Tag Archives | Tiger Bend

Tumbling and Balancing in 1950’s

Here are three awesome videos from the 1950’s. They were all uploaded by Russ Hany, so make sure to check out his channel here as he has more videos from that era.

Walking and Jumping On Your HandsWalking and Jumping On Your Hands on Amazon

The first one is from 1950 with people performing a couple of basic tumbling moves like backward, forward and side rolls. There are also two guys walking on their hands.

The next video from 1952 features pretty impressive acrobalance duo/trio.

And here’s another one with some very cool moves, like the tiger bend, handsprings, rolls, somersaults and much more. From 1953.

Not everyone wants to learn how to perform all these moves. But you should at least have basic tumbling skills and be able to role, perform backwards somersault and cartwheel. Click here and learn the basics!

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10 Progressive Bent Arm Handstand Presses

Bent arm handstand presses, of the various sorts we’ll cover below, are an awesome show of strength and skill.

The hard part about that is that they require lots of strength and lots of skill to do. That’s probably part of the allure, but it is also what makes them unattainable for most, unless they spend the dedicated practice required.

The difficult part of the skill equation is that you must balance the whole time while doing these. They’re a far cry from doing handstand pushups against the wall. I would recommend to anyone that really wants to get great at these, to spend your time building a solid free handstand first. I would say until you can hold a handstand consistently for at least 20 seconds that you should build your strength another way, as you focus on that skill. (On that note, my Secrets of the Handstand System will help you get there.)

The difficult part of the strength equation is that they have you handle your entire bodyweight with your upper body strength. If you’re a hundred pound gymnast this may not be a big problem. For the rest of us it is.

I remember working on the frogstand press early in my hand balancing career. Not only was the balance hard but each rep was like a max effort press. This makes it hard to work on the “skill” of the movement when it takes everything you’ve got to do it. And it limits the total reps you can do for practice, whether you make them or not.

All bodyweight exercises need to be progressive. That’s one of the hard parts about these. There is no clear progression. You can’t just unload your bodyweight unfortunately. So what I’ve set out to do in this article is give you ten progressively harder presses to work with.

Note: These are all BENT ARM presses. Straight arm presses are an entirely different animal, requiring more flexibility as well as a different kind of strength to do.

We start with the easiest one. Of course to do this you need to have a minimum of strength and balance. We talked about the balance part. As for strength I would recommend being able to do at least 5 handstand pushups against the wall before starting here.

The order of this list is open for some debate. Due to leverages and other factors some people may find that certain skills are easier than others. But I’ve worked with this awhile to find that it works well for me and others I‘ve trained.

1. Frogstand Press

The frogstand is known by a few different names like the crow in yoga. it’s a basic hand balancing skill that can help you on working towards the handstand. So on that note, its great that its also, the starting place for the bent arm presses. From a frogstand, with the knees on the outsides/backs of the elbows, tip forward more and press up into the handstand.

2. Straddle Press

Usually the straddle press is done with the arms locked out, but that doesn’t mean it can’t also be used in a bent arm variation. Spread your legs fairly wide with the hands placed on the ground. Bend the elbows, taking your full weight onto the hands. Bring the legs around and up as you push up into a handstand.

3. Headstand Pushup

Start in a tripod headstand position with your legs straight overhead. From here press up with the hands until you come to a handstand. To make the press a little easier put the hands a little wider than shoulder width.

Headstand

The starting position for this press.

4. Pike Press

Similar to the straddle press, the only difference in this movement is that you’re legs are kept straight and together. This decreases your leverage, forcing you to counterbalance out further and makes it harder to do.

Bent Arm Pike Press

Just after the start when the legs raise off the ground.

5. Handstand Pushup

Kick up into a handstand with the hands shoulder width apart. Lower down touching your nose to the ground and press back up. This can be done with a straight or a curved back, they just change the angle of the press slightly.

6. Tuck Press

Start sitting on your knees (seiza position) on the ground. Press your arms into the ground lifting your body off. Tilt forward, bending the arms then press all the way up to a handstand. This move forces you into a lower starting place and is thus harder to do.

The starting position of the tuck pressup.

The starting position of the tuck pressup.

7. Belly Roll Pressup

There is some skill involved in this movement. You need to learn how to use your momentum and make a good transition as you do it. This is best to do on a padded surface. Start on your knees with the hips straight. Roll forward, arching the back. Your hands will come touch the ground above your hips. Use the momentum to help you press up into the handstand.

One of the steps in the belly roll to handstand.

8. Tiger Bend

Start in a forearm stand, that is balanced across the length of your forearms and hands. This requires a curved back position. Shift your weight forward so that you can come onto the hands in the bottom of a freestanding handstand pushup position. Press up. This requires a more narrow stance of the hands and thus requires significantly more strength.

9. Elbow Lever Press

Start in an elbow lever position with the body held horizontal over the ground your weight resting fully on the elbows. Raise the legs up as you start to press with the hands. The hands will need to rotate on the ground to move towards a regular position as you press up.

Elbow Lever

From here press up to a handstand, rotating your hands along the way.

10. Prone Press

Start laying on the ground stomach down. Place your hands by your hips. Lift your whole body and press up to a handstand in much the same way as the lever press. Since you’re starting lower and must support your entire weight, without the elbow support, this one is quite a bit tougher.

