My wing chun sifu played a classic martial-arts-master trick on me tonight.
We’re having a test. I’m not testing, not in my mind. I do the expected things, which in my case includes being a sparring opponent for whatever senior students are testing. Because I’m strong and aggressive, skilled with knife and long blade as well as empty hand, sifu likes to throw me at people to challenge them and elicit best performance. I’m OK with that.
The most interesting fight is knives with Lee, a teenager testing for 9th level. I’m 8th, nominally at the same skill level he is going in. But Lee is still a kid who sometimes falls off his mental focus and gets frustrated. He has speed, height, and reach on me, but I have more brute strength, more knife experience, and a better developed warrior mind (I’ve been training since before Lee was born). Usually this means the advantage is mine.
Tonight, though, Lee does a smart thing. He processes the fact that (more or less as usual) I’m chopping him into chutney at medium range. Instead of losing his focus or retreating he closes and grabs me with his off hand. This is so unlike previous performance that he gets inside my OODA loop – by the time I counter he has scored several solid strikes.
This is good; Lee’s tactical repertoire is broadening and he figured a way to use his superior speed against me effectively. Sifu deserves to know this because it bears directly on Lee’s growth as a student (yes, I think like an instructor, which not news to anyone at the kwoon) but I’m not sure he could see it; I was directly between sifu and Lee when Lee busted his move.
So when the test is over I go to the table sifu is sitting behind, all set to tell him how well Lee did. Before I can open my mouth he looks at me and announces “You’re a level 9 now”.
A few minutes later I find out that everybody knew I was being tested except me. Sifu had told them what he intended to do the previous week when I had to skip a class for work-related reasons.
Well, no fscking wonder he’s been vague about when he intended me to test next. It’s a classic trick – test a student when he doesn’t know he’s under evaluation. I’d do it to either (a) spot a student I suspected was being lazy if I know what his peak performance is like, or (b) reduce the pressure on a student who I think might be prone to choke in a formal test. I don’t think sifu is likely to put me in either of those bins, so he probably had some subtler reason in mind. He’ll tell me if he wants me to know.
I’m now the highest-ranking student at the school who isn’t a Black Sash (beginning master, like a 1st Dan in Japanese systems) or higher (we have one Red Sash, 2nd-dan equivalent). I guess I can expect to qualify for my sash within six months or so. Not bad for a 60-year old guy with spastic palsy! I feel I have some reason to be proud.
More than what you think was shown to you. Now you see the illusion you were placed in, why that was done, and its efficacy.
Now that the tool was used on you, you also know how to use it for others. Bonus points for guessing why.
Ohh, he was already well-versed in the technique of sneaking a test or learning experience into a student’s “normal” tasks.
>Ohh, he was already well-versed in the technique of sneaking a test or learning experience into a student’s “normal” tasks.
This is true. Cases aren’t completely parallel though. It’s trickier to pull off when training a programmer.
I can do it with you because you’re pretty much self-starting – all I have to do is point you at a task and you will squeeze most of the tutorial value out of it almost automatically. The general run of trainee means well but has to be pushed into performing, not necessarily because of laziness but because he/she doesn’t yet have the mindset to grab onto a novel problem and just chew on it.
There’s no exact parallel to this distinction when training newbie martial artists because their cognitive task is different. Most of what a cub student at a dojo or kwoon is learning is how not to do things that are instinctive but ineffective. Don’t get hyperadrenalized and let your heart and breathing rate zoom, don’t throw huge loping punches that won’t land until next week, don’t bend over and fall off your balance, don’t swing wide and lose control of center line when fighting with a weapon – once you’ve trained out that crap training in effective moves is much simpler than teaching someone how to code.
I’ve said before that programming (especially at the pretty rarefied level you are learning it) is partly skill development (easy to teach) and partly mindset (really, really hard to teach). Mindset is really important in martial arts, too, but (a) you have to be farther in before not having developed it becomes a real blocker, and (b) the martial-arts version is easier to teach because (again) it’s mostly about how not to do the wrong things with your attention. This is why “empty your mind” coming from a sensei or sifu is such a cliche. He’s telling you not to be distracted by the drunken-monkey chatter of normal consciousness so you can get inside your opponent’s OODA loop and stay there.
A programmer cannot succeed by emptying his mind. He has to fill it with heuristics that are useful for grabbing onto problems and chunking them into simpler problems. It’s easy to get confused about this because both disciplines heavily reward people for learning how to enter flow states of relaxed concentration (and this is why programmers feel so akin to martial artists), but the content of the concentration is different. In programming there’s no OODA loop to out-spin; writing code depends more on analysis and forward planning.
Thus, to train a programmer you can’t just teach him empty mind, you have to fill his mind with a whole bunch of heuristics that you yourself may only be barely aware you’re carrying. This is really hard, and you will be really lucky if your apprentice is an Ian who walks in with a lot of it already. In that case you only have to help him acquire specific technical skills, which is the easy part.
There’s a substantial blog post in here somewhere.
“In programming there’s no OODA loop to out-spin; writing code depends more on analysis and forward planning.”
Damn computers, only do exactly what you tell them to…
>> In programming there’s no OODA loop to out-spin; writing code depends more on analysis and forward planning.
> Damn computers, only do exactly what you tell them to…
The experience is a little more.. inconsistent for users. Complex interactions between programs, I assume.
I’ve learned to be animist about computers.
Now that I understand the OODA loop concept, it helps me accept my inability to program, even after a decade of trying. It’s more complex than that, though, as last week I participated in some Dungeons and Dragons puzzling (which I despise) where I demonstrated pure intuition in problem solving but couldn’t get past that. I quickly bootstrapped others into trivially figuring things out, but would have been stumped myself.
Within martial arts concepts, I don’t have OODA at all. I’ve seen mechanics, yet only perceive underlying things, and without realizing it. Potential that can’t test, ugh.
I once had some personality testing, and was distracted by my wandering mind’s “effort” being directed toward discovering their authors’ intentions, as opposed to, say, doing better. (whatever that means for a test that’s supposed to screw with that)
> The experience is a little more.. inconsistent for users. Complex interactions between programs, I assume.
That, and the fact that sometimes what you tell the computer to do isn’t what you meant for the computer to do, and computers have very little ability (none at all without lots of complex programming) to recognize such errors and do what you meant instead.
Then there’s the fact that the programmer that wrote the program you’re using may have made such an error, so that what the computer has been told to do when you say “do X” doesn’t match what the documentation says “do X” will do.
