I had the opportunity to attend a talk in early May (with a few of my Southdown Strider running colleagues) featuring Christopher McDougall, author of BORN TO RUN and a staunch supporter of barefoot running.
This was organized by the Ted Talks team and was held in the University Club of downtown Toronto, Canada. Chris was invited to speak about the content of his new book, Natural Born Heroes, released in March, 2015. It basically features the story of a daring band of misfits on the Isle of Crete kidnapped a German General during World War II and wreaked havoc with Hitler’s plans to conquer the world.
My interest in attending the talk was cultivated a few years ago when Chris and I were part of the International Barefoot Runners’ Association, a loose net collection of characters who believed fully in the merits of barefoot running. I had the opportunity to meet Chris briefly before and after the talk – he even wrote a note and signed my copy of his book. All in all, this was a good chance to connect with someone who has shared a passion for the natural form of movement and activity.
McDougall’s talk was entertaining, enlightening and informative. He spoke of the Natural Training Method developed mainly by Edwin Checkley and Georges Hebert in the late 1800s and early 1900s. It incorporated some of what the Greeks called Parkour and the Scandanavians coined Vita Parcour (or Life Circuit). It was a natural way of moving, climbing, jumping, running and balancing in one’s natural environment that the Cretans used so effectively to frustrate and outfox the German army. The Cretans grew up immersed in the Natural Method of movement as a means of survival on one of the most rugged, dangerous islands known to humankind!
I found the whole process of the Natural Method intriguing – within my Team Over The Top programmes, I have been using variations of it for decades. However, I have been barely scratching the surface relative to the techniques used by humans since the beginning of time. I left the talk fired up to incorporate even more of the Natural Method in my clinics and personal training. Making use of not just our natural habitat but also our human made environment to create actions that prepare us for real world challenges is not revolutionary. It’s simply been lost over generations as the industrial revolution gave way to the computer world.
If I could make one suggestion to all of us on the planet earth, it would be:
force yourself to get out and move in your neighbourhood environment – create your OWN Natural Method of Training including Parkour!!
Thanks, Chris, for a stimulating talk on a fascinating time in history!