30 October 2017

Fustigation Fury: Training To Fight From The Primeval To The Present, Part 2 (Catch Wrestlers)

[Check out Part 1 in this series here, and if you've already read it, give it another look in the Pehlwan section, as I found more detailed information on The Great Gama's training methods and lunatic, Saxon-style diet.]

If there's anything humans love more than inflicting grievous injuries on one another, it's watching other people inflict grievous injuries on one another.

Clearly, fighting techniques and training methods have some ancient roots, and in spite of their age, the techniques for building strength and endurance for combat have remained relatively standard throughout time.    Of course, every style seems to bring with it a twist on the tried and true, and it is in these twists that one find the Willy Wonka-esque Golden Ticket to preparing to turn one's fellow man into a pile of bubbling hamburger on the bar floor, parking lot, mat, or battlefield.  Lest you think that following in the training paths of fighters in styles you dislike, mock, revile, or simply dismiss out of hand, think again- there is something to be drawn from the experiences of any successful participant in sports requiring aggression, strength, and endurance in every other sport requiring the same.

Frankly, you're probably wasting your time if you bother with anything Ed Parker's American kenpo idiots teach, but there might be something useful in there if you look hard enough.  I just don't have that kind of time and can only only watch people do stupid things for so long before I lose interest.

It's not a matter of "wasting time" if you try a method that doesn't seem to add to your fighting prowess- provided you examine the reasons why it didn't work, you can gain wisdom from anything you've attempted.  Moreover, the Jains (an ultra non-violent sect of Hinduism hilariously founded by a legendary wrestler who trashed all comers) believe that one of the greatest sins one can commit is sruta jñānāvaraṇīya karma, which is the refusal to learn due to the closing of the mind, by spreading false or one-sided information, by ridiculing those who pursue knowledge, and by fanatical or prejudiced opinions.  In short, you're going to get karmically fucked with a spiked bat by some recently released serial rapists if you simply dismiss shit out of hand because you don't give it due consideration without judgement.

With that in mind, let's look at a fighting style absolutely no one but BJJ practitioners would talk shit on, and that's because BJJ practitioners like arbitrary rules against effective techniques that don't involve slithering around on a mat or displays of intense physical weakness more than people with polio hate Thai low kicks.

Catch-as-Catch-Can / Rough-and-Tumble Wrestlers

Wrestling in the mid-1800s was a much more interesting affair than the amateur wrestling world is today- styles were so diverse you'd think they were whores in Mos Eisley Cantina, and pretty much every big swinging dick on the planet was ready to throw down at the drop of a hat to prove his physical superiority over his fellow man.  Basically, the wrestling scene in the Industrial Era was all Van Damme-style Bloodsport, all the time.  In England, Lancashire wrestling (later known as catch-as-catch-can) was the dominant and most brutal style on the island, while more traditional styles (read softer than baby shit on a hot, rainy day) reigned supreme in the rest of the world.  Jacket wrestling seemed to be the most popular- in the US and Ireland it collar-and-elbow, which was the preferred style of non-hillbillies in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars (George Washington excelled at this type). For anyone who's tried Schwingen or Mongolian wrestling, collar-and-elbow will seem familiar- it's a typical style of jacket wrestling in which you can only grab the your opponent and win by throwing them.

In spite of the fact that collar-and-elbow was as popular as those obnoxious fidget spinners every kid who should have been drowned at birth fucks with endlessly, the first internationally recognized heavyweight champion wrestler, William Muldoon, typically competed in what later became known as Greco-Roman wrestling.  Muldoon was also the America's first real master strength and conditioning coach and was just as well known for being the Kurt Angle of the 19th Century as he was for being Gym Jones of the fight world.  Upon reflection, Muldoon was more like the love child of Mark Henry and Kurt Angle, as Muldoon was the man who legitimized the strongman industry, touring the nation with a show that combined flexing, feats of strength, and instruction on how to become a jacked badass at the same time he was fucking up all comers inside the squared circle.

Big John, ready to fuck up opponents like a gold digger spotting other cunty broads at a party full of trust fund babies.

As a trainer, Muldoon was peerless.  On a bet with a friend, Muldoon offered to train the champion bare knuckle boxer John L. Sullivan, who by then resembled fat, rumpled, drunk Gary Busey more than Mike Tyson.  Sullivan entered training camp on crutches, sloppier than Jonah Hill making a movie no one wants to watch about baseball statistics (somewhere between 260 and 300lbs), drunk enough that his blood type was listed as "Whiskey", and three years removed from fighting.  Utilizing a routine based on his own training, Muldoon took a man whose kidneys and liver were jumping ship like the first bitches on a lifeboat from the Titanic and got him down to a shredded 190, then bulked him to a ripped and ready 210 lbs to prepare for the last ever fight under London Prize Rules (which resembled pankration far more than modern boxing).  To get him shredded and keep him out of the bar, Muldoon chased Sullivan through a seven day a week routine of wood chopping, weightlifting, clubbell work, jumping rope, sparring, and even plowing fields.  By the time of the fight, people remarked that Sullivan looked to have been "chiseled out of stone", and Muldoon became even more famous for getting a somewhat over-the-hill, insanely alcoholic Sullivan into the best fighting shape of his life, and proving definitively that his methods for training for wrestling applied well to all combat sports (Bare Knuckle, Nash, Waters).

At first I thought this was a guy puking on a midget, but upon further inspection it's a guy biting a midget on the ass.  Rough n' tumble style, I guess.

