Movement Minute - 5 Lessons from Fighting the Monkey

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure to take part in a truly incredible experience.

 

This was kind of experience that was really fun at the time, but has resonated even more in the weeks since.

 

My perspective on movement was radically expanded.  I wouldn’t hesitate to say this was a true game changer.

 

I’m talking about the Fighting Monkey Intensive Workshop

 

Now, I’m not going to try to fully explain what Fighting Monkey is or who the creators are.  To be honest, I'm not 100% sure yet myself.  

 

You can check out the videos and do the research for yourself. To be honest, you’re either going to be strongly drawn to it or uninterested. 

 

If you need the logical road map neatly laid out for you before you test the waters, this probably isn’t for you. And that’s cool, not everything is for everyone.

 

The principles can be laid out, but it’s on you to find the appropriate application.  I know this can be unnerving for many people.  In a world where dogma is constantly being pushed on us, I appreciated being encouraged to find my own meaning.

 

As for the Intensive, I spent 5 days with 23 other movement weirdos and 2 of the most genuine teachers I have ever encountered. 

 

We explored movement and stillness.

We learned to create deeper layers of strength via structural integrity.

We emphasized rhythm, timing, coordination, touch, and interaction.

We broke down our individual walls to collaborate and challenge each other to become better movers.

We worked. We played. We cooked. We processed. We connected.

We used to movement to embrace what really makes us human.

 

And when I got home, I realized this was just the start. The rabbit hole goes much deeper.

 

I’ve still been tumbling down this rabbit hole and considering the bigger picture.  

 

The Fighting Monkey Practice is something that needs to be experienced and evaluated by the individual.

 

I took a leap of faith investing in this experience.  The ROI was a connecting of the dots and a fresh new perspective.  These are my 5 greatest lessons from the Fighting Monkey Practice.

 

Study in your own universe. The external environment creates a great deal of activity and noise, it's all very easy to get wrapped up in.

Take time to cultivate stillness as a way to observe your internal experience.

Sense your body from the inside out - the alignment of your skeleton, the tension / relaxation relationship in your muscles, the quality of the breath, the activity of the mind.

Don’t assume that because you have a body automatically means you’re an expert operator.  Be a continual student of yourself.

 

Go deeper into the story.  We are often presented concepts without the context of how the concepts came to be.  At a certain point, we cease asking questions; we assume we know what we know.

Do we have the full story or could we dig deeper? We fail to see what was before the concept, what were the circumstances around it’s creation, what updates must occur to apply the concept to our lives.

 Acquire knowledge in the pursuit of the full story. At the very least be aware that there’s more to know around what you know.

 

Embrace totality.  Similar to the last lesson, we’ve got to learn to see things as whole, both what’s visible and invisible.

At any point, we hold a specific vantage point where some things are clearly visible and others remain hidden from our view.  However, there is a subtle art to “seeing" the bigger picture.

In problem-solving, this is abstraction of the mind. In relationships, this is empathy.

To fixate on a single point is to dishonor the whole. Our development will be better served by embracing totality - being aware of our assumptions of what’s visible in order to wrap our head around what is invisible.  

 

Lean into the fire. “Cook” & “Work!” Two common commands from my teacher. It’s incredible how much is communicated in these two, four-letter words.  

“Cook.” As in prepare your tissues with skill and care. Vary your methods and your temperature.  Sometimes follow a recipe, sometimes off-the-cuff.  Always with precision and intention.    

“Work!” Not for the sake of arbitrary exertion, but for research and ultimately expression. Get out of your head. Get out of the way of your body and move.  Let it flow through you in the moment. Process afterwards. The work is the fire forging your practice. 

Cook with care to increase the quality of your work. Work towards expression and the transformation of reinventing yourself again and again.  Lean into the fire and rise like the phoenix.

 

Tell your story through your movement.  Your defining experiences, current habits, beliefs, injuries, and emotional state all reside in your body. They emerge in your movement, they sculpt the form you assume.

Sometimes you practice the form - you set an intention for how you want to show up and act accordingly. Sometimes the form practices you - you become attached to past performance and future expectation, handcuffed to the monkey mind. Either way, you tell your story through your movement.

An amazing thing happens as you become aware of the deeper layers of your story and allow it to emerge.  You find healing and resolution. Your movement practice deepens and grows richer.  You release yourself from the narrative you’re clinging to and create space for some a new story.  


I finish this post with an exhalation from the soul. These thoughts have been swirling around for a few weeks now.  It's definitely taken some time for everything to sink in.

 

Fighting Monkey isn't neatly packaged for mass consumption. It's meant to be speculated on and savored. It's meant to challenge your comfort zone and expand your pre-existing notions.   

 

It wasn't so much what I was taught as what I learned in relation to my own mental & emotional challenges.  

 

The fact of the matter is, we are all dealing with our own baggage.  We are all "fighting the monkey" at various points in our journey.  That's the human condition.

 

Don't get me wrong, the FM movement practices are amazing.  However, my biggest takeaways came from the conversations we all had between training. Practice & process.

 

The magnitude of the whole experience was far greater. For me, it was about understanding deeper layers of myself, leaning into my personal journey, and connecting with an awesome community of people out there seeking something real. 

 

If you’re sensing that there’s something deeper to this movement culture than macacos and muscle-ups, I might suggest The Fighting Monkey Practice.

 

It might just be the missing piece that you didn't know was missing.