One of the primary skills for programming is grinding pedantry. You have to shut down the part of your brain that fills in context and think in terms of rigid, exact meanings for things. And then you need to be able to write instructions for a task with the knowledge that when those instructions are read, they will be followed exactly, with no common sense. Any items in the list of instructions that aren’t already defined you will have to define yourself (as a separate list of instructions) in the same rigid fashion.
In many cases, it’s that a programmer told the computer to be ‘helpful’ when responding to a user request. So the user tells the computer to, say, search for “stocks” and the computer returns results for “bonds” or for “sticks” because it’s doing what the programmer told it to do when the user asked it to search for “stocks.”
And there’s no way for the user to bypass this, because “users are lusers” and are all Aunt Tillies who would only get confused by such useful options. So the user comes to hate the $&#* computer program and its programmer with the blazing passion of a thousand burning suns. Because when the user does get literal-minded and wants the computer to “Do what I say: Return results for exactly and only the search I put in” he gets hosed by that $&#* ‘helpful’ programmer.
I am reminded of my constant need to use Google Search with things like:
+”yes I want to use this phrase”
I almost miss when Google was Hard.
Almost. I’m so glad it can figure out my typos and need to be phonetic because I want to look things up based on hearing people with accents (to me).
> Damn computers, only do exactly what you tell them to…
Except for when there’s a hardware problem.
In 1971, there was a rhymed couplet posted in the computer room at the Naval Academy:
I do not like this darn machine, I wish the boss would sell it.
It never does just what I want, but only what I tell it.
>There’s a substantial blog post in here somewhere.
Speaking of “heuristics”
Everybody have fun tonight,
Everybody Wing Chun Tonight.
Can you tell me what a Wing Chun is?
You are the pilot guy, right, or am I mistaking you for someone else? If you ever make an imageboard for pilots or generally about flying, make sure to call it Wing Chan.
If you’re asking a serious question: “Wang Chung” is the first note on the classical Chinese musical scale. (If you’re trying to shame someone for not remembering the official transliterated lyrics for a language they don’t speak… shame on you instead.)
Edit: …and WordPress ate my Chinese. :-(
I was quoting the same song, actually…
There’s no shame in hearing a mondegreen with bilingual lyrics, but the officially correct line is “Everybody Wang Chung tonight”, because that was the band’s name.
And he was riffing on the names.
…and this is why I hate transliterations, and tried to respond with actual jiantizi to your “question” in the other post. The (un-accented, English-speaker’s) latin alphabet does a excessively poor job of actually capturing the sound complexities of a tonal language, and for me it only got worse with familiarity.
Here, relax to this simple poem: Shishi shishi Shi Shi, shi shi, shi shi shi shi. Shi shishi shi shi shi shi. …
I’ve heard that poem read. It would take me years to get past the native English speaker’s perception of tonality as supplying emotion and emphasis, rather than distinguishing actual words. I had enough trouble with the different use of tone in Russian!
Obligatory Rhabarberbarbara link.
And then there’s Esau Wood, or Buffalo buffalo, buffalo buffalo buffalo, buffalo buffalo buffalo.
I would think, long with spiralofhope, that he was using it on you so you could experience it for yourself and be able to use it on others. If I’m correct, part of a sifu’s duty is to not only train other martial artists, but to make those with the ability info sifu (sifus?) themselves.
So how did Lee do?
>So how did Lee do?
Quite well. I thought so, and sifu said so.
He’s still got some maturing to do; his warrior mind is good when it’s on but not reliable the way it gets in long-term martial artists. That’s OK. He’s learning fast.
Hm, I find it interesting that every time you talk about your martial arts experiences it sounds more real (OODA loop and suchlike) and more fun than mine. As a comparison, a video about how people do Wing Tsun in my area when they do it seriously enough to call the event ToughDays: http://www.wingtsunwelt.com/content/WingTsun-ToughDays-2014?language=en
Does not look that real and does not look that fun. But maybe it is envy talking out of me – some guys in that vid are so fast I have trouble even *seeing* what they are doing, let alone reacting.
>Does not look that real and does not look that fun. […] some guys in that vid are so fast I have trouble even *seeing* what they are doing, let alone reacting.
On the one hand – wow, that is one tough gang of hardcases. On the other, I see a lot of crude, sloppy, overpowered technique. My school trains slipperier, more efficient fighting – less force on force, more evasion and getting inside opponent’s OODA. Which is not to say those dudes couldn’t hurt us; sometimes quantity has a quality all its own.
They don’t seem especially fast to me. They’d be faster if they weren’t wasting so much energy.
That last part sounds a hell of a lot like the IPSC mantra “think smooth, not fast”.
>That last part (“They’d be faster if they weren’t wasting so much energy”) sounds a hell of a lot like the IPSC mantra “think smooth, not fast”.
It’s almost the same principle. Very hard to be precise when exerting 100% effort – control depends on reserving some muscle to use antagonistically for correcting your motion during execution.
“slow is smooth, smooth is fast”
Here’s my hypothesis.
The purpose of a martial arts promotion test is for a student to demonstrate skills that the instructor already knows the student possesses.
A critical skill for a senior student is being a good partner and guide for other students — a de facto assistant instructor.
I suspect your sifu recognizes that you have this skill in plenty, but getting you to demonstrate it formally would have been difficult without the illusion.
>I suspect your sifu recognizes that you have this skill in plenty, but getting you to demonstrate it formally would have been difficult without the illusion.
Plausible hypothesis. Smart, on the evidence you have available.
But probably not right. I am not formally an instructor at the kwoon, but:
1. I sometimes get tapped to teach knife work. Everybody knows my wife and I are among the most skilled with blade weapons at the school (as in, better than at least half of our instructors), and nobody is ever surprised when sifu and the instructors make use of this.
2. It’s not any secret to the students that I think like an instructor and am not officially breveted as one only because I’m just shy of having the right formal rank.
3. Sifu has recently praised my ability to teach and help new students in public.
So I think we can take it that I’ve demonstrated.
All this is amplified somewhat by another total non-secret: due to longer and more varied experience in martial arts than anyone at the school other than sifu himself, I have some abilities beyond my nominal rank. It’s not just the bladework, it’s mindset and hardness – these are things refined by experience and I’ve had 27 years of it. If you’re not an evil, tough bastard after that much training time you just haven’t been paying attention.
(Applies to Cathy, too. Sifu’s nickname for her is “the Assassin”. She’s earned it.)
I would not want to have Cathy in a position where she would need to use some form of martial arts against me.
>I would not want to have Cathy in a position where she would need to use some form of martial arts against me.
You show wisdom. She’s a sneaky, tricky fighter and her punches sting.
