“What a real good life is based on is just embrace the risk. It’s how you deal with it that matters.” – Erwan Le Corre
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Erwan Le Corre (@ErwanLeCorre) is the creator of the world renowned fitness system MovNat and is on a mission to reintroduce natural movement to our modern lives. He is the author of “The Practice of Natural Movement: Reclaim Power, Health, and Freedom.” He and Mark talk about the value of moving and will inspire you to build a naturally strong and flexible body and to form yourself anew into a mindful, skillful and physically capable human being.
- Natural movement is an important learning opportunity for children and shouldn’t be taken away out of fear of risk
- Breath control is an integral part of natural movement, as it is with all movement
- Everyone is capable of natural movement, but only by being mindful does one become skilled
Listen to this episode to hear how we can reclaim natural movement for fitness and strength.
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Mark: Hey folks, welcome back. This is Mark Divine with the Unbeatable Mind podcast. Thanks so much for joining me today. Super stoked to have you. Won’t waste your time. Trust me.
Now before I get started with my guest today, who is Erwan Le Corre of MovNat. Super Cool Guy. Super cool conversation we’re going to have. I’d like to remind you that ratings really help the show. I mean that’s how people find us. Super stoked to see that Yahoo News just listed us one of the top eight, eight or 10 podcasts to listen to for men, although we’re not exclusive to men. But that was kind of cool and so that helps with the ratings. So if you can find us on iTunes, Stitcher, I think our website, all these different places. Google Play, Soundcloud, wherever it is. Go ahead and rate it.
Hopefully start at the right side cause at the far right, if you click that fifth star that’s enough. Just start there and stop there.
And also I mentioned last time that I’ve spent the last 18 months working on revising, updating, completely overhauling our Unbeatable Mind online training. When I first launched in 2011 and what a bear of a project that was, but it’s completely overhauled. I just, in fact today, believe it or not, I’m putting the finishing touches on some of the written content cause I’ve overhauled and rewritten literally the entire book for this program and reshot all the videos and updated everything. It’s an incredible program and it lines up with our new Unbeatable Mind experience, which we’re launching in March. That’ll run twice a year and dovetail with the content. So, Unbeatable Mind online. Brand new, check it out at unbeatablemind.com.
It’s an awesome program. We just launched a Webinar on it last week to discuss some of the principles of the new, Unbeatable Mind operating system. It’s going to be killer and now’s the time to get in. If you’re still wondering how you’re going to transform yourself in 2019 and all those things you’d said on Christmas or New Year’s Eve have already fallen apart.
So it’s a long term process. You know, at least a year for transformation in our book. Nothing happens overnight. There is no hack. You can’t hack your way to integration or enlightenment or peace of mind. You got to work at it. Something we’re going to talk today with Erwan about.
So, well that’s that unbeatablemind.com. Check it out. Hope to see you there.
So Erwan Le Corre is the founder of something called MovNat or natural movement. Now, I haven’t spoken to him personally about this, but I’m going to basically put words in his mouth.
His mission is essentially to bring natural movement back to the world because he believes it’s been lost or forgotten. You think about how like an Apache scout would, you know, move through the wilderness and both play, stalk, hunt, run, climb, jump, fall, roll, swim. That’s movement, right?
And it didn’t just have to be an Apache… I’m thinking about like Spartan warriors, and a lot of the ways that I trained in the SEALs, you know, running obstacle courses and bear crawls and low crawling, and crab walking, and doing all these crazy things. Because in combat you’ve got to be in all sorts of positions and be able to move your body in every single way, naturally. So, you don’t spring a gasket while you’re doing it.
At any rate, that’s my take on it. I’m super stoked to actually learn from Erwan. He’s got now gyms all across… All around the world and you can get certified in the training and whatnot. So if you’re into movement and you’re into using movement for development like we are, then Erwan’s our kind of guy. Erwan thanks so much for joining us. You’re sitting in a tree right now, aren’t you? Hanging from one arm…
Erwan: Hey Mark and hi everyone. And it’s not what you would expect. I am actually sitting in my truck outside my house. Because I live in a small house and I have my two young boys and they would be way too loud. So yeah…
Mark: Oh yeah, you’ve got a beautiful view outside of Taos, New Mexico. Well what I was going to say is a lot of people think that a truck is natural movement these days. You know, that’s… you want to move naturally, get yourself a big truck.
Erwan: Yeah. We’re going to flow on the highway,
Mark: Country music playing. That’s natural. Awesome.
So before we get into like MovNat itself, cause that’s, you know, that’s your business and that’s your passion today. I always like to kind of like get to the… You know, go back to the root. Like what were your upbringing like, where are you from? You have a little bit of an accent.
Erwan: I do, I speak funny, funny. I’m originally from France and… I’m actually from the French Brittany, which is a Celtic, the Celtic part of France. So basically I’m more Irish, the Irish and the Welsh and the Scots…
Mark: Oh really? That’s interesting.
Erwan: Yeah, that’s actually my DNA. You know, we all come from somewhere. So I was raised and they made me believe I was French and it was never the case truly. And now I’m an American. Proud American citizen after 10 years of living in this beautiful country of ours. Yeah.
Mark: So you’re brought up in Brittany? Whereabouts in France is that? Brittany region.
