Strong but not that powerful

Dan:
I was delivering a level one course in Essex where his gym is based and I went there to do some formal testing for the end of my training program, and one day we just did some max tests for some lifts. My deadlift’s okay, my bench press is horrific because my arms are really long because I’m a gibbon. Sorry everybody. Then on the second day of testing, which was after a rest day, we measured what’s called my dynamic strength index, and we set up what we called a mid-thigh pull, which is a static barbell set into a rig, that is just above the height if my knees, and that you cannot move. On the floor is a force plate, and you set yourself for the deadlift position where the bar is just above your knees, and you just pull on this bar as hard as you can and what it essentially does is it measures how strong your deadlift is from that position because you’re pulling yourself down into the force plate.

Craig:
Right.

Dan:
You take this number and you compare it with a bit of maths to the standing counter movement jump, which is like the acute sports science jump where you put your hands on your hips, you bend down, you jump as high as you can. We did three readings on each, just going for maximum effort, you compare the two and you see how balanced you are. The mid-thigh pull tells you the maximum force that your body is capable of producing, your maximum strength, and the counter movement jump gives you your maximum power. The relationship between the two shows you if you’re strong but not powerful, powerful but not strong, or balanced.

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The Perennial Problem

Rafe:
So, I wanted to touch base on that idea of combinatorial explosion because it’s very important in understanding the perennial problem and how we have failed to address that now. We tend to think about problems as things that maybe have a very specific solution, or we’re really excited about … We talk about algorithms. Right? Algorithms are everywhere right now.

Craig:
Right.

Rafe:
Theoretically, an algorithm is anything that allows you to derive a perfect solution to a problem. Right? But there’s actually two classes of problems. One is what you could call a well defined problem, which is one where you can search the entire problem space. You can look at every possible solution and find one that is correct. And then there’s ill defined problems that have problem spaces that are too large.

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Psychotechnologies

Rafe:
That’s the likelihood of that path. Or I can try to take care of myself and follow what’s really meaningful to me, and I can rebuild my body and become healthy. And then maybe I can get something out of this sport for the rest of my life. So, that’s what I did.

Rafe:
I don’t remember when I ran into this, but I heard years ago some say that in mountaineering they say it’s not what the man does to the mountain. It’s what the mountain does to the man. And that was the key idea that started really generating around my practice. If parkour isn’t about me jumping further or isn’t about me winning a competition, it’s about how it transforms me. Well, how do I make that work as well as possible?

Craig:
What’s the optimum version of that practice, right? What does that look like?

Rafe:
What does that look like?

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Donald Trump

Rafe:
And so, recently my daughter has been complaining all the time about Donald Trump. She’s seven-years-old. It’s like I’m not trying to defend Donald Trump, but I’m like, “You shouldn’t be caring about Donald Trump. You’re seven-years-old.” It’s like, “Tell me a policy of Donald Trump’s that you think is bad, and tell me why you think it’s bad.”

Craig:
Right.

Rafe:
And I’m like challenging her. It’s like, “You can have an opinion about things as soon as you can do that. Right? You can tell me how Donald Trump is the worst president ever as soon as you can tell me what his policies are and why they’re bad and what the comparison is.” Right? If you’re just going to reflect the animus that is held by the people around you about somebody. Right? Maybe in this case it’s deserved, but that’s how witch hunts start.

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The Fianna

Rafe:
eah. So, it’s hard to say in some ways because I feel like it’s emergent from my life and my character and what I’ve experienced. I just happened to have grown up on the end of a dirt road in a hippie community. I had some really formative experiences around rough and tumble play and how that helped me overcome learning disabilities. I started martial arts very young. And I had this really deep interest in human nature that started at a very young age.

Rafe:
So, part of overcoming my learning disabilities when I was eight years old was falling in love with epic literature, starting with The Lord of the Rings, and then The Iliad and The Odyssey, and then the Norse mythology, and then lots of other fantasy novels. And that actually led me to starting an interesting in first history, I read the lives of all the caesars and all that stuff, and then anthropology.

Rafe:
And so, by the time I was 13 years old, I had read every anthropology book in my local library. And then I found a mentor who was a professional anthropologist who worked in local government who lent me his library. And I read something like 30 ethnographic monographs before I went into community college at 16 years old.

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On Growing Wings

First of all, it really itches. All the time, very deep, where it’d be too gruesome to try to scratch. It’s like the inside of the spine, a sharp, electric kind of itching that nothing but patience ever relieves.

Then there’s inflammation, everything surrounding the scapulae tight and hot and angry.

–Sometimes it’s only one, the other side just hanging around aching dully, but mostly they flare simultaneously, creating dread with every arm movement, always expecting the sharp, dense pain that will cause you to catch your breath.    

This goes on for weeks.     

Then it’s almost like the itching begins to float up through the layers of soft tissue, broadening as it becomes increasingly sub-dermal, suddenly pinpointing one day in the middle of each scapula, right there on the surface.     

