Wilderness Movement - Rewilding the Body

Alright. This touches on one thing that most/all the primitivists I meet seem to not have worked on.

You have to rewild your movement, not just for hunting, but the simple fact that wilderness travel EXHAUSTS the modern human body. The ground in the woods has holes and bumps in it, working your ankles in bizarre new ways, trees/logs/brush make certain areas seem impassable, sitting on the ground can kill your back, you need to climb trees without low limbs to get views of an area at times, crossing rivers by jumping from unstable rock to unstable rock, etc. If you track animals, going where they go requires movement on all fours at times, which can work your knees all to hell. All this without even starting to talk about “stalking” for the hunt. So how the hell do you resolves this shit?

You can either join us here in Portland for SHIFT (we’d love to have you), or get Tom Brown Jr’s guide to Nature Observation and Tracking and flip right to the stalking and movement section. Also look up “parkour” (street/outdoor gymnastics) on youtube and google to see if you have a group near you. Take a Tai Chi class if you have limited options - actually, an 8 week Tai Chi class that I took at a community college 12 years ago (I got an F. Whoops.) started me on a track of personal experimentation that vastly improved my basic skills.

So don’t snub the Tai Chi…it works. Any other slow-moving art that works your core/thighs/calves/ankles will make a difference. Capoeira could work. Which reminds me.

Get some drums and get a hippie circle going and move in the middle of it. We started doing this for SHIFT, inspired by Capoeira, and it fucking rocks!! Old cultures obviously figured this shit out first.

Check out “the New World” DVD (that pocahontas movie) , and watch all the special features till you get to the part where they have footage of a native american dancer and movement specialist who came in and put the native actors/warriors through several weeks of training. It looks remarkably like what we do at SHIFT, which makes me think we’ve gotten on the right track here.

You can also go to Tom Brown’s school, who in his Awareness and Scout classes drills lots of wilderness movement exercises.

To sum up: screw fire making, shelter buildling, edible plants, etc. Just standing in the woods takes an enormous amount of focus. Consider making it one of your primary focus areas. Getting good at that will revolutionalize your fire making, shelter building, and plant harvesting skills.

“Training your mind”

Article on parkour and expanding beyond the limited movement of civilization.

You know what really wears me out? Long walks on beaches and pavement. Fucking monotonous and painful.

I’m totally picking up what you’re putting down here. The mushroom stalk is sprint across dawn in a race to beat the deer to choice and moist habitats.

I also agree, ever so tongue-in-cheekly, to say screw the survival skills and build up some physical memory!


Willem, great thread. I love the concept of parkour/freerunning. I watch the ‘youngins’ doing it and wish I hadn’t screwed up my joints from decades of martial arts practice…sigh…
As a suggestion for strengthening ones legs and eventually the rest of one’s body consider Chi Kung/Qi Gong or Google Wu Chi position and just practice that… something ‘different’ to consider.

after watching a parcour segment on tv, I’ve had several dreams where I’m running on “all fours” with assistance from 16in stilts that attach to the palms and forarms.

i agree with the movement completly… man wasnt build for these pristine lawns and hard concrete walking paths … ive begun wearing shoes about 80 percent less in the past year and my forest journeys have become easier as my body has developed new muscles and new movements… i feel that the best thing for me ever was taking off my shoes and just going…

wow. parkour is amazing… but where are the GIRLS!!!


Go jump off a roof.

there’s a video somewhere on youtube of david belle (the guy who invented parkour) doing some tight parkour stuff in the woods. it’s really tight. i’ll see if i can find it and post a link.

do it. DO IT! that sounds awesome. i love parkour.

man i’m moving to Portland in fall for school and I’d love to go to SHIFT… though i better start running around in the woods some first, ahah, i’m out of shape even for a person unaware of the restraints we put on our movement.

my feet are all screwed up from tight shoes too, i’ve noticed that i don’t even really walk comfortably. i started wearing shoes that are… ridiculously thin, so i can feel the ground some, and my back straightened up and i could feel that my arches are actually really, really weak (or whatever muscles hold up your arches). and i realized i have a messed up spot in one of my feet from when i was like five and stepped on glass, and i haven’t been really engaging that area so i hadn’t been noticing.

it’s amazing even what gyms can do to people. my dad overbuilt his upper body / exclusively large muscles, according to his wife (she’s in training as a pilates instructor). so when he does exercises that require actual coordination, despite the fact that if you met him on the street most would be like, “JESUS CHRIST RUN FROM THE HUGE MUSCLEY TATTOOED DUDE,” he just can’t do some of the stuff.

