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PostPosted: Tue Jul 12, 2011 9:11 am 
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Oh, where to begin... Thank you very much for this, it brings new angles to the discussion. I also think this topic is very interesting, but it is so huge, so it is difficult to cover anything at all without being too short. But I guess we get there if we just continue?

First and foremost: I definitely do think that ballet dancers are athletic, the picture I included in the beginning was meant to illustrate how even ballet dancers assume a non-athletic posture to make a sort of modern and "cool" impression. The important factor here is the hip position. Look at Barysjnikov, and watch his hips. Very athletic, I think. Exploding through the hip, I would say.

It's easy to see the same when observing the djigitovka riders. They are extremely stable in their upper bodies and extremely active through the hip joint. Watch especially the woman doing the "plank" hanging at the side of the horse in a gallop and the jumps they do from the ground and onto the horse. This is Pelle's "anatomy for jocks" in practice. Wonderful.

I also note that they are riding in formations of four, just as other western European cavalry did, and as we do here. Obviously from the same tradition. Also I note that the riding style and fighting style is the same kind that I have always imagined for the cossacks and other Eastern style soldiers. Especially interesting to see the use of the spear. Both for stabbing and for swinging and hitting with the butt. I have read old reports saying they were terrible fighters, and especially the spear was feared. They would swing the spear and hit the opponent's horse over the head. That horse would never go into combat with an enemy ever again..

In my childhood, we were always told to try this kind of balancing exercises on horseback as a warm-up at the beginning of every lesson. Of course the exercises were scaled down, but it is obvious that they come from the same tradition and that they serve the same purpose:

To stabilize the upper body and to activate the hip joint for athletic movement.

It is now time go back to the initial question: "When did it become fashionable to be unathletic?" Again, I am not talking of the historical facts and exect dates, as I do not know much of these, but in general terms. What kind of people were athletic, and what kind of people saw it as base and working-class to be athletic? Did some people and some classes deliberately show off unathletic postures and movement just to show that they did not have to work? Or did not have to fight in the first line at war?

Once upon a time in history, the kings became kings by God's decree, and not in their own right and by their own ability to fight. Perhaps when that happened, and the royalty and aristocracy could easily without risk send their marshals to lead the wars for them, they could rest behind the lines, or even at home, in their palaces.

It is a fact that the baroque fashionable posture was sway backed and feminine, with a "rich man's tummy". Some place between that era and the time when the kings fought in the front lines, the ideal was changed.

I also find it very interesting to study the James Dean ideal. Why is he so cool? He was a loser. And always played losers. But losers we could identfy with. And he did it in a cool way. He made it cool to be unathletic and weak. Much easier to follow a weak and cool ideal than to pick up the glove from the strong ones.

So we just store the cossacks, the warriors and the bull fighters away as barbarians. And lose all the vast knowledge they have inherited and taken good care of. Too bad, I would say.

Hanne

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 13, 2011 8:50 am 
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Thank you for a great answer! :D
I agree with you, and if anyone should find athletic riding barbaric, they should go tell the woman and her sword 8)

I also noticed the same things as you, and look how stable her body is in the end of the film, when she moves on the ground with the sword! We will get there one day, right?

Djigitovka has to be the origin of today's vaulting. But much more impressive. I am sure the riding schools did a smart thing by letting the riders do these exercises as a warm-up. Does anyone know if they are still used today in Norwegian riding schools?

It is interesting to read your thoughts on the Cossack way of fighting vs Western European. These clips, and the one of Merlin, have been circulating between my friends for the last few weeks and days, and one thing almost everyone comment is that all the horses look so happy and pleased with their work. They all seem like they are having fun doing this.

Another thing, is that it looks like (or becomes obvious that) athletic riding is the same, even though their styles might be different. I may be wrong, as I have absolutely no experience with fighting from horseback, but it looks like they wouldn't have huge problems adopting to each others way of riding. I do think that bullfighters would have easier for djigitovka-exercises than most of today's riders in Norway, and I think that the cossacks would be able to face a bull much sooner than most dressage riders today. Perhaps they would do decent in jousting as well?

What do you think, who have done some of the cool stuff?

