my butt off and am making slow but steady progress on opening my shoulders, I can hold a handstand for a while if I close my shoulders a little bit, but I figured I better just fix that problem ASAP, thus my holds went back down to 5-15 seconds from 30+, but I am slowly figuring it out! :mrgreen:

When would you recommend trying out the canes, I would love to be able to just bring them out to a public park and just go nuts on them! 8) I am going to make a little portable platform (like Yuval used in one of his videos) so I can have a consistent surface to work on and take it where ever I go!

Again, nice work!

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jl5555

Very cool, thanks for posting. Hope to see more, it's inspirational.

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Mikael Kristiansen

I saw your video jujata, excellent work, especially for having no coach. I know how hard it is, I also spent a lot of time training without someone to give critique and help with positioning and it can be quite a pain. From what I can your alignment looks good, but I get the impression that you might benefit from closing(hollowing) your body position a little. This makes it easier to deal with the issue of twisting which very often happens.

The main thing I see that you should work on is the lifting of your free arm. What you now are doing is leaning over your support arm good, but when you push and go to the fingers of the other hand you keep the free arm straight and tense. what this does is that it creates unneccesary tension in your free shoulder and arm which makes it more difficult to lift it off the ground. The way im taught you should keep the free shoulder and arm as relaxed as you can when starting to remove it. The key is to BEND THE ELBOW and keep the arm "hanging" down so that the shoulder stays more or less at the same horizontal level as the other one. if you look at my clip(where I see I too should be more strict about this) you can see that I bend the elbow and try to keep the same line between the shoulders until I start to move my arm. This way you can relax more in the arm and make it easier to move it.

You do also stay a little wide with your arms which makes it unnatural to bend the elbow, so you can try with them a little more together.

Other than this you are doing very well on the closed legs position which is pretty difficult on the floor. you are generally correcting your balance very nicely which is really the hardest thing in 1 arm work. i know several people who seem to have a better position and flexibility than you, but who have not built up the sensation of keeping the balance.

As for exercises i think you should learn the counterbalances where the legs go either to the side or down. A good beginning exercise for these is to just learn to touch the toes to the floor on each side while stil on 2 arms. Basically the leading leg goes down while you lean your weight in the other direction to compensate. this builds useful strenght in your oblique area which is heavily used in flags and 1 arm presses. When able to do easily on 2 arms you can start to try this on 1 arm and learn to balance with the legs farther and farther down. Do you have access to canes and/or blocks? If you have I can give you some good exercises. Also, are you planning on learning a lot of positions?

As for the question about canes, as soon as you are able to jump or press up on the canes you can start to play with them. For 2 arms they really dont give much difference, but many 1 arm postions are easier on canes. Floor is better to train to get the proper sense of balance though.

Thanks for the feedback, I will be changing the video tonight to include some cool stuff, check it out if you are interested.

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jutajata

Man you just give me a shortcut that will save me some years of trial/error effort, i noticed that the way i lift my arm was different from you guys that are on the professional handbalancing area but ive never figured exactly what was the real issue, this guidance about the lifting arm is pure gold.

Regarding the counterbalance ill start training this exercises as soon as possible, my main focus is working on floor because i train for my routine so its not interesting for me to train on canes because ill need to perform on floor. My objective is to learn some one arm presses and the easiers (i dont know if we can call easy) positions on one arm.

Can you tell a little about the daily routine in the circus school with handbalancing as a primary focus, how are the workouts, volume and frequency of training, do you just do endless sets or its more a measurable workout (3 sets of this plus 2 sets of that), im just curious to know how you guys prepare yourselfs to the amazing performance level you achieve.

Thank you so much for your feedback and keep training and posting videos youre very talented, will definitly build up a great act.

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palmcron

Thanks for the feedback, I will be changing the video tonight to include some cool stuff, check it out if you are interested.

Looking forward to it :)

Thank you for posting videos and sharing your insights into handbalancing with us!

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Bob Sanders

I am curious too as to what you guys do at the school. I would assume that you don't have a set routine and would assume you guys do an endless set type of thing.

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Mikael Kristiansen

If your main goal is floor, you should definitely work on the counterbalance stuff. Notice that most handbalancers that work on floor tend to use mostly flags and positions with a low center of gravity, since they are "easier" to balance one you got the position and the sufficient strength to hold them. They take more to learn, and are in general harder, but are safer since you can kind of "lock" your body there. As for 1 arm press, you should be doing a LOT of the exercise I described since it is a good way to get it. After a while you can go straight to 1 arm from splitting your legs and then leaning over the support arm. If you get really good at this one you can start to try with both legs down in a small split, but it is much more challenging. As for positions, try in a side split(spagat?), or the ones with toes touching first. These are not so difficult and not so different from the ones you can do. Play with your legs, you need to know where they are in any position. You can also start to work on cross arm handstands. They are interesting to watch, and people have almost never seen them before. These are quite challenging as you must experiment with handplacement to make it work.

