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Freestyle Footbag Kicking Bloughchitm

A Renaissance of Modern Movement

A footbag - hacky sack® - research paper about eye/foot coordination benefits
By Steven Russell Blough

Bloughchitm, a non-competitive dance-type style, is an impromptu approach to movement using a footbag to create the motive for spontaneous, graceful motion. Key to the Bloughchitm style is the incorporation of multi-directional movement which opens up avenues for creative individual exercise and a positive psycho/social technioquest for individual and group growth. The eye-foot learning process is much the same as a new born reaching and grasping for knowledge and of knowing no boundaries. More research is needed to explore the unknown depth of the mind and body relationship. What the human being can achieve is far beyond comprehensible thought.

Bloughchitm is a major key, perhaps even the master key, to the depth of the eye-foot coordination relationship and the frontiers beyond. There are millions of young people kicking footbags. Where did all this materialize from? Who founded footbag play in the U.S.? Was the teaching process a valid one? Was this sport really developed into its potential before Bloughchitm?

Brief History in the US

John Stalberger, a stocky Texan with a vast sports background...met Mike Marshall at a local festival in Oregon City, Oregon. Marshall and Stalberger, who was nursing an injured knee, became close friends and began to dabble in a hobby that Marshall enjoyed. Using a bean bag, the two kicked and bumped the object for hours in vain attempts at consecutive rallies...Stalberger found that rudimentary hobby to be an excellent therapy for his injured knee and the two became obsessed with their new-found hobby/exercise...Mike Marshall suffered a heart attack in his sleep in 1975 and died at the age of 28.

With added inspiration, Stalberger continued the quest...With further research and experimentation, Stalberger found that by stressing the equal use of both sides of the body to control the footbag, and by restricting the touching of the footbag to only the feet and knees, the game could be used as an athletic or physical education training tool. At the same time, he found that a round design for the footbag created better kicking along with a more consistent angle of flight characteristics. Stalberger, not done experimenting with the sport yet, invented the truly competitive version of the game known as Footbag Net. (Footbag, an Instructional Handbook, "Architecture of a Footbag Dream," p.7).

Did Stalberger inhibit the eminent proportion of his study by drawing his conclusion to competition and not self growth? Was there enough research done to substantiate responsibility for his statements? Are the millions of young people who now "dabble" in footbag following the right road, or is it just a rocky path with a dead end? These are valid questions that need to be answered if the sport is to flourish in today's uncertain and changing world of exercise.

The Problem

The problem of introducing the study of the eye-foot coordination into the category of competition merely inserts it into the maze of all other athletic competition, teaching only defined growth with a conclusion. What Stalberger missed was footbag's inherent potential as an activity which could enable one to grow continually in a physic/psycho/social environment leading to enhancement of skills in all those areas.

We sometimes assume that working toward a goal and setting standards for oneself can take place only if we compete with others. As Peter and Brigitte Berger have written, "It is only very young children who sometimes wish, wistfully, that 'everyone should win;' they soon learn that this is 'impossible' in American society, that is, for there are other societies in which children actually play games in which 'everyone wins'." (No Contest, the Case Against Competition, Kohn, pp. 6 & 27).

The learning posture of Bloughchitm insures the longevity of a student's interest in a win-win situation by not defining a conclusion but actually supporting un-ending growth with this style. Without the possibility of continual growth, interest is lost. In an introductory style of such magnitude as footbag, no conclusions should be drawn, few structured games introduced. The Bloughchitmstyle of footbag is a vehicle for self growth which can last a lifetime. If the style is well developed by a trainer and exercised in a well-balanced and well-disciplined manner (much like a martial arts format) then any number of sports/games can be positively affected, in fact adapted, to the style.

The coordination of the eyes and feet has potential far beyond our greatest expectation and should not be looked upon only by the narrow perspective of physical activity for its own sake.

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