Anakana Schofield – Author of Martin John and Malarky

A new apparatus! The High Bar! I had to hunt for new pasture as I am becoming disheartened at gymnastics. I spied a man on there with his hands hooked inside these cotton straps and asked the woman coaching him to teach me.

It’s quite odd. You place your hands in backwards through the cotton circles that hang on the bar and you essentially now cannot get your hands out of them. You’re locked in! You put your hands on top of some material as wide as your hand that covers the bar and you hang down and start swinging.

The swing that she taught me on the high bar has three different positions that aren’t entirely natural reflexes and depend on where the body is in relation to the bar. Thus on the back swing you pike, toes down, just as you are under the bar you arch and finally on the far side of the bar you swing your feet up to the ceiling. I was confusing the middle arch with the feet to the ceiling and doing a peculiar arching gesticulation that had a bit of a last temptation of Christ vibe about it.

What the coach taught me on that high bar is a drill. So eventually once you are strong enough you can swing around the bar with your arms extended in what’s I think a giant circle. I found this high bar v exhilarating. You’re swinging away trying to think about your feet and after a while you are so puffed out and then it’s a desperate scrabble to get your feet onto the sideplatform so you can get your wrists out of the straps that you’re fastened into!

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