Back to topic;
Found this little documentary on ballett, narrated by Baryshnikov. The first dancer is Baryshnikov who really is a contrast to the next dancer. Has ballett become more athletic in the last century? I did not know that they used to dance like that in early 20th century..
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tblx2tUB ... re=related

And it could be that when the aristocracy stoppet fighting, the unathletism began. At least for the higher level of the society, untill the industrial and technological revolutions came and placed the rest of us behind machines and computers.. But what did the aristocrats in Western Europe do with their free time?

(I am writing "Western Europe", because obligatory military duty for aristocrats was introduced by Peter the Great some time after 1700, who took the idea from the West and created a Russian army based on Western armies and structures. It remained that way untill the 1917-revolution, who killed the aristocrats, not the military duty).

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 14, 2011 9:04 am 
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I found a very interesting article at Wikipedia when searching for a good definition of the American term "jock". Not only did I find a definition, I also found a very good description of our tendency to categorize people we feel threaten us. I quote:


Quote:
The term jock is a classic North American stereotype of a male athlete. The jock stereotype is attributed mostly to high school and college athletics participants who form a significant youth subculture. In sociology, the jock is thought to be included within the socialite subculture, which also contains the preppies and Ivy-Leaguers. As a blanket term, the jock is considered synonymous with an athlete.

Other words that may mean the same as "jock" include meathead, musclebrain, and the similar term musclehead. These terms are based in the beliefs that a jock is muscular, yet slower in the brain, and cannot carry a conversation on any topic other than one relating to weight-lifting or exercise.


and:

Quote:
The jock stereotype is often used in the mass media to portray a relatively unintelligent and unenlightened, but nonetheless physically and socially well endowed character. The stereotype is most prevalent in movies for teenagers such as College, American Pie, and Revenge of the Nerds.


The whole article can be found here, and should be read, it is very enlightening for the discussion. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jock_%28athlete%29

Quotation from the article on James Dean:

Quote:
American teenagers at the time of Dean's major films identified with Dean and the roles he played, especially in Rebel Without A Cause: the typical teenager, caught where no one, not even his peers, can understand him. Joe Hyams says that Dean was "one of the rare stars, like Rock Hudson and Montgomery Clift, whom both men and women find sexy." According to Marjorie Garber, this quality is "the undefinable extra something that makes a star."[39] Dean's iconic appeal has been attributed to the public's need for someone to stand up for the disenfranchised young of the era,[40] and to the air of androgyny[41] that he projected onscreen. Dean's "loving tenderness towards the besotted Sal Mineo in Rebel Without a Cause continues to touch and excite gay audiences by its honesty. The Gay Times Readers' Awards cited him as the male gay icon of all time.


As we can see, this is a very complex area, also involving homophobia and fear of appearing homophobic, very important values in our time. Humans have a need to simplify the world around them, and put other people in categories. Especially important is the need to categorize people who feel threatening to you.

The jock stereotype, or the athletic person, is very threatening to the nerd stereotype, or the physically weaker but intelligent person. Our modern culture is to a large degree defined by the nerd stereotype. As the wikipedia article states, the real revenge of the nerds is the fact that Hollywood and most cultural and entertainment institutions have put the athlete in a stereotype box that says: "stupid, muscular, homophobic, stealing the attractive girls, psychopatic"

But of course, this is not true. It's only an illusion, made by the nerds. There is actually a lot of research on this:

In 2005, Dr. Sabina Kleitman, a psychology professor at The University of Sydney and Herbert W. Marsh, employed at Oxford University for the same profession teamed together. The pair conducted surveys of over 12,000 American students to find a correlation between sports and grades. The following is a quote from their published results:

Quote:
"Achievement can be measured in many ways—grades, homework, attendance, standardized test scores, and enrollment in college. In all of these areas except standardized test scores, even after controlling for economic status, race, and other background variables, athletic participation was significantly correlated to academic achievement. Even after controlling for academic success in 8th and 10th grade, athletic participation was still associated with positive academic outcomes in 13 out of 21 measures in 12th grade and 2 years out of high school. This suggests that athletic participation itself may be responsible for some academic achievement—the later achievement isn't completely explained by earlier academic success."[9]

Despite the fact that many schools recruit for sports, they put stipulations in place that hold student athletes to high standards in order to maintain their scholarships. Schools such as Cornell College recruit students to their athletic teams, but require a student maintain a certain grade-point average in order to have the scholarship renewed. For many young athletes, this is imperative as they could not afford higher education on their own. Therefore, they balance proper study with the demands of their sport.
Wikipedia Quote.

