Saw this link over at Ross Enamait's blog.  A 1950's book on Indian Physical Culture.  What's old is new and all that.  There are only so many ways to move and train the human body, whether it's fitness or combatives.  It always comes down to 2 things:  First ya gotta learn it, then ya gotta do it (a lot). 

Kyuzo Mifune Judo Clip - Amazing balance and body control shown by Sensei Mifune.  Well worth the 6 minutes.  “The greatest judo technician ever, after Kano”?  You decide.  Dude floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee.

The  Best Exercise There is, Hands Down - I totally agree with Mark Sisson on this account. When in doubt, DO SOMETHING.    As Alfred Adler said: “Trust only movement. Life happens at the level of events, not of words. Trust movement.”

More on Sucker Punches -   How do you defend against this?  Other than being hyper
 vigilant, what could stop this kind of attack. You walk out of a store with your
girlfriend/spouse take a few steps and some dude walking behind you just punches
you in the head?  Crazy.

You Have The Right To Stay Out of Jail- Interesting infographic.  Now I’m a strong
believer in law & order and a friend of LEOs, but I’ve been told by several in the profession that the appropriate answer any time an Officer asks “Can I search your car?” or “Can I come in?” is “NO”.  Once you’ve given them permission, all sorts of bad things can happen that you’ve just given up your rights to prevent.    

Here’s a hypothetical example.  Let’s say you are a Concealed Carry Permit holder in the Commonwealth of PA.   And you inadvertently leave a firearm in your vehicle, but then cross state lines into one of our neighboring  States that don’t provide reciprocity
(ex. Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Maryland) or may have legislated
onerous regs (magazine capacity limits, hollow point bans etc.).  You are pulled over for speeding, during which the Officer asks to search your car.  You, thinking that you
have nothing to hide and want to be helpful, say “Sure”. They find the firearm with an “illegal” high capacity magazine and hollow points, and you my friend, are hosed. 
Why risk it?  Just say “NO”, while being polite and non-suspicious/nervous.  (Of course there’s always the case where you knowingly carry concealed in a jurisdiction or state where you aren’t “officially” licensed and come into contact with law enforcement. 
That can lead to a pretty high pucker factor.)

Interesting statistics shared over at the Low Tech Combat site in an article on “The King Hit” (or sucker punch as we’d call it here in the US).  Whether it’s from the Knockout Game or just not paying attention at the local adult watering hole, getting hit when you’re unprepared is bad news.

But I hadn’t seen this type of data before (from 175 attacks reported from 2005 – 2011):

  • 99% of attacks committed by men (not much of surprise here)
  • 96% of victims were men (also not surprising)
  • 49% of attackers were aged 18-23 (ritual hierarchical monkey dance?)
  • 94% of attackers were with friends or in a group (status, reputation, ego; plus it’s not just you vs. him, you have his buddies to worry about)
  • 82% of attacks occurred on a Friday or Saturday night (good time to stay home)
  • 71% of attacks were between the hours of 10 pm – 4 am (go home and go to bed early! Nothing good happens after 10 pm)
  • 12% of king hits resulted in death (scary)
 So stay alert out there. 

As the karate maxims say “The eye must see all sides, the ear must listen in all directions”

An interesting article in the Journal of Clinical Forensic Medicine (Volume 10, Issue 1, pp. 1-3, March 2003), although dated, gives some interesting insights into knife attacks

This UK study indicates that 1/3 of assault victims attending the hospital were injured with a knife.  Most have superficial slash-type wounds.  Majority of injuries are to the face, with fewer affecting the upper limb and trunk.    This part is curious, since you would think that there would be slashes on the hands/arms from defensive shielding.  Maybe these were surprise attacks and/or the victims were diminished (or at least unaware or clueless).  11% have multiple wounds, the average number being three – so if you can’t run away or escape, then your best bet is to try and capture or immobilize the weapon bearing limb.  The longer it’s free and swinging at you, the more you’ll get cut.

