Steel Mace Training: Strength, Movement & Flow
Strength Training should be a cognitive process as you’re not just moving, but learning to move better and with greater control. When Steel Mace Training is practiced like this, it becomes an exercise in “self control”.
Steel Mace Training and other forms of training can be enhanced in a variety of different ways. There are three concepts that I like to focus on that have greatly enhanced my Personal Training Programs, coaching of clients and classes as well as personal strength.
These three concepts that I will identify for you, when applied appropriately will not only broaden your perspective, but can help you crush some of the mental and physical barriers you may have.
1. Strength Deficits/ Energy Leaks
One of the ideas I think is most important to anything you do is the concept of CONTROL. It is by controlling movement that we learn to master our strength throughout all ranges of motion.
Without getting too philosophical, I’d like to refer to what I see as a Physical Continuum that is conceptually seen throughout all forms of exercise. This continuum requires us to accelerate and decelerate a mass against gravity or against resistance under control.
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Jumping and landing require acceleration and deceleration of load effectively. When we learn to decelerate our body’s mass, we reduce risk of potential injury, which often occur during the deceleration phase of movement.
Moving through a Yoga flow requires learning how to accelerate and decelerate your body under controlled tension.
Choppy movement highlights instability especially when moving slowly
Smoothness of movement and fluidity improves through one’s ability to maintain strength throughout the complete range of a movement.
Choppy movement highlights instability especially when moving slower, as speed often hides those weaknesses and instabilities that I like to call Strength Deficits and Energy Leaks.
Any time there is a deficit of strength along the Physical Continuum, we are leaking energy by having to compensate with other muscle groups or with unnecessary movements across other joints that encourage current instabilities.
This is one important point about working with ANY tool, and particularly the Steel Mace that I think can be addressed through focusing on slower, more controlled movements.
You will need lighter weight than you normally use as you won’t have the cover and speed associated with power and momentum.
2. Visualized Movement
When I create a Steel Mace Training flow or movement sequence, I’m essentially patterning movement and the way in which I repeat it will be the way in which I do it.
With that said, if I’m repeating a movement incorrectly for multiple rounds and reps, then I’m reinforcing those incorrect movement patterns in my brain. As I’m building pathways between mind and muscle (body), I want to build structurally solid pathways to the right location.
Imagine your aim is to build a Bridge from San Francisco to Oakland, but instead you build a bridge to San Jose because the direction is off. But instead of stopping and fixing the direction, you say screw it, I’m just gonna keep doing this anyway because I can still get to Oakland from San Jose.
Not only is this inefficient, but you still have to take extra steps to get where you initially wanted to go.
Consider this when learning Steel Mace Hand Switches. Also consider this when looking at how tight and vertical your line is on a Snatch or Clean.
This doesn’t mean that there’s no room for variety of movement. Actually it’s important that our body learns to use different motor combinations to achieve the same movement. Being able to access a variety of motor controls contributes to how smooth your overall movement looks as your body doesn’t always repeat the “Exact” same pattern, every single time.
However, slow visualization of your movement patterning is essential to your overall strength. It’s at this time that you block out all other thought, focus and concentrate on this moment in time. This mental engagement is absolutely necessary during movement.
We remove mirrors from the equation. Sight is not the particular sense we’re interested in training. It is here in this zone that you establish a deeper connection between your mind and movement. You learn to feel instead of look… like a Jedi. Think of Luke Skywalker learning to use his light saber and being blind to his target. He must learn to use his other senses better.
When we tap into this realm of our training, we learn to move by feel and not by sight. And this leads right into the next concept.
3. Movement Memory to Unconscious Flow
Wax on Wax Off… Uuuuup… Dooooown. Who watched the Karate Kid as a child and really didn’t understand this concept?
I was not a martialist or martial artist so I watched this film purely for entertainment value.
The repetitive movements not only improved Daniel’s strength and muscular endurance, but at some point in order to continue moving, Daniel had to “talk to his body” as one of my colleagues, Erik Esik Melland, Master Coach at ONNIT Academy likes to say.
You’ve got to establish your pace; the pace that you can maintain until the end of that battle, whatever pace that may be.
Jumping out of the gates too fast and not finishing is no good.
Going too slow and not challenging yourself is also not going to help you progress.
You can crash into the mountain and not move it, or you can move easily up against that mountain and slowly carve your path through it.
Find that middle path to flow like a river, constant. You can crash into the mountain and not move it, or you can move easily up against that mountain and slowly carve your path through it.
I’ve since used this cue with my students, encouraging them to find their flow; encouraging them to continue the dialogue with their body. Talk your body through each step and when you get tired, just keep telling your body what to do next. Forget the feeling and utilize your visualization of the next movement.
Eventually you move into a state of unconscious ability.
This is something I learned from my days of dancing Salsa. I would repeat a pattern over and over again until I got it down. Then I’d take it to the dance floor and repeat it over and over again.
I’d do this with multiple different patterns. Eventually something would click and I’d not only string those patterns together end to end to complete a song, but I had done the movements so repetitively that I began to unconsciously integrate patterns at different points along their sequence.
You can achieve this in your Steel Mace practice by developing short mace flow patterns and practicing them slowly.
Practice them at their individual exercise level, then integrated as a flow and finally string multiple flows together to create more complex flow sequences.
Hopefully this helps you in your Steel Mace Practice.
- If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area, are an Onnit Academy Steel Mace Specialist and want to practice together, feel free to contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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