Hacking the Optimal Performance State with Steven Kotler | The Cloudfoot Diaries #75

One of the most fascinating Rogan talks this year, without doubt, was with guest, author and flow state engineer, Steven Kotler.

If you’re even remotely interested in optimising your own performance, be it in the movement and sporting world, or cerebral domain of intelligence, you really ought to give this episode a listen all the way through. These guys cover some fascinating topics and much what I write below is in relation to what is discussed.

Enjoy the ride!

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No Gi Reflections #8 | Structuring your training feat. John Danaher

“So often I see people engage in training with no plan as to what they are trying to accomplish.” TRUE THAT MR. JOHN DANAHER!

I see it all the time, too, in pretty much every physical endeavour I undertake. The most common arena I see it is within the gym world, an area that you could argue places the most emphasis on following a programme to get results and yet nobody seems to do it! Blows my mind. And even those that do log their progress, only around 20% of them actually have an idea as to where they are heading and what they are working towards!

Structured training: So often I see people engage in training with no plan as to what they are trying to accomplish. This will always limit your ability to improve over time – the whole reason why we engage in practice. It is critical that someone in the room have a clear idea as to what we are trying to improve and how we are going to do it. In a beginners class or a general class, it is enough for the coach to know what the plan is and run the class accordingly. At elite levels however, I like to make the athletes part of the discussion as to what we are trying to achieve – they have the knowledge and insight to add to the discussion and we can make adjustments based on their input. Here Garry Tonon, Gordon Ryan and myself outline want we want to go over at a local gym in Poole England just prior to Polaris 4 – once the plan is set, words get replaced by action and the room heats up accordingly.

A photo posted by John Danaher (@danaherjohn) on

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Who the fuck is Bear Grylls? Meet UCLES | The Cloudfoot Diaries #74

I grew up watching Ray Mears on television and thought he was always a bit of a legend. Calm, methodical and tubby, like a real outdoorsman should be.

Then Bear Grylls came along and to be honest, annoyed the shit out of me. Something just wasn’t right about him; an Etonian education, over-zealous cadence and staying in Hilton hotels whilst filming ‘survival’ content.

Well, Edward Michael Grylls can fuck right off because there’s a new badman on the scene who appears to be as legit as they come. Andrew Ucles. A cross between Steve Irwin and the Grizzly Man.

A friend of mine showed me some of his videos very recently and to be honest, it blew my mind. This guy is literally a superstar and has a pair the size of two nebulae.

Ladies and Cavemen, I present to you, UCLES.

Settle.

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No Gi Reflections #7 | Class Quality – the difference between hosting and coaching

One of my biggest influences in the coaching world; John Danaher.

One of my biggest influences in the coaching world; John Danaher.

I’m going to try and refrain from turning this post into a rant and the reason for that can only be due to the fact that I have been spoilt. Yes, spoilt in the realms of high quality coaching. Instead, I will try to form this post into more of a published discussion that I had with a training partner of mine recently, in the hope to shed some light towards the current holes in the BJJ club format here in the county of Surrey, UK.

Over the last 3 years, I have carried out much of my own research, self-experimentation and learning from others at the ever amazing Locker 27 Strength and Conditioning Gym in Surrey, UK.

However, it is perhaps only in the last few months since attending No Gi classes twice a week that I have come to appreciate a core element of the Locker’s ethos more than ever; quality coaching. I have been exposed to some of the best coaches in the country at this place, many of whom work for the Harlequins rugby team, some being ex-professional athletes themselves and others just very passionate coaches and scholars. By default, my mirror neurons have picked up on the importance of quality and I strive to apply it to all of my clients’ sessions, be it via strength coaching, mobility assessments or submission grappling.

The flip side to that coin, though, is the fact that I have somewhat re-entered the outside world in the form of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu clubs and classes and have fast come to the conclusion that there is a LOT to be desired with; the class format, coaching quality and (lack thereof) syllabuses.

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Review | Methods of Modern Mobility Seminar with Emmet Louis

I first came across Emmet’s work on Youtube via his videos on the illusive topic of Loaded Progressive Stretching a couple of years ago and since then have seen various other clips on his approach to gymnastic movements, progressions and protocols etc.

