‘Critical Look’ challenges the way systemic information is presented and questions the story being told.
Personal background with system – attended a FM 2-day seminar in April of 2017.
What Fighting Monkey is getting right
They have been instrumental in creating a large shift in task or situation based training. By championing in-the-moment human adaptability, they have given the discipline of combat an air of inviting playfulness. Creating challenges using simple tools has been their calling card, and they have consistently delivered on sharing innovative means to expand one’s notion of versatility.
FIGHTING MONKEY PROVIDES A HOME FOR PERSONAL RESEARCH(ERS).
Possible Flaws within Fighting Monkey Culture
The very thing which gives it potency also makes it suspect. In a world where everyone is engaged in it’s own science, does validity and reliability exist? Is ingenuity a sound practice?
The following seeks to question the questioners.
“You Can’t Teach Anything To Anyone…”
Of course you can. And they do. Except everyone’s unwillingness to be called a teacher also removes them from the responsibility of following fundamental teaching principles. Fighting Monkey tells more than it listens. It struggles meeting people where they are. The task stays preeminent, regardless of the frustrations or failure of the group.
The coordinations were a paramount example. Why was this particular choreography so important? Why did it go on so long, and when we were finally allowed to stop, why were we berated for our incompetence? Starting and staying too complex is the harsh standard of a taskmaster, set to weed out instead of build up.
The irony is, their website has an ‘Education’ button that sells online programs. Does capitalism make you a teacher? What is the number of interested that makes you accept the role you are given? How many did your Coordinations have to irk to convince you it needed its own training protocol for purchase? Is this what finishes the maxim,
“… But You Can Offer Conditions in which Anyone Can Evolve on Their Own.”?
While having good students makes it unnecessary to spell everything out, there must still be some order that connects what you are asking people to do to a broader function or purpose. Can it be said that Fighting Monkey is founded on principles and actions of martial arts? Can the warm up be explained as a form, so that there is an alignment in attention and intent? As gorgeous and as novel as this kind of work is, it is designed for those who are already good movers and already have an innate sense of personal analysis and feedback. Delivered to the general population as promoted, the best it can offer most is to do without knowing — the exact opposite of the personal development it wishes to provoke.
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Form practice in martial arts has quite a bad reputation these days. And I do understand the reasoning. On the first glance it looks like a waste of time, when all we can think of is if it works in the octagon or in the „street“. My own point of criticism towards form training is that in some cases form training is done to a point where the students learning curve and attention levels are buried along with the 108th repetition of the same technique, just sewed together differently and marketed as the Omega Level 9 Mastery Set ? Forms represent an idea, they display a martial principle expressed through technique. Yet the obvious technique is nothing more than a starting point from where we can go and explore for example different angles and directions, different rhythms and textures. Forms can also be a major challenge for coordination and a splendid mirror for our mental and physical adaptability. While we see mostly straight lines in kicking, striking and stepping in let’s say basic Shaolin, we see a lot of combinations of straight lines, curves, spirals and circular stepping patterns in for example Bagua Zhang. If you haven’t tried it yet, you definitely should ? Beyond the obvious strengthening and conditioning aspect of the forms as well as their encoded knowledge about martial applications, a huge value for our modern day hunchback society lies in their power to interrupt our habitual movement spectrum. Forms brake patterns. They also build patterns. In any case, they leave you with a vivid body. A body full of experience, a curious mind and a well connected organism.
VOID OF A SKILLED LEADER IN THE ROOM TO ASSIST IN REGULATION AND EXPLAIN APPLICATION, THE DAZZLING POTENTIAL VANISHES INTO CONFUSION, CHAOS, AND MIMICRY.
We must be careful not to delude ourselves into believing blindly what we wish to be true.
Their newest speed tool might be the embodiment of this effect.
Speed Tool Claims that are Suspect
A culture wrapped in unscience and heralding the possibility of anything is now making bold claims about one of their products. They did not do this for the ball on string, jenga blocks, or large weighted ball. This is an original item that can only be accessed through Fighting Monkey (which makes it more a symbol of status). They have created workshops strictly devoted to its use and research. The practice is revolving around the tool instead of tool around the practice.
