“The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails.” – John Maxwell

 

Another book in the plethora?

I’ve been asked many times, “hey, when’s the book coming out?”  And it’s a truly flattering sentiment, believe me.  Humbling, too. But really, another fitness book?  Of course, you can always get my free ebook on the psychology of training (the Five Ts Methodology) by signing up for the TTP newsletter.

That there is little dearth in quality training information available to those who seek it should come as no surprise to the TTP reader.  High quality information is ubiquitous in this age,  and I’m certainly not talking about mere blather either (though there is a boatload of that floating around as well).  No, I’m speaking of the all the quality information available — and much of it available free of charge!  The problem is, though, is that all of this great information is kinda like the shotgunned approach of the old school mega-dose multi-vitamin — plenty of individual pieces, but nothing to bind it all together.  Unless of course we’re talking about the new school system of individualized supplementation.

But in most all systems — training or nutrition — there is simply a lack of synergy.  Like a group of all-stars who just can’t coalesce as a team.  This isn’t so much a failing on the part of the authors, but is a weakness inherent in the consumer. Synergy is precisely the critical thinking piece that the reader / consumer has to bring to the table.  But how does the reader / consumer go about learning this requite synergy?  Time, aptitude, and/or a good coach seem to me viable options.  But one thing is for certain: this element cannot be neglected.

And neglecting synergy is what we tend to do in the West.  We fail, in the words of Bruce Lee himself, “to take what is useful, and discard what is not”.  We break things down to their constituent parts, paying little regard at all to the complexity of the whole, or interaction between those constituent parts.  If we can’t measure/quantify it, it doesn’t exist.  More importantly, it can’t be charged for.  It’s simply “woo”.  And I think this is unfortunate, because so much is lost in that manner of analysis.  You just can’t chase your BCAAs with a Big Mac and be ok.

And, too, much of this quality information is written for a sport-specific audience.  Power lifters, say, or bodybuilders.  MMA fighters.  But what of the average guy or gal who just wants to be healthy and reasonably fit?  Most folks just aren’t equipped to be able take these sport-specific directives, and bend them to suit the needs of the generalist.

If I were to categorize all of the questions I deal with on a daily basis, the overwhelming majority would fall into what I would call “questions of synergy”.  In other words, how to put the theory contained in all this great wealth of physical culture information into actual practice.  It’s the very idea behind this blog.  And, hell, it’s the very idea behind Paleo f(x), as well.

There is, of course, a huge difference between being able to recite passages from The Education of a Bodybuilder, and actually applying some of that knowledge given a limited schedule and training options.  Let me tell you, I’ve trained in some of the most well-equipped S & C complexes anywhere, and where I had all the time in the world to train as I pleased.  But I’ve also trained (during military deployments) in the most arduous of circumstances, and when all I had available to me where blast straps and bodyweight options.  Training principles can always be adapted, if you’re willing (and give yourself the liberty) to actually think/create instead of purely regurgitating information. This is as true in physical culture as it is in science, music, or spirituality. A firm grasp of the constituent parts is necessary, yes — but even more important is the ability to synthesize, to put these ideas into practice under a given circumstance.  This is the key to a lifelong pursuit of Physical Culture.  Because if one thing can be counted on, it’s that your circumstance is going to change throughout life.  Repeatedly.  And if you can’t figure out how to navigate these changes effectively, you’ll fall out of the Physical Culture lifestyle.  And none of us wants to see that happen.  Navigating that pitfall is what the Five Ts system is all about.

Of Synthesis, and Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee’s philosophical outlook was reflected in the creation of his own martial art, which he dubbed Jeet Kune Do.  Although he’d initially trained in Wing-Chun, he also studied and incorporated aspects of western boxing, fencing and various other forms of martial art, and thus was not bound by any one style or overriding philosophy.  In Lee’s own words:

I have not invented a “new style,” composite, modified or otherwise that is set within distinct form as apart from “this” method or “that” method. On the contrary, I hope to free my followers from clinging to styles, patterns, or molds. Remember that Jeet Kune Do is merely a name used, a mirror in which to see “ourselves”. Jeet Kune Do is not an organized institution that one can be a member of. Either you understand or you don’t, and that is that. There is no mystery about my style. My movements are simple, direct and non-classical. The extraordinary part of it lies in its simplicity. Every movement in Jeet Kune-Do is being so of itself. There is nothing artificial about it. I always believe that the easy way is the right way. Jeet Kune-Do is simply the direct expression of one’s feelings with the minimum of movements and energy. The closer to the true way of Kung Fu, the less wastage of expression there is. …the simple fact is that truth exists outside all molds; pattern and awareness is never exclusive.

