Have you heard of the 6th sense? No, I’m not talking about the ability to see dead people…I am talking about proprioception. Proprioception could also be referred to as kinesthetic awareness; essentially, the ability to sense positioning, movement and equilibrium within ones own body. Without proprioception, it wouldn’t be possible to touch your nose with your index finger without looking in the mirror. This is a very simple demonstration of rudimentary proprioception, one that even my one-year old is learning how to master. However, if you’ve ever seen Olympians competing in Aerials skiing, you can easily see that proprioception is something that can be developed and refined at a very high level.
To illustrate an example of something that requires a high level of kinesthetic awareness, let’s examine one of the more complex clubbell exercises, the Clockwork Squat. In the Clockwork Squat, one must have the wherewithal to perform a slew of precisely executed elements without hesitation or miscalculation. First, one must be able to decelerate the clubbell as it zooms right past the ear and guide it with accuracy so that it rests on the soft tissues of the trapezius. A mis-assessment here will result in either a forceful crack to the noggin, or a battered acromioclavicular joint. In addition, one must also judge how far away from the body the clubbell needs to be during this process, so that contact with the clubbell takes place on the cone (where its mass is graduated), as opposed to the barrel or handle (where it’s far less forgiving). Additionally, this exercise requires precise positioning of the torso (stopping the thoracic yaw at 45-degrees) during the point in which the clubbell lands on the shoulder. To throw in another complication, each of these elements must be executed while simultaneously descending into a squat as the clubbell is absorbed downward.
Anyone who’s performed this exercise knows first hand, there is a sweet-spot; the speed and trajectory of the swing makes landing it outside of this zone a very painful reminder just how critical proprioception is when performing complex motor skills; especially those involving weighted implements swung at high velocity around sensitive areas of the body. Therefore, prior to attempting this exercise, athletes undergo a series of simpler exercise breakdowns that develop sound structure, proprioception, and enhanced confidence. A huge component to heightening kinesthetic awareness is self-trust. Without this trust and confidence in oneself, hesitation can result in a catastrophic mis-judgement.
Training with clubbells is one of the best ways to make vast gains in proprioceptive development. Clubbell training requires the practitioner to really hone-in, listen to the subtle queues happening within the body, and manifest a perception of self that is confident and capable.