The Rock Warrior’s Way
by Arno Ilgner
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About the Author
Arno Ilgner distinguished himself as a pioneering rock climber in the 1970s and 80s. In 1995, after searching the literature and practice of mental training, Ilgner formalized his methods, created The Warrior’s Way®, and began teaching full time.
Ilgner has taught clinics across the U.S.A. and abroad. He holds a BA in Geology, operated a geological consulting firm, acted as CFO for a company, and attended the Army Ranger School. He lives and climbs in Tennessee.
A Message from the Author
Mental training is scarcely covered in the climbing literature, yet it is as important to performance as strength, flexibility, and technique. In his unique approach to mental training, Arno Ilgner draws essential elements from the rich “warrior” literature, as well as from sports psychology, and combines these with his extensive climbing experience to create The Warrior’s Way®.
Here is a comprehensive program for learning how to focus your mental resources during a challenging climb. It includes step-by-step guidance on motivation analysis, information gathering, risk assessment, mental focus, and deliberate transition into action.
Poor use of attention creates fear, which can manifest itself as anything from performance anxiety to sheer terror. By using attention more purposefully we can understand how fear is created, deal with it effectively, and free ourselves to get back in touch with a far more powerful motivating force: our love of climbing. We can then create the kind of unbending intention that leads to outstanding performance. The Warrior’s Way® is a revolutionary program for climbers who want to improve both their performance and their enjoyment of climbing.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. Becoming Conscious
2. Life is Subtle
3. Accepting Responsibility
7. The Journey
Twenty years ago, Arno Ilgner and his buddy Steve Petro were working a hard route, Morning Sickness (5.11d) in Fremont Canyon, Wyoming, that was reachy for both. Petro, while an excellent climber, complained daily about being too short for the initial move. Finally, Ilgner blew up, and told him to just accept his height: “You aren’t going to grow any taller and the roof isn’t getting any shorter!” Petro, briefly taken aback, decided to work with what was–instead of wasn’t–available, and sent the route next visit.
Ilgner, a hard Southern climber and runout guru of 30 years, has learned much along the way, compiling a program of mental training for climbers that he has now condensed into The Rock Warrior’s Way. While drawing from his own experience, Ilgner also sought concepts through a wide range of sources, from Carlos Castaneda to the Russian spiritualist George Gurdjieff.
Considering the many books dedicated to climbing training, little writing hitherto has addressed the climber’s mind in-depth. Ilgner’s self-published book is short on frills–the design is basic and the black-and-white photos unspectacular–but long on “warrior” beta, containing thoughtful information worth every penny of the price. Ilgner has managed to convey his experience into a chewy, yet readable and effective, guide to attaining the focused power of the martial-arts student. The book offers a process for a climber–say, facing a runout or a hard route–to prepare for challenges, assess the difficulties ahead, and transition into action.
–Rob Dillon, Rock and Ice magazine
Climbers all know the feeling: being in the zone. No matter the activity, it is the state that we live for, and when we find it, bliss follows. However, the zone can be elusive and fleeting – most times we are somewhere in a partial-bliss state. Or worse.
Based on techniques Ilgner developed as a climber and a coach, The Rock Warrior’s Way strives to help climbers understand how to consistently achieve a mental state of power. The pragmatist and idealist alike will find useful tools to immediately improve their climbing performance and, more importantly, their enjoyment.
The most useful ideas in the book center on controlling debilitating fear. While the methods will help a cellar-dwelling Brit send his next gritstone horror-show, the rest of us mortals will glean plenty of good info about facing the nagging anxiety handed out by seemingly mundane routes. We have all been there: above the gear or bolt, imagining the worst, launch sequence engaged. Ilgner advises us to “find comfort in the chaos.” Luckily, he couples such cryptic statements with real techniques to quell the inner voice that tries to convince the mind that death is imminent. For me, even a slight improvement in the battle with fear is manna.
The practical reader will have to sit through a bit of philosophy, but will be rewarded with flowing prose, real-world examples, and hands-on techniques. Much of what Ilgner suggests reminds us what we already know: climbing well takes a clear head; we perform better when we are in the moment; and “trying hard” can be either effective or futile, depending on how you try. These reminders helped me reevaluate my goals for
better performance. I combed through my habits for “power leaks” and improved my focus. The best results? After 15 years at the crags, my love for climbing is reenergized thanks to my new “warrior” attitude.
–Chris Kalous, Climbing magazine
Since the day I started climbing I always felt there was a strong mental aspect to our sport. It became obvious to me when I started following Eric Hörst’s mental tips and found jumps in my ability. I felt more powerful even though my muscles had not grown any stronger.
After breaking through small barriers, I realized there was another world of mental training, but I had no idea where to turn. There were authors putting out psychological books for other sports, but climbing has always been more complicated. Arno Ilgner has filled this gap with his new book, The Rock Warrior’s Way.
Don’t let the cover fool you. When I first picked it up, my impression was that this book was dedicated to old school trad methods. This could not have been further from the truth. This book is for all climbers. Some of his themes are self observation and the importance of separating our identity from our experiences and responding to them with patience and intelligence.
Ilgner finds a way to make order of chaos. He’s found a way to express our mental habits that everyone can understand and he’s created simple and effective ways to address our problems. Whatever your level of climbing, you will walk away from this book with valuable lessons.
–Sonnie Trotter, Gripped magazine
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The Rock Warrior’s Way
BY ARNO ILGNER
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