Thursday, November 29, 2018

Friends don't let friends Squat on the Smith Machine

The Budo Blog has been swimming in fairly deep waters lately so I figured it would be nice to just have some fun. 

It all started with this meme, and the responses I received after I posted it.

Jacob Shepherd:  HEY! Some of us don’t have a choice.

Kasey Keckeisen:  There is always a choice

Jacob Shepherd: Not when you have to use your apartment gym

Kasey Keckeisen:  If that gym has dumbbells I’ll give you at least 3 better exercises than Smith Machine Squats

Jacob Shepherd: Do it

Kasey Keckeisen: Ok I’ll pm you some stuff

Allison MacDonald:  I’d be interested too.  I need to lift more (and smarter)

Nathan Corliss:  I don’t use smith but gun shy putting the bar back in the back. Would like some dumbbell alternatives

Kasey Keckeisen:  Ah, ok - This just became next week's blog

Dillon Beyer:  Kasey Keckeisen isn't the hero this thread deserves, but the one it needed.

I thought to myself, I'm old and broken why are folks asking fitness advice from me?

Also, c'mon guys a simple google search should answer most of your questions.

So I did a Google search

What I found was young athletes with unlimited gym space and equipment doing super heavy alternatives to barbell back squats for no apparent reason other than they were getting too strong and got bored.

Then it made sense why folks were asking me.  The information readily available was of little value to them.

If you can barbell back squat - do it.  There may be several reasons why you can't
If you can't and you continue to lift you have to ask...

What are you lifting for?

  • To be more dangerous
  • To be a more effective fighter
  • To remove yourself from victim profiles
  • To maintain muscle mass

If you are lifting for some form of increased physical performance then you have to be smart. 

You are lifting to be a better fighter, not fighting to be a better lifter, or more accurately fighting heavier weights.

There are plenty of people at nearly every gym in the world that are fighting to be a "better" lifter.

These are the people that load a ridiculous amount of weight onto a smith machine or a leg press machine and do 1/8 (no rep) squats.

These folks aren't much different than those that inject Synthol

In that they are not actually getting stronger, they are not increasing any form of physical performance.

They want to appear strong, and don't quite get that only the extremely uninformed could possibly be impressed by what they are doing.

Sadly the attempt to appear stronger without actually becoming stronger often leads to severe injury.

Clearly you are not one of these people, or you wouldn't bother reading this blog, or seeking out any information for that matter.

I mention it because if you are lifting for increased physical performance, lifting to be a better fighter, then the weight you move doesn't matter.  You are not trying to impress anyone.

The weight doesn't matter, only the progress toward your performance goals. 

I would argue that even body weight only exercises done with good form and through your best range of motion would increase your athletic performance more than weighted exercises on a Smith Machine that removes 5 out of the 6 axes of motion.

If you call bull shit on that look up the conditioning routines Martin "Farmer" Burns and Karl Gotch used to prepare for Wrestling

(This guy knew a thing or two about old man athletic performance)

So even if you don't have any weights to lift you can still get stronger, and progress toward your performance goals.

If you do have access to weights, even better.

I recently came across a post written by Stefi Cohen that I shared with my daughter.

"Women need iron. Not the vitamin. The barbell. We are trained by the world around us to have fucked up ideas about our bodies; iron unfucks them. We are taught that the only good direction for the scale to go is down, and to agonize ritualistically when it goes up. Iron teaches us the power of gaining weight for strength and gives us another weight to care about – the weight we are lifting.

We are taught to think of our bodies as decorative, an object to be looked at; iron teaches us to think of our bodies as functional, our own active selves, not passive objects for another’s regard. Whole industries exist to profit by removing from us our confidence and selling it back as external objects. Iron gives us confidence from within through progressive training and measurable achievements.

We are taught to be gentle and hide our strength or even to cultivate charming physical weakness until we start to believe our bodies are weak. Iron teaches us how strong we can be."

Women need iron, all humans need iron, and not just young athletic ones.

Being more powerful, more agile makes you more dangerous.
Limping puts you on victim profiles.

So getting stronger without damaging yourself becomes vitally important

Maybe I am the hero that thread needed.

