The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Video Reviews: Prasara and H2H

Coincidentally, within a relatively short time-span, I've had a chance to look at Coach Sonnon's Prasara video ( and Jeff martone's H2H kettlebell video (  They couldn't be more different, but both are utterly worthy of note.
"Prasara" isn't really an instructional video, although if you are already a martial artist, gymnast, yogi, or advanced pysical culturist, this is a must-have.  You see, what Sonnon has done is, I believe, unlocked the code that admits one to the higher, more spiritual realms of athletic endeavor.  Approachin the question of human performance from the Martial Arts side, over the last few years I've watched him refine and refine his approach, until Body Flow emerged.  Now, Body Flow was a sophistication of the "Be Breathed" technique, an approach to teaching yoru body to breathe itself through motion.  I would suggest this tape first.  then take a very close look at the "Body Flow" book, where he lays out a complex theoretical structure relating consciousness, emotion, and movement.  Not for beginners, by any means.  But I encouraged him to continue down this path, to join what he was doing with yoga.  Why?  Because for all of his genius, Scott's just one guy, and he can't carry the burden alone.  Yoga, while I think it's been somewhat emasculated of Yang aspects (even the wonderful Ashtanga) is nonetheless an incredible storehouse of knowledge, arguably the most complete lexicon of body-mind science available to the general public.  Scott's "prasara" links his previous work with Yoga, and the result is, for the serious student, simply a break-through. 
I'm not certain I've ever seen a move advanced series of motions captured on video in an instructional context.  It is composed of five mini-forms, series of yoga poses linked together with various (highly effective) flow "intermediary motions" (Ashtanga's wonderful vinyasa jump-through is just one such motion) extracted from a variety of disciplines, and explained in the "Breathing-Movement-Structure" paradigm.  It is more documentary than instructional, but it IS possible t learn from them. The two-disk set is jsut exquisitely beautiful, and Scott's demonstrations are an absolute inspiration.  If someone had said this was a secret yoga practise, and Scott some old yogi's finest student, I would have believed it with only the slightest raising of an eyebrow.  What he has done here is mildly miraculous, but not for everyone.  If you get a copy of this, "Body Flow", "Be Breathed", and BKS Iyengar's "Light on Yoga" text you have a lifetime of amazingly valid work, as well as the door to physical exercise as spiritual path.  If Scott does nothing else, he has just made the contriubtion I've been waiting for from the beginning.  If you want to see the future of the transcendant athlete, check it out.
On a more mundane but still impressive level, Jeff Martone's H2H kettlebell "juggling" video is pretty darned amazing.  Basically, H2H is an explosive mini-plyometric exercise protocol using a light kettlebell and passing it from hand to hand with a variety of fancy moves.  Incredible fun, mildly dangerous, a challenge to hand-eye coordination, muscular endurance, CV endurance and tendon strength.  It also seems to me to be a perfect MA adjunct, because of the odd-angle muscle and tendon loading that makes it "Plyometric" (a Russian technique for increasing explosive speed), and a way of adding considerable variety into your exercise program.  On the Dragondoor site there is an article called the "marathon Kettlebell challenge" that is about what happens if you pick up a kettlebell and perform one exercise for a minute, then switch to another, and another, etc, without ever putting it down.  touted as the ultimate Lactate Threshold pusher, as well as, due to a principle called Time Under Tension (TUT) a wonderful fat-burner, it is a genuinely grueling protocol.  Doing this with a 1-pood KB for any period of time will make you want to throw up.  H2H, on the other hand, once you've gotten into the Freestyle mode, strikes me as being just as efficient, more fun, and more specific for athleticism.  What a "live" weight a moving KB is!  This is advanced stuff, but worth working up to, and REALLY keeps you on your toes.  So far I haven't dropped one on my feet, but that risk really keeps you alert.  One of the few exercises I've ever seen which produces the "frying" CNS sensation of a good martial arts class.  Fun, and efficient, and very, very well done.


Anonymous said...

I'm old and not into blogging or twitter or such and only came across your blog thru a google search of Prasara Yoga, having been driven there by the English Author of AGRESSIVE HEALTH who suggests Scott Sonnon to be the most advanced physical culturist of our times. That said, I really appreciate your blog for its authoritative and perspective analysis. I plan on living at least another 100 years in perfect health and have found, so far, that one can't stop searching for the best in nutrition, movement, adjunct modalaties and mindset. It looks like Prasara will kick my yoga routine up a notch or two. Thanks again.

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