Most of you will know Jon Call as Jujimufu – yeah, that’s him, the beast on the cover image – he is the guy who had launched the very first Tricking tutorials website in 2002. He was a pioneer of connecting movers around the globe online, while creating the most charming and comical tutorials on how to learn aerials or 360-kicks.
Today he is known for his strength, flexibility and as the iconic anabolic acrobat – but also discovered some methods to successfully tackle life, how to get noticed on social-media, and why it’s important to sometimes take a conscious step back.
If this interview sparks your interest and you want to learn more, you should check out his website acrobolix.com.
Now take some time, drop your weights for a second, boil your China Green Tips, and get your reading glasses ready. Here’s some good stuff coming at you.
A few weeks ago our UFTV Admin Shyam Deolalikar found out Jujimufu was hosting a Flexibility seminar in Charlotte, North Carolina, announced via his Acrobolix facebook group.
“Although initially hesitant, with the encouragement of a friend, I decided to take some initiative and get in touch with him. I felt Jujimufu would have a lot of insights that would be valuable to the Parkour/Freerunning community if I had a conversation with him.
And he was open to it. I was able to speak him after the seminar. The seminar was great, and Jujimufu was a great person to talk to. It was nice to meet a guy who has been able to successfully balance his passions. He is truly a renaissance man.
So, I hope you take away something positive from it. I definitely did.
This was our conversation a day after the seminar:”
Shyam: How have you been able to optimize your life to achieve your goals as an acrobat and a bodybuilder?
Jujimufu: That’s a good question. I’m actually kind of more organized than most people.
I thought it was a weakness for years. I thought I was too organised because I was noticing some friends who were living large, going wild, going crazy, making big moves.
As I’ve continued on this path collecting these physical attributes and characteristics I have noticed that in the long run it kind of played out that the organization skills were actually a highly advantageous attribute I had. Because they were kind of falling apart later on. I noticed a lot of guys who would start out strong and then they would kind of fizzle out.
But I have been doing pretty well. In general I think of a project like something to approach. And a lot of the times the work to get it done is just organizing how to start, organizing how to get the work done, then organizing your work flow.
So in a way you are asking me how did I approach these things? How I approach life? A lot of it is just stepping outside and thinking, “What are the systems that are underlying that are making it work?” You have to dig deep.
Can you tell us little bit about your background for those who don’t know you. We saw you from a ripped tricker with clean tricks turn into a bodybuilder with clean tricking skills. What were some of your motivations along the way?
Alright. So my background is martial arts. I was a 14 year old kid who got into training martial arts because I had a very low self esteem growing up in middle school.
I used to have a group of friends from that I grew up with from like 10 to 13 and they all dumped me one year. It was a really hard year for me. So I made a new friend after a while. He was into martial arts, so I went to my first martial arts class with him and I got hooked. A couple of years later, I discovered tricking and I realized that was what I really wanted to do. Then I really took it seriously.
So online they did not have any websites to teach people how to trick. I had to teach myself. I was like, “How come nobody has created a website, how come nobody has made a website with tricking tutorials?!”, So I have to be that guy to do that. I was like, “If no one else is gonna do it, I am gonna do it”. So that motivated me to learn moves just to teach people. I released that website pretty quick after I had that idea. Created trickstutorials.com. Had a good community online and it built up from there.
This is all before social media. I mean Facebook and Youtube all that stuff came out in 2005 right? There’s Myspace but nobody ever took it seriously,even if that was the only one, nobody took Myspace seriously. But Facebook and Youtube came out in 2005 and no one really caught on to those till 2006,2007. I mean think about it for a second. 2002 to 2007 there’s no social media. Where do you go on the internet to communicate with people?
On forums, these web bulletin boards, these small little tribes across the internet. Forums don’t exist like they use to back then. So this community was a big deal, because there was nothing else. You couldn’t get on the Facebook Tricking group. I’ve got a really big loyal fanbase that I am thankful for because of me creating that back then, and I just continued to do it.
Now you want me ask why I got into Bodybuilding, right?