Erwan: Brittany is the northwest of France. It’s just right across the channel and across the channel you would have, England, Cornwall and Ireland basically. But I grew up in a little town where we had hills and massive boulders and that it was right outside of the house. And that was basically my playground until I was 10. And only I was free to go there and pretty much anytime I wanted, when I wasn’t going to school, but I was encouraged.
My, my dad, my mom, we would often go and hike as a family, but then I would scale those boulders. I would climb the trees, I will jump from one boulder to the other. I would crawl underneath. So that was the, my main hobby as a kid. That was basically a natural movement.
Mark: That’s neat. Not everyone’s drawn into that though. You know, like we think that all humans in a wilderness environment would be drawn to that. And not everyone is. Some people are drawn more towards the arts or solitude or…
Erwan: That is true. That is true. It is a particular mindset and, it is true especially today. Most kids don’t have – at least in our countries – don’t have that kind of upbringing for two reasons. Number one is that they may live in a city, so there’s very little access to nature there.
So they’re not there. And when the environment is missing, then you may have, the behavior might be missing as well.
Mark: Correct. Right.
Erwan: And on top of that, we have a culture and a technological reality. Where from a very early age, kids are provided with electronics, tablets and phones and whatnot. And games. And it’s kind of addictive and they just love to do that. So, you know, there’s that part too is the cultural aspect of it as well.
Mark: Right. So what do you think, you know, growing up and being outdoors, and of course you’re probably young enough that you had electronics when you were a kid, right? Were you able to use those? Did your parents allow that stuff?
Erwan: So as a matter of fact, Mark, I’m 47. I was born in 1971. I was born long before smartphones, the Internet, as a matter of fact, when I grew up, my TV screen was black and white.
We’ve no remote control, had only two channels and TV programs were only on Wednesdays and Saturdays or after school. So I’m not saying that and I didn’t watch shows or some TV. But that was really nothing to compare to what’s today.
Mark: I wonder if it’s your accent that made me think you are younger than you are. That’s interesting. I’m exposing my own bias there.
Erwan: Might be the case. I know. Everybody tells me, you know, “you speak funny.” So everybody, everybody out there, forgive me for the Frenchness in me. I’ll never get rid of it. And it’s okay.
Mark: You know, I have a kinship with that. I mean, I’m eight years older than you, but I grew up in a small town in upstate New York. And spent my summers up in the Adirondacks. Some people may have heard me tell this story – and my back yard was a lake. And so I spent all the time under the water and then running around in the woods, you know, running up mountains and bounding down.
Erwan: Now that’s the good stuff.
Mark: Somersault and play.
Erwan: Exactly. But that’s the good stuff mark. And hopefully, you know, kids today will, will have the same kind of experience we did have those generations.
Mark: How much do you think just risk aversion plays into this also, right? Cause a lot of parents they’re just, they don’t want their kids out there because there’s just seems to be more risk right? Part of it is litigation. Part of it is actually there is more danger to just let your kids roam around the wilderness – or perceived danger.
Erwan: Learning to take risks and to take appropriate risk. That’s the name of the game. That’s, that’s what a real good life is based on is just embrace the risk. It’s how you deal with it that matters. It’s unfortunate that a lot of parents today – they’re called helicopter parents – would want to shield their children so much from any realistic, circumstances of the real world. The real world is… that’s the real life. And through movement you can learn so much. Through the risk you take and the lessons you learn through experimenting on your natural movements. When you’re a kid, you can learn so much and you can grow so much and to deprive kids from that experience, that’s a real disservice to them and the future generations.
Mark: Right. I agree with you 100%. So, your young years you were running around the rocks and whatnot.
And then so what happened high school, college and afterwards? You didn’t come to the United States sounds like until you’re about 36, 37. Right?
Erwan: When I moved to the US yeah, I was 38. And yeah, of course, the childhood we were talking about this, that’s of course there’s much to it. I also practiced a number of specialized sports, martial arts, judo, karate and later on, long distance triathlon, and sailing, diving, spearfishing. And a lot of diverse physical modalities. But what I learned a lot from them, especially from karate actually – from martial arts. What I learned is that if I could make my movements more systematic, more technical, if I was more mindful, if I was in control of my breath. If I was to mindfully repeat patterns and techniques that I wanted to perfect, then even those movements that are seen as natural, as in spontaneous, all those movements could be improved.
Erwan: And so I’ve learned a ton through, through the sports and physical activities, rock climbing, you name it. One thing that they had in common, pretty much they’re all based actually on natural movement abilities. So climbing is a natural movement ability, running is, swimming is, fighting or defending yourself is. I was very interested always in the practical side of physical activity, how it could make me better prepared for potential circumstances of the real world.
Erwan: And it is later on, in my mid-thirties, that I’ve discovered the history of physical education and…
Mark: How did you discover that? Did your own research or did you stumble upon a book?
Erwan: Okay, so I got to rewind a little. In my early twenties, I joined a very small group, like a handful – at most we were 15 at some point – of people around a guy who was older, he was about the age I am now, actually.
And I was just barely 20. And he was very charismatic and we would train barefoot and we would scale bridges, no harness, no protection whatsoever. We would jump from roof to roof. We would dive in the freezing cold in the winter. We would do all those trainings with a goal of being physically and mentally strong and healthy. Thinking that we were surrounded by a culture that just wanted us to be fully disempowered. Physically and mentally. And to be weak and to be… to not be self-reliant. So that the point…
Mark: Was there a particular leader of this group? I mean, how did this…? It sounds awesome and profound – and so was there a mentor in there?
