‘Easy to learn a skill’
When I ask participants at workshops and other events, many of them say that a good problem is one that can be improved upon. That’s great. However, when we talk more about it, the specifics of it different. Not many people understand and can explain how exactly to create such problems. The reason for this is that there seems to be a lack of definition and discussion of “good practice”.
Climbing is a movement-first exercise. Its mechanism is to learn movement patterns through repetition, so the basis of progress is to make your body and nerves learn a variety of movements over and over again to increase the speed of fine muscle coordination. Needless to say, the quality of the movements you learn determines your subsequent performance. If these movements are “appropriate to promote progression”, then you will improve efficiently, whereas if they contain movements that are detrimental to the human body’s structure, they will divert you from your progression and lead to injury and failure.
The big question then becomes, what does “proper movement to promote progress” look like? Of course, I’m still in the process of exploring this in depth myself, but I’m going to try to write down some of my thoughts for reference.
First of all, what is improvement? This is the main question in considering a “good problem” and the essence of route setting. But that is why it is very difficult to give a clear answer. The reason is that when I give you the answer, they all will apply.
On the other hand, what if you think about it from the perspective of “what’s hindering my progress? “. Even though it may be difficult to get an answer to the movements that encourage progress, we should at least try to prevent them from hindering our progress. Risks should be thoroughly eliminated.
Hindering their progress
1. Moves that induce instantaneous injuries and accidents
The first is the cause of short-term breakdowns, accidents and injuries. Gaston with severe angles that require the shoulders to open outward, Jump that threaten to fall while twisting, moves that stabilize them by dropping knees deep, and heel hooks that concentrate the load while your knees bend at a sharp angle, etc.
Although these excessively dangerous moves are becoming less common, they are still seen occasionally. Even if the setter doesn’t mean to, they can sometimes lead to a major accident that can take a player’s life, so all the team must always be very careful.
2. Fear-provoking factors
The second factor that can cause excessive fear, mainly in bouldering, is altitude. We set the altitude and the fear of the moves to suit your level and experience level, but the important thing here is to match your level of fear with the level you are most likely to feel. People who don’t care about the level of fear won’t think anything of it, so they won’t notice it unless they are aware of it.
The route setter must make an effort to share the awareness of the most vulnerable in their environment. The wounds suffered mentally can grow in a way that no one else can see. We need to recognize that overcoming fear, getting used to the height, and such things take more time than we can imagine.
3. Moves that allow them to learn to cause injury
The third is the cause of long-term injury. This is one of the hardest and most fun parts of route setting. And above all, this is the element of knowledge you need to acquire with Shojinholds. What kind of behavior is a bad habit? To find the answer to this question, we must first consider the mechanics of the human body’s movements, but fortunately, there are many movements that can be used as a reference in other sports.
For example, in ball games, it’s the posture you take when you receive the ball. In martial arts, it’s the footwork you do with each attack. In calligraphy, it is the posture with the chest raised at the moment of brush stroke. This is the posture in tug of war. The history of research on sports and exercise is longer than that of climbing, and ideal movements and postures that have been theorized and handed down from the wisdom and efforts of many different people are all over the place.
This is the posture that has the necessary force and tension, the right amount of looseness in the necessary areas, and the most stable yet quickest movement. If your chin is forward, your back is rounded, and your shoulders are raised when you exert force, your movement lacks stability, and your speed is slow and sluggish, and power from the stomach is not transmitted efficiently to your arms.
Bad posture is called “collapsed” in BUKATSUDO. Shogo Murooka explains various examples of collapsed postures on his blog, so please take a look. And if you’re struggling with this point, I highly recommend taking BUKATSUDO. It will change the way you view climbing and make it much more fun than it already is.
Perseverance is the key to success
I’ve been thinking about the basics of factors that hinder your progress, but I’m sure you can think of others. Are there any new questions that have arisen?
The conclusions and questions that come from digging deep in this way. It is through the repeated practice of trial and error, putting them into action, that route setters will be able to help their clients improve and provide challenges that make it easier for them to learn the skill. We have a long way to go. That’s why we need to start looking back and exploring the past now.
As I mentioned in my last article about grading, you will push the foundation level up through trial and error on each of these points, sharing them with your peers and accepting your own shortcomings. In order to make a good problem, it’s important to know how much thought you’ve put into it and what process you’ve used to understand it.
People get used to it. As we get used to our environment, various aspects of it are neglected. It is a sign that you are no longer a good route setter. It’s a sign that you are neglecting the basics. You have to constantly dig down to another deeper level of thinking and continue to learn and discover ideas and techniques that are full of originality.
Just keep doing that and your fundamentals will steadily improve. Even if you make a mistake in your path, you have to start over and that mistake will transform into a new skill. When you’re forced to make a serious move in a 7m high mantling, the fundamentals will never betray you.
And I sincerely hope that as many people as possible will be recognized and respected as professional route setters in that sense.
If I were a customer at the gym, I would be very happy to be able to climb those route setter problems.
This concludes my three Think Deeply posts. I’ll write something else when I think of it. … (Mitsuo)