Saturday, May 23, 2020

Compared to who - Part 2 How?

Compared to who - Part 2 How?

I was Teaching Assistant to Dr. William Lewinski at Mankato State University for two years.  When we would conduct standards testing, each category was a separate test.  Each test was graded on a steep curve based on the performance of previous students.  For example let’s say some guy back in 1990 did 55 burpees in one minute.  55 burpees = 100% = an A.  The amount of points were then converted into A-F grade scale

A 4
B 3
C 2
D 1
F 0

The letter scores are averaged out to give you your overall score.  So say a bench monkey could knock out 60 push ups in a minute (A) but his mile and a half time sucked say like 18 minutes (D).  Easy math A =4 + D= 1 is 5 divided by 2 for the two tests gives a score of 2.5 or a C+

Inversely a student on the Cross Country team ran her mile and a half like in 10 minutes (A), but could only do 10 push ups in a minute (F).  A=4 + F=0 divided by 2 gives a score of 2 or a C

Remember the idea of chasing perfection to catch excellence.  The goal is steady observable progress.  That is not possible without an object measure of your fitness.  In the example above I’m sure the both the bench monkey and the cross country athlete each thought they were pretty fit, until they were exposed to an objective test that showed them areas of their fitness that needed work.

I have found that the fitness industry uses a five level scale like this

  • Elite or Superior
  • Professional or Excellent
  • Expert or Good                                   
  • Collegiate
  • Intermediate or Fair

Combining my experience at MSU, running testing for Police Departments, and Law Enforcement Tactical teams with industry standards / best practices I have developed the Keck -O- Meter Scale. 

What is the Keck-O-Meter Scale you ask?
Violence Dynamics has many international clients.  As such an ongoing joke developed about English (American) and Metric measurement conversions.  How far is it to the restaurant? Oh that's about 17 Keck-O-Liters.  How much whiskey did you put in this drink?  Approximately 1.75 Keck-O-Grams etc…

Keck-O-Meters became a thing during the logic of take downs class.  We were discussing the importance of off balancing someone before you attempt to move them.  To make an example I used Myron for a demonstration.  Myron as you may know by now is an impressive physical specimen.  

I said that a Keck-O-Meter is the measurement that N.A.T.O. uses to determine the physical capability of combat troops.  Their toughness or “Power Level” if you will.  I assumed everyone knew I was making a Dragon Ball Z Scouter joke.  I said that Myron was 10 Keck-O-Meters and that I wasn’t what I used to be, so maybe I’m like 7.5 Keck-O-Meters.  Quick Mankato State math 10 is greater than 7.5 so I probably can’t throw him.  However, if I take his balance away and twist him up in such a way that he can only access 6 of his 10 Keck-O-Meters then clearly 7.5 is greater than 6 and throwing him is easy.  Seeing Myron being unable to resist and be thrown with minimal effort is a great visual reinforcement of a principle based approach to take downs.

After that class people came up to me to ask about where they can learn more about the Keck-O-Meter scale and wanted to know if it was named after me.  Apparently If you seem sincere enough and appear to know what you are talking about you can bullshit folks fairly easily.  I explained I was just making a joke, but a seed was planted that perhaps a Keck-O-Meter scale should be developed.

How do you find your Keck-O-Meter score?  Remember this is for your fit for.  That is specific to you, so you should choose objective measures of the attributes you require.  However, we can use fit for personal protection as an example.

Fit For What?...Personal Protection / Professional Use Of Force
Define that (what does that mean?)

  • Strong
  • Moves well 
  • Technically skilled
  • Endurance / gas tank 

What does that look like?


  • Power (1 Rep Max)
  • Muscular Endurance (Max reps in one minute)
  • Functional strength (ability to transfer these attributes to practical skills)

Power (1 Rep Max)

  • Push
    • (Away) Bench Press
    • (Above) Over Head Press
  • Pull
    • (Toward) Row
  • Hinge
  • Dead Lift
  • Squat
    • Some variation of a squatting motion (I like Zercher Squats)

Unless you are actually training for a power lifting competition (power lifting is is your fit for).  You don't have to kill yourself finding your one rep max.

Basic formula to calculate one rep max is:
(Lbs X Reps X 0.0333) + Lbs

That gives you a fairly reasonable estimation of what your one rep max is.  You can use that to help gauge your progress with less potential for injury than actually lifting a weight you can only move for one repetition.  

The tests should be specific to you.  For example the standards on the above tests are for a male my age and my body weight.  

You can and should scale the tests specifically to you as well.  For example my knees are fairly shit.  So to test the power of my legs I prefer to do Zercher Squats as opposed to more traditional barbell back squats.  To test my cardio vascular fitness I prefer to row as opposed to run.

Breaking yourself to see how fit you are really doesn't make much sense, and ultimately makes you less fit.  Regardless of what you are training to be fit for.

