martedì 27 giugno 2017

Msc trip to London - summer 2017

Hi people of the world,

I am flying back to Italy after a long month in an insanely hot London. Our planet is starting to have a fever - hopefully Mr. Trumpet and the others will start to realize this soon. 30+ degrees, little wind, very sunny. It might also just be a delayed effect of my stay in Thailand of course.
Man, that sun is still following me around like a Gongoro*.

These days have just been intense – either from the inside out: giving lectures and delivering classes, and from the outside in: being evaluated, studying hard and attending strength and conditioning conferences. From dawn to dusk, it was a 100% immersion in this academic world. Squeezing training in my schedule has been harder than usual due to the overall CNS fatigue.

The sessions have been running early in the mornings, at lunch time, and late in the evenings. Usually strength training first, parkour/movement research/practice second, handbalancing and mobility in the evenings. My left OAHS is catching up with the right – 5 secs are consistent now. Back down dominant side, you will not control my practice!

I started integrating some of the material from the movement camp too. Some organic strength training, some feet-hands connections and eye-hands coordination with les tennis balls. Sharp and loose, sharp and loo..damn, lost it.
I have been living with my girlfriend in an apartment close to a river and a huge park in Twickenham. On my way back from university, I could track down foxes and wild dogs.  
I seriously risked my existence during an encounter with a pack of gooses under a bridge I was climbing one night. Satanic beasts, they might even be carnivores.

Let’s get into what happened this month. I am gonna break it down:

Dan Cleather and Jon Goodwin– Critical thinking and research methods

We are all biased in the way we think and so are the reasons why we choose one option over another. Bearing this in mind can help a lot guiding our choices and the analysis of the results of our practices. Difficult material to digest but essential for the everyday life and flawless research. As a side effect, this full immersion is shedding more light into my current paradigms and it is expanding my coaching philosophies.
Thinking fast and slow is a greatly recommended read on the topic. Also, studying stats is essential to understand how to evaluate papers, just another tool in the box.

I also had a super nice chat with Dan at the beginning of the week about his tai chi’s teacher that practices in a hidden school in Camden. He has a few disciples and a direct line of transmission from many generations back in the vast China. We talked about softness and other features I would not normally expect by many. I must say it surprised me. The next time it will be my first stop in the city. The eyes can see what the words can’t say.
Jon talked us through many agility / change of direction drills used to develop speed in different sports. Easy approach, limited, but effective for performance.

Dan John – Building a capacity

He has been overall such a good guy. He was an open book for all the attendees, he was there before and after the lectures for questions and chats. As a disk thrower in youth and a S&C coach both for sport and for the military he saw many approaches. A lot of moons went by.
He presented his condensed approach to training athletes for performance.
He broke down the basics to be made of pushing, pulling, hinging, squatting and loaded carries. He argues that the main topics to cross such macro categories and to translate them into practice should be planking movements (not iso only), strength and hypertrophy work, anti-rotational work, triads and Olympic lifts.
It was clear to me that his decisions while building this matrix were extremely influenced by the experiences he made in his life, but hey, who isn’t. Alongside to this, he presented a huge variety of topics that I won’t list here, but that went from the art of coaching all the way to marketing.
If you have a chance, go listen to one of his speech, the way he presents concepts is probably the most interesting thing about him.
Personally, I talked with him about the relations between Tension – Arousal – Relaxation and how to achieve the right amount of these when different situations ask for diverse demands. I will email him soon to dig deeper in this field, that might be the most interesting topic

Dan Baker – Training analysis.

Regarding strength, Dan uses barbells, bars and accelerometers. He has been researching into the field of velocity based training. He found that each lift has a failing velocity, and that that failing velocity is always the same on your last RM rep.
This means that if you find your 1RM velocity, that is the same as your last rep of any other RM. For example, the 10th rep of a 10RM is @the same velocity as in the 3rd rep of a 3RM.
The RPE method becomes much more reliable in this way. By looking at your velocity you will be able to guess (95%) how many more reps you still have in the tank.
I would not use accelerometers during my trainings or my students’ trainings but accessing those devices occasionally is a good way to understand how good is our eye at picking the actual velocity of a push or of a pull. I am SURE that a good teacher can do all this with his bare visual skills, but yes, telling a student to leave three reps in the tank without instructing him/her first it’s madness.
Regarding conditioning the guy’s using a lot of work with the MAS (Maximal Aerobic Speed), that is the lowest velocity where VO2 max occurs. He argues that it is a much more useful tool than the VO2 max and he saw good results with elite rugby players. Check out his researches, nice stuff.