Muldoon's methods were obviously effective, but just as with anything there was more than one way to skin that cat, and catch wrestlers were about to prove this in spades.  Wrestling was undergoing a metamorphosis because the champs were touring the country as "barnstormers", taking on all comers for a cash prize.  As they did this, they encountered a group of people who had been playing by an entirely different set of rules- the "rough and tumble" fighters of the backwoods.  To say that most wrestlers and strongmen on the circuit had to have been surprised by the ridiculous, Saw-like brutality of these psychotic, moonshine-enhanced hillbillies is an understatement, because no sport since pankration had allowed such freedom in its rules, and literally no sport of which the Western world had heard actually encouraged the intentional disfigurement and maiming of opponents.
"The emphasis on maximum disfigurement, on severing bodily parts, made this fighting style unique. Amid the general mayhem, however, gouging out an opponent's eye became the sine qua non of rough-and-tumble fighting, much like the knockout punch in modern boxing. The best gougers, of course, were adept at other fighting skills. Some allegedly filed their teeth to bite off an enemy's appendages more efficiently. Still, liberating an eyeball quickly became a fighter's surest route to victory and his most prestigious accomplishment. To this end, celebrated heroes fired their fingernails hard, honed them sharp, and oiled them slick. 'You have come off badly this time, I doubt?' declared an alarmed passerby on seeing the piteous condition of a renowned fighter. 'Have I,' says he triumphantly, shewing from his pocket at the same time an eye, which he had extracted during the combat, and preserved for a trophy." 
"Circuit Court Judge Aedamus Burke barely contained his astonishment while presiding in South Carolina's upcountry: 'Before God, gentlemen of the jury, I never saw such a thing before in the world. There is a plaintiff with an eye out! A juror with an eye out! And two witnesses with an eye out!" If the "ringtailed roarers" did not actually breakfast on stewed Yankee, washed down with spike nails and Epsom salts, court records from Sumner County, Arkansas, did describe assault victims with the words, "nose was bit." The gamest "gamecock of the wilderness" never really moved steamboat engines by grinning at them, but Reuben Cheek did receive a three-year sentence to the Tennessee penitentiary for gouging out William Maxey's eye" (Gorn)
Every picture of catch wrestling makes it look weird as shit and intensely painful.

At the same time, a hybrid fighting style called catch-as-catch-can had arisen in England that mirrored the brutality of rough-and-tumble.  The wrestling style of Lancashire, long renown for being the home of the most surly and psychotic mining maniacs east of the Appalachians, began making its way across the Atlantic at the end of the 19th Century, and that combined with the techniques adopted from fighting the rough-and-tumble crowd, the "knocking and kicking" style of the American freed slaves, the aforementioned Devonshire style known as purring, Scottish backhold, Greco-Roman (French flat hand wrestling), Japanese jujitsu, and German kampfringen became American catch wrestling.  Because it combined both striking and grappling elements of basically every style being used internationally, catch wrestling was essentially the hyper brutal forebear of mixed martial arts.  Until Muldoon retired, however, catch wrestlers were not considered the best in the world- Muldoon had defeated everyone from Australian champion of boxing, wrestling, fencing, and weightlifting William Miller to all-around super athlete, strongman, and baddest motherfucker ever Donald Dinnie to the best collar-and-elbow men on the planet, in addition to the baddest men catch wrestling could throw at him.

"Oh, my style?  It's called Jacked-As-Fuck-Fu, and it's a motherfucker."

If you're wondering how a guy who was generally unused to a style that more resembled the antics of a rabid chimp than the more staid techniques of Greco-Roman wrestling, you needn't- the guys who used the Greco style were almost to a man ridiculously strong, and from Muldoon's international world championship title in 1880 until George Hackenschmidt's loss to Frank Gotch in 1908 their strength was what carried the day inside the ring.  Superstars of the catch wrestling world like Ed "the Strangler" Lewis lost to the Great Gama due to Gama's overwhleming strength, and Zbysko defeated Dr. Benjamin Roller, another renowned catch wrestler.  Rather than Muldoon or Hack, however, it was a match between the godfather of modern bodybuilding and strongman extraordinaire, Eugen Sandow, and a notorious finger, wrist, and arm breaker named Sebastian Muller that sheds the most light on how these strongmen dominated their hyper-violent opponents- he literally physically destroyed the man.

In this match Sandow, enraged after Muller dug his fingers into Sandow's forearms to cause severe nerve damage (and countless attempts to snap Sandow's fingers and wrists), yanked Muller into a bearhug and popped him like a blood-filled dummy when run over by a steamroller in Maximum Overdrive.  Sandow managed to break four of Muller's ribs and had the man vomiting blood all over the ring, at which point Sandow dropped the near corpse to the mat and claimed victory.  Apparently the catch wrestlers got hip to this trick, though, and by 1908 the era of the strongmen and their effete Greco style had come to an end.

The key to Gotch's wrestling style seems to have been toe control, since every one of the pics of the man wrestling involves a human pretzel having his big toe ripped off by a bored-looking Gotch.

The catch wrestlers developed remarkably scientific methods for training their style, especially considering the brutal and haphazard roots of the sport.  Countless books were written on the subject (which were likely sold with the silly kid-getting-sand-kicked-in-his-face style ads Charles Atlas later used to sell his isometric programs.  They all seem to agree, however, that there "are four requirements of a great wrestler who can keep a title for years without having his shoulders pinned to the padded canvas: Strength, endurance, speed and skill" (Robbins 3), which while seeming obvious would likely be disputed by most of the Gracies, who seem to think that a tremendous amount of skill and the ability to bore a crowd past the point of death are sufficient.

Even though he was heavily out-massed and overpowered by guys like Stanislaus Zbysko (5'8" 230lbs) and George Hackenschmidt (5'9" 218lbs), Frank Gotch was able to trash both men with superior quickness, surprising strength, technicality, and the desire to cripple his opponents.

Clearly, the skill bit was covered by practicing holds and sparring, of which Gotch did a tremendous amount and for which you can find ample instruction in the books available all over the internet on catch wrestling.  For strength and conditioning,  5'11", 196lb Frank Gotch did surprisingly little work with actual weights and trained for all intents and purposes like pehlwani do, with heavy emphasis on bodyweight exercises.  His favorite workout was apparently much like the one we all know and love using a deck of cards to determine your reps on a given set, and went like this:
First, shuffle a full deck of cards (Jokers included). Black cards mean squats and red cards mean push-ups.
Every time you deal a black card, you do twice the amount of repetitions as the face value of the dealt card. This means, if you get a black 8, you do 16 squats. If you get a black Ace, you do 22 squats.
Spades are regular Hindu Squats, Clubs are Jumper Squats. The first Joker you pull means you do 40 hindu-squats consecutively.
Every time you get a red card, you do push-ups. This time you do the actual value of the face card. If you get a red 8, you do 8 push-ups. If you get a red Ace, you do 11 push-ups.
Diamonds are regular Hindu Push-Ups, Hearts are 1/2 Moon Push-Ups. The second Joker you pull means you do 20 push-ups consecutively.
Follow this with a 3-minute wrestler's bridge with the best form possible (Gotch's Bible).
Farmer Burns- the ultimate badass and possessor of one the worst nicknames in history.

