“Strength is being able to articulate yourself in any situation, and adapt with no warning – survival. As for real intelligence – empathy!” – Tristan Kobayashi
If you love gymnastics, crossfit, dance, yoga or movement in general, you’ll love this interview.
Brent, a good friend and ‘Black Oak crossfit & body movement‘ owner, introduced me to Tristan’s floorwork-workshop in Amsterdam. Trust me, this man walks the talk. If he moves or speaks, people are drawn to him – he’s the real deal! It’s all about getting in touch with our physical selves, tune in with our bodies and don’t get trapped into a sitting culture.
If you really curious and want to find out why his so driven and what makes him that movement expert. Then you’re at the right place!
Take a bulletproof coffee, sit back and read.
We cover a ton in this interview, including:
- Why are movement and fitness so different?
- His daily routines
- What helps to manage his busy life?
- His general view on generalism & specialism
- Thé most beneficial basic movement
- What are common mistakes seen in your students?
- His opinion on education
- A view of the world through Tristan’s glasses
- And much much more …
Without further do, enjoy …
THE I N T E R V I E W
How’dy Tristan Kobayashi
Nice name, where does it come from?
It’s Japanese, meaning ‘small forest’.
The way I understand movement, it’s different than conventional training and fitness. What your definition on movement?
Movement has a much broader catchment than fitness. Fitness in most cases misses many key fundamentals for longevity of practice, as well as the huge variety that our bodies crave. Movement encompasses the human experience – from our first breath to our last, we are moving.
Can you walk us through a typical day of your trainings routine?
Sure. I train predominantly in the afternoon and early evening. Mornings just aren’t when I perform best, though I do sometimes train super early if I’m in the mood. I will do at least 2 sessions per day, lasting 4-6 hours in total usually. These sessions will normally fall into different categories (e.g acrobatics and martial arts). I use the time between sessions usually for my work, or to see friends.
I train mostly on my own, maybe to focus more, but I definitely miss the playing. Do you train alone or do you rather call it playing with a bunch of friends?
Both are extremely important. If you’re not prepared to practice alone, I think your practice will reach limitations in how far you can progress. However, interaction with others is essential for further development, so I guess I’d say I love both, but for different reasons. Fun and focus are both important, so find a balance.
You’re all about healthy body, movement and teaching, very impressive. How do you even manage? I mean what’s Tristan’s path?
Hahahaha! The truth is, I often don’t! I’m as human as the next guy. I eat ice cream, I watch netflix, and there are plenty of days where I don’t want to move. That’s the truth. However, Inner fire powers me through. It is not something that is just given to us – it is a discipline that we must develop over time. Everything takes practice, and learning from mistakes.
The things that help me manage –
- Real relationships with people you can count on. Integrity and honesty within those relationships, and a level of vulnerability. Being able to let down the wall, and just be honest with your friends, even if the truth sounds shitty.
- My beautiful wife. She is my rock.
- Good nutrition 95% of the time. essential for recovery. a healthy body equals a healthy mind.
- Nourishing my spiritual side. I believe we are far more than flesh and blood, and continual exploration of where i fit into this mighty cosmos is very enriching to me.
- Supplementation. Again, discipline is key. education is no. 2 here.
My path – I have no clue. I never thought I’d be where I am today. I’m simply riding the wave. I have no interest in knowing what comes next, as I’m loving the ‘now’ just too much.
I use my blog platform ‘the generalist’ as a brain dump to talk about anything. To me you are a mover in general, but what are your specialties?
The truth is, we all specialise whether we want to or not. Our internal dogmas are hard wired into us, and perception based on life history and experience is extremely difficult to re-program.
My specialities are –
- Teaching. I’ve always been a teacher, from childhood. It’s simply who I am.
- Public speaking. Conveying a message, and showing passion for what I do is something I love.
- Anatomy, physiology and bodywork. Understanding structures, interactions, and altering those interactions is fascinating.
- Gymnastics based skill development. I have researched myself to death on this topic, and have become very proficient in producing high level students from all backgrounds here.
- Mobility development for adults. Enough said there.
- Trauma resolution and therapy in multiple formats. Aiding others heal is a huge part of my ethos.
- Nutrition and supplementation.
And more, and more and more.
I specialise in almost every research topic I delve into – I am EXTREMELY obsessive.
Seems you have pretty much control over your life. Are there moments where you have to motivate yourself? And how?
Every day. Always. Every moment. I read, I research, I look to others and see what they’re doing, I watch videos, I dance, I listen to music, I simply start moving, I look at art.
Again, it’s all about understanding that we don’t live in a neutral environment. The odds are stacked against us, so stay on top of it.
What is according to you the most beneficial basic movement? And why?
Wow. tough question.
I’d probably say squatting. We need our legs to locomote, and we need structural integrity throughout ankles, knees and hips to do that effectively. Without the ability to walk well, and rest, We would never have been able to hunt, migrate, or do anything effectively (talking about our ancestors here). Not to mention all the positive effects it has on our digestive system.
