Slowing down, Part I

This week I began field testing what will be Rev 8 of the Fifth Ape curriculum. Yes, that means I've "officially" iterated the skills, progressions, and scalings of what I teach 8 times in 2 years. I'm starting to feel like I should adopt software versioning standards…

The big developments this time around have to do mostly with our Movement 1 classes. I'll just go ahead and say right off the bat that this post is largely an effort to get my students out to more Movement 1 classes. I'm now thinking about our movement curriculum less as a linear Movement 1 -> Movement 2 -> Movement 3 progression and more as a circle of one flowing into the other and back again. In this latest version of the curriculum, our Strength & Conditioning class is still all about, well, building strength and conditioning. Movement 2 & 3 and Martial arts are still about specific skill development. But Movement 1 is now unique in our curriculum in that it focuses on mobility, biomechanics, and an emphasis on developing yielding strength. Yielding strength - or eccentric loading, if you want to get fancy-pantsy, is incredibly important and underdeveloped in the vast majority of the population, even the nominally fit. Smooth deceleration is vital to controlling any type of movement and (all my students, say it with me…) Power Is Nothing Without Control.

Most discussions about hitting the brakes within the movement community are done in the context of landing well from a jump and, indeed, that is vitally important. But I really want everyone to focus more on unilateral eccentric loading, which is a fancy pantsy way of saying slowing yourself down with one leg. Obviously this places greater demands on the leg that's doing the braking but it's also much more of a biomechanical challenge - we need to learn how to align our bodies in a way that allows the joints and connective tissues to take the load correctly. They say a picture is worth 1000 words and I'm sick of typing, so here's a video:

I tossed some upper body work in there at the end as it's also important, especially in a grappling/ground fighting context. Play with these ideas and see how it affects both your training/practice as well as your every-day movement -  I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Slowing things down has been a focus of mine recently - in terms of building quality eccentric strength in myself and my athletes as I've just described but also in terms of my life and career progression. More on that tomorrow!