Is personalization worthy of a system?

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Bruce Lee created Jeet Kune Do, because, as the story is told, to earn the right to teach non-Chinese, he had to defeat some dude whose name I don’t know, and he did it using Wing Chun. Then, because he thought it took him too long to do so, without efficient enough movements, he went on to create Jeet Kune Do, “the way of the intercepting fist”, a shortcut to efficiency and victory in battle. He took an ancient art and used some modern techniques taken from other forms of fighting, and created his own style, his own system. Legit.

Georges Hébert was, at the time, considered a visionary for putting together a system stemming from his observations as well as education, combined with circumstances and inciting incidents that led to the creation of The Natural Method. He inspired himself both from his surroundings, the needs of the era, and the work of his predecessors, as well as travels. Legit.

Pavel Tsatsouline put his stamp on kettlebell training, calling it “hardstyle: reverse-engineering what the best athletes do naturally” and earned both legions of adopters and a platoon of haters, some of whom dismissed his work by saying it’s not true to form. Yet, Pavel never claimed to be a “GS” (Girevoy Sports), guy, and created a system, that constantly evolves through revisions, practice, user feedback and more. He broke down kettlebell training in steps instructors can follow for continuity amongst themselves. Legit.

Erwan LeCorre started MovNat, and wants to be known almost as the guy in today’s trending of natural movement. He studied and researched all the European physical education teachers, and especially Hébert’s surviving teachers of Hébertisme. He made a strong point of the fact that he spoke to the survivors, and why they are “survivors”: because in over 100 years, there has been no evolution of that system, as he told me. So, he’s putting his stamp on it, adding new things. Legit, right? I’ll be honest: I have no formal MovNat experience. I have been exposed to primitive, or natural movement patterns, back in 2008, by people who’ve worked with Erwan so I can’t formulate a real opinion, but only mention him because we both swim in the “movement ocean”. Last week at the IDEA FIT conference was my first live introduction and conversation with Erwan and that’s what our conversation entailed. “Back then you had Hébert (…), now you have LeCorre“, he said. He also boldly said that he wouldn’t let himself be stopped by the naysayers and that he’d take over. And he may be right: he’s got the moves, the confidence, the charisma and certainly has the following and endorsements.

And in the end, that may be what it takes. Anyone that has spent a significant period of time working on something, specializing in it (even generalization can become a specialization, like a family doctor vs a specialist in dermatology, anesthesiology etc.) can call themselves an expert. An expert is defined as “someone who has comprehensive and authoritative knowledge of or skill in a particular area“. If you further dig into the definition of that term, comprehensive relates to “wide-ranging” and authoritative to “commanding and self-confident“. Of course, other definitions of the same terms could provide a slightly different meaning to the terms used to define the expert, like “considered to be the best of its kind and unlikely to be improved upon“.

If something cannot be improved upon, in my interpretation it would mean that it’s perfect. Also, it means that there would be no potential evolution or need to modify, revise, adapt or update. Therefore, are there any experts, really? I haven’t found anything that has reached perfection, yet. Or do we only need to select one possible definition of terms to provide the most accurate spin? Better yet, do we need to only focus on not “first to file”, not “first to market”, but only “first to mind”? If you look around, I believe the latter is the winner, and marketing has everything to do with it. Just like actors: there are many better actors than the ones you see on TV, struggling to make ends meet, whom you will never see or hear of.

The same goes for trainers, inventors, visionaries, high school varsity coaches who come up with their own additions to methods or systems. But if someone is using an old system, adding their twist to it, should it turn into another system, or should we just celebrate the teacher/performer of the method, like an actor doing their own rendition of a classical Shakespearian monologue?


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