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S1 Episode 29: Fake One-Arms


In this Episode of the Handstandcast Emmet and Mikael discuss the topic of “Fake” One-Arm Handstands, the problem with judging it by an image alone, their thoughts about handbalancing and how it relates to social media, as well as how to fool anyone with your fake One-Arm.

We hope you enjoy it!

S1E29 – Fake One-Arms

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Transcript of Episode 29: Fake One-Arms

EL: Hello, and welcome back to the Handstand Cast with me, Emmet Louis, and my co-host Mikael Kristiansen.  How’s things Mikael?

MK: They are alright, I would say.

EL: It’s pretty cool to be doing these table to table.  The last while we’ve been locked down, as you probably know.  We’re still in March the 409th of December at this stage.

MK: I’m actually in Ireland, still.

EL: We’ve smuggled him in.  Into quarantine.  It’s cool.

Other than that, a lot of new filming going on with us, it’s pretty cool.  We’ve been filming a load of new programs for you guys with Handstand Factory.  Interesting stuff.

We’ve also been looking at the maths of handstands.  We’re going to do a podcast soon with Dr Helgi Freyr.  We have mathematically proved some things about handstands and one arm handstands that are incontrovertible.  We have used the power of numbers to prove ourselves right, and we haven’t manipulated the data set to suit us.

MK: It will be very interesting to take a look.  This will be more in the technical intellectual sphere of how it works, but certainly interesting, and I think particularly for us since both having done and been involved in it for a long time, it’s interesting to get some new perspectives and numbers on things.

EL: I’m looking forward to that one.  That one is going to be cool.  So keep listening on this channel for this one.  Tonight, we have a special episode we are calling ‘Fake One Arm Handstands.’

MK: Oh my god !!

EL: As some of you guys – guys and girls, and whatever else you want to classify yourselves as – have seen, there’s an account on Instagram that is rustling some jimmies called Fake One Arm Handstands.  Or is it Fake Handstands?

Anyway, drama in the community.  We thought we’d just weigh in on posting pictures of people performing fake one arms.  Let’s face it, someone, one of the co hosts of the podcast, might be responsible for posting pictures from time to time on his Instagram.  But we have to come out and say to whoever is messaging us, it’s not us running the account.  We don’t know who it is.  Stop asking.

I wonder if this account will last longer than 2-3 weeks anyways.

MK: We’ll see, hard to know.  It depends on who runs it I guess.  I’m definitely guilty of having done that shit before.  I was one of the OGs.  I have pictures from two years ago, I remember I just found a couple of rather interesting ones.  A couple of them are on that page too.

It used to frustrate me more than it does now, and I do find it kind of funny to look at and analyze.  Some trash talk can be fun.  But I don’t know, I just kind of lost interest in it.  People do things, and in the end you stop caring.  I don’t know.

EL: It’s always an interesting topic, and it can turn a bit witch hunt-y.  This is one thing I would not like to see.

Put it this way.  You’re training in the park, you train handstands.  You go, I want to take some pictures of myself pretending to do a one arm handstand.  There’s no real problem with that, is there?  It’s just a bit of fun.

I think what gets shady and what rustles more jimmies, particularly with teachers, is when you get people who are teachers or selling a product, trying to sell a workshop or other stuff…selling something.  They are doing handstands, then say, check my one arm handstand as well.  I’m so advanced, it’s so cool.

MK: That’s where I got annoyed with it.  How to define it?  If it’s done to increase your athletic ethos, if there is such a term – now there is, I coined it.  That idea of creating a representation of something that basically has some symbolic value.  You are then selling that symbolic value for literal monetary gains.  That gets shady.  That’s not unique to fucking handstands.  It’s less common in handstands than very many other businesses around the world.

EL: It’s interesting with handstands, because we don’t really have handstand competitions.  There’s no handstand federations-

MK: Thank god.

EL: -other than the one that exists in your mind that tells you how you should do things.  It’s not like you see this in Powerlifting, with YouTubers getting called out when someone figures out they’re using fake weights, stuff like this.

MK: What was his name, Brad Castleberry?  There was loads of drama I saw on YouTube, randomly scouring through some garbage on YouTube.  I found huge dudes on gear, basically claiming to rep out massive amounts of weight that pro strongmen can lift twice.

