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The Ultimate Guide To Calisthenics

The Ultimate Guide To Calisthenics

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INTRODUCTION

CALISTHENICS for the armed forces should have at least two major objectives: First to prepare the soldier to overcome natural obstacles such as cliffs to climb, swamps to wade through, stretches of open country to run across, and miles to march. Second, to prepare the soldier to overcome the enemy in physical combat when the occasion of hand-to-hand fighting arises. From both aspects calisthenics are hardening exercises and should help to develop that last ounce of energy called stamina.

But calisthenics could contribute much more if they were more carefully selected and prepared for actual usefulness. And herein lies an importunate need. There is a psychological, and a prophylactic aspect, at present both in an inchoate state. These have not been suffi cientlv developed. However, some advances have been made with the introduction of Commando and Ranger training with live ammunition, endurance tests in the open and so on.

Psychologically speaking if an average unarmed man is taught the methods of overcoming armed opponents, and especially if he has been groomed in the technique of overcoming simultaneous attacks by "many" men, then he may be able to project and to sublimate this built up self-confidence and ability to cope imperturbably with problems of overwhelming odds into his actual fighting, whether it be one lonely British Mosquito or Spitfire, or one American Curtis SB2C-1 against four Ju-88 Stuka dive bombers, or one American medium M-3 tank against four of Hitler's heavy tanks, or one destroyer against four of the late Admiral Yamamoto's ships. He will consider himself as equipollent. Given the tools and this sense of high personal regard, our soldiers will unite them in quicker victory.

A series of 'one man against many' calisthenics, wherein every movement is a specific one for offense or defence, wherein every movement may be used in actual combat, has a specific practical and psychological value.

Calisthenics could be more specialized, especially in the schools which will train instructors in the art of commando and guerilla fighting. Instead of generalized exercises with archaic knee bending and arm raising motions, directed at no specific future action on the battlefield, in the street, or in the concentration camp, there should be included a series of exercises which will serve some specific duty in actual combat, and help the soldier, on battlefields.

Let the arms above the head raising exercises be left for the Nazi. Let our men develop their muscles, neuro-muscular co-ordination and general health by having their calisthenics include such practical methods as falling flatly within a second, flatly forward, without hi jurying themselves, so that in bomb blasts they may be able to attain a safe prone position on the ground as quickly as humanly possible.

INTRODUCTION

It has been estimated that fragmentation of an ordinary hundred pound bomb, exploding in an open street, is dangerous to anyone standing within two hundred feet. But a soldier caught in the street may survive by knowing how to take proper cover. Fragments are deflected upward from the crater, creating a fairly safe area on the ground beyond ten yards. So a soldier who knows how to fall flatly forward in an instantaneous manner would have a greater chance of survival than another who could not get down as quickly. Besides this, exercises in methods of breaking falls without injury would eliminate many accidents from falls which may disable a soldier just as effectively as a bullet would.

One has only to inspect the Out-Door records of any large hospital to appreciate the great number of injuries produced by slipping and falling incorrectly (Figs. 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28). Wrists, vertebrae, hips, ribs, ankles, fractured; head injuries and even dislocation of fingers, occur every year with appalling frequency.

In one large Canadian hospital I visited airmen laid up with broken arms, and soldiers hospitalized with broken legs, one case terminating by death, all partly because they did not know how to fall correctly.

Fig. 24 A dislocated finger.

Anything Can Happen If You Do Not Know How To Fall Without Injury

Fig. 23 A dislocated right shoulder.

Fig. 24 A dislocated finger.

Fig. 25 broken wrist

Fig. 25 broken wrist

Fig. 26

X-Ray of a broken arm.

Fig. 27 X-Ray of a broken leg.

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Fig. 28

X-Ray of a broken arm.

HOW?

From a preventative aspect there are two points worthy of mention.

