Top reads from March
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.
- Notes from Steve Maxwell's workshop. What was interesting here is that Maxwell is 63 years old and has seen quite a lot in his 40 years in the movement business. He shared what worked for him, what didn't work and how his personal practice changed over the years. I especially liked his emphasis on not losing track on what you are training for when you are in a sport, the importance of isometrics and lessons from the Gracie Academy for neck and grip training. Also Steve is funny as hell:
"Whether it's a sandbag, a bucket full of horse shit, a bucket of water, dumbbells, sandbags, kettlebells or f*cking machines,... it doesn't matter.
Your body doesn't know."
Here's a post with some of the lessons we learned at EA from Steve Maxwell: http://eliteathletes.be/university/blog/steve-maxwell-ea-training-longevity
- I recently went to an intensive 5-day internship with Jozef Frucek and Linda Kapetanea of Fighting Monkey. I'm still struggling to find the right words to write a recap of this week so instead I'll share their recent research video 'From Knowing to Not Knowing' and my personal interpretation in 'not knowing' as allowing beginners mind. In Carl Jung's words, "Modern man suffers from knowing everything" so it might be useful every once in a while to re-think what we're all so sure about, doubt our ways a little in order to stay adaptive and keep growing. My feelings after the first day of this internship after Jozef talked about how we evolve in landscape-type way and not a linear way:
To go from the mountain I know and got used to a bit down to the valley to nourish myself so I can go to the (nicer) mountain up there.
When you don't do it, you can know it. You think you know it because you don't do it. When you do it, then you suddenly realize you don't know it because you never did it.
- Henk Kraaijenhof has an amazing blog on training for sports based on decades of experience. In a post on recovery he recommends you do the following. I love his simplicity:
- SLEEP: no phones or pad 2 hours before sleeping, no phone in the bedroom, no picking up of a phone while you are in bed, ready to go to sleep or sleeping
- GO GREEN: visit a nearby garden, park or forest, walk or sit on a bench and observe the environment and the sky or close your eyes and listen (without phone)
- Sound proof your life, learn to listen to silence and make you bedroom quiet, close the windows, if possible.
- Make your bedroom dark, let no light come in from outside. Close the curtains.
- UNPLUG: if you dare, since most people are in denial and won’t admit that this could be the cause of their problems, their fatigue, their stress or anxiety. Who needs or wants to let his/her life dictated by others?
- Edward Hines' on what internal training is and what it is not:
When the capacity to land, avoid and survive strikes/takedowns becomes as or more important than the ability to focus internal strength then there is little or no evidence of ‘internal’ methods being superior.
Movement is too rich and complex for there to be any ultimate ‘one’ way to move. Different movement problems and contexts require different solutions. Each problem may have more than one viable solution.
- The architecture of fascia in young people vs people lacking regular training or exercise. Thanks to my friend Martin Bosy of Tribe for sending me this article and be sure to give Internal Power Training a follow on facebook, they're doing a nice work in sharing context about internal martial practices and current uses:
The goal of the proposed fascia training is therefore to stimulate fascial fibroblasts to lay down more youthful fibre architecture with a gazelle-like elastic storage capacity. This is done through movements that load the fascial tissues over multiple extension ranges while utilizing their elastic springiness.
- The Klatt test as a simple initial tool to check for structural imbalance in the legs. We use it in the first phases with our personal training members to get a look at their lower body strength and balance. Of course, this test isn't perfect but the use of a test in our reality is to get quick feedback.
- Dr. Michael Yessis on why you need to get strong first before training plyometrics and why I cringe when I see personal trainers do plyometrics and hundreds of mindless reps of hopping and skipping with people who have are not prepared for it:
- Robb Wolf on how his training has changed over the years and how now at 44 he uses strenght training as a tool for improved health and bjj training, not improved exercising. Great practical example of what Steve Maxwell's lessons. Wolf talks about using Art Devany “a-lactic sets” technique to minimize training time:
You warm up with a given weight or movement and then get a load that you can do for a few good reps. You do a set, rest 5-10 seconds do another set etc. I will use a load that I can get 5 GOOD reps with (bar speed is fast, no grinding) and I’ll do say 5 reps. Rest a few moments, do 4-5 more reps. Rest. do 3-4 reps. I keep doing this until i get about 20-25 total reps and then I’m DONE with that movement. So, a session of front squats might look like: 5,5,4,3,3, 2,2,1. I never grind on a rep, the movement speed is always reasonably fast. This allows for a stimulus, but tends to not smash me.
- The importance of strength training for cyclists and structural balance work they need to do correct imbalances. Also a slowmotion video of the cycling motion that I looked at as a part of research and preparation I used for a cycling entrepreneur I work with.
- The importance of eccentrics in training basketball players (or any sport with lots of deceleration and acceleration):
Basketball players need to be able to decelerate and change directions very quickly. Therefore, we train slow eccentrics to increase their ability to decelerate loads and then accelerate fast.