Farmer Burns, probably the most famous catch wrestling coach of the 19th Century and one of the few people to defeat Frank Gotch (who he later coached), recommended a combination of upper body isometrics, neck work, and weird trunk twists and bends for conditioning.  He especially stressed the importance of neck work, stating that a "strong neck is ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY if you are to wrestle successfully, for it is the point of attack more often than any other part of the body.  Most persons have very weak necks, so much training is necessary if you have wrestling aspirations" (Burns 9).  The neck exercises he recommended are about as rudimentary as they come, using your hand for resistance from side to side and back to front, and then front and back bridges.  Nothing especially groundbreaking, but his admonitions against having a weak neck are as vehement as some of his "trunk and legs" exercises are ridiculous.  The man was no William Muldoon.

"Only a pussy can't take a hanging or two" - Farmer Burns

Almost as much as he enjoyed submitting people by cranking on their big toe, Burns really loved work with dumbbells that weighed less than 50lbs along with isometric and bodyweight work, and his recommendations for exercises mostly look dumber than the shit you see noobs doing in Planet Fitness in their first month of training.  Pulldowns to their lap?  That shit is a majestic effort to isolate the lats compared to the nonsensical shit you see Burns recommending. Partner-assisted push-pull exercises are about as good as it gets, because he's got some wacky shit that defies explanation more than the success of the Jonas Brothers' career.

Nevermind the fact it was the strongmen Gotch had the most trouble with- Burns said no heavy lifting.

As I mentioned above, Burns (in spite of the fact that Hackenschmidt, Sandow, and other strongmen trashed most or all of their opponents in wrestling) really only recommended light dumbbell work, bodyweight and isometric exercises, and Indian clubbell work for strength training.  He thought that machines were more pointless than a condom when fucking a leper, and that the use of any dumbbell over 50 lbs resulted in "abnormal development" that led to overly hard musculature that would make wrestlers slow, ungainly, and would ultimately shorten their lives.  To illustrate his point, he mentioned that he easily defeated a grip specialist in wrestling, and that no professional ballplayer ever lifted weights.  In short, even a guy like Farmer Burns could show his ass sometimes and be hideously, ridiculously wrong.

When Assirati wasn't lifting some ridiculous amount of weight or doing one-handed handstands, he was fucking people up on the mat using Lancashire catch-as-catch-can wrestling.

In contrast, Hackenschmidt, who was also a very successful all-around wrestler, recommended six days a week of heavy lifting.  For him, it was either lighter weights of rep work with full body workouts every day, up to six days a week, or ultra-heavy single lift sessions, on or two per day, with separate sessions of low-intensity cardio thrown in for good measure (Hackenschmidt).  Had Hack followed that regimen and trained under Farmer Burns, who's to know what he might have done in the pro wrestling world.  If Snake Pit wrestlers out of Wigan, Lancashire like strongman/gymnast/700 lb no-warmup deadlifter Bert Assirati are any indication, combining the strength of a strongman with the ferocity and technical skill of catch wrestling will basically turn you into an unstoppable killing machine.

Like Dennis Reynolds of It's Always Sunny, Burns (L) seemed to prefer the "Jesus on the cross look", whereas his protege Gotch actually looked like he could do an unaided pushup without passing out from malnourishment.
In regards to diet, Farmer Burns had this to say:
"The question of what to eat is not so important as what NOT to eat.  To overeat and clog the system with too much food or with food that is harmful, is weakening and prevents development of strength and health.  In fact overeating invites disease, for the overloaded stomach and intestines are sluggish, give off poisonous matter to surrounding tissues, and often results in sever complications, cause fatty degeneration, and open up a rich field for disorder and disease."
"I therefore advise the students to eat plenty of good plain food, yet not too much.... Among the things to avoid are: All liquors, very little tea or coffee or better not any, tobacco, highly seasoned foods, and all kinds of fat meat and sweets.
Stale bread or toast is better than fresh bread.  Eat plenty of fresh vegetables, and a reasonable quantity of lean meats, fish or chicken.  Fresh ripe fruits are fine food and should be used liberally.  Eggs are especially recommended, boiled or poached, and nothing is better than one or two raw eggs every day" (Burns 21).
These fuckers loved toe holds more than Whitney Houston loved crack.

In addition to bland foods and baby weights, Farmer Burns recommended a hell of a lot of physical activity every day, because wrestling matches back in the day went on as long as they had to, and often stretched past a couple of hours.  If you're thinking about that UFC Superfight shitshow that featured American wrestling virtuoso Dan Severn vs. American shoot fighter Ken Shamrock in easily the most boring fight this side of the coma ward in a hospital, that's about what I'm imagining as well, though Hack tired out in those fights, so this bears some mentioning.  Burns believed you should "GET BUSY AND STAY BUSY.  Do not permit yourself to neglect your exercises, for they are as important to good health as eating and breathing" (Burns 57).  To build one's wind, Burns had this to say (which stood in stark contrast to the beliefs of the Lancashire catch wrestlers, who believe that should should weight train or run only after you've wrestled until you can barely move):
"Running must be a part of the program of any man who expects to become a good all-round athlete.  It is the great developer of "WIND" and you must have "wind" to endure long contests.  WIND is another name for ENDURANCE.  I have won dozens of matches by sizing up my opponent, deciding that he was not in perfect condition, and then allow him to work on me until he was exhausted and "winded" and puffing, when I could throw him with ease.
Start running every day if possible.  This applies to the student who is exercising for health and physical culture practices, as well as to those who are studying to become professional wrestlers.
At first jog along for a few blocks until you are quite tired and are "puffing" considerably.  Do not overdo the matter.  Gradually increase day by day until you can run a half mile, then a mile, then longer distances.  I can run two to three miles without inconvenience, at the age of fifty-two, and I believe this is one of the very greatest reasons that I have retained my strength and endurance.
Begin the running now, and keep it up.  The best time to run is in the early morning, but if you cannot take the time then, do your running in the evening, before eating, or late after your supper is digested.  A bath should of course follow the run, then take a brisk rub-down and you will feel fine and enjoy living (Burns 29).
Bill Riley of the original Lancashire Snake Pit thought that if you ran, you'd only die looking fucking stupid for having been a jogger.