Wolf vs. Viper
I was including shooting in that category, as well. Should the need arise, she wouldn’t hesitate for a moment, and she’d put rounds downrange exactly where she wanted them.
“It’s not any secret to the students that I think like an instructor and am not officially breveted as one only because I’m just shy of having the right formal rank.”
This may also explain sifu’s approach: you were not only being tested for level 9, but also for master rank as well – at least that part of it.
>This may also explain sifu’s approach: you were not only being tested for level 9, but also for master rank as well – at least that part of it.
Mmmaybe. Bet he’s already said in public – in front of other students, that I’ve “proved [my] worth as an instructor”. Obviously he was auditing for something, but ability to teach probably isn’t it.
It is a fact that the master-level students treat me as an equal and do not get snippy when I correct one of them on a point of technique. This is most likely to happen in blade work, especially long blade. They’re not stupid people and grasp that many years of training in multiple styles have taught me some things they don’t know. How to crank all your core strength into a hard-style punch with a hip twist, for example. It just happens that none of these guys have done anything like shotokan where that’s bread and butter, and in our style it’s usually considered overcommitting and force-on-force. It does have application, though, generally as a finisher after you’ve taken out your opponent’s defenses, and they’re happy to learn it from me.
Even our seniormost instructor, the one Red Sash, has that attitude – when I show him things like how to do tai-chi-style short punches, or improve his centerline control with a blade, he pays careful attention. It doesn’t hurt that we’ve formed a pretty strong personal bond. But that in turn developed in part from something he learned years ago: I am not in the least afraid to take a hit – high pain threshold and lots of bulk muscle means I shrug off strikes that would take a lot of people out for the rest of a class. Consequently, when Doug wants to play hard and push his technical envelope he looks for me, not a Black Sash. Nobody finds this odd; “Doug and Eric are whaling the crap out of each other again” has been a quiet running joke among the regulars for years, clear back to when I was a junior student. Occasionally I pull him aside to drill with me when he’s got that look in his eye and I grok that we’ll all be happier if he’s not paired to somebody with a lower pain tolerance. It’s a beautiful thing to have a training partner you can go hard with.
And mindset? I’d been training for 22 years when I walked into this school; I already had warrior mind as a white belt and really nobody with more perception than a brick could avoid noticing that. Stupid players are intimidated by my muscles; the smart ones notice my mushin and respect it more. None of our seniors are stupid.
(I’m also known to be currently the best hand with a pistol other than sifu – this got checked quite publicly a few weeks ago when his superior, a man named Keith Mazza who’s #2 in our lineage and is expected to inherit the leadership when Grandmaster Cheung passes, came in to teach a seminar on tactical pistol. This, however, is probably temporary; we have had people almost certainly better than me with a handgun – some cops and military types – in the past, and presumably will in the future.)
So I really don’t know what sifu was looking for that he finally found. I suppose it’s possible that my somatic control has reached some sort of threshold – the palsy makes that a particular issue for me.
I guess I’m more than a little surprised that an oriental martial arts school would value proficiency with a firearm.
>I guess I’m more than a little surprised that an oriental martial arts school would value proficiency with a firearm.
It is a little unusual, and we don’t regularly train firearms skills. But both Dale Yeager (my sifu) and Keith Mazza are principals in a company called Seraph that trains LEOs and occasionally elite military. (They also do counterterrorism consulting and security planning for schools.) Dale reports having been in a pistol firefight with a drug dealer and survived. They’re both brutally pragmatic about use of weapons. Dale tells us that he’s grateful that he’s never had to kill anyone. Keith has had to; he doesn’t talk about it.
A little more fill-in might help explain why the school is so eclectic. I call it wing chun, but it’s actually a unique experiment – the only school in the world that was chartered to teach, together, traditional wing chun and kali (that’s the Filipino blade and stick art, not the Hindu goddess) with the approval of grandmasters in both lines. This is a broader range of techniques than you generally find outside of a handful of monastic styles like Shaolin where the monks train all day every day.
When you get something like that being taught by a guy who also trains SpecOps teams, you really have no warrant to be surprised at firearms or any combative curveball you get thrown at you. One good reason our seniors aren’t stupid is that newbies who lack the mental flexibility to handle that don’t stick around long. Makes it harder to grow the school; on the other hand, the long-term students are a pretty elite group. Amusingly, they’re not really aware of this themselves; it takes someone with my broader perspective to see it.
Sifu does claim that the other Chinese schools in the area think we’re a bunch of crazy dangerous sumbitches. He’s probably exaggerating so our junior students can feel badass, but not outright lying.
My wife and I have added our own flavor to the mix. I got Dale’s son Tyler interested in Western Martial Arts, he trained up to a good level in it while living in Chicago for a couple of years, and as a result there’s now a subgroup of the students (Tyler, Cathy, myself, and two others) very interested in European blade work. Sifu occasionally mutters about fielding us as a competition team – he thinks we’d bring home medals. There’s some indirect evidence that he might be right.
>> guess I’m more than a little surprised
>> that an oriental martial arts school
>> would value proficiency with a firearm.
There are those that move with the world, and those that get left behind.
> It is a little unusual,
Not in my experience. But I’ve never trained at a McDojo. In fact two of my former instructors had “real” military experience (Vietnam and an Israeli), and one of my current instructors was in the Air Force (honorable alternative to military service). Neither of the arts I’m studying now (Bujinkan and 14th century Italian) have any focus on firearms at all, but that doesn’t mean they don’t *value* it, it’s just not in their wheel house.
> and we don’t regularly train firearms skills.
Very, very few firearms instructors teach any sort of hand to hand work. The one I know that does, well, he’s thought a little blood thirsty and insane by some on these here interwebs. I don’t think so. I think he’s probably right.
Fighting is a continuum from having a disagreement with a cow-orker over trivial stuff to having to nuke a country.
Firearms provide (generally speaking) a binary solution set–you’re either killing someone or you’re not doing anything to them at all. There really is no middle ground.
Traditional Martial Arts fills that ground, if you get a good instructor.
If Aunt Mary has too much Sherry at Thanksgiving and like a good little Democrat starts to get physical over your lack of support for her preferred cause, dropping two rounds of .380 in her face is likely to get you uninvited to future family events.
Which…yeah, my wife would be unhappy with me.
OTOH, if you can tie her up and take her to the floor without breaking anything, why *that* is good training.
OTOH, four swarthy guys in tight fitting pants and shemaghs are walking towards a grade school with AKs and heavy shoulder bags I don’t care *how* good your punch is, you’ve got a problem that needs at LEAST one gun.