Erwan: Yes, yes. His name, his name was Don… Well, Jean Abreve was his French name, also known as Don Abreil.
And he wrote a little book that was… Well, on the cover of this book, you could see him jumping off a helicopter just wearing swim trunks. And in the background there’s that massive iceberg.
Erwan: And that is 19… he did that in 1984. Okay. So we’re long, long, long before…
Mark: Way before Wim Hof…
Erwan: Long before. He was training barefoot. He was back then a vegetarian. A lot of the training was based on breathing drills. We were doing breathing exercises constantly. And it was just not physical, clearly. It was physical, mental, and spiritual. So he was my mentor. And this guy was not perfect in any way. But I learned a lot thanks to him, but also through him, because of him. But it was a very, very unique experience. You had to be ready to be a little aside of society while also being within society, but kind of being marginal in your mindset and lifestyle.
So a lot of those new trends that arise relatively recently in the last five or 10 years, like going barefoot, cold plunging.
Erwan: Yeah, well, you know, like the idea of parkour and highly functional movement, we were doing that. We were doing a Thai boxing, in the undergrounds. All kind of trainings where… Actually, we ended up in that, that’s a, that’s a story we ended up being watched by the French secret services…
Mark: Cause they thought you were going to be like an uprising, right?
Erwan: Uh-huh. They actually… We got access to a report where they said, “Well, if these guys wanted to do something really bad, they can. They know how to move and they can infiltrate any building.”
We actually… we got caught in the Louvre, you know, the world famous museum. We got caught inside of it. That’s the only time we got caught actually. Because we got into other buildings and nobody ever knew about it.
Mark: That’s incredible.
Erwan: Yeah. We were training like Ninjas. We were trying to hold our breath, to resist cold
Mark: And it was, the whole purpose was to make you better people. It wasn’t any other…
Erwan: Yes, that is the point. There was never any intention whatsoever to do anything bad. The point it was to… We had the feeling that we were somewhat resisting an entire society that just wanted to submit us into irrelevance, weakness, you know, to dumb us down, having just watching show all days and being preoccupied by petty things. Whereas we wanted to live fully. With intensity.
Mark: I think that’s so cool because that, to be honest, that’s why I joined the navy SEALs. I mean, to me there was a structure for exactly what you just said. To be exceptional and to not be mediocre and not be weak and you know, to go against societal grains. So did you ever think about joining the French special forces or military or, or was that something you weren’t interested in?
Erwan: So, again, the story is that, um, back then there was a mandatory military service in France. So I had to go for three days, do tests, and, you know, physical, IQ and this and that. And it was just at the time I had started to follow that training. So I arrived, first off looking at my… Well, that’s the just the way it was. They looked at my IQ and results and they asked me if I wanted to be part of a… to enter via officer academy. If I want it to become a military officer.
And to which I said, “No, thank you.” And I always told them, “I fully respect you guys. Every country should have a military and it’s a very important role in a country. But at the same time, I told them, “I have my own self-discipline and there’s nothing you can teach me.” I was probably wrong, but back then I thought…
You think you’re it, and you’re defiant. And what you said about the reason why you joined the SEALs. And I totally understand it. And that’s why I have a number of friends who are active or former SEALs. We just get along very well because I think it’s a mindset thing.
So yeah, I arrive late, I had mid-long hair. I was barefoot and I was only wearing, a pair of jeans and a shirt and I had only my ID. And everybody was looking at me like, “who is this guy?” And the message was “I am not here to stay.”
And I would do my bed perfect. Except that I would do it straight on the floor. And I would sleep on the floor and I would be the last to go to bed and I would be the first to wake up. And I would basically show every form of respect. But just saying “this, can’t do. This, cannot eat. That’s not my diet. I don’t eat this.” So, I just wanted them to let them go, because I wanted to do my own lifestyle. My own training and yeah…
And retrospectively I’m thinking, “Well, I could have done this and I probably would have learned a lot of precious experiences and insights in my life. But I choose a different path.
Mark: Yeah. The ego is a tricky thing, isn’t it? It’s like at every stage of the game we think we’ve beaten the ego only to look back and be like, “Wow. That was kind of like driving the ship back then, wasn’t it?”
Erwan: Yeah, yeah, exactly. But do you see that you choose to deal with a hierarchy and discipline that’s above you and that tells you what to do? Or that you refuse that and you are basically on your own. And that’s the case of many people. The lessons you’ll have to learn, that you learn them or not. They’re the same. They’re the same. In the end, it’s about self-discipline. Can you do? You learn to master yourself.
Mark: Ultimately. You’re right. Even in the military and all that structure or people telling you what to do left and right. You know, if you’re not in control mentally, it’s tough. It’s hell. And so therefore you’re creating your own health, you know?
But if you’re in control, it’s no big deal. You just let it roll off of you. It’s your own self-discipline. Discipline comes from within. That’s what you’re saying, right?
Erwan: Yes. Yes. I love that.
Following the Mission
Mark: So how did it come about for you to come to the United States? I mean, what was that transitional about?
Erwan: So in my thirties, I had a little company in France. And I just was profoundly bored. And it wasn’t what I wanted to do in life. Just, like anybody else, trying to just make a living. And I decided that I would fully dedicate myself to what I really had a true passion for. And that may sound cheesy, but at the same time, it somewhat takes balls to do it. Because you are taking risk and to just not be yourself because I’ve always been myself, but to do what it is that you really want to do regardless of what’s going to be the result at a, say, a material, financial level. And I made the decision. It was the best decision.
