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This website provides information to do with human balance; physiological, psychological and spiritual. We discuss these categories of balance from development to assessment to techniques and tools for improving balance. We share with you leading edge information on how to develop and refine your physical balance, whether for competitive sports or to simply live a better life.  If you have information to share please let us know.

Awakening Physical Balance In Children

In an idle moment I allowed my thoughts to drift back to my earliest organized memories in elementary school. I remember distinctly that right from the earliest age some of my peers were hugely more advanced in motor control, physical coordination, learning aptitude, and could do physical moves that many would never learn in their life. Some children, like myself, had to diligently learn, through repetition, basic athleticism. The process lasted throughout my teen years. Some of my peers never had the talent and never made the effort. They were awkward as children, awkward as teens, and guess what? They became awkward adults. Their aspirations and mental aptitude eventually came to mirror their physical aptitude. I recall one outstanding youngster in kindergarten. At that age he was already doing cartwheels and physically ahead of all his peers. Eventually he went on to an accelerated learning program, became a star athlete, attended university and studied law.
All of this raises the question; “ Is there a connection here and what is it?”
Let’s look deeper.
Humans are born with a certain amount of synaptic potential. But if any part or all of it is not triggered at an early age, then the physical brain devotes its growth to areas that have been triggered and the disused parts become dormant. This includes a huge area of physical potential; including Balance, co-ordination, and movement. In short, all the skill-sets that form the foundation of physical movement.

This leads to the hypothesis that maybe children should be lead at an early age, in a safe and supervised manner, to experience what their potential could be. This topic is being discussed in an online forum.
Lets flesh this idea out.
What if? ,we carefully, perhaps with a safety harness, moved children through different physical positions just to give them the sensation of accomplishing something or sensing their potential. You know how much fun a toddler can have with a jumping jack harness? Who among us remembers jumping on a bed? What if we used an isometric principle, that is gently push a child’s limb until they respond /react with force in the opposite direction. This would require some though as to proper biometric movement and how limbs move.
Or invert a child and gently land them back on their feet. We have an innate desire to move, a universal desire to be athletic. So why is it that we all seem to start at the same place when we begin life but only a few achieve any sort of athletic ability? I get the feeling that human balance is taken for granted much the same way as our stages of growth are.
True, there are some simple balance exercises for children.
Our education system, while well meaning, seems to miss out on the total range of human synaptic potential.
What simple exercises or movements would trigger those synaptic connections responsible for enhanced physical Balance? If only we could awaken the potential, the ability to learn. Standards, contests, and games of victory would all come later in life. At this moment, lets us find the key that opens up the box of human potential. All too often I’ve heard that athletic people are born with a genetic predisposition towards whatever athletic accomplishments they’ve garnered.
Don’t think so.
The annals of sports history are full of individuals who started their path later in life after some sort of personal spark. Also, sports are full of accomplished individuals that didn’t quite meet the physical criteria that was considered the norm for their particular activity.
You can read up on some conventional balance exercises for preschoolers and early elementary school students. They are variations on basic exercises. Useful, yes, but not the stuff of magic, not the great synaptic trigger that we are looking for.
Quite a few balance exercise have been developed but they are static exercises invented by adults for adults. This would include the traditional one-legged stand and variations thereof.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hlc7xJboiN0&feature=related

After reviewing traditional static balance exercises I’m starting to get an intuitive feeling. The feeling is that whatever exercises would be most useful to awakening the synaptic potential (yes I love to use that word!) in children , would have to be dynamic. A dynamic (meaning moving) exercise would, by its nature blend into someone’s life. It would happen so unconsciously. A static exercise, while useful for assessment and study, would cause the human mind to hesitate a bit as if to say; “..yes? And what exactly is the use of this? What are we doing?.”
Martial artists have long seen the dynamic link between mind and body. Got mental, social or physical problems? Their solution would be hard physical exercise. But more to the point, the Asian martial arts have been around so long that they have figured out, through trial and error, the connection between the human mind and the human body.
Let’s focus our attention in that area.
Here follow some simple martial art exercises to develop balance and physical conditioning.
Shaolin Kung Fu, the most well-known style of Chinese martial arts, stresses Balance amongst their many required skill-sets. Their art is based upon movements of different animals, those animals being the dragon, snake, mantis, tiger, and crane. Of course there is much more to the art but I’m deliberately glossing over so as to easily focus in on a few key points. Again we find an interesting duality in Balance training; the Kung Fu arts have static and as well as dynamic exercises for balance.
We’re getting closer to our goal.
The static exercises are challenging postures that include, the Horse Stance, Crane Stance, and Cat Stance. Useful yes, for adults and young practitioners.
But lets focus in on the dynamic exercises. The Shaolin practitioners of old had a period of training where they would move over uneven terrain (through the woods perhaps) on all four limbs. Think of that, a dynamic exercise to integrate and use muscles that normally we would barely use if at all. Pause and think for a moment. If we could provide, for children, simple games and exercises where they would have to mimic the posture and movements of various animals, would that bring into play all of their muscle groups in a huge number of combinations? Could this be one of the synaptic triggers that we are looking for? If its good enough for Shaolin, if its required for Shaolin, then maybe we should give the idea a serious shake. Check out Animal Movement Exercises for Children.
These exercises are amazingly similar in concept to the old Kung Fu exercises. Remember, we want to wake up human potential. The potential would be realized in the years afterwards.
The founding Master of Aikido (a Japanese martial art), Moreihi Uyshiba, wrote a book on balance exercises for children.
His art was built on non-confrontational values and deflection of the opponents energy. His lifelong intent was to foster cooperation and peace amongst people. He firmly believed that if children were taught these exercises, which are in the form of games, then it would nurture in their young minds concepts of cooperation, mutual benefit, and a balanced life. My intuition tells me that this could be another of the synaptic triggers that we are looking for. Let’s combine all that we have discussed with some more traditional body core training exercises for children and we could have a well-rounded package to achieve our goal.
If a human being’s synaptic potential is woken up and people are encouraged and taught to realize it, what would the final result look like? Since we have focused on the Asian martial arts I would direct your attention to the following video of a true Master presenting his form. I draw your attention to his presentation of balance, flexibility, and speed all in a fluid motion that happens so naturally and effortlessly.

Sincerely Yours In Balance

Editor-In-Chief
BalanceScience.com