Here are stories from people like you that have used the information found on this site to further pursue hand balancing and other skills. If you want to see your story added here send it in to [email protected]. The more detailed the better. If it works I will add it to this section.
THE SPIRIT OF HANBALANCING
I’d like to share with you my story of how the art of handbalancing came into my life how it has evolved and shaped my life, how it guided me through storms and ultimately became my life passion and expression.
I’d always practiced martial arts since very young, the mixture of body control and awareness blended with a deep philosophy fascinated me. I immersed myself in training and the study of philosophy and spirituality. This led to many adventures and challenges including 3 years spent as Royal Marine and 1 year traveling and studying, performing and competing in martial arts. I always trained differently than most people, I trained more like a gymnast than anything else, enjoying most being upside down and balancing, little did I know then about the art history and spirit of handbalancing. I just knew I was happiest upside down.
The more I studied spirituality and the more I came to understand myself the more I realized what I loved most was mastery of my body and expression of something from inside of me. I began becoming greatly interested in the performance arts. I made the decision at that time to focus all of energy into the art of Parkour. At this time I also began writing for Brutal Training, a website and group dedicated to helping athletes and non athletes alike to evolve and find their own spirit through training. It was my dedication to the pursuit of experiencing my own true self, spirit and my own evolution that led me to writing for Brutal.
Practicing Parkour saw me training even more in gymnastic type movements and an even further growing interest in the performance arts. I began was amazed and inspired by circus performers, especially hand balancers and contortionists, I searched the internet and read as much as I could about these amazing athletes. Aside from the amazing physical abilities of the performers that inspired me, something else inspired me so much more, it was something subtle in the performance, a deep stillness, it was as if the athlete has ceased being themselves, something else had taken over, something very deep and beautiful, they had become an expression for spirit. Here I witnessed and was taken completely by the spirit of Handbalancing.
At this time in my personal life, there was a storm rising, all at once I faced my father walking out of our family home and the death of my beloved grandmother. They strength I had developed in spirit through relentless training and study guided me and let me also guide my family. I spent a lot of time at this point hand balancing, I found a silence and stillness when inverted, it had became my meditation.
The storm had not yet passed, I was faced with one of my hardest experiences, but one that has caused my to look deep within and evolve more than any other, the break up of a very deep and loving relationship between me and my girlfriend. In dealing with the painful emotions I found myself straight away finding that stillness and silence again whilst handbalancing, physically being up on my hands and finding the equilibrium allowed me to find equilibrium in my thoughts, my emotions and my spirit, there was only harmony, in handbalancing I disappeared.
A change on the surface of your life can cause you to look deep within, and look I did, what stared back at me was an absolute ‘knowing’ of what path I had to walk. I knew in an instant I had to dedicate my entirety to the study and expression of handbalancing. I began studying and training relentlessly, training and reading as much as possible about the art of hand balancing.
This was little over six months ago, and since then I have enrolled in an adult gymnastic class, and set an ultimate goal of becoming a performance artist with the Cirque Du Soleil. I have realized whether or not I reach this ultimate aim or not is not really important, although I have every confidence I will, what is important is the journey, it is spending my moments here on this earth doing exactly what I love, what I have so much passion for, what is my expression.
Finding info on training methods of hand balancers was never easy, I came across a few sites and articles that helped greatly however. Beast Skills provided and enormous resource for me, as did the original York Handbalancing courses. Then about 2 months ago I stumbled across The Lost Art of Hand Balancing, which I was very grateful to find and has proved exceedingly helpful. Some of the things that have helped me most are fighting for the balance, when I get up there I don’t come down until I absolutely must, I grip and snarl and squeeze, this alone has improved my handbalancing more in the last few months than anything ever has.
The other big thing for me has been repetition, just simply doing more handbalancing, I aim for at least 100 handstands a day, and that is on top of 2 hours of other conditioning, and 2 hours of flexibility training as its said,
“Thousands of repetitions and out of ones true self, perfection emerges” – Rotaishi
It is through constant and relentless practice we improve. Learning to develop total body tension especially in the core through the use of isometrics has also helped greatly, working a wide range of assistance exercises such as L-sits, elbow levers, frog stands, and planche progressions.
Over at Brutal training we now have set up a Parkour and Circus skills forum which I run with a very talented friend of mine whose main focus is Parkour. With my own growth and evolution in the circus arts we hope to spread the word and reveal to more the lost and beautiful art of hand balancing.
How big an impact can hand balancing have on your life? It can be life changing and deeply spiritual!
I don’t believe a life is something we have, I believe its something we are, and life has a multitude of different expressions. Handbalancing has let me express my own spirit, maybe it will let you express yours too.