Note the language used here.
Continuing to ‘More info’, we get more claims of effectiveness and a video of Jozef utilizing the tool in slow motion.
With another quick YouTube search, we get a few more snippets of what my guess is the actual online training program:
Is an onlooker being led to believe that this tool will make them move like Jozef?
There are rehab posts being made in regards to work with elite athletes, like this one from the Fighting Monkey Rootless Root facebook page:
9 Speedtool by FM, Fatos Durmishi — Physiotherapist Marko Gronholm rehab session with Fatos Durmishi 11-times Finnish Champion (2008-2018) in freestyle wrestling Wrestles for RC Merken Bundesliga, Germany — In the video we are performing a rehab / prehab drill with the 9 Speedtool by FM, for shoulder injury. In the slow motion part of the video it is easy to see constant diagonal loading in the front of the shoulder, abdominals etc - and the same happens on the posterior side of the body, too. The whole body is working and we are building some resilient tissue without restricting the movement. Athletic performance is not all about strength or mobility. It is a combination of various components and qualities - all of which are depending of the situation. Soft tissue recoil, resilience, elastic energy, kinetic potential, deceleration and acceleration are among of the components and qualities that tend to be easily forgotten or taken for granted. Yet from a physiotherapy perspective these are key factors, when talking about tissue quality, movement ability or recovering for example from a soft tissue injury or tendinopathy. Eccentric loading combined with movement control and speed factor is also an important player when considering injury prevention side. Written by Marko Grönholm
Many will believe what they are told, and will regurgitate it as truth. Placebo is powerful.
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DIAGONAL CHOPPING – Activate the waist belt in motion which has the capacity to harmonise and regulate the entire energetic system #BreakYourPlateau #HongKongMotion #NaturalMotionHongKong #StrengthAndMuscleScience #MovementArchitecture #SportsPerformance #Mobility #InjuryPrevention #Longevity #HongKong #9SpeedTool
What do you see versus what is being said? Jargon language recycled throughout the caption clouds the why and how of what is actually happening.
How can we make sure that using a tool does little else than make us better at using that tool?
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COORDINATIONS – There is nowhere to hide with coordinations inspired by @fightingmonkey_rootlessroot Asymmetries, imbalances, left versus right, it exposes all our inefficiencies. It will show you how you hold tension in your body, how well you can let go, how well you can coordinate your limbs rhythmically whilst at the same time create power and use momentum. – The complexity is endless. – From movement rhythm to recoordinating disconnected areas of our body, all the way to athletic performance that crosses so many spectrums. – It shows us how intelligent our body is, how integrated we are. This is not a simple tool that you just pick up and throw, if done incorrectly you will be shown straight away. I still have so much to work on, this is not a practice that you can just show up to once a month. A complex yet ultimately deeply rewarding practice needs an open and committed mind. – Join our Soma Practice Fridays 9-11 Tuesdays 7-9 – #somaculture #somaresearch #fightingmonkey_practice #fighting_monkey_games #fighting_monkey #mydubai #movement #movementculture #movementismedicine?
If the goal of a tool is to create a more connected and capable structure, there should be minimal difference between how one moves with and without said tool, correct?
I have 50 balls on string that I use in my PE classes to help them understand rhythm and coordination. I have 50 small pieces of wood to see if they can balance big and heavy and small and light balls on top. I want them to understand subtlety, finding ease, and then keeping that ease. But I don’t think I will ever have 50 speed tools. There are already so many context-embedded ways to teach it without making a large investment in one thing, particularly if it lacks the simplicity and versatility of what you already have. Less tools seem to consistently lead to better instruction.
I am a fan of Fighting Monkey. I still hold their spirit of invention dear. But I have to remain honest about what works and what doesn’t amongst the normal baseline of people — the outsiders who know nothing of Jozef or Linda or have any idea what Fighting Monkey is. They show me the truth: that there needs to be scaled back basic regressions, that new concepts might only be exciting to those that find/ create them, and that those not under the spell of branding or identity will see it for exactly what it is.
