Rewilding "Labor" and Movement

Wilderix posted a reference to a book on Eustace Conway. I recommend it because in their they describe how he does “manual labor”, etc.

I have a hobby of using rewilded movement skillz in as many ways as possible, inspired by the almost unbelievable physical feats of native mail carriers, nepalese porters, kenyan women carrying water jars, etc.

I’ve found that by exploring the idea of one’s “center”, and expressing it through movement, rather than using muscular force, I can express myself physically for enormous periods of time. I can also dance like an effing demon.

At a farming apprenticeship (with the temper tantrum farmer) I raised hoeing to an artform. The head farmer could hardly believe it.

I also like to practice fox-running, the long-distance/varied terrain native running technique taught by tom brown.

Anybody else have any rewilded movement feats they like to play with?

The one I practice so often I’m not even aware of it, is silent movement.

I only discovered I was any good when people started jumping with fright when I went up to say hi. I’d sneaked up to them completely by accident and only broken my silence at the last second.

So I decided to nurture this little skill, and though I’m not quite a ninja yet I’ve become better. Keeping just the right limb tension, keeping my weight even, adjusting speed according to ground softness, etc… it’s increasingly intuitive.

I can’t dance for shit, but in day-to-day movement I’ve been compared by the most unwild of people to gazelles and mountain goats. So maybe I’m onto something.

I enjoy the physical labor of certain wilderness skills. I’m also a big fan of digging which a lot of people hate. I used to have this fantasy in which I was a ditch digger working in the hot sun and being paid minimum wage. I would like to get much better at walking and running long distance but I’m not sure I really understand the fox run and wish I had someone to watch do it. I love to move quickly and ran cross country for six years. But I’ve found my joints can’t take it anymore, not from the prior running, I think, but because my health overall deteriorated. I don’t think my body is as “juicy” or resilient as it should be. Still I often run short distances for no reason. When I was in college I was always sprinting, jogging, and skipping across campus.

I think the whole “rechilding” thing plays into this. When I was a kid I was good at so many things that just make me nervous now. Like balance. I used to walk out on tree limbs no hands and shit like that. Now I get trembly crossing the fattest logs. But it makes complete sense that I can’t balance now because I stopped practicing. When I was young that is all we did for fun: practice walking across logs, forwards, backwards, sideways. We would practice jumping out of the treehouse, off of the roof, dropping from limbs onto cushions. Now I try and jump of something two feet high and twist my ankle or wrench my shoulder, or mostly I just play it safe and crawl down. It’s not just that I’ve gotten old and stiff, it’s that I don’t practice! We would tumble and turn upsidedown everyday. It’s no wonder that I get sick on fair rides now. We would jump from rock to rock in rivers and streams. Broad jump, limbo, makeshift high jumps, relays races. Those were all games that built up my physical prowess but somewhere along the line I stopped playing them. So in addition to any health issues I might have it’s obvious why I can’t do the things I once could, even though I think I ought to be able to. I stopped practicing! It’s just that I never thought of it as practice when I was doing it. It was just playing.

That said I think there is something to muscle memory. I only do a few handsprings a year now, just to see if I’ve still got it–and I always do! If I had stopped for some reason for too many years I think I would be too scared now, but I’ve kept it up these last 15 years or so, so I still can. If I had to learn from scratch now at age 24 I could never do it. I would be scared stiff. The only reason I can is because I know I can and my body remembers how. In a way this applies to running too. I think if I started running all the sudden now and never had before my lungs would start burning and I would be like “this sucks, what was I thinking?” but because I remember that feeling and I know that is what it is supposed to be like it is pleasureable to me, makes me as nostalgic as the sound of swishcrunching through fallen leaves, okay maybe I wouldn’t go that far…

I've found that by exploring the idea of one's "center", and expressing it through movement, rather than using muscular force, I can express myself physically for enormous periods of time. I can also dance like an effing demon.

If you ever get time, Willem, I’d like to here more about how you find your “center” and express yourself physically for longer periods of time. One of the reasons why is that I remember reading in The Continuum Concept how the Yequana could outlast the civilized members of Liedloff’s party when it came to portaging the heavy canoes for long distances to the water ways. She commented on how the tribesmen were much smaller physically than her French counterparts but made the portaging look effortless.

Take care,


[quote=“Kaliverdant, post:2, topic:212”]The one I practice so often I’m not even aware of it, is silent movement.

I only discovered I was any good when people started jumping with fright when I went up to say hi. I’d sneaked up to them completely by accident and only broken my silence at the last second.[/quote]


Yeah, I internalized this particular skill so much during high school (when I so desperately wanted to be invisible) that I do it now without even realizing it. One of my former bosses was even less aware of his surroundings than most people and I had to consciously make a lot of noise to let him know I’d been sitting in his cube waiting for 10 minutes before he’d see me…


Well. Alright. I’ll think about writing a wiki page on this, okay? I’d much rather you come visit us at SHIFT, ha ha. They say, IHTBS, but in e-prime you could also say, OHTSI, One Has To Show It. However, I myself have had to learn some of this from books (forgive me gods of oral tradition), so one can learn it by text…you just have to have a very curious mind/body. And a developed imagination.

