The Familiarity Concept

Build new skills using the Familiarity Concept:

  1. Have you done anything BEFORE that resembles what you’re trying to do now?
  2. How often are you trying?
  3. What do you practice already that is similar?

I’ve just had the most amazing weekend! I can’t believe that my job now is meeting tons of new people and getting to share my training methods. To say I’m loving life right now is a massive understatement.

People wanting to latch on to “the answer” that “one exercise” that will make everything better

I do love mobility work, yet I’m constantly trying to remove mobility work from the pigeon hole of  mobility work… as pretty much everything you do is mobility work… apart from Zumba, that shit is just nasty. One of the things that I am very wary of when teaching is people wanting to latch on to “the answer” that “one exercise” that will make everything better, put their performance through the roof, the skeleton key to skill gains. In the vast majority of everything there is no “one thing” that anyone should be doing; there is only what you’ve done, what you’re doing now and what you’ll do later.

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What you have already done: that is your baseline, which is pretty much your foundation for everything. I started with martial arts, that was the first thing I started to take an interest in and also the first thing that I ever started to learn anything physically. My Sifu always said during the classes: “to get a training adaptation, or a training effect, you have to train the movement as near as possible to the movement. This is not as near as possible, this IS the movement“. I heard it a million times, but what it really means is IF YOU WANT TO GET BETTER AT FIGHTING, FIGHT. Yes there are general principles for developing explosive power, speed, reaction times etc, but sparring and practicing the movements that you actually do in the fight will make you a better fighter. Being able to do 300 clapping push ups unbroken won’t really increase your skill level of punching a moving target that’s punching you back.

Similarly, if you want to get better at running, run, if you want to get better at weightlifting, lift, if you want to get better at dancing… dance.

The familiarity concept is a great way for you to pick up skills faster

But, back to the topic at hand, the familiarity concept is a great way for you to pick up skills faster. You hear it all the time: someone does something, it looks like another thing, and some people even go as far as to say they are ripping someone off… which is bullcrap. There is only so much good stuff to go around, no one knows where anything really originated from and why does everyone care? The great thing about all this move-stealing is if something looks like something you’ve done a bit before, you’re going to be more confident trying it!

When you are approching a new skill, or if you are pursuing a new goal, read through these points first and relate them to your own activites.

Familiarity Point 1: Have I done anything BEFORE that resembles what I’m trying to do now?

You really don’t need to over complicate this one. One easy example is have you held something heavy above your head with both hands with your elbows locked out? Well, a handstand is just that but upside down – no need to freak out! Looking at it like that will make it far less daunting, so just give it a go!

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Familiarity Point 2: How often are you trying?

The more you work at something the more FAMILIAR it becomes to you so your body will adapt to make you better at that skill. Any time I pick something to develop I go all out: minimum 4 times a week (depending on what it is). Putting yourself under a sole focus can be boring, but if you have a dead set goal that you want it is actually pretty easy to do – and it is by far the best way to make gains. Just know that other skills may have to take a back seat, last time I went full weightlifting mode I couldn’t even do a muscle up by the end of it.

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Familiarity Point 3: What do you practice already that is similar?

I can maintain just below my 1 rep max barbell strict press just by doing handstand push ups regularly: they are both an overhead press, but personally my focus is more towards handstands for pressing so that’s what I want to spend more time with. Understanding that the attributes are the same (Upper Body Push) I know full well if I did want to up my barbell press, I would only have to do a few sessions to familiarise my body with that movement again. Despite my strength noticeably increasing, not using a barbell for that movement might cause my brain to struggle giving me the extra strength on the bar for a short time until I put the practice in again. Personally, any time I do go heavy above the head it is a snatch or a jerk anyway so practicing that middle part is time I just don’t need to spend according to my goals.

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I actively encourage everyone to think about the all things they do, get obsessive about it! The more thought and the more goals you set the more likely you are to succeed with anything. Remember, you can talk yourself in to things just as easily as you can talk yourself out of them!