Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/280

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

those modifications of motion, reaction-times, accuracy in eye, ear, voice, decisions, etc., is the game of ball and bat, or mimicries of chase and war, and such like spontaneous impulses to do, to fight, to achieve.

Many modifications can be made for the extremely young of either sex, e. g., bean-bags, pillow fights, up to the medicine-ball, basket-ball, base-ball and cricket. All exercises of quickness and precision are exhaustive; hence they can not, or should not be unduly prolonged for the very young.

One of the best means of motor education is seldom employed in this country. This is training in posing, in imitating classical statues. My friend M. Laussat Geylin told me of an interesting competition he witnessed in a provincial French town. The teacher by this charming device trained a class of young peasants to such a point of physical excellence that they took a national prize. The plan is well worthy of wide imitation. Reflect for a moment how perfectly the essential conditions of balance, precision, full excursus, tension, steadiness, stretching, are thus graphically exemplified. Take the Discus Thrower, the Fighting Gladiator, the group of the Laocoon for extreme types of force; the quieter attitudes even require much of vigorous poising. D. A. Sargeant has written a book advocating the forceful simulation of a variety of common acts—rope pulling, javelin throwing, etc.

Vanity, always a powerful stimulus, is thus strongly elicited. The simpler Greek exercises were unsurpassed for inducing symmetry, especially when each side of the body was equally employed, e. g., javelin throwing right and left, so too of the discus.

Always the left hand should be trained equally with the right, at least in educational measures. There is too much one-sidedness encouraged in tennis, golf, baseball, etc.

There may be objections to little tots attempting boxing or fencing, but it is entirely feasible and distinctly valuable for even young children to be taught wrestling. By single-stick exercises, symmetrically, I have entirely cured the effects of chorea, descending atrophy from cerebral paralysis, and the disablement of poliomyelitis.

Then again, the power and precision which follows resisting exercises as taught by the Swedes (or better, as elaborated by a wonderful mulatto, Jeremiah Davis, who taught me amplifications of this rather tepid procedure) are really marvelous. Closely allied to this is the jiu jitzu of the Japanese (which I learned from a man who was for eight years chief of police in Nagasaki). The principle of the jiu jitzu is a series of tricks of fence and offence, taught the Samurai, to be employed when by any chance they were deprived of their weapons; and pretty good they are. A friend of mine, a great foot-ball hero in his day, characterized the method as "a series of nasty tricks to do your opponent dirt, which we Anglo-Saxons are taught to regard as unfair." They are not comparable in aggressive power to good boxing.