One of the quintessential play activities for children in the western world has been swinging on the monkey bars.
Unfortunately, the monkey bars have been declared too dangerous and are being phased out of playgrounds and totally abandoned in physical education.
Similarly, most modern physical training systems ignore swinging from the hands. This a is huge mistake, kids love monkey bars for a reason they are an important evolved movement capacity going back to our roots as primates and hugely developmental of the upper body.
Many paleoanthropologists believe that our upright posture developed first not for walking but for suspensory climbing and swinging and that this remained a primary movement adaption for us all the way up to the earliest members of our genus, homo habilus.
While our evolution over the last 2 million years has specialized us more for bipedal walking and running, the configuration of the human shoulder developed for hanging and swinging in trees, and the ability to climb and swing remains a major part of human movement play worldwide, and is an important part of hunting and gathering where climbing abilities are used to get honey and fruit and to scout and ambush game.
The evidence indicates that swinging, hanging and climbing remain important for the proper development of the shoulder. We should all make it a part of our movement practice.
While most movement disciplines neglect these capacities gymnasts, aerial acrobats and traceurs are the big exceptions. This is one area where parkour really shines no other movement discipline has reclaimed the swinging movement pattern in the same diversity and complexity that parkour has, the movement patterns seen in gymnastics and aerial acrobatics are beautiful and very powerful to develop however they are more dependent on specific equipment and farther from the innate movement patterns.
Your challenge today find some good trees or scaffolding to swing around on.
Here is one of my favorite swinging lines from parkour visions.
A wonderful video from my friend Spencer Shields from Vancouver BC
the most impressive human swinging I have seen is from the amazing Russian mover Oleg Vorslav
and finally, no brachiation post would be complete without highlighting the true masters of these movements our cousins the Gibbons