However, you never know, I may change my mind on that at some point. Breathing for instance comes to mind.
The next question considers more ‘older’ students, especially me 😉 What would you prescribe a 45ver and older student to start with movement?
The same movements I would prescribe anyone else that does coaching with me, with progressions appropriate to that individual’s starting base. Age is irrelevant – it’s just a number. Within Neuro linguistic programming that would be known as a limiting belief, or a self fulfilling prophecy. It is all about your base level, not your age.
You’re teaching & coaching for years now, what’s the most common mistake you’ve seen by your students?
Comparison. People compare themselves to others and become depressed, jealous, or angry as a result. it is toxic to one’s mindset. You are completely unique, so comparison is not appropriate. Again, it’s something that society programs into us from a young age to get us to be in a perpetual state of dissatisfaction and consumption.
As a running coach I know that gravity is the main driving force. If you work with it, you’re fine – against it, you get injured. You ‘flirt’ the whole time with gravity, do you easily get injured, and if so, how do you cope with them?
I definitely don’t easily get injured. Several of my friends joke and call me wolverine, as I just don’t seem to break. Even when I do, I recover extremely fast, because I’m so focused and obsessed with the rehabilitation process…. Coping is easier when you have the educational resources. I have dozens upon dozens of strategies for dealing with injury – hint – none of them involve rest and ice packs. We gonna switch up gears now!
You once said, teaching is accelerated learning! As far as I know, you’re a brilliant teacher. Tell me, why are you obsessed with learning?
I guess I’d go insane without it. Why stagnate when we are clearly built to be excellence. Most of us fulfil so little of our potential, and for me, that would be an extremely unsatisfying way to live. I want to push the boundaries of what I deem possible. And then I’ll flirt with impossible…..
Who are your mentors?
So many. The list grows every day.
Here are a small number of them –
- Mestre Tasmania – My capoeira mestre. A wonderful example of how to lead, hold strong values, look after a community, and hold a high level of practice into later years.
- Ryan Roddy. An amazing MMA coach, and a dear friend. Too much knowledge and compassion for a regular human being – a real diamond in the rough.
- Grant douglas – my current BJJ coach. Amazing practitioner, Deep guy. Honoured to learn from him on a weekly basis.
- Jozef Frucek. An esoteric, humble, incredible teacher. The integrity of him is so evident from the second you meet him, and he doesn’t hold back with knowledge. Big respect.
- Ross Taylor. My acrobatics teacher, and long time training partner and friend. He tells me when I’m being a dick, and he gives great advice. His knowledge and awareness is unreal in the air. So young, with so many years of development ahead of him, and already one of the best movers on the planet.
What are your favourite instructional books or resources?
Instructional books…. When I first started I really enjoyed ‘overcoming gravity’ by steven lowe. Very useful, nice little diagrams, and well thought out progressions. Very useful for anyone looking into the gymnastics strength training world….I taught myself to straight arm press handstand off the back of this, many moons ago, amongst other skills…..
My favourite resources these days are music, ted talks, and time spent with teachers,whether it be talking or moving.
Having multiple teachers is essential in my view.
Everyone has his own system to learn: write & summarise, visualise, repeat, … What’s your method? Why does it seem so easy for you to teach what you’ve learned?
It’s never ‘easy’. I assimilate everything i do. I write, I watch, I critique myself, and constantly push into what I call ‘no man’s land’ as far as my physical boundaries will allow. It’s that extra inch that you push for, that tiny detail, that makes all the difference.
What would be an ideal education system in general?
OUTSIDE – NATURE – REAL HUMAN INTERACTION – MOVEMENT COMPLEXITY
there are several schools starting to do just this. the world is waking up…..
Now we’re going deeper….
I dug into you and found your website walkthefire.co.uk – where does ‘walk the fire’ come from?
A personal mantra. In order to achieve greatness in anything, one must be willing to walk through fire for it. There is much more to say here on my personal destiny, but I feel that it is for another time 🙂
I saw a quote from Alan Watts (“This is the real secret to life – to be completely engaged in what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize that it is play!”) Is it still your favourite quote of the moment?
my favourite this week –
You’ve got to find what you love and let it kill you. I don’t think any of us should ever forget that! – Kinky Friedman.
Most think this was Charles Bukowski, but apparently not…..
What is true strength and real intelligence to you?
Being able to articulate yourself in any situation, and adapt with no warning. Survival. That is strength. As for real intelligence – empathy. If you can’t relate to another human being, you’re fucked. simple. Intelligence is in all of us, but you have to continually stimulate the body to learn new skills, or else, we degrade.
What do you mean by a healthy body?
