Top reads April-May
Below you find some of my favorite blogposts, book quotes, workshops attended and videos I came online by in the past month. I hope you enjoy this format. It's a good way for me to recap and store some of the things I learn. I'm not sure yet about the categories used right now and whether I might have narrowed down the boxes too small for some of the subjects but I'm sure I'll figure that out. I enjoyed writing it, I hope you enjoy reading it and maybe learn a thing or two.
- Galo Naranjo interviewed my teachers Jozef & Linda for his online magazine motusmag. I think Galo did a really great job with this interview to give everyone a bit of a wider peek into what Fighting Monkey Research really is and what the principles behind this practice could mean for a person's cultivation on a physical and internal level. Some quotes to motivate you to read the piece:
What changes people is not what you say and the words you use. People don’t hear what you say. It is your overall personality and the way you treat every single situation that may inspire people around you. A trainer is not just refining technique, he supports the growth of a person and leads him to feel the confidence and power to make changes in their lives.
Who cares if you are champion or strong or beautiful, that all will vanish one day - it is your contribution to others, what you offer and share with them that matters the most.
Two weeks ago I got the opportunity to learn from Jozef & Linda again in the beautiful town Kalamata in Greece - and the biggest lesson during the week actually was not to be found in the things they taught me but in their behavior with each other, with their kids, towards us.
I think this is one of the most important and most overlooked aspects in deciding who to learn from, especially in this age of online teachings and less physical contact: how is the practice/advice the teacher is offering you developing THEM as a person - and is this behavior something you admire in a person? What is the practice doing to their human qualities?
I definitely have fucked up on this before picking the teacher who got more instagram likes, more followers and the more obtrusive language without ever meeting him or her - and then when meeting the whole thing was not resonating at all. Get out there, meet up and observe the people who you are learning from before investing too much time, effort and money. I leave you with a picture of one of our amazing training spots and a frequent advice of Jozef:
Don't fulfill the dreams of other people.
You don't always need what other people promote.
In everything in life, realize you are a very unique composition of elements.
- I met Nir Adin for coffee again this month in my hometown. It was almost a year since I met him and I must admit I was not very receptive for his lessons back then. I immediately realized that I have this tendency to always look for teachers elsewhere without looking around in my area first. Frequent conversation with guys like these make me realize I've been an idiot so many times discarding local teachers! We talked (aka I listened) permaculture, power development through coordination, internal strength, history of taoism, nettle as an anti-inflammatory, research findings on cannabis oil, etc... This 20 minute video is an amazing work of 20 years of research with dancers, yogis and martial artists. Nir shared some more details when doing the form together in person but I suggest you try it and observe what you feel. Below there's a short intro, the full video is on vimeo.
- Last week I visited a friend in Berlin and took the chance to attend Craig Mallet & Emmett Louis first workshop together: Re-Patterning The Human Body. What I realized in this weekend is that I feel like there's a new group growing out of this movement culture into a more wider culture that focuses more on human qualities instead of only skills, on self-cultivation and building a practice that sustains your life instead of building your life around your practice - and then not having a life.
I might write a short summary of the workshop, but in short we worked on the following: glute activation in everyday life, moving without excess tension, training internal structure, multi-angle rib mobility, crawling, "dirty tricks" for mobility, pushing and pulling with the legs, grounding, relaxing both muscle and nervous system through long stretch holds. I liked that in all of this the focus was not (only) on the execution, but on the experiencing of internal sensations. I don't know if I got it right, but this line by Craig intrigued me:
Mobility in ribs = better breathing.
Mobility in ribs = more empathy towards others.
- Some researching shared by Cal Dietz, the author of Triphasis Training on Game Changing Methods in Sports. Read the full powerpoint presentation here. What I took away from it:
- Improve ankle mobility and get better in everything you do as an athlete
- "For you leg day skippers: training the nervous system in the lower body positively affected upper body strength."
- "Matveyev found that one of the key differences between low and elite level athletes is speed of contraction and relaxation. Elite athletes not only turn muscles on quickly, but also relax them quickly! Elite Athletes could relax their muscles almost 200% faster than novices athletes." I remember reading a similar thing in Verkhoshanky's jump manual book and him recommending athletes to practice shaking and relaxed coordination in between sets of heavy back squats.
- Dietz his oscillatory practice tempo for explosiveness seems interesting to experiment with with more advanced trainees.
- It's always a good idea to re-watch stuff like this:
- Henk Kraaijenhof, famous sprinting coach, shares his program for one of his world class athletes building up towards a competition. His principle:
Train the athlete as much as necessary not as much as possible!
