Don’t Mistake this Moment for Mastery

by | May 26, 2020 | 0 comments

Letter from the Editor

I caught up with an old friend this week. It’s been a year but it feels like yesterday since we last spoke. Midway through the conversation she says… did you know so and so is now a photographer? I chucked but she wasn’t laughing. Ah yes, another five minute photographer. Not an uncommon statement in any craft which got me thinking of the millions of people, during this strange days that have now learned a new skill and confused it for knowing the craft…

Don’t Mistake this Moment for Mastery

I made a student cry the other day and I thought of my Father. His voice echoing in my head, “Are you going to keep playing wrong notes all night? …or, “Maybe you find the grass to be more interesting in this photograph than the flowers?” A small observation that cut to the core of my student this week, said directly without frill or malice like my mentors before me, was challenged by this new photography prodigy of 3 weeks. The Zoom lesson ended shortly thereafter.

With Covid dragging on in our fortresses of solitude, suddenly we’re masters of our domain. I learned how to “cook”, you learned how to play ukulele, Aunt Ruby finally started to learn needlepoint, and Uncle Ernie is now an ornithologist. Check, check, check… What’s next on our list?

AH! Get me the Internet.

Must sell the new thing that I’ve been doing for the last 3-6 months. New website, check. Instagram account with followers galore, check. It’s a new product that has potential, but ultimately lacking. You know it’s not where you want it to be, but you can’t put your finger on it. Maybe you don’t have the verbiage/vocabulary or skill set yet to express via your desired medium, and that’s OK; you’re new at this! So naturally you seek out someone who knows better. A Master, but deep down you question if you’re ready for the raw observation that comes next.

Art is it’s own form of slavery. 4 to 12+ years of study, or apprenticeship. Essentially locked up in a constrained environment, absorbing, living, breathing that craft. And I’m not just talking Art with a capital A. Any craft, finance, plumbing, cement laying, whatever. Years of training and development, obsession, poison & passion.

You’re on a four lane highway. Suddenly there’s a merge up head down to 1 lane. Uh oh, it’s a bottle neck. Cars anxiously playing bumper tag as adrenaline starts going into overdrive gazing down the lane to the world beyond. You can see the merge, you can see the four lanes open up half a mile down the road, if you could only hit the gas. And then, after 45 minutes, you speedily dart through the bottle neck and you’re riding high with limited cars and the freeway is yours. Speed limit be damned! That’s ART.

Post confinement, that’s when the true Artistry begins, the expression of all that knowledge, tools, failures, struggles. The highway is Open. I know the rules of the game, and how to play and how to break ’em. Get me a my brushes, I’m going to paint the town! No one ever built a dynasty knocking it out of the park at every attempt. Where’s the expansion and development? So why would your first few months put you on the same level as someone who’s spent the better part of their life devoted to X or Y craft? Don’t kid yourself, but don’t give up either.

Cherish this moment. Celebrate it. Build on it, but maybe don’t quit your day job just yet? Find your niche, your community, you fellow strugglers, and if you’re lucky enough, a Master to commune with. Experiment, try everything, take more baby steps, but don’t overstep the process. The time is your friend, it’s everything. I’m here in the meantime time, taking a few more steps ahead of you.

Keep Walking, Keep Creative, Call Karjaka.

Stretching at Home with Craig Thomas

Over the last 10 weeks, as we have been housebound and unable to frequent the gyms or studios for our bodies’ fitness needs, maintaining with our training regimen has been challenging.  At-home workouts and programs can be beneficial and keep us at least in the same shape we were prior to the pandemic of coronavirus.  Working out in the friendly confines of your home can even create a high enough consistency that some of us have improved our body’s composition (of course, nutrition plays a very key role).  Body weight exercises with or without added band resistance and plyometrics can be highly difficult and are a good change from tailor-made gym equipment.  The quarantine time can also allow us time to focus on other shortcomings our bodies may have, however, like stretching and joint mobility.  

Mobility and joint capacity are often overlooked as two of the paramount reasons that lead to injury.  Exercises that carry heavy loads with a range of motion in a joint that cannot sufficiently hold the load can lead to damaging results. Many workout programs often lack the allocation of time and execution of proper neurological control over the joints that are required to correctly move a load through a full range of motion.  Folks will often jump into a resistance program that has high demands on the muscular and neural system without properly preparing the joints to sustain the loads that are being lifted.  

