As Seen On

Exposing the Matrix


I can’t hold back any longer!  I am here to expose the Matrix.

Have you ever seen Keanu Reeves?  Yes, he rides a motorcycle.  Yes he has a band.  And yes, he has a very substantial beard.  I mean he could either be the 4th dude from ZZ Top, or rent the space in his beard for a butterfly or sparrow retreat.

This post is AWESOME!

I think I actually saw a biscuit fall out of it once.  But that is not the point.

The point is, this dude really expects us to believe that he was actually strong enough and limber enough to pull off those bullet dodging stunts?

Well sir, you haven’t fooled me!

I have recently uncovered this never-before-seen, undoctored pic of Keanu on the set of the matrix.  It clearly shows that Mr. Reeves was in fact performing these very mobile stunts while on a swiss ball!

Ah ha!  I caught you!

neo-getting-his-mobility-on copy

After this really cool intro, let’s really get into it.

Real Swiss Ball Training

I have recently done a ton of research on how to improve the mobility of my athletes.  In fact, I think I have some pretty important ideas that I will document over the course of the upcoming months.

My biggest influences have been in no particular order:

– Frank Shamrock

– Mike Robertson and Eric Cressey

– Scott Sonnon


Mike and Eric for their important work with Magnificent Mobility.  Mobility was an essential part of the AMD structure and it all started with them opening my eyes to how important mobility is.

Definition of Mobility (my informal definition, yes you can quote me) – ability to freely move through the intended motion for all movements or exercise without restrictions and have strength and stability throughout this range of motion.

What is the difference between mobility and flexibility? Flexibility implies range of motion.  But it does not imply strength in this extended range of motion.

Flexibility can be enhanced with static stretching.  But mobility exercises not only improve  range of motion of a joint, but also activates the engaged musculature during the movement.

A win-win.

Both static stretching and mobility drills have their place in a strength program.  And therefore both should be used.

Prior to a workout, the CNS must be charged and excited and your core temperature must be increased.  Mobility drills can accomplish this very effectively when used in conjunction with SMR and activation work.  All of these are an essential part of a thorough warm-up.

That is why Mike and Eric’s product is so important.

Now on to Scott and Shamrock.

A while ago I came across a video of Shamrock using a swiss ball for his mobility drills.  I really loved the concept for many reasons.

The swiss ball used in this manner will:

  • improve full body mobility; ankles, hips, thoracic spine, shoulders, elbows, wrists
  • improve proprioception and kinesthetic awareness
  • promote fascial raking and effective “sensory” activation
  • become ONE part of a great warm-up (SMR, Mobility, Activation, Warm-up) that is relaxing and fun
  • be great for transitioning for combat athletes

This led into my ongoing discovery of Scott Sonnon’s work.    All of these “mentors” have shaped and are continuing to shape my ever changing view of movement.


Post your comments about your own mobility work AND how you felt after trying this new drill.

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24 Responses to “Exposing the Matrix”

  1. Shane Says:

    I’m trying that. Thanks

  2. Rhea Morales Says:

    I had some time so I got up and tried it since I have a ball at home. It feels good. I get some great stretching in my back and abs. Feels good on my shoulder blades too. I’m pretty comfortable on the ball because I do teach a stability ball class. I had the most fun going from my stomach to my back, to sitting. I think this would be a great exercise for wrestlers or BBJ competitors as it helps them to find flow and mobility while rolling. I never thought Reeves was that great of an actor. I liked him in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Every time I see him on film, it looks like he’s still playing Ted to me.

    As far as mobility is concerned, I always felt the most agile when practicing Shao lin kung fu. I’m thinking of going back to it as I remember how mobile I was and how good I felt. There’s noting like flowing form a lunge to a squat to a kick back to a lunge again. Some forms had you jump and then roll on the floor etc. There were too many to master so I gave it up. Here’s a link of a Southern Shao Lin form. I liked this style because of the low lunges and squats. I though it was great conditioning for my legs. Would love your feedback:

  3. NicoDojo Says:

    I have been a huge fan of Swiss ball training. Unfortunately mobility work was brought to me until recentely. Mobility work is the missing link between flexibility and strength however it is so underrated. I wish I had known mobility work when I was a baseball player.
    I use a lot of foam roller for my mobility work. That tool is absolutely amazing and the results are great.

  4. sidharth Says:

    hey Smitty,

    great stuff, awesome full body integration and mobility work which well complements kinesthetic awareness training too.
    Scott Sonnon’s work is impressive, with his intu-flow series ,prasara yoga, would also love to know whether you are also taking interest in clubbell circular training.