- Serratus Anterior Activation regressions and cueing by Eric Cressey:
- Thoughts from a Modern Taoist Internal Alchemist by Prof Dan Vercammen. I just recently discovered this professor who lives about 20 minutes from me. I had a first consultation with him and was blown away by his wisdom, achievements and friendly manner. He has translated over 30 taoist books from Chinese and teaches taoist theory and practice at the China Arts College he founded with his wife. A true treasure that I look forward to learning from. From the article:
The [internal alchemy) practice requires the “restitution of authenticity”, achieved by living according to Dao (道 the Way) and realized in De (德 the application of this Way). This comes down to individual practice of a harmonious, no-nonsense way of living that suits your personality and removes those aspects from your character and person that are unsuitable for this harmonious social life. Care for the world, Nature, society, people, plants and animals, and so on are all part of the De work. It is a continuous work, a magnum opus, as Western alchemists call it.
- Derek Sivers' favorite parable.
- Carl Jung taught me that "nature is an incomparable guide if you know how to follow her" and that you sometimes can learn more from trees than from books. On the blog of the excellent Lewis Lafontaine who has built quite the online Jung resource with his blog, I found this letter:
To Dr. S.
Dear Colleague, 8 October 1947
I gather from your description that you are indeed climbing too high. Sanskrit and India really are a bit much.
You must turn back to the simple things, just as your dream says, to the forest.
There is the star. You must go in quest of yourself, and you will find yourself again only in the simple and forgotten things.
Why not go into the forest for a time, literally?
Sometimes a tree tells you more than can be read in books.
With best wishes,
Yours sincerely, C.G. Jung [Letters Volume 1, Page 179.]
- My friend Mairtin McNamara wrote a post on developing the behavior of reacting with more kindness instead of more hardness in hard practices:
The psyche has similar responses to stress; cultivating kindness as things get tough is meaningful because it's easy to be a grouchy fuck when your back is against the wall.
- "The rain is not good. The rain is not bad. The rain is just wet." I finally came down to writing a long summary of a meditation retreat I attended 2 years ago. It's basically part of my notebook in a blogpost-format.
If everything depends on
then isn’t it important
what is your experience?
- A great statement I realize is more and more true every day from taoist teacher Serge Augier, who I'm learning from online, in his post on "The Changes of Tao."
Everyone believes it is better to be relaxed, flexible and adaptable, but it is rare to see people who practice in this direction, who adjust their lives in this direction.
- Nassim Taleb on following your instincts, archetypal intuition in finding your craft and longing for what he calls very nicely having "soul in the game:"
So people might want to *do* things. Just to do things, because they feel it is part of their identity. It may be cruel to cheat them of that. They too want to play. They want to have their soul in the game.
From the blue zone research that I got hooked on after meeting Steve Maxwell in the beginning of this month I learned that people who get old Sit like a kid, celebrate everything, stop eating when you're 80% full, go outside, community!
SOME BOOK QUOTES
A couple of quotes from books I read this month:
- In The Earth Has A Soul: Jung on Nature, Technology & Modern Life, Carl Jung wrote the following on technology and gadgets:
All time saving devices, amongst which we must count easier means of communications and other conveniences, do not, paradoxically enough, save us time but merely cram our time so full that we have not time for anything. Hence, the breathless haste, superficial-craving for stimulation, impatience, irritability, vacillation, etc. Such a state may lead to all sorts of other things, but never to any increased culture of the mind and heart.
- Cognitive-Behavior Modification by Meichenbaum is a book I ordered after the first Fighting Monkey workshop I attended. Especially the part on 'Stress-Inoculation Training' interested me as it showed me a practical approach in introducing stressors in movement situations just as Jozef does in his work. It taught me about the importance of tracking how you talk to yourself in these situations to learn from it and then train it in simulations of your reality, whether it is work, competitive sports, relationships, ... Meichenbaum's five step treatment procedure:
- Exposure to anxiety-provoking situations through imagery or role-playing
- Evaluate your anxiety level
- Notice anxiety-provoking cognitions
- Reevaluating your self-statements
- Noting the level of anxiety following the rational reevaluation
Or as Jozef Frucek said "how do you learn from yourself?"/"do you know how do you react emotionally and physically to stressful situations?"
- With all the posts on the "fact" that everyone should practice meditation it might be useful to also consider the dangers of meditation when it's being generalized as good for everyone. Not saying it is not in it's most basic form, such as simple breathing techniques to relax more, but there seems to be a darker side when you decide take the journey without proper guidance from a teacher. From an old book on taoism:
Chuang Tzu, whom Western Sinologists regard as among the foremost of the philosophical taoists, did not advocate the practice of meditation techniques. [...] Too much emphasis on the techniques may hinder success by making one lose sight of what is of real value and may be genuinely harmful to mental as well as physical health. Chinese lore includes many stories of people who, in spite of great intelligence and a high level of advancement in meditation techniques, have ultimately found in them a source not of inner peace, but of madness.
- From Wilhelm Reich's Listen, Little Man!:
- In a dutch book on near-death experience I read:
We leven om een zo hoog mogelijke mate van geestelijke ontwikkeling en bewustwording te bereiken. Zolang het leven nog maar enigszins mogelijk is - zolang moet men aan het leven vasthouden, om het volledig voor de bewustwording te benutten.