This subject really has a lot of importance for me, so it obviously doesn’t take much arm twisting to get me to share it. It transmits a lot easier in person though.

Well. Alright. I'll think about writing a wiki page on this, okay?

That sounds good, Willem.

I'd much rather you come visit us at SHIFT, ha ha.

:)…If the price of gas keeps going up I’m not even going to be able to leave my yard.

Take care,


While doing things like weeding, knitting, etc. I used to often find myself tensing up muscles for, apparently, no reason. Now, while knitting (or whatever other activity I will be doing for quite a while), I try to find out how to alter my posture, working technique and so on to make it go more fluently. At the same time the moments when I find myself tensing up again, I ask myself what happened or where that tension came from.

Some discoveries I made so far:

  • Many people have taught me (stressed!) that doing something well means you have to work hard (at it). The more intense, the more positive feedback you get. Too bad I had too few teachers of other approaches early in life…
  • Doing something fluently (in flow) lets you do it for a long time when relaxation for each muscle is part of the cycle;

Beautiful Anneke!

Is anyone here familiar with MovNat? Have you tried it? Does it relate to this?

Haha, I’ve developed a saying after about 5 years in gardening: ‘If you’re working hard you’re working stupid’. It’s about planning your way around the tasks in front of you, doing the crappiest job first when you’ve got the most energy, alternating muscle groups as you say, not wasting effort unnecessarily, and, more on the attitude side of things, trying not to frown, swear, get worked up etc because that just leads down a horrible spiral of brute force, anger and closed-off awareness, which is when accidents happen. These days I rarely break a sweat except on v. hot days or doing heavy digging.

I can vouch for the center focus that Willem originally talked about. The best way to rake leaves is to do it from your belly, with a succession of small arm movements pulling the leaf pile closer to where you’re standing using a twist of the hips as the primary force. The further out you reach the faster you get tired. Doing Qigong has helped with a lot of this, as that’s all about activating the ‘dan-tien’ (sp?) which is supposed to be a spot in the lower belly around which the body’s force is organised when it’s working optimally. It works well with running too, if you sink the focus of action down to the belly and cut down on all that useless flailing in the limbs. Lower center of gravity also = better balance. Dunno if that fits in to what Tom Brown called ‘fox running’ or not…

Fun topic, nice to dig it up again!


Peter of course you know my opinions about MovNat - but to reiterate it’s right in the same ballpark of retraining. Modern urban (or even often rural!) people just don’t have the body skills of the average modern villager.

If you find yourself thrashing around off trail in the woods, or at the end of a long tiring hike, rather than dancing in the wonder of the human body, it means you have the opportunity to learn even more about how to inhabit it.

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Ian that’s the structure of Fox Running for sure - there is also some footwork involved that causes it to be different from Coyote running, Scout Walk, etc. These aren’t secret techniques or anything they are probably things you could discover by playing with being as silent as possible while running on varied terrain at varying speed.

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I actually can’t remember what you said about MovNat. haha. But I am curious about the hanging exercise you mentioned a while back… Something about hanging instead of pull-ups. Is there an article or something about that somewhere? What’s that all about?

Oh, cool, will have to look into it properly… Where does Tom B talk about it? I tried adapting fox-walking to a run with some success, but spoke to someone who’d studied the mechanics/science of running who said that it was best to land relatively flat-footed rather than with the balls of the feet as I’d been doing, as this allowed a full flex of the ankle joints upon contact with the ground. I’ve kindof settled on a hybrid, depending on the situation. As long as the knees aren’t locked and heels aren’t crashing down it’s all gravy :slight_smile:

Fox run is more of a whole foot kind of thing - scout run is on balls of feet for broken ground issues. Lots of different runs for different terrains and speeds.

For several of thes run styles the legs move like pistons and you are almost sitting down. It’s a different consciousness of running. Think about broken dangerous ground issues etc.

Hi I am really new to this forum and just had a question for you guys…I don’t know about all of you but i know where i go there are cougars and bears (and there young). I’m scared of spooking them while i’m just foxwalking, wouldn’t it be more dangerous to move through the woods quickly? I know I would definitely be very intimidated by running through my patch of woods…I spooked up a cougar a couple months ago while fox walking slowly tracking deer…Haven’t gone there since without being on full alert…Just wondering is it really that safe? thanks !

Yes, the faster you (or any animal) goes in the woods the more risk you take on. Natural running techniques are designed to mitigate that risk when you are forced to run.

It’s also good to have keen bird language/concentric ring awareness skills so you know where all the predators are and danger spots so you can navigate accordingly.