Rock Warrior's Way - Up-Climbing

Rock Warrior’s Way

Rock Warrior’s Way is a revolutionary method allowing the climbers to improve their performances and, at once, enjoy more their experiences on walls and crags.
This technique, based on mental training, has been developed by Arno Ilgner, US climber who, in a ten-years span, has worked with hundreds of students. Climbers from all over USA and the world have attendend his workshops.
Recently he has started to work as well with young climbers (pre-agonistic cathegories).
Arno, could you explain us what’s Rock Warrior’s Way?
Rock Warrior’s Way essentially is attention and what you do with it.

And which were your main sources? You said you studied a lot of theory, you experimented in practice… could you just name a few [of your sources]?
Sure! I’ve read widely, I’ve read eastern philosophy, like the Zen, western philosophy, like Plato and Aristotele, self-help books in US, but also, when you consider the "warrior" literature, specifically addressing awareness and attention, like Carlos Castaneda. [he] wrote  a lot about awareness, development and focusing attention, too.

You put a strong stress on responsibility, when climbing. Could you just tell us a little more about that?
[It’s about] Accepting responsibility, taking responsibility for the choices in the situations that you get yourself into. Climbing is dangerous, you know, but we can, if we go through a process where we understand the consequences of the decisions that we made, then we’ll be able to focus better when we commit to those decisions.

One of the central points in Rock Warrior’s Way, besides keeping focus is breathing – another very important item.
Yes, breathing. When we do something that’s challenging we’re going to tend to hold our breath, to tense up. And so staying as calm and relaxed as we can when we’re in the challenge of the climb will help us [to] deal with that better. So breathing is central for keeping us calm.

Rock Warrior’s Way consists basically of seven main points. What are those focal points?
Whenever you take a risk you need to prepare for it, make the decision and then commit to take action. So, the seven steps in the Rock Warrior’s Way help you to prepare to making decision and taking action. Many people, especially in the US, do not accept responsibility for the situations that they’re in, and then their focus is on blaming other people for their situation, making excuses like "I’m not strong enough", or something like that, instead of just accepting how strong they are, the situation as it is, and focusing their attention to deal with that situation [as best as] they can.

Do you think that anything has changed, in better or in worst, in these years?
I think that’s there’s more available for people getting serious about climbing now than how was in the past. When I first started climbing there weren’t no coaches, the gear wasn’t as reliable, and we basically learned on our own.

One of the most important tracts in Rock Warrior’s Way is falling. Why is such important? And how do you learn to fall?
Many climbers – and I think that’s quite common for most people – have the tendency to not face the consequences of your decisions and actions. In climbing the main consequence is falling, and climbers, they don’t wanna look at that. They don’t want to look down, they want to do everything they can to avoid falling.
So the Rock Warrior’s way approach is to face falling directly, by learning how to practice it, in responsible small increments, so you CAN learn about it.

Is there any specific method, or you just fall?
There’s a very specific method for practicing it. We begin by creating a top-rope, where the person just hangs on the rope, trusting the system. The belayer is at one end of the rope, the rope goes up, through some protection pieces and down to the climber, and [he’s] just hanging there, breathing and getting comfortable trusting the system. Then they just start making small top-rope falls, and they decide when it’s time to step up a move and to take a fall, until you’re comfortable with that, and then you take two steps up, three steps up, and in slow increments, building on that experience. So, it’s a very specific method.

What did you learn from rock climbing – and climbing, generally speaking – for your everyday life, not only for your practice?
Probably the main thing I’ve learned was that whenever you’re facing a challenge you have to find small ways to engage in it, little at a time. Everyday in my life is made up of small steps, also. I might be facing the challenge  to write a book, I might be facing the challenge to work with my child on learning, like doing her homework, and finding little steps that I can take in the direction of accomplishing that goal. and that is one of the most important lesson from the Warrior’s Way.