And like I said, I discovered the history of physical education that was pretty much based on what I call natural movement. They didn’t call it natural movement, but the methods that were employed in the past were all based on practical movements. So what that means is that they were not interested in the size of your muscles or your physical appearance. They were interested in what you can do with your body, how you operate your body in the real world. So that would imply jumping, and landing, and running, and crawling, and climbing things. And lifting and carrying. All those skills that you may use in challenging situations of the real life.
That you are a professional or not, or that you would use of course in times of war. And you would say they didn’t know better back then. But my question is do we actually know better today? It looks like, you know, lost in a number of ways that are so far divorced from the realities. I like to call that the realities of the real life.
Mark: Absolutely. You know, I think we have this tendency in the west, to think that technology equals better. Right? And so when I grew up, just like you, when I grew up, we had PE class, physical education and we learned gymnastics. You know, I remember trying to do muscle ups. Of course I didn’t, but I tried. Rope climbing a balance beam. We did wrestling. Phenomenal, phenomenal experience.
Erwan: That’s a phenomenal kind of physical education right there, Mark.
Mark: Everything that you just talked about. We learned how to run, we learned how to jump in track, long jump, you know, broad jump, sprint, long run, short run through the wilderness on a track. You know, we learned how to play sports, kicked balls and swing bats and things like that. And climb ropes and climbing.
I mean, it’s just like it was there. And then someone invented the Nautilus, like Mr. Nautilus probably is his name. I don’t know what his name was, but he, yeah. And then all of a sudden with that, “oh, this Nautilus machine. That’s what we’re going to go do in regular fitness.” And then the PE got taken out of the schools, because it was too dangerous. You know, you don’t want someone to fall off that rope.
Erwan: The Nautilus will turn you into some kind of a Nemo. Finding Nemo. Just jump on that Nautilus, and find your inner Nemo, you know. That’s how it’s used to make you strong.
Mark: But it is really nice to see the pendulum swing back the other way. Like you said, the last 10 years we’ve seen an explosion of different kind of regimens around natural movement. Animal fitness, Crossfit, you’re MovNat… even SEALFIT which is a bunch of different things.
Mark: And also a movement back toward nature.
Erwan: They all play a part.
Mark: They all play a part, yeah. I’m going to tell a quick story here. You know, cause the obstacle race, like when I was in the SEALs we just took obstacle racing for granted because we had an obstacle course. We had to do it every single day, not every day… Three, four times a week in SEAL training. And then, you know, we, we would do it when we were at command. We would do it a couple times a week. Combined with a long run or a long ruck. So you’re always upside down or in these awkward positions and doing really cool stuff.
And then I was surprised to see the sport of obstacle racing develop. And I became good friends with Joe De Sena, who’s the founder of Spartan race. Anyways, my quick story, I’ll try not to go down too far in this but he wanted to create a certification. Like a Spartan coach certification…
And they have it now, but at the time they didn’t. So he invited a bunch of different physical practitioners. I mean if he had known about you, he would have had you,
Erwan: I was invited actually.
Mark: Oh, you were?
Erwan: Yeah, I was and I declined. And not that I didn’t think they were going to do a great job. It’s just simply that I thought, “Okay, well yeah, no, I’ve got it also too work on my own concept.” So I respectfully declined.
But, yeah, I was invited so I know exactly what you’re talking about.
Mark: Yeah. I was there for a weekend with a bunch of other practitioners and it was fascinating for me. Even though, yeah, we had about… I think there were like 14 people there. Trying to get certified.
We didn’t certify a single one of them, but we learned a lot and Joe learned a lot and he scrubbed the… After our feedback, he scrubbed the entire program and started over. And the guy who runs it today, you know was there, his name is Joe Distefano. I think.
At any rate I was there to provide kind of like the navy SEAL mental, how do you use physical training for mental development resiliency? And then there was this guy there from Jujitsu mat work and he had some, just some of the most interesting exercises where you use another human being as your… as your load, right?
Holes and climb. You climb around another human being without putting your feet down. Just extraordinarily challenging things.
But then the animal fitness guy… What an intensely cool thing, right? To move like different types of animals. You know? Kinda like Kung Fu except you’re really low to the ground, moving like a jaguar or a bear. You know, I was thinking like bear crawls and it’s like a lot of this stuff we did. But it was super cool and it really opened my mind to just how… No matter how functionally fit you think you are, because I came from the Crossfit world and Crossfitters, you know, think that there is nobody that’s fitter than them.
But then they come to our school, our SEALFIT Kokoro camp and they fail. They fail.
Erwan: Again, I’m going to have to be very tactful and respectful right there. I have trained a number of Crossfitters and some of them that are – at least by the Crossfit standards are, you know, highly fit, right?
But, I knew exactly how to expose their weaknesses literally within seconds. And I don’t want to sound arrogant saying that, or mean. It’s just a reality, because they are… Their levels of capacity are amazing. And compared to say a bodybuilder, the way they move of course is very, very functional.
But when you expose them to anything that they basically never train and we’re not talking about some kind of a funky drill that’s completely irrelevant and very creative. I’m talking about simple. Say, okay, climb this that way.
Okay, now jump there. You land there that way because that would be the contextual demand. That will be how a given environment and a given situation demands that you perform. Can you do it? And you don’t have 20 or 50 repetitions to do for time. You have one shot. Can you do it?