Yeah. In your Mark Bell interview and the Ironman magazine video you talked about how there was something missing aesthetically, some piece to the puzzle that was not there for you in just tricking alone. Then bodybuilding filled that void. Am I correct?
Yeah. Yeah, so think about it. What do you do when you do any movement practice? This is an aesthetic presentation of the human body’s capability of movement, particularly your own bodies capability of movement. It’s supposed to be like art. It’s supposed to be aesthetically pleasing. Through that art you build the body. But the thing is that people are looking at you, and they are not just looking at what you’re doing. They are looking at you.
Think for example about Bruce Lee, he’s a very good example of this. People cared about Bruce Lee not only because of his martial arts capabilities and his ability to move and punch fast and do really cool stuff. There’s other guys who had a similar level of skill to him at the time, no doubt about it. But nobody looked like him. He was so lean it was stupid, and he had that personality going.
Just thinking that you can get by on aesthetic presentation just through the movement itself is kind of cheating yourself of the fact that people actually want to see something believable too. You can be doing something believable, but they want to see someone who looks believable too.
That’s why I said to myself, “Ok. I need to look like a superhuman while I am doing superhuman moves”.
That’s why the aesthetic is not just about a movement. It’s about the muscularity and the shape of the physique. It matters.
Bodybuilding to me isn’t enough either, personally. I have respect for both practitioners of any sort of movement culture or just any bodybuilder. That’s fine, but that’s what THEY want. But for me personally, I needed both to feel satisfied. If I don’t look great, I’m not happy and if I can’t move great, I am not happy.I want the best of both worlds haha.
Do you think that is something Freerunners should think about?
It’s something for anyone to think about really, for anyone who does some sort of skill based sport. If you’re just trying to then be better than other people who do it, that’s fine.It’s a very closed community. If you google “tricking” on Facebook you’ll get like 25,000 members. Parkour probably has got a couple of hundred thousand. Think about it. Your missing reach everywhere. What’s your goal with this?
I mean everyone wants to get something out of something and for me I just want to live a good life. And in order to have a good life, I need to have some sort of marketability in what I do. Whats going to make you marketable is a slice of something different.
If you’re just practicing Parkour like everyone else: doing the same moves, trying to one up people in the same way. Think outside the box. As a Parkour guy, build some fricking muscle and see what happens.
Are there any really buff Parkour guys? Have you seen that?
It’s been something that’s been picking up. Most that do seem to have more of starting strength mentality if you know what I mean.
One that comes to mind is Cato Aspmo. He’s a super jacked dude, does a bunch of calisthenics stuff, but also weighted calisthenics stuff. Recently I have been seeing him work on his deadlift. It’s a new development. He pulled around 570 apparently which is kind of insane. I also know some Parkour people who have included powerlifting style training as well.
So you know who he is though. I mean obviously he has done something where you have found him somehow. You know? It doesn’t matter what it was. You know he picked up a dead lifting bar with a lot of weight on it, or your naming these skills he did. Obviously he has been doing things to get you to notice him.
If you’re doing any sort of skill, art or things , you can’t lie to yourself. I mean a lot of people are like, “I am only doing this for intrinsic motivation or just intrinsic satisfaction”, but it’s bullshit. People care about what other people think about, people want to add value to other people’s lives. We can’t live in ways where other people are not involved. So at a certain point you have to find a balance between, “Hey! this is something that I like, and this is something that other people like too”.
Obviously this guy is doing things that are very mainstream and popular. Deadlifting is great for a reason, everybody likes to do it for the most part. You obviously know who he is. It’s something for everybody to think about.
For every individual to just get out of their closed community sport and think about it in a broader aspect: What do I want to do? Who do I want to be? What do I want to create for myself?
Actually one person I was really happy to see at the seminar was Kyle Rudolph.
Haha Yeah Kyle stayed at my hotel room with me !
Yeah! Nice guy! I gave him a pair of pants!
Okay, I am kind of weird in the sense one of my original mentors or influences in Parkour was actually a powerlifter. He Power lifted and he did Parkour. So that kind of brought me into the strength thing. I started Parkour after all the forums popped up and died. So then Kyle was one of these guys who had a group in the forums called Gorilla parkour for 200+ pound practitioners.
