Sunday, June 15, 2014

"...lifting with one finger a good-sized man by the belt..."

..."feats that anyone can perform after persistent exercise."
Sourced from: A Triumph for Physical Culture” by Ron Tyrrell.

I persistently exercise...let's see if I can do this! I grabbed a 45lb bar, stuffed four 10lb plates on it. Squatting over the bar, I extended my most precious shooting finger out and confidently wrapped the bar. Breathing deeply in, then out forcefully, I gave the bar a solid pull...nearly ripping my shooting finger off in the process and crapping my pants. I'm not a strongman. Let's try two fingers perhaps. Sticking out a pair of eye pokers I gripped the bar. With a solid yank, the bar came off the ground unbalanced, one end clanging back to the mat. I was instantly surprised and amused at the possibility. Much like jiu jitsu, the ability to execute a technique is more often than not an issue with balance, not strength. Shifting my fingers to a better spot...VOILA! Three inches off the mat, I was able to hover the bar. Notice my shitty ass lifting form. I used my left hand on my knee to keep my lower back from super nova exploding. This was mostly deltoid, rhomboid, subscapularis, supraspinatus, infraspinatus and probably a pile of other little muscles.

"And he could perform a one-arm pull-up by pinch gripping the bottom link of a hanging chain, and even holding the link with only his index finger. He could do as many as ten of these one-fingered pull-ups at a time, and could still perform this feat when he was 68 years old." Source: ""
I don't think I could pull off that party trick. But as a BIG fan of pull ups, I figured well fuck yeah I can get my fat ass up there with a two handed pull up...with one finger per hand. NOPE. I hooked my claws onto the bar and tried..miserably. The second I got a third of my weight onto my pair of videogame trigger fingers, they failed. So...back up a bit and I tried two fingers per hand...I was able to pump out two solid reps, and a craptastical third.

Not a bad fitness feat for a 40 year old huh?

Now go train!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Ten soldiers

...wisely led will beat a hundred without a head. ~ Euripdes

When I was 12 (many years ago), I was learning Shotokan Karate from my father. Back then, the comparison between styles was the normal calculator for effectiveness. For example, one guy would say he trained in some esoteric form of Tree Rat Krav Maga, which of course would beat mall karate. People were stylistically fearful. Of course, this is all horseshit. How vigorous the person training is the key.

Yet, there are exceptions to the above.

On the way home from karate class, I had asked my father one question, "Where there any other martial arts you would like to learn?" Anticipating an answer of ,"No, Shotokan is the little shit. Now shut up!"

His answer was different, "Jiu jitsu."
Me, puzzled, "Why is that?"
Him, "Because it's a killing art."

Fucking mind blown. That is the specific moment which started my search for jiu jitsu. Not because I wanted to kill anyone. But rather for the serious effectiveness of such an art. For karate by then early 80's had already began heavy watering down, and started to become jazzercise with elbow strikes. It eventually became bullshit. My dad hated this crap, as do I. Although my dad no longer really trains, his mental capacity for it is still very sharp, and can read an opponent incredibly well(something rarely anyone teaches anymore, except when I'm teaching the noobs). When we watch the UFC, he complains about hand position, foot rotation, balance, sloppy execution and generally poor technique. Often times before Joe Rogan can fire off the same critique.

Modern jiu jitsu (the Brazilian variant) is just now, slightly starting to see the same shift. There are a few out there who speak fondly of old-school "1994 jiu jitsu". This is the key indicator, the same warning we saw with karate in the 80's; this is the demarcation between good and bad. Many years from now, if my progeny asks me what style I would consider learning:
Me: "1994 jiu jitsu."
"Why?", they ask.
Me, "Because it's a killing art."

Thanks pop!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Tactics Vs Technique

It seems all good stories start with either, "So, there I was..." or even better, "Hold my beer, let me show you something...".

I don't drink. So, there I was, on my grade school playground about nine years old. I was playing tether ball by myself, happily smashing the shit out of the ball. Watching it twist around the pole was both physically refreshing, and mentally exciting. Watching physics at work is mesmerizing for me then and still is today.

A few minutes into my fun, this little turd approached my laboratory. He decided he wanted to perform some research on his own. I wasn't all that interested in sharing my certain future as a Nobel Prize winner in low-Earth orbital mechanics. This advanced aged spermatozoa grabbed the ball and locked onto it. My demeanor went instantly from quiet nerd into a mutant, flesh eating virus from a Cold War East German biological weapons lab. I wanted to expand wreckage across his smiling face.

