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Collected MovNat Resources, for parkour/freerunning beginner


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I have been fascinated with MovNat for some time now. It is a system of training in "natural movement", establishing the strength and mobility to explore our full physical potential for interacting with our varied environments. So for instance rather than training pullups, they train a variety of methods of pulling yourself up onto an overhead bar/surface. Rather than deadlifting weights, they teach how to effectively lift and carry a wide variety of heavy objects. They like training in the woods, in an improvisational way, but they teach fundamental drills that are generally practiced indoors in a safe and controlled environment. The goal is to change how you move OUTSIDE of training. They very much embody the Assassin's Guild motto of "The world is our playground".

 

Many of the techniques seem very basic, but they set a pretty high standard for grace and "efficiency" of movement. No flailing and grunting your way through. Everything is smooth and controlled, and the progressions are very gradual. They seem to put a lot of thought into keeping things safe. They don't include anything without some plausible purpose in real-world movement. (Why do we train inverted crawling? Because it is a safe way to make it down a steep, technically challenging slope.) They include the more practical obstacle traversal aspects of parkour, as well as fundamental movements of throwing and catching, lifting and carrying, combat, and other things, but the beginner drills focus on climbing, jumping, balancing, carrying, and assorted maneuvering on the ground. (SPOILER: Lots of kneeling and deep squatting. :D )

 

Unfortunately, I've never taken any classes in it, largely due to money and distance. Classes would be a serious investment for me, so I'd like to get solid on some basics and improve my overall strength and conditioning before I do that. (I don't need to pay someone $$ to supervise my crawling or falling off a 2x4 on the ground. I just need practice.) So I've been gathering up the various bits of information they have scattered around online, freely available, and condensing it into a form more useful to me in my training.

 

They have a book in the works, but it remains to be seen how much of it is practical systematic instruction - intended to guide the reader in developing a home practice - and how much of it is glossy inspirational photos of extremely fit people vaulting through lush forests interspersed with laments about the sorry state of the modern world and how it devastatingly restricts our movement patterns. I've read some stuff that strongly suggests they intend to eventually make a good deal of training material freely available online, but want to have a certain level of infrastructure established first. They seem very much to be a work in progress at this point. 

 

Primary Resources:

 

 

My plan on where to start...

  1. Sign up for their newsletter, to get their free ebook. There is a place to sign up at the bottom of their website. The newsletter has been very infrequent, but has included actual training info, not just promotional stuff. In case that doesn't work, I've got a copy of the free ebook here. Flip through the ebook. Practice any techniques that catch your eye, but these are somewhat randomly chosen techniques, not a beginners practice. (The deep squat getup is damn hard.) The tone of the book seems kind of judgy to me in places, but whatever, it is intended as motivational.
  2. Watch the "From the Ground Up" videos, and practice the movements until you feel like you've basically got the hang of it. These are fairly detailed, high-quality instruction. Skip anything too hard. Make a note of anything you think you should work on. You can look at the notes I made for those videos. Some of these can be used as short workouts, but most are just instruction on one or two techniques. 
  3. Read through the 4-Week Primer on Breaking Muscle. Look at the videos. Try the techniques. They aren't especially exciting - lots of maneuvering around on the ground - but they are safe and require little equipment. If they seem super boring, go to the Beginner Combos. If a quick run-through of the Week 1 techniques is easy, skip ahead to try some from week 2, especially the once balancing on a board. Week 3 is many of the same movements, this time carrying a heavy sandbag or other load. Week 4 changes the format entirely, and strings the movements together in longer sequences. If you want to practice the 4-Week primer, here are some practice sheets I put together for myself.  (NOTE: For these workouts, x4 = right, left, right, left. Four times total. Not four each side.)
  4. Try techniques you are confident about in more complex environments. Balance on all sorts of things. Crawl up and down hill, etc. Use the Progression tools described in "From the Ground Up" to increase complexity and intensity.
  5. If you want more, seriously consider getting professional instruction, especially if you have significantly limited mobility, or are not confident in your ability to self-assess your movement quality. They don't have a ton of trainers around, but they do have quite a few, listed on their website.
  6. Check out the Beginner Workouts on Youtube. These are somewhat random circuits, including techniques that aren't taught in the other videos. They include basic instruction on the techniques, but I'd find them a little hard to follow in parts. I'd probably focus on one at a time, until I got the hang of it, before attempting a circuit of five new movements. The first two videos require a bar high enough for a good dead hang, and the others need space for running/crawling. I've made notes about them and what props they require. (There are also intermediate and advanced MovNat Combo videos on Youtube, as well as BreakingMuscle.)
  7. For more examples of MovNat workouts, look at their "Movement of the Day" workouts. They show up in the monthly newsletter.They are not beginner workouts, and many require an discouragingly wide assortment of equipment. Here are the five July MODs, with required equipment listed for each. There are also seven random MODs from the old MovNat blog, which they took down when they redid their website.

