Episode #47: My Friend Justin Joins the Show Part 1 – Gymnastics, Breakdancing, Martial Arts, Learning New Skills, and Not Giving Up
Get ready for a massive interview spaced out over the next two weeks! One of my best friends from college joins me for a walk down memory lane as we reminiscence about the years we spent training in gymnastics, breakdancing, and martial arts. If you have any interest in those topics, you’ll likely find something of interest in this week’s episode. Some of the topics covered:
-Trying to learn breakdancing by watching old, grainy VHS tapes of pioneer bboys like Crumbs, Ivan, and Storm
-There was only one or two digital video clips we had access to in the beginning (no Youtube). We watched this unnamed guy doing windmills in his garage countless times and must have dissected it hundreds more – whoever you are, late 90s windmill guy, we are grateful.
-The bboy crew Justin and started with two other college friends, Sherwood and Tim, Sympoh, is still around and continues to amaze us.
-The freeform aspect of hip-hop/beaking vs. the emphasis on doing things a certain set way in gymnastics and many martial arts
-How doing gymnastics is involved in learning your limits and conquering fear, applicable to other aspects of life (i.e. “there are no dumb gymnasts” per my high school coach)
-How to reconcile the “stay tight in the air” philosophy of gymnastics with the “relax in the air” philosophy of martial arts (we don’t actually resolve this, but it’s an interesting contrast)
-If you were two college kids who wanted to be ninjas, what do you do?
-How we found ninjitsu training
-You can still buy this grappling hook online (though you may not want to)
This series of explanatory ninjitsu books by Stephen K. Hayes were the ones I recall most vividly from childhood
-Unlike in our childhoods, you can now easily find ninjitsu books by Stephen K. Hayes and his teacher, Dr. Masaaki Hatsumu, on Amazon. The man who taught Justin and I years ago, Jack Hoban, now has training videos, referenced here.
-We spend a fair amount of time touching on the process of learning new skills, e.g.:
-What’s the Dunning Kruger effect?
-What’s the Feldenkrais method? And how can slow, deliberate movements done with good form in optimal conditions counterintuitively help learn new skills faster?
-We debate whether innovation can/should be taught from the get go or should fundamentals be stressed first
-The beginner’s journey – even as a “master,” hopefully you are still continuing to learn (symbolized by the journey from white belt to black back to white again as the outer coloring of the belt gets frayed with time).
-The importance of not giving up too early – fitting given the meaning of the characters for ninja (忍者 – “one who endures” in Chinese)
-We discuss how martial arts and these other skills have shaped us as people.
There was a natural breaking point here, so I’ve split the interview into two parts for ease of listening. Justin will return next week with more discussion on fitness and healthy eating. In the meantime, check out his blog at
In other news, since Instagram changed the amount of video they will allow to 60 seconds, I’ve been trying to distill songs that influenced the soundtrack and writing of The Thirteenth Hour down to 1 min in synthesized form. There are also a few snippets from the soundtrack itself there – all at the Instagram account of @the13thhr.ost.
-E.g.: The Thirteenth Hour Theme, heard in the intro and outro of these podcasts
As always, thanks for listening
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