Response from Miguel Viero:
I really like your “critical look” writings because as much as I’m drawn into something I try to be critical and see the “flaws” or just look at it not just as a fan but also as a critic. This way I can take what I think it’s worth adding to my practice (and my student’s), and what it should be left out. As I shifted from the fitness industry to a more open movement practice, I can say I experienced the opposite approach. I was a Les Mills instructor for 15 years and was blindingly regurgitating everything I was “taught” to protect the brand and reassuring myself that I was with the one and only solution to all things fitness. Until I could take the blindfold off.
So I think (and hope) I can see the Fighting Monkey practice with the same critical look. What resonated with me about FM was the simplicity and the multiple applications of the abstract tools (ball on a string and the little wooden sticks). As they were presented to me on my first workshop I was already thinking of what else I could do with them when I got back home.
What also drew me in was that FM is an open practice, not a system with predetermined exercises and a manual. You are encouraged to do your own research and learn from other realms of the movement universe. The concepts were another game changer for me. It opened my practice to new ways of working mobility, strength, coordination, injury mitigation, among other things.
We all have different favorite ways of learning, and some of us are not aware of what’s ours. The coordinations are a good way of discovering that, in my opinion. And it brings to light another aspect of the FM practice. The coordinations, as well as the games and movement situations require you to be present. Enhancing awareness and strengthening the mind-body connection, the movement games and situations having an important addition: working with a partner. Which is substantial to our development as humans, producing touch, unpredictable external stimuli and promoting communication, another pillar of the practice.
The first time I experienced the coordinations practice I had the same feeling as you did. A pattern was presented with no breakdowns and we had to learn it as we went through it. There were people standing just watching the group trying to break it down and learn it in a step-by-step way (and I was on that group). Then Jozef came to me and said: “Just do it, doesn’t matter if it look good or bad. The important thing here is to get it done. Do the work, even if it looks like shit.” It reminded me of the paralysis by analysis concept. We can’t create and analyze at the same time, they are two different processes and the brain doesn’t allow us to run both at once. The consequence: you get blocked. Bringing us back to our different favorite ways of learning and, at the same time, revealing another aspect of the FM practice. The management of our internal dialogue (communication again) and mindset. Show up, do the work and focus on the process.
All that being said, in my teaching I always break things down when I see needed. Because I believe we should adapt the practice to the people we have in front of us, it doesn’t matter the material, tools, concepts and intention behind it. Understanding the concepts and intention behind each game or situation is pivotal. It’s the only way they – the students – can apply it in different contexts, in their particular contexts inside their personal practice. That’s why education is key and the foundation of my teaching-learning relationship with my students. Something I realized is also deeply cared about in the FM practice.
As a last consideration, I agree with you about the 9-speed tool when you say “the practice is revolving around the tool instead of tool around the practice”, even though I only had the opportunity to practice with it once. I believe I could probably find other uses for it.
Response from Scott Daly:
This is a very tough thing to write as I have great respect for the author. I felt called to write something bc no teacher, practice or the like has help and done more for me than Jozef, Linda and the FM Practice. I have been following the FM practice for over 6 years now and am still confused by many aspects. It is understandable one could struggle and get a bad taste from one workshop and never return. I hope to encourage to try it again. Many don’t like wine, beer and coffee on first taste either.
- “You can’t teach anything to anyone.” This is something I cannot recall Jozef saying on a regular basis. One who has works with Jozef will realize he will contradict himself. I believe this is on purpose and is to open your mind kind of the ying to his yang. He states at the start of every 2 and 3 day workshop that he does not have time to be teaching anything in this short period of time. That he is just going to share some things. If one attends a 5 or 6 day intensive, online training or multiple events this changes. I believe this is being done to stop people from thinking they really understand the practice and would be able to teach the material after one weekend.
I believe the coordinations are a amazing example of this. It is not the particular coordinations/choreography that is important. It is how you come up with strategies to solve the challenging puzzle. At most of the workshops I have attended, Jozef explains why he continues to keep it complex when everyone is struggling. He tells a beautiful story of when they split them into two groups and met the one group were they were and broke every thing down for them. The other received the teaching as struggle mentioned. Long story short the group who had it broken down was able to learn the first coordination better. The group who struggled at first was able to pick up the more complicated coordinations down the road.
