I frequently say to trainees; if you stay ready you won’t have to get ready. I stress to them that this is a lifestyle. That is just how it is, and while some will jump all in others are happy to dabble. After years of studying and applying this material I’ve realized that some will never quite get it, and that’s okay. However, for those that do this post is for you.
Whether it’s our strength and conditioning, skillset, equipment, or something as simple as hydration, if we stay ready we won’t have to get ready. How ready is ready? Only you can answer that question. Let’s look at a few examples.
For most this probably means abstaining from over indulging in intoxicating substances that would impair our ability to be ready. I don’t know how ready I’ll be to perform CPR or apply a dressing to a wound if I’m so intoxicated I can barely stand. Some might say well how often have you had to apply a dressing to a wound or perform CPR? To that I would respond, ever spent time around little kids? It’s not if, it’s when they will hurt themselves or choke on something. Be ready so you don’t have to get ready. If a friend calls and needs help with an emergency at home such as a tree limb crashing through the roof of his home, (true story), how ready will I be to assist him in his moment of need if I’ve spent the night downing alcoholic beverages? How ready will I be to help myself if it’s my home that was impaled by a tree? Fortunately I was ready, and could respond to help.
Let’s think about how we drive. When we’re behind the wheel are we really ready? How close are we to vehicles when we stop behind them at intersections? Is there enough room to maneuver should we need to get out of there? Or did we pin our own vehicle in because we weren’t ready? Do we drive with both hands on the wheel, heads up and scanning? Or do we drive with one finger on the wheel, talking to others, not really paying attention to what is going on around us? If we drive ready we won’t have to get ready. Human reaction time is what it is, and we aren’t immune. Being ready cuts down on some of that reaction time. It’s better to see the guy in the lane next to us that’s texting, driving, and drifting into our lane before he hits us. As opposed to having our response time involve observing the potential issue, get both hands on the wheel, sit up properly behind the wheel, and performing defensive driving tactics to avoid or minimize our collision with his vehicle. If we’re ready we don’t have to get ready.
I’m not saying you should never enjoy an adult beverage or that you should drive as if your driver’s ed instructor is sitting in the passenger seat. I am saying we should give due consideration to our daily activities and ask ourselves; am I ready for things to go wrong? If not, what do I need to do to correct this so I am ready?
A frequent topic of discussion is body composition transformation. A lot of folks want to change the way they look. This usually leads to a conversation about various exercise programs or dietary changes. Those things will work but it will feel like work. There a better way. Engage in an activity that requires the support of good nutrition and exercise.
I always recommend joining a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Kickboxing, Judo or MMA gym rather than a globo type gym. I have guys in my gym, SBG Illinois, that have lost 30-40 pounds in a few months without doing any weight loss specific activity. And? We’ve only been open since November…
Here’s the thing, Jiu-Jitsu isn’t exercise it’s an activity. However, it’s an activity that promotes a healthy approach to eating and exercise. Folks start drinking more water, eating more nutritious food, doing S&C work that is reasonable, as well as mobility work. Gals and guys start thinking about what they’re eating and drinking and how it affects their performance on the mat. We choose nutritious foods because we know we’re going to be rolling in a few hours. We want to have a great experience, and a poor performance due to poor food choices is a no-go. This is a much more sustainable form of motivation.
Exercise for the sake of weight loss quickly becomes drudgery. Exercise for the purpose of helping us do an activity we love at a higher level is soon viewed as a necessity. Body composition adjusts to reflect this effort. People start to feel and perform better. All without it ever feeling like work, because it’s not.
It’s impossible for me to discuss mindset without talking about hellacious practice and training sessions. Times when we couldn’t carry ourselves off the mat or out of the ring after practice. Times when we collapsed trying to walk to our car after a conditioning session. Or those times when we slept in our car because the thought of walking up the steps to get into our house where we would have to walk up another flight of stairs to get to the shower was just a miserable thought.
We learn mindset by pushing ourselves to the breaking point physically. Pushing those edges is where we learn our mind is much more powerful than our body. The mind drives the body beyond perceived thresholds. Then we do it again, and push even farther.
Is it necessary to train and practice at that level every time? No.
Is it necessary to have trained and practiced at that level for a time? Yes.
Have a listen to Josh Hinger at the 8 minute mark in this video talk about the mindset of a champion, and the training intensity that this mindset brings to each session.
While we want to train intensely and intelligently we also want to recover as intensely and intelligently. Having studied and applied almost every possible recovery method I can find I want to share with you a stripped down and to the point recovery plan.