Okay. So, and not just one move. We’re talking about a number of moves. So there are differences in training methodologies, but this stems from a difference in training approach and in the results that you’re seeking. And, you know, when I went to, when I trained a handful of special operators in Coronado. Then we went straight to the obstacle course and I said, “okay guys, this is what we’re going to do. We’re going to reverse the thing. We’re going to go backwards.”
And it was completely novel, because you know how you have standards and performance is being measured and means that you have to repeat things and perform them in a given way. And I knew that this wouldn’t teach them much, but if I was going to teach them something new, then I would have to approach it differently.
Mark: And some of the obstacles are designed to be done a certain way, right? So if they’re going to go up the Slide for Life backwards. That’s going to require an entirely different skillset.
Erwan: Exactly, all obstacles become like completely different. It’s like your perception of reality is different, and I’ll give you an example. For instance, passing the Burma Bridge from underneath, from below. We also so did the dirty name…
Mark: Like, hanging upside down?
Erwan: Not upside down, but you know, the Burma, so you normally have your feet on the one horizontal rope.
Okay. So how do you pass it hanging and traversing? Just hanging from your hands below the bridge?
Mark: Below the bridge. Oh yeah.
Erwan: That rope where you put your feet. And if you try to do that using strength, which we called, in our method, the Power Traverse. It’s so long that you might be exhausted by the time you even reach the other end.
But if you use what we call the Side Swing Traverse, which is one of our techniques, you’ll do it as fast or almost as fast. But you will do it without exhausting your energy. So this approach of passing those obstacles in a different way, gave me opportunities to teach them techniques they had not been taught. And to, you know, up the game a little. And again though, those guys are spectacular. They are unbelievable.
Number One – they are real gentlemen. Not cocky guys. You know, just really super polite, very respectful. And they are minds of steel and they are just super, super physically fit.
But there are aspects of techniques that they may not have been taught and that can help them perform better. So that was one example.
Another example was the Dirty Name. And – it’s called the Dirty Name, you would try to pass it. You’ll hurt yourself so bad you break a rib or something and then you yell and you curse. People who don’t know, there were like those three elephantine beams, like very thick wood logs at different heights going up and you got to jump between one to the other. And I tell them, “Okay, so now you missed it but not fully. You’re still hanging to that log. And so now you have two choices. One is that you decide that, ‘okay, I’m going to just jump down.’ And second is that you decide to, that you would be in a situation where you just cannot afford to let go and jump down. You have to find a way to overcome and to mount on top. So what do you do?”
And that’s when I taught them the popup technique where it’s basically a form of muscle up that you do, but hanging not from your hands, but from your forearms.
And it worked right away because they are super-fast learners. Super strong, super ready. So it was really cool for me to be able to add a few strokes to their arsenal of movement equipment, if I may say.
Mark: That’s neat. So let’s talk a little bit about the MovNat training. Like, what it is you’re hoping to accomplish. I think we’ve really covered that. People probably get a sense already, you know, natural movement, bringing it back.
Mark: But let’s talk a little bit about the how. And I would like you to start by, cause you know – I’ve been a lifelong martial artist too, and I was reading your website and I was really enthralled when I saw that you relate MovNat training to like the three different modes of training in a real, traditional martial art. And that would be, and I don’t have the words probably just right, at least the beginning one, but you know, the refinement of basics. A very specific skill that you refine over and over and over with breath and mindfulness.
And then the second would be like the Kata, which is a stringing together of different refined movements. Where you have to, you know, first memorize them and then ultimately you do them with that Shibumi. Or effortless perfection.
And then the third is like, Kumite where you are doing it with, against another human being? Or let’s say, against nature. So how do you employ… did I get that right? And how do you employ that? Those trainings?
Erwan: Oh yeah. You have very good, very good points and very great insights into explaining what the MovNat method is about, Mark.
So yeah, the comparison with martial art is extremely relevant, and this is why. The same way you don’t, you won’t go in a bar and start a brawl and be a jerk to people. So you start a fight. And that’s not how you learn to be a martial artist. That’s not how you learn to be a fighter. That could be how you maybe test your skills, but not how you acquire them. You need to go see… To train with a teacher and a group of people who are dedicated to, well, first off, controlling their emotions. But also to controlling their body. So in martial arts, the foundation is always technique.
It’s breath control and then it’s the pattern of each and every technique that you need to learn, starting with the easier ones, then progressing to more difficult ones. And through the practice of your techniques and skills on the mat that it is ground movement or striking or a mix of that, you will acquire already most of the strength and conditioning that you need. And that is symbiotically developing and associated with those techniques. That you learn.
Now if you apply that to natural movement, then that’s the way it works. That’s why we have a MovNat method. The idea is that just because it’s natural, like jumping, climbing, balancing, crawling, running, every one can do that. At least to some extent. The same way anyone can throw a punch or try to avoid one, or try to wrestle. And it doesn’t mean that you’re good. Doesn’t mean you efficient, because those are innate abilities and we all possess them.
But now it’s going to be, it’s going to take practice and mindful practice to turn those innate instinctual abilities into second nature skills. That are highly efficient. And that’s what we do. We place, technique first.
Mark: What are… so what are some of the most basic techniques that you would begin to teach a, you know, a new student?
Erwan: Breath control.
