A Few of My Favorite Films

During the holidaze it’s not unusual to experience a bit of the blahs. Here are a few documentaries I like to watch for inspiration. Most are fight sport related. Check them out if you need a little boost.

Choke – (A Rickson Gracie Documentary) is mandatory viewing. I watch this at least twice a year if not more.

 

 

ROLL: Jiu-Jitsu in So Cal which features my coach Chris Haueter is easily my favorite. I watch this or parts of this film twice a month… at least twice a month.

 

 

Jiu-Jitsu VS The World which also features Chris Haueter. You can learn more about Chris  here.

 

 

Anything featuring Karelin will get you motivated. The Experiment was on another level.

 

 

The Highland Games and strongman competition is near and dear to my heart. I simply love every aspect of the games. Stoneland inspires me due to my Scottish heritage and some of my earliest memories are seeing the men in my family participate in feats of strength.

 

 

The Rogue Series contain some real gems, and I get a lot of inspiration and motivation from watching these.

 

 

Anything featuring Ramon The Diamond Dekkers makes me want to throw hands.

 

 

Steve Prefontaine set a standard that others can only strive to attain. Pre’s mental approach to the sport inspires my mental approach to everything I do.

 

I hope you found some inspiration if you needed it, if not just keep it in mind for the time when you do. Happy holidays, enjoy the time with your family and friends.

Embrace the Debrief

I’m in my 20th year as a Peace Officer. During that time I’ve been involved in quite few debriefs, and I’ve noticed something… most people don’t like to honestly, and ruthlessly seek the truth in performance.

 

Before we go further let’s take a look at something I found on Wikipedia regarding the debrief;

Ernesto Yturralde, experiential trainer and researcher, explains: “In the field of experiential learning methodology, the debriefing is a semi-structured process by which the facilitator, once a certain activity is accomplished, makes a series of progressive questions in this session, with an adequate sequence that let the participants reflect what happened, giving important insights with the aim of that project towards the future, linking the challenge with the actions and the future.”

Debriefing sessions can be made directly without the use of “props” or with them as support tools, achieving highly productive sessions. The skill levels of professional facilitators and their visions for each process, will be essential to capitalize on the experiences of experiential workshops, in moments of inspiration, teachable moments that become Debriefing sessions, into commitments for action.

“Emotional Decompression” is one style of psychological debriefing proposed by David Kinchin in his 2007 book by that name.

Experiential learning debriefing is the basis for debriefing in Medical Simulation, used widely within healthcare.[3]

 

See, here is the thing; in every profession where potentially life changing decisions are made there needs to be a systematic approach to the debrief. The debrief must be honest, and most of all ruthless in pursuit of anything that will improve future performance. Now, most folks will say they are down with this approach. They will swear that they want to hear feedback. How to do things better, to have mistakes highlighted so they can be better prepared in the future. After all, our mistakes help us develop training plans. Yet, I’ve been in debriefs that would lead one to believe everything was perfectly executed. “Nobody got hurt”, is heard frequently during those debriefs, as if that means everything was done right. I think it would do some folks well to remember the only reason “nobody got hurt” is because the opponents they faced sucked worse than they did. “You can’t judge my actions now”. Actually yes we can, and we should. You/me/we should embrace that judgement.

 

A debrief is essentially an opportunity for peer review. Our peers and mentors give us feedback. Why wouldn’t we want them to be as ruthlessly honest as possible? It is to our benefit. We must push back against our ego which will kick and scream telling us these people need to walk a mile in our shoes, or stop Monday morning quarter backing us. Crush that ego, don’t be a weakling. They have, and they are not.

 

We must embrace the debrief. After every roll ask your training partner what you need to work on. Every live fire practice, or match you shoot, ask your squad mates what you need to work on. And if you’re ever in a position where you sit in on an organized debrief,  and it is your turn to be in the hot seat? Embrace that moment, and the subsequent growth.

Shotgun Love

Doing some work recently on my home defense skill set. I was reminded of how versatile a shotgun can be as well as my life-long love of this beast. As a 10 year old kid I shot my first clay pigeon using a 410 single shot shotgun on my grandmothers farm in the heart of the Eastern Shore of Maryland. It’s a great memory of time with my dad, uncle, and great-uncles. Since then I’ve always loved and owned shotguns. Even this many years later there are few things firearms related that are as fun as an afternoon busting clays with friends and family.

The shotgun has maintained a significant position in the the defensive shooting world for good reason. However, it is interesting to watch things cycle through the defensive firearms world.

This month shotguns are out! Wait, because it is a month later and now shotguns are in! Sometimes it is like the weather in South Florida; don’t like it? Wait ten minutes, it’ll change.

Regardless of what’s hot at the moment, an ounce of lead moving at 1,600 feet per second is always going to make the shotgun a viable home defense option. Particularly for folks on a budget. For less than $500 you can pick up a solid pump gun, and enough ammo to function test your new shottie as well as a box of whatever defensive load you choose to run.

Of secondary interest are tactical considerations like backstops, fire lanes and such. This is just one choke point, and line in the sand in my home. The back stop is a concrete basement wall under the wood floor. A little higher is the tile and concrete entry way floor. Behind me are windows and an exterior wall so when I take incoming rounds I don’t have to worry about my family taking rounds meant for me. The walls on each side create a funnel, once in the stairs my opponent’s have two options: 1) come up the stairs into my muzzle or 2) go back down the stairs and away from my loved ones. There are no other options.

Home defense strategy and tactics is a fascinating study, and something I enjoy pressure testing on a regular basis. If you have neglected the shotgun and/or your home defense practice take some time to visit both again.

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.

Endure a Little More

There is simply no substitute for time on the mat, range, or in the weight room. One of my coaches told me that cranking the oven up to 800 degrees doesn’t reduce the baking time, it just burns the cake. There’s a lot of truth in those words. I can’t count the times I tried to go too far too fast, and paid the price in the form of injuries, frustration, and sometimes lost training time.

 

While there certainly are more efficient ways to train we have to fight the urge to succumb to the get rich quick mentality. There is no easy way. There is no shortcut. There is only consistent effort over time.

 

Sometimes it’s consistent, painful, bone-crushing exhaustion level effort over a longer period of time than we think it should take.

 

As one approaches a level of mastery it becomes even more difficult to measure improvements. The first few years of strength training it’s normal to put 200 pounds on our squat or deadlift, after 10 years of training a 200 pound increase on the squat or deadlift would be miraculous. There are a few things we can do at this point. We can radically change our approach, maybe switch to a new coach, or a new training strategy. Sometimes that works for a brief time. However, sometimes the best strategy is to keep doing what got us here while trusting the process. Focusing on small improvements, even as small as a 1% over a 4-6 week training cycle, is an improvement. Put enough of those together, and we end up with a 10-15% increase over the course of a macro cycle.

 

Regardless of your stage in this game know this, there will come a time where you will simply have to choose to endure a little more. There is no way around it, you will want to quit, you will be frustrated. You will see friends, and training partners that started at the same time as you or even after you surpass you. Keep on keeping on. There really is nothing to it but to do it.

 

IMG_6230As my coach Chris Haueter says, “It’s not who’s good, it’s who’s left… it’s hours on the mat… and if you put in that time, natural athlete or not, you practice the art, you’ll be a black belt. You’ll be somewhere in ten years… imagine someplace ten years from now I’m gonna be somewhere why not be a black belt too? You just can’t quit.”

 

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.

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.