So there you have it- catch wrestling was and still is the unadulterated shit, and though the workouts are a little dated, their ideas are not entirely without merit... though they might stand to be a bit updated with modern MMA strength training.  Either way, Farmer Burns would probably call you a fucking pussy and jam his thumbs into pressure points while headbutting and spitting on you.

Go hurt someone.  In the meantime, I'll be working on the type of strength training favored by judoka and karateka.

Bare Knuckle Boxing.  Bobby Gunn training old Time Techniques that William Muldoon taught John L. Sullivan.  Youtube.  11 Nov 2016.  Web.  13 Oct 2017.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZE2QDGG8m8

Best Workout for grappling and MMA.  Snake Pit USA.  Wb.  30 Oct 2017.  http://snakepitusa.com/spmedia/nutrition/best-workout-for-grappling-and-mma/

Burns, Farmer.  Lessons in wrestling and physical culture.

George Hackenschmidt's daily schedule for health and physical fitness.  Physical Culturist.  8 July 2013.  Web.  30 Oct 2017.  http://physicalculturist.ca/george-hackenschmidts-daily-schedule-for-health-and-physical-fitness/

Gorn, Elliot J.  Gouge and bite, pull hair and scratch: The social significance of fighting in the southern backcountry (First published in The American Historical Review, 1985 90:18-43).  Journal of Manly Arts.  Apr 2001.  Web.  25 Oct 2017.  http://ejmas.com/jmanly/articles/2001/jmanlyart_gorn_0401.htm

Gotch's Bible: Conditioning challenge.  Scientific Wrestling.  Web.  14 Oct 2017.  http://www.scientificwrestling.com/public/249.cfm

Hitchcock Jr, E. and F. Nelligan.  Wrestling Catch As Catch Can.  New York: American Sports Publishing Co, 1912.

Kent, Graeme.  The Strongest Men on Earth: When the Muscle Men Ruled Show Business.  Phoenix: Robson Publishing, 2012.

Nash, John.  The forgotten golden age of MMA- Part 1: The Golden Age of Wrestling and the lost art of American catch-as-catch-can.  Cageside Seats.   Dec 2012.  Web.  11 Oct 2017.  https://www.cagesideseats.com/2012/12/1/3669774/the-forgotten-golden-age-of-mma-part-i-the-golden-age-of-wrestling

Robbins, George.  How to Wrestle: Based on the work of Frank Gotch.  Chicago:  Max Stein Publishing House, 1934.

Sandow, Eugen and G. Mercer Adam.  Sandow on Physical Training: A Study in the Perfect Type of the Human Form.  New York: J. Selwin Tait and Sons, 1894.

Waters, Mike.  End of a boxing era: The tale of Jake Kilrain vs. John L. Sullivan, the final bare-knuckle heavyweight title fight.  Syracuse.com.  9 Jun 2012.  Web.  24 Oct 2017.  http://blog.syracuse.com/sports/2012/06/end_of_a_boxing_era_the_tale_o.html

Yohe, Steve.  Ed "Strangler" Lewis: Facts within a myth.  Wrestling Titles.  Web.  30 Oct 2017.  http://www.wrestling-titles.com/personalities/lewis_ed/bio/lewisbio08.html

23 October 2017

We Are All Doomed- The Death Of Grit In The Modern World

To borrow somewhat from the late, great psychopathic genius Hunter S. Thompson, what the fuck are we doing discussing bullshit like the Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion and minutiae about diet when the entire world seems to be teetering on the brink of an ugly, mean-spirited kind of long term banality that threatens, on an almost day-to-day basis, to mushroom beyond anything we can say, think, or plan out here in this atavistic sanctuary with nothing to recommend it except the baddest motherfuckers to ever live and a spate of stew recipes?  Is filling our heads with tales of people who were actually interesting and our stomachs with the food of badass, nonconformist, maniacal people from bygone eras actually going to save us from the fate to which humanity seems consigned?  We're living in a world so disconnected from our primal selves that people believe that the consumption of material goods and reliance on the pseudo-intellectual claptrap that dribbles out of the fingers of individuals with degrees in "sciences" (degrees so objectively laughable that in bygone years they simply would have fallen under the umbrella of Physical Education) will endow us with super strength.  To state that this situation is laughable does not do it justice- we are on the brink of what should be metaphysical war, a war that if avoided will see us get dragged into a morass of suck we may never escape.

I don't want to get off on a rant here, but...

This isn't going to be some trite rejoinder to be a "real man" or some sales pitch for one of the lazily-engineered, mass-produced programs aimed at the lowest-common-denominator lump of hairy cowshit slumping through your local gym, as this is no time for half-measures or silly self-affirming entreaties.  Strength of character in the modern world is poised on the precipice, ready to fall into extinction, and what we need at this point is metaphorical terrorism, not toothless, soft-hearted weightlifting allegory or scientific exposition.  We need violent revolt, not gentle reform.  All society does at this point is churn out "learned men" who adapt in the most refined manner to every circumstance, no matter how intolerable, and fall invariably into slavishness and submissiveness.  They gird their loins with rules and pad their armor with regulations, all while begging for more platitudes and strictures.  

"The spirit by which most teachers are driven is dismally poignant proof of [this phenomenon].  Licked into shape, they themselves lick into shape at best: tailored, they tailor.... It is not knowledge that needs to be inculcated, it is the personality that needs to be drawn out of itself" (Stirner).

Revolt, not reform, allows one to transcend the present and perfect the future.  It is proactive, while the latter is reactive- it is destruction for its own sake, with little regard for what replaces the present state.  It is revolt, then, that must save us, because we are creatures teetering on the brink of extinction.  Efficiency shall not play a role in this revolt, because efficiency and mediocrity are hardcore porn-style bedfellows. Consider the application of efficiency to nearly anything that requires passion- in literature, efficient writing is often dull to the point of being unreadable; in sex, efficiency is not going to have your partner bragging on Insta about how you blew out her back or he or she yours, because efficient sex is just enough to get the job done; efficient fighters win by decision, balancing their strengths against those of their opponent to win Mayweather-style snoozefests; efficient design and architecture is always spartan and ultimately forgettable; and efficient warfighting is often indecisive and protracted.  Passionate people go all in to win it all, and hold nothing in reserve.  Anything less than total victory or total effort is complete defeat and a waste of fucking time.