 Yes, you can use the firearm as a striking weapon but that’s a hand to hand skill and not trained much. It’s *taught*, but not trained. Ir you can put a bayonet on it but you’re back to killing.
 Usually I’d carry a 9, but family events generally involve a LOT of food and the .380 fits in a pocket, not on the belt where things will get tight…
> traditional wing chun and kali (that’s the
> Filipino blade and stick art, not the
> Hindu goddess)
That’s actually pretty interesting.
I took about a year to 18 months of Escrima (Doce Pares) back a few years, and it’s got some rather interesting/unique aspects to to.
Escrima/Kali has some interesting relevance not only to medium length blades (machetes), but I suspect to baton work (meaning “less lethal”). I’ve been thinking about doing a class once a week to get some of that back.
It’s also *hella* bilateral and forces you to use your “off” hand, which has some cognitive benefits.
>It’s also *hella* bilateral and forces you to use your “off” hand, which has some cognitive benefits.
That is true.
One of the most pleasant surprises I got when starting sword training was when I first tried fencing offhand. Because of the mild CP impairment on my left side I had been doubting I’d be able to do it all. Rather to my astonishment, I found it so easy that I now routinely change hands during a fight as a way of confusing opponents and resting my striking arms.
Which is not to say I’m as dextrous with my left – but I’m good enough not to substantially cut my odds.
That was an inspiring read. What would you suggest as a good martial arts practice for a VERY obese (BMI = 51,8 kg/m²) 41-years-old who has always been sedentary, has tentatively exercised twice and gave up on it after 3 months both times, is finally going through his middle age crisis to the point he already lost 25 kg / 55 lbs (but stopped at that new plateau), and wants to change things for the better both body- and mind-wise?
If you could write a little bit on the reasons too I’d love to know!
> What would you suggest
Eric wrote about this about 5 1/2 years ago, when he was trying to find a new school (the one where this story just occurred).
He might well have updated advice on particulars, but I suspect the main theme still holds true. Many of the comments are fruitful also.
Thank you for the link. And thanks ESR for writing it, that’s an amazingly detailed set of instructions! ~bows~
You may not have noticed that right under the original post, just before the first comment, there’s a line that starts “This entry was posted in Martial Arts“, where “Martial Arts” is a hyperlink to a whole category of posts on that topic.
You might find the others interesting also.
>He might well have updated advice on particulars, but I suspect the main theme still holds true. Many of the comments are fruitful also.
I just re-read it. Nothing to add or change at this time.
I’d say none of them. With that kind of weight jumping around on ones joints is not such a good idea, and doing an activity like martial arts while sucking at it for weight reasons can be very demotivating. Even 35 BMI looking guys are half dead by the end of the warmup in the place I used to go to.
At these levels of BMI 99% of it is diet. Exercise is still useful for avoiding depression and keeping the metabolism up. But I would recommend something like walking, an interesting, motivating kind of walking, such as golfing. It is a challenge enough.
I mean if a healthy 25 BMI guy had to carry another 25BMI guy on his back while playing golf and walking from one hole to another, it would be a tough enough exercise. One really does not need to do roundabout kicks with another guy on his back, that is just too much.
Or if the issue is that these things are not motivating and fun enough and martial arts are, I would choose something light and fun. Historical sword fighting. Called HEMA (historical european martial arts) or longsword. Not useful for self defense, but fun and does not really have strong fitness requirements. Over here Harry Winter of Dreynschlag is one of the best longsword instructions while at 40+ BMI because it is really not a fitness sport. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0FRXEDL73A
Just have fun with something light until hitting 35 BMI and focus on not eating the calories instead of burning them.
I have a BMI of right around 30, and both of my body-fat scales put me at around 30% body fat. Last time I had someone hit me with the calipers they tracked me at about 5% lower than what the scales said,
I study two martial arts, one of which is rather…energetic.
And oddly enough it’s the HEMA class that has a higher fitness expectation. They don’t expect it coming in the door, but when you test for scholar the test *starts* with 50 pushups, 50 body squats, 50 situps, and THEN you start in on knowledge and practical applications–it’s a two hour test that includes several rounds of sparring IN ARMOR.
The instructor for the novice class I attended has a BMI over 40.
I’m no where NEAR the fattest one in the class (although I’m near the oldest), and we start off with calisthenics and medicine ball practice. Last weekend it was sets of 30 pushups, squats, and “mountain climbers”.
I’ve seen overweight people participating in many different martial arts, and while it does cause difficulties (especially in arts that require rolling), you can be learning while you lose weight.
It is not overly difficult to maintain a pound a week weight loss, especially if you take up something that gives you focus and a reason to do so.
A lot of martial arts schools these days also have fitness classes. I know that both the Krav schools my wife attended *also* had sessions dedicated to exercise.
Consider doing the Starting Strength program. You’ll build serious muscle and serious strength. The extra muscle will be like a furnace that will help you melt off the weight even faster than lots of cardio. The extra strength will make *everything* easier, and will make you happier as well. Then instead of asking what is a good martial art for a very obese person, you’ll be able to ask what is a good martial art for a very strong person. Which happens to be all of them.
It’s a simple program. You learn five basic barbell exercises, then do three of them per workout, three workouts per week. Each workout is about an hour or so. That’s it. I’m several weeks into it, and my overall impression is that is it one of the few programs that does what people say it will do.
Here’s the catch: It gets hard. It’s simple, but hard. Though, the hard part (lifting really heavy weights) is brief. Most of your workout will actually be sitting down and resting, which is very important. It’s not drawn-out agony like sitting on a boring stationary bike for an hour every day. So, do the program. Do not do a variation of the program. Just do the program exactly as they say. You can do it. It will transform you.
Read two books: “Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training, 3rd edition”, by Mark Rippetoe, and “The Barbell Prescription: Strength Training for Life After 40” by Sullivan and Baker. They are the same program. The first one shows you how to do the lifts. The second one explains why it’s the best thing that older folks can do to improve their lives, how it helps, and what will happen as you age if you don’t get strong. Also, browse startingstrength.com.
Good luck on your quest!
>Consider doing the Starting Strength program.
I haven’t done this myself, but people whose judgment I trust say it”s good.
>what is a good martial art for a very strong person. Which happens to be all of them.
Well…there are differentials in the benefits. I don’t think being exceptionally strong helps me as much in wing chun as it did in tae kwon do, and it was even less helpful in aikido. But it’s fair to say the benefit is never zero. And then there’s the muscle-as-armor thing; being good at taking hits without pain or damage is very useful in any striking art.
(I can anticipate the next question: yes, I’m sure some of that pain tolerance is mental; no, I don’t know how much. Sorry.)