The idea that everything should be handed too you and broken down is very North American. I appreciate Jozef giving me a space where I was forced to struggle, feel stupid and in some cases fail and in others succeed. Personally have learned a great deal about what strategies work for me and what doesn’t. I have become partial to this method as opposed having someone hand me the steps and break everything down so I am able to do something I did not actually figure out for myself. I believe this approach will help me in the future more when I face challenging situations.
When we know something we stop looking for more solutions. Most of us are afraid of going to spaces where we feel confused and don’t know. Yet, every solutions comes from a problem. While it is nice to be explained a solution and shown how to do something. I have found more personal development and it to be far more rewarding to be given the space to learn something myself. I also feel that I am able to look at things differently and learn more easily now that I am OK not knowing.
- “It is designed for those who are already good movers.” I had my biggest breakthrough moment with FM practice while working with a client named Spencer who was unable to walk after suffering a 100ft fall. We have had brain injury specialist asking what he has done because his results have been so dramatic. The answer is roughly 85% FM practice 10% Feldenkrais method and 5% things we have come up with together. He now walks well and speaks almost crystal clear. (He was not able to be understood by people who did not hang out with him regularly).
I do think that good movers are drawn to the practice and excel at areas of it. I have yet to see someone who hasn’t trained with FM and is able to excel at all of it (this is just more proof that it is good for movers). I believe the true difference from the result Spencer and I have had is our approach. Spencer was OK feeling stupid with the coordinations as he felt far more stupid struggling to walk. When we really need something we will work hard and truly commit.
I have found that this is the biggest barrier to entry and getting people to work with me. They don’t like struggling, not knowing, and feeling stupid. Yet, this is what is going to happen in life. Why should our training not mimic this? No one is going to hand you a step by step guide to life without needing to personalize areas and creating strategies for themselves. In a industry where everyone is pretending to have the solutions to our problems, I find it very refreshing someone is letting you know you can find them yourself. I am very grateful for all the FM Practice has done for me and the people in my life. I hope to have encouraged others to try it with a open mind and if necessary, try another taste.
The Fighting Monkey approach to movement isn’t for everyone, so thankfully there are so many other effective styles to explore. It does seem like the author, who’s work I greatly respect, has found aspects which work for her and her students.
I have seen first hand how the FM games have been modified for the students present. Fighting Monkey is thought of as a movement practice, which is definitely one aspect, though Jozef describes it as a Communications practice first and foremost. How do we listen to the person we are partnered with? How do we respond to the confusion of a complex coordination? Who else besides the leaders in the practice may give us some keys to help us understand? This is all such valuable information for any mover, for anyone.
My initial intro to this work ( coordinations especially) to me ( borrowing from Scott Daly’s beer / coffee analogy) much like eating black olives for the first time ever. I was expecting the sweet juiciness of a grape to explode in my mouth and I got a whole bunch of salty wtf edness! It took ( and is still taking) time to learn how I learn. This work keeps me honest and open to what is going on in every way, around and within me. I’ve learned to let my partner know they’re using too much force. I’ve stayed with my partner when instructed to change partners until I felt ready. I feel as a 47 year old woman I’m learning things I wish I felt safe enough to learn in grade school.
That’s all I have to say right now- I’m not trying to change Christine’s mind about what she’s experienced, though would encourage her to come back to the FM work at another time to see how it may evolve over time.
Thank you for your comment, Sarah. Your experience and thoughts are valid, and I appreciate and agree with the deeper meanings you suggest. What my questions hoped to provoke was that we cannot assume everyone gets to this depth. I know first hand how effective Fighting Monkey can be, but as you said, the user takes that role of communication. It is a human quality, not one that is paramount to any method or system. Similarly, regressing based on need is the act of thoughtful observers, not something directly presented based on FM. Can we separate ourselves from what we are a fan of is the theme of the post. A questioning mind is not one looking to be changed, but rather answered, objectively, with logic and understanding instead of emotional reaction.