 

I've also found a variety of good articles, which I'll post as I dig them up.

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Joshua - Yoga Ninja Weasel #20: The Weasel goes on an Adventure!

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More Articles & Workouts

 

Understanding and Analyzing Your Movement Environment: Great article on the pros and cons of training in a natural/outdoor environment, compared to a "controlled" indoor environment.

 

 

Two more advanced 4-Week MovNat programs on Breaking Muscle:

Vic Verdier's "Big Bang" workouts: advanced training for explosive power across (nearly) all of MovNat's essential movement types. (If you can't find them, all the workouts in the program are listed under his profile.

Four Weeks to Master the Tuck-Pop: A harder method of getting yourself over the bar. Easier than muscle-ups, but harder that the swing-up demonstrated in "From The Ground Up".

 

You can also browse through the "Natural Movement" category on Breaking Muscle.

Joshua - Yoga Ninja Weasel #20: The Weasel goes on an Adventure!

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What does MovNat count as "Beginner"? 

MovNat Performance Benchmarks: https://www.movnat.com/performance-benchmarks/

 

Whenever I see workouts listed as “Beginner” “Intermediate” “Advanced”, I wonder what they consider a “beginner” and whether it is more about experience with the specific technique or overall fitness level. MovNat actually has a benchmark system! (I think people can only come to the Intermediate and Advanced classes if they’ve passed a benchmark test.) I really like that idea, because I know with yoga classes, “Intermediate” can mean a huge range of things, and generally anyone can show up for them.

 

So to give you a sense of scale for MovNat levels, here are brief descriptions of the MovNat Beginner benchmarks, which would be required to attend the Intermediate classes. These are to be done without detailed cues - they are supposed to be techniques you are quite confident in, not ones you just learned, and they definitely shouldn’t be the ONLY things you’ve learned. The standard for passing is pretty high. At worst, you can have three that’d be considered an 8 on a scale of 1-10, and the rest have to be 10s. (You can take each section twice and keep the best score.) They are described in detail at the link above.
Beginner Benchmarks
GET-UPS (perform all consecutively, each time going from laying down to standing and back down)
    - Strength getup, both sides. 35lb/16kg for men, 25lb/12kg for women.

Any type of weight, either held in hand or on shoulder.

(I assume a turkish getup?  that link even shows a shouldered version.)

    - Tripod Get-up, both sides. (Shown in From The Ground Up #10)
    - Cross-legged getup. five times, continuously. (Almost certain it is this one.)


BALANCE walk length of 8ft 2x4 on ground, five times, with pivot reverse. [turn on balls of feet]

(Balance video. Pivot Reverse video.)
    - Instructor adds one random "unpracticed demand" such as a pole rather than board, or holding weight.

 

CARRY - hip hinge (deadlift) a sandbag, four times. (½ bodyweight for men, ⅓ bodyweight for women.)
    - Then squat it to your lap, adjust grip, and carry 20m (~15 steps). Lap to set down, with hip hinge.

(Hip hinge video. Lapping Waist Carry video.)


JUMP - depth jump off a surface roughly half your height, onto an 8"x8" flat surface an equal distance horizontally away, TWICE. Hold landing position 2 seconds, then recover to standing. (Depth Jump video.  Depth Jump progressions.)


CLIMB - side swing traverse, on 1-2" thick bar, for 2 meters, and return.

(Moving hand to hand sideways along a long bar. Demo video.)


CRAWL - 2 minutes continuous foot/hand crawl, maintaining roughly 1 step per second pace
    - Instructor adds one random "unpracticed demand" such moving over an uneven or sloped surface.

(This is a “bear crawl” with knees low, strictly contralateral, taught in this video.)


RUN - (optional) Instructor evaluates running form.

(Running cues are given in the fourth Beginners Combo video, as well as the fifth video.)

 

 

As another measure of "What counts as Beginner?", they have a list of the "Level 1 Techniques" listed on their instructor certification page. (I've just put them in categories.)

