Many of the early physical culturists stressed the relationship between mind and body, viewing the two as symbiotic. The drive towards the physique above all else is a rather more recent phenomenon. It is for this reason that I am delighted to have had the opportunity to speak with Rob Allen from Wisdom of the Body. As you’ll quickly find out, Rob’s philosophy on training and life encompasses that mind/body holism preached by men like Sandow and Hackenschmidt. No doubt you’ll enjoy reading his responses as much as me. Who knows, you may even learn something!
What is your current training philosophy?
“Philosophy of Training the Body”
1. What IS the body?
2.does it have a purpose?
3.directed to what intent?
4.what is the best approach to meeting the intended purpose?
The body is a temporary holding case for consciousness or Awarenesses– and allows for a specific reception of experiences. It has a parameter of tolerances which we must respect yet at the same time shows a large capacity to adapt – so we can work with the adaptation capacity. The ancients seems to have been aware of this and rather than re-invent the wheel we can go back to what they did and see if with modern science we can add anything.
Since the Body is a Time-Body – it dies that is— We have a limited amount of time- to DO things with it. This means we must prioritize what is most important and scale up/down from that.
First we must feel good. This can vary quite a bit due to personality or “karma”. And we must feel good for the life span not just short term. This is a big issue. Many retired athletes live in pain. If we don’t feel good all motivation is lost. Enough torture destroys the will to live. Only drugs are left for us to keep motivation then. So we must be careful not to abuse the machinery of the body. Or it’s energy sources.
So we find a MOTIVE TO TRAIN.
So the first stage is finding out what makes us feel good. That gives us a basic launch pad. That is THE PLEASURE MOTIVE.
We like to PLAY the game of ? or sport of ? or study how the human body does ? We like to LOOK a certain way-That is THE VANITY MOTIVE. I am not saying if its good or bad yet. So that then established our window…We like the FEELING of winning a game, climbing a mountains, understanding a ___, we like how our body feels when we do blah. Etc.
Weight training–motives??–for looks, for power, for a specific sport, for physiotherapy, to understand our Will or lack of it…
yoga- motives?? for enlightenment? (the original yoga purpose) for looking good? feeling good? looking at how the mind works inside the body with position and visualization, effect of breath, effect of sound, history of body and philosophy inside yoga very useful…
Martial arts-motives?? basic courage, survival reflex, confidence, killing instinct, protective instinct, combat sports, function of ritual killing which goes into sex (two rams hitting heads in the spring is the basic model of nearly all sports-so they are basically Pre-Sexual or “Courtship” Rituals to find, attract or somehow get the girl).
Healing arts—ethnic traditions of healing, modern methods, herbalism, massage, acupuncture, “alternative medicine” which were actually “mainstream” for 10,000 years. People often get hurt or abused and so we can help others with some of these arts and this may gratify us or our vanity or sense of power over others or altruistic feelings of “hell people are bad off and need help and I empathize with their pain…” etc.
The consideration of the above then causes us to boil it down to a specialization or specific program for what we want or think we need…or want to develop or become—
Have long have you been exercising?
Since I was 11 when I began Tae Kwon Do.
How has your philosophy changed during this time?
Mainly through understanding the effects of aging and time and belief – those three are extremely important and will in the long term shape your structure…
What advice would you give your younger self?
Clarify your questions as soon as possible, do not waste time with questions of authority and politics or what the crowd thinks, trust your own experience–humans are extremely individualistic…if you want to use politics to your advantage fine but do not confuse that with the truth about the human body. You may have to lie to others but do not lie to yourself.
How do you schedule time to exercise, meditate etc.?
When I was younger I would mark the calendar each day I trained and then looks back over the month to see how I was doing…it is better at the beginning of the day when you are fresh – than the end of the day but this may well depend on your occupation… rotate through your list of movements, do not over exercise one set of muscles but do realize some sets of muscles are designed for “daily” and others are not; there is a specific human body design…meditation can clock- in after exercise as a rest period when the blood can be carried from muscle to brain, from peripheral skeleton to axis skeleton…I would say 1. train 2. eat 3. rest and or meditate…and they are deeply connected too…resting and meditation….also distinguish between baroreceptor (the feel of weight) and proprioceptor (the feel of position) in training. The skills of articulation are as valueable as the skills of power.
What are your views on nutrition?
