Adopting a “No-Style” of Training

Posted: December 12, 2012 in Uncategorized

kingOh this crazy game we play called life.  Sometimes we feel like life is a never ending conveyor belt of belt-high, 80 mph fastballs.  Sometimes we feel like we’re trying to sink 40 foot putts to save triple bogey (that’s bad right?).*  But we’ve got things under control most of the time.  For the most part, anyway.

However, there are a couple of things that are completely undefeated when stacked up against every person who has ever participated in the game.  Time and gravity.  Everyone dies and no one lives forever.  At least in their physical bodies.  And gravity is the invisible force that imposes its will upon us constantly until the day Father Time claims his victory.  And if we’re lucky enough to live in a country that still takes the time to bury their dead, we end up six feet under.  So i guess gravity gets the last laugh there.

Is there a better candidate for a real live Father Time?

Is there a better candidate for a real live Father Time?

Time marches forward, ongoing, never ceasing, and never waiting for anyone to catch up.  And to a degree this makes it predictable.  It will always travel in one direction and will rarely deceive us, so we’ll leave it to its own devices for now.  Unless you know of a hot tub that Pierce Hawthorne owns.  In which case, please, point out the way.

Gravity, on the other hand, can play its tricks on us in ways we never expect.  Much like resistance, it shows up in unexpected places and exerts its forces on not only our bodies, but our lives as well.  Its what pulls us away from the directions we should be going.  It comes in the form of negative friends, bad habits, terrible relationships and many others.

Are there ways for us to combat this unstoppable force so that it can’t just ravish us at will?  Of course.  You can look at anything that we would consider productive in our lives as resisting the proverbial pull of gravity and making the most of our time in this world.  But what to do about the actual physical pull of gravity?

Well.  This is a fitness blog afterall so… of course I have a exercise and fitness take on the matter.  Of course.  Stop that.  Stop rolling your eyes.

Before we get to that, recall for me if you will, perhaps the greatest on-screen martial artist of all time.  Brucebruce Lee.  As much as he’s come to be known for his on-screen heroics and general bad-assery, his legend as a philosopher has grown to equal his star power.  His biggest contribution to the martial arts and philosophical communities was probably his own form of martial arts, Jeet Kune Do.  The art of absorbing what is useful and rejecting what is not.  He also advocated not adopting one particular “style,” citing that this closed your mind off to the advantages of other “styles.”  This was by no means a new concept when he practiced it, but it was still was met with a lot of resistance in the martial arts community.

Much like the martial arts community, the fitness community is a plethora of different styles of training.  But the problem is no one method is totally complete on its own.  Most of the time you see things ranging from rehab work to olympic lifting in one single program.  But the key to a successful program isn’t about putting yourself into a style of training and expecting it to work.  Quite the contrary, the key is finding out what works for you.  Your needs.  Your style.  Not someone else’s.

So what does this have to do with gravity and wait… sorry, what?

Hold on, I’m almost there.  One more thing.

Charlie Weingroff is a strength coach and physical therapist who has a DVD series called “Training = Rehab Rehab = Training.”  Nevermind the before and after title, in it there is a question which sums up what I think the entire base of exercise should be.  “How do we beat gravity?”

charlie-weingroff-DVDsm

To help answer that, let’s bring our attention back to Mr. Lee.  The literal translation of Jeet Kune Do is, to my knowledge, “the way of the intercepting fist.”  The basic concept of which was to use an efficient offense as a suitable defense.  In essence, he wanted to intercept your attack with his own attack, thereby neutralizing your advance and dealing damage at the same time..  The artist uses subtle cues given off by the opponent to interpret intended attacks.  This gives the artist a path in which to attack, stopping the opponent with relative ease.**

Now, we bring this back to gravity (see I told you).  If the basis of exercise is in combating gravity, why not take a fighting approach to it?  We can call this concept “the art of intercepting gravity.”  I don’t wish to offend anyone so I won’t even try to translate that into Cantonese.  But if anyone wants to do that, then come up with a logo and start marketing it, please do.  That would be awesome.  Just don’t give me any credit, since you know, this is not a novel concept.

So how does this work?  Essentially, we want to learn to use our bodies to sense how gravity is physically attacking us.  We then want to create force accordingly with our own skeletal-muscular system in order to stave off the attack (pull) of gravity.  In being able to merely stand, we have to have the proper muscles producing the minimal amount of force in order to keep gravity from collapsing us like an accordion.  If we think of this force production as our own attacks on gravity, we are therefore intercepting gravity with our arsenal of muscle contractions.

And look, if this doesn’t really make sense to you, don’t worry.  It’s not going to look or feel the same for everyone.  One of the key concepts of Lee’s style is analyzing our own experiences as a form of self experimentation.  Just know that gravity is acting on you regardless of if you’re sprinting, jumping, squatting, pressing, pulling or anything else on the planet earth.  In this blogger’s opinion, minimizing these effects on your body should always be a staple in your exercise program.  If you can’t beat gravity relatively unscathed, you can forget about doing anything else.  Well.  Let me rephrase that.  You can forget about doing anything else efficiently, at least.

If the concept of beating gravity doesn’t quite make sense to you yet, don’t worry.  Just give yourself time to be aware of your body and feel what it does when you’re moving or standing or what have you.

That being said, some of you may want more detail on how to really apply this.  Part 2 is in production, stay tuned.

*Ok ok ok.  These are by professional standards.  If I tried to hit an 80 mph fastball, you’d need a 14 foot flat-head screwdriver to unscrew me from the ground.  And the only time I’m ever on the green with a shot at triple bogey is when I shank a ball towards the previous green and decide to just play that hole again.

**Again, this is one of those theoretical things.  I have no idea how to do this as a martial artist.  Any attempt on my part would result in, well you’ve heard of awesome right?   Yeah, the complete opposite of that.

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