I have included a link to the sources I use for standards so you can customize your own tests if you would like.

Click HERE  for your customizable Keck-O-Meter testing matrix.
Please make your own copy and alter to meet your needs.

Determining your Keck-O-Meter score

Step 1 - The math.  The Keck-O-Meter scale is based on a 5 point grading system.  You can see from the test above I had a one rep max on over head press of 192 lbs which earned a 3 points.

192 (3) - OHP
385 (2) - Dead Lift
291 (3) - Bench Press
204 (1) - Zercher Squat

On my power attribute testing I earned a 3,2,3,1 respectively on each test.

Averaged out that is a 2.25 score for power.  I wanted to make sure that anyone using this uses multiple tests, and tests multiple attributes.  It would be easy for the bench monkey from MSU to just test bench press.  

 How much ya bench?

So I included a modifier.  +.05 bonus for each test with a max of +.25 per attribute.

For example, testing just bench press receives no modifier.  Testing bench and squat receives .05 per test resulting in a .1 bonus.

You can see from my scores that my squat needs improvement especially compared to my bench press and over head press scores.  The testing process points out an imbalance, that I can work on now, because I can see it (affordances).

I took four tests to determine my power attribute so my 2.25 gets a .2 bonus for a score of 2.45

Step 2 take your 5 point scale score and multiple by 5 to get your Keck-O-Meter score for that attribute.

2.45 x 5 = 12.25.  12.25 = Expert / Good for that one attribute

Step 3 average out the scores from testing all of the attributes required for your fit for.
Here is an example of attribute testing for personal protection 

The Keck-O-Meter scale works like this
Elite /  Superior [21 - 25]
Pro  / Excellent [16 - 20]
Expert  /  Good                        [11 - 15]
Collegiate (SWAT Qual Min)   [6  -  10]
Intermediate / Fair [1  -    5]

Elite /  Superior is the ranking for 21 - 25 points.  This intentionally set very high.  This level is an extremely lofty goal.  This is the level of fitness of a professional athlete at their peak.  Pro Bowl  / All Star caliber.  This is as close to Captain America as reality can come until the invention of the super soldier formula and vita rays.

Pro  / Excellent 16 - 20 points.  Also very difficult.  This is roughly equivalent to a professional athlete.  Hawkeye / Black Widow.

Expert  /  Good  11 - 15 points  Clearly this is no joke either.  This would be similar to entrance requirements for Special Forces.  Agent 13 / Maria Hill

Collegiate (SWAT Qual Min) 6  -  10 points.  This is right about what is required for collegiate sports.  This would be similar to entrance requirements for Law Enforcement Tactical Teams.   

Intermediate / Fair 1  -    5 points.  This is roughly equal to the level of fitness required to pass a Military or Law Enforcement PT test.

Make this process your own:

  • Pick the attributes you feel are important to your fit for
  • Test those attributes in ways that meet your needs (don't break yourself testing yourself)
    • What was your score?
    • What was easy?
    • What needs work?
  • Develop a plan
  • Work the plan
Are you more fit for your specific fit for, than you were 6 weeks ago?  
That is called winning!!!

You may never score that 5 star 20-25 Keck-O-Meter rating but that was never the point, in the attempt you caught excellence.

So ultimately the answer to the question compared who, is you.  You now compared to you then, compared to where you want to be. 

How do you get to where you want to be?

The Budo Blog will return in - Develop a plan part 1: Time Management.

Until then...
Train hard, train smart, be safe

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Compared to who - Part 1 Why?

Compared to who - Part 1 Why?

Asking fit for what helps narrow the field.
Asking what does that mean will yield specific attributes.
Asking what does that look like should provide specific obtainable skills and abilities.

The next question then is compared to who?

Why ask compared to who?

Asking compared to who helps provides an objective means to determine if you are becoming more fit.  Regardless of what your specific definition of fit is.  This will be a key stage in setting reasonable goals and developing an action plan to reach those goals.

This is your “fit for”, so obviously very specific to you.  However we can use a general “fit for” personal protection as a template.  I will include worksheets you can adapt to your needs.

Bench pressing your body weight doesn't necessarily make you better at personal protection, and you may never reach that goal.  However, consistently striving to achieve that goal will make you stronger than you were before and strong people are generally harder to kill.

You can not obtain perfection, but in chasing perfection you can achieve excellence.

There are a few basic human motions required for any athletic endeavor.  Whatever your fit for is.


Looking at your fit for through the spectrum of basic motion makes quantifying your fit for easier.

It might look something like this

Fit For What?...
  • Personal Protection / Professional Use Of Force

Define that (what does that mean?)

  • Strong
  • Moves well 
  • Technically skilled
  • Endurance / gas tank 

What does that look like?

