Simple =/= Easy

“It’s as simple, and as difficult as that…” – Jerry Miculek after a mind blowing demonstration of shooting skill. My downfall has been to expect simple things to be easy. After all, the explanation was simple; do these steps, (usually 2-3 steps at most). The execution proved to be anything but simple. It was like hard physical labor.

 

We all know shooting is as simple as holding the sights on the intended point of impact until after the round leaves the muzzle. Now do that 6 consecutive times in under 2 seconds from the holster on a target at 7 yards and keep all the rounds in the A zone. It’s as simple and as difficult as that.

 

A sweep or throw is pretty simple. Load them on a leg/knee. Knock that leg/knee out from under them. Now do it against a resisting opponent. It’s as simple and as difficult as that.

 

We all know this, and I realize I’m preaching to the choir but sometimes the choir needs to hear the message. Just because it’s simple doesn’t mean it’s easy.

 

The Struggle is the Glory.

“A grappler is the toughest man on the planet” – Conan Silveira, my first jiujitsu coach. 

I remember Conan saying those words during a practice. It echoed the words of my childhood wrestling coaches. It never really clicked until I was a little older, and could recognize the difference between grapplers, and those that had no grappling experience. It’s hard to define. I think grapplers, (whether they train in Wrestling, Judo, Sambo, JiuJitsu, or the thousands of forms of grappling that are unique to each culture), have at some point accepted that they do it for the love. There is never really going to be a lot of money in grappling. Wrestling programs have been, and are being, cancelled on a regular basis all over the USA. Kids that wrestle have always known there is no money to chase. No one is offering million dollar contracts like we see in the NBA, MLB, or NFL. Sometimes there isn’t even bragging rights or external glory. Grapplers are simply tougher. Mentally, physically, and emotionally. It’s a result of the daily grind. You don’t start out thinking you’re going to be tough. You usually start out wondering if you can do any of this. After a few years you start wondering what you can’t do.

 

For grapplers the struggle is the glory. You know you endure more on a daily basis than most folks will endure in a year, if not a lifetime. That’s what makes you different. You are a better version of you because of the struggle. You are not like other people because you know how this works. You’ve already figured out years ago on the mat. That life is improved by almost imperceptible movement, and unrecognized effort. The mental toughness you now have is because you learned long ago to suck it up and drive on. The struggle, and the subsequent benefits of that struggle is the glory. You get to live a better life than you would have otherwise.

 

It’s not just the grapplers that know they’re a breed apart. Thanks to a Gallup study commissioned by the Navy to the tune of $500,000 the Military knows what we already knew. Grapplers are tougher. Men trying out for the elite Navy SEALs doubled their odds of passing the selection process if they had participated in one of these 7 sports; water polo, triathlon, lacrosse, boxing, rugby, swimming and/or wrestling. Not football, basketball, or baseball. Nope. However, there are two core combat sports in there; boxing and wrestling. Next post we’ll get into grapplers that can bang. That’s a whole other beast right there, and one all multidisciplinary athletes should be working towards. For now I’ll close this out with this; Conan was right, as were all of my wrestling coaches. Grapplers are the toughest people on the planet. The skills we build relentlessly pursuing higher performance on the mat, in the end makes us better people off the mat setting us up for success in every other area of our life.

 

 

 

Living Without A Thermostat

One of the challenges of this lifestyle is taking time off, or scheduling deload weeks so we avoid injuries. Burnout isn’t really an issue since we’re doing what we love. Injuries however, injuries are a constant threat.

 

I’m going to shoot you straight, I don’t really know how to take it easy or take time off. I’ve never been able to to do it properly. Sometimes though, the injury is so great that we don’t have a choice. We have to stay off the mat, out of the ring, weight-room, or away from the range. Most of us are guilty of being all in or all out. We can’t deal with halfway anything. Injured to the degree that we can’t train usually means we’re all out. We don’t go to the gym because it’s too frustrating to see everyone else rolling, working their standup, pushing their numbers up in the weight-room, or improving their times on conditioning work. We’re happy they are progressing, yet not so happy we’re stagnating while we wait for this injury to heal.

 

This a really dangerous time for us. We run the risk of getting out of the habit of doing all the things we do. Six to eight weeks away from the gym is enough time for other habits to sneak in, and take over. If we’re not careful we’ll soon be spending our nights on the couch, watching TV, drinking and eating garbage, and undermining all of our hard work. We can make excuses, we can’t train because we’re hurt. It’s frustrating to sit on the sidelines, etc., etc…

 

Or we can be that team member that still comes to class to watch, take notes, mentally keeping ourselves active in the game. When we help where we can around the gym it goes a long way towards building team, as well as maintaining our habit of driving to the gym several days or nights a week. We’re helping our team, and our team is helping us by keeping us mentally engaged.  Yes, it’s still frustrating because it’s not the same as being out there doing what we love. However, climbing back on that horse is much easier when we haven’t forgotten how to get to the barn.

Total Mastery

As a student of high performance I’ve noticed something about every high performer I’ve been fortunate to meet; they know the tools of their trade inside, and out, upside, and down. What does that mean you say? Is that some strange Maryland eastern shore saying? It simply means there is nothing they don’t know about the tools of their trade.

Everyone from from top competitive shooters to graffiti artists. Everyone demonstrates the same trait. They know their tools. Completely. Watch Super Dave Harrington teach a lesson on dry fire, while performing every possible manipulation of the pistol all while never stopping the lecture. He knows the tools so well it’s as natural to him as breathing.