EL: Then there’s Athlean X, people have been saying he’s using fake weights.  Who knows if he is or isn’t, whatever.  You do see this happen, say in powerlifting, where someone is putting up a questionable squat or whatever.  But there’s simple fixes.  Go to competition and prove your numbers.  Or if you have a unique training method, like hip thrusts will improve your deadlift by omega things, and the YouTube champion of hip thrusts – one of my pet peeves, as you people know – has a deadlift that is less than mine, at a bodyweight that’s higher.  Well, do they actually work or not?  There’s a proven format for these things.  Whereas posting a picture, and I’m not going to say a strict call out, but to be able to fake a good one arm picture that looks convincing, you have to be okay on two arms.  You can’t fake a one arm if you can’t two arm.

MK: It’ll take loads of attempts.

EL: Some people will try it.  It’s that idea of, the people who don’t really understand hand balance training and how long it actually takes to develop the ability to consistently one arm, they kind of just think the one arm is so close.

MK: I guess it comes down in a significant degree to that, which we’ve talked on before, of what I used to call the false sense of proximity to the goal.  The idea that I’ve done all these preps, the classic thing of “I almost have it,” or “I think I’m strong enough, I just need to…” or “I just need a little more this or that.”  You take a look at it and nah, it’s going to take a substantial amount of time.  There’s definitely something in that.

It also comes back to the fact that it’s an impressive looking feat.  It is a signifier of social value in a sense.  This is basically, and if you dissect and analyze what gets people about this, me included, is the idea that you’re trying to portray this sign of symbolic value, where there is none.  It’s basically you’re creating the hyper-reality, in one sense.  You’re creating a fixed point where it seems like you are a thing.  It’s a filter of your face, or photoshop of something, in a sense.

EL: You’re creating a digital avatar that is super human, compared to you.  You’re like, check it out, I can do my one arms.  Let’s face it, there’s a strict trade to get a one arm handstand.  You have to trade hours of your life for the thing.  It’s very simple, a strict trade.  To be able to get to a straddle one arm, or the basic range of shapes, you don’t need to be particularly athletic.  Obviously it helps.  But if you train you will get there.  You become athletic, gather the strength along the way, and deal with it.

But getting the one arm is a process, a continual process.  You’ll never find anyone who can do a one arm who’s actually happy with it, or to a high degree.

It’s the classic “I can do 5 seconds.  But 6 would be better.”  It’s arbitrary goals.

MK: The emotional seppuku of people who stand on their hands.  “Ah! The 10 seconds is so close, better stab myself in the gut with a sword.  Let’s bleed to death.”

What was it I said to…some garbage I said long ago to one of my online students as a joke.  She said, this wasn’t so good.  It was pretty good.  But I said, yes it wasn’t good, you probably deserve to lie on the floor for eternity with pictures pasted on the wall of your past failures….

It made me think of one thing, if you extrapolate the idea of not only faking the idea of the one arm.  It is part of the entire social media game, where a lot of the ‘handstand community’ has sprung up, from connections made on the internet.  They connect there, exchange thoughts and ideas and all that, which is great.  But that field allows for the construction of social avatars online, where you are producing this kind of image.  Whether you want it or not, there becomes an urge or sense of need of posting, presenting yourself constantly again and again. Then you need to make your Content – and I hate that word content – in this way.  You need to constantly present yourself out there in that way.  You do that according to the social value system and signifiers you decided to align yourself with, whatever that is, from stamp collection to bodybuilding.  You will present that continually.

I remember I made that How To Influencer flow chart once, which essentially is that.  It’s fascinating, and it’s in part very similar to making a fake picture of something.

If I put out an awesome video, “I made some really cool shit, check out this cool shit I did,” the likelihood is I’m going to post something cooler than the shit I usually do.

When I train, I fall over all the time. Often I train on things that are too hard, so drop out a bunch of times.  I focus on basic shit then.  And there are good days and bad days.  But the average thing is the posting of those moments of glory.

Then you do a bunch of moments of glory, until you come to this point of rationalization where you say, hm, I should not only be posting moments of glory.  Then you do one of those, ‘Check me out, I’m garbage, like everyone else.’  Then it’s back to the other thing.

That is basically the flow chart I made to describe this.

EL: That’s your content flow chart.

But this is the kind of thing.  If people had your skill level in particular, and were most focused on making people think they were awesome, they wouldn’t be posting the garbage you post.  There’s an authenticity and honesty in the way you post your training.  You’ve probably got an equal number of posts of you doing cool stuff as you spilling coffee as you do falling out and throwing and knocking your camera over.

MK: Emmet can actually confirm.  If any of you are listening and say, he must be faking his coffee spills….*sighs*

EL:  Every day, in our apartment, Mikael has spilled something.  There’s been a drop of minimum.

MK: Those are what I call micro spills, not real ones.  The one on the couch there was real.