- More by Henk Kraaijenhof (who by the way has an excellent blog that you should check every once in a while for new posts!) on prevention of hamstring injuries. Main take-away is that he focuses on training the eccentric phase of nordic hamstring curls, not the concentric.
It (hamstring injury) happens at maximum speed (= maximal stride length x maximum frequency) combined with tightening up (stress) and fatigue setting in
High movement velocity (high frequency) not low velocity
Fast alternating flexion and extension in swing leg and support leg 4-5x/sec, not bilateral
Eccentric phase: hamstring is stretched under load, not concentric
- Read some older stuff of Charles Poliquin who clearly states that agility drills for athletes like football players are a waste of time because "all they do is make you good at the drills themselves; they don't necessarily improve agility in sport. Vision and anticipation, for example, are important and most often overlooked variables. Excessive plyometrics outside the gym is unnecessary. In fact, Dr. Mel Siff, even suggests that it may be more appropriate to let the sport itself take care of plyometric actions. Leave it for the field, in other words."
- Three articles by Sol Peterson I enjoyed on what to look for when training fascia. Here, here and here.
Fast, dynamic stretching which occurs in many kicks and punches is beneficial for the fascia when performed correctly: soft tissues should be warm and abrupt movements avoided. Rhythmic controlled bouncing at the end range may also be effective.
Great jumpers often have tighter hamstrings where they can time the muscle recoil with the elastic recoil of fascia and connective tissue, creating a higher resultant force. Thus more stretching is not the answer. The muscle creates force and so does tuned fascia. Consequently we have a better result.
Collagen has a slow renewal cycle with a half-life of approximately 1 year, so after 2 months fascial training we have little to show but much more after 6 to 12 months.
- Lumbodorsal disorder. My friend Bart Adins who is one of the first Rolfers in Belgium told me about this - actually he said to not use disorder, but I don't really know what else to call it at the moment - when he discussed the way he teaches walking in his fascia workshops. He basically teaches to save energy when walking… I found some more info on it here.
The lumbodorsal fascia demands experienced motor coordination, we hypothesize many people in western civilization might have never had the chance to leam the natural usage of the lumbodorsal fascia and that its neglected function contributes to back pain.
- I reread "The Complete Guide to Not Giving A Fuck." A good reminder every once in a while to kill you demons. Some favourites:
Most people don’t even care that you’re alive. Embrace this, my friends, for it is true freedom. The world is vast and you are small, and therefore you may do as you wish and cast your thoughts of those who dislike it to the side.
When people don’t like you, nothing actually happens.
If you dismiss the things that do not matter; if you remove those things from your mind and focus on what must be done; if you understand that your time is limited and decide to work now; only then will you be able to get to the finish line
Find your internal filters and break them, one at a time.
- Thomas Merton's book on The Way of Chuang Tzu I really enjoyed:
The cinnamon tree is edible: so it is cut down!
The lacquer tree is profitable: they maim it.
Every man knows how useful it is to be useful.
No one seems to know
How useful it is to be useless.
- What Is Sustainable by Richard Reese taught me about the concept of Seeing With Long Eyes:
From the mountaintop of the ancestors, it is possible to see time with long eyes, to observe changes that have taken place over generations and centuries, to observe the path we have taken, and to foresee where we are going. There is great power in being able to see with long eyes. You cannot engage in clear thinking without having long eyes.
- Serge Augier talking Daoism in this interview:
The main idea is working the human being as much as it can be worked. It's like Western Alchemy. You take the human being, you cut it into whatever it can do: it can think, it can imagine, dream, it can do stuff with his body, it has emotions. We take each piece and try to make each piece as good as it can be - understanding first how they work, how we use and how we can use it better.
- A summary of The Earth Has A Soul: Carl Jung's thoughts on how to live a meaningful life in modern times. I divided the overview in symptoms and causes that make us sick and what he believes can heal us.
- Marcel Brocatus is my new book guy! The man is 86 years old, has read over 14,000 books and owns the oldest bookstore in Antwerp. The cool thing here is that you still get personal attention like in the good old days (I heard they had it back then), which amazon cannot give you. You tell him what you want to learn about and then he starts talking. Sometimes for an hour. In between he will get some books out and you read a little. I love it. I asked him about books on dreams and he gave me this big old compilation book on "The Big Mysteries." I loved this drawing below of an 18th century mystic William Law that kind of shows Carl Jung's theory that "the dream image of the tree symbolizes the growing 'Self.'"