Natural Born Heroes

“There was a time when that question wouldn’t be a mystery. For much of human history, the art of the hero wasn’t left up to chance; it was a multidisciplinary endeavor devoted to optimal nutrition, physical self-mastery, and mental conditioning. The hero’s skills were studied, practiced, and perfected, then passed along from parent to child and teacher to student.

The art of the hero wasn’t about being brave; it was about being so competent that bravery wasn’t an issue. You weren’t supposed to go down for a good cause; the goal was to figure out a way to not go down at all. Achilles and Odysseus and the rest of the classical heroes hated the thought of dying and scratched for every second of life.

A hero’s one crack at immortality was to be remembered as a champion, and champions don’t die dumb… It all hinged on the ability to unleash the tremendous resources of strength, endurance, and agility that many people don’t realize they already have.” – from the excellent book Natural Born Heroes by Christopher McDougall.

Reading Natural Born Heroes and the story of the Isle of Crete resistance is an incredible story of ordinary people that did extraordinary feats. There are several interesting avenues we can take with this book however, for me the most compelling aspect of this story is simply this; resolve to be an adept. In a moment of crisis or urgency be ready to act. Despite whatever odds are stacked against us, or whatever cards life has seemingly dealt us we must resolve to always be ready, and prepared to be useful.

Think about arriving on the scene of a rollover accident in a rural area. We don’t have the luxury of getting a little stronger, or refreshing our knowledge of ditch medicine, nor do we have the opportunity to run to the local pharmacy to pick up expedient medical supplies. Whether we like it or not we have what we have, in all those areas, with us at that moment. Life changes rapidly, and at times unpredictably. Maybe we are the ones involved in the rollover accident in the middle of nowhere. No help is coming, you are your own hero. Only I know the answer to the question; am I ready? Regardless of the answer at the moment, I can choose to begin to improve my odds. Make a pact with yourself to always be ready so you don’t have to get ready.

 

Always Be Doing

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One of the topics Coach Cecil Burch of Immediate Action Combatives, and I have discussed in the past is micro training sessions. Coach Cecil has written about this topic quite a few times and I thought we should re-visit this as we move into the summer months. We all experience the time crunch yet it seems to intensify during the summer. The kids are out of school, there are vacations, we start to tackle the never-ending list of chores that need attention now that the weather is nice, and before we know it we’ve gone a few days or maybe even weeks without a training session. That’s no bueno my friend!

Micro training sessions are the way to fix this problem. Any time you find yourself with 5-10 minutes, get some reps in! We are tempted to say it’s not that simple yet it really is, note I said simple, not easy. If you actively search for opportunities to train, work on your S&C, or deepen your understanding of core concepts related to self protection you WILL find those opportunities. Your mind is a powerful and highly adaptive problem solver. Start putting conscious effort into considering ways to find a few moments each day to invest in micro training sessions and you might be surprised at how resourceful you can be.

“Determine never to be idle. No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time who never loses any. It is wonderful how much may be done if we are always doing.” – Thomas Jefferson

Coach Cecil has talked about shadowboxing while waiting for coffee to brew or the shower water to warm up in the morning. Is that a lot of time? Nope. However, if you put enough of those micro sessions together, consistently over time you have hours and hours of reps. Would we rather have those hours of reps or hours of idle time wasted just standing there? I’ll take the reps. We can do the same when prepping food or any other task that involves waiting. During my competition prep periods I would do technical standups, sprawls and other solo drills during slow time at work. I remember the looks I would get from folks when I would sit on the edge of the trunk of the car and do leg raises while fueling up the squad car. Hey, a few more reps invested in armor plating the core can’t hurt right? Who cares what a passerby might think, will they be with you in the ring, cage, on the mat or, (worst case scenario), in a criminal attack? I’d rather have those reps than not have them. Never let a moment pass, DO WORK.

The Way is in Training, If We Train Intelligently

On 05/14/17 Dr Fred Hatfield aka Dr Squat passed away. Over the years a number of my friends and I have attended seminars given by Dr Squat, eventually becoming certified by his organization; ISSA. We always left those events with notebooks filled with notes, ideas, and programs inspired by Dr Squat’s words. The man knew strength and conditioning. Dr Squat was well versed in theory and application. Here is the lift he is probably most famous for, 1,008 pound squat in competition.

Dr Squat’s world record squats are all the more impressive when you consider that at the age of 45 he would squat 1,014 pounds at a bodyweight of 255 pounds.

Ponder that for a moment. 255 pounds. Squatting 1,014 pounds.

