I have a problem. I’m what you would call a “high achiever”. Sounds good right? Well, it can be. I always want to improve and learn. But sometimes it turns into the fact that I want to be the best. It’s a behavior that I’m changing to not really focusing on “winning”. It can sometimes be a good quality to possess, but it can get me in trouble. Especially with myself. Sometimes I forget to be the student. I forget that I’m doing this course because I want to learn, not because I already know everything. So high achiever is not always something positive. It is, if I focus on the right thing. So naturally, it can cause a lot of frustration and a chaotic internal dialogue. So I’ll be honest with you. Today was not a good day. There was a lot of internal dialogue, a lot of self-doubt and emotion. I think it has something to do with just being exhausted after seven days and missing my family back home. I’m an emotional guy, it is what it is. I should have just tried to take in the information today without putting any emotion or value into it. Everything has been challenging and forcing us instructors to look at our system from other perspectives. It’s been a mix of “aha”, “oh wow” and “I don’t know shit”. But mostly it’s been one hell of a ride. Mainly I need to remind myself to enjoy the ride and not always analyze everything to shreds. Especially my own performance. Hell. If I knew everything, I would be leading these courses – not taking them. I’m too hard on myself, as I’m sure a lot of you are as well. It’s a problem that needs to be dealt with. Stay strong.
As you’ve probably read in the previous post, I’ve caught a cold or the beginning of a flu, or a simple man flu, as they call it. I’m doing this course with a brotherhood of people that are more than just friends to me. I mean, you need to have a special kind of relationship to train together for so many hours every day and for this many days in a row. It’s people that you see at different training camps, instructor courses or updates. Sometimes you meet people that you’ve never met before and with little or no introduction, you just insert your mouth guard and start exchanging kicks and punches; literally and figuratively. So naturally, when a comrade is not feeling 100%; the others care. They want you to do well, not just for the training, but they are genuinely concerned about your health. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by people like this, be it in the training room, over the text messages I’ve received and other means of communication that has been used to express concern for my health and wishes for me to get better. So thank you everyone for your concerns.
So the question may be, why? Why do I keep going? I don’t have anything to prove to anyone. What’s the point? The ‘why’ for me, is probably different from your ‘why’. I know my body well enough to know my limits. Even though I’ve been compared to the cast of The Walking Dead today, I’m fine. Fine, for me, does not mean “100% healthy and injury free”. It means “good enough to continue”. But you do need to think about your ‘why’ once in a while. Why do you train, whatever you train? Doesn’t have to be martial arts. If you’re reading this and you’re a gym rat, fitness freak, bodybuilder, footballer, whatever. What’s your why? What’s your end game? What’s your plan? Why do you put yourself on the receiving end of a knuckle sandwich? Why do you go to the gym at 0500 in the morning when no one else is there? Why do you do those nasty uphill sprints? Doesn’t matter what your ‘why’ is. You don’t even have to tell anyone, much less explain it to them or defend it. But write it down for yourself. But if your ‘why’ isn’t strong enough, it won’t pick you up when you lose motivation. I’m not trying to be a dick here. But if you’re doing something for the wrong reasons, your ‘why’ will be weak; and when things get tough, it won’t be enough to keep you going. Stay strong.
If you want it bad enough, you’ll find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse.
Was yesterday. A few years ago I read a book written by a member of the SEAL Team Six, called “No Easy Day”. In the book he talks a little about his life as a SEAL, the training that they do and the mission that led to Bin Laden’s demise. Now, what stuck with me from that book was how he dealt with BUD/S, or Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL Training. It’s basically a 24-week training camp where they put the SEAL candidates’ mental and physical abilities through the ringer. It’s only one of several training courses that they do. But it’s said to be one of the most challenging ones. In the book, the author writes about how he got through the training; by knowing how to eat an elephant. There’s a saying: “How do you eat an elephant?” Simple, “one bite at the time.” So his mantra was basically “Make it to breakfast, train hard until lunch, and focus until dinner. Repeat.”
