09 December 2013

A Modest Fucking Proposal

From a status update I saw on the Facebook the other day: "I wonder what men would be like if the porn industry didn't exist."

I think they'd probably be just as clueless.

Apparently, the media is a bigger influence than I like to admit on the thoughts and actions of people.  This isn't a fairly new phenomenon.  I'm sure all kinds of motherfuckers went out and got mop tops when the Beatles came to America.  In fact, my father stated as much because he was a teenager in 1964 when they came over to the states.

Media has been a tool for people to sway opinions probably since time immemorial.

Satirical Media
Sometimes, the intent is not to sway, but the movement becomes an unintended consequence.  So what's the deal with porn?  Apparently, erotic physical displays have been around for a long goddamn time.  One critique we have now is that with it so readily available it can become addictive.

The second (and I think more important point) that I come across in various critiques comes down to the actual display and acting out of the act of sex itself.  A lot of conversational and academic arguments focus on the portrayal of sex as being unrealistic, told from the male actor's POV and generally show a disdain towards women.

Taking all this in, I then thought about what sex actually is.  To quote Tony Blauer, "The Clarity with which you define something determines its usefulness."

So, to boil it down, sex is a biological function.  The reasons behind it are fairly simple and there are a few:

  1. Making babies
  2. Pleasure
  3. Strengthening a pair bond
Joe Quirk talks about these things at length in It's not you, it's Biology. You can even find a lot of this stuff on the discovery channel.  The point is that both males and females can use sex to strengthen a pair bond to keep the other from straying and help keep the species alive.

I think what makes humans a little different than other primates is the fact that we have vivid imaginations, for one.  Given the levels of creativity we possess and our love of fucking, we can think of some outrageous shit.
For instance, this image comes up when you google "Marquis de Sade."
We can also be extreme dicks at times, too.  On the same status I mentioned at the outset, spirituality was brought into play.  The writer of the status said that even "Spiritual" men fall prey to the same thing other men get duped into as well--namely that men expect certain things of women due to the pornographic depiction.

To that end, what the fuck does "Spiritual" mean?  East or West, spiritual and religious traditions are not the most accepting of women.  To liberate yourself from Samsara in Hinduism, one had to live correctly according to their caste, and ascend to the next caste up until they reached the Brahmin caste--which only men could be--and then would they be free of the wheel of life.
Even now, in our progressive era, I went to a service at a Buddhist temple.  My female friends were not allowed to shake the Monks' hands (I could) since they are women.

The writers of the Epistles to Timothy and Titus had several directives regarding the role of Women in the church. Namely, they should shut the fuck up and not assume teaching roles. Now, not everyone follows this sort of nonsense.  I have never met a woman as a pastor, but I assume they do exist (I hope they exist for the growth of the religion) since there was a woman leading a church on King of the Hill.
To me, it seems that a lot of spiritual traditions aren't so innocent, and that the practitioners are victim to the same media influence as others.  Who would have thought.

So what would men be like without porn? Moreover, can we fix what's fucked?

Men would probably still be the same, since other forms of media have taken to hating women long before porn became in vogue.

And the people who grew up with that stuff, raised other people.

The majority of which probably ended up like their fathers and mothers.

I think we can fix it, to a degree. I engage in all sorts of mass media.  I watched and read a A Clockwork Orange when I was eight.  I don't rape, I also don't kill people.  I watch porn.  I make sure my partner is happy when we have sex.  A lot of my friends are the same way.  We realize that each person we encounter is an individual.

They have thoughts, feelings and what not.  So before you encroach upon those, make sure its OK.  Try talking to them to make sure you're on the same page.

If having sex, put their enjoyment at the same level as yours.  Make sure your partner does the same.  If they don't (or if you don't) reevaluate whatever the fuck it is your doing.

The golden rule is probably as old as any other form of mass media out there. It predates Jesus.  It predates Plato.  Possibly for good reason.

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04 November 2013

If I can't smoke and swear, I'm fucked

"The Shit-Apple doesn't fall far from the Shit-Tree."-Jim Lahey, Trailer Park Supervisor.
We're sailing into a shit typhoon, Randy.
When I taught music at a music store, I met a lot of people.  Mostly teenagers and young adults.  Some didn't give a shit about playing music as much as they did getting rid of their parents and talking to someone they can relate to.  Others really enjoyed playing music, and a few of those really liked heavy metal.  I always enjoyed teaching those students because a lot of them reminded me of myself at that age.