EL: The one on the couch – let me describe what happened.  Mikael was talking to me.  He had a full cup of coffee in his hand.  What were we talking about?  You were very passionate about it.  I can’t remember, but possibly this topic.  Maybe not.

Anyway, he put the cup up to his mouth, and then poured it the opposite direction while talking at me, while trying to drink.

MK: That is the observer’s point of view, I would say.  From the inside, what happened was I remember speaking very passionately about something.  I was holding it with two fingers, meaning my right thumb and my right index finger.  I lifted it up, and was talking and shit, and suddenly it slipped out from my right thumb and nuked his entire sofa.  It was basically an empty cup.

That’s the thing.  It happens.  I guess it’s very often because like I said, I was very passionate about this thing….

One time, I put the coffee cup on top of this thing-

EL: No, no.  Let’s say what the thing is.  It was a retractible barrier, like you see at airports where they pull out the fabric tape and it attaches to another one.

Someone decided to balance their massive filter coffee on top of that.  The base of the coffee didn’t fit on the thing.

MK: It just fit! That’s why I put it there.

EL: Obviously someone has rattled the fence about this.

MK: If there wasn’t this fucking kid in front who was messing with the whole thing.  My rationale with this is: ok. I’m going to put my coffee here for 2 seconds.  I’m going to take off my shirt because it’s kind of warm.  I put the thing there, I grab my shirt, pull it over my head.  As the shirt disappears from my view, I see the floor and the coffee’s all over.  I see Seve standing next to me laughing.

EL: Should we tell them all the other spills?  Or change topics?  You haven’t spilled a manna potion yet.

MK: Yeah don’t do that, Emmet would be super upset.  Emmet’s manna potions are the best.  Should we disclose the ultimate manna potion?

EL: Yeah, I think people just call them a smoothie.

MK: Smoothies are so 2018, get with the future.

EL: Smoothie: save yourself wear and tear on your teeth by pre-chewing your food.

MK: So easy to just throw a bunch of frozen berries into the thing, a ton of protein powder, and then, what is it?

EL:  Some nut butter, some peanut butter or cashew butter or something.

MK: It just spins around in the box, the machine, and you just drink it.

EL: The Nutra-Bullet.  Shout out to Nutra-Bullet.  We’re not sponsored by them, but if you wanted to sponsor me I could do with a new one.  It’s the best bit of kitchen equipment you’ll ever get.  Only 50 quid as well, amazing.

MK: To fly the aircraft back to the topic, I remember way back seeing even circus artists reversing their presses to handstand, where you do a negative but reverse it.  I remember seeing it among very high level professionals as well, which is kind of concerning sometimes.

Basically it’s shit where no one can see, but I know that was reversed.

Do you remember also, I think it was a video you sent to me years ago, this dude doing a one arm in the gym, and he was like “yeah finally nailed it!”  There was a guy doing leg lifts in the background, and as the dude lifts the hand off the floor to do his glorious one arm, suddenly the leg lifts become verrrrrrry slow.

EL: It was kipping leg lifts, kipping toes to bar, in a Crossfit gym as well.  He was like, “Finally broke the 10 second barrier on the one arm,” or 12 seconds or something like that.  The person just like – it must have been the most amazing muscle kip in toe to bar I’ve ever seen.  It was so slow and so precise and controlled.

It was amazing because the person was repping them out at full speed, and just decided to choose to slow down just at the moment the guy took his hand off.  Very amazing, like 2 reps in 12 seconds.  Wow, a 6 second rep?  That’s a very steady base, very good dynamism to it.

For reverse press, the best one I’d seen was some movement coach, who can remain unnamed, was doing Stalder presses…or Stalder eccentrics.  In fairness, the Stalder eccentric was very good.  The press back up, which they were claiming – basically there was someone in the background who decided to moon walk backwards.  If you’re going to fake it, might as well make sure no one in the background is walking and starts going backwards.

MK: That’s a problem with a guy I saw years ago doing a one arm press.  Suddenly a dude in the background is walking backwards.  He’s far away, but in clear sight.  Oopsies.

Some other guy sent me some strange looking one arm.  “Hey, how’s this looking?  I’ve been training it a while.”  I was like, dude, it’s reversed.  He just said, “Fuck!  Sorry, sorry, sorry.”

EL: It’s good to send it to Mikael first if you want to post a fake, and see if he can get it.

MK: I sent him recipes and a little coffee emoji and smiley face, and he laughed.