Mark: Okay. That’s the beginning. That’s where we start too, by the way. Yes, yes. Awesome. Music to my ears. I love that.
Erwan: Well, of course, I mean we’re truth seekers and in the end, that research is going to take us to the same fundamental and universal principles.
Mark: That’s right.
Erwan: So breath. If you don’t control your breath, it doesn’t matter. The rest is just not going to be as efficient as you could. Breath control is not just about controlling the body.
It’s about controlling the mind. It’s learning to be mindful with an internal movement. That’s what breathing is. It’s an internal movement. And when you got that foundation, then you can start to look at external movement with the rest of your whole body. While maintaining breath control.
And that’s the key point is that we don’t do breath control on the spot with, I don’t know, a little bell and some incense and a candle. And all of that goes through the window, the moment you start moving, if you’re going to learn breath control, it’s especially so that you can maintain such control when movement becomes complex, more intense. And the intensity and complexity of a movement happens not just when you are, say, doing more complex movements, but when you are physically interacting with more complex environments, right?
Say for instance, I’ll give you an example. If you do jumps on the spot and now like “this is great. It’s plyometric. It’s great for stamina. And I have to control my breath. So I’m going to be audible. I’m going to…” And that’s cool.
Now you are running through the woods and all of a sudden there’s a gap and you’ve got to jump with momentum between that rock. Be airborne over that obstacle. And then you get to land. And you got to resume running right away, without a pause. And you’ve never been there before maybe. And now your heart is racing and you start to maybe panic in your head. And then your breath is out of whack. You don’t control anything anymore. Now you see there’s an element of, of challenge here that is the environment, the context, any changes, everything. We love that idea of mind, body connection.
But there’s a new kid on the block right there. It’s the mind, body and environment connection. Because when you have… and that’s one example of movements you could do in the real world. Jumping between two obstacles. When you have to do that, you can’t deny, you can’t dismiss the risk, the potential danger and the fact that there’s a physical environment right there in front of you. You can’t deny that, you can’t dismiss it. You can’t just close her eyes and say, “I’m mindful.”
Now show how mindful you are right there. Show how you control your mind, control your body and control your breath, so that you can jump and land safely without panicking. Without losing your means, your nerves. And that’s something you know very well, Mark, because of your background. That is so… just so unique and so just admirable. But this is why we teach people without having to, you know, to take them to extreme circumstances.
Mark: Yeah. It seems like you just, you know, when you add the environment or let’s say even in the gym environment, so if you take, let’s say jumping, you know? Like you just said jumping over an object. That’s one skill. You keep on refining that working with breath and mindfulness. Now you want to run and then jump and then roll. Now that’s more like a Kata, right? That’s where you’re starting to string different movements together? Spontaneously or in a structured way. First structured and then more spontaneous. Right. Kind of the progression?
Erwan: Yeah, you need progressions and that’s why you can call it a method. You know, anything you want to acquire in life. You gotta be patient. And it’s always a progressive process. That it happens fast or rather slowly doesn’t matter. It will… You have to go through progression.
So first you learn the patterns. You learn the techniques. So like you guys do in your method, and there are obviously parallels. We teach breathing. Because number one, you control your breath. You control your mind and the clarity of the intention.
And then secondly, you are going to go through the movement patterns and any of those patterns can be improved. It’s just like breathing, actually. What is more natural than breathing? Everybody does it. And yet a lot of people would tremendously benefit relearning or learning for the first time efficient ways to breathe.
If this applies to the most natural movement which is breathing, why wouldn’t it apply to any other movements that seem natural to us? That starts with standing and walking and when you go on all fours. There are different patterns. You can roll in diverse directions. So you can get up and get down in diverse ways. With both hands, one hand, no hand. There are a great number of techniques and a great number of movement variations. So you learn the techniques first with very simplified environments.
So just flat surface, flat floor or ground. When it comes to balancing, you learn that on the two by four on the ground level. Then you will increase the complexity of the environment. So say when it comes to balancing, you will start to have a balancing surface that is slightly elevated. And then increasingly elevated.
And then you want to think of other variables that you could throw in the mix that will keep challenging your skill. So the surface could become rounded, it could become more narrow, it could then be at a certain angle inclined or declined.
And then you could also be slightly unstable, and this principle of the progression in external variables and environmental or contextual variables enables you to keep refining your skills, but with an increased challenge that comes from external variables, external demands.
And that is exactly what the real world provides to you.
You know, the difference between meditating in a place that is safe indoors and made for it. And completely isolated, silent, dim light and all of that. And it’s a beautiful thing to do. Now you try to meditate when there is loud people around. You are, say in a train station, whatever… Or young kids around you. And it’s the next level. And you can’t say, “oh no, there’s no way I can meditate here. That’s not the proper context.” But the real Zen master will laugh at you because that’s exactly what it is about.
So same thing with movement training. There’s nothing wrong with gyms. There’s nothing wrong with indoors. There’s nothing wrong with simplified environments for training. As long as you see them as ground level, beginner level basically. Where ultimately you will have to bring your skills to facing increasingly difficult variables. So that ultimately you are ready for the real world. You will be prepared for jumping a real obstacle in a real situation. For running 10 miles if you have to on uneven terrains, maybe without shoes, maybe in the cold, that’s the higher or highest level of practice, obviously. And this is in no way where most people should begin, but ultimately you got to free yourself of the gym. And you got to embrace the real world.
Mark: Totally agree.