Tumbling Illustrated
Tumbling Illustrated on Amazon

This list was made to exist without any tools, like stacked objects or handles. With those added in, you could build out the list a lot further. Also there can be more intermediate steps like playing with hand width more to make each move more or less difficult.

Also note I have not yet personally achieved steps 9 and 10. As I work more towards these I may find some better intermediary steps.

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Advanced Progression

A One Hand Balance

A One Hand Balance in the Old Style

Here’s a question from Matthew on the difficulties and progression of advanced hand balancing skills.

“What would say is the difficulty of a planche vs a handstand, one handed handstand, 2 man planche, how should I be progressing if I am fairly competent in all of these skills?”

Each skill is very different from the next. The skill and strength it takes to do a planche is very different from that it takes to do a one handed handstand. Some people will find certain skills harder then others and to give them arbitrary difficulties wouldn’t really help.

Learn How to Back Flip in 31 Days
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But as a basic idea so you can know what you’re getting yourself into I would say the one hand handstand (and the planche too) are about 100 times as difficult as the two hand handstand.

How should you be progressing? The same as everyone else. Whether you are working on a basic handstand or and advanced skill like the one arm handstand you can progress by adding a second at a time.

If you are competent at the skills you listed, first off, congratulations. You are doing great. If you want to know where to go from that point there is a wide variety of options.

You can work on a one handed planche. You can learn to hop on one hand. How about a tiger bend? And if that’s easy try it on one arm!

(By the way, all these skills are found in The True Art and Science of Hand Balancing.)

The sky is the limit. Just keep progressing. It’s the name of the game.

Good Luck and Good Hand Balancing,
Logan Christopher.

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Sig Klein Tribute


Video of Sig Klein

Ultimate Guide to Handstand Pushups
Ultimate Guide to Handstand Pushups on Amazon

Sig Klein has to be one of my favorites of the old time strongman. He was just such a perfectly developed athlete. And he did it all from weightlifting, various feats of strength, to muscle control and more.

Not the least of which were his hand balancing abilities. In The True Art and Science of Hand Balancing Bob Jones compliments Sig on his planche, saying it’s the best he’s ever seen of a man of Klein’s size.

A few of Sigmund Klein’s favorite skills were the Tiger Bend and handstand press-ups, usually done between two chairs.

This video is a tribute to a few of the things he did.

Good Luck and Good Hand Balancing,
Logan Christopher

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Doug Hepburn Handstand

This is one of my favorite pictures of all time with Doug Hepburn balancing a 205 lb. barbell plus a 145 lb. man doing a handstand on top.. Just recently I came across the same picture from another view. A perfect blend of strength and balancing.

Doug Hepburn Handstand Balance

Not any strong person could hold this. Besides the 350 lbs. of weight it is really the responsibility of the under-stander to keep the person in the handstand balanced.

If you haven’t heard of Doug Hepburn you may want to check him out. Suffice to say he was an all-around strongman, setting many weightlifting records in his time, and this was starting crippled at a young age.

What most people don’t know is that he was also a fine hand balancer.

Trampoline Handbook
Trampoline Handbook on Amazon

Early in his career he was capable of twelve reps in the handstand press and five reps in the tiger-bend.

That’s some strength there.

Seeing and hearing about people like Doug Hepburn and Bert Assirati all doing hand balancing you can’t possibly think that hand balancing is only for the small framed.

Large size is no excuse.

Good Luck and Good Hand Balancing,
Logan Christopher

P.S. Can’t say that being small doesn’t help though. Professor Paulinetti weighed around 110 lbs which made the One Arm Planche possible. To duplicate some of his feats check out The True Art and Science of Hand Balancing.

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Tiger Bend

I was shooting some video a couple days ago doing a variety of hand balancing stunts. One of them was the Forearm Stand. Prof. Orlick also called it a Tiger Stand. From the stand you can do what is called a Tiger Bend, but we’ll start with the stand first.

Learn How to Back Flip in 31 Days
Learn How to Back Flip in 31 Days on Amazon

This is a great trick in and of itself but its also a good way to work up to a full on handstand. Since you are resting on your entire lower arm and hand you have a bigger base with which to balance.

One you overcome the oddness factor of trying this exercise for the first time you can see the benefits. All the main points of holding a handstand are still there, like keeping tight, but you may have to arch your back a little more for this one.

Of course the ultimate goal with this exercise is to do what’s known as a Tiger Bend. An advanced exercise for sure. It involves going from the Forearm Stand up into a Handstand. With a little overbalancing and strong triceps you can get there.

Sig Klein doing a Tiger Bend

Since few of us will be able to pull that one off at the present time here are two easier ways. Do the negative movement which is dropping from a Handstand into a Forearm Stand. When you go for this don’t just fall into the position but control it as much as possible.

You can also do Tiger Bend Pushups. Get in a normal pushup position except you are resting on your forearms instead of the hands. Without any rocking motion pushup on to your hands to the top position and lower back down.

You don’t see these moves too often but that doesn’t mean they aren’t great.

Good Luck and Good Hand Balancing,
Logan Christopher

P.S. For the super advanced hand balancer you can try to duplicate Johnny Weber’s one arm Tiger Bend. Find out how to do it in The True Art and Science of Hand Balancing. The picture above is of Sig Klein from the same book.

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