To better understand the patterns of injury, the researchers then gave untrained soldiers a knife and asked them to attack a human-sized target.   Their attacks followed 3 basic lines -  The Angle 1- a 45o downward diagonal slash from high R to low L (from the attacker’s perspective); Angle 12 – straight down vertical from top of head to belt buckle; and Angle 3 – a horizontal slash from R to L.   These are not too surprising (especially if they attackers were Right-handed).  Most attacks, whether from a club, bottle, knife, or empty hand, are going to come from this quadrant, so understand defenses in that direction (if not all directions). 

Train hard, train safe, and train often.

The Friday, January 31, 2014 edition of “The Daily Collegian” (Penn State’s student newspaper) featured a front page article titled “Police, university officials discuss reaction plan to school shooting”.  Some assorted thoughts follow.

When responding to an “active shooting”, the article says that “The officers follow three steps.  Their first preference is to force the shooter to surrender.  If that fails, they are trained to barricade and incapacitate the threat.”  Keep in mind that ~ 43% of active shooting events are over BEFORE the police arrive.  The cold, hard facts are that YOU are responsible for YOU.  The police aren’t going to magically appear to save you.  Chances are very strong that they won’t arrive in time.  So what’s your plan to survive?

I’ve discussed previously Penn State’s “5 outs” program.  In this article they refer to a “SAFE” acronym, which stands for

S – Search for a safe place

A – Alert authorities

F – Find a place to hide

E – End the threat

My opinion is that this may be an adequate response if you have no other options and can’t reach any kind of exit.  But a better response is to get the heck out of the building as quickly as you can.  The “duck and hide” mentality is a nanny-state response that wants to enforce helplessness on people and reduce their willingness and ability to take care of themselves.  How much better would it be if individuals had both the means and ability to protect themselves (and others) at all times?

Another consideration is the type of attack.  Is it a solo shooter, such as a disgruntled student/co-worker/mentally ill person?  Or is it a coordinated terrorist attack (some LE and counter-terrorist specialists feel that schools are being studied as targets due to the emotional response guaranteed to transpire from such an event.  Farfetched?  Spend some time studying the terrorist attack at Beslan where 334 hostages were killed, 186 of them children.)  

Terrorists know that the standard protocol is to barricade the building.  That’s exactly what they’re looking for so that they can ensure maximum media coverage for the final carnage.  It’s not like they’re waiting to have their demands met or have a point to their “negotiations”.   Similar considerations for a mall scenario, such as those that have happened overseas (ex. Kenya, Mumbai).  It never ends well for the folks that have made the choice to hide inside and wait to be rescued. 

So what’s the right response?  That’s up to you.  Be informed, be intelligent, and be prepared.  Take personal accountability for the safety of you and your family. 

The NSCA’s most recent Tactical Strength & Conditioning Report (Issue 32) has an article that discusses recent peer-reviewed research on “Extreme conditioning programs (ECPs)” which they define as Crossfit/P90X/Insanity type approaches.  What did they find?  Here are some key highlights in my opinion.

1) A military study of almost 1,400 soldiers found that “when comparing the injury rates of soldiers who participated and those who did not participate in ATAC (Advanced Tactical Athlete Conditioning)/ECPs, overall rates of injury were similar, though the ATAC/ECP group did exhibit a significantly greater increase in overuse injuries after the programs were initiated.”    This is one of the biggest drawbacks that I see, the potential for injury caused by failing form as you go flat-out trying to beat your own or someone else’s time, as well as overtraining potential.

2) Another study compared the anaerobic/aerobic power of ECP-trained individuals vs. those who use traditional resistance training (RT).  Results showed no significant differences in VO2 max or Wingate peak power.   The same lab also tested whether ECP-trained subjects differed from RT-trained subjects in one rep Bench press, back squat, medicine ball shot put, vertical jump and the Margaria-Kalamen power test.  There were no significant differences in performance between the ECP and RT subjects on any of these tests. 