I think it is safe to say that our modern culture idolizes the adolescent youth, especially the outcast and "rebel without a cause".

But what does the "aristocracy"? That is the modern upper class, jet set or our modern day idols? They exercise to become thin. Or to get a six pack. To look good on pictures or at the beach. The way you look is most important.

In addition you have the intelligentia that is exercising; they are running marathons, climbing mountains, in Norway they are going cross country skiing climbing "mountains". All about walking or running far, and all of them are getting thin.

But getting thin is not athletic.

Then what about the workers? Have they retained anything of the athleticism? Bah, they have digged the ground for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years, lately standing in front of machines or sitting in front of PCs. That kind of tiring long-time-lasting work does not create athletic humans.

We need to go to the barbarians to meet the real athletes, and I am afraid the western European culture has all but destroyed all of these cultures. But some islands are still retaining the knowledge in a more of less pure form. I will have to emphasize the Portugese people as a stubborn kind of gang, who actually have managed to keep up the essence of this athletic culture and all the knowledge of the training methods up to this day, despite all the pressure from the outside calling them barbarians, cruel to animals, etc. I do not intend to let this discussion end up in a fight over bull fighting, but I find it interesting that we usually do not see this aspect of the discussion. Perhaps it is not easy to see, as we are very influenced by the modern anti-barbaric ideal.

And what we do not know, we tend to simplify and look down upon.

We try to take the bits and pieces of the athletic culture and "cultivate" it, making "art" out of it. We make ballet, artful riding, fantastic movies, and we let stunt-people do the dangerous things. we think that by making art, we are able to retain the athleticism and stop being barbarians. But we lose the essence. Because by taking away the danger, you take away reality.

Without gravity, there would be no balance. Without the falling, there can be no learning.

Modern dressage riders would not last a second in the bull fighting ring. Even though they perform very advanced movents at competitions. Modern body builders or joggers would not last a day in a jungle. We smile and say "good heavens no, we never need it". But we need the athleticism to ride well.

Positioning ourselves prettily on top of a horse's back does not make us good riders. To really be "one" with the horse in all movements, we need to start being a bit more barbarian.


Hanne

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2011 2:30 pm 
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OK, now I have the time to come back to your post, Renate. Phew, this is a vast topic and I have so many thoughts on it. :D

First:
Quote:
Found this little documentary on ballett, narrated by Baryshnikov. The first dancer is Baryshnikov who really is a contrast to the next dancer. Has ballett become more athletic in the last century? I did not know that they used to dance like that in early 20th century..
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tblx2tUB ... re=related


A very interesting piece of movie. I do not know much about ballet, but I know that most ballet dancers are very easy to teach when it comes to riding. They understand "center" and balance, and they have a stable upper body and an active hip joint already. And they have the suppleness. You also seldom see a ballet dancer with a neck and upper body that is unable to stretch upwards. ;) They inherently know that you do not look down, then you will lose balance and the stretch in your upper body.

If you look at the good dancers in this movie and compare them to the ones we instinctively know are less good (we usually laugh when we see them), the main difference is the straight and stable upper body and the powerful thrusts through the hip joints in the good dancers. The "silly" ones look unstable, wobbly and fidgety. That is not athleticism. A very good illustration, I think.

Quote:
Another thing, is that it looks like (or becomes obvious that) athletic riding is the same, even though their styles might be different. I may be wrong, as I have absolutely no experience with fighting from horseback, but it looks like they wouldn't have huge problems adopting to each others way of riding. I do think that bullfighters would have easier for djigitovka-exercises than most of today's riders in Norway, and I think that the cossacks would be able to face a bull much sooner than most dressage riders today. Perhaps they would do decent in jousting as well?


I agree. There is always concensus at the top. But there will perhaps be some disagreement as to which fighting style and riding style is the most effective. The eastern style "hit and run" tactics based on riding with loose contact with the reins and legs is quite effective, and many of these riders will perhaps think it strange to ride with contact with the bit and leg, and a more direct controlling of the whole of the horse's movement.