And this is the spirit in which I approach my own training.  I haven’t created anything new really, I’ve just borrowed and morphed ideas from various aspects of the S & C game, and applied them to whatever my goals and circumstance were at the time.  The thing is, I’m not so sure this philosophy or it’s techniques can be effectively transferred in written form.   There are multitudes of cookbooks in circulation, for sure.  Being a master chef, though, requires much more than duplicating recipes from a book.  Same goes for effective training.  And precisely, training for general fitness.

Training for the “unknown and the unknowable” gets bashed in the sport-specific community, but I think it’s a worthy goal.  Hell, it’s the best definition I have for my own training goals.  Call it GPP (general physical preparedness) if the first term is a little too “CrossFit-esque” for your taste  But hey, I like CrossFit — in principle, at least, if not always in practice.  I’m slipping down a rabbit hole now, but here’s my point: that training for non-sport-specific goals ought to be a very Jeet Kune Do-like endeavor. One’s training should be likened to water (more Bruce Lee metaphor), taking on the characteristics of its container.

Be water, my friend.  But I see very little of this in real-world practice, and when I do see it at least attempted, it comes off wrong. Or forced.  As if trying to make water take on the shape of a vase when it’s in fact settled in a teapot.

So, as for a book?  I don’t know…maybe at some point.  Distance coaching is something that I’ve given serious consideration to. I’d been reluctant in the past, since there just wasn’t that feeling of connectedness that I get from training people in the flesh. Something is definitely lost in translation.  And although I still think nothing can beat hands-on coaching, the advent of Skype, Google circles, and apps such as Coache’s Eye make it more and more feasible (and desirable) for me to explore this option.

We’ll see how it goes.  I may roll something out in the near future, test the waters, and see if this can fit this into my existing schedule.  If the satisfaction level is high on both ends (mine, and the client’s) then it’ll become more and more a part of the full-on TTP repertoire.

 

Heal thyself, harden thyself, change the world ~

Keith

7 COMMENTS

  1. Keith, I enjoyed this piece mainly because of your mention of synergy. I have been struggling with this for a while. The synergy I am attempting to put together is that of physical, philosophical, rational, and spiritual fitness I know it’s there, but I can’t quite put it together to convey it to others.

    Through my internet journey, I’ve noticed that those who train with High-Intensity exercise, also eat Paleo/Primal, also seem to be liberty-minded, support an individual’s rights over the collective (e.g. Karen DeCoster/Mark Sisson often contribute to Lew Rockwell). I’ve also noticed that Stoicism has popped up among these types (e.g. Doug McGuff speaks of stoically working through movements). I’m trying to figure out if this is a geno-type or maybe it’s just coincidence. My gut tells me it’s a common pursuit of rational truth (i.e. breaking through myths).

    A work in progress…maybe that is when I’ll write a book. I’m thinking I threw too much at you at once, but trying to tackle synergy does that. In any case, I’m going to keep coming back for ideas for my site.

    • Yeah, you’ll find a common libertarian thread among the Paleo crowd, myself included. Although I do think there is a place for smart government to help level the playing field — emphasis on smart. There can be synergy here, as well.

    • Agreed, Ben. Of course the man was a phenomenal martial artist — artist in every sense of the word — but entwined in that artistry was a deep philosophic genius. Tragic that he died so young.

  2. Great post Keith! Oftentimes we are so quick to label ourselves by our occupation, religious affiliation, or more recently by our diets and exercise habits (I am a “vegan”; “paleo”; “cross-fitter”; etc)

    Applying a label to ourselves can have a “boxing-in” effect in which we reject ideas or ways of living because they don’t seem to fall under our label. This can lead to short-sighted living and missed experiences and/or self-improvement.

    Anyway, I like your philosophy…”borrow and morph”…no label required!

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.