3) Another study compared ECP-trained vs. RT-trained subjects on pushup, pull-up, T-test, and sit and reach.  There were no differences in performance on the pushup, T-test or sit and reach test.  ECPs did perform significantly more pull-ups than the RT, although the mean body mass of the ECP group was less than the RT group, which impacts such a test.

4) Another study compared the anaerobic step test and the Cooper 1.5mile run test between CrossFit trained subjects and subjects that followed a ‘traditional’ program recommended by ACSM.  There were no differences on the step test or the Cooper 1.5 mile run. 

Findings and Conclusion

There does not seem to be convincing evidence at this point that ECPs significantly improve aerobic power or VO2 max……The adaptations seen from ECPs appear to be broadly similar to those obtained from traditional RT, as no consistent differences in strength, power, and muscular endurance have been seen when ECP-trained subjects are compared to RT subjects.”

“From the limited evidence to date, it does not appear ECPs offer training benefits which cannot be acquired through more traditional training programs, such as resistance/cardiovascular/HITT training.  These more traditional training modes may also offer the potential for lower injury risk, yet result in the same training adaptations.”

 Can “extreme conditioning programs” work?  Sure they can.  And they may be perfect for certain populations or individuals.  But everyone should decide for themselves what they’re trying to accomplish and what they’re willing to risk if the same results can be achieved from less “extreme” programs.  No matter what you decide, get out there and train.

If you’re like me, someone may have said:  “You don’t know Squat!”  Whether I was waxing poetic about the awesomeness of Justin Bieber as a romantic lyricist, the epicurean delight of Roasted Squirrel with Pine Nuts, or something as simple as how any team from Pittsburgh will always be better than any team from Philadelphia, my knowledge/taste has been questioned.   Hard to believe, I know.

In the physical arena, not only do most people not know HOW to Squat, they DON’T Squat.  This is a shame, because the squatting motion is a basic movement pattern and should be incorporated into your regular programming.  But, some people may have physical limitations, injuries, or aversions. 

And as this recent article by Ryan DeBell indicates (“The Best Kept Secret: Why People Have to Squat Differently”) people are just put together differently.  This is the first article that I’ve seen with supporting photos of bone structures that shows the physical differences in the “ball” angle of the femur, ball length, and socket shape & direction.  These anatomical differences will REQUIRE slightly different foot positioning or lower body posture between different people.  There is no “one way fits all” approach to Squats (or many other motions).  Please check out Ryan’s article.  I thought it was pretty cool. 

Being able to modify and adapt an exercise to accommodate physical (or mental) differences in a client or student is the mark of a good trainer or Instructor.   Not every Instructor is able (or interested) in getting into this individual level of analysis with their students.  But the good ones will lead the students to squat, punch or kick to the best of the student’s ability.  That much I do know, and it’s something I’ve tried to apply and reinforce in the past 30+ years of training.

When do you really need a light?  Usually when it’s dark and you don’t have one.  That’s why it’s a good idea to have easy access to at least one (if not more) sources of light at all times.  With today’s technology there’s really no reason not to have a reasonably good flashlight.

I thought I’d look back at how my light inventory has both grown and evolved over the past 25 years. 

1) Matches - you carry matches in your car, purse and/or briefcase don’t you?  “But I don’t smoke”, you say.  “Doesn’t matter”, I say.  Not only can matches be used in an emergency to create light, they can also build a fire to create heat or signal for help.  They’re small, light, and free, so why not throw a couple packs in each vehicle and your daily carry bag.

2) Bic Lighter - see above.  Buy a mega-pack at Sam’s Club and stash them around.

3) MagLite – back in the day these were considered state-of-the-art.  This 4D cell now resides by the nightstand next to the bed.  It’s too darn big and heavy to carry around, but can always serve as an impact weapon in a bind.  But it was the first “real” flashlight that I ever bought.  I used to have the AA MiniMaglite as a companion, but the lens cracked so I eventually tossed it. 