The djigitovka riders would have to learn to collect the horse more and ride in a more accurate way to learn close combat riding, such as bullfighting, but I guess their fantastic balance and athleticsm and their horsemanship would make the transition very much easier than for other, more unbalanced riders.

Quote:
But what did the aristocrats in Western Europe do with their free time?

Very few of them engaged in activities that would risk their lives, apart from duels, which were very popular in many countries. :D
An old rule says that an English gentleman can only engage in the following sports: Hunting, shooting, fishing and riding. And hunting of course means hunting foxes or other animals from horseback. You may argue that this is rather dangerous, but I have watched some of these gentlemen ride, and after that, the term "chair seat" took on a new meaning to me. :twisted:

We may thus conclude that one may engage in dangerous sports without being athletic, and this is what we call bad active security. When you get up on a horse which you obviously cannot control, with a very badly balanced seat, the risk of accidents and injury is high, even when wearing a crash helmet and a safety vest. Riding without a certain degree of neither active nor passive security, is not bravery, and is often regarded as stupid.

Sometimes, when you engage in athletic movement and activity without having the athletic ability, you manage to grab onto the very steep learning curve and learn as you go. That is the way we are constructed. To jump into the deep end and learn to swim or drown. But usually one plays and trains from childhood, and the learning curve will not be so steep.

The problem arises when we are taught in childhood to sit still at the table, at the desk at school, in front of the PC and television, and only now and then engage in sports. The chair almost literally follows us onto the horse, and we are not any longer able to balance.

I think that the upper classes for too long have focused on table manners and dressing, and that the middle class have tried to copy this. So much for athleticsm.

Hanne

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 16, 2011 2:02 pm 
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This is such an interesting topic I can't leave it alone.

Tinuviel and I are often talking about the way they have portrayed Aragorn in the New Line Cinema movie trilogy based on Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. Tinuviel has always been a bit mad with the movie makers for portraying Aragorn as a weak person who is reluctant to take the power and position that is his by birth right.

This is quite contrary to the way Aragorn is described in Tolkien's book. In the book, he is in fact very confident and even proud of his heritage, to such a degree that from time to time, when he chooses to show it, people around him become quite awed by the glory of the guy.

One may wonder why they have chosen to change this. Or one might not wonder, in the light of what we have already written. Aragorn as desribed by Tolkien is very much in contrast to the ideal of the uncertain-of-himself adolescent ideal of today. We idolize this youthful "quality" to such an extent that we become sceptical to a hero that is too sure of himself. We may not believe in a character that is not doubtful. We might think that Aragorn was egotistical or uninteresting if he was portrayed as Tolkien has described him. That is, if we still have the teenager's view of the world, which of course many of the target group had.

Is this also the reason why they chose to change Faramir as well, who is portrayed almost more heroic in the original? Of course, we will never know, but it is interesting to discuss the topic.

Good thing they had chosen a very athletic Aragorn, though. ;)

Hanne

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 17, 2011 1:03 pm 
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A good way to get me involved in a discussion: introduce Aragorn into it (not quite sure what kind of smily is apropriate here... :oops: :twisted: :mrgreen: )

Hanne wrote:
Good thing they had chosen a very athletic Aragorn, though. ;)


At least they did that. I think one reason (I found out while watching Avatar on a clinic) that I find the Elves in the movies so utterly un-interesting, is that they are (mostly) so stiff. The Lorien elves does not look like they could live in trees without all those staircases. They don't look like they could climb a tree to save their lives. And they supposidly have lived for thousand of years and are amazing warriors? The Navi makes much better elves. Having someone look that stiff and insist that they have better controll over their bodies and can do ridiculous stunts "because they are elves", tastes of wish-fullfiment dreams of the worst sort to me. Or the bad sort of escapist. The sort that makes you whine and do nothing.

Sorry, not very fond of Jackson's elves.

More to the toppic: LotR was written before the youth-culture began to be worshiped. "Rebel without a cause" was relised in 1955, about ten years after LotR. And Tolkien was then, as now, considered a bit old-fassioned. Perhaps not so strange that he would have mature protagonists, or at least most of them. Frodo is 50, and though it is plauseble that he might not be as mature as Aragorn, being both younger and having lived a more sheltered life, 50 years still count for something.