As editor I am choosing to post the next two comments anonymously. Both have given permission to use their names, but to continue the discourse of civility and conversation — not making things personal — I will try to use each as an example of how being too close to something might not let you see it as the rest of the world sees it, and how questioning is perceived as an attack when you feel you have something to defend versus something to consider from a different perspective.
ANONYMOUS #1: No further conversations had other than the submission of this piece.
It would be more accurate to claim that FM refuses to enter into a student teacher relationship with practitioners meeting for a two day workshop. To be a student of FM entails a degree of commitment far beyond two days. Similarly it can be said that FM choose to place preeminence on the task. The challenge may be to adapt the task to meet your needs, but to say FM struggles to meet students is misleading. To struggle would imply that FM intends and attempts to meet the student where they’re at, but fails do so. I doubt this intent. Specifically in regards to the coordination tasks. Perhaps the task asks of the practitioner, “Can you meet the world in its full complexity?” For most the answer is no. The question then becomes how do you cope with the challenge? Do you become anxious or avoidant? Are you angry? Do with withdrawal? Do you seek out the support of others? Do you communicate more with those around you? The emergent properties of the coordination tasks extent far beyond mere choreography and may offer more commentary on human psychology than kinesthetic competency.
——— RESPONSE : Referring to “You can’t teach anything to anyone but you can offer conditions in which anyone can evolve on their own.” These are the exact words that come up when you google Fighting Monkey. It is the moniker they felt was representative enough to be associated with them in the realm of the internet. Many have responded with ‘what this actually means’. I am only looking at the words themselves. Similarly, I cannot speak of intent, only what was based on my experience and is based on what I have seen, which I have shared.
If, “Starting and staying too complex is the harsh standard of a taskmaster,” then life is the greatest taskmaster of all. Perhaps movement situations which expose habitual thought patterns and ingrained subconscious responses can provide valuable insight into one’s own behavior outside of training in the arena of life and thereby allow one to cultivate resiliency in the face of the demands made by stress.
——– RESPONSE: Perhaps indeed. But will all this translate into a two-day seminar, with folks looking for takeaways?
“The irony is, their website has an ‘Education’ button that sells online programs. Does capitalism make you a teacher? What is the number of interested that makes you accept the role you are given? How many did your Coordinations have to irk to convince you it needed its own training protocol for purchase? Is this what finishes the maxim,” but you can create conditions in which anyone can evolve on their own.”
What’s the irony in education for sale? Did you not pay tuition for credential or for your degree? Capitalism may not make you a teacher, but does being a teacher make you a philanthropist? I can’t imagine any individual who wasn’t “irked” over the course of their educational endeavors. Is that a valid argument against educational investment? In regards to the training protocol, have you purchased it? Are you in a place to comment on it? Similar concerns can be raised in regards to your commentary on the Speedtool? Are you familiar with the tool? Are you speaking from experience when you lament that, “The practice is revolving around the tool instead of tool around the practice.” This implies that practice which revolves around a tool is inherently less valuable than one which does not. However, anthropologically speaking, human practices have revolved around tools for millennia. Tools help us to both shape ourselves and to shape the world around us with which we engage. Skill acquisition, motor control, and cognitive development can be challenged which may be inherently valuable for the processes in and of themselves regardless of skill transfer. That being said, it’s illogical to think that, “there should be minimal difference between how one moves with and without [a] tool.” A tool is an object outside of the body, it’s use will necessitate a difference in mechanics, awareness and intent which will each affect the quality of motion. The way you swing a hammer would differ from the way you swing a baseball bat which would differ from the swing of a golf club, or a ball on string. Additionally each of these would differ from swinging an empty arm or even an arm which was empty but imagined to be holding one of the aforementioned objects or tools. Each would have a different quality and your structure would need to self organize accordingly to accommodate for the variations. If anything the speedtool may offer another opportunity to explore variability which has the potential to encourage the practitioner to cultivate more connectivity. There are a host of tool rehab and otherwise the promote an integrated use of the body especially of the shoulder such as resistance bands, TRX, (baseball scapula thing). While these tools may be more widely accepted, their acceptance doesn’t preclude the potential utility of the speedtool.