  • RUNNING: General running technique, Lateral running
  • BALANCING: General balancing technique, Pivot-reverse, Cross-reverse
  • JUMPING: General landing, Slap landing, Leg swing jump, Broad jump, Vertical jump, Depth jump
  • VAULTS: Tripod vault, Split vault, Single-handed side vault, Double-handed side vault. (MovNat Names for Vaults)
  • CRAWLING: Knee-hand crawl, Foot-hand crawl, Push-pull crawl, Inverted crawl, Shoulder Crawl
  • CLIMBING: Tap-swing, Tuck-swing, Forward Swing traverse, Side Swing traverse, Power traverse, Hook traverse
  • THROW/CATCH: Rotational swing throw, Chest throw, Rotational swing catch, Chest catch
  • LIFT/CARRY: Deadlift, Lapping, Shouldering, Push Press, Waist Carry, Chest Carry

Most of these have youtube videos.

 

Joshua - Yoga Ninja Weasel #20: The Weasel goes on an Adventure!

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I just got the MovNat newsletter - the technique covered is the shoulder crawl.

 

They confirmed for me that they don't have the old newsletters online anywhere. Oh well.

Apparently they don't know that the service that handles their newsletter has an online archive of their newsletters back to November 2015.

 

Also, this is from the previous newsletter - Beautiful equipment! 

 

7b8028f3-529a-4b80-8cdf-413d89278e18.png
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Joshua - Yoga Ninja Weasel #20: The Weasel goes on an Adventure!

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OH MAN I WANT ONE OF THOSE!

"What doesn't kill me better start running", level 7 Furyan Assassin
My Journey From Fat to Fit: 1|2|3|4|5|6|7|8|9|10|11|12|13|CURRENT

A proud member of the Champion House; Targaryen (Assassin's mini), Hufflepuff bravery is forgetting to be afraid because the thing is so important that the risk doesn't even matter (Assassin's mini) , Hellfire Club represent! (Assassin's mini)

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I've also been compiling all the MovNat MODs that I can find, but I'm kind of ticked they never bother migrating their old blog posts when they revamp their website. Wayback Machine FTW.

The workouts are supposed to be pretty improvisational, based on client focus/ability and what the environment provides, but without a coach I want as many examples of expert-designed programming as possible.

Even their beginner stuff is beyond my current conditioning. I have enough (or NEARLY enough) flexibility for everything I've tried, and my balance is pretty good. (Thanks, yoga.) My overall strength seems close to their beginner level. Room for improvement, but nothing I struggle miserably with.

The cardio/endurance though... damn.... not my forte.

That is one of the reasons I'm really comfortable working on this without a coach. I don't need to pay someone to figure out that this thing I can do once or twice, I should practice doing it more, so I can do it more.

Also the nearest level 1 coach (meaning they completed a weekend seminar) is over an hour away.

The nearest experienced coach w/ licenced gym is close to three hours from me. (That is ReBar, in CT, with Danny, the dude who does the From The Ground Up videos.) If I stick with this, I'm considering stopping by for a training session with him on the way home from a business trip. Next one is September, though that is a little soon.

Given that he's the guy putting out these great videos, I'm hoping he's someone with a real interest in helping people improve their movement quality, not just an interest in getting people to sign up for personal training packages. If he's interested in working with me once or twice a year, that'd be awesome, and I can probably budget for that. I know as a yoga teacher, I'd be THRILLED with a student like that, who had a solid home practice but wanted an occasional consultation, instead of the usual, which is someone who wants a teacher to hold their hand the whole time and never does a single unsupervised workout.

But there no point in coaching until I get to a stage where I actually feel like I need some help. I want to exhaust the freely available information, master some basics, and improve my conditioning, THEN get some coaching to help me go further.

Sent from my VS415PP using Tapatalk

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Joshua - Yoga Ninja Weasel #20: The Weasel goes on an Adventure!

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MovNat Beginner MODs, from their old websites.

 

These are all from the Internet Archive Wayback Machine. This is just the beginner ones. About a dozen combos from early 2013, and 15-20 full workouts (mobility drills, skill focus, combo) from 2013-14. For some, only the excerpt was archived, not the full post, so they are cut off at the combo. This doesn't include the more recent ones.

 

There was an equal number of intermediate and advanced ones in the archives, plus a bunch that weren't marked with a difficulty level. I'll probably post them eventually, but I've got to get back on task...

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Joshua - Yoga Ninja Weasel #20: The Weasel goes on an Adventure!

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On 8/16/2016 at 3:51 PM, LongWing said:

what's the difference between MovNat and Parkour?  I used to be pretty fit, so I am capable, I'm on the other side of 45 so I know I need to be careful :)

 

Without being super versed in either, I would say MovNat is more of a movement/fitness/lifestyle philosophy, and Parkour is more of a 'sport' by comparison.

 

or

 

MovNat is what people should be capable of doing, and Parkour is applying those skills to do awesome fun stuff. 