I reached for the ball, fingers extended (mistake #1), and started to yank the ball back. The asshole bit my right middle two fingers. I'm talking an accurate, interpretive dance of a bear gnawing a camper's legs off. I was paralyzed! "Ahh fucker! Let go you cock gobbling asshole!", I screamed. (or something along those lines, but I am CERTAIN I said fuck or ass in there somewhere...) Eventually he let go, and still had the ball. Mother fucker.

So...this butthole executed a nice technique: biting. Practiced three times a day of course. His excellent tactic though, involved waiting (or baiting?) me to attack, then stupidly extending my arms in a weaker position. His tactic, empowered his technique. Not the other way around. Jiu jitsu, work or whatever, I believe can leverage this principle. Next time you are stuck in a scenario requiring you to act...think about what would ENABLE and EMPOWER your action. Is there a strategy to weaken my opponent's balance? Can I orient myself at his weakest angle? Can I force him to over-extend his attack? Can I read his movements and feel for when he is about to act? Can I wear him down? Can I use my attributes (speed, power, flexibility) to counter his action? Can I keep him from not acting at all?

Tactics bitches. This shit works! A slightly off-tangent BJJ concept is position before submission. Yet, I believe a position is still a technique, and tactics need be employed to gain that position, which can then lead to another tactic, which may then lead to a submission.

The military has a concept called OODA. Orient, observe, direct, act. Look this shit up, it's gold. It's full of details, concepts, feedback loops etc..

That is all I have for today.
As far as I can remember I've never played tether ball again, but I'll never forget that little fucker.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Old age and...

...treachery will always beat youth and vigor.

I fucking love that saying. As I leave my 30's, this has entered my mind more frequently. Probably because I now feel the challenge isn't between my opponent and myself, but rather my age and my opponent's youthfulness. Quite often I pride my self on beating the run times, pushup counts, cardio-what-the-fuck-ever of those half my age. Gleefully snorting by badassery, which really isn't all that impressive. It's really just for my own self-esteem mostly.

There is some merit to be rewarded to the older individual, when challenged by a younger, less weathered body and mind. My dad for example is an old school traditional martial artist. Training since the 1970's, that's 40+ years! The constant repetition of the same mental activity: kill the other mother fucker before he kills you...and kill him quickly, brutally and efficiently (scare off and terrify his friends). I am 100% convinced there is no doubt in his mind, he would not hesitate for a nano-second to stab a dude in the trachea with one of his really awesome homemade wooden pens, if said dude crossed my dad in a life threatening way. I've seen my dad kick a side view mirror off a car once. I've seen him slice all four of the sidewalls(tires) of another car... All moments of exact execution of his intention. A rather large individual of African heritage once beat down a chick in a restaurant we were at in Las Vegas. My dad smoothly stood up and moved toward the douche nozzle. The casino security intercepted the potentially lethal situation before my dad had his chance. He simply stopped, and turned 180 degrees. While walking back to our table I could see the him putting away an aggressive looking folding-fighting knife. He was serious. Interestingly, his demeanor didn't really change as he sat down to continue eating whatever-the-hell he was eating. As if nothing happened. To him it was just another step on the road.

Last night, I was able to experience a tiny bit of this. Perhaps one day, I'll be just as efficient as my dad in such endeavors. My nightly ritual: brush my teeth, piss, disrobe completely, and run from my master bath toward my bed at full steam, so that I can get maximum airtime as I leap into my soft, squishy bed. I land, wrap up like a mummy in my bedsheets and close my eyes. Not more than five minutes into my dreams of armbars, stripclubs and Taliban hunting, I hear what sounded like a hammer hitting my front door. I'm happy to report, instead of shitting myself, I simply opened my eyes and laid still. I was listening for movement. I wanted to know if there was an actual threat incoming or not. Since I wasn't nervous or excited, I was able to quietly listen, no heavy breathing or heartbeat interfered with my aural scanning. I couldn't hear shit, my damn door was closed. For tactical reasons, I figure someone would have to open the door which would alert me, plus it offers concealment from vision. I felt safe enough to sit up, and continue staring into the darkness. I did not want to look out my window with a streetlamp on. This would fuck up my night vision. I stood up and took a step to my door. Put my ear to it and listened. Nothing. Fuck. Should I get my gun? Fuck, it's all the way over there. Dammit, I put my gun on the defensive side of the bed, opposite side of the door so that I could roll off onto the safe side, get my gun and use the bed as concealment from the door. Hmmm what to do.... Fuck it, next to my head is a eight foot long African hunting spear, with an eight inch long sharp as hell, leaf shaped blade on one end. The other end is a two foot long, half inch diameter spike. It will FUCK YOU UP. I grab that bitch and open my door.