> I don’t think being exceptionally strong helps me as much in wing chun as it did in tae kwon do, and it was even less helpful in aikido.
Yes, but that’s you. You aren’t optimizing under an obesity constraint. My poorly-made argument is that doing so will produce a globally poor choice. An obese person is likely to pick something like Tai Chi, which is neither a very effective combat art nor a good way to control obesity. A better answer (if it’s possible to do so) is to get control of the obesity in the most brutally efficient and practical way possible, then make a much better choice about which martial art to pursue. At that point, the better martial art may be enough by itself to prevent the obesity from returning, in a way that Tai Chi might not.
It’s as if somebody came to you with this story: “I’m a homeschooled 41 year old who never learned math. I can do some arithmetic but only with a calculator, and I don’t understand fractions or negative numbers. I tried taking algebra twice, but quit after a couple of months. What would be the best programming language for somebody like me to learn?” The answer to that question is not to be found on the wikipedia page for visual programming languages.
This is why I suggested Starting Strength. Of all the workout programs I’ve read about, it stands out as the only one that could possibly be The Answer (if anything is). Having read “The Barbell Prescription” by Sullivan and Baker, I’m convinced that barbell training doesn’t merely treat the symptoms, but goes to the root of the problem in a way that is as simple as possible, but no simpler. Building muscle helps control obesity like compound interest helps control poverty. Barbells ala Starting Strength seems like the best, most efficient way to build muscle, better even than dumbells and those silly weight machines. It’s appropriate for anybody from skinny 17 year old boys looking to impress women, to obese 80 year old ladies looking to stay out of the nursing home, to 90 year old men looking to impress women.
I’ve always been more interested in long-distance running myself. I had never really considered how important strength is until I read an anecdote of Sullivan’s that particularly struck me. He wrote about a 67 year old lady he was training. When she started, she couldn’t stand up out of a chair without using her arms or getting help from somebody. After just three months, she could do full squats with a 40 lbs barbell on her back for three sets of five repetitions. The quantitative difference isn’t so impressive, but consider the qualitative effect: such a woman is old enough she could be a great-grandmother. In just three months, she went from being at best a passive observer to an active participant in her family’s lives. Before, she was not far away from being put into a nursing home due to frailty. She now has the strength to rock an infant great-grandaughter to sleep, then stand up out of the chair with the child and put her to bed. There are people who would pay every last penny for a medicine that could transform them in that way. It turns out there is such a medicine, but it’s not a pill.
They promise they can double my strength in around three months. I’m in the middle of my third week on the program and so far it’s working just like they said it would. I am not obese, but if I were, this is what I would try first. It’s not an easy answer, but it does seem like the right one. It’s at least worth investigating.
(If I’ve gone off-topic, well, obesity is life-or-death. That’s never off-topic in my book.)
I am nearly certain that the man in question has lumbar hyperlordosis and some lower back pain. I mean nearly everybody sedentiary has that at that age because their glutes and abs suck, and if you add a large belly further distorting posture via its gravity, check.
And back squats and normal deadlifts are not a very good idea with that kind of lower back. And don’t even try a barbell row.
I have experimented with it a lot and found a program based on front squats, sumo deadlifts and overhead presses is excellent for posture problems and back issues. Front squats are an incredibly good posture correctors, it is quite surreal that one feels it more in the stomach, abs than in the legs. Sumo deadlifts (with a belt, otherwise even that would cause pain in my lower back) help with the glute part of good posture and are the actual natural movement for picking up a crate from the ground.
As for presses bench pressing tends to encourage a hunchback posture, can be corrected with rows but barbell rows are not a good idea in this case as both the upper body and the barbell is held in place by the lower back. Maybe some chest supported row machine in the gym. At any rate overhead presses are far better from a posture viewpoint, the whole idea is stand tall under a heavy weight which strengthens exactly the muscles one needs to stand tall in general. Again it is surprising that while on low levels it looks like a shoulder exercise, from about 60kg I felt the major difficulty is actually in standing tall under the weight and felt it in places like upper spinal erectors or whatever muscles around the lower shoulder blades are. And again it is a very natural, functional movement, unlike the bench press.
Besides for home gym people this sort of program avoids the need for a bench and a squat rack. Front squats are not dangerous as it is easy to drop the weight forward, same for overhead presses albeit one usually wants to pick it up from a chest level elevation. But there is nothing wrong with just cleaning it up from the ground and then one really does not need anything but the barbell.
I go to a regular gym but not having to wait for equipment to get free is a real bonus, as I can just pick up an unusued barbell and not need anything else. Waiting for equipment is literally the worst part of cheap and rather full gyms.
If you brought these concerns up on the starting strength forum, I suspect you’d be told to read the book. Most of what you wrote is addressed there.
> And back squats and normal deadlifts are not a very good idea with that kind of lower back. And don’t even try a barbell row.
Just the opposite, these are the _most effective_ lifts for strengthing the lower back and treating those problems, and they’re recommened even for people with back surgery, steel rods, or scoliosis. You just start with a weight light enough that you can handle it. If your back hurts because it’s weak, what possible good can it do to keep it weak? As Sullivan writes, “_Nobody_ has a stronger back than a deadlifter, except a stronger deadlifter.”
Front squats are ok, but they don’t engage as many muscles as low-bar back squats. For example, the more vertical back angle of the front squat means the hamstrings are underworked, putting more strain on your glutes and quads. The back squat is the more balanced and effective exercise, if you can do it. If you can’t, then the book recommends several variations, one of which is the front squat.
The sumo deadlift is similarly less effective. The deadlift is all about strengthening the back, which is exactly what you want to do when you have a weak back. The sumo position produces artificially shortened legs, which results in a more vertical back angle. The back then does less work, and gets less strong. If your legs are abnormally long relative to your arms, however, it can be a good position to use to get your back into a more effective angle. This is rare, though.
> Sumo deadlifts (with a belt, otherwise even that would cause pain in my lower back) […]
The point of a belt is not to support your back, at least not directly. It compresses your abdomen and is a cue that helps you squeeze your abs harder. These effects increase your abdominal and thoracic pressures, which supports your spine from the front. So yes, they support your back, but not in the way most people expect. Weightlifting belts that are wider in the back are designed by people who don’t know how they work.
This is why squats and deadlifts are great for your whole “core”, including your abs.
> As for presses bench pressing tends to encourage a hunchback posture, can be corrected with rows but barbell rows are not a good idea in this case as both the upper body and the barbell is held in place by the lower back.
