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Soulful Sundays: Rolling

“Comedy was my sport. It taught me how to roll with the punches. Failure is the exact same as success when it comes to comedy because it just keeps coming. It never stops.“ -Emma Stone



Consider the following three examples:


Example 1

Wing Chun is a style of Southern Shaolin Kung Fu, developed in China in the mid-eighteenth century. Allegedly created by a nun and named after her first female student, Wing Chun is an elegantly simple martial art form that is focused on efficiency of movement and the use of the opponent’s misdirected force instead of superior physical strength. The primary training tool for developing these attributes is a kind of play-fighting called Chi Sau, or “rolling hands.” Training partners will test one another by exploiting various structural weaknesses or muscular tension in order to strike or move the other off balance.


Example 2

One of the first things that beginner kayakers will learn is the Eskimo roll, or combat roll. It is a self-rescue technique used to right oneself after being capsized. Without a good roll, a boater must exit their craft in order not to drown. Mastering this skill is the difference between being comfortable on choppy water, and being scared silly. Becoming proficient at rolling is quite counterintuitive and must be trained diligently both in calm and turbulent water. The key is to resist the urge to gasp for air when coming up. This causes the upper body to emerge before the hips make their rotation, thus resulting in a failed attempt. Sure, the paddler got another breath of air, but that won’t last long. It is only by calming one’s mind and focusing on proper execution that a roll can be successful.


Example 3

Watching an experienced unicyclist is a thing of wonder. What seems impossible to most even on flat ground is taken to an all new level at the skate park. The cyclists at the highest level are able to stay balanced while grinding rails, jumping off of stairs, and doing multiple twists. If you watch closely you will notice that their unicycles stay in constant motion. Because there is only one wheel to interact with, the only way to maintain equilibrium is through rotation of that wheel. The best of the best are able to keep the tire rolling despite any changes in orientation or momentum.


These three examples point to a few common truths. One, proper execution is often more important than superior strength. Two, said proper execution can be counterintuitive and must be repetitively drilled so that the mind does not interfere. Three, the ability to adapt to change by maintaining flow is critical to not losing one’s equilibrium.


We must strive to place ourselves the center of the circle of forces, not in an egotistical way, but in a way that puts more power at our disposal. At the center of a circle, a location that is infinitesimally small, our egos actually drop away. Thus, we are free to make (or not make) the moves that will bring the greatest good. Because we are properly balanced, we can let outside forces do most of the work while we exert only the necessary amount of our own force.


Easier said than done. Seek the center. Never stop rolling.

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