So I promised at least three dumbbell squat alternatives...
Here are four Old Man Judo (getting stronger without damaging yourself) Squat variations

Dumbbell Squat:
Besides working your quads, you can also add extra stuff like shrugs and toe raises.
Holding enough weight to work you legs also works your grip.

Goblet Squat:
Sink down get your hip hinge below your knees - load the weight.
Pause at the bottom.  Let the weight help you increase you range of motion (hip hinge below your knees).  Press up

World's slowest Burpee:

Old Man Thrusters

This was fun.  I hoped it helped the folks that were asking for advice.
If you have a question please post it in the comments.  It might become a future installment of the Budo Blog.

Train hard, Train smart (getting stronger without damaging yourself), Be safe

"...So you will know your own strength and be happy"

Friday, November 23, 2018

Thank God for unanswered prayers

This week was Thanksgiving in America.  A time to take a pause and show appreciation for all that you hold dear.  Then, if you are religious to thank God for those things.

The holiday, along with some projects I am working on, and conversations with friends I am truly thankful for, got me thinking about giving thanks for things one is not grateful for.

Awhile ago I had a Paul Harvey – the rest of the story, type conversation with someone.  It was brave of them to share that part of their history with me.  Especially because it involved a significant traumatic experience in their life.  As I was listening, I was hit with several thoughts:

  • Wow, I’m glad they feel comfortable enough with me to share this.
  • This person is even more amazing than my original assessments because they came through that experience.
  • Anger - I want to kill the mother fucker that caused this pain,
  • If I could go back in time I would.
But the thought that hit me hardest, and inspired this blog was…
If I went back in time and killed that mother fucker would the person sharing this deeply personal account with me ever come to exist.  Would they still be able to become the amazing person I have come to know?

In the animated film "Teen Titans: The Judas Contract" Beast Boy (Garfield Logan) is being interviewed by Kevin Smith after the apparent death of a team mate.  He says,"There are a lot of people who have been handed a rough life.  They never asked for it, but they do what they can.  Many of them can’t rise above the hurt it’s just too hard.  All that pain, the pressure crushes some of them to dust, others it turns into diamonds"

While my subconscious has been letting that cook, I have been working with a crew of outstanding individuals that I am truly thankful for on a Women’s Self Defense class for the high school I am a resource officer for.

Part of the O.D.I.N. (Network) mission statement is getting good information out to those that need it most, especially those that might not seek out this training themselves.

What better opportunity to walk our walk?

One of the things that this crew I'm working with excels at is helping me present the good information in a manner that those that need it most are capable of receiving.

A lot of - the point you are making is important, what if we presented it like this.

Besides being useful to others this corroborative process has helped me identify my own blinders, and is making me a better instructor.

As I was examining those blinders I came to realize that my discussion on "after" was very tough guy tacticool, and not as valuable to those that need it most as it could be.

Operational Disciplines:

  • Legal / Ethical
  • Violence Dynamics
  • Conflict Strategy (Avoid/Escape/Tactical Communications)
  • Counter Assault
  • The Freeze
  • The Fight
  • After

I have blinders, but with help, they are getting narrower, I am seeing more.

After action Kata - get some place safe, check for injuries, get medical treatment if needed, call the police.

However, in the after many may face or have already faced a scary aspect maybe getting medical attention and calling the police:

  • Dealing with a SANE nurse
  • Receiving a post sexual assault exam 
  • Talking to Law Enforcement (signing HIPA waivers)
  • Retelling the incident 
  • Telling you parents

A Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) is a qualification for forensic nurses who have received special training to conduct sexual assault evidentiary exams for rape victims. SANE nurses are specially trained in the medical, psychological, and forensic examination of a sexual assault victim.

I have blinders.  I've only been on the Law Enforcement side needing information, and the biases that can be ingrained with that.

I was thinking something like what Terry Trahan presented as an OG track at Violence Dynamics Prime this year this could be helpful.
You can do everything right and still be arrested for using force to defend yourself.
Especially because so many times when the Police do show up, the person still standing was not defending themselves, but the aggressor.  What is the first thing this aggressor says to the first responding Officer?  It was self defense, I swear.