Do you know who James Derrick is?
SHOUT OUT TO JAMES DERRICK!!!
@STRONGLIKEJAMES! ! ! I love @stronglikejames!
Man seeing his video I was like DEAR GOD. He is strong as hell and he can move his body extremely well!
So the thing about that guy which is kind of related to what we are talking about is that he has a great personality. People really connect with him. In his videos this guy looks like an actor! Or like the host of a radio show when he talks! He is like one of the only people I like watching. Just him saying something like, “Hey guys I am just doing questions on Instagram for the next hour or so just post your question below!” That guy is so so charismatic. It’s just wonderful! But that’s just another thing, you know? It’s the full package, just well rounded stuff!
From there well going from this big turn around of strength and muscle…
Juji: Is it still recording?
Shyam: Yeah haha.
Juji: Yeah I have done that in videos before when I am like NOO IT STOPPED RECORDING WHEN!!
Juji: Yeah like never hit record haha…
Shyam: Yeah like four-five minutes in, I was like OH GOD did we just like talk for five minutes and didn’t get anything hahaha!
[Both laugh and giggle]
Juji: It’s terrible haha , It wasn’t recording the whole time during a time lapse video.
[Both burst out laughing]
Juji: I WAS LIKE NO!!
Shyam: Oh man…
Juji: Like I had an hour wasted. Okay go on haha. Leave that in there haha!
Other than the aesthetic nature, as far as flexibility is concerned would you have any tips for Freerunners? Because your approach seems to be very simple from what I understood. These are flexibility skills. You just work on what you want to get good at haha?!
Exactly. So I am actually writing an ebook. It’ll be out soon I’ve been saying that for a long time but I am actually very very proud of this product.If you get down to it there are some core messages to the book. What Shyam is talking about is he just took a seminar with me, a flexibility seminar here in Charlotte.
The core message I have for my flexibility development methodology is:
Think about exactly what you want to be flexible in? So you actually have to see in your mind. What’s the shape or position the body is in at that point. Where you need to be able to put yourself in. Okay, is there a range of motion problem? There is. If there is, you need to figure out a way to develop the flexibility in order to achieve that shape or position and so you practice that position specifically as much as you can. You brute force it a thousand reps. Not working? Keep going.
But you supplement backwards ONLY when that approach stops working. So, for example: the splits is my favorite example because everyone loves It. I know that can be outside of Parkour.
But the split is a position that, people think there is some magical way to do them, some magical way to train for this, some magical stretches. “Should I be…?” NO! Practice the splits!
The people who get the splits, they practice the splits. They spend a lot of time in the splits. When they practice the splits, when they want the splits, they start with the splits. And they are really far off and they continue training the splits.
During that time they are going to notice. “Hey! My quad , that’s hold me back. Or my ankle flexibility, I can’t get my shin to create this position. That’s when you start supplementing with little extra things here and there. But for the most part, you practice the position.
For Parkour why do you need to do a laundry list of stretches, that have nothing to do with your goals? So, you have to look at the movements you practice and figure out where the range of motion bottlenecks are. And then practice those movements more themselves.
So for Tricking, If you want flexibility for a 540 kick you can develop that by doing the 540 kicks, if you can do them right. If you can’t, let’s work backwards. Okay so you have an inside crescent kick, a tornado kick, then an inside crescent kick, then you just have a front lift. Okay so you have that down going backwards down the ladder. So Parkour. I don’t know. What would be something that you would need flexibility for?
You guys are talking a lot about jumping off something and landing in a squat position with gravity pulling you down for so long. Thats a hell of lot of force coming down on your body . So you might have to think for yourself how do you prepare your body to take that impact? Instead of just taking that impact over and over again. I mean for example think about this.
Someone made a quote to me a couple of years ago to me. Just a personal friend, that was just a passing comment and it really stuck with me. It made a lot of sense. He said, “Juji. I can picture in my head someone who’s forty years old doing a mix of Tricking and strength training better than I can a forty year old who does no strength training and only Tricking”.