One young man, about 16, was not like me at all, aside from the guitar and interest in heavy metal music. This guy grew up as a devout Catholic, wasn't allowed to listen to heavy metal, had live-in siblings, a father in Iraq, and an overbearing mother.

I was baptized as a Catholic at age seven, I fell from Grace at age eight, listened to everything from Michael Jackson to Burzum at a very young age, and was raised by my father, who had custody of me after he and my mom split when I was two.  My mother only became slightly overbearing after she got off the drugs and started making more frequent appearances in my life.

It wasn't until later I found out that this guy was into murder.
Needless to say, I didn't give a flying fuck that this kid wasn't allowed to listen to heavy metal and over the course of time I taught him the whole Master of Puppets album.  It was an enjoyable time for both of us because I liked teaching music and him because he had someone who wouldn't judge his music choices, since his mother and his school mates often did (he went to a Catholic school).

To top all of the restrictions previously mentioned, this young man was also a homosexual.  And his parents were strict interpreters of the Bible.  He would go on to tell me that his parents hate him because of it, and as a result, he hate himself because of it.

I guess he wound up telling me because I wouldn't think differently of him.

Looking back, it reminds of a quote I heard from Frankie:

"If you don't listen to your body, you'll break your body."
Clearly, the young guitarist was breaking himself if he was having that much hate directed right back towards him.

I really didn't know how to help.  I went through my usual line of thinking:


  1. Leave the Church
  2. Go to a different school
  3. Tough it out til you're 18
I really don't think I could offer much more now, as it were.  On the positive side, he played guitar and they didn't have to hear it all the time, so he could play all the metal he wanted (and he wrote his own too).

I think that we can recall what Rabbi Hillel said to some gentile who was trying to stump him.  Here is my paraphrasing of how I imagine the conversation going:

Gentile: I'll believe you if you can recite this book of yours on one foot.
Rabbi Hillel: Don't be an asshole if you don't want people to be assholes to you.  The rest is commentary. Learn it.

I think a good start to reconcile faith in God and individuality would be to hear that parable often.  I think it would have helped my young student out.






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*Title is a quote from the Trailer Park Boys

19 October 2013

Overcoming commitment issues

I get the majority of my grappling content from three people.  GabeKris, and Rob Kahn.  All are technically different as far as their game goes, but they all taught (and still teach) me a fundamentally important lesson for sports and life.

The point is to commit.  Rob Kahn advocates a 70/30 rule, wherein you roll with people you can beat 70% of the time, and the other 30% you go for other far more challenging rolls. Before I started committing I was literally just rolling around with no purpose trying not to get caught in submissions.

In either situation, one must commit to something.  In the 70% situations, you  are doing a few good things for yourself.  The first thing your doing is overcoming obstacles easily to get to your end point.  Psychologically, you are conditioning yourself to win.  Every time you win, you are getting better at doing your reps--the movements that take you to your end point.


As your opponents get better at defending, you will hopefully get better at overcoming obstacles as they occur more frequently and defensively.

For the jits, I like to give myself the following checklist.  I don't actively think of it in list form during rolling, but it's there. The list is as follows, if I am starting in guard:

  1. Sweep
  2. Pass
  3. Get control in a dominant position
  4. Work the submission
If I start in someone else's guard, the first step is taken out.

Initially, this will not work 100% of the time.  You'll go to pass, and fail or get caught in a submission.  You won't get the sweep, or you won't lock the submission correctly.  That's ok.  One of the things Kris emphasises to me is that he worries about his own shit and not what the other person is doing--when he goes to pass the guard, he gets the limbs out of the way to get the position and gets the pass, while the opponent is doing their thing.

From Gabe I learn to accept and get into positions in a way that leaves me calm and not in a frenzy.  I can't emphasize this enough for a beginner: don't go apeshit if someone gets you in side control or full mount.  Let them move, let them fuck up and capitalize on it.

Among these four steps listed, learn a few different ways to accomplish the goal.  If one pass doesn't work, do the other one.  If it gets defended, go back and forth and land the damn thing (whichever one you end up going for).  In one of his after class speeches (which he swears none of us ever listen to) Rob will always ask who the better person will be--the one who went for 200 arm bars in a year of training, or the person who backed out, didn't engage and didn't go for anything (I listened, Rob).