Hi Logan. I bought your book a month or so ago. I have also read a number of other works, old and new, on hand balancing.
I am 49 years old, and as a result of lots of hard work, in pretty good shape (just cranked out a personal best of 20 chins in a row, and 125 chins in under 30 minutes). Last summer, never having done any gymnastics, I decided to work on levers and planches, one arm pull ups, one arm/one leg pushups, one leg squats and hand stand pushups. I’ve done hand stand pushups against the wall for years off and on, always called them “pile drivers.”
Shortly after realizing I could do quite a few handstand pushups against the wall, I decided to go the free standing route, and that’s when I started looking for hand balancing information. I do lots of practicing, but usually only a few handstands in a row, and after three months I’m pretty close to being able to kick right up into a free standing handstand. A couple of things seem pretty important to me at this point.
The biggest one is hip alignment. In gymnast terms, to hold a pure handstand you have to be in the “hollow” position, very slightly. This means NOT tucking your butt in and not arching your back. I know it’s possible, perhaps even easier, to hold an arched handstand. The one thing that frustrated me with The True Art and Science of Hand Balancing was that I wanted a clearer description of hip position. I now see that it can be done either way, but the pure vertical handstand is hollowed, not arched.
Another major point that you, and Prof. Paulinetti, both make very well is that balance comes from the hands, via the forearms. Using your elbows and shoulders to hold the handstand is the strong man’s cheat (being fairly strong, I know this cheat!) My forearms complain more than anything after a good handstand workout.
A third point regards kicking up — I actually think that if you keep your alignment when you kick up you do better — that is, start with your arms above your head, shoulders locked, and lean forward in a straight line as your kicking leg comes up. Leg to hips to shoulders to hands, one straight line. The kicking leg forces your upper body and hand down. If you lead with the body or hands, you wind up out of line and it’s harder to correct. Of course, really strong gymnasts lean over, put their hands down, and can gently kick up or just raise up . . . strong people cheating again!
Finally, I’ve discovered that when I’m out of alignment, a handstand takes a lot of strength, but when it’s in alignment, it feels easy . . . like standing around on my feet!
Anyway, I typically train my handstands in between sets of pull-ups at the gym — opposing muscle groups. I also throw them up whenever I can at home. I work in an office, wearing a suit, so I don’t throw up handstands at work! It’s great that you’re revitalizing hand balancing. More power to you.
I recently started to get into hand balancing. Before I would just try to do handstands and other balances just for fun. Then one day a friend asked me how I managed to stay in a handstand position for so long and I showed him where his hands should have been placed, how to do the kick up, and holding it. (Basically the whole “Guide to Handstand”) and helped him to get a handstand hold for about 20 seconds. I showed him sites like yours and www.beastskills.com. Ever since we’ve been practicing more and more. So I hope to expand my hand balancing skills and help others improve theirs too.
Ever since I saw a guy break dance I thought that was just freaking cool. (That was a while back, maybe 2 years?) Well time passed and then I saw a guy do handstand push-ups, I just didn’t believe my eyes! Then I research it and that was nothing compared to some other things like 1 handstand push-ups, I just thought that those things were impossible to do! At this time I was doing weightlifting, general sports, and exercising. About 3 months ago I decided to do something about it and learn how to do those incredible stunts.
I didn’t find much information, (especially for free), until I came to your website. I downloaded the ebook and read it. I loved to do the frogstand. That is the first move I tried to do after reading your ebook, I thought it was going to be hard, but like you said the move makes you learn how to balance more than actual strength.
Right now I’m doing a lot of body exercises, swimming, triceps hold, and other things, I decided to include the frogstand so I can improve. I did not include the headstand because I was not able to do it 🙁 I tried a couple of times but just fell, almost breaking something near by, so I just stuck with frogstands. I can hold them for about 45-60 seconds right now, better than the 5-10 seconds I started with. About 1-2 weeks ago I decided to kick up into a wall handstand, and I did it for like 8 seconds, well I thought it was a pretty wild moment :). Right now I can hold the wall handstands for about 30 seconds or so.
I think this fast growth was because I was already kind of conditioned so it was faster than I expected. Right now I like to kick up into a wall handstand every, I don’t know, an hour, and hold it. Just constant practice so I can progress to an easy free handstand.
I can already feel my shoulders much stronger and bigger, a really great benefit! I would try to do a free handstand in the grass this Tuesday or Wednesday since I will get my kettlebell on Tuesday by mail. If I get the free handstand I will practice day and night before, but not so much that I over train. I also researched the kettlebells while this past 3 months and decided to give it a go and bought one of 40 pounds, I’m hoping to have loads of fun with it.