Since starting my own service of providing mobility assessments and programming to clients, I wanted to continue my personal learning around the realms of mobility, flexibility and all things stretchy. Partly for myself and partly for my clientele.
Cue Emmet’s Facebook advert; Modern Methods of Mobility Seminar in London.
His ad caught my eye for two reasons; the cover photo of a partner stretch which looked pretty intense, and his name attached to it. Immediately I was interested but price would be the deciding factor for me. How much a seminar costs will usually turn on my bullshit detector, as I know when someone is milking it in this industry. I was pleasantly surprised with Emmet’s Early Bird pricing option of €300 for 12-14 hours of instruction, split over two days. (Note; if someone is charging over £400 for a weekend seminar in the UK, on subjects relating to physical training, ask yourself seriously if it is worth it and what you are really going to learn in those two days.)

Emmet demonstrates a Pike fold partner stretch

Emmet demonstrates a Pike fold partner stretch

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First day of Wheelie School; when your instructor crashes, too! | The Cloudfoot Diaries #73

The Yamaha RXS 100 has been praised in my circle as the only bike you’ll ever need to become a baron on the back wheel. My sensei has owned 7 of them in his lifetime and has struggled to kill pretty much all of them. Their legacy is diverse; from escaping police through the local woodland multiple times, to performing helmetless stand-up wheelies for half kilometer lengths. And when you ride one, you can’t help but feel exactly like John Connor from Terminator 2.

Yes, this is the face you will pull upon riding one.

A 98cc, 2 stroke engine with an esoteric Powerband Induction System means that once you hit 3000 revs, this bastard wants to lift faster than you can say Eddie Hall.
My sensei and myself went halves on purchasing the RXS back in July and due to her being somewhat of an old fart (1986 she was born) it’s taken us the best part of two months to get her running smooth enough to start risking our skeletal health with her.
These old bikes run on a single carburetor, arguably the linchpin in the whole combustion system. When they get dirty and clogged from years of fuel being pumped through them, they really need nothing better than a good clean ‘n’ reset. Just ask Jenna Jameson.

Day one of Wheelie School would commence at a nearby abandoned airport with very little street furniture to crash into other than old tyres and the odd line of shrubbery. Far better than practicing on the main road, as we were about to find out.

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LIVING IN A VAN | PART 4 | DON’T YOU EVER THINK, “FUCK THIS, I’M GETTING A HOUSE!”?

Probably the number one question I have received over the last four and a half years, ‘Don’t you ever think, “Fuck this, I’m getting a house!”?’

In short, no. Housing’s for quitters!

Fuck this, I'm getting a house!

Jokes aside, there have been many times where I have contemplated the age-old question What the fuck am I doing?, usually when the van is freezing cold, something crucial breaks or I have a close encounter with some kind of perceived authority. However, I think asking yourself this question from time to time is a healthy type of reflection. If you’re asking yourself weekly, though, then it’s time to take a harder look at yourself, behaviour, environment and situation.

I’ve never thought about packing in my van lifestyle in exchange for a house, though. Ever. Why would I? Let’s look at my two sparkling other options. Again, these are my views. I am not saying these are practical steps for everyone or that everyone should do this. It collapsed my reality and turned me into somewhat of a societal outcast. Imagine what it would do to you!

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The best Tiny House I think I’ve ever seen | The Cloudfoot Diaries #72

I’m going to let the pictures do the talking on this one. Their website, Shedsistence.com, is a specimen as far as self-builds go. Not only do I love the clean, minimalist look to this but the gear room! Finally, subsistencees who understand the importance of storing gear!

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No Gi Reflections #6 | The Principle of Localised Force feat. John Danaher

The legend that is John Danaher, perhaps one of THE most successful sports performance and BJJ coaches of all time, speaks again, this time about the Principle of Localised Force.

Upon reading you’ll see how the Danaher system of leg locks likes to utilise the heel hook as an area to focus on to apply force, no matter the size nor strength of the opponent.