So why is that important? I’ve written a little about the internal dialogue before and this is sort of related to it. I’ll give you a little glimpse of it from my perspective. I’m feeling a bit feverish, my throat is hurting and my nose is running. On top of that, I’m sore from training and this oncoming flu/cold is making my joints hurt. I still have an elephant left to eat, four more days of training. If I, during the first training session tomorrow keep thinking about all the hours of training I have left, how everything is going to hurt even more because my body is in a weak state and so on; I probably won’t make it though the first hour of training. I have to focus on what I have in front of me right now, not in an hour, not after lunch, not tomorrow morning; right now. I have to silence my internal dialogue that wants me to worry about how I will feel tomorrow, or in two days or by the end of the course. It doesn’t exist. All that exists is now. Deal with the now, don’t worry about the later.
There isn’t much to say about today’s training. Or rather, there’s a lot to say. Too much. But I felt that this was more important to write about. We spend too much time inside our own heads, filling it up with self-doubt and self-created problems, worrying about the future. The next time you’re facing a greater challenge i.e. your own elephant; chop it up into pieces and eat it one bite at the time.
The “The easy day was yesterday” quote is also from the book. It’s a Navy SEAL saying. The only easy day was yesterday, because it has already passed, you’ve already done it. Stay in the now. Stay strong.
No elephants were harmed (or chopped up) while writing this post.
When I say “you”, I really mean myself. Let me explain. Whenever you place yourself in a state of learning with experienced teachers, there’s a high probability that you will have one, or most likely several, “aha”-moments. I’m sure most people have experienced this millisecond of enlightment where you finally understand something and you literally go “aha”. Now sometimes, when you’re in the presence of greatness, you go “aha, I don’t know shit”. Now it doesn’t mean that you literally don’t know anything about whatever you’re doing. It’s not even something negative. It’s actually an elevated state of “aha”. It means that you’ve realized how much you still have left to learn and explore in a specific area. It’s not a bad thing, even if it sounds harsh.
Today, was one of those days. Today, was all about basics. Today, I didn’t know shit. But guess what; now I know what to work on. I know more than I did yesterday. I know that I don’t know, so I can learn. Makes sense? If you don’t know that you don’t know, you can’t learn. But if you know that you don’t know, you’ve started your journey towards learning. Stay hungry.
It’s only been two days of training but the amount of soreness in my muscles and body cannot be fathomed. Usually the first two or three days of a camp or a course are the hardest ones. Regardless of how much you train in your every day life, most of us do not train 8-10 hours a day, with a partner, with an instructor, with a high level of intensity. It goes without saying that having a good instructor is important, but having and being a good training partner is equally important. Your instructor cannot push you every minute of your training, you need to push yourself and your partner will pick up the slack when you are unable to. Being a good partner is one of the most important things in this line of training, especially when you’re doing partner work or pad work.
Anyway, I digress. Today we were working on Expert-level material such as feints, trapping, controlling and other fun stuff that you don’t really get to work on, unless you are on that level or you have an instructor that implements it in your fighting/sparring sessions. When working with Jovan, he always finds a way to put your striking on the anvil, as I was writing about a little yesterday. He finds ways of improving your skills, using very simple excercises that are so difficult to perform. Which basically tells you that you need to work on your striking. We all need to do it, no exceptions. My takeaway from this is that you basically need to work on your striking every day. This doesn’t mean that you need to do a two hour heavy bag workout every day. But you need to keep working it. Be it foot work, timing, tactics, mentality, relaxation or coordination. There are a lot of more aspects to improving your striking. But most of us just see them as “techniques” that are part of a curriculum that you need to learn in order to advance to the next level. Honestly, outside of your regular weekly classes – how often do you work on your straight punch? And I don’t mean just hitting the heavy bag a couple of times with a half-assed intention of destroying it. I’m talking about really working on developing and strengthening your straight punch. All the time? Bollocks. We never do it. I’m not pointing any fingers here, I said we. But we should. We should work the hell out of our striking. Why? Because it’s our weapon. We need to make sure that our weapons are functional and effective in case we need to use them. Just something to think about next time when your instructor/training partner says that you’re going to work the pads for an hour. I’ll end this post, as yesterday with another quote from Jovan. He finished the day with this. It’s some damn powerful stuff when you think about it. Till the morrow, my friends. Stay strong.