One of the final pieces that I don't do nearly enough of as specifically as I could comes from Frankie.  Use the rolling to find out your weaknesses, and drill them so they aren't so weak anymore, while using the minimal effective amount of effort.  Use the 70/30 method, you will have a good cycle of training ahead of you.

If you follow the 70/30 rule, you'll get better at not getting caught while being an active player in your own jits game, and you will land the passes, and what not provided you commit to them.  Don't stop the pass at the slightest indiscretion and give up.  You won't have a clean rep of what you want to do.  These steps helped my game out tremendously and will do so for you, most likely.




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11 September 2013

Training the pianist

I don't know why I didn't think of this sooner, but better now than never, I suppose.  A friend came to me with an exercise related question, and being the guy I am gave great advice that turned out to work in her favor.

I then had the stroke of genius to help all of my musician friends by writing this post.

Valentina Lisitsa plays one of my favorite renditions of Beethoven's Moonlight  Sonata
One of the guiding principles of The Movement is working within our limits to expand them.  This is preferable as opposed to trying to do some shit you may or may not be able to do and risking injury.  Without having met Valentina, let's use what we can figure out as a starting point to help out with training piano players.

First thing is first.  She is a concert pianist.  spends a good portion of her life in the position above--flexed/translated neck, flexed hips, knees and shoulders are the obvious examples.

If you are a piano player, here are some things you might consider as starting points for your training.

If your movement quality is really shitty, you might try push ups done on your knees (also called girl push ups though I am not a fan of the term).  I suggest these to work out the arms first, and focus on extending the wrists, and elbows in the event that you might be too limited to mess around with anything else.

If you're extra fucked up, you might try using the machine to do some partial rows and work up to full rows (starting from full extension and pulling back) and then moving towards the knee pushups.

From there, perhaps full pushups with the body straightened and/or goblet squats to parallel or higher depending on how you sit on the piano bench.  Better, us a bench/box at the gym to figure that out.

Sara Daneshpour playing Tchaikovsky
This is by no means a definitive list on how to train if you are a piano player.  I just made the hypothetical assumption that the player is untrained and started from there.  Depending on your age, activity level and time spent playing, your mileage may vary.  Stay tuned for more.


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28 August 2013

Apocalypse Whenever!

See, the LORD is coming with fire, and his chariots are like a whirlwind; he will bring down his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire.  For with fire and with his sword the LORD will execute judgment upon all men, and many will be those slain by the LORD.  Isaiah 66:15-16

Whore of Babylon play set


I love apocalyptic and post apocalyptic art. Especially literature.  Recently, the Bible's apocalyptic narrative was trumped in greatness by The Stand by Stephen King.  I got to thinking about possible apocalyptic scenarios after a gym session the other night.

There were three people there, after hours.  One was some older guy stuck in the seventies, the other was a cute female trainer with tattoos and minimal clothing and her heavyset male client.
To the best of my recollection, the personal trainer looked like this.
The client was doing some bicep curls on a machine.  The dude from the wrong era was telling him to go at it with the fervor of training for a zombie apocalypse.  This got me thinking about a few things.  My immediate thought was, "I wouldn't even fucking think about curling if I knew any kind of apocalypse was near."

My thoughts then turned to what I would actually do.

Now, I don't think that a zombie apocalypse is likely.  I also don't think a religious apocalypse is likely since nobody has been right, to date.  Nor do I think we are that lucky to be given a chance to potentially start over again.  I think that the likely scenario is one like in The Stand--a super virus--or one of economic collapse.  My list of what to train for if I got left behind, survived a virus, etc. would be as follows (adjust to your abilities and better personality traits).

The first thing I would do would be to train to shoot at moving things, while I was moving myself.  The most practical way to do this would be to take up hunting and get good at creeping up on animals.  In a land where your money didn't matter, food would likely hold a lot of leverage.  I would also laugh at anyone who thought it was a good idea to invest in gold, should the apocalypse arise.

Shooting moving things will not only benefit you from a hunting standpoint, but there will inevitably come a point where you might have to shoot another human being. Possibly because they are encroaching on your shit. Even Rick Grimes had to do it.

This should be easy for you.  If you've read or seen Lord of the Flies,The Stand, Heart of Darkness, Apocalypse Now, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and The Walking Dead, you know the laws of old don't mean anything without the power, nor the will to enforce them.