The principle of localized force: The central feature of jiu jitsu is to use mechanical advantage to control greater strength and aggression with less. How is this possible? It is done largely through the principle of localized force. Let's say we have an opponent who can apply an average of one hundred units of strength in standard strength tests while we can only generate 50 units of strength. As a whole, he is roughly twice as strong as us overall. How is victory through grappling possible in such a case? The key is to understand that it is possible to use a very high percentage of our overall strength to attack a small percentage of my opponents overall strength at a point of his body which, if attacked successfully, will end his ability to continue the fight. If I can use the various movements of jiu jitsu to maneuver into a position where I can create a temporary LOCAL strength advantage at a critical point of my opponents body (neck or joints), I can overcome an OVERALL strength disadvantage. The whole basis of our sport is precisely to develop the skill of maneuvering into these local advantages as efficiently as possible and using that to create a threat to a critical but vulnerable body part in a way that leads to submission. A good example would be ashi garami, where a very high percentage of our overall strength – both legs, both hips, back and both arms are used to restrain an opponent's single leg and hip in a way that allows us to threaten severe damage. If a good ashi garami allows us to use 90% of our 50 units of strength against an opponent's single leg, 33% of his 100 units of strength, then we shall have a considerable local strength advantage on an opponent twice as strong as ourselves overall. This is one of the core principles of our sport and one which we must constantly keep in mind as we train and develop. Here, Gordon Ryan uses a high percentage of his total strength on the isolated leg of his opponent through a variation of ashi garami, creating a local advantage long enough to threaten a break and get a submission on his way to victory at EBI 8

A photo posted by John Danaher (@danaherjohn) on


The principle of localised force is a conerstone in any effective combat system. What I like about jiu jitsu and the world of the floor is that once grounded, strength isn’t so pinnacle as the principle of leverage, i.e. properly applied leverage can easily overcome non-calculated strength. And perhaps more so on the floor than in the standing world. So, when it comes to women, I think grappling is such a powerful asset for them to understand and delve in to, as strength is not a priority compared to localised force, leverage and strategy; facets that can be improved and mastered, regardless of gender.

Jiu jitsu, the great leveller!

Crashing a big motorbike sucks but at least I’m not dead | The Cloudfoot Diaries #71

R1 Crash

Note – this is not my motorcycle. Merely the same style bike and colour to shamefully grab your attention.

“You wait ’til your first 1000…!”
These words that had echoed in my head for a good 24 months before purchasing my first 1000cc motorcycle; the infamous carburettor’d Yamaha R1 – Japan’s fastest motorcycle which ended up being banned because of its rawness and kill count.

Living in a van has its own set of limitations but what it does allow for is being able to purchase your own weapon of a crotch rocket so that you own it, outright. No monthly payments, no loans, no interest rates. Straight up, mine.

Since May, I’ve clocked up roughly thirty hours of riding the equivalent of being strapped to 150 horses whilst they run to the moon. By my own calculations I had done quite well. In three months I wasn’t in prison and I wasn’t dead.

The statistics aren’t great for first time riders of two-wheeled 1000cc death carts. I only picked up on this fact from my own experience; 90% of everyone I told that I’d purchased a bike responded immediately with ‘Be careful and don’t kill yourself.’
Thanks for the confidence boost. Fortunately, I’m quite aware of what I had purchased and knew only too well that to disrespect a machine that powerful is to flip off the very laws of physics and still hope to win. Interesting that only 10% of people responded with something more positive, like ‘Amazing, having fun?’ or similar levels of mild encouragement. Usually those members of the minority were bikers themselves. Real recognise real, yeah?

It was only until I started riding a couple of hours a day, for consecutive days at a time that I was forced to have a word with myself, otherwise I felt strongly that I was going to get nicked. The roads open up very quickly once you’re settled into her power, with just the twist of your hand, an inverted royal wave for speed freaks and dissidents where what lays before you is yours, yours to own and conquer.
Now you can see why these things can be massive ego-traps; absolute power corrupts absolutely. Combine that with an addictive and or trigger-happpy personality and you’ve got a concoction known as Grim Reaper.

My first 25 hours had been a period of settling, essentially. Getting used to the weight and power of the bike, how she handles, when to open the throttle, and how to stay alive if you fuck it up and come into a corner scolding hot (too fast).
Beyond this, my natural progression was learning to corner. ‘Everyone can ride in a straight line,’ I was told whilst passing my test. Learning in to a corner, however, is an entirely different sensation and approach and a skill that many bikers I’ve seen on the road aren’t quite confident enough to pull off. I think it’s because more trust is needed for the increased feeling of vulnerability. An acute sense of balance is required so you don’t fall off, and most importantly, you need to know your angle and speed of approach so you can take the bend at the right speed and apply power at the right point as to travel through as fast as possible, but also cleanly. Anyone who has ridden pillion will have felt the challenging aspects of trust and balance.

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