The human is an omnivore and the teeth show this; our understanding of the gut is primitive. Now we know there is brain tissue in it things are starting to shift. It is possible to live on very little food using the gut as a liquid-mineral battery. But increasing demands of athletics seems to make it want more food so battery chemistry needs some sort of shift or change for physical amplification. Avoid all refined food and use only the darkest sugars (molasses and dark brown sugars) since they contain the chemistry you need to digest them. Same for dark flours. Whole grain carbs are fine if they are free of glycophosphate. Spelt is better than wheat but if your wheat is from a good source fine. Rye very good. I make a five grain pancake with turmeric, cinnamon and cardamon I really like. Sometimes I dust it with raw coco powder or put blueberries or sliced banana in it…I can eat a stack of those and almost nothing else for the rest of the day and train hard as well…maybe just have an evening salad and no meat. But I do eat meat. And sometimes a lot as when you travel that is what is most available.
Meat generally is over-rated. I like a good steak. The worms will have my body when it’s done unless I can will it to the tigers at the zoo. But the meat will likely be a bit old and stringy! Everything we have is on loan. And that includes our body. It’s not the milk but what is put into the cow you get the milk from–to know the Calf is crying for milk while the mother is being milked by a machine is pretty macabre and then to realize the cow is kept pregnant to continue lactating – well it’s a pretty gruesome system but that is where your milk comes from and your calves are taken early and put in black boxes to never see the light of day and fed corn and butchered early. Well it really is hell on earth so you have to take some responsibility. If you have a cow who has a calf and you can get some of the milk without being a monster about it then fine. Goats milk and cheese is very good too. Eggs are a whole food but of course you need to know what the chickens are eating…salmon is the worst farmed fish along with tilapia…try to get it fresh. Mass food production and mono culture are not our friends. The minerals of the earth are really magical and you have to have them working for you for your vegetables to have any power…Monoculture destroys the mineral earth balance.
Who has influenced you the most?
On the physical body I would say Tim Geoghegan. My childhood pediatrician Leila Denmark was amazing and I went back to her when I was 40 for a question on eating. My great Uncle Harry Brown was a missionary in Africa in 1923 and being in the Belgian Congo with children he had to learn to be his own doctor early – he was an early black belt in Jujitsu and told me, “If a man is not his own doctor by the time he is 30 there is no hope for him.” Then my Chinese teacher Hung I-mien who also was very clear about having a well rounded diet of grain, vegetables, meat and carbs…he believed you definitely were best served eating in a well rounded way. Later I was to encounter the same philosophy in the traditional medical systems of Asia and they all agree about this and have 5-10,000 years of empirical research behind them. But they all do have specialized recipes for training and healing and purification.
What fitness fad, if any, made a difference to your own opinions?
Some people swear by the blood type diet…I have no experimental studies to show there is anything to it. At one time my mother put the family on a macrobiotic diet of mainly grains.
It was interesting and we did very well on it but simply missed some of our old tastes…it was a huge amount of trouble to keep the food interesting and in those cases one really has to know spices…to create more heat in the system. There are no vegetarian world cultures and that is important to realize in the big picture…and I think the idea of having grain as a staple is reliable but would bring in more vegetables particularly root vegetables and their relations for nutritional value. The potato would be the least nutritious. Corn has been compromised by too much inbreeding and gmo manipulation with metals and glychophosphate but you can find Heirloom Seeds and grow genuine blue corn or “Indian Corn”…Rice from China has been found with ground plastic in it and the Chinese of mainland China seems to have little to no social conscience so you have to realize their water is for the most part compromised with all sorts of pollutants which of including heavy metals– all of this of course effect the rice as it’s grown IN the water…small local farming is the way to go and what to tap. And the same for your meat industry. Small farms where the animals are cared for and have a life and are not part of a desperately efficient conveyor belt whose intent is dominated by stock holders who have no real connection to the planet. What goes around comes around and the means ARE the ends.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I think the question of basic human body design is not asked – Tom Meyers and his “Anatomy Trains” has began the questioning as did the book “Job’s Body” — but the Hindus of India and their Vedic philosophy have much to offer as do many indigenous ancient traditions—and so questions of distortion and how much to morph the human body are not really asked. What is human proportion? and who has asked these questions before? are relevant and if we see the human body as a temporary residence and cocoon mechanism which is strictly a phase in spiritual development we get a much more evolutionary view of what we are doing with our training which prevents getting frozen in a moment of vanity.
Now with genetics and robotics shaking hands some folks are hoping for eternal life on this planet without physical death and this brings up questions of what is death? and what is the evidence of life after death? the nature and difference of human consciousness and robotic consciousness- if there is any? it is easy to mistake a mechanical response for a human response if the robot is designed to look human but the question of the source of the response needs to be looked at! obviously it boils down to the question of materialism verses vitalism but many folk get lost in the details and this prevents further progress in making clear decisions for the future quickly. The human life is short compared to some trees. So as the walking tree we have to understand why we are walking and to where….it all really boils down to consciousness and the body and what is the relation. The CIA spent 18 years and millions of dollars answering the question and the results are still ignored!