4) Photon keychain Micro-Light, White Beam – Resides on the keychain.  Surprising amount of light for the size.  Relatively inexpensive, I’ve seen some in the $3 range; most are less than $10.  No reason that everyone in the family shouldn’t have one on their keychain.

5) Sure-Fire 6Z - At the time, this model was all the rage.  It threw a lot of light for something its size, is light to carry on the belt or in a pocket, and can be used easily in conjunction with a handgun for shooting in the dark.  This one travels in one of my day bags.

6) Sure-Fire Executive – I bought this one because I wanted something that would easily fit in my front pants pocket.  I swapped out the original tail cap and put a “Lightsaver” on instead because I wanted the “click on/off” function and the ability to have a dimmer setting.   I also did a “koppo” wrap with paracord so that it was more secure in the hand.   Carried it for a while, but now it mostly serves as a backup or gets carried in a coat pocket when I’m out in the woods or on a stream.

7) Generic 6 LED, blue light - Picked this up as a trade show giveaway in Dusseldorf.  Fairly bright.  Sits on a dresser by the closet so that I can paw thru my stuff in the closet or dresser without turning on the room lights.  Appreciated by the Mrs. 

8) Coast AAA Single LED – most similar to their current G10 model.  I picked this one up for just $5 S&H when they were running an introductory promo.  Small and light it makes a great pocket carry.

9) Streamlight Stylus - 3 AAA LED, I got this for shirt pocket carry when I used to travel a lot on planes.  It was easy to move thru security and was useful on long flights when the lights were out and I was trying to find something in a briefcase or seat pocket.  It now is clipped on the inside of my briefcase.  At this point I would recommend the Stylus Pro instead, since it uses 2 AAA and is shorter and easier to carry in a shirt pocket.

10) Fenix P1D – My friend TB turned me on to the Fenix line.  This one is bright, light, and has a range of lighting options (bright, dim, strobes).  It’s my current every day carry in the right front pocket.  Twice as bright as a 4D MagLite.  My only complaint is that it requires twisting the lens cap to turn it on and to manipulate between beam intensities.  So it’s not the fastest to get into action and it requires 2 hands, but I use this little bugger a lot.

11) Streamlight ProTac2L – Uses two 3V 123 batteries and generates 260 lumens on high and 13 lumens on low.  I bought this one to have a brighter alternative that can also be manipulated with one hand.   Easily carried in a front pocket next to the phone, without being too “bulgey” or embarrassing. 

12) Fenix PD35 - Yowza!  850 lumens from this bad boy.  This will light up your world all the way to the neighbor’s house and back.  Newest addition via Christmas present.   I like the tail cap switch and the fact that you can program between 6 output options with a selector switch on the side.  A little large for front pocket carry (“yes Ma’am, I am glad to see you”), but if you wear cargo pants with extra pockets on the side or front, that would be ideal. 

13) Petzl Headlamp – Great for any outdoor use (or anything that will require hands-free).  This one travels in the pack or coat of the current hunting/fishing season.   This is an older model with 3 intensities plus a strobe function.  Also a great addition to a car kit or Bug-out-Bag.

14) Stanley FatMax – Rechargeable Lithium halogen light.  Picked it up on an impulse purchase from Sam’s Club a year ago.  Wanted something to have in the car that was bright, had a broader beam, and was rechargeable.  It has a nifty multi-position stand that can be used to angle the beam up from the ground if you want to work hands-free.  No complaints so far.

 There you have it.  A quick look at some lighting options for every day carry, home, or car.  If purchased over time it’s easier on the wallet, and technology changes so quickly that it’s amazing how much light can be achieved out of some of these small packages.  Think about your current lighting capabilities, check out some of these current alternatives, and don’t be afraid to make this investment.

