What is the Ido Portal Method? (part 1)

What is the Ido Portal Method? (part 1)

Jason Round, Chris Ruffolo


The following is an email exchange between the two authors that sought to tease out the what the ‘Ido Portal Method’ actually is.

[Chris asks for a longer video submission and Jason offers this as one of his options]:

“Here’s an old video that gets a lot of attention as it follows through some of my rehab process of an old shoulder injury using principles brought to my attention through some things that were shared through Ido portal & the team.”


Chris: Curious, how would one define the Ido Portal method?  Motion variability and progressive load?

Jason:  Do you mean for rehab or the “method” in general? For rehab I would say yes this can be read in the perspective they present although I would propose it could be reduced to “motion” and within that you can define (with load, without load, isometric, dynamic, ballistic, large & small frame… but in the initial stages of rehab yes I think it’s safe to say increasing load in terms of “stress” is present) Ideally whatever is rehabbed should be without pain & functional for whatever you want it for, so it depends on what you want it for. So re & prehab can begin to blur here.

As for the method in general I have my perspectives but I would never try to assume what is going through this guy’s mind!


C: Yes, that ambiguity makes one believe a ‘method’ is everything or nothing.  That’s why I was curious if there is an actual outlined ‘way’ out there somewhere, so one could agree or disagree with what’s being presented.  There is, of course, nothing wrong with an evolving methodology (one must assume that the goal is to grow and develop as we become aware of need), but to do so (and to credit a particular one for helping) there should be an organized outline to start with and then spiral from, no?


J:  Having never been a student of Ido’s programs I can only speak from what I have encountered & my own perspective, and that would be that there are many layers to what is labelled as the “Ido Portal Method” (TM etc.)
I think his Online Coaching program represents what can fundamentally be termed the “Ido Portal Method”. It is his perspective on progressive programming to develop and sustain certain levels of physical potential (a large part of this structured around the attainment of certain benchmarks and skills to guide the process_ concerning attributes such as strength, mobility coordination, rhythmicality, timing, fine motor-control, movement intelligence… the goal being to cultivate a “mover” who is capable, adaptable, and antifragile (all my interpretation). So in respects of programming and this aspect of the Ido Portal method you could most definitely agree/disagree with the methodology, processes, and of course perspective.

For example, relating to a recent exchange with a friend who is working with Marcello Palozzo (now part of the Ido team), the vertical pulling mechanic that Ido has promoted begins more with global extension and scapular retraction with the goal of meeting chest to bar. One argument for this is (to even achieve it) you need to establish neural drive in the scapulae retractors on a really fundamental level which many (even “well-trained” individuals who can achieve 10+ pullups) are missing. So once a neurally available scap is integrated into the pulling mechanic it “unifies” it, allowing you to go through a full-range vertical pull and ultimately, with a functional transition, into a vertical (downward) push i.e. muscle-up. We should keep in mind, however, that for Ido the gymnastics rings are the upper-body developer “par excellece”, and should you try and apply this muscle-up technique to something else (such as a bar, for example), it does not serve this situation. According to my friend, Marcello has “debunked” this pulling mechanic not only as mechanically disadvantageous & unnatural (nearly everyone will default to a protracted vertical pull) but also less applicable to most real-life scenarios where you would have to pull yourself up onto something in which the feel are blocked at the same vertical line as the hands (i.e. a wall, a poolside, a river-bank, a rock…) So Marcello’s blueprint calls for more of a naturally protracted vertical pull although with no specific scapular instruction other than “resist the direction of the force”. Whilst I see value in both methods, as I have personally neglected the latter it is now my personal preference.

We must, however, consider the Ido Portal method as defining something much more far-reaching than what is written in his Online Coaching programs. I think that the “Method” it refers to is, on the macro scale, essentially all that follows in the wake of what they are researching, practicing, and sharing – including the people that it produces in terms of students and teachers (so perhaps this is the ‘spiralling from’ you were referring to). This then includes the perspective, culture, and etiquette that Ido espouses. Whilst Ido always insists ownership over the term ‘movement culture’, I would say he more accurately “owns” Ido Portal Movement Culture (a niche of Movement Culture), within which the entirety of what they are practicing is the Ido Portal method. This, then, is much more difficult to grasp, let alone pin down as it is always in flux, always changing. “It’s all about the Practice. It’s not about the Practice” – you’ll find this on one of the Movement Camp shirts as well as catchphrases such as “the thing is bigger than the thing” and “the movement that can be defined is not the movement that we’re talking about”. It takes us to the assumption that everything is built around the perspective of building a sustainable movement practice that serves you, rather than you serving it. But in order to build and sustain that practice… there is a lot of servitude involved! “And if we were wrong”, says Ido, “it was a great way to kill time”.

I actually plan to start with online coaching from Ido in the new year – a choice that will have been 4 years in the making as I have never felt the need for someone else to direct my practice, and further I am not interested in attaining any specific skills or the traditional development of physical capacities such as strength and mobility (I have been doing this myself with adequate achievement). But I do believe that now the program is a lot more lateral and gives a lot more space to dig into a variety of movement aspects. Further to this, as the team have been and continue to be such a huge influence on my practice I would like to dig deeper into their research than just workshops and intensives. It is, however, necessary to develop more than a “client” relationship with them if you really want to see what is going on “in there” and some time in the online coaching program is the most available avenue to go about this. So I’ll be digging a little deeper in the future and when my perspectives change I’ll be happy to share my experience 🙂

C: Sounds great.

When you injured yourself and rehabbed using ‘his method’, was this something specifically taught to you or something you pieced on your own, through his blog information, perhaps?


J: Yes it was “pieced together”,  so to speak.  Not just movements/exercises, but some concepts as well and inspired by the recovery of Johnny Sapinosa after a pec tear:


Chris’s musing post conversation:

It seems, methinks, that the Ido Portal Method is really a philosophy to make training about learning.  I’m not sure if it’s an actual system, other than guidelines of thought.  He gives excellent soundbites, but they are all based on ideas and intents to disrupt what has become common (ie. less novel and engaging to the brain and the process behind the movement).  If the ‘system’ of “isolate, integrate, and improvise” can be restated as ‘examine the pieces, place them back into the working whole, and then do something interesting with the whole’, it can be belong to anyone — as long as their skill levels of thinking and analyzing can support it.



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