By Erwan Le Corre
I am hanging from a metal rail across the window of my second-floor bedroom, my whole body in the void facing the wall, some forty feet above the ground. Nobody told me, forced me or challenged me to do this. I am totally on my own.
I am not following anyone’s example. I simply believe that I am capable of doing this. I unconsciously want to strengthen my mind. I am already five years old after all…
I would let my parents know what I did. They would simply shrug their shoulders. Not because they don’t care, but because they trust me. Or simply because they believe young boys should do such things and grow strong in the process. I am not sure what they believe exactly, but I understand that I am empowered to attempt such challenges on my own.
I am now eighteen, a karate black belt training hard every day and competing at national level. But it feels that I have reached a comfort zone, a level of familiarity, the limits of the traditional art I feel I need to break beyond. And so that afternoon, walking the streets of my little town, philosophizing on my own and getting a little bored, I spot that construction crane in the distance and feel immediately drawn to it. Minutes later, I am hanging in the void from the top of it, in the broad daylight, my whole body in the void some hundred feet above the ground. Tightening my grip on the metal bar, knowing my life relies on that grip, quieting my breath and keeping my mind composed while enjoying the view. I am clear, strong, mindful. I visualize the little boy doing the same. I am an adult now. My personal, confidential quest for inner strength is far from being achieved, but I certainly better measure and appreciate the path I have been on over the years.
I am not defying death: I just want to feel alive. I want to value life more. I also want to feel capable, physically and mentally capable. Last but not least, at this very stage of my existence, I want to suppress the heavy, limiting feeling of normalcy in my life. I want out so I can enter a different way of being and living. I know that I won’t have a “normal” life because what I am doing right now is not what normal people do. The rugby team below that has stopped playing and gathered to watch me and wave at me amuses me. I can tell that these guys don’t know what to think, how to react. I understand that I can create my own experience in my regular environment. It doesn’t have to be dictated by conventional standards. It can fit the nature and size of my spirit.
I don’t know yet that I am about to start a journey of almost a decade in Paris and a long series of similar “Daredevil” challenges are waiting*. Years later, in creating the MovNat method in my late thirties, I have never forgotten my early experiences, the consistent mindset of self-empowerment that has continuously driven me along the way. The methodical system I have designed never intended to put your movement experience in a box. It was designed to enable you to develop physical capability in the most effective and safe way possible so you can become even more adaptable. Of course, you can choose to perpetually limit your practice to the safe limits of ground movement, balancing on a board and jumping at ground level, hanging to a pull-up bar and so on. You can certainly support greater levels of mindfulness that way, without having to handle any danger. Danger is not mandatory to become a skilled mover. But it is mandatory to become a mentally strong one. You don’t build a human being only by building the body and its movement skills. Ultimately, the mind operates the body and a weak mind can’t operate the body in the presence of danger. No true inner strength is ever built without tempering your mind with the heat of risk, danger, and fear. This is a precious aspect of self-development which is too often missing in modern people’s life: knowing what they are made of…and making themselves strong when they’re not.
Some people will tell you that one can become strong without having to ever push their limits, without having to face adversity, difficulty, danger. Well, it is a pretty lie.
So…You are in no rush. You don’t want to be a jackass and hurt yourself badly. You can’t hurry inner strength, mental composure. You can’t also recklessly expose yourself to circumstances that could kill you. This is not the point at all and I believe you got that. But you must consider reaching a level of practice that sometimes enables your mettle to be tested to a certain extent. You could start with a little of height…Just don’t forget to keep it progressive.
*which Julie Angel has written about in her novel “Breaking The Jump.”