The books talk about this, too, and essentially agree with you. Only doing bench presses produces unbalanced strength and results in shoulder injuries. They put a bigger emphasis on the overhead press (or just “the press”) which strengthens the whole shoulder girdle. Their particular technique for the press actually involves the whole body, including the hips and core. Doing your presses will balance out any bench pressing and avoid the hunchback problem and resulting injuries.
The bench press is important too. It strengthens a few muscles that the overhead press misses, and is a movement that is useful in real life, but it’s not as complete an exercise as the press, so benching is considered somewhat less important. If you can’t bench, it’s not the end of the world. If you can’t squat or press, however, you can’t do the program.
Barbell rows are one of the less important assistance exercises. If your back is too weak to do them, then don’t do them — at least, not until your deadlifts have made your back stronger.
> Besides for home gym people this sort of program avoids the need for a bench and a squat rack.
If you don’t have the right equipment, you can’t do the program. You might still be able to do something useful, but if you aren’t getting the promised results, don’t blame the program. Fix the real problem. You might have to move across town to be closer to the one gym that has the right equipment. If you can’t find a gym, you might have to move somewhere with the space to put in your own squat rack. $3000 goes a long way toward a workable home gym, which is only about 3 years of gym dues in some places. The alternative, at least for some people, is obesity, metabolic syndrom, years worth of morbidity, and an early death. Getting access to a squat rack seems like a very minor problem in comparison.
I did read a book, did bring it up and generally they did not understand the problem. Rip is too much used to training actually fit people.
Look, a sedentary lifestyle means asleep glutes and weak abs leading to an overtensioned, nearly cramped lower back. Training that lower back is a terrible idea, they whole point of these more upright exercises is to train glutes and abs and not the lower back, until they get in on the work, pull the hips into a more dick-forward position, thus the lower back can relax and actually afford to do some work.
Read up Tony Gentilcore on T Nation, like the Neanderthal No More and Fixing Computer Guy article series, he really understands this better than Rip.
When I first tried a normal deadlift, next day my lower back was stiff and unmovable. Next time I filmed it. Turned out I have no idea whatsoever how to forcefully extend my hips via the glutes, too much sitting work, so I was mostly pulling with the lower back.
So this is why I researched this stuff. Gentilcore recommends a huge number of correction exercises. I simply cut it down to the two that actually builds a lot of muscle while fixing posture, sumos and front squats, they are in his articles too but there are also boring stuff I don’t want to do.
Rip is very confusing about it. He says “of course if you are injured things need to be changed around, this is a program for healthy people”. But the thing is, normal people tend to define an injury as a sudden damage, step in a hole and boom ankle goes out. While from a physical therapy viewpoint basically all sedentary people have “injured” lower backs due to these imbalances. But it is slow injury which is normally not seen as an injury but perhaps more as an illness – Type2 diabetes being a close parallel.
The thing I am talking about is often called anterior pelvic tilt, lumbar hyperlordosis, but the best explanation is if you google Janda’s lower crossed syndrome.
I like to call it colloquially a dick-back syndrome, as to correct it one needs to push the genitals forward, generally with the abs and glutes.
My experience with belts is simply that they don’t allow me to pull with my lower back, which is a good thing as I will use everything else – including abs, which in this anterior pelvic tilt, in my experience, is not simply squeezed stable neither in a normal nor sumo deadlift but I actively use them during the exercise to push my penis into the bar – which is basically a proper hip extension for people who like me have extended their hips very rarely in their lives.
I think some sort of resistance training is essentially a requirement for health as you age, and the Starting Strength *book* is a great resource.
It’s probably the most documented protocol out there, but really any of the simpler ones (5×5, etc.) will work within standard deviation for those of us who are over 35. In some cases WELL over 35. Get in the gym, pick up heavy stuff, eat lots of protein to build muscle, get a good nights sleep, and the next time you get to the gym add 5 pounds. Repeat until you can’t add 5 pounds anymore.
The thing about Rippetoe–and this is not a criticism, it’s just an observation–is that his public persona is almost entire focused on discussing *strength*. He doesn’t deal with other aspects of fitness at all. It’s not what he wants to talk about. You can see in some of his Q&A answers that he’s aware of it and thinks it’s of value, but it’s not what HE chooses to focus on.
Being *fit* is inherently about being “fit for $THING”. About a decade ago they took a bunch of MMA folks to Afghanistan to hang with some Marines and Soldiers–and they *couldn’t*. These guys who could get into a ring and fight like hell for 30 minutes, really *tough* fighters couldn’t keep up with a scrawny ass 19 year old on a 6 or 9 hour patrol with full battle rattle.
They were fit as hell for a fist fight, but not fit for battle in the mountains of Afghanistan. OTOH, most of those marines would last about a minute in the octagon because different kind of fitness.
None (statistically speaking) of the folks here will either be chasing jihadis up and down the hills of Afghanistan, nor climbing into the ring to get pounded on. We don’t know *what* we’ll be doing. It might be trying to contain a friend/family/cow-orker who’s lost their temper/mind, it might be carrying someone down 30 flights of stairs during a fire or after an earthquake takes the elevators offline. It might be digging through rubble after a tornado or filling and emplacing sandbags to keep back a flood. Pulling some tubolard out of a wrecked car, or helping someone back into their wheel chair after a spill. Heck, it might just be helping a friend move houses.
Being *strong* helps with all of this, and it’s useful.
Also, as Eric noted it’s “armor” for talking a hit. Or taking a fall.
But IMO you need more than just picking up heavy stuff. You should be doing some sort of exercise that *keeps* your heart rate WAY up for as long as you have time to do it. You should ALSO do exercises that required bursts of high intensity (aka “intervals” or “High Intensity Interval Training”). And you should do “long and low”–stuff that just keeps you moving for as long as your schedule permits.
These are the things that make you fit over a wider set of domains.
Let’s face it, we’re (mostly) middle and upper middle class folks here (social class, not economic class). We are the type that *don’t* get into bar fights as a general rule, we don’t have “punch them in the face” as a top option in our problem resolution menu (though some of us have a hot-key for it). We don’t start fights as a rule, and we try to resolve them peacefully because we are mostly civilized people. But we still live in a world with gravity, storms, and lots and lots of stupid people, and you will have times in your life that being strong and fit will just make things easier.
>Also, as Eric noted it’s “armor” for talking a hit. Or taking a fall.
For me, that’s probably the most practically useful thing about the muscle I carry. (Well, possibly with the exception of being quite the sexual releaser for my wife.) I train to fight, but my odds of being in a physical confrontation aren’t that high.
