In this exclusive mini-series, the legendary Johnny Dawes gives us his unique off-beat perspectives on three essential components of movement skills – Footwork, Dynamic movement, and Balance.


2. Dynamic Climbing

“And why static climbing isn’t static.”

It amuses me every time I hear the expression ‘static climbing’. Clearly climbing is not static, you are moving! Every time we move, gravity is trying to pull us off. Even when we are still, there is an ongoing modulation of muscular resistance that is every bit as complex as on a wobbly slack line but it’s effect hides, appearing only as a steady accretion of fatigue.

It is easy to think all you need is to get fitter and stronger, which has its own inescapable logic too of course. Dynamics depend on how light and powerful you are but also on the more subtle ability to flow from one move to the next using one move to accomplish the next.

The thin slicing of time becomes a crucial thing to feel clearly. There are moments when the ability to really pull are greater. The position we start from is crucial too. Each move has its bespoke enemy in the form of gravity. Picture a grinning devil pulling you off. On each move he would be pulling at a different angle, yanking hard at different times and swinging you off differently. If you can predict how this will happen you can counter it. It comes from really feeling the end position, even if it is three moves further on in a continuous sequence. To all intents and purposes you need to be already there mentally. From there it will pull you towards it. Pay attention to your face – how you feel there. Work out how you must accelerate and when you notice it the most. That’s as much as I will say for now.

Try slower moves to poorer holds. Double dynos to coupled holds. Shut your eyes using just blind sight and do the move. Notice. Sing the swoosh of your body. Make up your own problems as a a special treat. Ok that really is enough. Good luck and keep at it.

To make these ideas settle and become familiar would be possible without a coach but there’s plenty to misunderstand. I love coaching people so they really twig it. It makes a vast difference and can impact more than climbing too; chopping onions, throwing pots, doing chess tactics.