It just makes sense to me, now let’s accelerate a little bit, let’s say 60 years old: can you imagine a 60 year old guy doing Parkour? And that’s all he does, or better can you imagine a 60 year old who does Parkour and also does some strength training movements, some resistance movements, some resistance training. So that stuff builds your body up. Its builds you back up.
It’s like building armor, It’s almost like saving money in a way. Think about it.
Yeah, investment in your body.
Yeah! Its an investment in your body! And then you get to spend it on something crazy cool like Parkour and Tricking.
But if you never save money as you’re getting older you’re not gonna have any money to spend on these really destructive things. Parkour and Tricking can in itself, and so can Tricking, build the body up to a certain extent.
Yes they can build the body , but you need something else to keep it building in a sort of lower grade form. And that’s usually the strength training , the resistance training, something in a safer more controlled environment.
So it’s like saving money! Then being able to spend it. But if you’re an old man who’s just jumping off ledges I think I can imagine an old man jumping off ledges better who’s also in the gym squatting to build up his strength and workout his kinks in his muscles and do some mobility exercises that are kind of related to what he’s doing. What do you think?
I think that’s a really good analogy. There’s like a huge talk about longevity in practice in the Freerunning and Parkour community. Just looking things in a holistic nature in your lifestyle. Basically, I think you hit the importance of strength training in longevity.
And in a sense what I am getting from you, correct me if I am wrong. It’s way more than just the way people perceive you like only an Acrobat and a Bodybuilder. Like Conan the Barbarian style – haha – who does flips and sh*t.
Haha I forgot about that one, I’ll take that as a big compliment. I usually get like Thor and Triple H. I love those too but Conan… He might even be better.
I guess what I am saying it’s way more than just that , I guess we could even go into your coaching program it’s way more holistic than what meets the eye. Speaking in terms of lifestyle.
You mean in terms of the mix of things I do seems to go together better then what just meets the eye. Is that what you’re saying ?
Ok what I tell people at first sight you would think this guy is massive, 235 pounds and he’s jumping in the air. How does his knees and ankles take that stuff? Right? It’s really hard to put my body up in the air like that.
But …. haha no joke it’s a lie when you get that heavy.
The thing is though, there is an unintuitive benefit to having both of them together in your practice. And it’s this.
When I am doing more Bodybuilding style training and to a certain extent the strength training itself can be very metabolic processes. They create a lot of blood flow in the body. There’s a lot of transport of nutrients and export of waste. Things are getting cleaned up and things are getting fed. I mean if there’s no blood flow in the body, you can put in all the vitamins in the world you want, If they don’t get transported , you pee them out.
How do you transport them? Circulation. How do you increase circulation? Exercise. What’s the best type of exercise to increase that… Well you can do any sort of cardiovascular stuff but for the most part you want to strengthen the bones and the ligaments too! You know so low bounding activity is one thing, but also Bodybuilding itself.
And then, getting a big pump in the muscle is basically like building armor. It’s like big time saving money. And actually very therapeutic and it helps continue the practice of my acrobatic stuff. In terms of soft tissue injuries.
Look. I have been practicing a lot , I have been doing this for a long time , I do it primarily on grass and hard ground I’m a very large guy. The only problems I am dealing with are ankles and sometimes knees – but I know how to take care of them. It’s hard. But I mean that’s not very much, those aren’t very big problems compared to what I could be facing if I did not train that way.
So you’re currently coaching right now. You have a coaching business. From what I viewed on the site, I can say it goes back to what you were saying about how you approach things. It’s not just doing the Acrobolix stuff but it’s that kind of mindset and that approach you put into it.
So you can help Parkour athletes get better at strengthening their body or even just maybe just a casual person who wants to learn a backflip. What do you offer?
Alright so I do have some training services on my website , I do write programs, I do coaching and stuff. I think what you’re getting at Shyam is that, you seem to sense an underlying approach that might be going deeper than just : here’s these sets and reps, It’s even more of a lifestyle shift. There’s some methodology approach to this that kind of runs a little bit deeper
Am I right is that what you’re saying?
