This sport is driven by creativity. Yet creation is irrational. It draws from the unknown, and it is technically unteachable. It cannot be passed down in a plug-n-play box, nor confined in a manual. Any such guide will be limited to the creativity of the writer, and once something is created – it is no longer available to be discovered. It’s in the past. So how can we ignite creativity? From within.
The Past Written in Stone
The past is available online. Traces of the created are everywhere. It’s great to read up on history and reflect on what has been done, but you can only catch up with history, not move forward. Figuring out what has already been done is great. You avoid wasting energy in reinventing the wheel. This understanding is the prerequisite, the homework to be done – but it is not where the fun lies. “Raising the Bar” by Al Kavadlo is a rich anthology of this past. If you wish, read it as a history book, as a way to catch up to the present. You can learn from books, from others, from your personal trainer, that’s part of the process of growth. But be mindful that others can only give you what is already known. A great trainer will communicate that the unknown is un-giveable and that he can only give the tools for discovering the unknown. The rest is up to you.
The New Move Lifetime
In the creative calisthenics culture, there seems to be a lifetime for a move to be considered “fresh” , “cool”. Freshness is democratic, and majority rules. Can 10% of athletes do the move? It’s fresh. Can more than 50% of athletes do the move? Not so fresh. In this way the boundaries constantly grow. The bar gets raised, if you will, exponentially. New moves spread like wildfire via the internet, and the sport as a whole advances in an accelerating fashion. Stand still today and you miss out on 2 new moves. Stand still yet again tomorrow, you miss 4 more. If we think about always being caught up to the present, we miss out on the whole creative process. We are chasing. Chasing what has already been done. And what has been done is in the past, so we unknowingly chase the past. In art, you do not need to study all of art history AND recreate every piece to start creating. This approach is insanity and can only freeze you with indecision. So why do that with creative exercise? You don’t have to. You do not have to be able to perform all known moves to advance the sport.
The Catch Up Game (And How To Bypass It)
To find out how to create new things, we have to identify how new things come into existence. In the world of calisthenics, there are two fundamental approaches to creation: Branching, and Linking. Branching is like evolution, growth upon a tree. Branches grow higher through tiny variations in direction. Through little mutations here and there. Linking is the sequential combination of branched progressions. It is the combining of evolved and evolving moves.
After these two approaches are understood we can move into creating through expression. Remember, creation is not a sit-down-and-make-something type of process. It is a natural product of imagining something into existence through a technical medium. When done with complete awareness, creation can seem effortless.
In the next article I will get into Branching with some specific calisthenics examples. I’ll follow this with Linking, then finally cover how to use the two approaches to dive into the infinite.
Till next time,