When I took on the task on translating and adapting Georges Hébert’s Complete Guide to Physical Education, a.k.a The Natural Method, one aspect of the translation was to be able to use terminology that can be understood, even if not 100% defined at the time. Sometimes I would go literal, sometimes I chose a term that is close enough to give any given movement its own name, for easier and faster referencing.
The main example is the choice of the word “slit”. I didn’t want to call it a split because we will usually picture either Jean-Claude Van Damme doing a perfect split between chairs, or a gymnast/ballerina.
I didn’t want to call it a staggered stance, which it is also, because I prefer something that you can identify with as few negative connotations as possible (like staggering drunk somewhere) or for simple cueing (“stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, with a staggered stance”, for instance when describing the lower limbs placement of a fighting stance). I chose slit because the stance in which you extend the leg, especially going into backwards slit, reminded me of a sexy leg showing through a cut or opening in a dress. A slit is defined as “a long narrow cut or opening”. It is actually a literal translation of the word “fente” in French (sounds like “font” almost, nasal “n”). And, frankly, it is kind of sexy when you lean backwards, “slit” that leg forward, open your hips. You can see that as a dip in ballroom dancing.
“Attitude” in French is one of those words that has two meanings (not double-entendre, which is an incorrect English adaptation of the word double-entendu): posture and a measure of one’s mental state or behavior. Incidentally, this is true in English as well, as “attitude” can be defined as “a position of the body proper to or implying an action or mental state”.
Let’s think about it for a bit. Visualize an army of soldiers marching in perfect unison and steady cadence. Watch them stop and stand at attention. Their posture and attitude will project a sense of confidence, skill, team collaboration and more. Now visualize a contrasting image of a slouching person whose assistance you need. Not hugely confidence-building…
Bringing the mindset to the work, or letting the work adjust your mindset is a two-directional, mutually beneficial relationship. One motivates, gets you started. The other is reflective of discipline, keeps you going. Act your way into proper thinking, or think your way into proper acting.
A good way to strengthen that attitude, that mindset, is to test yourself. The frequency can be up to you so long as it yields a positive change in your actions. My recent motivation was (and is, because I haven’t finished it), the book Breaking The Jump. Reading about the limitless, “having no way as a way” instinctive yet pushing the boundaries of the reptilian survival brain got me moving, got me making time I don’t normally, have (yet found), taking away from sleep, rest, TV time or other. My mindset improved.
Similarly, I am no fan of running. I don’t like it when I start. I do like it when I finish. Not because it’s over, or almost, but I actually enjoy it. My runs have to be populated with other activities (training, Parkour-like exploration) so I can blend the euphoria of having done something cool and pushing a limit, but also that validates the way I train, as it promotes this end-goal of playful functionality with survival applications.
Don’t worry about looking or feeling silly if you go out and attempt even a strongly regressed variation of an American Ninja Warrior contestant. It’s the baby step that that person once took, that jump that broke their caged mindset and freed their mind to explore more of what they can do.