This, you scratch.      

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Whatever happens in the middle.

Shirley: I think, I very much like Tyler, my son. Whatever he wants to do, obviously we’re going to support him. Whether that’s football, which he does love, or climbing or dancing or singing, whatever he wants to do.

Shirley: Very much when he was little, he was exposed to parkour from, I think I started parkour when he was two years old? Yeah, so he was about two years old. So he’d been exposed to parkour for a long time.

Shirley: But he didn’t see it as parkour, it was just movement. So he’d be in the play park and he’d maybe cycle on his bike to the climbing wall, climb up the little climbing wall, jump across a little piece of railing. He just moved.

Shirley: So I think we’ll keep that mindset with Indy. Movement is movement, right? So whatever she wants to do, she can do, if she doesn’t want to do parkour. She’ll do it naturally anyway because it’s normal for that too.

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Firefighting

Chris:
So yes, it was absolutely my childhood dream. One of the many things that I thought about as a child I would love to try and love a different way.

Craig:
Whoops. Do over.

Chris:
Yeah, I think becoming a firefighter is one of those things. I think what surprised me the most about becoming a firefighter I think it’s a lot of things that are hidden behind a curtain when it comes to cities actually work and countries actually work.

Chris:
People get hit by cars, people take their own lives there are fires, there are accidents, there is a lot of bad people out there, a lot of good people out there. I know things happen.

Chris:
But on the whole, you’re not regularly exposed to that. It’s taken care of very quickly, very effectively. And largely, the public is hidden from that kind of nasty truth I think.

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Bring it all together

Shirley:
I think we went through that with Tyler. Because he was, yeah, two, so very similar to Indy now. So he grew up I used to do pull-ups and push-ups at home when he was very young. So he’s grown up seeing me do pull-ups, muscle-ups.

Craig:
Normal human movement, right.

Shirley:
Even when he was seven years old, he was like “Are you doing gold ups ups or ups muscle ups?” It’s just very normal for him. We used to be a little bit out of the box I was going to hang out a couple of boxes while I was pushing him on the swing or whatever. So now, he’s thirteen years old, he just thinks we’re …

Craig:
Yeah, I know he does not think that everybody’s weird.

Shirley:
He thinks we’re normal. He thinks we’re normal.

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Time to myself

Shirley:
I think we make quite a lot of effort to make sure we have time for each other and time for our unit of four. There’s four of us in the family. Time for ourselves to train, just trying to find that balance. I think that balance is always shifting and you’re always having to adapt to that if you were to have a young child.

Shirley:
So especially with Chris working, four days on, four days off. Then I work say three days a week. Just trying to find that balance in between to make sure everyone is happy and everything’s working well. And as I mentioned, still getting our time to train for ourselves and training effectively. I don’t have that four hours a day to train now, which I used to have before.

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Batman

Dan: They’re all part of the same path. For me, it’s just one path and that’s the through line. And then I’ll experiment with other things here and there. Like, I went through a phase of studying archery quite a lot and getting into things like that. But I don’t train archery every week. But having trained it enough to understand the principles of it, that I find very useful, because I know, okay, now I can shoot a bow if I need to. And it’s great fun, and if the opportunity comes up to keep training it again, maybe in the future I will.

Craig: Yeah. You could pick it up and really, really shine it.

Dan: Yeah. I mean, it’s all part of one training pathway, which is this search for competence. Physical and mental and emotional, I suppose, competence.

Craig: If I say who’s the first person that comes to mind when you think of the word competent, who comes to mind?

Dan: First person. That’s tricky. It would probably be a character from a story.

Craig: That’s great. What character?

Dan: It would probably be Batman, someone like that. Because these-

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Zen Screen

Dan: Yeah. And then I think to me, that skill is the skill that I think is really important to develop. And for me, it’s about each day. Now, the meta for me is how am I going to manage my time? Because you’ve only got a certain amount of time in life, and what do I think is important enough to prioritize on a given day, in a granular sense, and in a given week and a year? So, almost like programming. What’s your microcycle, what’s your macrocycle, mesocycle? And how are you deciding what’s important enough to give your time to? Because if you don’t decide, your phone and social media will decide for you. And then you’re at the whim of fate. I mean, then you’re not choosing anything.

Dan: I think that skill is really important to develop, and that’s the one that I work on the most. It’s not a question of what am I going to train now, so much, because my training is always, in some ways, organic and continuous. Now it’s a question of how much time I’m going to devote to training and how much time I’m going to put to other things and project development and et cetera, et cetera. And not project developing, time off, that sort of stuff.

Dan: I think that’s a really tough skill to develop, and I think more and more that skill needs to be taught at a younger age. Because people, they’re not taught that sort of stuff and they grow up with the phone strapped to their hand. And I think I heard recently that the average adult touches their phone 3,000 times a day.

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