Natural Movement and SEALFIT
Mark: There’s so many parallels except for, I mean obviously, it’s some very distinct differences, but SEALFIT… Most people don’t understand that SEAL, you know, it’s not the animal that the navy was referring to. Even though we have Sandy the seal is one of our mascots. It’s an acronym for sea air or land.
Mark: And so our whole, you know, when we start people training, it’s like, you know, we’re, we’re trading here to get out of the gym and into the environment. And our environments are the sea, the air and the land. Need to learn how to not just survive, but thrive in each of those environments. And so that’s your message to people is you’d have to get out of the gym. Don’t look at that as a… it’s a means to the end. The end is to be healthy and whole and joyful.
Erwan: Yes, yes, exactly.
Mark: Love that.
Erwan: Yeah. Put it perfectly, Mark. It’s very true. I… you know, you asked me that question early on, “why is it that I’m doing this?” And when I was younger and I would go to a park and I would do my training and clearly that’s not something that anybody back then and still today by the way, could identify, truly. Could say, “Whoa, guys doing, Tai Chi or yoga.” Or some other form of known, you know, established practice that is known to the mainstream. And therefore it doesn’t matter if you practice it yourself. If you see somebody else doing it, you know exactly what it is, that it is seen or done or seen in the proper environment like the Dojo or the yoga studio or that it is done outside.
You could tell, okay, I know what it is. But if you see a grown up person climbing a tree, jumping off the tree, to a roll, to sprinting and then to crawling on all fours and you are probably wondering “what on Earth is that guy doing? Oh man, is it like trying to be Rambo or something?
Mark: But it sure looks fun.
Erwan: It does. It does. Actually, you know, who understood the population that really understand this right away. Our kids. Kids they see you do that. First off, they’re kind of baffled because you’re not a kid and they never see grownups doing that, but they want to join. It’s a language they understand. Its natural movement. And so this was my stance. How come that the most ancient, the most universal form of movement behavior, which is natural movement, you crawl, you jump, you, you balance, you climb… Why is it that it’s not even known by most people? There’s no mainstream recognition for it.
And I knew that it used to be practiced and trained. There used to be methods in the past. We’re talking about a hundred years ago, 200 ago and back to Mark Raelis, and then the ancient Greeks and the other trainings. They were all based on those skills.
So I decided, I proclaimed to myself and to the universe out there that I would be the person to bring that idea of natural movement to the mainstream. How was that? I dunno.
You would call that ambitious. You could call that delusional. But the thing is, it’s a vision and you know, nothing can stop a vision and right now as we speak, it’s unfolding and it becomes a reality. And many more. So I can tell you, Mark, that this idea of natural movement is about, is on its way to become mainstream. Finally.
Mark: I applaud your vision and your audacity and I thank you for it. And I’m going to, and I join you. Right? And so part of the reason for this podcast is to help spread the word. You know, I’ll declare that I’m going to come train with you. Cause I want to learn what you can teach me, which I know is quite a bit. I’d be happy to reciprocate there. Some of our SEALFIT mental techniques. Maybe find one thing to add to your MovNat language. Wouldn’t that be a fun share?
Erwan: Mark, I would love to. And thank you for suggesting this. I would love to. And whenever we do this, I will learn from you as much as you maybe learn from me. So that’s always an exciting prospect. When you are a person who is all about self-actualization, self-optimization. You remain a student for life. You may become a teacher, but you won’t stop learning. And it’s a beautiful thing. I mean this is why we invite people. We kind of want to inspire and educate people to embrace that very simple mindset in their life. So that they too can thrive. They can have a better life.
Mark: Yep. Lifelong learning. That’s awesome. Yup. You have a book, “The Practice of Natural Movement,” that can be found at Amazon and Places where books are sold. Okay.
Erwan: Right. Barnes and Nobles and some bookstores now. And, yeah.
Mark: I’m going to order my copy as soon as I hang up here. Awesome. So, and where, and people can find you at movnat.com.
Erwan: Exactly. That’s moving movnat.com. We are the organization and the method for natural movement practice. We teach people, we certify people. We have thousands and thousands of certified trainers around the world. Because we’ve been at it for years.
We also have a growing number of licensed gyms who are just fully dedicated to making people fit and stronger, but also unbelievable movers only exclusively using this method and this approach.
Mark: One last question… Imagine, you know, I’m 55 but super, you know, pretty, pretty fit and I don’t, I’m not… You know, I don’t feel like I would have any limitations, but you know, for folks who are over 50, are there any limitations or can you, can you learn this stuff at any age?
Erwan: Every person is obviously different. You know, your biological age at a physiological level and it doesn’t matter your age, it could be 55 and rock it much better than a young guy or girl who’s in their twenties, never really had any form of physical education or physical background. And then on top of that are also not having the best lifestyle and it’s hurting them. So they may not be in a better position than you. They might be in a not as good position as you are.
So let’s say age is relatively, I’m not saying it’s not relevant, I’m saying it’s only partly relevant. Also natural movement. There’s no natural movements for older people. And some for younger people or some for say elite athletes and others for regular people. We’re all regular people when it comes to natural movement.
