Juggernaut – My Experience with Ido Portal

Last weekend I attended another event with Ido Portal. Here is some of the things I learned from him and the Juggernaut event in Vilnius.

What did I learn?

I built on top of my current knowledge about movement from my own studies in Human Movement and my studies on the work from Ido Portal.

Before 2013 I did my “research” into movement. I was also curious about movement. I tried different sports, learned to juggle, did yoga, climbing, calisthenics and experimented with gymnastics rings and of course a lot research in the field of therapy after I got my degree in physical therapy. I learned a lot from these different fields of movement. But in 2013 I stumbled across Ido and a lot of things changed since then.. 

Of course there is his philosophy about movement which is unique. But Ido also studied a lot of different fields and disciplines (many more and much deeper than me). But instead of looking at only the specific disciplines, Ido takes a broad perspective and tries to tie the underlying principles together and extract movement information. The information can then be applied in other disciplines to aid development, recovery or injury prevention. This focus on the underlying principles of movement is specifically addressed in the Juggernaut event. It was exactly what I was looking forward to learn more about.

See the description of the Juggernaut workshop below:

Can the skill-set of a fighter, dancer, athlete and acrobat exist in the same body? What are the re-occurring principles and concepts in such fields of practice? How do we evolve a non hierarchical yet organized practice that involves MORE human movement?

This workshop will provide exploration of these subjects through the use of:

  • Tactical games
  • Problem solving and Kinetic Koans
  • Contextual Strength Work
  • Coordination – top to bottom and bottom to top approaches
  • Somatic Magnifying Glass
  • Eye use and mindset
  • Rhythm, vocalization, breath, intent, emotion
  • Working with objects, kinesthetic empathy, manipulation
  • Improvisation
  • Partnering

“Unstoppable mind, in fragile mortal shell, looking for resolution”

Juggernaut workshop with Ido Portal
Juggernaut workshop with Ido Portal

Many of the things covered was not totally new to me, but the way it was introduced was different. Other things was totally new and stuff I never heard any other person talk about.

Ido has a way to make really simple things exciting. Basic things that are often overlooked and not payed attention to. Ido has an exceptional eye for detail and understanding of these simple things.

One of these things could be walking which many people do. But how much? Before all of our technology we probably walked 20-60 km a day. Walking is more than just burning calories, walking is a great coordination excercise. Now we don’t walk enough, hence we become uncoordinated (just look at people walking).

So we didn’t walk 20 km at the workshop.. but we tried to address other basics things like how our “operating system” is organizing the body.

We tried to address layers beneath techniques. Principles of movement that ties techniques together. Ido gave the analogy of an iPhone. You have the apps for one thing. So if you want to be able to do a new things, you download a new app. These apps can be compared to techniques. If you want to improve the function overall you can update the operating system. This was the major focus of the workshop – to update the body and get an understanding of the principles of movement that appears everywhere.

The goal as I extracted it: “Become better at what you don’t do”. 

How can we trough our training improve on things that we not directly are practicing? By addressing the underlying principles.

Ido gave examples of boxers with perfect techniques versus unorthodox boxers. Athletes who could perform at the highest level in more than just one disciplines (like Bo Jackson – the only pro athlete to be a all-star in two major sports,football and baseball).

Ido talked about these athletes and the X-Factor quality they poses. The have something more than techniques.

Joe Louis (technique) vs. Rocky Masiano (X-Factor)

Through the workshop we worked on updating the body to be able to offer us more possibilities.

We worked a lot with the torso for this. If you know spinal waves you know some of the basics. “Stale water rottens”. So keep in motion. Move your spine. I have done a lot of spinal waves the last couple of years. But this time we mixedt the movements of the torso together with communication to a partner to make sure the body is able to react. 

We covered a lot of different footwork drills to be able to manage the space. Footwork is important in most fields, hence it is a movement tool. We didn’t do the well know footwork with speed ladders, but instead many different drills with partners. Reacting to their signs and bodies. 

“Big arms means shit”.

