Ido Portal: Movement | Summary and Q&A

May 8, 2014
Lex Fridman
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Ido Portal: Movement

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In this video, movement expert Ido Portal discusses his journey to becoming a generalist in movement and the challenges that come with it. He emphasizes the importance of being a lifelong student and the price of specialization. Portal also talks about the role of improvisation in movement and the value of training with others. He shares his thoughts on coaching approaches, the most underdeveloped range of motion in athletes, and the impact of technology on humanity. Portal concludes by discussing the importance of cultivating one's weirdness and uniqueness.

Questions & Answers

Q: Can you tell the story of your journey to becoming a generalist in movement?

Portal explains that he started as a mover, then became a specialist in capoeira for 15 years before realizing that there was something connecting all these different disciplines - movement. He sought out various movement teachers around the world but was disappointed by their isolated approach. Eventually, he decided to become the movement teacher himself, even though he found it impossible. He sees teaching as a way to keep himself and his students moving forward.

Q: Are you still a student or a teacher?

Portal prefers to be a student and believes that practicing teaching and being a student are equally important for personal development. While being a teacher is part of human culture, he believes we are all teachers in different contexts. Being a student keeps him open to learning and allows him to continue his own growth as a mover.

Q: What is the price of specialization in movement?

The price of specialization, according to Portal, is losing one's humanity and fulfillment as a human being. Humans evolved as generalists, able to imitate different animals and perform complex tasks. Specialization narrows our abilities and limits our range of motion. It can also affect our happiness and overall well-being.

Q: Is there value in specialization and becoming the best at a specific movement or sport?

Portal recognizes the benefits of specialization and acknowledges that specialists have contributed greatly to society. However, he also sees the suffering experienced by specialists and believes that we should strive for a balance between specialization and generalization. He points out that even specialists can benefit from becoming more generalized as they reach the top of their field and seek inspiration from other scenes.

Q: What is the most underdeveloped range of motion in athletes?

Portal highlights the shoulder joint (glenohumeral joint) as the most underdeveloped range of motion in athletes. While this joint offers a tremendous range of motion even when restricted, any limitations or imbalances in shoulder mobility can lead to significant problems. He emphasizes the importance of developing complexity and mobility around the scapula for overall movement quality.

Q: What is the role of improvisation in movement?

Portal believes that improvisation is the highest form of living and a fundamental aspect of being human. He explains that every profession or specialty, including movement, should strive for improvisation at the top level. He differentiates between superficial integration and true improvisation, emphasizing the rarity and enjoyment of the latter. True improvisation allows one to be empty and let movement happen naturally, similar to Bruce Lee's quote, "I don't hit it, it hits all by itself."

Q: Do you believe in using tough love as an approach to coaching?

Portal does not believe in the term "tough love" and thinks it oversimplifies the complexity of coaching. He disagrees that tough love is the best approach for everyone and notes that those who struggle with criticism or take it personally often have issues with him as a teacher. However, he recognizes the need for honesty and direct feedback and emphasizes the importance of the teacher-student relationship and discipleship in personal development.

Q: Do attitudes differ in different countries when it comes to movement practice and coaching?

Portal acknowledges significant differences in attitudes towards movement practice and coaching across different countries. He mentions that certain cultures value direct communication and tough honesty, while others prefer more politeness and avoid harsh criticism. Portal believes that touchless, or direct and straightforward communication, is valuable in movement practice and sees different cultural orientations and characteristics influencing individuals' attitudes towards movement.

Q: Is movement training primarily a solitary activity or is there value in training with others?

Portal believes that movement training can be both a solitary activity and a communal experience. While he has spent a significant amount of time training alone, he also recognizes the importance of moving together in a community. He mentions the significance of communities formed around movement, like CrossFit gyms, yoga classes, or martial arts clubs. Portal encourages people to move with their loved ones and find opportunities to move together.

Q: How do you approach learning new things versus spending more time on familiar movements?

Portal explains that it's important to strike a balance between constantly seeking new knowledge and dedicating time to practice and application. While it's crucial to keep an open mind and constantly learn, solely focusing on acquiring knowledge without utilizing it leads to an incomplete journey. He emphasizes the need for a practical mind that can apply knowledge and engage in meaningful practice. He believes in the power of collective knowledge and acknowledges the importance of mentors and teachers in one's learning journey.

Q: How do you treat, recover, and work around injuries in movement practice?

Portal views injuries as a certainty in life and acknowledges that one cannot achieve anything meaningful without facing injuries. He relates injuries and diseases to the process of adaptation and becoming anti-fragile. He believes movement itself is a therapeutic tool and advises against resting too much, as it can cause more harm in the long run. Instead, he encourages intelligent movement around injuries, riding the wave of adaptation, and finding ways to allow recovery while maintaining movement.

Q: What are some dietary principles you follow?

Portal explains that diet is highly individual and recommends finding what works best for each person. He personally follows a Paleolithic or caveman diet since the late 90s but acknowledges the need for exploration and understanding one's own system. He mentions the current movement towards making the body more resilient rather than focusing strictly on improving fuel sources, acknowledging the complexity of genetic factors and gut biome. Portal believes there is still much to be learned about the interaction between genetics, diet, and the body's ability to adapt.

Q: Do you believe technology is ultimately a positive force for humanity or is it taking us away from our humanity?

Portal admits that he doesn't have a definitive answer to this question. He acknowledges that technology has brought both positive advancements and tremendous suffering to humanity. He believes it is a massive question that will continue to be debated for many generations. Portal suggests that technology may have been the most terrible thing to happen to humanity and questions whether it will ultimately lead to our downfall.

Q: How can people join the Ido Portal movement?

Portal has a website ( where interested individuals can find information and updates. They can also join the Movement Culture community on the website or follow Ido Portal on Facebook for more updates. He highly recommends becoming part of a community and moving with others to enhance the movement experience.


Ido Portal's journey to becoming a generalist in movement emphasizes the importance of being a lifelong student and integrating various disciplines. Specialization comes with a price, including losing one's humanity and fulfillment. Improvisation plays a vital role in movement and is the highest form of living. Portal encourages embracing one's uniqueness and cultivating the weirdness within us. He believes in movement as a therapeutic tool, even around injuries. Diet and technology are complex topics with individual and societal impacts. Overall, movement is a communal experience and finding a community can enhance the movement journey.

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