The state we are in.

The state you are in, be it pain or body composition is just a manifestation of the current state of your system.

Let us look at the two maladies that affect the modern human separately to explain further:

– Pain
This affects many of us and in the midst of a painful episode we think of this as a permanent state, how will we ever be out of pain and not recalling a time when we were not in pain. Here are two points to think on, the first is that pain is an output from the brain and the second is that pain is recreated every moment.

– Body Composition
This basically what people refer to in layman’s terms of being too fat or too skinny or not enough whatever. The body as a we see it is merely a manifestation of the system, if we are sick, stressed, consuming too much or too little of certain foodstuffs. The body isn’t a fixed form, everything changes cells, bones remodel, skin renews, hair grows. In fact thats a good point, in much the same way you can change your hairstyle and have to wait for it to grow for some styles we have to wait for the our body to change to new inputs be they food, movement (loaded or otherwise).

So do not look at yourself and think ‘I am fat’ instead see your body for what it is, you have an excess of calories and your body is storing it. Remedy is to alter consumption and maybe alter your movement.

With pain, look to these facts have you an injury, illness or what is covered by the term  red flag if not and have been cleared for movement then is the pain an old pattern being held onto such as a limp which aided you getting around but the injury has long since healed and now the limp is causing issues on the non injured leg.

So composition of ones body can be changed and pain can be often reduced or stopped it is a case of seeing us for what we are, we are systems not statues set in stone. Are poor eating habits and levels of movement unchanging and are old ways of using ourself keeping us in a painful state, in other words how is your nervous system holding you?

“Shannon Technique”

Excuse the advertising but I saw the above video of Bill Shannon a while ago and his movement is wonderful, I read somewhere he has a degenerative hip condition, however he moves with grace and with his crutches he can do things those without cannot.

In the lecture below he brings up the interesting, enlightened and funny phenomenon of naming of techniques and accepted movement. At 12min 50secs he discusses people watching others, however not from a admiration point of view but as if they were helping or acting out helping. This is akin to when I watch rugby or other sports and my body kicks or convulses in response to the action or the action I wish the player had made.

Interesting that some people see him move and think he faking, and so what if he was, just highlights some movements be it fidgeting are frowned upon and people feel the need to judge.

When I attempt to teach people to kayak, to me its not about static postures and strokes but flow.

Regarding staring, I think there are many layers. You are seeing something which is nice, its human nature to do so and human nature to wince and look away from other things.


Wikipedia Entry – Bill Shannon

Bill Shannon Website


"Yawning" - Vinoth Chandar
“Yawning” – Vinoth Chandar

So called civilised people inhibit their movements yawns or otherwise, I would however argue that inhibition is not the sign of the civilised but the sign of the repressed.

Don’t stifle a yawn and notice what ways you move. But don’t analyse too much just gently notice.

Stopping/Starting – The puppy and the child

When doing movements be they of the somatic variety or other when do you stop? But more importantly, when do you start?

Some activities have an end i.e. washing up, but others are open ended. We often think in terms of sets and reps and do them to this formula barring injury whether we need them or not, whether we are exhausted or not.

dog image 4

Recently I ‎saw a video of a puppy playing in a paddling pool. The puppy was not being played with but was playing in the water, it did so until it wanted to get out. It got out shook itself and then jumped straight back in.

I thought that this was a good example of how to move, and how to give oneself permission to move and also how to sense what we want and what we need.

How many babies left to their own devices do not find themselves standing, running and jumping? This successful progression occurs without discussion of muscles, anatomy, sets or reps. Just exploring their range of motion and learning through experiencing.

This seemingly frivolous playful movement can be as powerful if not more so than structured activity. Some of my best learning in a kayak has come around through just trying stuff, this is exactly what we did as babies. We expanded into the world.

Letters & Strokes


Photo by:

Although originally published in relation to kayaking/canoeing this post is applicable to learning, be it  movement or sport.


We start as we start writing, clumsy scruffy letters but in the boat the strokes are often ineffectual clumsy and feel strange.

Practice is all important. A musician practices to get better. To improve and maintain you need to undertake concerted practice.

With a musical instrument the drive is to sound better, and the quality of your playing is easy for you and others to hear. With paddling the clues can be a little more ambiguous, especially when the beginner paddler is concentrating on not getting wet.

Some pointers to the standard of your strokes:

  • Economy.
  • Fluidity.
  • Balance and maintenance of.
  • Success, did you do it easily or was it survival?
  • Are the strokes even side to side?

Some of the points above can be sensed and others need external feedback be it success or third party input.

Set yourself a course or move on the river and repeat, see how effortless and smooth you can make it, how few strokes can it be done with?

Practice the basics (you are not a unique snowflake)

You are not like the snowflake.

Although originally published in relation to kayaking/canoeing this post is applicable to learning, be it movement or sport.

Its all basics, be you recreational or elite.

Whats the difference?

Practice, attention and application.

Every paddler needs the same skills most of the time. To paraphrase the film “Fight Club” you are not special, you are the same as every paddler.

So practice the basics in as many ways as you can. Same strokes different places.That said a single rapid can prepare you for most things given a good mind. Sure there are things that cannot be practiced easily, due to availability of:

  • Faster water
  • Heavier water (more cubic metres aka pushier)
  • Large drops
  • Features

The strokes you will use to deal with these new features will be the same strokes as used on a smaller familiar rapid. This smaller familiar rapid by its nature of familiarity will allow you to relax and experiment. Then when you try harder or new rivers you can concentrate on the new features and not on the techniques themselves.

Practice a variety of strokes and play with:

  • Blade angles
  • Balance of torso,
  • Speed of stroke,
  • Direction of boat travel.

Play games and test oneself.


The article by the coach Dan John explains this in terms of physical training:

Dan John Article