So where does one start when it comes to creating a mobility and stretching strategy?  Often the most difficult screens and objective assessments are those done of ourselves, so it’s best to assume that nothing is what it seems.  One of the things I often do first thing in the morning is the Functional Range Conditioning CARS (Controlled Articular Rotations).  It is a full body, full range, joint mobilization protocol.  It allows someone to go through each joint and test their own range of motion and get feedback on which movement feels limited or even uncomfortable/painful.  The CARS approach consists of:

—Cervical spine (neck) circles:

—Thoracic (thorax) rotations

—Scapular (shoulder blade) full range movement

—Shoulder (glenohumeral joint) mobility

—Elbow flexion w/ abduction and adduction:

—Wrist flexion w/ abduction and adduction:

—Hip mobility

—Knee flexion/extension

—Patellar mobility

—Ankle rotations

—Toe mobility

While this is a comprehensive list (and there are even more specific CARS within some of these joint locations), I would focus on a hierarchy of cervical rotations, scapular mobility, shoulder mobility and hip mobility as the primary four depending on one’s pre-existing injury concerns, with toe mobility a close 5th.  These 4+1 focus on areas that tend to be major areas of multi-planar movement and take up a lot of tension and compression.  

Cervical spine/head rotation starts with the chin as far down as comfortably challenging toward the chest.  

1). Turn the chin toward the left shoulder as close toward the shoulder as it can get.  

2). While all the way toward the left, raise the chin toward the ceiling as far as comfortably possible.  

3). Draw the chin “across the wall” while leaning the head back all the way over to the right.  

4). Lower the chin toward the right shoulder and finally toward the middle of the chest.  

5). Reverse the rotations toward the right shoulder and repeat the same process in reverse.  

**If any movement “catches” or feels painful, gently move through it in a lessened stretched position.  Do not attempt to push through it as it could represent something more than just tightness.**

Scapular mobility starts with hands and arms straight out in front.  

1). Raise/shrug your shoulders up and reach arms and shoulders as far forward as possible while still raising the shoulders.  

2). While maintaining reaching out with the arms and shoulders, lower the shoulders down (and forward).  

3). Pull/retract the shoulders back while still depressing the shoulders down.

4). While still retracting/pulling the shoulders back, raise the shoulders up.

5). Repeat going in the reverse direction.

**As in cervical rotations, do not push hard through any of this.  It should be deliberate movements without straining.**

Shoulder (glenohumeral joint) mobility begins with right or left palm up (supinated) and arms straight down at the side.

1). Keeping the elbow extended, bring the arm overhead, close to the ear (shoulder flexion) with the hand (palm up) supinated for as long as possible. 

2). At the point where the arm feels “blocked”, externally rotate the arm (turning the arm outward and pronating the hand) as much as possible and continue to reach the arm behind without turning the torso, continuing to externally rotate the arm and pronate the hand.

3). The arm ends at the midline of the side of the body with the hand facing away from the body (pronation).

4). When reversing the movement, reach behind with the arm internally rotated (hand still pronated) until the arm gets “blocked” again (usually a little lower than shoulder level), then externally rotate the arm and supinate the hand (keeping the elbow straight), close to the ear and down to the start position.

**If the arm struggles to stay close to the side of the head/ear, do not force it closer.  Additionally, if the arm has trouble reaching back, let the arm go more to the side (laterally)—do not force the arm further back as it will most likely cause the body to turn.

Hip mobility starts in a standing position.

1). Shift weight over to one leg and flex the knee and hip (bend the knee toward the body) as high as it can go with control and resist moving the upper body.  

2). Swing the leg as far to the side without losing knee flexion and resisting the opposite hip following along (keep the hip stable).

3). Bring your heel toward the ceiling into external rotation while maintaining the same hip flexion.

4). Reach your leg (with the foot back & behind) back into further hip extension (reach to the wall behind).

5). Rest the leg back on the ground.

6). Repeat going in opposite direction in a controlled manner

**Can hold onto a wall/furniture to help with balance and keep the upper body stable.**

Toe mobility starts with all toes on the floor

1). Try to raise just the big toe on one foot.

2). Raise the four other toes on the foot while keeping the big toe down

3). Bring all 5 toes off the floor.

4). Tap only the big toe on the floor.

5). Tap only the other 4 toes on the floor.

6). Try to “play the piano” with the toes by touching the floor in sequence of big toe to little toe and also raising them off the floor from little toe to big toe and vice versa.

Craig has been training in New York City for 20 years.  He draws from his background of Strength and Conditioning (C.S.C.S.) and combines that with tenets from the Postural Respiration Institute (PRI) and Functional Range Conditioning (FRC). These create a unique approach to clients that couples strength with balance and postural integrity with foundational joint stability. He also has a certification from The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and administers Active Release Technique (A.R.T.) on clients that require it through his license with Massage Therapy (LMT).

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