  • Strong
    • Power (1 Rep Max)
    • Muscular Endurance (Max reps in one minute)
    • Functional strength (ability to transfer these attributes to practical skills)

Power (1 Rep Max)
  • Push
    • (Away) Bench Press
    • (Above) Over Head Press
  • Pull
    • (Toward) Row
  • Hinge
  • Squat
  • Core

Knowing how much weight you can move in these fundamental motions for one repetition is an objective measure of one aspect of your fitness.

Clearly the percentage of your body weight you can move through these motions has different importance based on your goals.

Anything over 5 reps is cardio.  If that is your fit for that is fine but more than likely you will need a more well rounded athleticism to accomplish your goals.  How long can you sustain effort?

Muscular Endurance (Max reps in one minute)

  • Push
    • (Away) Push up
  • Pull
    • (Up / Climb) Chin Up / Pull Up
  • Hinge
    • Toe Touch
  • Squat
    • Air Squats
  • Core
    • Sit Ups

Knowing how many repetitions of these fundamental motions you can achieve in one minute is another objective measure of your fitness.  Giving you a broader perspective of how fit you are.

If you can dead lift twice your body weight but you can't do 3 pull ups that should probably be addressed in your action plan.  Same goes if you can knock out 15 pull ups but can’t pull your body weight dead lifting.

So let's say you can dead lift twice your body weight and do 15 pull ups.  That is pretty kick ass!  However, if you can do those things but you can’t bend over and tie your shoelaces, are you fit for whatever your fit for is? 

Moves Well (Mobility)
  • Push
    • Shoulder Movement
  • Pull
    • T Spine Rotation
  • Hinge
    • Hamstrings
  • Squat
    • Quads
  • Core
    • T Spine Extension

What do those exercise names mean? Myron Cossitt of THE MOVEMENT LAB has developed a mobility testing method and training program for the Life Dynamics project. Those terms are short hand for the ideas Myron has shared with me, which I will share in depth in future blogs

Knowing how well you can move through these fundamental motions is yet another objective measure of your fitness.  Giving you an even deeper perspective of how fit you are.

OK, so now you can dead lift twice your body weight, do 15 pull ups, and you can place your palms on the ground with out bending your knees when you bend at the waist - Awesome!!!

Next question...
Can you apply those attributes that you are kick ass at to the skills / abilities of your fit for?

Functional Strength (ability to transfer these attributes to practical skills)

  • Push
    • (Away) Medicine Ball Throw - shot put
    • (Away) Sandbag accordion press
    • (Above) Over Head Press rope weighted drag
  • Pull
    • (Toward) rope pull weighted drag
  • Hinge
    • Sandbag power clean
  • Squat
    • Sled work - weighted push  / pull behind
  • Core
    • Sandbag shoulder and slam
    • Thor’s Hammer

Functional strength is general physicality as opposed to specific muscle groups.  Compound motions.  Not skill specific but should have a direct correlation to enhanced skill performance.  This should incorporate strength, strength endurance, mobility, and include the use of different cardiovascular energy systems.

What motions mimic / are related to the physical skills required for your fit for?
What motions mimic / are related to your physical personal protection skills?

Technically skilled
  • Striking
  • Take downs
  • Ground Skills
  • Counter Assault

Alright, you can dead lift twice your body weight, do 15 pull ups. You can also place your palms on the ground with out bending your knees when you bend at the waist, and throw a punch that would knock out a bull.  Very impressive!!!

However, if you have to run a block you feel like your heart is going to explode and you want to die.

Next question...
Do you have the stamina to apply the skills / abilities needed for your fit for, for the amount of time your fit for requires?

Endurance / Gas Tank
  • ATP / Max Effort : 30 seconds to 3 minutes :                                                          
    • Ability to recover and buffer the shutdown point.
      • 500m Row For Time
      • 800m Run For Time
  • Glycolytic / Hard Effort : 3 minutes to 15 minutes :                                                  
    • Ability to hold under the failure/shutdown point. (Get there fast and hold it)
      • 2000m Row For Time
      • 1 Mile Run For Time
  • Oxidative / Sustained Effort : 16 minutes plus :                                              
    • Ability to hold a steady and consistent pace and come as close to recovering while moving as possible
      • 5km Row For Time
      • 5km Run For Time

At my oldest daughter's Volley Ball try outs they ran a timed 2 mile run. That fits in the oxidative / sustained effort : 16 minutes plus category. However, Volley Ball primarily consists of sprinting 2-5 yards to return the serve, and a lot of explosive jumping. Volley Ball's primary skills fall into the ATP / max effort : 30 seconds to 3 minutes category.

The fit they were testing for had very little to do with what they needed to be fit for.

To help avoid these type of pit falls...

The Budo Blog will return with "Compared to who - Part 2 How?"

Until then - train hard, train smart, be safe.