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what's the difference between MovNat and Parkour?  I used to be pretty fit, so I am capable, I'm on the other side of 45 so I know I need to be careful [emoji4]

 

Without being super versed in either, I would say MovNat is more of a movement/fitness/lifestyle philosophy, and Parkour is more of a 'sport' by comparison.

 

or

 

MovNat is what people should be capable of doing, and Parkour is applying those skills to do awesome fun stuff. 

The founder of MovNat is a French dude who was heavily involved in the early phases of the craziness that developed into the modern Parkour movement, so there is a strong connection.

MovNat is much more focused on safety, range of motion, and the most efficient ways of overcoming obstacles. No flips or flashy stuff. What is the easiest way to get over a waist-high obstacle? What is the easiest way to get up onto an overhead surface? What basic movement skills are required for these? How can we break it down into parts for people of all fitness levels?

It is very much about exploring (and expanding) the full potential of your body to interact with your environment. It isn't necessarily done at a fast pace either. Parkour has much more emphasis on speed.

Also, parkour generally assumes for an urban setting. It assumes your obstacles will be walls, railings, stairs, buildings, etc. MovNat assumes for a natural setting, logs, rocks, trees, steep slopes, etc. MovNat also includes a wider range of activities than parkour, most notably lifting and carrying, but the more advanced training includes combat and swimming.

(I didn't know this, but apparently combat skills were a big part if the early parkour movement. They'd routinely have fight tournaments in abandoned subway stations.)

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Joshua - Yoga Ninja Weasel #20: The Weasel goes on an Adventure!

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On ‎8‎/‎16‎/‎2016 at 8:51 PM, LongWing said:

what's the difference between MovNat and Parkour?  I used to be pretty fit, so I am capable, I'm on the other side of 45 so I know I need to be careful :)

 

First, they are not mutually exclusive and there is some overlap.

 

Three Biggest differences between MOVNAT and Parkour:

1. MOVNAT does full strength and conditioning (imperfectly compared to Crossfit).

2. MOVNAT has full control of it's brand (perfectly compared to Crossfit). You can open a Parkour Gym or a Natural Movement Gym without paying anyone a license fee. You would have to pay MOVNAT to open a MOVNAT gym.

3. MOVNAT is a company that trains people to train people to be useful in both urban and rural settings. Parkour is predominantly an Urban lifestyle that trains for fun with no real master. Both view "fitness" as a side effect of their practice rather than the first goal.

 

Both Parkour and MOVNAT are subsets of something called "Natural Movement" or just "Movement". Natural Movement has its roots in the work of centuries of military personnel who noticed natives in various places they were stationed need no training and were very fit. Most notably of these was Georges Hébert's Natural Method. Hébert was among the earliest proponents of le parcours, or obstacle course, form of physical training, which is now standard in the military and has led to the development of civilian fitness trails and confidence courses. In fact, woodland challenge courses comprising balance beams, ladders, rope swings and so-on are often still described as "Hebertism" or "Hebertisme" courses both in Europe and in North America. It may even be possible to trace modern adventure playground equipment back to Hébert's original designs in the early 1900s.

 

Parkour's David Bell and Movnat's Erwan Le Corre grew up in the same area of France, but they developed their disciplines separately. Today people tend to use the term Parkour for fast/efficient obstacle passing, and "Free running" for tricking/fancy obstacle passing. At one point in time they two terms had the same meaning.

 

 

Strength Training/Lifting

---PARKOUR=no

---MOVNAT=Yes, specializes in safe/effective real world strength training

Cardio/Endurance/Energy System Development

---PARKOUR=Parkour, Yes, intentional; Free Running, Yes, unintentional

---MOVNAT=Yes

Swimming:

---PARKOUR=Theoretically,

---MOVNAT=Yes

Jumping:

---PARKOUR=Yes

---MOVNAT=Yes

Vaulting: 

---PARKOUR=Yes, Specialty

---MOVNAT=Yes, not a specialty, task like any other

Climbing:

---PARKOUR=Yes Walls/fences specialty. Mostly man made obstacles.

---MOVNAT=Yes, bars and branches are specialty, very little wall/fence passing (at least in public documents).

Balancing:

---PARKOUR=Yes

---MOVNAT=Yes

Quadruped Movement:

---PARKOUR=Yes

---MOVNAT=Yes

Tricking/Acrobatics:  

---PARKOUR=Parkour- theoretically no, but practically yes, I don't know anyone who does parkour that does not also free run and most also do martial arts tricking.