There was another dude, some guy doing a one arm on a very large, round tire.  It was a video as well, but it was of him falling down from the tire, reversed.  It looked like he was literally jumping 3m into the air into a one arm, then returning to two arms.  Kiiiiind of conspicuous.

Videos are often, to the trained eye, easier to see.  Images can be hard to spot sometimes.  I do see very often when people debunk or look at them, they even look at the wrong things, which I find fascinating.  There are so many variables and ways the body can be in balance when doing these kinds of things, so it’s much tougher to notice if someone is actually in balance.  Unless it’s of course total garbage.

The thing is, all the street workout dudes and B-Boys, it’s not so easy to spot.  They can be hanging in all kinds of weird shapes and still be balanced.

It’s the same with me and I remember in circus school, me and a couple other hand balancers would just mess around with handstands we’d try to make as ugly as possible.  The dreadfullest shapes you could ever imagine, we were doing and holding.  We would fall out of them most of the time on purpose, because we tried to see how far we could go with dumb angles.

When the balance is there you can stick around in all these various areas.  So for me the more telling factors are like, is the context on grass or sand?  Very unlikely people are holding it unless they’re really good, simply because it’s tough to balance on those surfaces.

EL: I wanted to segue back to something before we miss it.  That Gollum handstand where you’re trying to make a weird shape and push it as far as you can is an excellent training method, even if you’re working on two arms at the moment.  We have all these set shapes in handstand.  If you try to find a new shape you’ve never done before, then push it to the limit, it’s a great way to train your balance.

It’s a great exercise I get people to do a lot.  What can we do to deliberately push yourself to the point you’re falling out, try to fight it and make it slow – legs and arms, whatever you want to do – break all the rules.

MK: There is one exercise I like with hip rotations.  First you rotate the legs, then the legs and hips, then the legs, hips and shoulders, until the shoulders are in such a dumb position that you’ve twisted your body 90º over your wrist.  It isn’t very difficult for someone experienced, but it does put your shoulders into these idiot angles.  Of course it’s not safe if you don’t have the skill or control for it, but you build that same proprioception and understanding in the shoulders as you get in the legs.

This is a very interesting thing if you compare it to the body intelligence that martial artists or dancers have in their legs, the reactivity, plasticity and ability to absorb force and move in all kinds of directions with the hips, knees, ankles, toes and feet and stuff.

Of course, legs are de facto better at doing this than the arms, no doubt about it.  But to build a little bit of this ability is also why, like we talked about before, building around the capacity of only incrementally and vertically more difficult handstand skills – straight, straddle, tuck, press, one arm, blah blah blah.  Not only following that trail, but starting to look forwards, backwards, side, circle, stand on your elbows, back to handstand…all this stuff contributes to building your structure and understanding in your entire upper body, making it literally more legs.

There’s also a degree of resilience and building the experience to be in these positions.  This might make it safer since you might someday end up there.

It’s not necessary to do these things, but I think there’s something to be said for being able to build all these broken and messed up shapes, that aren’t even shapes.  You are instead a bramble thicket of a person.

EL: It’s definitely worth doing, an interesting thing.  Where were we on the fake one arms?

I think we actually have to have a bit of a topic discussion about physics, and the terminology we’re using here.  A lot of people are calling out a fake one arm and other stuff, saying the centre of mass is not over the base of support.

This is a simplification of a dynamic balance, and related to statics.  A handstand isn’t static.  The other thing we have to understand is his centre of mass coincides a lot with the centre of gravity, but it’s not the same.  This is what catches people out, and why we have these lateral rebalancing actions in a handstand.

If I make a lateral shape a curved shape, I will actually shift the centre of gravity into the convex side of the curve.  It’ll move in these directions; we’re actually able to move the centre of gravity itself.  We can also move it up and down by moving the legs up and down.

What you can see is, to have balance, the centre of gravity itself, and the line it connects to the centre of the earth, or the summation of the forces acted on it from the centre of the earth…to the centre of the earth, to be precise…

The line of gravity has to be inside the area of the hand, whatever shape the hand or base of support is making.  It’s not that the centre of mass has to be over it.

If we think about it, in a flag handstand, the centre of mass in the human body is still at the belly button.  It’s still a foot and a half, 30-40cm, away from the hand at that stage.  Yet the centre of gravity, because of the curved shape, has actually come onto the inside of the convex side of the curve.  Now that line of gravity projected from the centre of gravity to the centre of the earth is inside the area of the base of support.

This is one of those things, if you snapshot a handstand, the classic one where someone is falling to the outside and needs to correct to the inside, what will happen is the diagonal hip angle will come back to flat, and the leg will push towards the inside to get this.