I think the routine in circus school varies greatly depending on where you are. I actually only have 6 hours of handstand, in addition to 3 hours of straps and 2 acrobatics lessons with a teacher a week. We also have dance, theater, music along with different creative projects. The total training time is hard for me to say since the program is designed so that we have a lot of free time to work by ourselves, but I train a LOT. I stay in the hall from 9 in the morning to 9 in the evening most days, and a great deal of the time is spent training, and I also train in the weekends. I do however train may different thing as I do breakdance, handbalancing straps, a little pair acrobatics along with flexibility work.

My endurance when it comes to handstands is very good, and I can spend many hours a day on it. Sometimes I do 2 or more sessions a day at handstands as well as there are endless variations to train. Sometimes I vary between training the straight positions and the flags/presses, since the latter category targets the midsection of the body a lot. However, when it comes to straps, where we use a lot of rings as preparation work, my endurance and strength is very low since it is quite new for me.

The classes vary GREATLY depending on your teacher. I have a russian who is very much about first creating perfect alignment, but wants you to train 1 arm as soon as you have the alignment. We work on positions and movements mostly on 1 arm. He almost never spots me, if not to place me so that I can understand the positioning and alignment, since spotting takes away the sense of balancing. I get to rest as much as I want between sets mostly, so that I can have full focus every time. Mostly he works as a guide, giving me advice on how the lines are and how the different positions should feel. But as said, this varies enormously between each teacher, and also with the skill level of the student. Sometimes we do strength work at the end, handstand pushup, pike presses or 1 arm presses with light spot in sets.

Since I am in school and I can have full focus on training I basically train until I dont have anything left to give every day. Less in the weekends, but I do at least something almost every day.

Here is a new small video from training. I still have a long ways to go. My main weakness is flexibility which you can see where I cant completely straighten my legs in some piked positions and my split is pretty abysmal for a handbalancer.

http://jaycut.com/mix/116369/preview?co ... ser_123110

My goal for the coming years is to be able to do sequences on only 1 cane, which requires me to become near 100% safe at the jump switch...For now I land maybe 4 out of 10 on blocks...still a lot of work to do

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jutajata

Thank you so much mate!

Ive included this exercises in my training routine and will do a lot of counterbalances to increase the strength of my obliques for the one arm presses.

Good training and keep sharing your videos!

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ThomasJG

WOW!

Your progress is immense for 1 year!

I will make a quick video of my 1 arm training now and try to post it for you, I would really appreciate your help. Be right back!

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ThomasJG

Hi here is a quick video.

I believe the problem is that my hips always shift up and down, also the twist is major in the second one, and this happens a lot!

I have been handbalancing over a year now and putting in several hours a day 5-7 times a week. Im quite appalled at how little I have progressed! I go to a circus school and I am worried that at the end of 3 years I will have nothing to show for it.

Thanks for your help

*edit oops forgot the link ;)

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Mikael Kristiansen

ThomasJG, to me it does not seem too bad, and Im certain you will surely get somewhere in 3 years. Do you have a good coach by the way?

It is a little hard to see from this angle your alignment, but it does not seem too bad. To me it seems like your main problem is that you are not used to really push your shoulders high. I have done handbalancing specifically for 2 years now, and I had very much problems with getting used to really pushing my shoulders high in the beginning. Right now it seems like you are a bit too tense, which is completely normal. Do a lot of work in the position with the fingers on the floor just to get used to it. Even when you are working this position, try to realx the "free" arm as much as possible so that when it will eventually move it is relaxed so that you dont move the shoulder joint. Remember to focus on keeping your elbow locked and your shoulder high at all times. Keep working your shoulder flex as well.

Edit: I watched you video again, and I think I have a good tips for you. When you lean over and go to the fingers, do you give an extra push from your supporting arm? For me this is very important. As I go over and got to the fingers position, I push the shoulder even higher to center the weight as much as possible over it before removing the free arm. As you probably know, once you shoulder has already fallen, it is hard to get it up again, so try to get it high before you get all your weight on it.

You are already able to kind of stay on 1 arm already, so it is more about getting used to doing smaller and smaller corrections. A friend of mine in school who is a hand to hand flyer and really good at 1 arms said something good: "a lot of coaches teach you good position, but they forget to tell you to search for the balance." Of course the technique is important, especially for harder positions, but the getting the sense of balancing on 1 arm is equally important. The bodily awareness on 1 arm comes with time, so, dont worry, just keep at it. You will get to a point when you really start to feel the medative state of it.

For you i would reccomend doing "flag" exercises while still on 2 arms a lot. What you do is lean sideways on 2 arms to try to get the toes of the leading leg to touch the ground at your side and press out again. Do this on both arms. You need to lean you body slightly in the opposite direction to let the leg go down. Go as far as you can and press out, or do negatives all the way to the ground. You will feel that it is wasy both to pike too much when you do this as well as letting the supporting shoulder sink as you go over, so try to kep this from happening. Also, how are you press handstands?

Another thing which I find really, REALLY important, about handstands in general is to FIGHT when you feel that you will fall! I see a LOT of people doing handstands all the time in school, and there is often a noticable difference between those who really fight when the allmost fall and those who just gives up because they know they will go down. The thing, especially about 1 arms, is that when you fall sideways you can really press from your obliques as well as counterbalance with the free arm and do really good negatives every time you fall. This is basically the way I learned to do 1 arm presses. i would just try to stay as hard as I could and I could eventually get up again when my legs went too far down.

