Fundamentals of High Performance Wushu

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High Performance Wushu

Issue No. 4 | October 11th, 2007


Learning the Aerial - Scared of Heights?
    • Diving Cartwheel onto a Higher Mat
    • Single-handed Cartwheel (Left Hand/Right Hand)

Personal Online Coaching is Now Available *** NEW RESOURCE! ***
Upcoming Issues/Improvements
    • Terms of Service and Privacy Policy
    • Works In Progress

Learning the Aerial - Scared of Heights? (FHPW p. 137)

The aerial is usually the first acrobatic move that you learn in which you are completely upside down while in the air. This is a scary position for most people, especially if they don't know if they will be able to land the move or not. And this is probably the number one reason why the aerial is so hard for many people. Once you land a few and get the feel of it, and more importantly, realize that it's not that scary, it becomes much easier. So, one of the main objectives to focus on for beginners, is to get over the "fear of heights (while inverted)".

There are two common reactions to becoming inverted while suspended in the air. One of them is reaching for the ground. This is an instinctive reaction, something that just happens because it feels natural. You just feel like reaching for the ground to break your fall, in case it happens. Unfortunately, the movement of reaching for the ground will thwart your aerial attempts. First of all, touching the ground automatically means you failed to do an aerial. However, the more important reason is that reaching for the ground alters your body mechanics and balance, reducing the ability of your legs to push your entire body up off the ground. Instead, what happens is that your legs push your lower body up while your upper body goes down. This causes you to roll over in a great cartwheel, but a terrible aerial.

The second reaction is to jump lower instinctively. If you have a feeling that you're going to fall, instinctively, you'll want to jump lower so that you fall from a lower height. Unfortunately, this is counterproductive and makes the aerial harder to accomplish. In order to become skilled at the aerial, both of these reactions need to be overcome. Some people may be able to overcome their instincts but for most people, it isn't that easy. A good way to overcome these instincts is to decondition your brain through a series of progressive exercises which gradually extinguishes the unwanted reactions. There are several exercises described in the book Fundamentals of High Performance Wushu: Taolu Jumps and Spins (page reference here) which will help you get over these instincts. However, I'd like to highlight a couple of them here:

  • Diving Cartwheel onto a Higher Mat (FHPW p.155 for details)

    This exercise involves practicing the precursor to the aerial from the ground up to an elevated mat. The objective of this exercise is to improve your jump height while maintaining the aerial takeoff technique. At first, start with a low mat, about 2 inches in thickness. As you get better, increase the thickness of the mat 1-2 inches at time. Make sure that you are able to get at least a short period of air time where you are inverted and suspended in the air before touching the landing mat with your hands. When you get to 8 inches or so, you should be more than ready to do an aerial.

  • Single-handed Cartwheel [Left Hand/Right Hand] (FHPW p.152-153 for details)

    The single handed cartwheels help you get over the instinct of reaching towards the ground with your hands. As you are still doing a cartwheel, you will be supporting your weight with one hand while inverted. The left-handed single-hand cartwheel is good for practicing the second half of the aerial, especially the snap down. The right-handed single-hand cartwheel is good for practicing the first half of the aerial, getting into the inverted position. Be sure to practice both and become very comfortable with them.

Personal Online Coaching is Now Available

Having trouble getting that extra rotation? Looking to improve your techniques all around? The long-awaited Personal Online Coaching serviceis now available! If you are looking to take your wushu performance to the next level, this is the program for you. High Performance Wushu is now offering one-on-one customized training support. Here's how it works. When you sign up, you will have access to the talent at High Performance Wushu (including the author!) Send in videos of the technique(s) you are having trouble with and you'll receive a personalized analysis and suggestions to help correct your technique. As you work to implement the improvements, keep sending in videos and to receive continuing personalized feedback. The continuous feedback from your online coach will help you improve as fast as you can while avoiding the formation of bad habits. This is the fastest way to master and upgrade new techniques available online today! Check out to find out more. Leave your competition in the dust by signing up today!

Upcoming Issues/Improvements

Stay tuned for the next issue of the High Performance Wushu Newsletter which will have more news and updates, as well as valuable training tips! If you know a friend or a fellow athlete who hasn’t signed up, tell them about so they can get this valuable FREE resource! Make sure to check the website for new updates such as:

  • Terms of Service and Privacy Policy
    The High Performance Wushu Terms of Service and Privacy Policy are now available for you to view. Please be sure to read them before you use the website and any related services.
  • Works In Progress: Training Videos (On Hold), Wushu Trainer
    Production of training videos which illustrate the concepts described in the FHPW book, and demonstrate the training exercises are temporarily on hold. We'll notify you through the newsletters when they are back in production.

    Meanwhile, plans are in place for the production of the Wushu Trainer. This flash-based product is designed to help you figure out the problems with your technique based on your "symptomology". For example, if you find yourself falling backwards on the landing of the Standing Jump Outside Kick, just load up the Wushu Trainer and follow the prompts. It will help you troubleshoot your technique and isolate possible causes of your problems. Stay tuned for more information in the upcoming issues!

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