Again, all those skills belong to all of us universally since birth and since the dawn of mankind. What’s going to be different is where we start, the intensity at which we start, how fast we can make progress, volume and those kinds of considerations. It’s basically, and that’s why we have a method. We’re going to practice the same skills. We’re going to practice pretty much the same techniques, even though some are more advanced than others. And what’s going to differ is the context… again, the environmental part of it. Do you do that with more volume or intensity? Or on surfaces that are more challenging? Well, yes, if you’re ready and no, if you’re not ready. So we look at the progressions. So, yeah. And this is determined by just looking at how you move.
Mark: So you’ll assess someone and help them…
Erwan: Exactly. You just use your eyes, right? Movement behavior is the screen, is the assessment. It tells us if you’re ready or not.
Mark: And like with any functional movement, the benefits are going to be greater mindfulness, overall integrative health, greater happiness, peace of mind out in nature. You’re going to just have all the benefits of that. And – although probably we haven’t tested this yet – but it’s quite certain longevity. Cause you’ll have less injuries, you’ll be more mobile, you’ll be overall systemically healthy as we age. So if I imagined someone who spends a lifetime of functional fitness these days, it’s going to be like the hundred year Yogi, a hundred year-old Yogi. He’s still stretching, bending and moving quite well.
Erwan: Exactly. All health practices and choices, they only help you with your longevity in the sense that they prevent you from aging faster than you should because of your unhealthy choices. That’s pretty much what it is.
So yeah, and there’s of course there’s more to being held, even your natural movement. But if you are looking for a very potent entry point in reclaiming a healthy lifestyle, a healthy body, a happy mind, a self-confident, composed mind with great levels of energies, natural movement, that’s definitely a very, very potent getaway. Not a getaway, but an entry point. And get away into the lifestyle that may be, has been a, you know, causing you a number of elements physically or even psychologically, and that you want out of. and there plenty, plenty, plenty. We agree. There are so many modalities out there, but the behavior, the behavior…
Mark: It’s complimentary also to, let’s say like I’m a, I’m a lifetime Yogi and martial artist. I practice Aikido, Tai Chi and yoga right now. Along with my functional fitness. And I don’t look, this is look at MovNat as something. “Oh, I’m starting a whole new thing.” I look at it as complimentary. These are all natural movements, some are used for health. Some are used for defense, some are used for different things, but so why not learn?
Erwan: So you want to look at, you want to look at this two ways. One is the core purpose of why you would try MovNat. And that is again, it’s equipping yourself with a full range of not only the skills, the competency, but also the capacity, you know, the physical conditioning, the strength and conditioning that you need to be capable in the real world. That’s the core purpose. That’s the kind of physical education I wish everyone would receive. We learn in school and developing school.
But it’s not the case. So we have to rebuild somewhat. Often we have to build grownups from scratch in that regard of real world physical capability.
Then, you want to look at the derived benefits, which are again, you know, levels of energies, health, wellbeing, all of that. It’s true. You can have those beneficial effects through other modalities.
But if you’re looking at, again that capability we’re talking about. Where it… Look when you do martial arts, you want to be… you know, there are benefits you’re looking at. Primarily what it is that you want to be doing and ready for. You want to be able to defend yourself. So, you are going to acquire that by doing martial arts. And you know that just training on the mat is not enough, because a fight could be stand-up. And just fighting standing up is not enough because a fight can easily and rapidly go to the mat. It could go to the ground. But so you’re looking at the realistic… the realism of your training and that’s the core purpose before you’re like, “Yeah. Also doing it because it makes me feel good and great levels of energy, more self-confidence.” All those are awesome.
But number one, you want to be able to defend yourself. So apply that to other areas of life where you could be surprised by unexpected circumstances where you are all of a sudden and you have to carry a person on your back and walk free mouse with them. Or you have to jump for your life. You have to climb for your life, not just run for your life. Maybe you’ll have to fight for your life, or swim for your life.
And so all of that. And of course, challenging situations of real life because nobody is shielded from those. It can happen to anyone, anytime. And then of course, the day-to-day ability to operate your body very well. Like, for instance, can you even deep squat? And can you even from a standing position, sit down and then stand back up without using your hands for support and in more than one way? Can you do that or not? And if you can’t, then you already have clearly a diminished function. And the question is, do we want to address that or not?
Mark: Awesome. Well, we’ve been going for an hour. We could, we could probably…
Erwan: Whoa! Goodness.
Erwan: Likewise, Mark. Likewise. And I want to thank our common, good common friend Michael Ostrolenk for making that connection. And I wanna also really say how appreciate people like you, Mark, who are doing something good in the world and have really at heart, are on a mission to help people out with some form of inspiration, but also with methods to educate them, and just provide them the tools they need to live a great life. So you’re doing a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful job, Mark.
Mark: Hooyah. So are you. And I appreciate your work as well and thanks again for your time. We’ll see you in the future.
Erwan: See you soon in the future, Mark. Thank you.
Mark: All right folks, you heard it. Erwan Le Corre. MovNat. That was not only extraordinarily interesting, but man, so, so true. Let’s just put it that way. So I’m going to go to MovNat. I’m going to go to do a cert, or I’m going to go train with him. So join me, figure it out.
Or at least take a look at the principles and think about how you can integrate natural movement into your life. It’s very, very important and have benefits well beyond the physical.
All right? But you know all that because we’ve talked about that a lot here at Unbeatable Mind. Once again, I thank you for your time and attention. Remember, this is not a hack. It’s not quick. You do the work every day. Show up so you can grow up and then clear up your past emotional baggage so you can open up your heart and crush it. Be unbeatable. See you next time. Bye now.