By Jerome Rattoni, MovNat Master Instructor
One of the all-time wildest dreams of most human beings has been to fly, to feel what a bird feels when taking off and travel at high altitude and speed. Birds have this amazing capacity to extend their flight duration for as much as they want and make their landing as soft and silent as it can be. We humans have a much more limited “flight duration” capability. However, it’s worth realizing that we do have this skill, too, even if that means being airborne for a split second; or max, a few seconds.
A famous saying during our workshops is “anyone can take off, but not everyone can land efficiently.” And so, in order to enjoy to the fullest our gift to “fly” (aka jump from A to B – vertically or horizontally), we all must learn and master the art of “landing.”
Taking on one of the most used Jumping techniques, the “Forward Power Jump,” I want in this article (and associated video tutorial) to give you 8 main tips you can quickly implement in your regular Natural Movement® practice. These are very simple yet very important steps for a good progression towards “Efficiency.”
At MovNat, working on more Efficiency is paramount as it leads to a greater performance (in this Jumping context, it means crossing a longer distance), energy conservation (saving some gas for a potential additional jump or another physical task to perform after this jump) and safety (our main focus here, landing without getting hurt in the process).
MovNat offers different ways to learn in depth, whether it is to attend our Certification workshops around the world, through E-Courses or via the textbook “The Practice of Natural Movement” from Erwan Le Corre, the Founder of MovNat. That’s why, for the sake of not overlapping with all these excellent ways of deep learning, I meant this article and video tutorial to be clear and “simple” (i.e. “easy” to quickly understand and execute). So, let’s jump right into this! ☺
Tip 1: Connect with the ground
I haven’t mentioned it yet, but you probably know that at MovNat, we love being barefoot as much as we possibly can (physically/socially). Therefore, when it comes to Jumping (aka absorbing a big impact through our feet first), it is essential to make this connection between your feet and the “Surface of Support” (aka SOS), which is any type of horizontal ground for our jumping technique, such as concrete, sand, grass or little rocks as shown in my video.
It’s not so much about “conditioning” or “toughening” the feet. But as my mentor, MovNat Master Instructor, Vic Verdier, said, it is rather to “get the nervous system adapted to all the information coming from the sole of the foot. It takes a bit of time, but it’s much faster than if the process was all about toughening the foot.”
In other words, to feel more “comfortable“ and “confident” attempting a jump (and landing) on any SOS, it is really useful to simply step/walk on it first, get used to the sensations coming from it, realize that it is not as bad as you may have previously thought or felt.
The analogy I could give is related to cold water adaptation. The first seconds of a cold shower or plunge are always a challenge (to say the least), but if you manage to stay in it for a little while, you realize that you are much more resilient than you thought. You didn’t become stronger in just a few seconds, but you for sure managed to adapt to this new situation/environment.
Tip 2: Landing in one spot
Once you feel this true connection with the ground from Tip 1, it’s time to work on the most important piece of your jump: the landing phase.
Start by drawing a circle on the ground and focus on the last part of the jumping sequence. Simulate this phase by breaking it down step by step. What is the first body part touching the ground first? The ball of the feet. So, start elevating your heels in this circle, and roll down to be flat footed then.
Reproduce the impact of a jump by quickly going down into your squat. Increase this impact by performing a small upward jump, respecting the same general landing technique.
Start paying attention to your arms, when and where they should move. Arms back when airborne, arms in front of you when landing into your squat.
Make sure you stay in the circle, a good way to work on your overall posture and stability.
Challenge yourself by “doubling” the jump and see if you can still respect what we call “the arm sequence.”
Pay attention to not cave your knees in during the landing and avoid the “duck” stance (feet pointing outwards). Keep them parallel, pointing forward.
With this second tip, you kill two birds with one stone. While you are working on the actual technical aspect of the landing phase, you also warm up very well and quickly.
Tip 3: The arm sequence
We touched on this during Tip 2, but now let’s do a deeper dive into this technical aspect. This arm swing (also called “Bodyweight Transfer”) is key to generate additional momentum during the forward jump.
It is important to understand the 3 main phases of a jump and where the arms will be positioned during each phase.
- Launching/Takeoff phase: place the arms back in order to swing them forward.
- Airborne phase: once the arms up in the air have generated the necessary momentum for a good amplitude of movement, my tip is having them touch your shorts/sides of your hips.
This will allow a correct positioning of your arms, getting ready for the landing phase.