Watch this clip of Flea, bass player in the band Red Hot Chili Peppers. Even if you’re not a musician, from a student of higher performance perspective there are some really cool lessons here. At the 1:50 mark we see Flea demonstrate effortless mastery of his instrument. We’re watching years of dedicated effort manifested by mastery of the instrument.

If we want to be high performers we accept, and embrace the effort it will take to master the tools of our endeavor. To know those tools, to include ourselves in the equation, to the degree that there is nothing we don’t know about those tools. The external tool becomes an extension of our will. At that point it is us.

Staying Mentally Healthy

In this pursuit we get the opportunity to stress ourselves daily, even hourly. The assault on our mind and body is relentless, even if it is largely self-imposed. We measure a good practice session by how tired we are or how banged up we feel. We can pretend there is some scientific formula but we all know, sometimes the only way we are happy with a practice session is if we are exhausted.

 

Staying physically healthy is a pretty simple equation. Eat nutrient dense food, drink enough water, and engage in recovery techniques.

 

How do we stay mentally healthy? How do we stay motivated, engaged, and striving to keep that edge? Time with friends, and family is an obvious answer. Shutting off the TV, social media, and the constant stream of negativity the masses seem to clamor for, and are addicted to. I had the opportunity to bounce from social media for a few months. It was nice. I missed seeing pictures of my friends, or reading of their escapades but I didn’t miss the constant barrage of negativity. I joined several business groups where I was surrounded by positive, performance focused, business minded folks. I noticed a change in my habits and behaviors. Conversations that weren’t centered around performance, reaching goals, ideas, concepts, thoughts, and getting things done quickly became of no interest. It seemed like everyone I talked to, or spent time around energized me.

 

I slowly began to realize something. I was mentally recovering faster than ever. Mental hits knocked me down, but I was bouncing back faster than ever. I lost the desire to wallow. To milk every bit of negativity from every situation. To see gloom and doom. That side of me was diminished. Strangely, I was also experiencing faster physical recovery than any previous time. We all know the mental and physical aspects of ourselves are intwined but I think sometimes we forget just how much one affects the other.

 

When it comes to diet, strength, conditioning or technique work we know it’s as simple as asking ourselves; will this take me closer to my goals of enhanced or improved performance. If the answer is yes, then we do it. If the answer is no, then we abstain. It’s time we actively apply this to the mental side. Will this thought, conversation, or what I’m about to read/watch/listen to take me closer to my goals of improved performance? If yes the carry on. If the answer is no, then stop immediately.

 

We have to start guarding our mental health as vigorously as we do our physical health. Our body is a holistic creature, the mental and physical aspects are so completely linked there is no way we can engage in behavior that damages or at least limits the performance of one without it affecting the other.

 

You Do You

One question or topic of discussion that comes up from time to time is; “I know this isn’t an effective/practical/useful art/exercise/movement BUT, I like doing it.” Now I know what they are really saying is; I want to keep doing this even though now that I’ve trained with you guys I realize it serves no purpose.

 

But they don’t want to say it. Because that sounds goofy. I’m going to do something that has no other purpose than it makes me happy. It won’t make me stronger, more conditioned, or greater skilled fighter or in anyway contribute to my multi-disciplinary pursuit. But I like it.

 

You know what my answer always is? Then do it. You do you boo. I only ask this; Have you put all the big rocks in the jar first?? Have you covered your essential skill bases?

 

If you have, then it’s okay to do something simply because you like to.

 

Life is short. Get the big rocks in the bucket first, then add all the sand you can.

Repping the Brand

Everyday as soon as I log in I check a few news sites. A few local, national, and international sites. I hit the headlines, see if anything jumps out at me, check the market, (because that’s where the news actually originates…), and then start my day. Almost without fail I read something from those that oppose my right to self protection.

 

Every single day. The media attacks your right to self protection. That sickens me.

 

It also worries me.

 

I worry about my daughters. I worry about my wife, and my mother. I worry about those that would need an equalizer. Those that oppose your right to self protection will tell you to call 911. I would ask them, what is the average response time to a 911 call for help? That time varies based on area but the average is 10 minutes. Imagine your loved one being attacked. How long do you want them to have to wait before help arrives? We know the answer. Zero wait time. We also know how we can make it so our loved one doesn’t have to wait for help to arrive. We can train and equip them to be their own emergency response.

 

But not if we keep handing our head to our enemy. Rep the brand better. Me, you, everyone else. We have to do a better job of repping the multi-disciplinary brand. A friend and fellow SBG Coach recently shared with me that he doesn’t use foul or vulgar language, he doesn’t drink to excess, and he makes sure he is always clean, well groomed, and neatly dressed. Why? Because he wants to rep the brand of SBG as well as possible. He doesn’t want to do anything that would give ammo to those that would criticize him as another meathead jock. Now, they might still form those opinions but he’s not going to do anything to help them sell those opinions to those that are on the fence. The media, and their allies have painted those that believe in the ultimate right to self protection as knuckle-dragging, uncivilized meatheads. People that can’t wait to do harm, or to take a life. Those that oppose our right to self protection have done a great job in selling that barbaric image to the public. To be fair we haven’t always helped our cause, and I’ve been the among the worst offenders.

 

However, it’s time to take that weapon away from our enemies. We all have one job. Just represent the brand well. Be well spoken, polite, and represent our brand, our community well. It’s not that hard, there are a lot of positives in this endeavor. It’s time to start putting the spotlight on those aspects. The media, and the anti-self protection folks will make sure the negative is highlighted. We can’t be overly concerned with that aspect. However, we can make sure there isn’t anything negative for them to show, and that our positive contributions far out-weigh any negatives.