(Continued from Part 1, posted on Wednesday, February 13, 2019.)
I have recently been giving this subject a great deal of time in introspection. I was motivated when John Lovell at the Warrior Poet Society web site recently urged his followers to “weaponize consistency”. As if on cue, I recently read a well-written piece, from an author who recounted receiving a charge many years ago, from a sage Japanese gentleman that, “An elephant doesn’t bite, but fleas do.”
Consequently, I resolved to incorporate those congruent principles into my personal training, before overtly encouraging my tribe to do likewise. I began in December and have now been maintaining my regimen for a month. I realize that it is at my ego’s great personal peril, since every reader will undoubtedly criticize my choices and my rigor, as I will share the explicit details of my goals and failures. I share only to show what I am doing, your agenda may be entirely different. Following the SMART mnemonic for setting goals, I admittedly made the goals very achievable. Also, I have been plying these same wares in varying degrees for quite some time, but I wanted to emphasize consistency.
I made fitness my primary goal; if you are not healthy, what else matters? I submit that when legendary strength trainer, Mark Rippetoe asserted that “Strong people are harder to kill than weak people and more useful in general”, he was spot on. Further, since the mantra of this generation is, “There’s an app for that”, I decided to employ apps toward that end. I have been using My Fitness Pal for years with success. Why not utilize and incorporate others?
My secondary goal was self-defense, I had the epiphany that since I am the sole agent responsible for the executive protection of my family, (you get what you pay for), that I had better prioritize those skills.
I attempted to come up with three tiers of goals: daily, weekly and annually as minimums. I will share with you.
My daily, non-negotiable routine begins with a flexibility app that I got from a free download. It requires 5 minutes and has my old bones feeling much better in just a month. I follow this up with a daily devotional of a 2-page reading of God’s word. I then do a general calisthenics workout that I get at no charge via my Fitbit watch. That requires 16 minutes. There are several free apps available to you, if you don’t own a Fitbit. After that, I dedicate at least three minutes on each hand to Kali knife-fighting techniques.
EDC Knife Deployment
As a side note, to reinforce the point of the article, I recently resolved to practice repeatedly the deployment of my EDC folder. On my strong side, I carry a Kershaw CQC-7. I know, I’m a tightwad, but I don’t want to cry forever if I lose it, I also suspect that Pat Cascio would give me at least an acquiescent nod of approval based on his other reviews. On my support side, I carry an even less expensive, but very sharp, Smith and Wesson folder that I use for everyday cutting when I am not at my BOL. While at my cabin, I routinely carry a Morakniv sheath knife at the 2 o’clock position on my belt. I find that carrying it all of the time is justified, since I end up using it often.
At any rate, I made the resolve to eradicate any administrative deployment of my Kershaw. In other words, I have been practicing pocket removal and blade opening with my dominant hand, while simultaneously swiftly raising my non-dominant side elbow, in a vertical elbow strike/block with my weak hand placed on the occiput of my head. In other words, the Kershaw knife is a dedicated weapon, period. If I need to use that weapon, I will deploy it with speed and, if properly conditioned, hopefully be in a fighting stance. I started this quite slowly, as I am attempting to thicken the myelin sheaths of my neural pathways one day at a time. I am still working on my 10,000 iterations.
I follow up the Kali and knife training with dry fire drills. I found a free par timer app that I downloaded and use, but I also do pencil drills and spend time practicing clearing my holster, reloads, and clearing Type 1, 2, and 3 malfunction drills.
Do you remember the ditty: “Stay low, move fast; shoot first, die last, one shot, one kill; no luck, all skill”? Dr. Gladwell wrote that we remind ourselves that it is, indeed ALL skill.
Now, for confession time: When I began this regimen, I also incorporated a martial arts-esque, routine, wherein I practiced blocks, kicks and punches, along with some forms. I quit after about two weeks because I wanted to keep my daily, intransigent goal to a maximum of one hour and found it to be the lowest yield activity. Also, I wanted to be able to expand my calisthenics and dry firing routines as I improved my fitness and deftness. Call me a quitter if you don’t like my honesty.
I will make an earnest appeal to each of you to make a serious attempt at some variation of what I am doing and then share your insights in this article’s Comments. I think that most of us have a spare hour each day, after some reprioritization. If not, then cut the flexibility and the knife out; dealer’s choice. I want to reemphasize the power of consistency over intensity, so set ridiculously easy goals. Start with 10 pushups and 10 lunges and do that for a year if that is all of the time that you have; just do something, and do it consistently.
