SFCF: This month’s member profile is with Coach Edwin Johnson: Father, Lover, Coach, Educator and B-Boy extraordinaire. Ed You have been a part of the San Francisco Crossfit community for a while now, how did that start?
ED: Carl Paoli brought me in. Carl brought me in because he knew some of my friends that B-Boy and he invited me to a special friends class in the parking lot of dreams, that’s what he called it and we were there flipping tires. Me being who I am, and my approach to what I do in my life, it fit really well for me. I like that aspect of going hard in my workouts and then I saw a lot of improvement so I kept doing it.
SFCF: Ed, I know nothing about B-Boying except that it looks really cool. Can you break the movements down for me? How does it relate to what people do in Crossfit?
ED: Well it’s not just for gymnastics or B-Boying, but think about Crossfit in general, we break things down to the basic skeleton of basic movements. Think about those rules and mix them and bend them just a little bit to make it freestyle like in Carl’s book. I started to notice there were a few positions and movements in B-boying that were broken, that weren’t giving us enough torque or power. I noticed we can make a few small adjustments though that Gymnastics and Crossfit were teaching me and then I could get stronger and faster in those movements that were never addressed as a B-Boy.
SFCF: Do you compete in the B-boy arena? Is that the right term? What does that mean?
ED: That is the right term and it’s not overly organized and it’s not unionized. It’s an independent thing and you will typically have promoters that throw events. Some are more established and have big sponsors, others are basic promoters doing things at the local community level to work. There are different competition levels; there is the international circuit, which would be the highest level of competing, there’s the national circuit and then there’s your local circuit. Those are the three different levels you have as a competing B-boy and we call them competitions, battles or jams. There’s a panel of judges that will decide one winner in a tournament style and you just work your way through and crown the champion at the end.
SFCF: How about you Ed, do you Jam out? Do you compete?
ED: Yes, I had a chance to compete at the international level at one point in my career and I’ve competed at that level for a really long time, for about 15years. Not so much anymore though, I’m more focused on coaching aspiring young b-boys and help these athletes breakthrough with some of the insight about body mechanics I discovered along the way. Hopefully they can skip some of those hurdles that I kind of had to deal with when I was getting started.
SFCF: Tell me about where you do all this. I know you do some of this work here at SFCF, you worked at AcroSports, you’re at a June Jordan School for Equity AND you’re a family man. To be short, you wear many different hats.
ED: Haha yeah I do, I still work at AcroSports and I’m at June Jordan. And yes I have a family.
I’ve worked at acro sports for a very long time and now I’m mostly just coaching there and I coach at levels. So, we have our basic level which would be gymnastics floor, and then moving athletes up and adding some Crossfit style movements into it. Then for the people who are aspiring to be a b-boy we add that aspect to it. Sometimes I have to work in reverse and teach a b-boy Crossfit movements and do gymnastics. At June Jordan I coach a wrestling team there. I work with athletes who are training and competing at a very high intensity and a very high pace. I wrestled in high school and that was my passion, that’s what got me into what I’m doing now. What I’m doing now is my way of going back to the basics and understanding why and how I do what I do and then sharing that.
SFCF: What about your personal life, your family life, how’s that? What’s their involvement?
ED: My family is super involved in everything that I do. I’m married and I have two kids, a boy whose 3 and a girl who is 1. I’ve been married for 3-5 years, somewhere in that neighborhood. I’m lucky that my family, from just being around, they pick up on a lot of things by watching me. I might not coach my son though, I think I might leave that for someone else I don’t want to be that one dad you know (laughs). But I do help him along the way and work to give him a solid foundation for what he decides to pursue.
SFCF: That’s so cool man, I think so much of the learning process is just watching other people and then replicating or imitating their movements. People do this everywhere and down the line this can, unfortunately, lead to injury but luckily your kids can see you move and you just have to provide little cues to keep them in a good position.
ED: Yeah the foundation thing, that goes to everything but that’s why there’s coaching. There are rules and concepts that need to be followed, they are important to making what you’re doing what it is.
SFCF: You have the opportunity to work with people at all sorts of Crossfit levels, and what I mean is this, when I started with Crossfit I had my “beginner phase” and then the phase where I thought I knew everything I needed to know. Luckily, now I realize I don’t know anything and it’s really a lifelong learning experience. What are some pointers that you will give to new athletes but also hope to remind them that when they get better they don’t start making the mistake again?
ED: People will watch something and they’ll want to apply it but not know exactly what they are doing. Everything is that way, b-boy-ing too but that’s where a coach is important because they can see what needs to be pointed out. This is true at any level, the beginner athlete and the advanced and seasoned veteran. The most common thing I see is that people don’t know what to do with their spine, especially when they are moving at high intensity or with heavy weight. That’s when coaching is super important because not only will it improve performance, which is what every athlete wants but also it’ll mitigate risk of injury. Check your spinal Position and be open to being coached.
SFCF: And here I am slouched on the couch, touche’ (haha). Open Forum Ed, What else do you want to share?
ED: I’m going to be launching a new site called ‘Athletic Wrestling’. This is going to take me back to my basics and allow me to share it on a broader scale. It will also include b-boy-ing. It’s gonna be an open forum website with information I come across and different guests. I really want to promote the sport of wrestling; it’s kind of a dying sport.
SFCF: When can we see this happen? What’s the website name? Who’s it for?
ED: We’re looking to launch at the end of November, which is the end of the wrestling season. It’s going to be www.Athleticwrestling.com This website is for anyone who cares about understanding movement, nutrition, and being healthy and fit. Wrestlers have weight classes to meet so this will be helpful to build nutrition plans. There’s going to be some b-boy stuff but you can find step by step videos on the renegade rockers starting in the spring of next year with tutorials.
SFCF: Thanks Ed.
This interview was preformed and written by Overseer Adrian of SFCF.