I think you're all fucked in the head. We're in the gym and you want to calculate a spreadsheet and use stupid internet jargon. Well, I'll tell you something. This is no longer a simple lifting session. It's a quest. It's a quest for strength. You're gonna get strong, and I'm gonna get strong.... We're all gonna get so fucking strong we're gonna need plastic surgery to remove our goddamn smiles! You'll be whistling "Zip-A-Dee Doo-Dah" out of your assholes! 

I must be crazy! I'm on a pilgrimage to force people to understand that being jacked and strong is so easy they do it in the Special Olympics
Praise the Potato! Holy shit!

Today, the weak have appropriated everything, robbing the physical culture community and society as a whole not just of appreciation of their community and effort but of strength and pride themselves.  The abolition of weakness and laziness has taken a back seat to the abolition of pride and concerted effort.  Strength and super fitness are now associated with oppression and evil, while the true oppressors, the obese and weak and lazy and mediocre, sweaty with the effort of sitting upright and speaking their obscene, "politically correct" diatribes, are held aloft as heroes displaying bravery in the face of people who rightly despise them as subhuman... if only their supporters could actually lift them overhead.

I'm not saying that these people are our enemies... I'm just saying maybe we should think about beating in their fucking heads with a ball bat.

Every time I turn around there is a new, dumber, more complicated way of describing a simple concept in physical culture.  Physical culture has been and always will be as physical a venture as fucking- you might reverse engineer techniques and methodology using science, or draw some interesting ideas from shit you read on Pubmed, but by and large it's going to be force of will and enthusiasm that's going to carry the day.  If you're going to interject with some lame comment about the "technical aspects" of training, don't- the technical aspects are by and large bullshit lauded by weak people so they can focus on something other than their utter lack of intestinal fortitude.  Focusing on form minutia is about as useful to the average trainee as eloquence and diction are to a mute.  I'm the one of the biggest fucking nerds on the planet, and I find the science-driven movement [read: pathetic pseudo-intellectualism] rampant in modern training to be objectionable in the way most people would find a bum pissing on their grandfather's grave objectionable.  Those coaches with intricate, restrictive programs rife with enough calculations to rival the physics involved in getting to and from the moon and ridiculous Pubmed citations that have about as much relation to real-world training as the behavior of a well-treated Shih tzu to that of wolves apply only in taking the interesting and making it dull; in making the nuanced simplistic and absolute; and in turning an enthusiastic weight lifter into a mindless, soulless automoton.  They're not publishing programs to make you a superhuman lifter- they're trying to make plebian egalitarian principles the guiding light of your life, and they want to force everyone into the same rigid framework to ensure everyone sucks equally. 

Michael Bolton LOVES calculating his RPE while he's training, and his physique reflects that.  If you're busy with that, you might as well train listening to his music, because you seem to hate training and you might as well hate the rest of your life as well.
[Edit: Apparently, that's Kenny G- I can't tell the fucking difference and listening to either makes me pray for death.]

Those of you who jack off to metric-heavy systems are likely having a fucking stroke right now, but I've got even more bad news for you- training is more art than science.  To be certain, there is some science involved, just as there is geometry in drawing correct proportions, chemistry in mixing and applying color, and mathematics in musical composition.  What makes all four of those things appealing to humans, that which inflames one's passion and ignites the spirit like good bondage porn does, transcends mere science however- that is where those disciplines become art.  The obverse is true as well, wherein one can create soulless, bland tripe like smooth jazz, Celine Dion's horrifying easy listening pop stylings, or even Rihanna's likely computer generated trash music for trash people.  Cookie cutter programs are of the same ilk- they are designed for the lowest common denominator and will avail you of nothing but hindered progress and the utter destruction of your spirit.  They suck your soul out of your asshole and fire it directly into the toilet, replacing what was a boundless human spirit the likes of which conquered fire and hunted megafauna to extinction with a malevolent imp that constantly tells you that you're average, that you should buy a minivan and move to the suburbs, and that you like beige and Bon Jovi and whatever else the dead people waddling around malls enjoy.  In short, cookie cutter programs make lifters into cannon fodder in the war for superlative strength, and the use of cookie cutter programs destroys the spirit because their use requires no self-discipline, inner strength, self-regulation, introspection, or intellectual effort that makes humans what they are- brilliant, violent, passionate people who want to dominate their environment and destroy the opposition.

‘It certainly is a remarkable curiosity. A magnificent relic. But against what is already boiling across the plains? The legion of the dumb? The merchants and farmers and makers of trifles and filers of papers? The infinite tide of greedy little people?  Such things as this are worthless as a cow against a swarm of ants. There will be no place in the world to come for the magical, the mysterious, the strange. They will come to your sacred places and build . . . tailors’ shops. And dry-goods emporia. And lawyers’ offices. They will make of them bland copies of everywhere else.’ 
― Joe Abercrombie, Red Country

I love the above quote, because it describes the modern world perfectly.  Modern man has taken every interesting thing and made it bland- they've deconstructed and dissected every last fucking thing on the planet like some insane 19th Century vivisectionists with some time on their hands and a couple of live animals, shredding the life out of the world and leaving behind nothing more than a bloody work space and lengthy, impotent, banal explanations of inherently interesting things.  Magic was reviled first as satanic, then as myth, and has been resurrected as quantum mechanics, using theoretical physics to something that humans have intuitively understood since the dawn of time.  Ancient Hindu thinkers had a term for that phenomenon, avidya, which describes the specific kind of ignorance so prevalent today characterized by "the failure to use the 'no-thought-mid' of intuitive knowing - 'Pleistocene mind'" (McVan).  Due to humanity's overspecialization, many people seem to have a disconnect between themselves and their instincts that causes them to misperceive reality "through a haze of abstract rationality and distorting emotions'" (McVan).

