Basic animals exercises: 7 locomotion videos

Ani­mal move­ments make excellent exer­ci­ses for coor­di­nati­on, stren­gth, mobi­li­ty and phy­s­ics. It is sui­table as a basis for many games for chil­dren (cha­se games, relay races, etc.), but also as sup­ple­men­ta­ry exer­ci­ses for Aiki­dists without age rest­ricti­on: they stren­gthen your core, impro­ve mobi­li­ty (feet, toes, wrists, ham­strings, etc.) and impro­ve coor­di­nati­on. You can do them whe­re­ver you have at least three meters of spa­ce. They can ser­ve as a warm-up for other exer­ci­se or as a bre­ak from work to revi­ve the body. We will have fun with them, whe­ther alo­ne or with a group of chil­dren.

Pavel, Adam and Eliš­ka, who regu­lar­ly tra­in these exer­ci­se with chil­dren and young peo­ple, will show you seven basic ani­mal move­ments. In this article, you will also find tips for each spe­ci­fic moti­on and its use for games and per­so­nal exer­ci­se rou­ti­nes.

Snake-slithering

Try to stay as clo­se to the ground as possi­ble and work with your hands and feet. Move with dia­go­nally oppo­sing limbs: the right hand with the left leg and vice ver­sa. Your hands should cross the cen­t­ral axis of the body so that you step to the right with your left hand and vice ver­sa. As a mind-ben­ding move­ment game, you can also try cre­e­ping bac­k­wards.

Craw­ling is also a basic stage of deve­lo­p­ment for chil­dren. Our exer­ci­se is clo­ser to an army crawl. This exer­ci­se will stren­gthen your spi­ne and stren­gthen your limbs.

DOG – Crawling on all fours

Begin on all fours with your kne­es rai­sed just abo­ve the ground. Aga­in, move for­ward with dia­go­nally oppo­sing limbs: the right hand and left foot toge­ther and vice ver­sa. Try to keep your  kne­es and the elbows in and on the same line–do not turn them out to the sides. Keep your pel­vis level and ste­a­dy (do not twist) and your head sli­ght­ly rai­sed. The­re is a lot to it – so don’t for­get to bre­athe!

This type of crawl is ano­ther move­ment that chil­dren do natu­rally. In our “dog” ver­si­on, we pro­tect the kne­es by kee­ping them off ground, and by kee­ping them low, we also work har­der with our core, hands and feet. At the same time, the pel­vis sta­ys level and the arms and legs stay in. If this is phy­s­i­cally deman­ding for you, this is pre­ci­se­ly because your core is fully engaged. Such move­ment is both eco­no­mi­cal and gent­le on your joints. As a dog, you can easi­ly go for­wards and bac­k­wards (make sure that in both cases you move “crosswi­se”). You can also try tur­ning on the spot and going sidewa­ys (also crosswi­se) as ano­ther coor­di­nati­on challen­ge.

Begin­ners can walk on the­ir kne­es on a soft sur­fa­ce. Alter­na­ti­ve­ly, it is possi­ble to lift your kne­es (and the­re­fo­re also your but­tocks) higher abo­ve the ground – in this vari­ant, which we some­ti­mes call the bear, you can expe­ri­ment with the back of your legs for a chan­ge. However, focus on eco­no­my of move­ment and con­necti­on of your elbows to your kne­es. It’s not about spe­ed or stri­de len­gth.

LIZARD

The lizard begins simi­lar to the dog (abo­ve), but this time, make your ste­ps lon­ger, so that your body turns toward the side whe­re your knee and elbow are clo­se toge­ther. This should extend your limbs more fully on the side whe­re your arm and leg are farther apart. Unli­ke the dog exer­ci­se, whe­re the pel­vis was level, your who­le body moves up and down and tilts from side to side when moving. Your limbs also swing out to one side and your ste­ps are lon­ger. The lizard can also go bac­k­wards, but remem­ber to move “crosswi­se,” with your right arm and left leg toge­ther.

The lizard, also known as the spi­der­man, is ano­ther type of crawl. However, it is more deman­ding for the lower and espe­ci­ally the upper limbs and also takes more coor­di­nati­on. In the video you see the basic ver­si­on. If you are strong enou­gh and want to be stron­ger, you can try moving as low as possi­ble and making your ste­ps as long as your can. Or you can emphasi­ze the ver­ti­cal move­ment (which would actu­ally be a one-han­ded push-up: we recom­mend kee­ping your elbow clo­se to your body, your shoul­ders will thank you).

Crab

The crab also crawls on all fours and “crosswi­se,” but with its belly up. Try to keep your fin­gers poin­ting for­ward – it’s safer for your hands. For gre­a­ter sta­bi­li­ty and bet­ter stret­ching, we also step with a rol­ling moti­on that uses the who­le foot (not only on the heel).

Com­pa­red with the pre­vi­ous ani­mals, a crab (or is it a crab?) demands more mobi­li­ty of the wrists, ankles and shoul­ders than stren­gth. As you move, try to noti­ce what is limi­ting your fle­xi­bi­li­ty: per­ha­ps you are fal­ling to hea­vi­ly on one arm or having more dif­ficul­ty step­ping with one of your feet – unne­cessa­ry muscle tensi­on may be to bla­me, which you can easi­ly remo­ve. See if it’s easier to go for­ward or bac­k­ward (most crabs agree). If it’s a pie­ce of cake in both directi­ons, don’t for­get to walk sidewa­ys (aga­in “crosswi­se”). As ano­ther coor­di­nati­on challen­ge, which also tra­ins the ves­ti­bu­lar appa­ra­tus that con­t­rols balan­ce and ori­en­tati­on in spa­ce, you can switch between the crab and dog as smo­o­th­ly as possi­ble. (Hint: your dia­go­nally oppo­sing limbs stay in pla­ce whi­le the rest of the body turns.) If you want to stren­gthen your core, you can rai­se your hips to knee level and engage your abdo­men whi­le craw­ling like a crab.