Yeah - my friend who I run SHIFT with, Dr. Mike, says he’s found the wiry, lean little guys the most intimidating martial-artists. More muscle can just slow you down, quite often. Although you gotta love these guys:

I spent quite a few years doing very hard physical work. Farm work and forestry stuff. I worked with a lot of Mexicans. None of them were big guys with bulging muscles. They were the toughest guys I’ve ever hung out with, extremely strong and huge reserves of endurance. I spent some time down in Mexico and saw their “training ground”. Guys who weigh maybe 135 - 150lbs. loading trucks with bunches of bananas that weigh as much as they do all day long. Lifting and carrying 100lb. bags of coffee beans one after another all day, for $10 a day. No wonder they’d risk the border and drive all the way to Washington to make $100 a day picking apples!

I’ve always preferred to hang with those who work more than those who work out.

I have a couple friends with similar stories, of Nicaraguan and Ecuadoran indians/countryfolk with ridiculous amounts of strength, and wiry as braided rope, swinging machetes all day long to clear fields.

What awesome people. My heroes.

So, I’m a little biased in this area with a strong background in Chinese Internal Martial Arts, but Bagua (also called Bakua or Baguazhang) is pretty amazing for rewilding the body. It’s great for helping the body move through the woods. It’s a circle-walking martial art with similar principles to Tai Chi, but with lots and lots of spirals and coils and putting the body in ridiculous positions (sort of like what you encounter in deep second-growth Cascadian Doug-Fir Forests). It’s also based off of interesting principles: 8 primordial forces, 8 directions, and 8 animals.

The legend of where it comes from revolves around a bandit getting lost and hurt in the mountains and being saved by Daoist Monks who helped him regain his health by walking around a tree both clockwise and counterclockwise for years…

Anyway, good stuff for changing how you walk and move. Helps you become more circular, round, and spiral instead of boxy and stiff like how everything else (cars, elevators, escalators, computers, etc.) make you.

wow i din know that was called parkour. I find its generally something your body picks up once u start to climb trees etc. I used to watch monkeys climb for hours just to see how the do it, and try to imitate them, this type of movement also came in with kalariypayattu, a martial art i trained in some years ago.

Since I came to canada i have lost touch with that part of me. Although, it has helped me a lot. Thats probably the reason I can run so far (i am a long distance runner). Although i still needd lots of improvment lol. I can’t explain it tho, watching the parkour reminds me of how a monkey moves very loose and confident. Like someone said Tai Chi is good for that. The movements are like the flowing of water. A lot of martial arts are, even athletic training. The main point here is shifting weight flawlessly, this is one thing only people who have practced can do, this helps move loosley and helps move fluidly etc.

But you have to have a flexible body for this, and yes a lot of muscles that you don’t use in modern society gets used here. Best thing to do is to climb a tree, let ur instincts take over, they know what to do, and just enjoy the ride. Another thing is to trust ur body. A lot of those simple moves in parkour can be done with some practice, but if ur scared u can never do it. Like that one where the guy climbs the wall by using the one beside it and just running up the 2, u can’t do it unless you let ur body take control and loosen up.

Also going barefoot helps a lot. I can’t climb and jump around as much wiith shoes, cuz i don’t trust their grips, my feet are natural and i trust them. Plus its easier to feel around where i am going


willem. sorry I never got around to posting that youtube video. I completely forgot about this thread. anyhow, here are a couple youtube videos of parkour in natural settings.

this one’s my favorite, though it isn’t in the woods…

david bell in the forest…

jumping around on massive boulders…

this isn’t really fast paced like parkour, but it’s definitely agility training. pretty neat…

sorry i didn’t post these sooner. enjoy!

Thats soo beautiful. Better then the best poetry. Freedom eh?