Need I remind you that there are people in this world that want to kill your and my families, and are hell-bent on destroying our way of life? The bad guys guaran-darn-teed didn’t skip their cardio workout this morning. So why should you?
My Weekly Goals
For my weekly goals, I do strength training 5 days a week, and do not to exceed 30 minutes. I do basic, fundamental lifts and go heavy, not to exceed 10 reps per set of any one exercise. Again, Mark Rippetoe is my inspiration for thie.
I walk three nonconsecutive days a week for 3 miles at a 4 mph pace. I run the other two days a week between two and three miles at a very slow pace. I run a 33 minute 5K if there is a sundial available to time me. However, I am quite heavily framed and have been throwing AARP membership invitations away for years. Laugh if you want, but the old, fat guy shows up at least. On the day that I don’t walk or run, I also Ruck March once a week.
On my rest day, I take one outdoor stroll through my AO weekly. I try to be friendly, gather GEOINT, HUMINT and recon my area for the flora and fauna that reside in the interface where I reside. This includes sizing up the optimal fishing spots, where the natural and volunteer berries and fruits grow and hide in plain sight, residences of poultry growers, farmers with whom to network, different wood types for processing, medicinal plants, etc., all within walking distance of my home.
In the failure/confession department, I originally set a goal to snorkel in the local public pool weekly and to cycle weekly. I have not so much as engaged in either activity even once. At least you know that I am not a robot.
Because training is important and, because all activities above are not training; rather they are practice. I need some training too. The controversial firearms instructor James Yeager has stated that training is defined as “skills and drills performed under the watchful eye of a competent instructor”, and that all else is practice. I also have been training twice weekly at a Kenpo dojo which I began a year ago. I can hear the readers’ criticism now. It works for me. I won’t dispute that BJJ or Krav Maga might be better; that is probably what you should do. Having practiced other styles for years, it is a new style to me, is affordable, convenient, and it is my only opportunity to “trade paint” with other combatants on a regular basis. I will continue to pursue that twice weekly for the foreseeable future.
I also attend one hour of worship services at a nearby congregation on a weekly basis.
I will adjust my activities slightly as the weather improves. I look to substitute bo/stick techniques for knife techniques when I get outdoors. I also want to make archery a more consistent activity, which I will do in late spring. I am thinking 10 arrows a day, perhaps better to set a goal of 5 and accomplish it?
I have a goal to read 15 books in the next year. To attend a professional firearms training school at least once this year is on my radar. I want to keep current on TCCC skills and practice the self-application of CAT, RAT, SOF-T, and SWAT-T tourniquets at least three times during this year. In addition, I want to practice injections, venous cannulation, and intubation on adult and pediatric mannequins at least twice annually. Those skills are too perishable to not preserve.
I have shared the logic of why practicing boring techniques to the point of boredom is actually the point. I have honestly shared to the point of brutal pain for both you and me what I am doing to make myself better. I have no idea why I arrived at the numbers that I shared with you. Why 15 books and not 16? I don’t honestly have a clue. Rather than criticize me for sharing, why not tailor your own consistent endeavors to what you deem important. Perhaps it is as benign as learning a second language, or learning Morse code; there is an app for that. Your individual mileage is going to vary; and it should.
My point is, cost is no longer an excuse to not make ourselves better. So, if not you, who is going to contribute to being part of the solution. How long will you wait to start? I can attest that the gym is already clearing out from the New Year’s rush.
An Aside: I attended the annual conference for the Department of Homeland and Defense at the University at Albany, SUNY, last fall. I can promise you that, in my casual conversations, I soon learned that the number of people that think like you and me are dwindling at an alarming pace. We had better get ready.
Also, let us not forget that truly great leaders are not afraid to fail in front of their trainees and by so doing, lead from the front. I don’t want to hear what you used to be able to do at thirty years of age, we were all bulletproof then; it is entirely irrelevant. Now, push your chair away from the monitor, do ten pushups, then tie 10 bowlines left handed and with your eyes closed. Are you faster than you were yesterday?
Gladwell, M. (2011). Outliers: The Story of Success
Lieberman, D. J. (2001). Get Anyone To Do Anything