I think you have a good point, Hanne, with this:

Quote:
One may wonder why they have chosen to change this. Or one might not wonder, in the light of what we have already written. Aragorn as desribed by Tolkien is very much in contrast to the ideal of the uncertain-of-himself adolescent ideal of today. We idolize this youthful "quality" to such an extent that we become sceptical to a hero that is too sure of himself. We may not believe in a character that is not doubtful. We might think that Aragorn was egotistical or uninteresting if he was portrayed as Tolkien has described him. That is, if we still have the teenager's view of the world, which of course many of the target group had.


Well, since I do find Tolkien's Aragorn quite a lot more intersting and belivable than the movie-version, I might be old-fassioned, but it sems to with fit with many others' perceptions.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 17, 2011 7:08 pm 
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Ahhh... we are into a Tolkien discussion again. Good old days! :D

And thanks for bringing Avatar into the discussion, a most timely idea. That movie is one of my favourites because of the excellent animation of the athletic movement of the Na'vi. They obviously knew a lot about athletic movement to make them so believable, they must have studied very versatile athletes to make them so good. Pelle and I are always studying the way people move, and the transformation from clumsy to very athletic in this movie is extremely well done, also when it comes to detail, especially the hip function.

Look at these:
http://www.alwinclores.com/wp-content/u ... clores.jpg

http://www.classicrockmagazine.com/wp-c ... vatar2.jpg

And especially this one:
http://www.awn.com/files/imagepicker/35 ... flying.jpg

The elves in Jackson's movies look exactly like propped-up relics of an upper class who has been sitting on chairs for a thousand years. Thank you for letting me understand why I always have found them less believable. It looks as though when casting, they have looked for slender, tall persons, if possible pretty, but not able to move like warriors. I heard rumour says that they first planned to include Arwen at the battle of Helm's Deep, but Liv Tyler was completely unable to move with a sword in a way that did not look very girlie and more funny than frightening. Otherwise she did a splendid job, and since the warrior part was not there for her part originally anyway, everyone is happy with he decision to drop warrior Arwen.

I remember when we discussed the movies back then, we had a joke about a contest in "100 meters propped-up striding". The elves were lining up to compete in that sport, not being able to compete in any other.

Perhaps that is the reason why so many people balk at Legolas jumping onto a horse in mid stride as well? Because we instinctly observe that the actor does not move in an athletic way, and we know that this is not possible for a guy like that? The djigitovka riders show that kind of stunts and make them look easy. It should be believable, but it is not, because Legolas is clearly running in a way that is meant to look "elvish" but in fact is artificial and stuffed and not very good running technique.

In our "hip joint focused" clinics we often watch the Avatar movie to see if people are able to see the transformation of movement that the main character is going through. Everyone can see that he changes, but few can see what actually happens. The big difference is the stability of the upper body and the athletic power through the hip joint.

One may also observe the change in mentality that happens to the guy as his athletic ability changes. We see the same change in everybody that manages to go through that change. The willingness to try very risky things and carry them through safely is also an effect of this. And the brave glint in the eye.. ;)

I really love the attitude of that movie. It is so anti-modern in a way. First time I watched it, I was sitting there waiting for Jake-Sulley to fall miserably, become timid, humbled, sort of get a punishment for being so bold, but he didn't. Did people realize how new that was? I know, there are action heroes who can do almost everything, but this was not a bad action movie. It tried to tell us someting more. Or at least I hope so. ;)

Hanne

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2011 9:13 pm 
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I need to follow up on this. We have recently watched the Pirates of the Caribbean. And why the heck is that movie so enormously popular? It is all about pirates, who plunder, steal, murder, and are about as immoral as we can imagine. Even so, we root for the constantly half-drunk Jack Sparrow and the other pirates, and all the antagonists are the ones trying to restore law and order.

Why is this?

And why is it that most movies are about heroes that are athletic and prompt, rescuing the world? Not many metasexual city slickers? Apart from perhaps in romantic comedies. Why? Is it Hollywood trying to press us to watch something we are not interested in? I doubt it.

Any thoughts?

