Two Letters Re: Physical Preparation–How to Survive When Your Gear Doesn’t, by T. Davies

Mr. Rawles:
T. Davies’ letter begins with the proper assumption, that most people reading it will be suffering from hardening arteries and softening backsides, and NOW is the time to reverse the trend. Swimming, walking (especially), and running are all good exercises and abilities to possess and cultivate.

Beyond that, his comments range from dangerous (foot conditioning) to the plainly fallacious and silly (Tae Kwon Doe Masters kick harder than any others!). Where to begin?

Firstly, as to foot conditioning: yes, most of us could use some foot toughening, but the author ignores the fact that the African Bushman, as well as any other barefoot Aboriginal type he’d care to mention, is a tiny grasile creature, with very little extra weight (muscle or fat) on his bones. Therefore his body density to total body mass is much greater than his Northern European counterpart. Humans have become much larger, particularly in the past fifty years in this country. Why? ask your local anthropologist…diet, genetics, it’s really just a guess, but the Aboriginal is small because a small man requires less food to sustain himself. Thus, diminutive size is a survival advantage on a daily basis. Also, the Aborigine, when on walkabout, isn’t carrying a pack, rifle, ammo, and water, along with assorted medical supplies and munitions. He has, at most, a bow and a few arrows, and maybe some sort of water carrier. That’s it. Walking around barefoot while burdened is asking for permanent foot injury, unless you are a Sherpa by birth. Limping and gimping about is the quickest surest route to becoming every MZBs first and favorite target. Modern boots are a bargain. Buy the best you can afford that fit you well, then buy two more pair and rotate them! Survival is dependent on one’s ability to MOVE (Motionless Operators Ventilate Easily). The first thing one does when in a fight with a stronger adversary is to degrade his ability to move. (Read: chase you.)

Which brings us to the Martial Arts section:
Karate is highly focused on repetition, not kata, and makes greatest use of powerful linear attacks.
Tae Kwon Do masters kick no harder than any other masters. (I have been kicked by, and kicked, masters in almost every Martial Art taught in North America, and I have come out on the winning end of most of the exchanges. The hardest kicks weren’t by Tae Kwon Do masters, and I don’t practice Tae Kwon Do.) Backup mass is one of for Major components in generating power in all motion: Backup mass, timing, balance, and speed. There are many others, and these apply to ALL motion, fighting or otherwise. Notice, the term used is Backup, not body mass. without alignment with the direction of one’s attack, the size of the body doesn’t matter. Imagine me swinging a wooden arrow at you, arm fully extended. Now, imagine the same effort being exerted, but this time I am thrusting the arrow …get the point?

Tai Chi is the root form (or the closest living relative) of all Chinese, and therefore by default Japanese, Okinawan and Korean martial Arts. The deadly fighters mentioned are master fighters, schooled in many styles and systems not just Tai Chi masters,

Kung Fu is a generic term applied to Chinese Martial Arts (as opposed to karate for Japanese/ Okinawan). I have never seen a generic “Kung Fu” school in this country. Most honor their distinct heritage proudly (wing chun, qi gong, jeet kun do, kempo, kenpo etc. Ed Parker’s American Kenpo karate is considered kung fu by many, due to its origins in China) It is no harder to learn than any other form of fighting art.

Ninjitsu is an art I have no personal experience in, so my only comment would be that time spent practicing with arcane weaponry would be better spent practicing firearms proficiency. One may be able to disguise a sword as a walking cane (I do it all the time) but a Glock tucks right into the trousers as easily. Efficiency first, esoteric later…
Aikido is based on two principles, both using an opponent’s energy (their attack) against him. First is evacuating the line of attack; second is turning big circles into smaller circles (a declining radius/apex arc, in engineering terms). Judo is not a sport form of Aikido. Aikido is a “sporting” version of Aikijuitsu, the Martial Art practiced in the Japanese Imperial Court. Judo is a “sporting” version of jujitsu.