Also the arms were addressed with focus on “emptying the arms” from to much tonus and tension to be able to transmit force optimally. Many people are to focussed on building muscles, but strong muscles are not the most important factor if you want to transmit force effectively.

Through the workshop these topics were trained in isolation in many different ways, then integrated and lastly a more open framework were presented to mix it all together. We didn’t do much reps and sets work. It was more timed. Working 1-10 minutes with different drills and task.

“Play very seriously”.

Sometimes I was thinking that some of the stuff we did wasn’t that fancy or didn’t look like much. To the unknown it could look like we just played some simple games or just fooled around. But I was serious play. Simple tasks, but they contained a lot of “movement information”. It was a fun way to train the body. But the goal was not having fun. It was more than that. More than working out and burning calories. It was with a focus on development. Animals play to develop. Look at lion cubs. They will play fight to learn how to defend themselves and hunt their prey. Also the focus was on focus. Ido instructed us several times about keeping focus at the task. Lectured about how to keep focus. Even when you are tired. “Have a bad and still win the championship”.

The best thing of the workshop was the coherency between the things we did and how the were tied together later on. We started with very simple movements and by the end we were moving very complex. All the time with laser focus.

The material could be used as therapy to regain lost function of the body but as we progressed I could really see the use in optimizing athletes performance (with an updated operating system) as Ido talked about. Ido also told that some of the things we did were used to train his own mother and Odelias (Ido’s assistance at the workshop) grandmother. But some of the things were also used to train MMA fighters Connor McGregor and Gunnar Nelson.

A lot of other things were covered. For example we used shaking and breathing to aid recovery and calm down the system, specific exercises to prepare the body for movement in 3D and unusual positions. Most of the things could really not be separated into one category but covered more than one movement aspect.

To prepare the body is more than just arm circles and training strength. We worked a lot of the elasticity of the body, creating, connections, relaxion (not yoga) and coordination.


We also covered more than just the physical. We covered work ethic, focus, emotion and a lot about the mindset. Things that are not usually addressed. Also a specific attention were given to address the importance of the ego during movement practice. How do you react, how are your emotions when confronted with “boring” drills vs more chaotic/challenging drills. “Is the practice not for you? Or are you not for the practice?”

This is just a small review and thoughts one week after attending the Juggernaut event. I feel like this workshop is just the tip of the iceberg. I think that Ido could have continued to teach us and lead us through many different drills and task for weeks to come.

As always Ido drops a lot of knowledge/wisdom. It is so clear to tell how he has devoted a lot of time and energy in researching movement (and other disciplines) when you hear him talk and answer questions.

“There is a huge gap between physiotherapy and sports”.

Ido mentioned a small studie from the seventies which started all the fuzz about how it is dangerous for the knees to go past the toes. This one studie led to a lot of fear of movement, a lot of restrictions in the body and mind. Then he told about studies on mice who were compared by living on flat surface vs. more uneven surface and how the uneven surface promoted adaption and stronger bones. From the he lectured about how to prepare the body for movement and how there is a big gap between physiotherapy rehabbing an athlete and prepare him for the rigors and unpredictability of sports. “The body most be able to move in any direction”. In traditional physiotherapy there is huge focus on perfect alignment. In sports? Every possible position can happen. So therefore we prepared the body to move in 3D.

If you ever trained and moved with Ido you know that he teaches and instructs with military disciplin and precision. He didn’t need to look at his notes (I didn’t think brought any). Everything is in his head and it is clear that every progression is well planed and thought of.  

The reason I attended this workshop was to get of more in depth, but at same time also broad perspective of movement. I didn’t find the holy truth. What I got was some vectors to follow, research and explore. Of course I will take home some of all the drills we did. But more importantly a frame to design and research new drills and combinations of some of these principles.

If you are interested in movement I would definitely recommend this workshop. You will not receive a certification, but education.

Have you attended the Juggernaut? Anything you want to add?

Let me know in the comments.

/ Thomas Pretsch



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