Pound for pound …

The other day, I had the pleasure of the company of one of the most charming babies ever. Apparently, she took a liking to me as well, or at least my hand, which must have looked quite tasty.¬†When little Avery reached for my hand, I felt this strong tug. I knew it was Avery doing the pulling, but I thought I’d try looking the other way and see what this sensation felt like without the visual cues.

It felt very odd, even before the gumming. Sure, the pulling came from a small area, but it felt as if an adult were pulling me in. The pull was insistent and strong, and could have been mistaken for an adult’s pull.

Now we’ve all heard about strong baby grips, but this was quite something. Internal martial artists try to recover that natural, full-body strength, but what if we had maintained that natural strength all through childhood and it only grew as we matured? How naturally strong and healthy would we be? I have to ask …

… at what point in a child’s life does that strength diminish? What went wrong? Are children told they’re small and weak? Do they become self-conscious? Are they told that things are more difficult than they really are? Or does it have something to do with bad physical training, or a complete lack thereof?

… or can little Avery buck the odds and keep her natural, non-self-conscious, strong way of interacting with the world?

  1. Caprice
    October 31st, 2010 at 00:40 | #1

    The strength of a baby’s grip is actually a reflex, possibly due to a survival instinct (i.e., hold onto Mom, etc.). The reflex relaxes as the baby ages, and the baby becomes more interested in controlling his or her grip (picking something up, letting it go). Developmental movement is really fascinating to me..

    And, by the way, we did a “baby fist” exercise in Alexander class last year. I should teach it to you. It was a really wild experience. Apparently it’s something we can revisit because when we were in the womb, our hands were closed in little fists the whole time.

  2. SteveR
    October 31st, 2010 at 16:55 | #2

    (By the way, Avery is five months old.)

    Interesting . Here are a few web definitions of “reflex”:
    “an automatic instinctive unlearned reaction to a stimulus”
    “automatic: without volition or conscious control”
    “an involuntary and nearly instantaneous movement in response to a stimulus”

    Personally, I don’t think that the distinctions between impulses, instincts, habits, reflexes or conscious actions are very distinct. After all, how many of our adult actions or desires have their roots in survival instincts? Anybody crave fats lately?

    The “baby fist” exercise may be similar to Aikido’s “unbreakable ring” exercise, so yes, I agree that this sort of thing can be relearned by adults, or, more to my point, our particular kind of conscious intervention, to which we have such an attachment, can be unlearned or at least controlled. To me, that unlearning is an important component (but not the only component) to achieving our potential as natural human beings.

    Here’s a link to some ki exercises:

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