Monkey that fights. Child that plays.


I am reasonably fit, however I am efficient at my sport (canoe/kayak) which reduces its ability to develop cardio I would think.
After attending a Fighting Monkey workshop my “standing game” as I refer to it was found to be lacking, the games and practices showed my lacking cardiovascular fitness on the land.


My group (I was resting during this clip)

The day after the course I had a day off in Barcelona before I flew home, I went and had a massage and on walking back through the city I heard a cacophony from a side street, I wandered over and there was a school playground and the kids were out playing, the age group was under 10 years. Multiple games of tag, tick, football were being played and you know what, not one child was bent double out of breath, not a single one.
What I came to realise that the less training we have the more we self-regulate, these children ran and slowed when they were tiring and walked, spun and stopped. When recovered they then started again. Whereas as we gain facts about training we then fit ourselves into these training plans, programmes or whatever. I think if we noticed more we could make more gains, by following a reasonable practice. Play would be a good practice or even Fartlek type play with external governors if we didn’t have a partner/play mates.

Link: Fartlek

Finding someone to play with who is devious and tries to test you but is also kind as you don’t want to break a playmate. Chase other runners in the park and then switch when you catch them. Play hide and seek, I can still remember being giddy with excitement when hiding, and a friend being so close you could touch them and they haven’t a clue you’re there.

That said I sort of knew what would happen at the workshop in as much as my “standing game” would be poor but I wanted to be exposed to the data and then ‘know’ as people often confuse data with knowledge. Knowledge should be based on experience.

Richard Feynman’s videos discuss this knowing the name as opposed to knowing the thing, this can be applied to anything and in this case movement. Over and above the reflexes we were born with ie grasp, suck, swallow etc we learned to roll, crawl, stand and run all without knowing the name of a single muscle, without a rep scheme and without someone to copy as how many parents you see rolling or crawling.

We expand and explore.

Unless we have a specific abstract activity aka sport our “fitness” could maybe best served by this explore, notice and play mission statement.

I will leave you with the thoughts of Richard Feynman, what do you know and what do you just know the name of? Data vs Knowledge.



Running draw stroke aka hanging draw.

Note:  Although originally published in relation to kayaking/canoeing this post is applicable to learning, be it  general movement or a sporting endeavour.

I was due to write a post on the subject of the hanging or running draw stroke (to develop the theme of blade dexterity) when I noticed that Ron Lugbill had written a post on the subject, below is a link to his blog post. I recommend having a read of his blog as there are some great insights for competitive and general paddlers alike – Ron Lugbill Link: Running draw stroke.

The running draw is a stroke that enables a boat to move sideways without having to expose the side of the boat to an object i.e. rock/river feature. Not exposing the side of the boat reduces the risk of an impact or wrap whilst also enabling the craft to keep moving forwards.This stroke is a good choice when lining up the boat before a rapid/section.


So basically:

  • Get some forward speed up
  • Place the blade in the water as per the start position of the draw or scull, ensure the blade is next to your torso then whilst moving forward open up the blade face to get resistance.
  • You will need to experiment with the amount of blade face to open up, it is a balance between resistance to get some sideways movement and also maintaining forward speed.

We all have our favourite Danish kayaking hanging draw videos there are many like it but this one is mine:

The rest is up to the simple act of practice.


maslow 4 stages learningNote: 
Although originally published in relation to kayaking/canoeing this post is applicable to learning, be it  movement or sport.

  • Where are you? In relation to your paddling that is?
  • Do you know where you are along the continuum of acquiring a higher level of competence?

“The Four Stages of Learning provides a model for learning. It suggests that individuals are initially unaware of how little they know, or unconscious of their incompetence. As they recognize their incompetence, they consciously acquire a skill, then consciously use it. Eventually, the skill can be utilized without it being consciously thought through: the individual is said to have then acquired unconscious competence.”

The fourth stage does not mean that you know how you do something as it has become second nature or able to describe or teach something effectively. This lack of understanding can explain why often the best coaches were not necessarily the best players, if you found an activity easy then you may not find it easy to comprehend the difficulties others are having and therefore break it down for others to learn.

This lack of comprehension of your abilities when competent can be explained by the fifth stage that can be vary depending upon the mentality of the individual:

  • Reflection
  • Complacency

So wherever you are on your paddling education whether it be confusion or frustration, knowing this is natural and part of learning can be some comfort. So practise and reflect on your success to determine what to change. No matter what your level there is always something to learn.



Noun:The state of being useful, profit-able, or beneficial.

I like the word ‘Utility’, in fact i would go further and say most of what i make, design and create is utilitarian. Not minimalist that to me offers up products of stark, uniform finish. I like simple things, made just enough. Pencil marks, paint brush strokes and fixings seen. This can be furniture, drawings and even food. Not fancy just hand made.

Same with my own physical state, there is strong enough for daily life and even my chosen pastime of kayaking, there is a point at which the pursuit of strength has become the focus, there is a limit to how hard you can pull on a paddle.