And I just got the book: “The Naked Warrior” by Pavel, yesterday and I’m almost finished today. I will read it a bunch of times of course, but everything he says makes sense. A really good book. And I’m sorry that I don’t have any pictures or anything… Well trying not to change the subject, By the end of the year I want to be able to walk in my hands and do at least 3-5 handstand push-ups. This looks like a reachable goal, as time passes I will increase my goals until, I get the master level. I guess there is a lot of time until I get to that level, but I want to get into break dancing too, since it involves a lot of hand balancing and it is just plain cool. I will try and keep you posted with my progress.
I really enjoy all the time you are putting, sending the emails on helpful tips on hand balancing and such. And on the blog you are making which is coming out great. Well I thank you again, and have a nice one. And keep up the good job!
Hi Logan! I’m working on the one hand stand just as you are and I hope I can get the free book because I think it can help me tons. My hand stand journey started awhile back probably 4 years ago. I started off as a kid with no balance at all and had the fear of crashing my head into the floor but I started getting spotters to hold my legs up. As time went by I had more experience of going upside down. A year later I had no fear at all and whenever I had over balance I can fall safely into a stance! Now that I had the whole upside down issue gone I started against a wall. I did this to increase my strength and endurance. I had done lots of hand stand push ups and it helped my wrists and shoulders gain the ability to walk some distances! After that I stumbled upon your site to get even better. Now 3 years later I can hold my hand stands for over 30 seconds and walk! Now my next goal is to take it up a notch by doing a one hand stand.
Wow, I was not expecting a reply to my little comment on my order but thanks for letting me provide you with a little feedback.
Before I found your site I had been practicing handstands the wrong way for about 4 weeks. I was just kicking up and falling down over and over again. Even with the help of the gymnastics team (I am a senior engineering student at Virginia Tech), which I joined last August, the progress I was making was negligible. Then around December I found your site and signed up for the news letter and printed off the “Beginner’s Guide.” I was skeptical at first but I really wanted to be able to hold a hand stand for any length of time. Since I had been practicing the wrong way for around a month and a half I discovered I had developed lots of bad habits. After reading the guide I decided to do double the weeks on the lead up exercises to help me break the bad habits I had formed over the last few months. By now it was my winter break, which was the entire month of December. So with some weird stares from my parents and making my dogs go absolutely nuts I started doing the lead up stunts, head stands, and frog stands. And then the last week of my winter break I started doing kick ups against the wall and attempting to hold the hand stand for 5 or more seconds without touching the wall. Since I had a little bit of a gymnastics background the handstand I was attempting was the straight hand stand with very little to no back arch. After the six weeks I had a 5-10 second gymnastics hand stand away from the wall much to the amazement of everyone on the gymnastics team and the members of Virginia Tech Parkour club. Mostly because I went on Christmas break not even being able to kick up properly and came back holding a not so wobbly gymnastics style handstand!
Since then I continue to work on the standard handstand but I have started doing the same types of progressions on the forearm stand, Japanese hand stand as well as with several transitions, different ways to get into the handstand (like a cartwheel which is really fun to do!) and press ups. I really want to try the Tiger Bend you described in one of your emails but I just don’t have the strength to do it. I did describe it to a crazy strong, and fellow hand balancer, at the gym yester day and he pulled it off like nothing! He was a little wobbly in the forearm stand but that was the first time he even tried it. I guess that’s what 5 years and 1 year with a badly broken leg will do for you. =)
I have been teaching several other people from the VT Parkour club the hand stand progressions that you describe in your guide and I have pointed them to your website for more information.
What actually got me into hand balancing was the man at BeastSkills.com and the magical elbow levers. I can currently hold a two arm elbow lever for several minutes and I can hold but not quite balance a single arm lever.
So overall I would have likely been able to hold the 30 second hand stand if I didn’t go for the gymnastics style but everyone says it looks REALLY good, I am a little over 6 feet tall and have over a 6’1″ arm span so that’s the likely cool factor. So when I am in the hand stand I am over 8 feet tall!
You seem to hit all the important things that someone needs in order to hold a handstand and I think any more detail may lead to confusion. There has to be some leeway so everyone has a chance to develop their own style and skills in their own way. It’s like when I teach people the basics of Parkour; I tell them everything that THEY need to get started and be safe but not everything I have learned in the past several years. It’s all about finding your own path and I think the same thing goes for hand balancing. Everyone is always looking for that one secret that solves all their problems. That secret, in my opinion, is dedication, practice, hard work and maybe even having some fun at the same time.
I am having a lot of fun with hand balancing and will continue practicing. I think everything in your guide is spot on and all the lead up stunts actually help with holding a handstand. My frog stands have actually led to a tuck planche and I will keep training those until I can do an actual planche! I thank you for your effort in helping spread hand balancing.