  5. Anatoly Says:

    I like Swiss ball as well and use it all the time.
    Thank you for this great information!

  6. Dave Hedges Says:

    Good post, I too saw the Frank Shamrock video and immediately tried it. A few weeks later, I dropped into the studio and spotted one of my lads, who’s a wrestler was doing the same thing. I put 2 and 2 together.

    Since then, whenever I’m feeling particularly banged up, out comes the ball, and I just flow away. Watching your man has given me a few new moves to try out though!

    It has really served a client of mine who has serious issues. Forced to retire from Triathlon because of Arthritis in her knees, and now we think her spine and shoulders. She commented that a fe minutes playing with my ball (sorry, couldn’t resist) was as good as going for a swim. She’s very tight and bound up, even worse when the arthritis is bad, but the ball loosens her right up.

    Good work, looking forward to further vids on this same topic.

    Did you see this from Sonnon, just beutiful, been playing with this too, reminded me of my old aiki days, gotta get back into rolling:


    Dave Hedges

  7. Jerry Shreck Says:

    Well, I guess I know what I am doing to day with a swiss ball! I have done some of that but never “flowing” movements. Looking forward to giving it a shot.

  8. Jim Smith Says:

    Awesome Jerry, keep me posted. It is amazing how great you feel afterwards.

  9. Jim Smith Says:

    Nice Dave, thanks for the link! I have been doing this for about 2 months and I feel great!

  10. Jim Smith Says:

    You got it Anatoly!

  11. Jim Smith Says:

    Sonnon’s work is years ahead of its time.

  12. Jim Smith Says:

    It is so important for improving movement, thanks for the feedback Nico!

  13. Jim Smith Says:

    very nice Rhea, thanks for sharing.

  14. Jim Smith Says:

    Let’s us know how it goes!

  15. Coach mike Says:

    Great stuff! I have a ball with 10lbs of sand in it! For my wrestlers I have drills were they roll it up the wall also! It will stay put until they land on it in a sprawl and medicine ball drills take another demension with a heavy swiss ball!

  16. Jim Smith Says:

    Awesome Mike!

  17. Jim Smith Says:

    Hey Mike, how about an article on how you use the medicine ball with your wrestlers for the Diesel site?!

  18. Pedro A. Morales Says:

    Awesome!!! Differently trying these!!! Again Diesel Crew Delivers the Goods!! Can’t wait to Start AMD this Monday with Dave! Thanks for everything Bro!


    Pedro A. Morales

  19. Coach mike Says:

    Wow what an invite! I am honored! I would love to do one for you!

  20. Jeff Says:

    Sonnon is otherworldly, almost to the point of making you wonder if half of it actually applies to most folks. Some of the stuff he does is that amazing!

    Smitty, in terms of flexibility versus mobility, is the natural progression (assuming restriction) to restore a little bit of flexibility at a time and then immediately lay down stability in the “newly” acquired ROM? And then to work on maintaining that new ROM by incorporating various mobility drills?

  21. Jim Smith Says:

    In general, yes, the progression would be moderate. The simple introduction of new movements into the warm-up or exploring new “ranges” or articulations such as lunges from a deficit.

    For athletes, the analysis of the program must be regressive. Start and analyze the movements of the sport(s) and then get a baseline for the athlete. What is the gap between what movements the athletes can make (and can the athletes make them powerfully and with strength) and what the sport requires. Then build exercises and movements into the program to address these gaps.

  22. dixon Says:

    good one jim! i liked ur combatcore very much.

  23. Mike T Nelson Says:

    Good stuff Smitty!

    My thoughts on Jeff’s comment are similar to Smitty’s, but a bit different.

    I feel ALL athletes need a base level of mobility first, and this would be joint mobility work for EVERY joint, taking it through a full range of motion. If you want to speak a foreign language (new movement) you need to know the letters first. Basic joint mobility for every joint is the letters.

    Putting them together in words is the next step, so you work to combine them into more movement based approaches; and these appear more sports specific.

    Smitty is dead nuts on, that all of this is based of an analysis of the athlete’s current weak points.

    Hope that helps!
    Rock on
    Mike T Nelson PhD(c)

  24. Jacob Hiller Says:

    Thanks for the post, nice distinction on mobility and flexiblity.

    I was skeptical of SMR until it completely alleviated a sore back I had one week. We travel constantly, to a different country every 1- 3 months, and I have one small suitcase (and one for my wife), but… I made room for the foam roller in there. I love that thing.

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