A related point is that human joints are fragile things and tend to get dodgy and painful as you age. However, at 60 I have zero trouble with mine, and any rehabilitation therapist will tell you that having strong muscle around them is the best possible protection. This is doubtless part of Mark Rippetoe’s pitch.
>Being *fit* is inherently about being “fit for $THING”
I don’t quite agree. I think in this case it is equivalent to being healthy – not being obese, not getting overtension, beetus and so on. At 40 I think I am not really going to ever have to anything more strenuous than going hiking with my child or playing tennis with them, and it is nice to not run out of air during this, but the intent is not even to be good at these, the intent is simply health.
Over 40 fitness usually means health. Under 40 fitness usually means being sexy – ripped, abs, big arms etc. Fitness-for-a-thing, while etymologically correct, is only used by the small minority of people who do hard things.
(About the sexy thing: if you are 20, and ripped, and you know absolutely nothing ever about how to even talk to a woman, just stand there like a dolt, 1 out of 50 women in a bar will still send you signals and basically hand-hold you through the seduction because she wants to seduce you. Yes, mostly women value alpha personality traits over looks but there is always a small but very reliably existing minority who just wants a hot body, and it is a boon for young men with good bodies and full of shy.)
>1 out of 50 women in a bar will still send you signals and basically hand-hold you through the seduction because she wants to seduce you.
Heh. I recognize this behavior pattern. I was a good-looking man in my late teens and 20s. Before I really grasped how to do the seduction thing myself, it happened more than once that a bright woman with too much pride (or something) to seduce hot-but-stupid guys used my intellect as a sort of excuse to do exactly this.
Oh, one thing that came to mind that I usually recommend to people.
I strongly recommend people take a martial art that includes significant studying/training in falling and rolling.
You will probably never get into a real fight but you WILL trip, stumble and fall down, wipe out on a bicycle, slip on ice etc.
Even for fighting you *need* to learn how to take a fall and how to get back up *fast*. Outside of the wrestling mat or the octagon you DO NOT want to spend time on the ground.
Almost all arts train this, but some of them it’s very cursory.
>Even for fighting you *need* to learn how to take a fall
I was good at this long before I trained in martial arts for an odd reason that the rest of you should be glad you never had in your past.
When you have CP, you fall down a lot as a small child. You fall down so much that you necessarily get very good at doing it without hurting yourself. Never within my memory has falling down being a big deal for me; I fall down, normally I just get up, no problem, no injury. The exceptions have been so rare that I can count them on the fingers of one hand over my entire lifetime.
It took observing the reactions of others to me falling down for me to learn that that most people hurt themselves when they fall down; this is so common that it’s part of everybody’s social scripts to go ohmigodareyouallright? I really did not understand this until I was in my teens.
Like I said, you’re better off without the reason I had to learn this knack.
Well, when you’re small, you generally don’t hurt yourself too badly falling down, and while I’m sure you fell a lot more than normal as a kid, small children fall fairly regularly. I’m not sure it really is part of social scripts to show such concern before the teenage years, by which time you have enough body mass and height that falling becomes more dangerous.
When I was little, a popular entertainment for children at my church was to slide down a certain staircase headfirst, on our stomachs. As I reached my teens, I became heavy enough that my ribs started to protest that abuse, and it wasn’t fun anymore.
> Like I said, you’re better off without the reason I had to learn this knack.
Somewhere between 70 and 80 *everyone* starts to need this for different, but similar reasons.
I think it is weight. I was around 14 when I was learning to ski on glaciers – more year-round than normal Alpine skiing but the ice under the snow makes it tricky – I had some spectacular tumbles on thinly covered ice and nothing really happened. I was maybe 50kg. While my seriously obese, 130kg cousin at around 30 years old could break a collarbone from falling on a far softer, meter-of-snow-on-dirt ski range.
>I think it is weight
But I’m overweight now – not morbidly, but not by a trivial amount either – and still don’t hurt myself when I fall. Not even on very unforgiving surfaces like bare concrete. There must be something else going on.
Part of it, to be sure, is that the amount of bulk muscle I carry is a pretty good buffer against mild fall impacts as well as empty-hand strikes. But from observing martial artists who are trained to fall safely I think it is mostly that I got conditioned in early childhood – longer ago than I can remember – to fall in the same loose, springy way that they do.
Ironically, I’m not very good at falling and rolling in the “official” ways due to range-of-motion issues and poor motor control below the hips. I was a terrible aikidoka. But if you knock me off my balance I do the right things to avoid taking damage by unconscious habit.
I experienced an instructive failure in this adaptation a bit over a month ago. Tripped over the edge of the rug outside my office door. Computed what I had to do in mid-air with only 600ms to work with – not consciously but I was aware of analog modeling going on. Successfully avoided cracking my skull on the wall opposite my office door with a mid-air half-tuck but didn’t have time to land my body safely – and I knew this as I was falling. Landed heavily on my left side, not quite cracking a rib but bruising the muscles over my short ribs quite badly.
I was trying to get my arm positioned to take the shock on the beefiest part of my upper arm when I hit; again, not conscious but running the memory afterward it was obvious. I ran out of time to execute; if I’d had another 125ms I think I’d have been OK. Enough room to fall without worrying about breaking my head would have given me enough more time, at least judging by past falls.
The point here is that I had all the right reflexes, and could observe them operating, but was thwarted by circumstances. The last time a fall hurt me that badly was 24 years ago.
This is why my enthusiasm for martial arts got low. In the 1970’s there were still honor-coded, one on one, duel like bar fights. But today we are living in a far messier world, and bad guys are rarely alone. Many fights involve getting down to the ground at some point when your opponents friends just feel free to kick you in the back and the head. Today you can expect most fights will involve multiple opponents and / or weapons and absolutely no sense of honor, in which case running the fuck away or carrying some weapon makes more sense.
So I feel like in 2018 these martial arts are getting outdated exactly how learning to duel with a sword was outdated in 1930. I totally admit they can be fun though and a good exercise and so on.
And you cannot use martial arts to discourage them before they start it. I mean, at least not the vast majority of techniques.
On the other hand, beyond weapon skills and fast sprinting, investing it being really muscular does make sense as it works as a deterrent. Even when in reality it may not so have so much to do with winning fights we have a deep-seated animal instinct to be vary of the big guy, see also: how animals raise their hair when they want to scare each other. Even just being taller than others can feel somewhat intimidating for them. So this at least prevents some fights from happening in the first place.
And I cannot really think of any other good ideas how to send out a don’t start stuff with me message. You cannot just randomly brandish a firearm or show some air kung fu every time people look at you cross-eyed… but you can be big. I see security guards hiring men who are mostly just actually fat. And put an oversized jacket on them. Doesn’t matter. The animal brain considers big = dangerous and does not worry so much about the details.