I can just hear the high pitched, squealing rebuttals of the redditors and Bodybuilding.com dipshits now- the rapid fluttering of fingers over keys in search of some Pubmed study proving dispassionate training produces more gains, likely combined with a hastily typed missive to the NoFap movment about a heretical article enjoining people to regain their lost barbarous humanity, while their flaccid, minute penises flop limply below their natty-bro guts and their 13" arms struggle to maintain the frantic pace of their fingers.  To that, I say "SUICIDE IS AN OPTION.  IT'S NEVER TOO LATE TO END IT ALL."  A savage and barbarous state is what effects the most change in the world, and one that needs to be courted rather than reviled.  Yeah, barbarous states do some bad shit- clearly the actions of Mengele and Unit 731 were regrettable, but they advanced medical science hundreds of years in less than a decade.  The Nazis also gave us the keys to space travel, the Volkwagen Beetle and its supercharged twin the Porsche, badass uniforms without which we'd not have The Empire's getups or most of Marilyn Manson's wardrobe, and other assorted shit like the AK47 (stolen from a Nazi design).    The Mongols gave us biological warfare (the bubonic plague), the long distance postal system, modern methods of organizing large armies, and other innovations.  The same can be said about the Vikings and exploration- had they utilized a "rational", methodical, plodding methodology for exploration, they would never have made it to Newfoundland, nor would they have dominated Northern Europe for hundreds of years.

In the 1980s and 1990s, we gave exactly zero fucks about form because we weren't pussies terrified of straining something- we had our eyes on the prize and let nothing get in our way.  Foam roll and fiddlefuck about with your spreadsheets if you want- I'll be busy building legendary strength and fucking your girlfriend post workout.

Gyms of the pre-internet era were amazingly simplistic, brutal, awesome affairs.  Unthinkable today, bodybuilders and powerlifters actually comingled, training with one another and challenging each other to impromptu, yet unspoken, competitions on everything from the bench to the preacher curl to the behind the neck press and every goddamned thing in between.  No one was counting anything but who did more reps or more weight and every fucking workout was a war.  There wasn't a calculation being done at any time, unless you were mentally gauging your training partner's weakness in selecting the next exercise with which you were going to assault your muscles.  No one fucking foam rolled.  No one consulted charts and graphs midworkout.  Prehab and rehab consisted of walking to and from your car and popping a shitload of stimulants or slamming burgers.  The air was filled with chalk and shit talk, and we had fucking fun.  Imagine that, you fucktards with your goddamned RPE calculators- WE HAD FUN WHEN WE TRAINED.  It was an adventure, and we enjoyed every fucking second of it.  And while we're at it- we didn't endlessly discuss training like a pack of monday morning quarterbacks or baseball nerds obsessed with statistics and not with actually playing the sport.  We would have looked at that the same way we'd look at people trying to associate metrics to last night's fuckfest at a BDSM dungeon after hours- it's stupid and it just detracts from the entire experience.

"The ultimate object of education can scarcely be knowledge anymore: it is, rather, the will born of such knowledge.  In short, its tendency will be to create the personal or free man.  What is truth but the revelation of what we are?  It is a matter of discovering ourselves, of freeing ourselves from everything extraneous to us, of retraining ourselves or releasing ourselves radically from all authority, of a return to innocence."
- Max Stirner

Just as with societies, civilization in the weight room corrupts and weakens the spirit.  Following these idiotic programs with the same attention to detail and dogmatic adherence that Gorean slaves do their masters, you remove yourself both from the learning process and the experience of strength training in general.  Instead, you become a passive participant in events you deem outside of your control as you slavishly follow the path laid out for you by some nameless stranger.  As Jung said, "only a change in the attitude of the individual can bring about a renewal in the spirit," and if you're dogmatically following the ideas of someone else, you're failing to effect change.  Your reality is molded by your desire, and only your pointed, rabid thought and action can make it so.

I offer no system.  This is not a revolution.  I have no desire to replace the world as it is with a new system, nor have I a desire for a return to the past.  Instead, I seek a full scale revolt against a world that suggests that the modern human condition, inferior to that of the Cro-Magnon, is the end of our species' development.  Countless humans have transcended normal expectations for physical and mental development, but instead of championing them as a model for emulation, society views them as freaks and outliers and contents itself with consumerism, indolence, obesity, ignorance, puritanism, and weakness.  True strength is feared, reviled, marginalized, and demonized.  Self-reliance is lambasted as exclusionary and sociopathy.  Self improvement in the modern era has become the disgusting field of "self help", which is naught but excuse-making and pseudoscience.  True self improvement is considered at best to be self-indulgent and at worst to be self-destructive solipsism, when it is in fact neither.

Arnold von Winkelried, a Swiss psychopath with bigger balls than a Brahma bull and a hatred for the oppressive hyperstructure of the Habsburgs, led an assault of untrained, battle axe wielding Swiss mountain men against a massed formation of thousands of knights.  Utilizing nothing but hatred and big fucking biceps, the Swiss slaughtered the Austrians wholesale... after Arnold just threw himself into the Austrian lines and made a hole in their lines himself.

We must throw off the chains imposed upon us by society so we may stand proud over the plebes as their clear physical, mental, and spiritual superiors.  Unfettered by physical weakness, dogmatism, and any other strictures that limit our freedom of thought, we can preside over the world as its giants among Liliputians.  We can be the modern incarnation of the Annunaki that will be regarded by future generations as gods and demigods if we choose... or we can bust out our calculators and pocket protectors and contend ourselves with the promise of incremental progress if only we would castrate our spirit and approach life in a dispassionate and ultimately illogical "rational" manner.



Ford, Michael W.  Wisdom of Eosphoros.  Houston: Succubus Productions, 2015.
Ford, Michael W.  Sekhem Apep.  Houston: Succubus Productions, 2014.
Henry, Emile.  Letter to the governor of the conciergerie prison (1894).  No Gods No Masters.  Oakland: AK press, 2005.
McVan, Ron.  The Book of Wotan.  Middletown: Sons of Albion, 2016.
Stirner, Max.  The false principles of our education.  No Gods No Masters.  Oakland: AK press, 2005.

12 October 2017

Fustigation Fury- Training To Fight From The Primeval To The Present, Part 1 (Pankratists and Pehlwani)

Notorious (and somehow illiterate in a developed Western nation) Irish Traveller Paddy Doherty does little more than speak an unintelligible patois of Hiberno-English, Irish, and German, commit petty crime, and fight.