If you project a straight line up, it will look like the belly button is slightly to the outside edge.  People can save this because when the centre of gravity is over the base of support, still in the line of gravity, still in that fixed surface area, then they are able to stack the body on top of that.

It’s possible for some people to balance.  Some coaches teach that way to keep the hips level and flatter and more inside, you get a reverse flag effect.  I’m not a fan of it at all and don’t think it’s that successful for everyone.  But, it’s possible.

So when you see a snapshot, and say this person isn’t that good, like they’re wobbling all over the place when they’re learning and take the screen shot at the wrong point and put it up, maybe they could balance for 8-9 seconds, but the snapshot is at the wrong point.  Everyone on the internet goes, ah this person, the centre of mass isn’t over the base of support!

Well actually, the centre of gravity is still projecting a line to the centre of the earth through the base of support, so they actually are in balance.

MK: This is why I find context is always the best signifier on whether or not someone is able to when I see a picture.  There’s a couple of things happening if you are learning a one arm.

First, you are quite decided that you want to learn to one arm, which means your level of dedication and interest, and the value you put on the skill is high.  So as you learn, you may or may not document a lot of your learning.

Being able to stand on one arm is a display of skill; that is what it is.  It is a display of being able to control your body in that context.  Unless you want to show that to someone, you will have very little reason to learn it.  It’s the person alone on an island argument.  There will be a lower reason for you to bother if you’re never going to show it.

EL: I don’t know, I’m going to call you on that one and say there’s a lot of bedroom handstanders.

MK: Of course there are, but even within the most bedroom of them, there is an aspiration to present something of skill, at some point in time.  Some display a lot less, some display a lot more.  All this is fine.   But I think the on average result is people who have spent enough time to learn a one arm handstand have been focused enough on this achievement for such a long time that when they manage, they make sure to video it.  It’s the Proof, I can do it.  It is a symbol for them.  That is good and that is fine.

But that is basically it.  If a person can do a skill such as these types of balances, I would assume on most occasions that there exists a video of this current skill.

This is where the Svetchka Is the biggest culprit to me.  I see tons of people using their legs to get the arm in…it looks kind of cool in a snapshot, and it’s “easy” to fake in that sense.  The point is with the staggering difficulty it has compared to all these other things, if you see someone doing that but can barely find a video of them doing a straddle one arm, it’s likely the person hasn’t gone through the process of doing that, and is making a picture.

As we said, it can be fine to make a picture.  To me it’s more about the contextualization of such, and selling a product through that ethos can be questionable.  Each to their own; I’m not peoples’ parents.

EL: You will have to pay the boat man at some point, and hopefully you’ve sold enough courses.

I think trash talk is context specific.  It comes down to the idea that I have no problem calling people out if they are basically doing these things or presenting a false sense.

MK: On the other side, and now I’m actually not thinking of this phenomenon in handstands.  I’m thinking more of making an association towards YouTube culture.  There’s tons and tons of callout videos.  All this shit.  I’ve come across dozens of videos of ‘fake natty’ or ‘implants this’ and ‘implants that’ or steroid use…blah blah blah.  There’s rabbit holes in all that stuff.

As YouTubers, in context, they have a lot of gain from the shit talk.  They will get 200k views because they talked garbage about this guy other people don’t like.  This is not the same.  There’s something about creating slander culture as well, which is not what I want, at least.

As I said, I still can find it fun.   It’s not like I condemn people fucking around with this.  I guess it’s up to degrees of severity.

EL: There’s one thing I’d like to touch on, actually: peoples’ reaction to these fake videos.  There are a few comment threads on this.

We were some of the first accounts followed by this account.  We got the brunt of it.  But we’d both seen the account, and were like, we know exactly what is going to happen here.  It’s going to be split into two factions.  It’s that thing about the Internet: people will argue about anything, and here is a stick to prove it.

It’s basically that.  Here’s a stick in human form; people are going to argue about it.

It’s going to go two ways.  There are going to be people who do hand balance and really support people being called out, because they know how hard the skill is.  They’re like yeah, make it into a bit of a witch hunt, and all this.

Then there’s the other types of people, which I thought was kind of interesting, who were like, you’re bringing negativity into our community.  They’re basically projecting that the person who made this account must be a really traumatized and hurt individual because they’re posting such negative things.

Well, all they were doing was reposting a picture that someone else posted.  What I liked about the account from the start is they weren’t giving commentary.  They were just literally a catalogue of fake images and fake handstands.