- Landing phase: place your arms in front of you while absorbing the impact/getting down into a squat.
The timing of this sequence is essential to succeed, hence my tip about being disciplined with the “arms down” during the airborne phase.
Tip 4: The Knee Tuck
When I coach this Forward Power Jump technique, I always observe my students focusing on both the upper body (“arm sequence”) and the lower body (“knee tuck”). I usually find out that while one pays attention to the arms, it’s easy to forget about the momentum our legs can also generate.
The knee tuck is an excellent tool for contributing the required amplitude we need to cross a long distance. It allows us to spend some extra time airborne, creating an arc, hence positioning ourselves properly for the landing phase.
What can be tricky is to “forget” to tuck our knees as we may think about the arm sequence or simply crossing to the other side.
A quick tip to make sure we tuck these knees up is to place a moderately low obstacle on the ground in front of our starting point. This perception drill immediately creates a need for adaptation. There’s no other choice but to lift our knees to avoid clipping our feet on this object, or low fence.
No need for a very high obstacle (this is not an upward jump we are working on here). So, I’d say under knee height would be the max that we’d need in order to work properly on this aspect of the technique.
I’ve seen very rapid improvements on so many people over the years thanks to this tip. Try it if you struggle using your legs after the takeoff phase.
Tip 5: Add complexity
Challenge your senses, sharpen your capacity to adapt to every situation. For example, line up several little objects so that it forces you to tuck your knees a bit longer.
Once you’ve got that arm sequence and knee tuck down, and you manage to always land with the ball of your feet first, keep making your brain work with a narrower landing target, or one that is slightly elevated.
The infamous 2×4 wooden beam used in the MovNat method is a safe yet challenging Surface of Support (SOS) you can test yourself on. But again, only when you feel comfortable with landing on a flat and wide SOS.
Tip 6: Add intensity (Distance)
A very common question I get is “Jerome, how do you increase your jumping power?”
Even though a comprehensive practice of all the Natural Movement skills will generally help you become more mobile, agile, and powerful (Lifting for example is a great skill for that!), my initial answer is generally pretty simple: “jump with more intensity, jump a longer distance that challenges you!”
In nature, we can measure our jumping distance using our feet and counting them “from heel to toe.” If your average practice distance is 6 “heel to toe” feet, make it 7 and see what happens.
As long as you can land properly (i.e. a landing including our “3 S’s” [Safe, Stable, Silent]), you should aim for this intensity which will create the physiological adaptation your brain has ordered to your body: crossing a longer distance, hence more power required.
Tip 7: Explore
What I always loved about MovNat is this perpetual goal to use the learned Natural Movement techniques not only in a gym, which provides a linear, predictable environment; but also everywhere we live, preferably in nature. Nature offers us endless challenges and rough ground surfaces to interact with.
In my video tutorial, you will see me landing on some sharp little rocks. It may not be visible on the screen, but this hard ground required from me a higher level of focus and resiliency. And this is exactly what I was looking for.
The question I always ask is “Do you want to be excellent in one skill, but always in the same spot, in the same conditions? Or would you prefer to use all your skills pretty much everywhere you go and at the times you want?”
Once you get used to this mindset, you are open to make major progress in your overall Natural Movement journey.
Tip 8: Add volume
We all know the common saying “Practice makes perfect,” but I prefer “Practice makes progress!”
In my opinion, there is no way around it. We must work on our craft, whatever craft it is.
Since the topic of this article is the Forward Power Jump, I can only advise you to follow this progression, use all these tips, and practice, practice, and practice again.
Make sure you respect the necessary periods of rest for both your mind and your body, being fresh for the next session. But know that the real progress you will make is by “showing up,” being on the field, enjoying the process.
The more you will apply these principles, the less you will have to think about it. The more this “movement pattern” will be ingrained in your brain to reach the “unconscious competence” we aim for in every single natural movement.
This is a lifelong adventure, and a beautiful one.
So that’s it guys and gals, for those 8 quick tips, which I hope can help you make some good improvements in your Forward Power Jump.
I can’t wait to see your comments, questions and interact with you all on this topic and many others related to what makes us healthy, strong, happy and free: the enjoyable practice of our human Natural Movement gift.
About the Author
Jerome Rattoni is a MovNat Master Instructor, Relations Director, and the owner of ScarAbs Fit (MovNat Budapest), where he brings Natural Movement to people local to Hungary. You can connect with him on Instagram at @Jerome_Scarabs.
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