The rest

Well besides from all this we digged into weightlifting, programming, practice based evidence with bullshit detectors, biomech modelling and so on and on. I won’t spoil the game to those who want to study this MSc, but I greatly recommend it (check it out here). Even a higher level than expected overall and very satisfied with my choices.
On the last day, I presented a project upon training transfer after an extensive research into the literature: what do we know now? why does it occur and how this entangles with the more recent dynamical systems theories and constraint led approaches to coaching?
I might do a blog post in the future about this.

Next year we will dig deeper and deeper into program design and critical evaluation of those who are available out there. Can’t wait to get this started.
For the St. Mary’s people, I might be back in September to present some of my parkour/movement related research to some students, if I can squeeze it into my schedule. I managed to scratch the surface already with some of them, let’s see what will happen at the end of summer.

If you want to be updated with some of my work, the next place you’ll find me is Valbondione, Italy. As ParkourWave, we’re running an event called JungleWave Camp. If you have never been with us, expect some tough few days. It all starts in three days, on the 29th of July. Come join us!

I will be presenting drills for the development of speed and agility without using any weight. The exercises will be scaled for any level of movement practice.
 Either you are Elaine Thompson or you rarely take a couple of steps out of your tiny dirty apartment, you will find good material to use. I will also talk about how to reset some good balance in the shoulders’ joints and introduce some theories about qualitative training analysis and how to apply this concept properly.

After that I head to Vienna for the brand new workshop “Motion” by the good Ido Portal’s team (check it out here you might still find some few spots left).

Until next time,

*Old African legend. A zombie. It doesn’t matter how far you run away from it, it will catch you.

domenica 11 giugno 2017

Interpretive Dynamics - Pivots

In today’s post I am talking about pivots. We want to create a relation between our body and the rail in a single spot. From there we turn the body around that point of contact on an axis or gliding on a plane. In the video:

- One arm rotational bridge

- Backward spin on the rail

- Transverse spin

Could you spot them? Good. Now off with the homework: Build a single long kata with two hooks, two slides and two pivots, film yourself and look at how much you suck. Do it again. Suck less. Again. Better. Again. Acceptable. Again. Strive for perfection in your eyes. We have a pretty good built in hardware. Refine it; work on it until you are maximally frustrated. Enjoy the feeling and the effort, don’t reject it – go home hungry that’s how progress is made. Pure labor limae.

From my travel diary, on the road - general notes on the teaching side of it, I think they might be interesting for some:

“The first interpretive dynamics workshops are rolling. The material is easily digestible; people with zero experience about movement blend with the more expert practitioners. Little material well practiced means more learning. Give them a book and they will sit. They have to stay hungry, the way I am.
They think they are doing a great job, when it is not happening; pressure from the crowd / reciprocal – small groups learning / video analysis have to be used to ensure a reality check. Our eyes can spot the ripples in the matrix. Get that finger in the eye! Suffer today, enjoy the memory tomorrow.
External cuing + practice + demonstration are the ingredients of the super hero special soup. They just work the best together. The enhance the learning process by at least 3 points in the scale of my eyes. Question and answers must follow each section. No questions after a long day means not a good relationship with the students and fat cold brains. It means bad teaching. The minds should be sweating all the time and they should feel under pressure (the same way it was happening to me during the movement camp in ido’s class). […] A lot of people means – you better have a damn long rail to keep the quality high. […]”

*The rhythm from the video comes from the little piece of art by Thomas Roebers and Floris Leeuwenberg of FOLI from the people of Baro (it is a classic but for those unfamiliar with it – check it here:

for those familiar with it check it again, it’s always good).

Have a good day and beat it,