Humans have fought since time immemorial- we're an ornery lot.  Like other apes, men have fought to establish their position in the pecking order or to kill, but they've also fought for money and glory.  Over the years, humans have invented more ways to fuck each other up than one could count, ranging in scope and intensity from the on-its-face-ludicrous-but-apparently brutal Russian slap fighting to atomizing each other with nuclear weapons, but they all have one thing in common- the desire to inflict pain and damage upon one's opponent.

If WSM wanted to get super hardcore, they could always add the knives-strapped-to-the-triceps gambit to the axe hold... I have a feeling there'd be a lot of records broken the first day they used the Enter the 36 Chambers method.

Humans being the apex predators and unrepentant destructive psychotics that we are, have learned over the years that simply practicing technique is not enough when one must stand toe-to-toe with their opponent and attempt to impose their will on them- physical fitness, stamina, and strength are also key elements to victory.  As such, just about every style of combat ever developed has a concomitant training program that compliments and enhances it, just like good lube does for violent anal fisting.

Before we jump into strength and conditioning training for fighting, however, I'd like to clue you guys into some badass fighting styles that aren't often discussed, which is tragic because these styles are more awesome than a tandem blowjob from Tegan and Sara (or for the ladies... being doublestuffed by John Cena and the Rock?).

  • Russian Fist Fight.  This Russian martial art usually consists of two teams of Russian psychopaths pairing off and beating the everloving fuck out of each other, because vodka and Siberia and general evil are the prime motivators in everyday Russian life.  This sport is apparently the progenitor of the fight rule everyone thinks of as American as apple pie, the "don't hit 'em when they're down," which is an oddly pragmatic rule for a people seemingly obsessed with being little more than drunken villains from James Bond films.  Check out this awesome Little Big video that highlights this incredibly brutal Russian tradition.

    • Purring.  Also known as shin-kicking, this English martial art began as part of the Cotswold Olimpick Games in or around 1622.  One of several games so fucking weird that they could only have been the produce of bets between people so drunk that locomotion was a distant memory and in which double vision would be considered 20/20.  These games included a bizarre dance competition that featured the village retard as a referee called dwile flonking, piano smashing (I am not making that up). and sledgehammer throwing, so purring must have seemed like an event dreamt up by Michael Bolton while masturbating to the tune of Christopher Cross's horrific, worthy-of-being-sent-to-the-camps song "Best That You Can Do."  The sport, and I use that term very loosely, was a favorite pastime of the notoriously tough and insane Cornish miners grab each other by the collar and proceed to kick the ever-loving fuck out of each other's shins until one person quits.  Somehow, these fights are determined by the winner of two out of three matches, though I cannot envision how drunk one would have to be to do that more than once.  I would guess drunker than Robert Downey Jr when he broke into a neighbor's house and passed out in their kid's bed, which would leave me to believe this sport has its roots in drunks trying to liven each other up for the walk home after an epic day of drinking. 

    • Bartitsu.  This hundred-plus year old hybrid martial art has recently had a resurgence (possibly due to its popularization by the Art of Manliness website) and was mentioned several times in Sherlock Holmes stories.  Invented at the turn of the 20th Century by Edward William Barton-Wright, bartitsu was designed as a method of combat for English gentlemen that made use of stupid shit the English dandies of the time carried, like canes and umbrellas.  Equal parts jujitsu, schwingen (Swiss folk wrestling consisting mostly of giving your opponent a gnarly wedgie), savate, canne de combat, judo, and boxing.
    With that out of the way, onto training to fight, because knowing how to fight isn't worth shit if you're too weak and winded to impose your will on your opponent.

    Ancient Greek Pankratiasts
    Anyone else miss the old UFC/Vale Tudo rules?  Holy shit they ruled.  Everything permitted except eye gouging, fishhooking, and heatbutting?  YAAASSSSSS.  It was a time when Marco Rua used a foot stomp to win a fight, when people used to break their hands pounding their opponents into bloody hamburger, Wanderlei Silva earned his nickname "The Axe Murderer" for headbutting his way through an entire fight and had the ring looking like a scene from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and dumbass felon Kimo carried a massive cross to the cage.  Well, if you were to put much more skilled fighters like you'd see in vale tudo into that cage and less like those you saw in the first couple of UFCs, you'd have the sport pankration, introduced to the Olympics in 673 BC and well known for being the most brutal thing going in the ancient world.  It was a sport so fucking vicious that it enabled the Spartans to slaughter Persians with nothing more than their bare hands, teeth, and shattered lances at Thermopylae, and it made the Greek hoplites into some of the most fearsome fighters in human history.

    This Richard Simmons-lookalike, bizarrely enough, is apparently the world's foremost authority on one of the hardest styles of martial arts ever invented.

    Pankration matches were essentially slaughterfests, as crawling away from a fight crippled or dropping dead in the midst of a fight were about as common as shit-filled underwear after a trip to all-you-can-eat Indian restaurants.  Pankratists weren't simply more vicious than a rabid dog with its nuts caught in a mousetrap, either- they were fucking strong, and many could kick straight through a 16 lb bronze and oak aspis (hoplite shield).  Given that this shield essentially turned the hoplite into a tank, kicking through one was no small feat, and receiving a kick with that kind of force could be fatal if you caught one in the chest.

    Secure in the knowledge that in order to be bone-shatteringly strong, the hyperviolent death machines of ancient Greece heaved around some weights in addition to training techniques and sparring balls out for hours a day.  Stone lifting and throwing were two of the favorite strength tests and methods for building the type of strength that would allow them to snap limbs even as they were being strangled to death, ancient Greek fighters, as was the use of proto-dumbbells called halteres.  Additionally, they spent a hell of a lot of time stretching, running, shadowboxing, and training their "core" (oh, how I fucking loathe that term).  For the latter, they had a method worth mentioning because it deserves to be featured in Rocky 48- they would strike a punching bag as hard as possible, then tense their body for impact as the rebounding bag would slam into them like a 19 ton truck into a crowd of unsuspecting Europeans (Nurse).  Compounding that would be the events of their daily lives, which often included military training and hard physical labor.  To develop their strength even further, the athletes of ancient Greece would run at the end of the day and perform rigorous bodyweight exercises to transform their bodies even further into unstoppable, Terminator-esque death machines... which they then used to conquer the known world and defeat the largest army ever assembled to that point (Brown).

