For the longest time I have been fascinated with the ability to do handstands. I remembered a few years ago when I started to do yoga, I wanted very much to learn how to do handstands. These are handstands against the wall. But I found I didn’t have the technique to even kick my legs up to the wall, let alone stay there for some seconds.
When most people in class were kicking up to handstands, I was usually just kicking my legs – but going nowhere! Until I started adult gymnastic strength training.
Anyway, today I want to write about Bruce Dierl, our colleague at BodyTree Gymnastic Strength Training aka BodyTree GST.
When I first met Bruce I was awed with his ability to do hand balancing. I am curious with when and how he started his journey to learn how to do hand balancing.
Just a few days ago, I had the opportunity to interview Bruce and asked him the questions I have been dying to ask since I knew him.
I learnt Bruce started practicing wushu at the tender age of 7. He explained his parents wanted him to learn the skill as he is small and his parents didn’t want him to be bullied by others. Wushu came naturally to him – he didn’t find it very hard, as he has always been active. He learnt wushu until aged 14-15 years of age. He had to stop because the school had to be demolished to make way for development.At this time, he was also playing basketball – and he has been doing so for twenty years. An interesting point to note, in all the years of playing basketball, Bruce did not sustain any serious injuries unlike some of his teammates, especially in the knees and ankles. His wushu training really helped him to play a sport he loved without serious injuries. It is the strength and mobility that kept him mobile on his feet.
When Bruce was eighteen he took up muay thai on the encouragement of friends. He did it for 6 years and he won 4 competitive fights – 2 novices and 2 amateurs in the local scene.
Sports like wushu, basketball and muay thai are activities that Bruce enjoyed – versus say running – this is completely boring to him! These sports engaged the mind and he was always learning. You cannot stop learning no matter how many years you have practiced wushu, muay thai or played basketball.
The training that Bruce did for muay thai was unlike what you see in today’s gym. Ten years ago, there were no proper gyms and Bruce practiced outdoors in the carpark! He and his teammates ran uphill, barefoot as part of their training routine. Why barefoot? This trains you to run lightly – that’s for sure. You cannot be stomping your foot on the uneven ground.Upon completing his army stint, Bruce took a strong interest in hand balancing in 2009, although he started dabbling in it when he was in polytechnic in 2006/2007. He learnt on his own without any coach until 2010 when he met a retired Chinese acrobat. That was when he had more “real” training or more structured training.
During this time in Singapore, calisthenics and street work out were getting popular – by the way, I wasn’t aware of this – I was too much into practicing Pilates inside a studio environment.
Bruce saw something he didn’t like. He saw too much focus on publicising cool moves but none on foundation. Young people got caught up with them and started practicing complex and cool moves without the foundation. Bruce felt they were setting themselves up for injuries and he didn’t subscribe to that.
In Bruce’s words – I don’t like foundation work – in all honesty it is boring. Yet to reach real excellence, foundation is key. In all his 20+ years of training, because of foundation work, Bruce has not sustained any serious injuries. This is incredible.
Bruce then revealed a very interesting story. He was knocked over by car in 2013 when he was crossing the pedestrian crossing. Bruce suffered 11 stitches to his left forehead but no other injuries. Incredible! It must be his years of training in strength and mobility.Bruce continues his interest and training in strength and mobility, and looks for teachers he can learn from. He has attended Coach Sommer’s Gymnastic Bodies seminar in March 2014 and in June 2014, Bruce went to France to learn hand balancing from Yuval Ayalon.
Bruce wants to train others because he has seen too many people getting caught up with complex, cool moves without foundation. He wants to help people achieve excellence in their physical strength and mobility, without injuries.
Come and meet Bruce at BodyTree Gymnastic Strength Training.