—— RESPONSE: The irony I was referring to was that someone not calling themselves a teacher would have an education button, selling education. I am questioning why they exist, not commenting on whether they are good or bad. This is where I think the emotion comes in. “You don’t do what I do and you don’t know what I know.” And you’d be certainly right. I’m not claiming to. Again, all I am commenting on is what is presented to the ‘non-insider’ public. Consider your hammer, golf club, baseball bat analogy. Do you need instructions for any? Are there right or wrong ways? If each is used within the context of their sport they are separate things, but remove context and they could be used interchangeably. I don’t think the same can be said for the speedtool. Nor am I quick to believe that it does what is being said that it does. I am not questioning its potential utility (which ultimately depends on the user) but rather its promoted utility.
It may be comforting to believe that, “Less tools seem to consistently lead to better instruction,” but these concepts are not mutually exclusive. They’re not even in conflict with one another. Quality of instruction is subjective. Pedagogical differences abound as do a variety of tools. With a mechanic as a father, I grew up hearing, “I can fix anything, all I need is the right tool.” I find this adage comforting, even if it’s more of an aphorism than a scientific truth.
—— RESPONSE: Agree.
I believe you are quite right to comment that the outsiders that you speak of who, “know nothing of Jozef or Linda or have any idea what Fighting Monkey is…show [you] the truth,” but ironically the truth may be what you already believe, have presented to them consciously or otherwise and they have mirrored back to you your own set of beliefs. If you believe the material is too complex and needs to be regressed that will influence your presentation. Your expectations of your students capabilities will shape the trajectory of their development and learning. Identity is a powerful force that motivates our reasoning and behavior. Perhaps you identify as an educator. You may be heavily invested in the success of your students. You may have a strong desire to build for them basic progressions to see them grow and develop to satisfy your own vision of yourself as a teacher. You may bear the responsibility of planning and programming and predicting every step and every stage of their learning, but in doing so do you rob them of the opportunity to fail and struggle and to persevere, to discover their own solutions, to collaborate with their peers, to engage creatively in the learning process, to cultivate a growth mindset, to grapple with challenges and new concepts, to become more process oriented. Perhaps this is the veiled approach FM has taken to education, and maybe it’s not for everyone.
—— RESPONSE: Progressions/ regressions should occur in what one sees. How many have given up? Has the energy shifted? Of the time we have together, how much are we (I consider the students and the teacher a conversational collective) willing to devote to this? Forced struggle will turn people off. Do you notice when they do? Or do we put the material/ research we are interested in above the experience of the others in the room? All these beautiful notions you mention are indeed the hopeful outcome of anyone put in charge of others. Those put in charge are often ones that have walked through each of these phases. But what about the kid with no confidence who has nothing going for them? Do we let them fester in frustration in the assumption that this is what they need, or do we include them in the process to break things down so they can learn how, and apply it to anything that they care about?
The second I will post in its entirety and provide a general response.
ANONYMOUS #2 – this prompted an absolutely lovely back and forth email conversation to which we found we were in agreement on a whole lot and working toward the same end goal of our respective professions.
I attended the workshop you are referencing in this piece. In fact, I remember it well. I have all the audio recordings from those two days in Northern California. You and I played reverse loop together. With my head in your hands, I trusted you to take care, and you did. I have fond memories of this workshop specifically because my father, who was 60 years old at the time, participated in this event. It was his first exposure to Jozef and Linda.
I think you are certainly entitled to your pedagogical preferences. If material was presented in a manner which rubbed you the wrong way, then I cannot argue with that. I appreciate differences in opinion. I think there’s a healthy discussion to be had concerning the pros and cons of why the coordinations were difficult in that particular moment and what could be garnered from that experience both personally and professionally, especially considering your work as a physical education teacher.
As someone who utilizes FM with high-schoolers and geriatrics, I disagree that it is, “designed for those who are already good movers and already have an innate sense of personal analysis and feedback.” Seeing you implement aspects of FM in your work with high-schoolers, I think you would agree that it is accessible to all and can be scaled. The task oriented games and playful partner interactions help engage those who might loathe physical activity or have become bored with the specific skills, moves or exercises common to the majority. However, the workshop was not intended to showcase linear progressions of how to work with the practice, and it was never marketed in such a way. It proposed ideas, perhaps offered inspiration, but whatever you gleaned from the experience would have to be nurtured and developed by you on a much longer timeline than a two day workshop in order to be applied to your specific context.