    Indian Pehlwani
    I've written an entire series about how the Indians trained and dieted to become some of the most badass wrestlers and strongmen in the world from the dawn of recorded history until the British ripped their balls off and fed them to the Indians like some fucking kobayashi.  Rather than rehash it, I'll just link it: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5.  That might be the most comprehensive analysis of badass, old school, sweat-your-fucking-balls-off-and-eat-ghee-like-you're-getting-paid-to Indian pehlwan training ever written. Matt Furey's got nothing on me.  You're welcome.

    If you want the TLDR version, you need look no further than the epic Indian wrestling badass, a man so fucking tough that wrestling him was akin to attempting to fuck up King Kong while afflicted with turf toe, gingivitis, and full-blownsies AIDS- the Great Gama.  Gama was fucking jacked, especially for turn of the 20th century and a region now known for spindly limbs and potbellies.  Born in the Punjab in 1878, this one-man-wrecking-crew of mustachioed wrestling glory came to prominence in his very first public match at age 17, in which he fought a literal giant with enough wins under his belt to make Goldberg's record look less fanciful.  Though the match ended in a draw, Gama defeated him in a rematch and was then touted as the next champion and proceeded to lay waste to everyone in India except the Indian champion.

    After a quick trip to Europe to trash all of the wrestlers on the continent (his first match was against Benjamin Roller, who had defeated Farmer Burns and Ed "the Strangler" Lewis among others, and Gama pinned Roller in a minute forty), defeated 12 wrestlers in a single day, won a forfeit by legendary strongman and 2-time world champion Stanislaus Zbysko (whom he later beat in under a minute), and then returned to India to mangle the World Champion there.  By the time he was 48, Gama held the belt for the World Champion in the United States and India, and retired having fought to a couple of draws but never having been defeated, even when he wrestled over a dozen men in a single day. Among his victories, Gama counted wins over strongman, Olympic Weightlifter and strongman Maurice Deriaz (who once defeated 44 opponents in a single wrestling tournament), ripped Swiss champion and all-around badass Johan Lemm, a bunch of judo and jujitsu practitioners, and the greatest wrestlers (and some of the largest humans on the planet) in India.

    Undefeated for over 50 years, the Great Gama was renowned for his strength and even fitness fanatic Bruce Lee was reportedly a rabid fanboy of Gama's workout routine.  When I say renowned, I mean he was Mountain-from-GoT-strong.  At one point, Gama allegedly lifted a 2.5 foot tall stone weighing 2645 pounds in a bear hug, and his even the strongest of the European strongman wrestlers claimed the Great Gama was the strongest man they had ever faced.  Gama was strong in the way a tyrannosaur was strong- his levels of strength and strength endurance seem hardly possible.
    "To give you the scope of his commanding physical presence, Gama had 30-inch thighs and a 56-inch chest.  His daily routine is said to have included 3,000 bethaks (free squats), 1,500 dands (jackknifing pushups), and a one-mile run with a 120-pound stone ring around his neck.  In 1908, two years before he went to London to compete for the world championship belt, Gama's regimen was increased to 5,000 bethaks and 3,000 dands.  Every morning he would also work out by wrestling with 40 compatriot wrestlers in the roayl court.  He also began listing with a 100-pound grndstone and a santola (a wooden barbell made from a tree trunik).  His phenomenal diet and exercise regimen were meant to develop a pervasive  and subtle energy rather than just the kinetic power of particular muscle groups.  Even at the age of 50, Gama was still doing 6,000 bethaks and 4,000 dands every day and wrestling with 80 compatriots in the royal court" (Shannon 159-160).
    To fuel these lunacy-tinged training days, Gama reportedly drank two gallons of milk and ate one and a half pounds of crushed almonds a day,a dn by the time he moved to England, he was eating a hell of a lot of animal products as well.
    "As he grew older his training routine was intensified and his diet upgraded to include meat, butter, clarified butter, and yakhi, which Alter describes as a "boiled down glutinous extract of bones, joints, and tendons, which is regarded by many Muslim wrestlers as being a source of great strength, and being particularly good for the development of knees, ankles, and other joints." The amounts eaten by the Indian champions were prodigious, and Barkat Ali gives, with what truth I don’t know, the mature Gama’s daily diet as six chickens or an extract of eleven pounds of mutton mixed with a quarter pound of clarified butter, ten litres of milk, half a litre of clarified butter, a pound and a half of crushed almond paste made into a tonic drink, along with fruit juice and other ingredients to promote good digestion" (Noble).
    In short, he trained like his hair was on fire and his ass was catching and ate his fucking face off, and in the end his win-loss record reflected his insane work ethic and prodigious appetite.

    I might even get the scoop on how these chicks train.

    Up next, more wacky and wild martial arts, plus catch-as-catch can / no holds barred training and the strength training methods of karateka.  Additionally, I'll be publishing a "Chaos and Pain Reads It So You Don't Have To" article summarizing the best of what training magazines have to offer these days, and then the conclusion to the fight training series, which will feature the training methods of boxers throughout the ages, the training methods of judoka, and whatever else I decide to throw in there.  Until then, get your ass in the gym and do something epic.

    Brown, Eric.  Ancient Greek athletic training.  Livestrong. 11 Sep 2017.  Web.  24 Sep 2017.  http://www.livestrong.com/article/349071-ancient-greek-athletic-training/

    Dileep, Srikanth.  A forgotten wrestling legend: Perhaps the greatest of them all.  http://bleacherreport.com/articles/124884-a-forgotten-legend-perhaps-the-greatest-of-them-all

    The Great Gama.  Wikipedia.  Web.  11 Oct 2017.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Gama

    Noble, Graham.  The lion of the Punjab- Gama in England, 1910.  Journal of Alternative Perspectives.  May 2002.  Web.  17 Oct 2017.  http://ejmas.com/jalt/jaltart_noble_0502.htm

    Nurse, Paul McMichael.  Pankration: Martial Art of Classical Greece.  Fighting Arts.  Web.  23 Sep 2017.  http://www.fightingarts.com/reading/article.php?id=164

    Shannon, Jake.  Say Uncle!: Catch-As-Catch Can Wrestling and the Roots of Ultimate Fighting, Pro Wrestling, and Modern Grappling.  Toronto: ECW Press, 2011.