---MOVNAT=MOVNAT absolutely not in the catalog (encouraged for general happiness, like dancing, but not a part of training)

Rolling/Tumbling/Break falls:

---PARKOUR=Yes

---MOVNAT=Yes

Combatives-Striking:

---PARKOUR=No

---MOVNAT=Yes

Combatives-Grappeling:

---PARKOUR=No

---MOVNAT=Yes

Throwing/Catching:

---PARKOUR=No (but often happens anyway, because kids do that).

---MOVNAT=Yes

Crawling:

---PARKOUR=Very little

---MOVNAT=Yes

 

MovNatDeconditioningCycle-e1402285833690.jpgMovnat Skills II.jpg 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On ‎7‎/‎28‎/‎2016 at 3:41 PM, Darth Yoga said:

 

I've also been compiling all the MovNat MODs that I can find, but I'm kind of ticked they never bother migrating their old blog posts when they revamp their website. Wayback Machine FTW.

Sent from my VS415PP using Tapatalk

 

It took me a long time to find that stuff. I wish I saw this post first before I started last year.

 

I'm thinking about getting a certification in MOVNAT because I'm so frustrated with not finding a good coach.

 

But if you go to one of their weekends (for over $400), you should have all the tools to train on your own effectively. If you have a jungle gym in your back yard or near you home, you can train free for the rest of your life.

 

I did depth jumps with my shoes off this morning, completely different experience than with shoes on.

 

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Middle Age Mutant Ninja Panda

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Academy Class Achievements: General=21, Academy=12, Ranger=11, Warrior=8, Scout=14, Assassin=15, Monk 7, Druid 8, Adventurer 29,

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2 hours ago, MiddleAgeMutantNinjaPanda said:

 

It took me a long time to find that stuff. I wish I saw this post first before I started last year.

 

I'm thinking about getting a certification in MOVNAT because I'm so frustrated with not finding a good coach.

 

But if you go to one of their weekends (for over $400), you should have all the tools to train on your own effectively. If you have a jungle gym in your back yard or near you home, you can train free for the rest of your life.

 

I did depth jumps with my shoes off this morning, completely different experience than with shoes on.

 

 

Let me know if you're anywhere near NJ!  The more I read about it, the more I think this is more of what I'm looking for than Parkour.  Sure, doing flips and all of that would be really cool, but I can't afford to do the flashy stuff that would land me in the hospital or not be able to go into work.  At the same time, the more natural movement is something that I really liked from the videos I watched last night.

 

Thanks for explaining all of that, it was really helpful!

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On ‎8‎/‎30‎/‎2016 at 3:30 PM, LongWing said:

 

Let me know if you're anywhere near NJ!  The more I read about it, the more I think this is more of what I'm looking for than Parkour.  Sure, doing flips and all of that would be really cool, but I can't afford to do the flashy stuff that would land me in the hospital or not be able to go into work.  At the same time, the more natural movement is something that I really liked from the videos I watched last night.

 

Thanks for explaining all of that, it was really helpful!

 

No problem.  

 

Here are some other links that might help you understand the principles of GPP, SPP, GPMD, and SPMD

 

https://breakingmuscle.com/natural-movement/beyond-gpp-the-new-model-of-performance-training

 

Most "Fitness" programs are GPP programs. Including the Nerd Fitness Academy, P90X, Crossfit, and many others. They don't teach skills outside the exercises, and any game or play is basically about producing numbers competitively (like leaderboards). (But nerd fitness at least brings fun to the grind).

 

GPP is only interesting when it's competitive. But it quickly loses it's utility when it's competitive, people want to put up numbers and start missing the point.

 

See this article https://breakingmuscle.com/strength-conditioning/specialization-is-for-insects-why-mediocrity-beats-the-elite

 

Likewise, there are a lot of programs that promote general fitness through SPP (like Taibo, Krav Maga fitness, Zumba, etc..) They take a specialized activity and promote it for general fitness. The reason people so desperately want to sign up for a specialized skill for general fitness is general fitness is normally boring. I feel REALY bad for people who only lift or only bike, etc.. This might actually be more destructive than being a couch potato.

 

 

I think MOVNAT finds the balance because it offers a strength and conditioning program with general skill training

 

https://breakingmuscle.com/strength-conditioning/why-do-we-train-finding-purpose-in-movement

 

https://breakingmuscle.com/natural-movement/beyond-gpp-find-your-movement-flow

 

 

If it's not fun, or at least your not getting a sense of accomplishment, then you won't do it. Parkour is fun. Free running is fun. Both are SPP/S-PMD but there is nothing unhealthy or dysfunctional about having fun as long as your not overspecializing. You can use MOVNAT or another GPP to fill in the gaps. 

 

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