Terry taught a class that detailed what happens after you are arrested.  Knowing what to expect can make something that sucks less scary.

Maybe a class that details what happens at the hospital so it is less traumatic if it ever happens.

What would I want my daughters know?  What would I want my daughters to do?
Holy shit that is an eye opener for you, starts to peel away blinders

What would I want my daughters to do?

It occurred to me that there may be undue pressure on my daughters. People joke about how tough they are, growing up around this, having Violence Dynamics Instructors, Tactical Operators, and Martial Arts experts that are like aunts and uncles.

I mean how many times have I bragged on them?  How many times have I used the image above?

Does this place a false expectation of "toughness" on them?  Too "tough" for bad things to happen to?
If something bad happened, would that self perceived expectation add additional pressure?

"There are a lot of people who have been handed a rough life.  They never asked for it but they do what they can.  Many of them can’t rise above the hurt it’s just too hard.  All that pain, the pressure crushes some of them to dust, others it turns into diamonds."

At one time the Federal Trade Commission defined a diamond as a natural mineral consisting essentially of pure carbon crystallized in the isometric system.

(FTC) has expanded its definition of “diamond” to include those grown in a laboratory.
Technological advances have made it possible to create diamonds in a laboratory. These stones have essentially the same optical, physical and chemical properties as mined diamonds. Thus, they are diamonds.

Why do I mention this?

I need my daughters to know, I will do everything I can to create the laboratory conditions to make them hard as diamond.

I know they will be exceptional.  Sadly in this world sometimes bad things happen even to exceptional people, due to no fault of their own.

Even Amazons can get hurt. They can die. Even the most well-trained person can get surprised. People die in combat - and not because they're idiots. They are highly trained "tough" people. It happens.

The trick then, is to balance training for the highest standard (lab grown diamonds)and knowing I have their backs No Matter What

As exceptional as you are you are still human and allowed to go through human healing processes.
I will be there for you then too.  There is nothing you can tell me that will drop my esteem for you.
If you are alive to tell me about something terrible that happened that means you survived - you did what was necessary, you did the right thing.

I hope the world never dumps additional undue pressure on you, if it does know that you don't have to be crushed to dust, you can become an even higher carat diamond.

I am thankful for all the people in my life that push me to be better.  I am sorry for the pain that life may have handed them.

I am not thankful for that pain.  However, I am grateful these people found the strength to come through the other side and use their life experience to help others.

Recently I took this picture of my computer  - this is my life now, kick ass women and tactical operations

Yeah it's pretty cool - it's a good life - good enough.

Train Hard, Train Smart, Be Safe
Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one

The Budo Blog will return in -  Friends don’t let friends squat on the smith machine.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Kicking out crutches

Randy and Danny have been my Muse as of late.  Danny's blog is Intrepid Definitions is fantastic, and TIMELY.  She keeps knocking them out.  She doesn't take a month or two to get to it, she gets the work done, and does it well.

It is endearing that she doesn't know how good she is...yet.  I love how brave she is exposing her thoughts to the Internet.  I discussed this with my oldest daughter and she offered up this advice (to the both of us).

(Dad 'em right in the face)

Randy asks me questions, then my brain can't shut up.  So, many times processing out my thoughts to answer his question becomes a blog.  Such is the case with the blog you are currently reading.

It started simple enough...

This job is harder than I thought, but I still love it.

         How so?

It is hard to put in words exactly.  If I can't put it into words how can I process why I am feeling this way?

(and here we go)

But, before I start tumbling down this rabbit hole, a disclaimer.  This is just me (Kasey Keckeisen) the individual person thinking out loud.  Theses thoughts in no way represent the Police Department nor the School District I work for.

I hate the soft discrimination of lowered standards / expectations and, it seems that modern society has fallen in love lowering expectations.

I understand many of these kids have suffered some form of trauma, and that truly is heartbreaking.  Especially considering their tender age.

You don't make fun of a kid with a broken leg for not performing well in a foot race.
Trust me there are things in these children that are broken.

You don't make fun of a kid with a broken leg for not performing well in a foot race, but eventually that cast has to come off if, the leg is ever going to be strong again.

Eventually you have to get off the crutch, even though it may hurt.

