How to use the horizontal bar in gymnastics



Every one knows what a horizontal bar is, and its construction. One of the best of many modes of construction, particularly where the space is limited, is to have two strong upright posts firmly fixed in the ground, from fourteen to sixteen feet high, fitted with mortice holes to admit the horizontal bar. One of the posts should be fitted with notches to allow the gymnast to reach the top easily or to descend. The bar at first should be placed just out of reach of the hands of the gymnast, that a small spring is necessary to grasp it. Many of the feats on the horizontal bar here described may be performed on a swinging bar, as proficiency is attained. At first the bar should be firm, and the gymnast should grasp it with the hand, not with the thumb and fingers. The thumb should rest by the side of the fingers, which should assume a hook-like form.

Exercise 44. - The first exercise is to hang on to the pole, the body remaining loose and straight in a natural position. Gradually let the body hang by one hand until the arms are accustomed to the weight of the body. Be cool, and do not twist, or down you will come. When the arms are used to the weight of the body, attempt to walk along the pole, moving first one hand and then the other. The body must be kept as still as possible. You may vary this by placing one hand at each side of the bar. It will soon become easy.

Exercise 45. - Seize the bar with both hands and attempt to raise the body up to the bar until it is on a level with the breast. Lower yourself gradually, and continue the exercise until it is easy and familiar. A good gymnast can do this a dozen time successively without experiencing fatigue. When it can be done easily the body may be raised to the full extent of the arm. This exerts the muscles powerfully, and requires a strong effort.

Exercise 46. - Now try the swing by the hands on the bar. It gives a peculiar sensation, but you soon become accustomed to it. When at the swing, accustom yourself to let go the bar and spring forward or backward on to the feet.

Exercise 47. - Raise the body as high as possible, throw the arms over the bar, holding firmly by them. This relieves the pressure on the wrists, and is a very useful exercise, particularly when the body is raised from the ground and is held up by one arm. To do this, however, the arm must be passed underneath the bar, which must be pressed firmly between the hand and shoulder. Each arm should be tried alternately.

Exercise 48. - After raising yourself to the full extent of the arms, change your hands and curl over the bar, dropping lightly on to the feet. The changing hands is to reverse the position of the finger points on the bar, and in this instance they must be turned towards the body.

Exercise 49. - Kicking the Bar - This feat is performed by hanging by the hands and drawing up the feet until the instep touches the pole. The head must be thrown well back, to counter-balance the legs and feet. Do this slowly, and beware of unnecessary jerks and strains when this can be easily accomplished.

Exercise 50. - May be tried. The legs are raised as in the kicking bar, but the feet are passed underneath the pole until the body hangs down with the arms twisted. The gymnast may drop on to the ground after this, or he may try to bring the body and legs back again. This will be found very difficult to all but the young and very supple. The strain on the twisted arm is very great.

Exercise 51. - A series of movements to sit on the bar are thus performed. When hanging on the bar, pass one foot between the hands as in kicking the bar. Hitch the leg over the bar, the other leg must hang as low as possible. Give a swing backwards and come up right on the bar. The other leg can be brought over so as to sit on the bar. The same attitude is often assumed by passing both feet under the bar and stretching them straight into the air until the head points to the ground, and the heels to the air. Draw yourself upwards until the weight of the legs and feet bring you upon the bar seated. In both these movements the beginner generally overbalances himself. You may leave the bar when seated on it in two ways. One of which is to put the hands on the bar with the finger points forward, slide backwards, keeping the knees bent, roll over backwards, and come down on the feet. The second is the vaulting practice. Place both hands on one side, with the fingers away from the body, then with a slight spring bring the feet over the pole and vault to the ground.

Exercise 52. - Hitch one leg over the bar and hold on with the hands, one on each side of the bar. Now give a swing backwards until you can give yourself such an impetus as to come right round the bar into the same position. Try the same movement with different legs and with both hands on one side of the bar until you can do it a dozen times without stopping. The hands may be placed on each side of the bar, and the legs raised on each side and crossed above the bar. Now try and spin round the bar like a fowl on a spit; when you can do this easily try the reverse way, bring the legs backward over the bar and spring in the Indian Cradle position. This is very difficult.

Exercise 53. - Form the Letter I, as on the parallel bars, count fifty before you drop. Bring the feet through the arms, keeping the knees straight all the time. Place one hand on each side of the bar, form Letter L, then bring the legs upwards, and repeat the movement as before, but keep the arms inside the legs.

Exercise 54. - Sit on the bar, point the fingers to the front, grasp the bar firmly on each side, let your body slide forward until the bar crosses the small of the back, and the elbows project upwards. Draw yourself back again and resume the sitting position. Sit on the bar as before, then suddenly slide backwards and drop, catching yourself by your bent knees. Be careful to drop perpendicularly, and do not communicate any movement to the body. When this can be easily done, first one leg and then the other may be unhooked. The released leg may be thrown over the instep or hang loosely. When the beginner feels confidence he may hitch both insteps over the pole, forcing the toes upwards. Loosen the hands from the pole and let the body hang perpendicularly. Drop on to the ground on the hands and spring to the feet.

Exercise 55. - Two difficult movements are called the "trussed fowl," and the "true lover's knot." To perform the first, you hang on the bar, draw up the feet and place the insteps against the bar. Push the body through the arms and remain in that position as long as you can. The latter is a schoolboy's trick, and very difficult to do. Grasp the bar, pass the left knee through the right arm until the inside of the knee rests against the inside of the right elbow. Now pass the right knee over the instep of the left foot, let go the left hand, and with it grasp the right foot. You will now hang by the right hand in an attitude that professional tumblers can seldom assume.





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