Now they started giving commentary and critique.  I won’t say too much, but maybe they shouldn’t, basically.

It’s up to them, I suppose.  But maybe it’s better to just leave as a catalogue.  Some think you should tag the people so they can respond, but then you just get into a shit slinging match.

If you just post a fake one arm with no commentary, then if the person can handstands it’s no problem.  They can just share a video of them handstanding, or show hundreds of videos of that.  Or they just took a bad screenshot, or they just get left unsaid and the person doesn’t have to respond to it.

MK: I think what gets me there in terms of my dwindling interest, I guess, is it becomes crusades.  I don’t see the interest in that sense.  Again, I do think there’s some degree of difference between random shit posting and creating a tidal wave of trash talk.

It’s on both sides.  It’s a questionable thing.  Is it a bad thing to say this is photoshopped?  Maybe it’s not; it will create a sense and a notion of what is real and what is not.

I really love the concepts from Baudrillard on hyper reality.  I’m not an expert on him, but he’s a French philosopher who had a concept of hyper reality where you present things as more than reality.  Basically photoshop and all these things are the perfect example, or anabolic steroids, where you become more muscular than is possible, and that becomes a standard of something and creates the simulacrum, and so on.

It’s the idea that you have this ability and opportunity to present yourself as something you might not be.  Then you get attacked from one side, which is a thing that happens in space and time.  It might be good in some senses.  As with all things, it can go into a total garbage-fest.

Is it productive?  Who is it productive for?  I’m not saying everyone should stop doing these things, or continue doing.  It’s up to what people want to do, and not my judgment.

As with all things, there’s two sides to these kinds of cases.

EL: It’s interesting that you raised there about hyper reality and photoshop, a lot of European countries are now looking at legislation that says when an image contains photoshop it will have to have a warning – photoshops, filters, or digitally altered, as the title of the bill.  Just like cigarettes, it will.

If we think about these digital images and the presentation of hyper reality, fake reality, and this is how things look, is this is what leads people to all these emphases of certain traits and personalities, be it having big muscles, or biceps getting bigger and bigger.  Or lip fillers.

The baseline gets shifted, and that gets shifted bigger and bigger and becomes the hyper focused bit.

MK: There’s a massive rabbit hole there, if we go down the entire route of Deleuze who said the human has always been a cyborg, because it’s always altered its surroundings or contexts.  One could also say, and this is a very far out comparison, but as we are shifting our sense of knowledge, having gone to school is a common thing, meaning anyone who hasn’t is ‘lesser.’

That kind of thing leading into stuff like the digital world and hyper reality, and eventually AI and all that shit.  There’s so much stuff there that is so out of anyone’s control, even big businesses’ control. No one really knows what the consequences of anything is.

Emmet’s been taking these fucking pictures of me this week here with this app where he smashes my face onto various movie star characters.  It’s basically an extremely bad version, comparatively speaking, of Deep Fakes.

EL: It’s pretty good for an app on my phone, let me check the name of it…Re-Face, and it’s free.  For a shitty app with a photo I took in terrible quality of Mikael, I have some pretty good Mikael/Joe Exotics that I’m banned from releasing onto the internet.

MK: He’s definitely banned, god fucking damnit.  Rage!

Imagine that though, you just take a picture of yourself or film from various angles, and the app is able to construct a hand balancing video of you.  They just go through a massive database of everyone doing it, then put in details of your body.

EL: It wouldn’t be too hard, that’s the messed up thing.  Someone get on it.

Yeah, so, we’re beginning the shift into the digital avatar.  You can level up your digital avatar easier than you can level up yourself.

MK: Bam, mic drop.

EL: Yeah, I’m semi fearful for the future.  Once VR and AR become more accepted parts of reality, think about it…if you had a VR avatar and it could do all the cool things you wanted, well then why would you bother?  Second Life forever, that kind of thing.

Then it gets stranger when we think of AR.  One of the first AR proposed apps I’ve seen is Re-Facer, where it will either blank out faces if you don’t want to see them, or reface them with a more attractive face.  You can apply a filter.  “Fuck it, I’m sick of seeing pimples on people.”

We’re beginning that shift and in some ways it’s interesting to segue into: you’re going to start seeing a bigger divide in society between the people who do, and the people who present they do.

You’re going to see more valued placed on hand crafts, people making stuff, what takes time, even if we can make better stuff with machines.  You’re already seeing this in the arts and crafts movement, definitely a resurgence.

Then you see people going all in to the digital world.