DUCK

We will start with the first vari­ant of the duck in the video, with the hips at knee level. If it that is too hard, you can lift our hips a litt­le. If, on the other hand, you can squat with your heels on the ground, you can try the second vari­ant in the video and go as low as possi­ble. Alwa­ys try to move your legs strai­ght for­ward and be aware of your feet and toes.

 

The duck is gua­ran­te­ed to stretch and stren­gthen your enti­re lower limbs. If you are not very fle­xi­ble, do not despair: the duck can be adap­ted to any­o­ne – you will see that your hips will lower even just sli­ght­ly after a few ste­ps. If you want to stren­gthen the muscles that sta­bi­li­ze the joints of your lower limbs, then adjust your hips to knee hei­ght and walk on your toes – this is the thi­rd opti­on in the video.

Monkey

The mon­key jumps sidewa­ys, alter­na­te­ly shif­ting both arms and both legs. When your wei­ght is on your hands, your head and body tilt upsi­de down and your legs stretch. When you lean on your legs, on the other hand, relax and let your heels fall to the ground as far as you can.

When lea­ning on your hands, try to emphasi­ze tur­ning your head and body upsi­de down and stret­ching your legs: this stren­gthens your arms and shoul­ders, stret­ches your ham­strings (the muscles of the back of your legs) and engages your core. Alter­na­ting between a nor­mal and inver­ted body posi­ti­on sti­mu­la­tes the ves­ti­bu­lar appa­ra­tus and the car­di­o­vascu­lar sys­tem. This video shows the basic vari­ati­on. At first, you may move less smo­o­th­ly; later you can try to turn your body more. If you want to focus on hand and core stren­gth, you can slow down ste­ps with your hands, or even bend your elbows and rota­te your arms inwards so that your fin­gers face each other.

Frog

Vari­ati­on one: start in dog posi­ti­on, transfer your wei­ght to your hands and jump towards them with your feet. The second vari­ant in the video is the clas­sic frog, which hops with the legs, flies brie­fly throu­gh the air and lands on its hands (and jumps up to them with its feet as in the first vari­ant).

The frog (or the “hare”) resem­bles a mon­key in many ways, but you move for­ward and jum­ping is emphasi­zed: this time all limbs lea­ve the ground at the same time and you fly throu­gh the air for a whi­le. Jum­ping causes shar­per shocks which are very bene­fi­cial for our bones, both to stren­gthen them during child­ho­od deve­lo­p­ment and to main­ta­in the­ir mass as we age. Com­pa­red with the mon­key, we also put a gre­a­ter stra­in on the leg muscles during the rebound. Pay clo­se atten­ti­on to whe­ther you boun­ce from with the right and left limbs at the same time and with the same for­ce. The tra­i­ning vari­ant (the first in the video, without boun­cing) is also sui­table with limi­ted spa­ce, and if you do it slowly, it is very good stren­gth tra­i­ning.

Bonus ver­si­on: the robo-frog does not jump so much, but it stret­ches your ham­strings beau­ti­fully. It’s not in the video, so you­’ll have to use your ima­gi­nati­on a bit: spread your legs more to the sides and keep your legs and arms out­stret­ched throu­ghout the move­ment: the move­ment is still done by pla­cing your hands for­ward, shif­ting wei­ght and pul­ling your legs. It is also possi­ble to move bac­k­wards.

GAMES AND TRAINING WITH ANIMALS FOR CHILDREN AND ADULTS

For tra­i­ning with chil­dren, we recom­mend using the basic vari­ati­ons in games: for mul­tiple pla­yers, tag or fre­e­ze tag are easiest, but you can defi­ni­te­ly think of others. For exam­ple, eli­mi­nati­on tag: ani­mals can hunt peo­ple and turn them into ani­mals until the­re are no peo­ple left. If the chil­dren are com­for­table with the move­ments you could allow two types of loco­mo­ti­on (for exam­ple, crab and dog), which also practi­ces an inte­res­ting tran­si­ti­on between dif­fe­rent ani­mals, or ele­ments of Aiki­do (uke­mi, shik­ko). If the move­ment tech­nique itself is well mas­te­red and you want to focus more on spe­ed, you can hold races or relay races. It is good to switch move­ments – this will keep the move­ment con­s­ci­ous, so the tech­ni­cal side and safe­ty will not com­ple­te­ly give way to spe­ed.

A good game for two pla­yers is imi­ta­ting ani­mals (shown below). Ano­ther possi­bi­li­ty is that one leads, shows which ani­mal to do and watching: the part­ners can also face each other and the one follows the lea­der, main­ta­i­ning distan­ce and ori­en­tati­on, as we do in Aiki­do tra­i­ning. Or you can syn­chro­ni­ze move­ments.

Adults can also try all these games—the last few are espe­ci­ally sui­table for older chil­dren and adult Aiki­dists. If you tra­in by your­self and want to tho­rou­gh­ly stren­gthen your core and phy­s­ique, we recom­mend cho­o­sing a sui­table ani­mal, mas­te­ring it first tech­ni­cally, and then try to do it for at least 5 minu­tes. But the­re is no rea­son to make it a boring drill: allow your­self to try two or three ani­mals. This can balan­ce deman­ding move­ment and relati­on, whi­le also tra­i­ning impro­vi­sati­on. Do not for­get to move smo­o­th­ly and bre­athe!

Have fun and be happy animals!

 

Napsal: Adam Nohejl