Crane Stands Tall

Crane Stands Tall

Justin Nearing

Look at how this crane is just chilling on one leg:

I actually have no idea if this is a crane. This appears to be some kind of Dinosaur Flamingo.
I actually have no idea if this is a crane. This appears to be some kind of Dinosaur Flamingo.

I’ve seen geese and flamingo in that same posture.

They often sleep in that pose.

As someone who has trained martial arts for over a decade, I find this interesting.

I struggle like hell to hold that pose.

I certainly can’t sleep on one leg.

Here’s the thing, it’s a pose I do all the time.

Think about it, I do a variation of that exact pose every time I do a kick.

This means there might be a lesson the crane can teach me.

Standing on one leg should be comfortable

That’s the first takeaway from the crane.

That crane is not stressing its muscles to be in that position.

Its body is perfectly stacked atop its leg.

Which means its center of gravity is perfectly aligned from ankle to crown.

The crane turns itself into a pillar.

Humans also form a pillar- along with every other animal that has a spine.

The spine itself is literally a pillar of stacked disks.

If you stack a spine to balance on one leg, you want a single unbroken line.

You don’t want a bend where the spine meets the leg.

That would require you to put constant energy into maintaining balance.

The more energy you put into holding a pose the less comfortable it is.

That being said, we’re more than just a spine on legs.

That dinosaur flamingo shows something else- look at its long beak.

It’s a tool the crane uses to interact with the world, protruding well away from it’s center of gravity.

Its body-weight is a counter-acting force on the beak, allowing the crane to retain the structural alignment to comfortably lift one leg.

Muscles throughout the cranes body pull towards its center of gravity, which is perfectly stacked atop the pillar of its leg.

Standing in any stance should be comfortable.

Focusing on your posture while holding those stances allows for better structural alignment.

Better structural alignment makes for more comfortable stances.

The muscles of your body also pulls towards the center of gravity while in a stance.

Leg muscles pull up into your center,

Chest and shoulders pull down.

But we have to train those muscles to properly pull into structural alignment.

In our culture, there are many forces pulling us to uncomfortable misalignment.

As an example, hunching your shoulders over your phone/computer/tool/instrument.

Do that for several hours a day, you’re going to have sore shoulders.

Align Yourself Feet First

My body has a handicap where most of my joints over-extend.

Like, when I give you a thumbs up, my thumb points at me instead of the sky.

As far as handicaps go, that’s not a big deal.

But hyper-extending your knees is a big deal.

I have suffered from a bad back for years, primarily because my body will naturally hyper-extend at the knees.

That hyper-extension cants my center of gravity forward, putting strain on my lower back.

At all times I have to consciously keep correcting my stance, else my back will fall out.

Like literally that’s what it feels like- like one of those stacked disks of my spine falling out of alignment with the others.

I can’t get out of bed when that happens.

That correction I’m always doing, and it always starts at the foot.

Am I too far forward on the balls of my feet, or is my weight even distributed above the ankle?

Then I bend my knees, stacking my knee above my ankle.

That bend forces my hips to rotate forward.

That pelvic thrust forces my stomach to clench.

That clench pushes my chest up,

Which forces my shoulders to roll back.

Which makes me pull up my chin.

I started at the base of the pillar.

I align each joint with the one below it until I reach my crown.

Putting my body in perfect structural alignment.

… Then the moment passes, I lose the balance and start realigning at the foot again.

When I am aligned, lifting my foot is really quite comfortable.

I can stand on one leg comfortably for a few minutes.

The crane tells me to keep practicing until I can sleep on one leg.

Perhaps then it will teach me how to fly.