Training on Bricks

I've been studying Persian Martial arts for over 20 years. Back then, the first thing that people would say was "Persian's have a form a martial arts???" 

Yes. Empires were rarely formed through dance battle. The Persian Empire was a large one. They were very successful till that pesky Alexander the Great showed up. Regardless. Their training still to this day is unmatched. You will see their tools showing up, finally, in functional training. Club swinging, and circular, flowing types of load-bearing movements. Mace swinging, and due to the silk road and just getting around a lot. Vinyasa style movements. I remember an old Persian master telling me... 


I have boiled down my practice and love for the Persian arts into 2 basic principles. 

  1. Let gravity be your guru
  2. Don't "open" .... "expand"

1. Gravity is the truth. When you think you're strong or in balance try to either pick something up and put it back down or hold it over your head. In a yoga practice, if I tell you to stack your shoulders, you can stack your shoulders how you think your shoulders should be stacked, but the Persians would put a 50-pound weight in your hand and then you will find out if they are stacked. The principle being... in nature, there is no truth according to you. This may sound "tough" or thuggish, however, this is the same principle in how a dancer or ice skater can hold their partner over their head. It's not a power lift, it's grace. Strength + Grace= Power. 

This practice was to test your relationship with the forces of nature. which brings us to 

2. EXPAND!!! Opening a joint is like opening a door or a window. You can do it quickly and any bird can just fly in or, in our day in age, any homeless person can just walk in and have a schizophrenic screaming match at themselves in the reflection of themselves at the window to your yoga studio. Hmm... That may have happened once or thrice.  Expansion is to build the entire house from the foundation out. To expand the body and the joints is to foritfy the structure, the awareness, the mobility, the entire human, and build your "guardian" in this process. It takes time. Opening is only part of the deal. 

I will do a post or course on building your guardian some day, but it's best we show up and have teachers for that. 


The Persians used tools. I will focus on this one tool and why I adapted it to just a basic set of bricks. 

The Shena-Push up board

These were boards that you put your hands on and well... you did one of the many (about 30 or 40) different types of flowing push-ups. The board was just wide enough to be comfy, but it was also just narrow enough to where if you pushed in other directions other than down... it would tip over. Thus demonstrating the truth of that little guru known as gravity. This truth keeps the lats engaged and the core, mula and uddiyana bandhas engaged and pulling up up up to the sky in a downward dog. All this while lightening the load and correcting many of the saggy backs and crappy arm positions of the upward dog. 

I use bricks because, 

  1. They were cheap and available (this work is for poor people, and just so happened I was poor so it's like we chose each other)
  2. The separation of the bricks gave me a better range of motion
  3. Bricks are easily accessible and if you train on mats or outside they also fit in your car or backpack easier. 
  4. I was too busy and lacked the desire to build a Shena and due to the US trade relationships with the middle east... screw it I'll just go get some bricks. 

All of my students now use them, even children. Our tools should be reliable and work. I'm basically the smart little piggy of wellness over here. 

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