So now, I'm thinking. I'm butt ass naked with an eight foot long spear about to pounce on some fucktard, whom is either one, going to shit himself to death when he sees me. Or two, try to kill me with fire, because I'm the baddest mother fucker he's ever seen: a stark naked, smiling white guy, with an African weapon of war, poised for battle like a Greek warrior. I'm secretly hoping for number two. Although I do not have a helmet nor a shield, I will HAPPILY don that gear upon the next intrusion into my domicile. Fuck yeah!

I take a nice step forward, positioning the long ass spear in my skinny hallway in such a way as to use it effectively. Which in this case means, it is pointed nearly straight fucking down and all I'll be stabbing will be the anterior tibialis muscle of the shin. Not very sexy. I peek out and see nothing. Fuck. I step out into my Spartan living room, and then all of a sudden I see the fucking most awesome thing ever. There is a night light near the floor right behind my ankles, shining the most amazing huge, silhouette of a my naked ass, with a spear, upon my white living room wall. It looks FUCKING COOL! Forget the intruder, check that shit out! I narcissistically stare at that for a minute (or three) then realize I have work to do.

At this point I'm actually bored, I have my spear, I have no intruder, and no signs of anything. It was probably the wind or some animal. The thing I need to say is, much like my dad, I was in a fully stoic mindset. I knew for a fact, the bladed point would be piercing the neck of some crackhead if they had entered my domain aggressively. Not a single bit of emotional context, or worry. As they taught us in Nuclear/Biological/Chemical Warfare school: let the training take over. As I swept through my house with my African lance, the training had fully taken control of my mind and movements. No hesitation, nor care in the world to be had. A completely clear conscience, before, during and most importantly AFTER all of this.

I remember once being scared as a little boy about crickets, mummies under my bed, witches over my bed (still one of the reasons why I still feel more comfortable sleeping face down), and ghosts. Now, I WISH there were mummies, I'll fuck them up.

Jiu jitsu, work etc.. I believe may occasionally benefit greatly from this sort of stoic, steeled, and cold intention. Don't give a fuck at all about inconsequential outcomes, or during extreme cases where one may die (so long as it's YOU whom will live). Execute like a robot. Fail? Reprogram. Test. Fight. Repeat. This sort of reprogram, test, fight, repeat cycle as one ages gets VERY GOOD,  VERY FAST, and VERY EFFICIENT...

Look forward to your advancing age, and smile knowing you'll FUCK THEM UP!

p.s. I put my spear back in it's place. I then went back to sleep as before; as I always do...with maximum distance and speed, for maximum airtime.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

There is nothing...

noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.
~Ernest Hemingway

That's some tasty shit right there. Normally, "tasty" and "shit" should not be in the same sentence but you know what the fuck I mean.

Combat sports, crossfit, full contact bar mitzvahs, or whenever the fuck you like to do, one must ignore the victories of your opponents (or sometimes perceived opponents in the cases of rivalry) over oneself. Everyone progresses at a different pace, opponents may have a fucking amazing day, while you may have a shit day. It just happens. If you lose a fight, go back and read this shit again. If a rival beats your personal record, fuck 'em, then re-read this shit.

Secondly, Hanlon's Razor: it's not always about malice. I'm a firm believer in this. People aren't always out to get you. They may chase you a bit, you run a bit faster to escape, and damn you got a bit better. This is good. Or they may become victorious due to blind ass luck or perhaps raw stupidity; it happens. Or you may be the pursuer, and must over take! Think about your past pursuits in life, did they contain malice? Probably not, most people in my rose colored view of the world have mostly honorable intentions.

I had read a story a long time ago about a student judoka. He was an advanced student and was grappling with a lesser student. He took it easy on him, as people tend to do in combat sports. The sensei became enraged and admonished the advanced student for not properly training. The instructor considered not training at 100% was ineffectual. At all times, the mind and body should be pushing for 100%. But does this mean flip the noob on top of his head and break something? No. Does it mean smash the fuck out of him when on top and rain down some elbows? No.

It means, one's intent is 100%.