1. How to fall without injury.

2. How to rise up from a sitting position without using the hands.

HOW TO FALL WITHOUT INJURY

One effective method of falling without injury is based on the theory that the larger the area of immediate contact, the less will be the force of impact at any one point of contact. So instead of falling on an outstretched hand, one of the most common mistakes, the ground should be struck with a larger area than just a hand or wrist. What will that be?

When falling, after being tripped or thrown, one should turn sideways and strike the ground flatly with an area, extending from the tip of the fingers to the elbow. This area including the palm and under surface of •the forearm, should strike the ground simultaneously. Thumb and fingers should be kept tightly together and out straight.

One must gradually develop a conditioned-reflex to be able to do this. That is where calisthenics come in.

One exercise suggested is that the soldier should assume a Crossed Legs Position by sitting down with his left leg crossed in front of his right, like the old sitting position of tailors (Fig. 29).

From this position he should fall over to his right side, then push himself over to fall to his left side, then to his right again, and so on.

When he falls over to one side he should try to strike the ground as hard as he can, flatly with his (1) palm, (2) wrist and (3) the under surface of his forearm to his elbow. All these areas should strike the ground simultaneously in one motion.

The fingers are to be held tightly together, and out straight. This is the first stage of the exercise (Fig. 29).

The Crossed Legs Position

The Crossed Legs Position

Fig. 29

Sit down with left leg crossed in front of the right. You can cross your right hand in front of your left. This is a defence position against frontal attack when you are down. You can guard your body and face with your arms and defend yourself against kicks with your feet.

This Crossed Legs Position is the first position from which to practice the Break Fall, the Straight Rise Up and the Spin To The Feet calisthenics.

Fig. 29

Sit down with left leg crossed in front of the right. You can cross your right hand in front of your left. This is a defence position against frontal attack when you are down. You can guard your body and face with your arms and defend yourself against kicks with your feet.

This Crossed Legs Position is the first position from which to practice the Break Fall, the Straight Rise Up and the Spin To The Feet calisthenics.

Next he should rise to a little higher position. He should kneel forward on his knees, with knees together and feet out straight behind, like praying (Fig. 30).

From here he should practice falling to his right (Fig. 31), and then to his left, breaking his fall with his right, then left arm, in the manner described. Then he should fall face forward, breaking the fall with both arms out in front, striking the ground flatly from finger tips to elbows.

¿One thing to do amuse yourself during a Black-Out is to practice Arwrology. Many of the photographs were taken under just such a circumstance.)

HOW TO FALL WITHOUT INJURY

Fig. 30 Get up 011 your knees.

Fig. 31

Fall to your right, breaking the fall by striking the ground flatly with the under surface of your right forearm and open palm.

(Then push yourself over to your left and fall on your left arm in the same manner. Practise falling side to side from this position, then practise falling face forward breaking the fall with both arms out in front, striking the ground flatly from elbows to finger tips.)

The next position is to get up on the toes and crouch down on the heels, with bent knees off the ground, like the position taken after jumping down off a fence (Fig. 32). From here the practise of falling to the right and then to the left and then forward should be carried out as above.

Next stand upright and fall face forward, breaking the fall with both arms (Figs. 33 and 34).

Fig. 32

Next sit lip, balancing on your toes. Then practice falling to the right and then to the left.

Fig. 33

Now stand upright. Lean forward

IIOW TO FALL WITHOUT INJURY

IIOW TO FALL WITHOUT INJURY

Fig. 34

Fall face forward, breaking the fall by striking the ground flatly and simultaneously with both palms and forearms.

Keep your knees off the ground.

Fig. 34

DOES IT WORK? It has. In 1937 in Ethopia, Dr. P. Roberts asserts that a man working with the Red Cross was caught in an open market place during a bombing raid, and by falling face forward when a bomb exploded about fifty feet away he escaped injury, although being showered with dirt and debris (Fig. 35).

Fig. 35

HOW TO RISE UP FROM A SITTING POSITION

WITHOUT USING THE HANDS

There are two other exercises which may be of some practical, psychological and therapeutic value. Therapeutically they may help to prevent flat feet and weak ankles.

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