Freedom. Can you move anywhere, anytime, pain free, in the way you want to? Do you sleep well and wake up with energy? Are you able to move without hurting yourself? Do you have desires, dreams, and passion? Does eating give you pleasure, rather than bloating and lethargy? Then you are healthy.
What makes you, you or what defines you?
I am. I was born this way. what defines me changes on daily basis. I’m an extremely adaptable animal with a biological learning machine as my control unit.
If you could choose one thing to change about the world, what would it be?
Agriculture and distribution of wealth. I know that’s two things, but they are the keys to unlocking our world from pain and suffering.
We are the only animal on the planet that has to earn their living. That is strange. We should be free to just live and develop. I believe that we may reach that point of singularity, possibly even within my lifetime! One can only hope….
Corporations control everything. They fuck up our ecosystem, our plants and animals, they modify for profit without thought to the consequences, and they ultimately want a planet full of sick, fat people who pour money into their shitty system. I’m not into it. Look at Wall-e for a depiction of my point.
Take the billions of dollars from wall street, oil companies and military budgets, and we could feed our planet 20 times over with plenty left to spare. We could truly change the world. But people with money are selfish. And that sucks. but that’s the way of things, so we try and change the world in our own ways. Mine is in educating people, and empowering them.
Round of ‘Rapid fire questions’
On a scale of 1 to 10, how weird are you? And why?
I’m fucking weird man. Just ask anyone who has met me, or even seen me. I love it. Being normal? Fuck that. I’m not programmed, I’m a unique biological computer with fun accessories, and I’m going to explore the shit out of that.
When you think of successful, who the person that comes to mind & why?
A super cool dude I met in Holland last year. He works a high level corporate job with insane hours, but is the most loose, relaxed, fun loving guy I’ve ever met. He eats well, he trains well, he parties HARD, and still kills it at work. I once asked him how he manages, and you know what he said? – “Man, I just try to not take all that stuff too seriously, you know what I mean?”. A true legend.
What is your spiritual practice? Do you believe (in God)?
Big question. I have many spiritual practices. I’m still exploring, and understanding my path, but I believe in higher power. I’m certain that this life is not the end. I meditate, I pray, and I ‘connect’.
At what are you really not good at?
LOGISTICS. Time keeping. I fucking hate it. it’s not my thing at all. I’m sure I’m a Sri Lankan at heart…..Eastern time perception.
What would someone who doesn’t like you say about you?
That I’m arrogant and overbearing. Which I can be! I’m not perfect, and we must all accept our faults and work on them. I have many.
What gift did you recently appreciated the most?
I love getting clothing, or indeed any gift from people when I teach workshops. Brent gave me a Black Oak crossfit T-shirt, and I treasure it. Nikolai gave me an art to move jumper, and I treasure it. It’s the memories, and the people you associate with these things when you put them on in the morning, its so motivating.
Is there something you believe in that other people think is insane?
Pharmaceutical drugs are destroying us, the government does not want a healthy empowered nation as that would not contribute to capitalism, and ultimately putting money into evil corporations such as unilever and monsanto’s pockets.
What are common misconception about you?
That I find my practice easy, that I’m always motivated, and that I have something figured out that other’s don’t!
What’s your favourite movie? Documentary?
Difficult. Movie top 5 right now (it changes all the time, not in order) –
- American beauty – proving at any time you can radically change your life, break the rules, and be happy.
- Snatch – Gorgeous directing, good character development.
- The Darjeeling Limited – beautiful from start to finish. I adore Wes Anderson as a director.
- V for Vendetta – the perfect anti hero depiction.
- The men that stare at goats – I love the cast – Jeff Bridges is one of my favourite actors, and I love the concept. very esoteric, very funny.
Favourite documentary is an easy one – by Vice, it’s available on youtube called ‘Surviving alone in Alaska’. The story of Heimo Korth – a trapper and hunter who lives in one of the most remote and harshest landscapes in the world, and does it all with a smile on his face.
Do you read non-fiction?
All the time. Fantasy and dreams are so important.
Old favourites – the hobbit, the alchemist, the hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy.
The most useful thing or service you’ve purchased less than 100€?
I know you’re a big fan of music, do you play an instrument?
I used to. I’m a natural percussionist, so played the drum kit for a number of years – Rhythm is my thing.
I had a go at string instruments – ukulele and bluegrass mandolin, but they weren’t really for me….
I want to wrap with a quote of you: ‘It’s no free time, it’s lifetime & lifetime is all we have!”. Is there any lesson you want people to take away before we leave?
Be nothing but yourself. Do not compare yourself to others. Spend time everyday looking at your internal world. Meditate. Eat whole foods. Don’t get caught in the rat race, working now for reward later. Move daily. Love. Have compassion for others. Give more of yourself. Contribute to your community. Complement strangers. Brighten peoples’ days. Bring positive energy wherever you go.
I think we covered a lot, so,if people resonate with what they heard. Where can they find you and reach out on the inter webs?
THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO GALAXY