Classical vs. Romantic Training

Classical vs. Romantic Training

Some thoughts on training. I see many many different approaches on social media, some of which are fantastic, others more questionable. The point here was me trying to meditate on the usefulness of each extreme and argue over the un/common ground. Opinions are always more than welcome!                                                 – Wil Brown


General = having many chunks of information that you are able to utilise & arrange to provide options & a sound learning system. “Lateral progression..”

Specialist = having a singular chunk filled with a deep and focused knowledge. “ Learning more and more about less and less until you know everything about nothing.” – Ido Portal

Classical = Reps, sets. Linear type progression, Tempo, goal setting.

Romantic = Feeling and emotion.


Firstly, lets look at the bigger picture. The difference between Specialism and Generalism?

The gold comes with development, as we are organically evolving creatures. Therefore the argument of purpose comes into play, take for example an individuals profession. However, let’s take this as an average Joe type thing, which makes the argument (at least in my eyes) far more clear. The generalist has a far greater standing on numerous fronts, such as longevity, intrinsic motivation, potential, connection & self confidence. It’s evident i’m posing quite a biased argument here, but lets go further.

Well, if we take into account the idea that we are these organic evolving creatures, this means that we are ever changing. We do not stay the same person tomorrow as we were yesterday.. at least, that is the ultimate orientation according to Jordan Peterson and other such great minds. “Growing. The most important type of victory.” – JP

I have written on this topic somewhat before, but I’d like to say some more. Goal setting is not the ultimate with regard to training. Yes, it plays a huge role in progress & most likely motivation; however the pride you take in each goal & the connections you make along with it is where the gold in life is. To put this into perspective, let’s take the HSPU as an example. The simple goal of completing a rep/s will never give as much value as a clear set intention of elements (or chunks) of the movement. Tension, aesthetic, efficiency, scapula position etc. Are all chunks of information to be extracted and ultimately integrated into the whole. The specialist may leave it at this (at best) whereas the generalist can therefore use this “bank of information” to further explore movements involving similar chunks.

With this in mind, let’s look back at the argument. If we take the chunking idea and extrapolate it out into a wider general practice & compare it with a specialist practice. Even with both practices having clear set intentions & goals, the variety & therefore potential of the general practice rules. This becomes very important for an organically evolving creature to continue to grow (conquer fears, learn new skills, connect with others, pride of practice) and to avoid stagnation (injury, boredom, lack of motivation).

Put simply, we could say common denominators become vital weapons in the game of learning new stuff!

Now, lets integrate Classical vs. Romantic into the equation.

It has become increasingly common for practitioners/teachers/coaches to offer a romantic approach. The idea that you can feeeeel good whilst doing your training, just move free and be at one with your emotions.  Nice, but bullshit. (IMO) Lets go deeper. If we continually utilise these soft, flow style exercises as the primary stimulation for our movement practice, there will be little to no lateral growth; yes, this may help many individuals with a lacking of ‘being in their body’, but lets go back to the argument posed beforehand; if we are orienting ourselves toward growth, (overcoming fears and learning new skills) then this is working toward self mastery and physical/mental freedom, not simply improvising random movements and feeling good. Sure, its an enticing and romantic idea, but it is a mere scratch on the surface of a general approach. Toil and hardship are all part of the ultimate search. The same way happiness is an empty orientation when compared to purpose or meaning.

On the other hand we have the hardcore reps, sets and tempo ‘quantify-ists’. A valuable approach also. You see what many people miss, is that it’s the boring stuff that gives the vital building blocks of any practice. It is the practising that brings the gains. The time spent working through stuff you find utterly impossible, confusing and down right silly. It all leads (hopefully, if the reps & sets you follow are curated well) somewhere! How can you possibly make head to tail of this impossible beast, if you don’t have something quantifiable to work with? Do skills happen as if by magic? Not likely. Play and loose training methods have their place, romanticise all you wish, but don’t orient yourself on it.

The chunking idea is very much an important piece to my argument here. We are oriented on the promise of growth, yes? We are therefore tackling problems that strike us with fear, are we not? We are ultimately gaining lateral growth and ability to attempt the further reaches of a movement practice and feel a step closer to self mastery, sure. But how? Well, chunking.. Information becomes increasingly complex the more time we give ourselves to utilise the concept of Deliberate practice and Myelination. Talent is ‘grown’ not born my friend. (Read Peak – Ericsson/Pool) & The Talent Code – Coyle)

To conclude, both Romantic and Classical training should be utilised. Both have valuable gems hidden within, yet the ultimate goal is lateral growth whilst chasing self mastery. Along this path you shall find opportunities to connect with others, learn to learn, love and enjoy a process. Take pride in your work, be the craftsman.



Hier geht’s zu Wils Blog: ADVENTURE. MOVE. GROW.