“Never be afraid of being the weakest person in the (training) room, but always be the best that you can be”
The aim was to write a prologue post about the CFIC yesterday, but we arrived to the hotel pretty late, so dinner and sleep was prioritized. I apologize for not building up any suspense and jumping directly into the first day. But man, what a day. I thought we broke down striking into slitherines during the GIC. I was wrong. Today we broke it down on levels I didn’t even know existed. I’m starting to understand why they say that the straight punch is the most difficult thing to master. So obviously, today was all about striking. The fundamentals of striking and corrections. As Jovan said, it’s not a philosophy; it’s either correct or incorrect. Easy enough right? Wrong. Simple, but not easy. So we worked through some of the striking in the system and worked a little bit with slowfighting and ended the day with about an hour and a half of working the pads. I think the biggest takeaway for me today has been that you really, really, really need to invest time in striking. It’s not a technique that you can learn, it’s a skill that you need to acquire, put it on the anvil and keep working it. I’m truly grateful for having Eyal and Jovan as instructors during this course and I’ll end this post with the same quote Jovan ended today’s session with. It’s simple, but not easy. Stay strong.
“Today, be better than yesterday. Tomorrow, be better than today.”
Exactly one year ago I had just started the first part of the GIC, and in exactly one week I’ll be heading for the Combat & Fighting Instructor Course. I have been looking forward to this course even before I became an instructor, so in some ways I’m even more stoked than I was before the GIC. Now in retrospect, I regret not blogging during the KIC and the CMIC. They were both amazing courses and we had lots of fun. Therefore I will be blogging during the entire CFIC.
I don’t really have much more to say about that right now, but I’m guessing that the course will prove to be quite the muse. So onto something a little more personal; addiction. Now, it’s not what you think. But for the majority of my adult life, I’ve been a consumer of snus [prononuced: snoos], a smokeless tobacco product. It’s a moist powder (sometimes in small pouches) that you place under your top lip. You don’t burn it and you don’t need to spit when you use it. The reports are more or less conclusive in that it’s a better choice than smoking. They are however inconclusive in how your health is affected in general by it. The manufacturers have been trying to get the warning label removed from their products, but have failed so far. The vast difference though, between snus and cigarettes, is that a box of snus contains approximately nicotine equivalent to somewhere between 40-70 cigarettes. The numbers vary between different brands of course. But snus contains a lot more nicotine that cigarettes. It’s by no means something healthy and it’s highly addictive. Highly. Addictive. Partly due to the high levels of nicotine. But also because of the convenience to consume. You don’t need to step outside or even get up from your seat to use it. You’re not bothering anyone, so you can use it whenever.
This also means that quitting snus is physically harder than quitting cigarettes. It takes approximately 72 hours for the nicotine to leave your body. So you endure three days, your body should be clear of any nicotine residue and you should be home safe, right? Wrong. The first three days are a nightmare. The nicotine rush is closely connected to your dopamine levels. Which means that when you “pop one”, you’re actually creating a link between that feeling and happiness. So when you’re off the juice for three days, you’re basically sending yourself into a micro-depression. I’d usually go through a box and a half every day. Basically, from the moment I woke up till I went to bed, I had one under my lip. So I went from that, to zero, null, nilch, nought, nada, in just one hour. Now the smart thing would have been to perhaps, have one just before bed and then stop in the morning. As in, not have a morning snus and go from there. But I decided to quit midday, three days before going back to work from the summer holidays. In hindsight, not my smartest move. But it’s now been five days since I quit and I can honestly say that I’m feeling a lot better. I’m not craving it anymore, even though I miss it at certain times during the day.
All in all, I’m glad that I’m officially snus-free. Partly because of the health aspects, but mostly because of the addiction itself. No addiction is good for you. No addiction. Not training, not food, not love, not this, not that. Addiction means that you’ve given away control over your life to someone or something else. Why would you want that? Why would you not want to be the captain of your own ship? I’m finally free from the toxic addiction that controlled every waking minute and hour of my life for the past years. Stay strong.