It is really. It’s kind of periodization by prioritization, Periodiazation by Prioritazation is the approach I use for achieving what I have achieved with Acrobolix.
And I find it’s good even if you’re not trying to create a diverse skill set if you just want to do just one thing: You don’t care about how you look and all you want is just the moves it’s still good because when you get right down to it, It basically works like this:
If you wanted to ride a bicycle as a kid you would practice everyday for a couple of weeks until you got it and then your rode your bike for as long as you could. Now if you don’t ride your bike for 15 years you still ride your bike. PERMANENT CHANGE.
But what if you only tried to ride your bike for 30 seconds twice a week, you think you’re ever gonna learn how to ride your bike? No. What if you just happened to be able to ride your bike once from one mailbox to the other. You just got it right one time. Are you gonna be able to keep it? Probably not.
So as you get older, you start to have more things you’re interested in, It’s harder to choose things but you need to realize in order to get anything, you have to invest a certain amount of time in the beginning an investment time, a start up time, a start up cost, you have to intentionally unbalance your life in order to achieve balance.
So a balance in life isn’t about trying to do a little bit everyday, It’s about getting away a lot of things in your life for a little while, something first , so that you can make a permanent shift in that direction and then once you’ve made that shift, once you’ve made that gain, once you’ve gained that skill, once you’ve made that change you just maintain it.
It takes 1/10th the amount of effort to maintain something that you’ve mastered before then it did to actually get it for the first time. So your like, “I am going to work on this skill for a few months,” You get it. You master it, and you move on to something else. You maintain it.
That’s what this is about. if you want all these things you need to focus on one thing at a time. You need to get it, but you need to have the mind and that’s the hard part. You have to have the mind to know, it’s ok if some of these other things slide for a little bit that I have had before. I have mastered these things before.
Uhuh. That makes sense.
Look! I can do these kicks! I’ve done them 100 times . Look! I’ve done this jump a 100 times. But I am gonna focus on this other thing for a little while and focus on that and not practice these other things. Then these other things start to backslide, you’re like, “Oh god did I lose it , have I lost this ability.”
No. You can still do it , but it’s a rusty skill. Focusing on getting that other thing permanent so when you go back to shifting those other things, it’ll be easy to get back. A couple of sessions later, boom! You’re landing this jump over and over again just like you did.
Okay you lost it , it took a couple of days of practice and a couple of days to get it back. And NOW you have this new skill too. You would of never of gotten that skill, if you were too worried about keeping these other things
And that’s the brainfuck of Acrobolix actually, It’s like two steps forward, one step backwards. You keep losing something over and over again. There’s always something you’re better at. I mean so, I could deadlift more if I was just focused on deadlifting forever. I’ll look better if I just focusing on balancing my body composition. But in the long run, the balance works itself out because of intentional unbalance. I find that approach works for everything in life.
I mean that’s everything in life, what if you want to get a college degree? What if you want to improve your relationships? Create some intentional unbalance in your life in order to achieve that.
Right. Thanks for that elaboration.
Different topic. Who are your current sponsors?
Right, I am sponsored by Kimera Koffee , great coffee group create some really clean, great coffee from the Dominican republic. Really great group of guys , really excited about the products that they are making.
There is a Jujimufu Blend coming out really soon actually we’ve been working with. Dude you should see the coffee bag it looks fucking dope. I got my artist friend from Chile to create it, it looks like a Manowar album cover on a coffee bag. It’s incredible.
It’s gonna be out this year. And I am sponsored by Fran Denim, they are a jeans company, that specifically designed jeans for lifters . Look. I’ve always liked wearing jeans, but jeans are not flexible. So when I started this stuff I did not know that companies like this existed. I didn’t even know that they made jeans like this.
They are probably even good for Parkour, dude. They’ve got this full range of motion but people are like who’s he working out in jeans? How is he working out in jeans? You know? They are super flexible, but got that denim feel and that could be good for you.
Because denim is a lot safer then a pair of sweatpants or a pair of shorts. I’ve done tricks on grass and have scraped myself doing slide moves and stuff and I am like these are the best pants to do this in.