The next thing I would personally train would be my people skills, so that I won't have to kill anyone and I can talk my way into better situations.  When it came down to it, I would ideally find someone who could build things--perhaps a mason--so that shelters (and eventually towns) could be erected.  If you are the type of person who has the knowledge to build towns and design structures, you would train the skill of doing so specifically.  I do not, so I would have to add to my adventure party.

Then, I would actually train my fitness.  I would get good at carrying shit in every possible.  Stones, bricks, anvils, farmers walks, overhead carries, back packs, etc.  I would do so at varying paces to accommodate for actual distressing situations.

Coupled together, I would train my climbing (fences, walls), Sprinting (including changing directions), Jumping (up, landing and forward) and Swimming.  I would put the swimming first, since I am not good at it now and in Florida it might be a real possibility that I would have to use it.

Lud, or the Stephen King's apocalyptic version of NY
These were the things I immediately thought of, though a strong case could be made for melee combat since I would be dealing with humans and saving ammunition would be paramount on the list of smart things to do. An equally strong case could be made for learning how to manufacture your own ammo.  I know people who do just that, and if I were making an adventuring party for the apocalypse, I would want to have that person on my team.

This is not an exhaustive list, but it's sole purpose is to point out that specificity is key in your training.  Be as specific as you can be for your goals.  Learning how to military press with max tension won't help you in a scenario where you can't hiss your breathing and stand perfectly straight, just like Crossfit won't make you great at every other sport (though some coaches will claim otherwise).


23 August 2013

Traditions might fucking kill you

Buy this shirt. Or at the very least, look on it and laugh.  It's a more specific sentiment on traditions.  I don't think they all are useless.  But they should be critiqued.



Here's a good one: the father giving the daughter away at a wedding.  Back when women were property and people worked all the time, the family of the daughter had to get rid of a valuable, working piece of property.  The bride price was paid, the daughter was effectively sold to another family.

Warming up is one directly related to lifting.  In fact, I have talked to no less than five people, in person, who have fucked their shit up doing a warm up set.  Some had it worse than others.  Often unquestioned, yet is it still worth it?

Poor bastard took his warm up too seriously
The latter tradition is one that's testable, thankfully.

I'll keep this brief.  There's all sorts of shit to question.  Depending on your sport, you can question a myriad of things to a great extent.  For lifting, here are some questions you can ask first:

Can I do my goal movement today?
Can I PR in it?
Can I do it more often?
How will I be able to attain the ability to do it more often if I can't?
Can I run myself or should someone else tell me exactly what to do?

The less adaptable you become, the less movement you create.  You know what happens next.


23 July 2013

A few pullup variations so you don't get bored to tears.

Last year when I couldn't deadlift much, I did a fuck load of pull ups. I only did two variations, but the best part was that one expanded my range of motion--I was able to do wide grip pull ups and not fuck my shoulders up.  Many people also have lofty pull up goals. Hopefully these will help.


Around this time, I was doing pull ups 2 to 3 times a week, and as a result my volume and intensity escalated quickly.  Needless to say, I had to ask myself what was next.  Some of the following I have seen from Adam, and others I concocted on my own. 

Towel Pull ups:


It's pretty simple. Take the towels, loop them over the bars and grab the damn things and do some pull ups.  This is a good way to train your grip, and though I am no Adam, I get the feeling everyone can benefit from grip training.

Rolling Thunder/Vertical Bar Pull ups
These are pretty cool.  If you have two vertical bars, you can use 1 for each hand.  These are great because most movements with barbells don't allow for ulnar deviation, and both the vertical bar pull up and the vertical bar deadlift allow that position to be trained.  Another option is to use two rolling thunder handles.  I have one handle and one loading pin, hence the set up.  Another option is two hands one one vertical bar.

Eagle Loops:
That is an eagle loop. They come in pairs from ironmind.  You can also do pull ups with these, and concentrate on individual finger groups, if it suits you.  My favorite thing to test is an eagle loop and a rolling thunder handle.  Find the variation that tests best for you.

Crush Pull Up:


I like to get better at clinching by clinching, so I call this the crush pullup because you have to crush the shit out of the kettlebell to do it.  Instead of taking the intensity out by using a rubber bell, use an iron bell.  I like using dragondoor bells since they have different sizes.  The bigger the bell, the more difficult it is.  Use a lot of chalk.  Also, the closer your finger tips the easier they become.  Plan and test accordingly.

The options are limited by your imagination, and this is not a complete list.  The important thing is to test your variation, and find which is best.  The more often you can do a pullup, the better you will get at them.