The man knew what it took to train himself as well as others to a very high level. One of the constant themes everyone came away with after attending a seminar or training event with Dr Squat was this; train hard but train intelligently, and be willing to instantly adjust your training program based on performance. We also learned that keeping a training log so we can map our progress as well as how various factors influence our progress is extremely important. I learned to log everything; every supplement, meal, fluid, training session, pre-hab/rehab session, everything impacts our performance in some way therefore, everything has to be tracked so we know what works and what does not. In the beginning it seems like an intensive effort yet after over two decades of tracking my training, it’s an invaluable practice. Having tracked all this data for so long, I can more easily program my training to reach my objectives. This is a direct result of Dr Squat’s influence.

How does this apply to what we do? Train hard yet intelligently. Do not reject anything without testing it for yourself. Apply the same intensity to developing our mental game as we do to developing our physical game. Leave no stone unturned, and the way to know what is working, and what is not is to track everything; dry fire, BJJ, Boxing, strength work, conditioning work, recovery strategies, what and how much we eat, how much water we drink, massage therapy, Chiropractic treatments, anything and everything we do to improve performance must be tracked and analyzed. You might not be interested in squatting 1,000+ pounds however, a sub two second Bill Drill, or losing 50 pounds, or running a 1/2 marathon might be of interest. Regardless of your starting point training hard, yet intelligently is going to be the fastest route we can take.

Veggie Might! Part II

In Veggie Might! Part I I shared the motive for moving to plant based approach to eating. In this post I’m going to share some of the resources I’ve used to make this as painless as possible. There are quite a few apps, websites, and cookbooks available that have made my transition to plant based eating fairly easy.

Let’s start with youtube channels;

When it comes to cookbooks I look for recipes that make hearty, tasty meals. My favorites are;

One of the biggest challenges is eating while on the road. Fortunately there are more veggie friendly restaurants than ever before. The Happy Cow App is an excellent resource when I’m traveling or even if I’m at home and want to go out for a plant based meal. However, sometimes that’s not an option. Rather than force friends and family to eat at a plant based restaurant when all they really want is a steak, I’ll find ways to make do. Most regular restaurants have vegetarian meals on the menu now. If that’s not an option I’ll order side dishes. There are always vegetables in the side dish menu as well as rice or something similar. I should say that my objective in eating this way isn’t to take the moral high ground or brow beat friends and family into eating my way. I want my friends and family to enjoy their life and if that means they eat a steak, so be it. Rather than make an issue about eating at a steak house or BBQ joint, I’ll treat it as a challenge! 

So whether you want to go all in on a plant based diet, or simply try one of the various approaches to vegetarianism to see for yourself if your health improves, these are a few of the resources I have used and continue to use. For me this has been a fantastic decision. I’m healthier, I eat foods that cover a full spectrum of flavors, colors, and textures. I meet my nutritional objectives everyday, and never feel like I’m missing out on anything. I will admit to missing a good cheeseburger on occasion, particularly in the summer time at events with friends and family. However, I’ve found other forms of burger such as black bean burgers or portobello burgers that taste great and are a fantastic substitute.

It’s as easy and as hard as that, after a few years of eating this way it really isn’t that difficult any longer. When I contrast my medication free life now with a life spent taking medications that were correcting one issue while creating a host of others, I can live without the cheeseburgers.

 

Keeping the chassis aligned

In August 27th and 28th I had the amazing opportunity to teach my MDOC course for the folks at SBG Athens, GA. (For a review of that course, click here!) During this course I was in a lot of pain due to some old injuries. Fortunately for me, as well as the folks that call SBG Athens home, Steve Fogle is on staff and has studied Donnie Thompson’s body tempering methods.

Using something called an X-Wife, a heavy kettlebell, a bow-tie, Voodoo Floss, and a chinning bar Steve was able to work wonders on my shoulder in less than thirty minutes. At first I thought there is no way this guy can be serious. This hurts, in a good way, but this seems like something someone would do as a prank. I assure you, it was not a prank and the temporary discomfort was more than worth it for the improved range of motion and strength. For the first time in months my shoulder felt good and I was able to lift my arm over my head without pain. I would highly recommend you find someone well versed in Body Tempering.

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What should you do if you can’t find someone skilled in Body Tempering? Order some Voodoo Floss, (I do not benefit from your purchase of this product), watch their instructional videos found on the Voodoo Floss link above and get to work. Also search for a massage therapist that specializes in Myofascial Release. I’ve benefitted greatly from Myofascial Release work. I also see a Chiropractic Doctor in my area who has done wonders for my chassis. It helps that Dr Sikorsky is also an Ironman competitor, as well as a student of Mixed Martial Arts and Brazilian JiuJitsu so he understands the stress we place on our bodies. Dr Sikorsky also knows I’m not taking six weeks off from practice so telling me to rest is a waste of breath, fix me so I can keep training and show me how to work around the injury. As an athlete himself, he understands this drive.

 

Injuries, adhesions, broken or out of joint bones, and assorted injuries are just part of this lifestyle. Do not allow these things to take you away from doing what you love. Keep the chassis aligned and tuned so we can keep training as long as we breathe.