Apply your skill for the kill. Yet, protect your training partner from certain death. Control is vital. Yesterday, I taught a jiu jitsu class. I'm the senior ranked individual in a sea of brand new white belts. I have 30 years of experience, they have maybe 30 minutes. It's my class too, I want to train too, therefore my intent is 100%. I gleefully swept the fuck out of everyone I could get my hands onto, I passed their guards freely, I applied submissions at will. It was no big deal. We always left the mat sweaty and smiling(often laughing!). They lost, I won, no big fuckering deal. I trained at 100%, got a TINY, MICROFRACTION better, and they did too. Perhaps not in their own technique, but rather the experience of feeling effective technique. Now, they can mimic me and apply it to others. We are now both better than when we stepped onto the mat two hours earlier. Win for them, win for me.

In my classes, I always explain, roll with a fucking purpose, not to fucking win(I'll say it just like that when there no kids around). This goes for other sports as well(crossfit, archery, synchronized tea bagging to music), there must be a purpose. One cannot win in training. One shall only win in the moments of personal gain; you've bested your former self. So, when a noobie rolls with me, I fucking win, yes I go for the kill, but I lead them through the fight so that they may also learn, enjoy the struggle, have some fun, not get injured, and want to come back for more. If there isn't at least one moment of laughter during my rolls, then something is wrong. As they get better and craftier, I must also step it up a notch. Win for them, win for me.


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Jet Fuel

Below is my response to an email from a good friend of mine... His question was simple, "Have you invented a program that will give me all the food I need to eat, and meal prep times that take less time than opening a box?"

Why yes I have my friend! I don’t bother counting calories, proteins, fats, carbs etc… Eat when hungry, eat in proportion to your workouts, and cook as if you’re a chemist designing jet fuel for your internal fighter jet. Then feel for how your body survives the day; adjust as needed.

This works for me, it might not work for you. This is after 5+ years of black box testing with my body. I recently had my blood work done, their Health Quotient shows I was 91 out of 100. They dinged me because on my food survey I truthfully stated I ate high fat foods. I also stated I did not do daily 30 minute cardio sessions. I train in short intervals for maximum power, speed, agility - which has equated to phenomenal long duration cardio(tested during long sparring/running sessions). For me, long duration is constant cardio over 20-30 minutes or more. You marathon guys would probably laugh at me though. A typical morning workout for me is a very light warmup of flapping my arms and legs until I'm awake, some very light-quick lunges, and calf raises to active my legs. Once I feel loosed up, and warm, I sprint like a mother fucker on crack out my front door for exactly 1 mile. My best time is a 39 year old I'll take it as pretty good. Upon returning I immediately do 50 knuckle pushups on the concrete by my car. Then into the Bat Dojo for some light Olympic lifting(just the 40lb bar), then stretching. Alternate days is usually a warmup, then heavy Olympic lifting. When I say heavy, I'm relatively weak, today's 40lb bar was fitted with 40lbs of weight for a total of 80lbs. I wanted to do all the basic Olympic lifts without breaking anything as I will be teach a tough jiu jitsu tournament preparation class tonight. It felt good, although I need some external coaching on some of my lifts to ensure I'm not fucking up my body.

Here’s the exact pattern I use. It works for me, I shred out nicely on this, with no muscle or cardio loss:

