Monday, July 30, 2012

Playing in the park (and other random thoughts)

This weekend we went down to Mankato for my wife’s 20th high school reunion.  So to get my workouts in I packed my gear and hit the park / playground near my parent’s house.    I love working out out side, but park training has its downsides too.

I tend to scare soccer moms. It’s not that bad when my daughters go with me and play with my Dad while I work out.  But a 250 lb guy doing prison exercises on a kid’s jungle gym sends out some creepy vibes.  I try to be as unobtrusive as possible.  I usually find a swing in the far corner away from the other play equipment to set up my gear.  

I mind my own business, I don’t say boo to anybody.  I even have my ear buds in so I can pretend to ignore everyone completely.

It usually goes one of two ways
  1.   )      Mommy what is he doing?

Don’t go over there, he is a stranger
Good response, you don’t know me.  Like the song says – tell your children not to come my way.  There are plenty other swings away from me you can play on

  1.  2)      Kid walks up – what are you doing?

`               I ignore the kid
                Kid keeps asking
I tell the kid to move along or the parent finally realizes that Jr. is chatting up the large scary man and the kid goes on his way

It’s really no big deal to me, I don’t care, but it can be distracting.  And if you are going to take your kid to the park, how about you spend some time playing with your kid.  If not at least pull your nose out of your I-phone or your novel and watch your fucking kid.

Side note – there is a large trend I martial arts / self defense to teach children stranger danger, and anti abduction techniques.  For anyone teaching this take a lesson from the Logic of Violence.  Make sure you are not retro fitting techniques you know to fit how you think an attack of this nature might happen.  

I’d also suggest you check the statistics for stranger child abduction.  They are actually very rare.  Children are much more likely to be abducted by a parent / close family member.  

So ask yourself if you were in a bad divorce how would abduct your own kid?  How could your kid stop you?  

Might not be as easy to advertise as a weekend seminar but it will be much more useful.

Other things I learned at the park
The park is covered in woodchips for safety.  Remember when kids played on concrete?  I wanted a really kick ass workout but I didn’t want to roll around in / get covered in woodchips.  So I had to adapt my work out (on the Gorilla Ladder 5000) to be all standing exercises.

Challenge accepted, that is another great part of working out in the park, just playing.  Playing with a concept until you figure it out.

A handstand push up is a great overhead pushing motion, but you have to get on the ground and push up.  Ground = covered in woodchips, so how do you do an overhead pressing motion with the ladder without getting on the ground. 

I found that you can also work your overhead pressing muscles by pushing down.  Kind of like a dip but an isometric push so you never push yourself off the ground.  Imagine a variation of an Iron cross from gymnastics.  That worked great.

Kind of like this but more of an angle with the arms like a lambda /\

Same question for a leg curl.  I discovered standing on one leg, bent over at the waist other leg in the bottom strap and curling back against the ladder in a sort of hooking kick uchi matta hybred.

So necessity being the mother of all invention gave me 2 new exercises to add the tool box

When I was done with my work out a guy came up to me and asked about the ladders and how I made them.

I told him about the blog and where to find more info.  I might have made my first ladder sale

I have been writing a lot about strength training and physical fitness lately.  I want to make sure I make some points very clear.

Whatever martial art / self defense / combatives program you use it should never be dependent on being physically superior to work.  

I'm not saying size and strength don't matter.  I am saying you can't ensure that you will always be bigger and stronger than your attacker so you can't depend on size and strength.

Again look at the logic of violence and understand what victim profiles you fit.  Criminals / Predators do not attack victims that are bigger and stronger than them.  Nor do they engage in social violence "sparring" type of attacks.  It simply makes no sense for them to do that.

So if you are depending on being bigger and stronger than your attacker you are have a rude shock coming your way.

Having said that, remove yourself from as many victim profiles as you can.

You have to play the hand you are dealt, but you should always be working to improve your hand.

I strength train because I enjoy it, and it is a requisite of job.  I need to be able to pick up a 250 lb operator with 50lbs or more of gear and move to the nearest cover as fast as possible.  I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I failed because I was too lazy to train hard on a regular basis.

But my Operational method is not dependent on physical strength. 

I’d much rather talk someone into cuffs.  So if that same vibe that scares soccer moms away at the park "intimidates" a subject into doing what I ask them nicely to do that is a win for me.

I can’t bet on size and strength in physical confrontation.  They are fleeting.  If it doesn’t work for Lise against me, then it simply doesn’t work.

This is a difficult lesson to learn.  Even harder to actually know.  But once you know this you will be opened up to an entire new level.

Case in point, and I've told this story before on this blog, but on an academic / mental level I knew Marc MacYoung was a very skilled fighter.  In fact I worked very hard to arrange opportunities to learn from him.

Looking back now I realize that I was just paying lip service to size can’t matter small folks just have to fight different / smarter.

I mean look just look at him

It wasn’t until he threw my fat ass clear across the room that I stopped thinking about physics on an academic level and truly knew applied physics work.

Solid physics (building codes) are in every martial art.  They may have been lost or watered down over the years but they are there if you know what to look for.  It doesn't matter what you call them, and nobody owns them.

Here is the sneaky little secret, if a big guy can learn to use physics like a skilled little guy.  Plus add all their additional mass to that equation.  You become a very powerful big guy, that does not depend on strength.

Just be careful because when it becomes effortless it will feel fake.  Another processes in knowing is believing.

You will throw someone very hard, or lock a joint very hard because you don’t yet know your own “new” strength.  You won't believe it can be this easy.

This true strength, this applicable strength should be the goal of combined strength / skill training
So go to the park, and play because it is fun and you owe it to yourself.  

Train hard, Train smart, Be safe


  1. Awesome blog!
    It does not matter how much I workout, I can only become so strong. If I don't use those good solid principles of bio mechanics, there is no way on earth I could throw a guy like you... and certainly not a guy like you who wants to hurt me.

    As for the soccer moms... I noticed they ask me when they need a car moved... not you... can't blame them... you are a bit on the scary side, which makes you awesome at what you do

  2. Very good blog as usual and I was only discussing this with a student last night who keeps using his strength as opposed to technique. He is big, strong and athletic and uses that a lot but I told him if he met his match on that level, that technique is what will win over! A great blog, keep up the very good work Kasey, people rely on people like you.

  3. Thanks, it's nice to hear that. That makes my day