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Dragon Door Interviews Peter Lakatos, Master RKC, Creator of Primal Move

August 20, 2012 09:40 AM

PeterLakatos headshot
Dragon Door:     What inspired you to develop Primal Move?
Peter Lakatos:    The story goes back to when I was a kid. It was very important for Hungary and the smaller communist countries to perform well at the Olympics. They believed a great Olympic team would show the world that they were doing well. Hungary's program chose children for every sport. I was picked for swimming at age four—by age five, I had five swimming training sessions per week until I was picked for traditional European handball two years later. We didn't just learn our sport; we were put in a special school and had P.E. class five times a week, with sport specific training in the afternoon. The morning training sessions were gymnastics skills only. Looking back, it was pretty cool, especially since our gymnastics sessions always included games. I trained this way for 12 years, until I finished high school. Later, at the University of Physical Education, gymnastics was the main subject for the entry test.
Dragon Door:    How has your background as an instructor with Krav Maga Global (KMG) shaped Primal Move?
Peter Lakatos:     My teacher, Eyal Yanilov, is a genius with an amazingly elegant teaching style. He has worked with the most respected special units in the world. Usually, when an outside instructor is brought in to train the best units in the world, the instructor will try to break them to prove a point. Eyal doesn't believe in that, so he "breaks" them with a variety of games, which measure coordination, strength, problem solving, and more. When I started working on Primal Move, I told Eyal I would like to use his games. I wanted to use his approach, warm ups, and everything. Right away he said, "Go ahead. Let’s do it." Because we fight in Krav Maga, I had to modify a lot, but those who practice Krav Maga will smile when they see the games.
The games are the core of the whole Primal Move system. We are close to completing the Primal Move Kids program—if there aren't any games, kids aren't interested. Kids are very honest, if it's not enjoyable, they won't participate. In Primal Move, the games can become workouts. Whether the goal is to increase physical capacities in terms of strength, strength endurance, or metabolic conditioning—for every goal, there are special games. People easily meet goals with games, because they want to win, and it's enjoyable. They reach the flow state, and do what's necessary to reach the goal. Games are also more elegant than telling someone to do 20 burpees, or pull-ups, sprint, and repeat 5 times.
Dragon Door:    How would you describe the flow state?
Peter Lakatos:    Imagine an activity you really enjoy—reading, a hobby, gardening, or sports. During the activity, when it seems like you’re out of time and space, that’s the flow state. When athletes are asked how they made a pass or what happened before scoring a goal, they often say that they can't remember or that it just happened. This clearly means they were in the flow state. The flow state can't be forced, it just happens. It's a good feeling, and when people reach it, they want to repeat the experience.
I've studied the flow state for a while, and first read The Flow, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi—a fellow Hungarian—a long time ago. I read it again when we started creating Primal Move. I also read Play by Stuart Brown, which refers to Csikszentmihalyi's flow research. Through play, the flow state and a lot more can be reached. Because of the social component in Primal Move, a sense of community can also be created.
Dragon Door:    As adults, we don’t seem to have many opportunities for play, even though it is obviously beneficial. How else is play useful in a social or emotional context?
Peter Lakatos:    It's very simple: shared experience forms communities. For example, in the RKC we've all experienced the workshop and snatch test. When someone says they're an RKC, we know who they are because of our shared experience. Games are very powerful because we're sharing the experience, results, reactions, and joy. Games are hard to play without smiling and laughing—they are also very physical. During a game, we have to concentrate. When this happens, we stop worrying about how we look, and just play the game. We try different moves, new ideas, and even learn new movements. Participants see how others solve the same problem and that encourages them to try new things too. Learning from others encourages problem solving.
We start very simply with push-pull games, which have a little fight element, such as the touch games. At first, people only know about five or ten techniques. As they learn more techniques, we can start to work on more skills, like communication. The Ant Drills are a good example: one partner's eyes are closed, while the other partner gives verbal cues. Together, they navigate from point A to point B, dodging other pairs also moving in the area. Since there’s a little bit of competition, people want to win—unless the partners communicate, they'll lose. Next, we add memory games, which help everyone learn and memorize new movements even faster.
Dragon Door:    Primal Move's games and interaction seem very unique; do these elements differentiate it from other programs?
Peter Lakatos:    I don't think we are that unique. In Hungary especially, wrestlers and judo players always warm up with games, instead of just running around and stretching. In school, our morning warm up sessions were mostly games—they improved the skills we needed for our sport-specific training. It's cool to remember doing this at the age of ten.
So, I wouldn't say that Primal Move is completely unique as a movement system, but what makes us different is our FMS foundation. When Lee Burton gave me permission to use FMS moves, I started to build continuous sequences to improve overall movement. Next, came the games, and the system started to bloom. Combining a strong FMS foundation with games makes Primal Move very special.