>And I cannot really think of any other good ideas how to send out a don’t start stuff with me message. You cannot just randomly brandish a firearm or show some air kung fu every time people look at you cross-eyed… but you can be big.
Or you can be not-big, like me at 5’7.5″ – short for an adult male in the U.S. – but look like a tough bastard. I’ve never seen it myself, but my wife and friends tell me that I look pretty scary when I’m pissed off – and I react to perceived threats with pissed-offedness, not running. Trying to run wouldn’t do me any good; spastic palsy, which see. My toughness is not so much bravery in the normal sense as a lack of plausible alternatives…
Relatedly, though I train to be a tough bastard and have been informed that I do in fact look that way, I never feel the kind of cockiness or of “Who you lookin’ at, punk?” truculence that’s written on the faces of a lot of men who think of themselves as tough. If violence needs to be done, I’ll do it – might even enjoy it. But there is no desire to dominate in me; I’m still fundamentally a sigma, for all that I’ve learned to play the alpha game.
For the people initiated in the martial-arts, EXPN OODA loop?
Also, while I’m at it, EXPN EXPN? I’ve seen it used around here (mostly, I think, by Jay), and believe I understand its usage well enough to have used it correctly here, but the etymology is obscure to me. Given Jay’s background I’m inclined to suspect that it’s something like the equivalent to man or help on some IBM OS or other, but that’s a complete guess.
OODA: Observe, Orient, Decide, Act.
Don’t know if it has a special source.
EXPN: the SMTP command (usually ignored, these days) to expand a mailing list address into its components.
OODA loop: Observe, Orient, Decide, Act. How fighters fight, even if they don’t consciously think through these steps. If you can interfere with that process, then you will make your oppoent less effective, or even ineffective.
It’s not how fighters fight, it’s how your brain works at a certain level of analysis.
Interested in how long it took you to develop the “warrior mind” and what steps you took to get there.
>Interested in how long it took you to develop the “warrior mind” and what steps you took to get there.
My path may not be easily replicable.
The first, and probably most important step: paying serious attention to Buddhist sources on meditation and teaching myself to do it back in the early 1970s. Yes, the reason martial artist sitting zazen is a cliche is that it actually works. I had no serious thought of doing martial arts yet, but any way of learning how to shut up the drunken-monkey babbling of normal consciousness is excellent preparation for learning combat no-mind.
By the time I started continuous martial arts training in 1990 I was an experienced meditator who could easily do stupid tricks with biofeedback machines. This helped a lot. I mean a lot. It is not for nothing that clued-in people describe martial-arts practice as Zen in motion. Again, this has become a bit of a pop-culture cliche, but that’s because it’s true. I have lived it. Even the time I spent not meditating but reading sources like Gateless Gate helped.
To develop it further…well, one way is to do a lot of sparring in which you focus on keeping your breathing slow and calm. If your breathing gets ragged it will screw up your mushin. You have to learn to not do that.
Some years later, when I was first learning to shoot, a thing happened on my first range day. I’m following the instructor as he says “Adjust your grip. Take a sight picture. Breathe. Relax. Breathe. Relax…” and, and I got that lightbulb-going-on feeling and the thought “Oh. He wants me to go no-mind. I know how to do this!” … and I was instantly a good, steady shot. And have been ever since, except on the rare occasions I was too tired or stressed to no-mind properly.
I mention this because going from no-mind meditating to no-mind hand-to-hand to no-mind when there’s random gunfire noise around you seems like a natural progression and a good way to train the skill. As you get better at it, you’re less likely to be disrupted out by noise, fatigue or stress.
“Some years later, when I was first learning to shoot, a thing happened on my first range day. I’m following the instructor as he says “Adjust your grip. Take a sight picture. Breathe. Relax. Breathe. Relax…” and, and I got that lightbulb-going-on feeling and the thought “Oh. He wants me to go no-mind. I know how to do this!” … and I was instantly a good, steady shot. And have been ever since, except on the rare occasions I was too tired or stressed to no-mind properly.”
Hrm. When I load and make ready, my mind enters a state where the only thing that I think about is shooting…is that what you’re talking about?
>Hrm. When I load and make ready, my mind enters a state where the only thing that I think about is shooting…is that what you’re talking about?
Could be, but I’d have to watch you shoot to make an evaluation. Do you have the “ice in your veins” Monster describes? Maybe. If I were watching you I’d look for calm, even breathing and a smooth flow of movement. Not all concentration is no-mind, but I think shooting is one of those things where you have to self-learn how to no-mind at some point if you’re going to get any better. I just did it a lot sooner than typical, and consciously.
If you carry you need to move that from the “load and make ready” step to the “hand touches the grip” point.
> Breathe. Relax. Breathe. Relax…” and, and I got that lightbulb-going-on feeling and the thought “Oh. He wants me to go no-mind. I know how to do this!”
This is also seen in sports. Great football (US Gridiron variety, not what we call “soccer”) players, golfers, MLB hitters, etc. are often said to have “ice in their veins” or some other expression of retaining their “cool” under pressure. When the lizard brain tries to kick into fight-or-flight, adrenaline-fueled hyperventilation, pounding blood pressure, and erratic movements, these are the rare folks who maintain normal breathing and balance, and are able to make that shot/throw/catch/kick/hit just like they do in practice every day.
aka “the zone”. All paths lead to the mountain top sort of stuff.
I see this explicitly in watching great racecar drivers from in-cockpit cameras, they are so smooth. It is not really about reacting to things with lighting reflexes, it is about predicting things so that you can take curves smoothly to avoid upsetting the cars balance…
I do sims like Assetto Corsa with a force-feedback wheel and when – rarely – I manage to get in the zone, in the flow state of mind, the whole thing feels like skating, looong curves at the edge of traction…
(BTW an easy way to talk about football on an international forum is to say “association football” for soccer, and “American football” for that. We over here rarely use the “association” part, but that is what the A in FIFA stands for so nobody with some clue will misunderstand or object to the term.)
Had you taken a modafinil for this testing?
Congratulations. I know how much this means. I am ranked Sandan in another art, and I am 60.
If you start out as unfit, you need to go easy on exercises that build strength. Your muscles will improve in a very short space of time – about a month and they amy have doubled in performence. Your tendons, ligaments and joints need about 6 months to do the same. This inreases the risk of injury enormously. For this reason, a large part of your excercise regime should be in the high motion – low load category. This increases blood flow to the tendons, ligaments and joints, making them repair small damage quicker and improving their resilience.