This got a bit long, but I hope you find it useful. If you have any questions, dont hesitate to ask!

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ThomasJG

Wow this is great advice. Especially that about fighting, I really should fight more!

I will make some more videos showing the exercises.

Whilst my coach is good, I hardly get too spend any time with him. He is always 15 minutes late atleast to my lesson, and he teaches 3 boys straps at the same time as he does my handstands. So my time with him is probably cut to about 15minutes a day, and its frequent that he can't come to a lesson at all.

Also when he spots me, a lot of the time he is watching the boys on straps and not my handstand! Its not ideal and I am thinking of changing coaches, he will understand. It's not his fault, he is the head of the circus school and everyone is always bugging him for his time. His time is very limited but he is a good coach.

Im capable with press handstands, I can do multiple pike/straddle/frog presses. I can do about 3 Lsit presses between two chairs on a good day. I can one arm press onto blocks if my coach spots me for balance.

Anyways thanks a lot for your help I will make a video of some presses and more 1 arm shapes and stuff!

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Mikael Kristiansen

make more videos, would be cool to see! Good that you can do the presses, important stuff for handbalancers. Anyway, I think you should talk to you teacher and see if there is anything you can do about the situation. Handstand balancing is so subtle and requires a lot of attention from a teacher for coaching to work. When I work with my coach, it is alone 4 times a week for 1 hour and 1 time a week together with a classmate for 2 hours. The structure varies, but it is always very focused. He always gives feedback wether good or bad. For you to know what you are doing, it is crucial that someone tells you why certain things happen, such as twisting. A good coach can tell you this and instruct you upon the habits of the body that needs to be changed. I think that if there is nothing to do about the present situation, you should try to switch coach to be able to have mere benefit from your lessons.

By the way, do you train a lot outside your lessons? Playing around is important! Sometimes I realize stuff and learn more during random handstand play than during lessons. Do you by the way do other circus discplines?

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ThomasJG

Hi yes I generally train another 2 hours 3-4 times a week on top of my lessons. Sometimes 3-4 hours. My other specialty is hoop diving and my group act is korean plank. I love hoop diving it is very exciting although my true passion is handbalancing. My background is in breakdancing and I trained tricking 3-4 times a week for a few years but never really got far hahaha gave up breaking this year due to alot of my time being taken up in circus school by wierd things I didnt want to do (i.e. static trapeze lol). But next year I will have a lot more free time and am planning on returning to breakdance with a couple of hours training every morning. I cant wait im so excited to start breaking again :)

I made a video of me doing some presses and flag exercises, looking forward to your feedback :) I threw in a lil hoop dive in there too :) I

Whilst I can go lower on the flag, this is the height I am comfortably pushing myself at, If I go to low, my lack of sidesplit flexibility forces a change in shape and I usually cant balance it,

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Mikael Kristiansen

Nice video, you are good at pressing, and your alignment looks good enough. For the flags movements, you are doing it pretty nice, but keep working these every day, even beyond 1 leg touching. You can work more on leanin your upper body to the other side, as this will give you the leverage to go further down. It will make it much heavier for your abdominal region and shoulder, but it will build valuable strength and flexibility.

For me it works best to do flag/1 arm press exercises every day. I allmost never go to failure, but as long as I work at least some sets, I get almost constant improvements.

I also vary between doing lighter repetitions of up and down as well as heavier static/negatives. From expericence I feel that when you get the hang of the body placement and technique it gives the most results with negatives/statics since you are constantly working at your max capacity in that range of movement. In the beginning, at least until you can easily touch the toes on each side, I think the dynamic ones are better, but try both! Remeber to push through the shoulder as you go down so that your arm bends as little as possible, as well as leaning your body in the other direction to counterbalance to go lower.

In our school we do not do other disciplines unless we want to, sucks that you had to waste time on stuff you dont really want or need.. I too started out as a bboy. I am still breaking, but also gotten more interested in a lot of dance styles(generally funky styles). I am however trying to keep training breaking, since there is a LOT of material in the bboy world that is never used in other contexts. I would like to use a lot of stuff from breaking in my handbalancing, and I am training a lot of "untraditional" balances as well as power.

I saw some videos of you doing flare-elbowairflare-windmill-halo combos, they were pretty smooth! I have been trying to learn airflares, for an embarrasingly long time, way before I even got into balancing, but I havent gotten the hang of it yet. I got stuck with some bad habits, and bad technique, but I am hoping to get it soon. I can do flare90s, but I think I skipped too early to the really hard moves instead of learning basic combos when I started, which I am learning pretty easily now. Hope I can get airflares by next year..

Well, now Im off to train! Keep up the good work and train your 1 arms every day to get the "feeling", it is the most important!

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Quick Start Test Smith

Very impressive! :o

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ThomasJG

Hey handbalancer I made my own thread which I will post some vids in, looking forward to your critiques

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