The job is tougher than I expected because nearly every day I see the discrimination of lowered standards.  To use the analogy of the broken leg, I see authority figures give smiley face stickers to kids for using crutches 3 years after the leg break giving them the false impression that they will never be strong enough on to walk their own.  Forget about running.

The saddest part is that when these children leave the safety of school the world will kick out that crutch out from underneath them the first chance it gets, and those legs have atrophied to the point of amputation.

I have come to realize that this is so ingrained in the system that it is going to take major disruptive changes to society to alter it.

I can not change it.  That literally (and I never misuse that term) hurts me to type.
Kasey Fucking Keckeisen does not lose!  However, I can not change it.  Not from the inside.

From the inside, I can only lead by example.  Which I will continue to do

(You can be tough and also enjoy PJ day at school)

I can however, offer alternate education.  Maybe strengthen those legs a little bit.

Recently the following story popped up in my Facebook timeline.  It resonated with me and many of the people on the Odin / Alvitr team.

It gets dusty every god damned time I read that.

Odin sees the flinch when he slams his cup and refrains from doing so again.
O.D.I.N. has made people flinch on purpose as a learning tool, but we have also made people flinch on accident.

Odin doesn't slam his cup he just beams with pride... 
"Do you mind if I tell an off color joke?"
We continue to learn and grow to push each other to be better.

What really stood out for me was this line - So you will know your own strength and be happy all your days I will teach you to use these weapons.

Can one every truly be happy if they never find their own strength? 
(Get off those god damned crutches?)

This job is harder than I thought, but I still love it.

I can't change a flawed system but I can help people discover their own strength, and be happy.

On top of being an excellent writer, Danny is also a gifted artist.
She drew this

So you will know your own strength and be happy all your days I will teach you to use these weapons.

Train hard, Train smart - discover your strength - be happy - Be Safe

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Old Man Judo

(This is actually Old Man Logan, but I already have a BLOG by that name)

Violence Dynamics Prime is in the books.  I've processed what I have learned, and returned to a regular routine.  Which, of course includes writing the Budo Blog. Luckily for me this installment is about that new regular routine. (work smarter not harder)

I was discussing that regular routine, the "new" grind with Randy King.  He asked me about the Jujitsu changes I have made. Understand, that Randy has pointed out to me that I have a tendency to take the long road to explain things I'm excited about sometimes.  Not unlike Black Dynamite...

So...I told him it is kind of a long story and that I'd type it out.  Typing it out became this blog.

Bad news kid, the warranty on your body runs out at 40.  I have discussed how I’ve had a hard time with that, l
ooking for work-arounds, bordering on depression. ( Previously on can check that out HERE).

I have discovered, it is kind of like an ass backward puberty.

When you are a kid one day you are playing football with your buddies at recess and you are a beast.  The next day you are tripping over your own feet, because you literally have new feet. Your body changed dramatically, seemingly overnight, and now you have to learn how to operate a new body.  It sucked, but it was also kind of cool because you were getting bigger and stronger.

When you are a 39.9 one day you are running and gunning all day with the SWAT team then rolling Jujitsu at night. The next day you can’t get out of bed because everything hurts, and the pain kind of makes you an asshole to everyone in your life.  Your body changed dramatically, seemingly overnight, and now you have to learn how to operate a new body. It sucks, you are not getting bigger and stronger.  You are just getting closer to death.

What are you going to do cry about it?  Or, learn how to operate your new body?

Batman by 40 was a sustainable grind for me when I was 39.9.  After that it destroyed me. For the last four years I have been looking for a grind sustainable for my new body.

It took longer than I would have liked, and I needed some job stuff to fall into place to make it work but I finally found it. In retrospect it took exactly as long as it needed to take for me to learn the lessons I needed to learn.

Batman by 40 was mostly suspension body weight exercises and running, with the strengths and weaknesses that went along with that program.

After that it was heavy barbell lifts, and experimenting with non running methods of conditioning. A different set pros and cons.