  • Skip breakfast. Drink a ½ cup of water and add some BCAAs. BCAA’s are pieces which build protein. It’s pretty much the greatest thing ever. Can’t get enough of them. BCAA are protein without the calories. BCAA’s + water before/after all workouts. Buy flavored BCAA at the Vitamin Shop, it’s the shit. Make sure it had citruline malate in it.
  • Anytime I am hungry, ½ cup of water and some BCAA’s. This has nearly replaced all my snacking.
  • Lunch is a small salad, lots of protein and fats. Fats/protein may come from meat, cheese, full fat dressing, oil based dressing etc.. about a big hand full of this stuff, plus a bigger handful of veggies/lettuce.
  • Once a week, fast for 36 hours; work out while fasted. biggest lean out tool I use. ½ cup of water and a sprinkle of BCAA’s several times a day, and whenever you feel hungry.
  • Once a week, eat like a fatso (swallow a tub of ice cream or something).
  • Once a week, at lunch, eat something decadent but small with your meal, if and ONLY if you worked out in the morning (as a reward). Today, I ate one of those cafeteria puddings with my homemade salad. Only do this if you mentally feel it necessary.
  • Tertiary decadence, which is actually quite good for you is 88% cocoa bars at Vitamin Shop. They are $3 and huge. Eat them, they are FULL of antioxidants, great for your cardio system, have no sugar and are better for you than eating candy/taco bell etc.. It tastes great, and feels like you are cheating on your diet. Excellent for snacking. I ate a 2 inch by 1 inch block of it on my way to work today.
  • Keep all of your eating within one 8 hour window. Generally impossible if you eat at noon, workout at 7-9pm then get home to eat dinner. The goal is to minimize the eating time spread, and maximize the mini fasts between days. The time period between dinner and the next lunch should be maximized and treated as a mini fast.
  • You can eat right before you go to bed, no problem.
  • No water soluble impact carbs (breads, white rice, pasta, noodles etc…). Complex plant based carbs: broccoli, asparagus, anything dark green/red etc.. you can eat veggies until you are stuffed.
  • Fats are GREAT for you. Fats don’t get you fat, eating too much and not exercising gets you fat. Carbs from fats are excellent, but not a complete replacement for plant carbs. Eat both.
  • Fruit is limited(max is one big handful per day and best right after a workout), but not eliminated. I eat all my fruits and 50% of my veggies in my dinner smoothies (which is right after my workout).
  • Nuts/seeds are awesome but keep them under control. Eat only 2-5 nuts as a snack a couple times a day if necessary. I often put almonds in my smoothies. Currently, I no longer snack in-between meals as much.
  • Omega-3 fish oil is ultra important. Buy the best you can get, make sure it has ALA in it as well. Chia seeds are good for this. ALA supplements are also highly recommended. Choke down fish oil every time you eat. Make sure the oil came from real fish not flax seed. I've read reports bashing flax seed as not being all that awesome. Probably funded by do your own research.
  • Dinner smoothie. On rest days, smoothie is about 10-12oz. Workout days it might be double that. The key to building a smoothie is easy: you need a liquid protein source (milk/yogurt), then a raw proteins source(powder/ultimate meal/beans/etc..), then carbs(veggies(kale!)/veggie powders/fruits), then fats/supplements(ALA/fish oil/cottage cheese/chia/vitamins) and finally flavorings(cinnamon, agave, nutmeg, 88% cocoa bar). I tend to mix proteins/carbs into equal layers, then add a thin layer of fats into my Vitamix.
  • Alternate dinner (ie restaurant/home cooking) is simply steam/boil/microwave/raw eat a pile of veggies the size of a big dinner plate. Then a lump of meat the size and thickness of your hand. Easy, done. Full fat ranch dressing is no problem.
  • Another dinner alternate, when I feel like being extra lean is three eggs, cracked into a cereal bowl of water. Microwave them until poached (~2.5 mins). Then for carbs, a single microwaved yam is beautiful, or a salad, or a super small fruit/veggie smoothie. Freaking awesome, easy to cook and tastes great.
  • Another dinner alternate is eat a ton of cheese. Literally, like a brick of cheese, or cheese varieties in one sitting. Lots of proteins and fats in there. Then eat some veggies/salad/small veggie smoothie. This is excellent for when you want to workout really hard the next morning or do this as lunch in preparation for a tough night workout. This is one of my favorites. Super famous fitness guru Steve Maxwell does this a lot, and I stole it from him; it works.
  • Alternates for protein: clean organic jerky, cheese, eggs, chickpeas, beans. 1 egg/half cup beans = 6gm protein.
  • Coconut milk, water and oil are the three greatest things for your diet. Eat these three constantly. Milk for smoothies, water for post workout hydration, and oil for cooking/smoothies/replacement base for making dressings/desserts etc..
  • For us athletes, we need 1 gram of protein per pound of lean body mass, at the weight we want to be at per day.
  • My grocery shopping is super easy now, as I only have to buy a few things and rarely have to go down the aisles as all the good stuff is on the perimeter.
  • Eat, then wait 45 minutes. If you are sleepy, too many shitty carbs or not enough good carbs. If you are hungry, not enough protein.

Mindset for your food:

Fats: are fuels for performance over a long time; and released into the body slower, no impact to insulin levels and have high energy density. Aerobic performance – Running a couple miles; long jiu jitsu fights.

Carbs: are fuels for performance over a short time; quickly released into the body, can spike insulin levels and have a low energy density. Anaerobic performance – Olympic lifting; the first 10 seconds of a jiu jitsu fight.

Proteins: fix your shit when you go catabolic after workouts.

You need all three. I basically try to get a 33% split on all of them.

Your food determines the mode:

Insulin level high = store mode = fat ass --- shitty carbs/too much fruits/sugars/breads

Insulin level low = burn mode = lean body --- fats, proteins/hard carbs(broccoli, kale etc..)

I hope this method helps someone. If it has, drop me some love in the comments below.