The majority of this workshop was attended by professional teachers, trainers, coaches, and performers. I think you would agree that there was a wealth of experienced practitioners in that room, yet, according to you, the tasks given were, “frustrating and failed” by the group. With two instructors, Jozef and Linda – who have taught performers for over two decades and studied various movement disciplines for even longer – leading a room full of teachers, why would this be the case? There might be more than meets the eye. Do you feel they were unaware and disconnected from what was occurring in the group? Perhaps another interesting conversation to have.
My real issue with your review concerns your critique of the speed tool. I think it is unwarranted and irresponsible to post a critique of something with which, to my knowledge, you have no direct experience. Please forgive me if I’m wrong. Have you used a speed tool? Have you seen the online program that accompanies it? If not, I think this group should uphold a higher standard concerning authored work that could be perceived as an authority to those who don’t know better.
At any rate, I think you bring up a great point, “How can we make sure that using a tool does little else than make us better at using that tool?” This question should be at the crux of all decisions in which skill transfer is the objective. This question should be asked more often, especially with regard to the tools or practices (relating to sport, rehabilitation, fitness, movement, etc.) that are already culturally accepted.
Is it bad that FM conducts workshops solely dedicated to the speedtool? For a multifaceted practice, what is wrong with zeroing in on an aspect of it? Are you critical of physical therapists who offer manual therapy workshops when their scope of practice is much larger? Is the strength and conditioning company who offers a kettlebell seminar selling out? Based on your critique, it seems like a specific workshop, where the objectives and learning outcomes might be more clear, would be of interest to you. Regardless, perhaps each piece of equipment that FM chooses to include in their practice wouldn’t be accessible to a teacher of a large group. The inability to procure enough equipment to facilitate tool specific training for a sizable group fails to detract from the value of the tool itself, and instead is perhaps a commentary on business economics or funding for public education.
As for the promotional material, I think the intent was to show what is possible with the tool. It was probably more of an artistic expression for the creator than it was a smart marketing ploy. And I doubt these videos appeal to most people. Could they have dumbed it down a bit and connected the dots for us, sure, but that doesn’t seem to be FM’s style, and that’s their choice.
A couple of the instagram posts that you cite in your article are not from FM platforms. Is this fair? Of course there is regurgitated nonsense on social media. This behavior is not specific to FM; you will find this attached to any public practice. What is FM supposed to do about quality control? Is buying a pair of Jordan’s after watching a Nike commercial going to make you fly like Mike? Are the claims about the speedtool true? They are certainly not based off a randomized control trial, but FM isn’t claiming that their speedtool is backed by scientific literature. You and I both know people in the same culture using nocebo effects and preying on people’s insecurities in order to sell their system. With that said, I’m not sure we should be pointing fingers at FM at this point in time.
I agree with many of your own thoughtful questions in this piece. My primary response asks why a hand raise is received as a finger point. You are certainly right that these questions could be asked of just about any system. I chose FM because it is beloved, and when people love things there is a tendency to lose objectivity. I have never held a speed tool. I represent the unknowing public, the vast majority who are outside the select circle of deep FM practitioners. I am commenting on how I see the speed tool presented to the public. I cannot be the only one who’s noticed that everything has changed with the development and promotion of this tool. I’m simply questioning why that is, and my weak observation of marketing tells me that to sell something novel you have to make some sort of claim that it works. With the arrival of a branded product, has the course of the culture shifted to promote tools over ideas?
I chose to embed random IG posts (found through the hashtag #9speedtool) because I wanted to study the students. What are they saying about what the tool is doing for them, and does it match what my eye sees? I feel that looking at ‘regular people’ provides a more accurate representation than only looking at the best, brightest, and brand sanctioned. There is great value in paying attention to the students in the back of the class, particularly if they say they got the message. Asking ‘show me’ isn’t meant to belittle them, but rather shed light on your own assumptions and what you might have missed.