MK: There’s a strong connection to authenticity in that sense of doing things.  Maybe it’s also a reason why handstands are a thing: very tangible, very direct in terms of your achievements.  It’s very clear; I’ve learned this skill.  It’s impressive in its own thing and so on, but it’s a very distinct thing going from not being able to do, to being able to do.  Wheres a lot of things are very procedural, like you can be very good at doing your job but you’re doing the same task being done.  There isn’t this same sense of achievement from the things being done.

I guess now you’re basically listening to the Irish Joe Rogan and Alex Jones here.

EL: Bro Jogan, and Alex Bones.


EL: Have you ever smoked DMT?

MK: I’m thinking if there’s anything else about all these various handstand things.  I find it more interesting to analyze when people can stand.  Those are the variations I find super fascinating, when I see people doing more or less the same stuff.  I was training today and explaining to a friend I was training with, how you end up with, technically speaking, most of the various teachers around the world might use very different approaches, explanations, techniques, la la la, whatever.  In the end, you end up with people, when they are performing a one arm in straddle or with legs together, the look all be very similar and in a certain range of variation.  The variation is there, but it’s rather narrow compared to what one may think when one thinks of “different techniques.”  I call it more approaches.  The technique is very similar, but the approach and methodology on reaching it isn’t.

For example, I’ve made several collage pictures of many, many hand balancers, and everyone doing one arms.  I’ve distinctly picked them from various schools and places in the world, guys and girls and so on, and you see that it turns out being rather similar when they are arriving at the one arm straddle.

Part of that is of course the Federation, who decided this is the way to do things.  But there is also an obvious path towards some sort of efficiency, I would say.

If you take 1000 bodies and teach them to stand on one arm and they all get really good at it, the average result, if they have some technical similarities, will be the technique starts to merge at high levels.

EL: One of the points I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is: the technique we’re teaching you is not actually the true technique.  We’re just setting up a set of preconditions in the body for the technique to emerge.  This is why the straddle on arm handstand, which we’ve actually managed to mathematically prove – oooh – is actually the easiest set of conditions for this to happen, and let the true actual one arm technique to emerge from.

That’s where it gets interesting.  The shape and configuration of the body allows it to happen.  It’s why everyone ends up in the same position when learning a straddle.  It looks kind of the same.

Say with you, I can basically tell you to do anything I want with your legs, within reason.  Do Lotus, bend your leg one way, one leg flexed, one leg straight, one pointed to the ceiling, one constantly shaking and the other is not, whatever, all these kinds of things.

Whatever I can pull out of my hat Mikael can make a good attempt of it, or do it straight up the first time.  That’s because you have the technique of the one arm in the body.  The true technique is established and doesn’t rely on an artificial container.  It’s just there.

You have developed ‘freedom’ on one arm.

MK: It’s the constant adaptability there. It is so fast that it can deal with a very large range of problems that aren’t problems, because they’re solved within a millisecond.

Of course, no one can fix all the problems.  If an asteroid crashes into you, you are going to fall.

EL: You might, I wouldn’t.

MK: That’s a thing of technique, and the understanding of the artificial human made concept of this technique.  We ingrain and imagine the technique being some sort of framework set in stone, whereas it’s just basically built out of thoughts and feelings and writings of people that have merged, partly because of its efficiency, partly from bias and all these other things that go into it.

That ends up in a specific way, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it is or represents The way of doing things at all.

EL: I think this is what a lot of people end up catching on with the pictures.  It’s almost a paint by numbers, to come back to the fake one arms.  If I put my body into this shape, it’s a one arm handstand.

But that’s not, it’s a container, a tableau of the one arm handstand.  This is what’s going on.

MK: In reality, even if you do it perfectly, it’s not a representation of the one arm.  That’s what’s funny.  On a conceptual level, it’s not a representation of the one arm.  The visual impact of an image of it isn’t what it is.  What it is is responding to the forces in the context the body is in, and it’s basically a fluid filled bag.  All the shit is trying to move out of the way, and falling at once.  That needs to be handled.

EL: You’re a fluid filled bag that is also an inverted pendulum.  It’s also a deformed lever…

MK: That we’ll get back to when Helgi Freyr, our glorious-

EL: Doctor, not mister

MK: -Doctor Helgi Freyr, he’s a PhD in physics.  He will come on, is it the next episode?

EL: I don’t know exactly when he’s on our schedule, but we’re recording it soon into the rotation.

MK: That will be interesting, because we get into some more mathematical concepts.  For example, what does it mean to rotate?

EL: I’d like to finish on one note though.  So, Mikael, I would like to fake a one arm handstand.  Can you give me your top tips to make sure I don’t end up on Fake One Arm Handstands.  Let’s face it – if you want to fake it, might as well do it well.