Hanne (who has many.. :roll: )

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2011 10:37 pm 
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Hi!

Just a quick firestarter here.

I think the world is growing increasingly boring.

By that I mean that we, as independent human beings, have very little sway over the development of the world around us. Saying this eventhough we just had an election here in Norway. We just sit on our increasingly fat asses, "consuming" information. Hugely just bullsh*t about nothing, as in tv- series...

I think it´s infinitely better to watch a movie. Preferably one I´ve already seen, and which makes me consider my life from another angle, That of a superhero, for instance. Or Conan the Barbarian. Or perhaps a Chinese warrior from ages long past. Maybe a half- mad intellectual, or how about a Metro- sexual Pirate?

What´s the common theme? Am I wrong in viewing this as a widespread trend from Hollywood? Even one lasting for about fifty years? We long for the epic, the heroic. The free. We long to decide for ourselves wether to do this or that. We long to be able to go where we want, when we want, and do what we want.

But we are not able to.

Not lawfully.

Not economically.

Not intellectually.

Not physically.

Time to take some of that ability back, I think.

Pelle

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 14, 2011 7:31 am 
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Watch this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVF5bzKQ ... re=related

Hanne

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2012 5:19 pm 
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After the last days of discussion here in Norway about some pictures of our olympic medalist Marit Bjørgen, a strong woman with muscles;

Has it ever been fashionable for women to be athletic?

Image

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 Post subject: Re: When did it become fashionable to be unathletic?
PostPosted: Sat Apr 13, 2013 11:42 am 
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Nope! Women are suppose to be weaker than men so that they can take care of and protect us. And since men are getting less and less athletic us women must be weaker and more innocent( yes I know there are men out there who do not share this thought, but it is nevertheless unconsiously so).
Men have always been afraid of strong women, strong physically or mentally. Just read about the witchprosesses.

As for athletic people today I think one can look to martial artists. I have been training japanese martial arts myself for many years. It is amasing how much stronger, better stamina and more agile one becomes from training martial arts regularly. And this used to be the daily training for noblemen in earlier times, before the dancing and etikette took over as being most important.

As for Guerinièré, i do not believe that his ideal rider and his pupils that are portraid are the same. I think he had to except this posture as a nobleman could not be vulgar and set his hips ( and what comes with them) forward in the daily etikette ( so taught through formal dancing) and thereby not on horseback. The forward legs are remnance from the days of the battlefield where the rider had to brace himself for the impact with the enemi's ranks, the built up back of the saddle keeping him on the horse, but in battle the hips are in a forwardthinking motion as can be seen in reliefs and wallcarpets from the time. ( I can post some examples if needed)
And this forwardsweeping would also emphesize the "inocent" posture from the day. I do not think it has anything to do with it being a feminine posture as such, but the image was of the nobleman as a pure, none vulgar person in contrary to the "wild" ordinary folk. In the closed quarters of the castles this was certainly not so, but as it is still, image was everything.
This backswept position of the hip makes it impossible to ride with power from the core and ridingart for the sake of art and perfection of it comes forth.

What to me is interesting, is the attemts made by some riders in competitionsports today to show the power in their horses with , what appears to me to be the attitude of the noblemen portraid from Guerinièré's time ( no work ,all gain). The nobles did not school their horses themselves so all they had to learn was to look good in the exercises the horse had been taught. But to show off the power some effort is required from the rider and most riders I feel fail on this part.
Is it due to lack of athletism? Perhaps or the lack of it being demanded from them.
In previous times ( and really not too long ago) pupils where demanded by the teacher to sit properly on the chair in the classroom. Is it so today?
And in the military the troops were paraded daily, today parading is a curiosity.
I look to the Spanish ridingschool and the Cadre Noir. The disiplin demanded from the students both on and off the horse was normal demands from every boy. What do we see today? Pants hanging halfway down the buttocks, forwardhanging shoulders inside oversized sweatshirts while they supposedly look cool......I don't know if I even want to mention the girls. When the brand of the ridingpants are more important than the horse...

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 Post subject: Re: When did it become fashionable to be unathletic?
PostPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2013 8:53 am 
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White Lady
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YES!! Haha, talk to the colonel about this, he goes absolutely bananas. :D

Hanne

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