April 8, 2015, Toronto, Canada - In this SAFE International blog I would like to take a bit of a detour from my normal posts which are generally just about self defense. I am now 50 years of age and have always been very active in improving, and/or maintaining my physical health through sports and strength training. I have had some excellent trainers in the past, but with all my travel I needed to find a program requiring minimal equipment that I could do while on the road teaching self defense. A number of years ago I came across Scott Sonnon's TacFit programs and was instantly interested in his approach to physical health. So I bought a number of the TacFit programs, and while I loved them all, very quickly I found myself using the exercises in the TacFit programs, but coming up with my own routines for them rather than following the protocols that were setup for them. It was only when I bought the latest one titled "BAD45" that I sat down and did some introspection into why I have never followed the TacFit programs the way they were designed. And then I wondered how I might merge this new workout with my self defense training for extra benefit and motivation. So not knowing how I might do that, I first DECIDED that I would follow BAD45 exactly the way it was laid out without exception. What a concept following the program the way it was designed eh? Being honest with myself I realized that the other programs were too challenging and I think designing my own routine was a great way to fool myself into thinking I knew better and was still challenging myself as much. So, for the first time in years I was actually quite excited about sticking to a routine. Part of the BAD45 routine has a couple days each week composed of "just bodyweight exercises". I used to think that just doing bodyweight exercises was somehow not as effective as throwing dumbbells or kettlebells around. Well, after sticking to the first couple weeks of bodyweight exercises, I once again realized that they were too challenging in the past, and in fact, for me much more challenging than the ones using dumbbells. So my traditional thinking of which was tougher was backwards. In fact, the bodyweight exercises have me really pushing my boundaries in regards to my heart rate and aerobic/anaerobic conditioning.
So that got me to thinking how similar that was to my self defense training when we do scenario training with us pushing each other to the maximum both physically and mentally. I have added a short clip of our scenario training which shows how physical they can be, and if done right with a realistic verbal component, they are also mentally draining.
In a drill, you can stop if you are too exhausted to carry on, but in a real life scenario of violence, you do not have that option to stop or it may result in disaster for you and your loved ones. So, I was seeing a nice crossover of benefits between BAD45 and my self defense scenario training. Now, how I have integrated the two programs together?
Particularly after a set of bodyweight exercises, the heart rate is at a level similar to what one might experience in a high stress scenario of potential violence. So for the 15 to 30 seconds I have to recover, while trying to recover I will close my eyes and visualize a "worst case" scenario that I must fight through in order to escape. It may be a one on one scenario, one with multiple attackers or weapons involved, or I may be in a ground and pound position. But with every visualization, I do escape. This is a great way to program both the body and mind to achieve success in much more than just physical fitness. It has the added benefit of toughening the mind to never stop regardless of how tired or exhausted one may be.
Another visualization technique I use is to picture particular strikes while doing exercises. One example, is doing Sit Thrus (which I curse while doing), but I have now added the imagery of it being a low level kick that I may use if I was on the ground. Sit Thrus are also close to replicating getting up off the ground tactically to get to your feet to escape. Rear lunges are excellent exercise to visualize getting up off the ground to escape or drive forward. With virtually every exercise I can relate it to a self defense scenario which for me doubles the value of the training experience.
I am now a few weeks in to the program, and I have stuck to the protocol exactly and can say without a doubt there is something different happening physically and mentally for me. Whatever strength training/mobility program you choose, figure out how you might be able to add benefit to it with your self defense.
As always, Keep SAFE!
SAFE International Self Defense