Here’s my recovery plan in four simple steps. (This list is compiled from multiple sources over years of doing the work so forgive the lack of citations.)
1) Sleep well. As in 7-8 hours of sound sleep. I’ve been guilty of getting quite a bit less than that. For years. Studies show the cumulative affects of less than 7 hours sleep a night can be detrimental. If this is an area where you’re slacking then this is an easy fix. Hit the rack earlier, and get those hours.
2) Get moving in a non-strenuous way. A couple easy 10-15 minute walks a day are immensely beneficial. This is not a training session, this is recovery. You want to get some blood flowing, breath some fresh air, and move your body. Listen to a podcast, make a few phone calls, or just unplug for a few moments while your enjoy the air.
3) Eat enough water-rich, nutrient dense colorful food. Folks don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables. Eating well ensures we will have the full spectrum of vitamins, aminos, and minerals necessary to fully recover between training sessions. Also hydrate. Add some sea salt to your water so you hang onto to some of that hydration. Eat and hydrate as well as you can everyday.
4) Guard your thoughts. Negative thoughts will sap your recovery ability as much as lack of sleep or poor nutrition. We all have those moments. However, we can’t allow ourselves to stay in a negative state. Just like we physically pick ourselves up from the mat we must mentally pick ourselves up when knocked down. Stay focused on our goals, and commit to daily improvement.
Those are four key steps to recovery in a streamlined package. Execute these steps everyday and recovery will never be your Achilles Heel again.
One of the first of many cool sayings I heard as a young man in the fight game was; hit first, hit fast, hit last. I’ve heard this attributed to a number of folks so I really don’t know who I should say I’m quoting. Teddy Atlas? Cus D’Amato? Salim Assili? This would seem to be one of those universal truths that apply to any fighting art. Bottom line, as one that was brand new to the game this was an important lesson for me to learn.
It would seem self-evident but sometimes we need an outside voice to give us permission to make the first move in defense of life and limb. Putting my hands on someone without waiting for them to put their hands on me was a foreign concept. Most of us have been taught by family, friends, and society to avoid throwing the first punch. The person throwing the first punch is always the aggressor therefore, wrong. At this point I realize how wrong I was to accept this as true back then, and after having witnessed a few violent confrontations I can assure you I have no issue throwing the first punch. Think about it this way, how many hits can you take before you’re unconscious? Once unconscious you can no longer defend yourself or your loved ones. Don’t let that happen. You need to act, and act right now. You can solve the legal challenges after the fact, with the help of competent counsel but right now, in the moment when your gut is screaming that something just isn’t right? You gotta get it on before he makes his move.
One of the things I struggle with is imposter syndrome. That nagging feeling that I’m not really deserving of any accolades, or recognition I might receive. I worry that I’m deep in Dunning-Kruger and as a result don’t know enough to know how much I don’t know.
I don’t know how to stop those thoughts from running through my head. All I know is I train like a madman to make sure I’ve done everything I can do to deserve anything I’m given. I’m actually envious of people that have no clue how much they suck. Their confidence in their non-existent skills has to be a great feeling. I mean that sincerely. I wish I could be that but I can’t. I will continue to struggle with whether I deserve to even wear a black belt, or have anyone listen to anything I say on the topic of self protection.
And I will continue to work my ass off to ensure that those that have trusted me enough to invest their time and effort in passing on their knowledge to me aren’t disappointed. I will continue to work my ass off to make sure folks that trust me enough to train them will find that training valuable.
In police work recruits are taught to watch the hands when making contact with citizens.
In the first course I took from Paul Howe we were given a scanning hierarchy when dealing with folks we encountered. Guess what the second item on the list is? You got it, the hands.
In the first seminar I attended by Megaton Diaz he made a statement that has stuck with me over 20 years later. “Never let them touch you. If they grab you grab them back.” Megaton was speaking to the importance of never allowing our opponent to establish a grip on us, to always monitor and control the opponents hands.
It seems there is a string that threads through every potentially violent endeavor. The opponent’s hands will hurt you if you don’t control them.
In particular I can’t over emphasize the importance of monitoring the hands of an unknown contact. Your ability to apply your avoidance, deterrence, and deescalation skills are greatly enhanced by your ability to monitor the unknown contacts hands.
Uncontrolled hands for some reason, (looking at you Murphy), seem to migrate to our weapons, don’t let that happen. Control the hands, control the space/distance, get to a dominant position, and finish them.