FMS is about making people move better. It's an amazing program because it establishes a baseline and has a progression plan including retesting. Before a new client starts with Primal Move, we test them with FMS, but not every day—that's too much of a good thing. Instead, we use the Primal Flow Evaluation at the beginning and end of every session. These basic moves, performed in a logical order, show how well a client is moving. As the client gains experience, they will be able to feel how they're doing.
In Formula One racing, the oil is checked before, during, and after the race. They test instead of guess, gradually building up the training cycles. After the race, they look for damage. We do the same thing with the Primal Flow Evaluation. If the evaluation detects problems, we perform additional exercises to help the mobility or stability shortcomings before any games or workout elements. We finish the session with the Primal Flow Evaluation to determine if the client is moving better or worse.
Dragon Door:    The rolling movements from the human developmental process are fascinating, can you tell me about their effects?
Peter Lakatos:    It's nothing new, but people no longer move or think in 3D, or use a wide range of movements. Because we aren't rolling, tumbling, or doing somersaults, our vestibular system isn't very active. When this happens, the body is no longer connected. Practicing movements like spinal rolling activates the vestibular system—movement patterns are rebuilt and suddenly, the body is alive again. People can become instantly stronger when they have full access to their own hardware and software.
This is also why I think the RKC is an amazing system. First, we have the client train barefoot, allowing for a lot of sensory input. Next, we give the client a kettlebell they need to grip, which also gives them an amazing amount of sensory input. Then we teach good posture and how to control the body. The swing and Turkish get up further challenge the vestibular system. It's not the kettlebell, but what we do with the kettlebell. When people benefit from only two or three sessions, and feel stronger, the best explanation is the body has become reconnected.
Dragon Door:    Primal Move has an attitude of playfulness built into the program. This is somewhat unusual in the modern fitness industry—what kind of impact will it have?
Peter Lakatos:    It's bringing back something that my partners in designing the program, Robert Rimóczi and Tommy Blom, and I experienced as children. Tommy was also chosen to be a handball player, and had a similar physical education, except he grew up in Sweden—Swedish physical education has always been strong. Robert and I grew up in Hungary, which was very different, except in terms of our physical education.
Americans and younger generations in Europe haven't seen this kind of training, and are sometimes surprised. The warm ups in the finest gyms in the States are very good, but I think they’re boring, and I think there’s a better way. Primal Move adds play, progression, and games. The progressions allow everyone to gradually learn the necessary control, skills, and respect for each other. I think more fitness systems will eventually use fun games to warm up—and that’s pretty cool.
I worked in the corporate world for 16 years at a very high level. When working with hundreds of people in a business organization who need to improve problem-solving skills, a program like Primal Move—with emotional, social, and cognitive aspects can make them fitter while improving their skills. Recently in Seattle, I worked with the top leadership of the RKC. Everyone was strong, and now some are even stronger. It is very special when we can reach a massively knowledgeable community on this level.
While creating the system, I found Tim Anderson, an RKC and the co-author of Becoming Bulletproof: An Uncommon Approach to Building a Resilient Body. I asked if I could quote him, and he agreed. It was fun because we exchanged ideas and communicated a lot. It's fantastic that in our community, we help each other instead of seeing each other as competition. This world is big enough for many different systems—just look around—most people need to move better. We also received a lot of support from Scott Sonnon, Carlson Gracie Jr., and my BJJ master Mihaly Sztraka.
Dragon Door:    What’s next for Primal Move?
Peter Lakatos:    Right now, we are working on three other divisions. Andrea Chang is helping me a lot—she is amazing. When we started Primal Move, we had 150 exercises. Rather than adding more, we decided to consolidate to just 50, creating a strong, repeatable, and controllable system. We added corrections, regressions and progressions, which are better than hundreds of exercises without a logical order. In Level One, we only use the body, in Level Two, we start to add tools—partner exercises and common gym items.
Primal Move Velocity is a running and sprinting program, there's a kids program, and Primal Move Regenerations is for rehab specialists. Ferenc Csíky, an RKC, Primal Move Instructor, and one of the best rehab specialists in Hungary, is working on the modifications and exercises for older or injured clients.
The support from Pavel and the RKC community is tremendous. The first time I mentioned Primal Move to Pavel, he was immediately helpful. Pavel even asked me to recommend someone who could lead a Primal Move warm up at the Bodyweight Exercise Workshop. He's been very supportive, and the feedback from very high-level RKC instructors has been priceless.
Thank you to all the contributors:
Andrea U-Shi Chang, Tim Anderson, Attila Szigligeti, Robert Rimoczi, Gabi Katschthaler, Andrew Read, Ferenc Csíky, Tommy Blom, David Whitley, Lee Burton, Albert Adolf, Dr. Michael Hartle
Thank you for your inspiration and guidence:
Eyal Yanilov, John Du Cane, and Pavel Tsatsouline, Mark Toomey, Alvaro Romano, Gray Cook, Mark Reifkind, Geoff Neupert, Mihaly Sztraka and Carlson Gracie Jr., Scott Sonnon, Dr. Eric Cobb.