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A reflection on Yuri Marmerstein’s Handbalancing Seminar – Canberra 2015

I was lucky enough to host Yuri Marmestein this month for a full day hand balancing workshop at Elements Fitness while he was on tour in Australia. I thought I’d share with you some of the highlights from the day, and the tips and techniques I learnt.

For me, the learning started the night before the workshop, when Joey and I were invited to dinner with a highly skilled group of people including Yuri, Craig Mallett, Kit Laughlin, and Rafe Kelley.

It was fascinating to chat to these guys, who all have different perspectives on training, including Parkour, stretching, hand balancing and Capoeira. Also, the Dickson Asian Noodle House has great food!

The seminar kicked off with a warm up of our neck, shoulders, hips, ankles, toes, wrists and elbows.

Next we moved onto body alignment drills on the floor, using dowel rods, the wall, and partner work. The main purpose of the drills was to learn how to open up your shoulders, while keeping your body in a straight line.

We then focused on cartwheels, to both sides, so that we knew how to bail safely out of a handstand. These cartwheels were more of a gymnastics style, where you enter forwards, and exit facing the direction that you started from.

Whereas, in Capoeira, we’re always taught to cartwheel (Au) to the side, while watching our opponent, ie, with the head through the arms.

We then practiced handstands with our chest against the wall, learning how dismount (fall) safely, to one side.

I won’t say much about the lunch break, Yuri was a bit disappointed with Australian standard Mexican fast food!

After the break, we got into more alignment drills, but this time from a hanging position. We used the pullup racks for this, and the idea was to recreate a handstand position, with a focus on opening up your shoulders and pushing hips forward or through.

We then started to move away from the wall to practice stepping into an ‘L’ position, in a handstand. This then lead to kicking up to the wall with our backs to wall, always starting with our hands on the floor before kicking up.

This is really useful I think for Capoeiristas, who don’t often focus on the position of their hands when performing upside down movements.

Most of us in the room were pretty comfortable in getting upside down, but the real challenge of course is staying there! This next drill was so useful in helping us developing a sense of control and balance.

The idea is to work on pushing weight between the ‘heel’ of the palm to the ‘middle’ of the hands, to the finger tips. Every time you feel your weight moving too far in one direction, you counteract that by activating and pushing back with your hands and fingers.

It’s really important to grip the floor when you do this, unless you’re super advanced!

We then repeated this same drill, but up against the wall with your chest to wall, and then back to wall.

We finished up with some cool foot switching drills against the wall, and finally some solo work away from the wall.

This was by far the most in-depth handbalancing seminar I’ve attended. Yuri has a lot of knowledge to share, and will go out of his way to help you if you’re keen.

I would highly recommend attending one of his seminars if you’re lucky enough to have him in your hometown!

For more information about Yuri, and to get in touch visit:

Photos by Peter Gray

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