I’m not one for New Years resolutions.  I’m more inclined to have goals and measure/work on them in a continuing fashion.   But there is something to be said for having regular triggers that remind (force) you to periodically stop and assess.  So at or around Christmas/New Years, I stop and look back to see how I’m doing compared to a year ago in at least the 5 F’s: Faith, Family, Friends, Fitness, & Finance.  I like the 5 F’s because they’re easy to remember and cover all the important categories. 

Have I made any progress on the spiritual front?  (How you measure that is up to you).  Have I tried to improve or expand my relationships with Family/Friends?  Am I more or less Fit/Fat?   Do I have less debt or more savings?  If the answers aren’t what you wanted to hear, what are you going to do about it?  This points the way towards your goals/resolutions for 2014. 

And when setting goals, I like the recent tips in the Paleoista Blog “Your Resolutions Don’t Have to Be All or Nothing”.  We follow progression in training, why wouldn’t we follow progression in goal setting?  Several small steps are usually much easier to follow, possibly accomplish, and help develop the habits towards long term success. 

I also liked the approach over at Mark’s Daily Apple, “11 Questions to Ask Yourself at the Start of a New Year.  Some of these are more internal reflections (ex. “What kind of criticism have you received lately?”) but the others are directly health related (ex. “What were your biggest failings or mistakes this past year – healthwise – that were preventable or avoidable?”).  Again, this line of questioning can give insight into the kinds of things that you can work towards in your 5F categories.

Finally, I always appreciate what’s going on over at Martin Rooney’s Training for Warriors.  His “How to make 2014 your best year yet” post that discusses your “New Year’s Promise” is outstanding.  I especially like his quote “It doesn’t matter if you know what to do if you can’t do what you know.”   I would add to that “if you don’t do what you know.”  Most of us already know that we need to eat better or exercise more, we just don’t do it.  Shame on us.

So, there you have it.  A pretty broad selection of ideas and suggestions on how to set some reasonable goals to make your life better in 2014.  You should do something about it.  If not, then just grab a handful of Twinkies and a 2L bottle of Diet Coke and go sit on the couch and be a sloth like 98% of the rest of the planet.  It’s up to you. 

Interesting headlines this week about how unnecessary multivitamins are; they’re a waste of money; they might be harmful etc. etc.  As you know, there are always multiple sides to any story.  So I was pleasantly surprised to see an article in the latest NSCA Performance Training Journal (Dec ’13) by Brian St. Pierre and John Berardi
titled “Three Steps to help clients and athletes get their eating on track.”  If you’re not familiar with John Berardi and Precision Nutrition, he’s considered a leading expert in the field of nutrition and athletics, bottom line is that he’s knows his stuff.

So here are the three steps:

 #1: Identify and Remove Deficiencies
 #2 Adjust food type and amount
 #3 Adjust food and Macronutrient composition

 What I found most interesting given this week’s vitamin controversy was their info for step #1.   
Excerpts here:  “Surprisingly, people often struggle with the results not because of their entire eating lifestyle, but due to a dietary deficiency……..
A recent study revealed that it is very difficult to avoid a dietary deficiency from eating just food alone.  By analyzing 70 athlete’s diets, this study showed that every single person was deficient in three or more nutrients while some were deficient in up to 15 different nutrients…………Not having enough essential nutrients can result in altered energy levels, appetite, strength, endurance, and mood……New clients often experience deficiencies in water, vitamins and minerals, protein, and essential fatty acids. While this may seem daunting to fix, simply staying hydrated, eating more foods that are high in protein and essential fatty acids, and consuming more of the vitamins or minerals that they lack is usually the best way to improve their nutritional health. (Emphasis added).

Sounds like a multivitamin and some fish oil is pretty reasonable insurance to me!

Steps 2 & 3 go into general recommendations for men vs. women and ecto-, endo-, and mesomorph body types.   Won’t go into that here, but If you want a copy of the article, let me know and I’ll send you one.