Jujitsu is a grappling art, not just focused on grappling. Brazilian jujitsu is a “ring” oriented style. The greatest weakness with any style of “-jitsu” is that it is singular combat, and bad guys come in bunches, and it is becoming more ring-oriented (i.e., more “rules”, ala boxing). I had a kid try an arm bar on me the other day. He caught me by surprise, got the legs around my arm and neck, but before he could straighten it , I locked my hands together, put a foot on his throat, and began to lift. I may be old, but I’m still plenty mean, quick, and crafty, and if you want to cheap-shot me in my own school, I’m more than happy to play rough! Needless to say, as my weight and his and my pulling all became directed on his neck via my foot, his efforts ceased precipitously, and he tapped out immediately and vigorously!

Please do not misunderstand my comments, but [Mr. Davies’] misinformation must be corrected before it becomes “common knowledge”. After all, you and SurvivalBlog have become the “source of record” for the survivalist movement with the mainstream media. FWIW, – Bonehead


Regarding Mr. T. Davies’ statement: “When you run, you should never touch the heels of your feet to the ground.”

Is completely incorrect as is most of the rest of his remarks on running. To be honest the above statement is correct only if the runner is sprinting. Long distance running (800 meters or more) can be run on the heals of your feet! At least I do, and my knees have not been the problem.

For some really good advise on running please see Running World and Running Ahead. The latter has some really good runners that post often and are very helpful to both new and old runners alike.

I started running after walking the One America 500 Festival Mini Marathon a few years ago. I run to control my Type 2 diabetes sans medication. And so far so good

For new runners, do a web search on “Couch to 5K race” training program and follow it. It is a great way to start your running.

Some general rules to follow.

Build miles slowly. Don’t add more than 10% to your weekly miles per week. In other words if you currently are running a mile a day for six days a week then next week should be no more than 0.6 miles more.

You should have one long easy run per week, and that run should be no longer than 30% of your weekly total miles

An easy run should be at a pace where you can carry on a normal conversation with your running partner

Cross train. It is important to have good core strength. If you don’t you joints will attempt to move in directions the joint was not meant to go.

And stretch before and after your runs. This is a must. The before run stretch is always after a nice 3 or 4 minute warm up session. Never do this “cold”!!

Don’t be afraid of walking some of your miles! Here is a fact: A lot of runners that keep missing qualifying for the Boston Marathon attempting to run all of the distance in qualifying races. When they start doing recoveries (walking) some of the distance, they find they make the qualifying time.

These rules will generally help and I want to repeat that: They will help in avoiding injuries. But very lucky is the person that completely avoids running injuries.

The number one rule for running (and even walking) is getting the proper shoe and having it properly fitted to your gait! This, more than anything, helps avoid injuries! Do a web search on running clubs in your area and contact them. Ask them where they go to get fitted for the proper shoes. The people in these shops are trained to watch you run and most of the top shops have machines that analyze your gait in the shop and see the mechanics of how you run, then fitting you to the proper shoe. To skip this process in your running is like buying a nice new .45 ACP then stocking up on .357 ammo. There are going to be problems! And be prepared to pay from $75 to about $110 for good shoes. I have not spent more than $95 to include tax on any of my shoes. The price range can go to $250 and above, but you still are going to be replacing them at between 300 and 500 miles no matter what you spend, so don’t unless you just have to have the absolute top of the line. Oh and one other thing, NB 767 bought at Penney’s for $55 is not the same NB 767 bought at the Runners Shop for $85. You will be replacing them in 150 to 250 miles. That is not saving money!! Tracking shoe miles is where Running Ahead comes in. There is a top of the line free on line log there and the tools are great! You can lay out training runs complete with miles. water stops etc. You can toggle between street mapping and Sat images and even graph the course elevations.

And don’t forget to enter some local races. You’ll meet some great people and learn more about running and your body than you ever thought possible! Where I live we have Pace for the Race Training each year. It is a group that meets to train for 15 to 16 Saturdays before the Indianapolis Mini. For several weeks before we run that morning we have guests come in and teach us the things we need to know to avoid bad knees, shin splints and ITBS (ITBS hurts like h**l!)

Hope this helps. There is nothing like completing your first 5K or half-marathon! – Gregg S.