Finally after four years, I found a combination of things I enjoy doing. A Venn diagram of different activities that pros cancel out or over lap the cons of the other activities,
Strength training that focuses on my +40 goals (maintain muscle mass, lose body fat) as opposed to chasing PR’s every week

(Not this so much)

(More of this)

Conditioning that protects my knees and is directly related to combatives and tactical operations.
(Mostly sand bag and assault bike stuff)

Rest days (plural). Sweet Christ Almighty - REST DAYS!!!! Heal and recover, or else what is the fucking point?

( If you don't have access to a Lazarus pit you really need to take time to recover )

Nutrition - Fueling all of that work with macros, that fit within a caloric budget (can't out run a fork).

Sleep - At least 7 hrs a night minimum (more whenever possible).

Things have been going well.  I feel great, a feeling I didn’t recognize for awhile.  I look forward to the next training as opposed to dreading it , but doing it because “the grind”

The last step was to take these ideas and apply them to my other love that hurts me - Jujitsu

Thus I started the Old Man (Logan) Jujitsu initiative.

[Note - there are Old Man Judo, and Old Man Jujitsu groups that have existed without any help from me for years.  However, they are mostly a way other old men in grappling arts encourage and commiserate with each other through the troubles we share.]

My old man Judo is a way for me to learn how to operate my new body.

What are the arts people turn to when they become too old to “bang” anymore?  Tai Chi and Aikido. It's not like I have over 20 years experience with Aikido to draw from or anything. I challenged myself to use the best of Aikido as a framework for training that works for me, in my new body, and allows me to continue to kick ass and have fun

The changes I have made:

In the past, I’ve tried to include the entire panoply of Jujitsu into each class:

  • Striking
  • Locks
  • Strangles
  • Throws
  • Ground Work
  • Practical Application / Personal Protection
  • Pressure Testing
  • Force on Force / Sparring
By the time I get to Jujitsu training at night I have already been going at least 14 hours. Not a whole lot of gas left in the tank. Training takes a lot of energy, instructing even more so. At that time of night, this body can only handle about 90 minutes of training.  90 minutes is not enough for the entire panoply of Jujitsu.

I also used to skimp time on warm ups to make more time for technical training because I felt the need to fit all of it into one class.

This body needs to be thoroughly prepared for technical training.

I have been playing with Kihon Dosa / Shumatsu Dosa, using them to ingrain structurally sound movement patterns.

Also spending time on fundamental movement required for the entire panoply of Jujitsu.

Go figure, doing things to prepare the body for greater strain that actually make you better at the technical aspects that create the greater strain.

The direct links to these preparatory movements and increased performance in myself and in the students have been worth the changes.

Additionally I have included plain old timey stretching after we are sweating, before we wrestle.

That leaves about an hour of class.  So instead of trying to cram 8 things into 60 minutes, I just choose 2 of those 6 things and spend a solid 30 minutes on each.  Allowing for deeper study and time for students to process the information (let it cook).

Students that come to every class will get the entire panoply of Jujitsu within that week.

Students that can only come to one class, won’t notice or care that they didn’t receive the entire panoply of Jujitsu.  They will be happy to make increased progress on the topics they were able to spend more quality time training.

This has been the case so far, I've only been playing with the old man format for around 2 weeks

In the past over a 12 week course students would get:

  • 4 x Striking
  • 4 x Locks
  • 4 x Strangles
  • 12 x Throws
  • 12 x Groundwork
And, if they can only make it once a week they will continue to get all of that. However,...

Ironically with the old man format students that can train twice a week get twice as much:

  • 8 x Striking
  • 8 x Locks
  • 8 x Strangles
  • 12 x Throws
  • 12 x Groundwork
At the Friday Night Fight Club we have the opportunity to play with:

  • Practical Application / Personal Protection
  • Pressure Testing
  • Force on Force / Sparring
So, cramming everything into one class kills me physically and is too much for many students to process.

Training the entire panoply of Jujitsu over the course of an entire week (3 different training sessions) has been paying off, and honestly, more importantly, it has just been way more fun.

Because if you are not having fun, what is the fucking point?

I'll tell you what, not limping is way more fun than hiding a limp.

Train hard, Train Smart - Train for the body you have, not the one you remember or the one you wish you had, Be safe.

The Budo Blog will return in "Kicking out crutches"