That’s a good recommendation for you guys, go to frandenim.com and get you a pair of one of their jeans. [editor’s note: If you join their mailing list right away, you’ll get 10% on your first order. If you want to have a look around first make sure you clear your cookies before filling your cart and simply reload their page for the coupon to re-appear.]
Because Freerunners really like to do tricks on the fly and jeans are more of a socially acceptable clothing type to be wearing that looks more casual. Just to see a guy wearing jeans walking around, then all the sudden he does Parkour stuff. People don’t realize that he has the advantage of a pair of pants that are actually training pants. I actually think that’s pretty cool, I did not think about that. It’s probably better for you guys then what I do. That’s good. I would like to thank my sponsors and thank you for this interview Shyam.
I really appreciate it, I’d like to ask one more question for you?
What does the future hold for you, what do you think is gonna happen?
Well everything is going well with what I do everyday. Things keep on getting better and better and I continue to do what I do. I try just to stay very grateful for it and I am very grateful for it. I don’t need to work hard to do it, just need to make sure that I don’t ever take it for granted. I very much appreciate what’s happening to me now things are going really well for me , I’m getting more attention in the media.
I’ve worked very hard , I’ve been doing this for 15 years and I’ve never had any of this type of attention, so it’s definitely worth it. Just keep doing what you’re doing and things can work out for you I guess. Just put yourself out there though, because I wasn’t putting myself out there or out on social media , I was hiding behind my websites and hiding in my little close knit community. And that kind of circles back to the beginning of our conversation. Parkour guys maybe differentiating themselves from there other Parkour guys.
Differentiating yourself sometimes doesn’t mean doing different moves and stuff sometimes it means just being a different person and that means tapping into different markets and different communities and what kind of value you can add to everywhere else. I was closed in the tricking community for so long, that I thought why don’t I start adding value to the fitness community as a broader segment. I mean now I am hitting the bodybuilding market, the powerlifting market, I am hitting Crossfit for sure, I am hitting all sorts of general fitness. I’ve got a lot of female followers now because they just like my sense of humor. And of course the Tricksters are loyal to me.
Differentiate yourself a little bit and just make sure you’re working with social media. Use it, but don’t let it use you. Don’t abandon it completely. It’s not evil.
“Make sure you’re working with social media. Use it, but don’t let it use you. Don’t abandon it completely. It’s not evil”
Social media changed my life. Facebook is not evil, it’s helped me out alot. Youtube is not evil, it’s helped me out alot. Put yourself out there and see where you can add value to different communities not just your close knit Parkour community and become your own person. Don’t just become the best Parkour guy become the best whatever the hell you make up for yourself… Invent your own thing dude! Make up something for yourself. I think thats gonna be the best thing you can do to really have the most fun and get the best rewards.
Before giving away our Key Takeaways from Juji’s teachings so far, have a look at one of his latest tricking videos, seeing the massive guy gracefully flying through the air.
To sum this whole conversation up we want to let you know about our main takeaways from these insights with Jujimufu.
Takeaway #1: Movement is a wholistic discipline. It’s not only your moves. It’s who you are and what you choose to display as a whole person – within that, your physique plays a part as well. Don’t neglect how to treat your body.
Takeaway #2: Jujimufu’s Acrobolix method teaches to move two steps forward and one step backwards, continuously. That way you don’t get bored, you don’t stagnate and you build a huge set of well refined skills.
Takeaway #3: Stay true to yourself and don’t think in conventional wisdom. Become known for something that is different from what everyone does. Explore, but stay focused once you set your mind something. His key on how to get noticed on social-media as well.
Takeaway #4: Well, what did you pick up from this article? Let us know in the comments below
If you want to learn more from Jujimufu and on how to stay focused to reach your goals visit acrobolix.com.
Also check out Jijumufu’s sponsors if you want
a) great coffe http://www.kimerakoffee.com/
b) denim workout wear http://www.frandenim.com/
Acknowledgements from Shyam Deolalikar:
Thanks for all help big or small