MK: Yeah so if you want to fake the one arm well, the cardinal sins when faking that people mess up is they don’t tilt the hips enough towards the arm.  Most often, people try to fake a one arm in straddle since it’s the easiest to stand on your hands and start shifting sideways, then actually stand on an arm for long enough before you fall.

So, straddle.  You have to start tilting in the hips, making sure the leg that leads downwards into the diagonal goes far enough, because if you lift the other arm, what will happen is that since your centre of mass is between your hands still, you haven’t shifted over to a one arm.

The Centre of mass will still be in the middle of your hands.  When you lift the other hand you will fall back to two hands.  That is very common for most people.  It will be a delayyyyy, then the other hand comes back to the floor.

This means you haven’t been leaning far enough out towards your arm.

The other problem is if you lean too far toward the arm, then the other hand is going to come off automatically and you fall off to the side.

You need to find the right amount of diagonal, push through that shoulder that you’re going to stand on, so it can support your weight properly and centre the line form hand to hip.

Then as you lift the free arm, you need to make sure your fingers aren’t either really stiff so it looks like your arm is a stick where you lift your arm.  It’s a classic when people do that fast lift, it looks like it got rigor mortis.

If it looks like you got your death cramps, you probably did it wrong.  That is probably a big tell.  The free arm looks relaxed when people can do it properly.

Don’t fake the legs together arm up.  On average it’s too damn hard for most people to even be within reason of being able to do.  Just skip it.

Lifting the arm as well is rather hard.  To keep it within reason again, have the arm lower.  If you lower what you’re trying to represent, the level of representation you’re trying to make, don’t even lift your arm to 90º.  Just keep it closer to the floor.  That is usually where people might learn it in the beginning.

The last tip is, learn a fucking one arm handstand by spending loads of time on it.  Then you can go over and let yourself fall out and take a picture.  That’s another way.

EL: My top tips for faking a one arm handstand.

One, if you’re taking a screenshot, make sure the frame you screenshot does not have motion blur on your feet or legs.  If you’re in a one arm that is semi balanced, you’ll be moving slow enough that you won’t get motion blur.

If you are, record it at 120 frames per second, then you won’t get motion blur.  Slow motion it.

MK: Another really big one.  If you put up an inspirational quote you took off quote.com or something, that increases the-

EL: “Authenticity is the key to inauthenticity”

MK: -Or like, something like, “People who quote themselves are total assholes.”   -Mikael Kristiansen.

EL: My goal in life is to become a professional quote maker.

So more top tips for faking the one arm handstand.  What you’re going to look for is you project a straight line from shoulder to wrist.  If you have hyper extension the elbow won’t be on this line, but outside it.  If that line is not vertical to the ground because you’re falling down sideways, what you can do is go into your app on your phone and there should be something where you can rotate the picture slightly.  Rotate it slightly so that is vertical.  Then you might appear a bit more on balance.

The other thing is, as a rough rule of thumb, roughly half the body has to be on either side of the vertical line projecting through the arm.  If you’re projecting the line and there’s too much mass – you have to eyeball this, it’s not a precise science – and arching and stuff will change that, but it gives you a rough rule of thumb.  If I project a line and it’s going straight up the side of my body, through the leg, and the whole rest of the 3/4 of my torso is off the line of my hand, coming up the side, then it’s probably not balanced.  Quite easy to spot.

You have to look like you’re not in space when faking a one arm.  You have to look like you’re still in gravity.  The other tip I’d say is look at the floor or your hand.  Don’t look around, don’t try to look at your toes.  That’s a dead giveaway.

MK: Pretty much always.

EL: There’s our top tips for faking a one arm handstand.  If you would like to develop a one arm handstand you can always do some training with us, buy one of our courses.

If you would like to send us your fake one arms and get some critique, send them to Mikael and he would love a couple hundred of messages on this to ask for his critique on fake one arms.

MK: I usually get a few, like haha check out this fake.  But yeah, please.

EL: Other than that, we’re going to wrap it up there.  Thank you all for listening.  We have a Q&A coming up as well.  If you have any questions you’d like answered, particularly about how to fake a one arm handstand, send them to us at @HandstandFactory on Instagram.  Or use the contact form on the website.

Other than that, any closing remarks?

MK: If I used the term hyper reality wrong, please explain it to me.

EL: Turns out hyper reality is just painting really realistic pictures and you’ve got it wrong.

Other than that, good night, or good morning.  Cheers.


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