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This is a very common capoeira movement and I've seen similar things in some kung-fu styles.

I can do it for a couple of seconds (or 2,3 steps) for about two years now, but never managed to go past this barrier. Does anyone have tips ?

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Welcome to the site! It would help for answering this question if you could give a little more explanation as to what you feel is going wrong. When you say you "never managed to past this barrier," what happens? –  David H. Clements Apr 20 '12 at 21:26
    
Thanks ! After a short time, I loose my balance and my feet get back to the ground. I've recently been told not to worry too much about keeping totally straight while I walk and that helped a bit. But still not much. :( –  fpessoa Apr 20 '12 at 22:07

4 Answers 4

In addition to the above points on developing core strength and determining your point of balance, I'll also add a tip I ran into in a parkour video. A lot of fine control of your forward and backward balance is done with the palm of your hands. Go up into a handstand against a wall (I've had a few people suggest walking up the wall backwards instead of flipping yourself forward because it gives you a more gradual entrance into it and avoids the risk of you either missing a narrower target (I often practice with the door-jambs at home to avoid marking up the interior walls) or banging parts of your body into the unyielding surface). Try pushing with the top and bottom of your palm, and moving your wrists. Notice how pushing down on the top of your palm will balance you backwards and the bottom of your palm balances you forwards. Get a feeling for how much influence your hands will have for those fine adjustments.

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Everyone is talking about strength… good but unnecessary. It is good to have strong arms—and I am pretty sure you already do—to hold you up upside-down. But if you have the wrong technique, strength will always fail. If not, how does water continually seep into rocks when rocks have spent all their evolution perfecting the art of hardness?

The key/idea behind a bananeira is your centre of gravity—the fourth point in Bolinha's answer. (p.s it would be rather artistic is Bolinha also thought about this and made this the middle point—i.e. central point—in listings.)

To get better at this, you need a wall, a tree or some vertical post.

  1. Do a half forward flip with your hands near (but not at) the foot of the wall, your legs should be up against the wall.
  2. Support yourself this way for a while and get to understand your imbalance.
  3. Once you feel ready, push slightly off the wall and try to maintain a straight back.
  4. The key is to have your shoulders and hips on the same vertical line.
  5. When you begin to feel unstable, fall back to the wall and reiterate from 2.

Once you get the technique, you would understand why strength is not needed, you will understand why even kids can do the bananeira—well, in this case, bananeira tres apoios (:

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On a side note, you can also get up into the handstand by going to all fours and then "walking" your feet up the wall. It's easier for some people, you get a bit of a workout as your weight shifts, and it produces less percussive force against the wall (especially important if you're doing this up against dry-wall or plaster). –  Sean Duggan Apr 11 at 19:52

From what you describe, it sounds like the problem you have is maintaining your balance using other parts of your body other than your arms. While your arms and hands will bear the weight while in a handstand, you should also focus on using your core strength (abs and back) to hold yourself up. The idea is similar to standing up straight on your feet and using your core to maintain an upright posture (otherwise you slouch). The concept is flipped upside-down for a handstand. Having strong arms will not help much if the the rest of your body is tipping over.

While you can improve your arm and wrist strength (it will help), you should also focus on doing exercises to strengthen your abdominal and back muscles. There are many, many different types of strength exercises you can perform to improve your core. Some of these include:

Those suggestions aren't a training regimen necessarily (you didn't mention any details of what your current training or physicality is). You can decide for yourself what you think is appropriate for your body and fitness level.

In terms of addressing balance, you can try doing a handstand but with your feet and legs separated (like going outwards in a center split). This is actually something I learned from juggling. The purpose of doing this is to spread your weight over a distributed area rather than keeping it concentrated in a smaller space. It will force your body to figure out which way to move and and train your muscles to realign your center of mass so that you don't lose balance. Once you start getting used to that feeling, you can slowly move your feet and legs closer together. The movements you make to correct your balance will become smaller and more subtle as you bring the weight into the middle.

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"you can try doing a handstand but with your feet and legs separated" I've seen people do it, but never tried. Will do. You did hit the spot with the core strength too. I'm working on it ! :) Thanks a bunch –  fpessoa Apr 21 '12 at 16:00

I do:

  1. Increase your arms and torso Strength.
  2. Work on your wrists. Strength and flexibility.
  3. You have to increase your body constrictive Strength. (to keep your body hard, independant of the position.
  4. Find out your balance point while upside down.
  5. During a handstand, Try to push the ground and at the same time do not let your gravity center to raise.
  6. Work with both hands, and each Hand individually.
  7. Shoulder Press while on a handstand. It will make it more comfortable soon.

Yeah Thats it! Good workout!

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The shoulder press may be a good one. I never understood the "push the ground" bit though... What does it mean ? :) –  fpessoa Apr 20 '12 at 22:08
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when you push something you usually use all your body on the effort. to "push the ground" is used in gymnastics cause they need a perfect balanced handstand, and for that reason a tip is to push the ground, cause the athlete will contract all his muscles not only the ones in the arms. It is a common mistake to just make a huge effort on one´s arms and forget that the rest of the body is part of the movement and need a balance of tension as well. –  Bolinha Apr 21 '12 at 2:19
    
Got it now. Looks like the same thing @MattChan points out. Thnx –  fpessoa Apr 21 '12 at 16:03

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