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Archive for the 'Inspirational' Category

Grand Master Jhoon Rhee

In the video below, you will see a brief demonstration from Jhoon Rhee on his 80th birthday. If you aren’t familiar with Jhoon Rhee, he’s known by the martial arts community as the Father of American Taekwondo. He introduced the style to the United States upon his arrival in the 1950s.

As for his birthday demonstration, the video is worthy of a discussion for a few reasons. First and foremost, it is amazing to see an 80 year old man perform at his level. There is no denying his mental acuity and physical ability. He is light years ahead of his peers, not to mention many who are a fraction of his age.

Unfortunately, yet to no surprise, I have seen several comments online about his pushup form. And it is that type of comment that I’ve always struggled to understand. Not only does Jhoon Rhee remain capable at 80 years old, he’s still trying to motivate and inspire others to become more active. Who cares if his technique does not meet your criteria for a perfect pushup? When did pushups become an athletic event that are scored by a panel of judges? If Rhee’s version of a pushup is what helps him remain active, who are we to suggest otherwise?

Shouldn’t we applaud the individual who makes adjustments based on individual factors such as ability? Jhoon Rhee has been involved in martial arts for longer than most of us have been alive. For twenty year old keyboard warriors who’ve never accomplished anything to criticize him is beyond pathetic.

Personally, I’ve never been one to care much about exercise form as long as what you are doing isn’t dangerous and apt to cause injury. Exercise is not an event. We use exercise to feel and/or perform better. If an exercise helps you in either regard, who cares if it is performed according to someone else’s definition of proper form. Speaking for myself, if you perform an exercise differently than me, I don’t care. It doesn’t affect me and I won’t lose sleep over it. I’m just happy that you are doing something. Like it or not, we are still part of the same minority in that we choose to exercise. Rather than fighting with each other about how to perform an exercise, why not focus that energy elsewhere and instead get someone who does nothing to do something.

As I’ve said before (see video below), pick people up rather than putting them down.

Hats off to Jhoon Rhee for continuing to stay active and motivate others at 80+. I hope to someday reach my 80′s and still be able to perform pushups. If I make it to that day, you are welcome to criticize my pushup form as much as you’d like. I just can’t promise that I’ll have enough interest to respond.


The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook. – William James


Inspiration From Michael Coe

I awoke this morning to an email from Michael Coe about a documentary that was filmed of him in Thailand. While training at Tiger Muay Thai, a videographer approached him about creating the film. Apparently, Michael thought it was no big deal and gladly assisted. Even his message to me was so casual that I had no idea what to expect.

It is safe to say that Michael has no idea just how inspiring his story is. The brief film below is well worth a look.

To bounce back from an accident that left him in a coma and took his arm is beyond incredible. Michael displays absolutely no self-pity.

In his words,

I chose to persevere because I didn’t really have any other choice. And it was a case of if I don’t make it work, nobody else is going to. If it’s something I want to do, I’m not going to not do it because of the handicap.

There is so much value in those words alone. Michael lost his arm. He had no choice but to figure out a way to survive and adapt. And it is that lack of choice that is so inspiring and meaningful. If Michael can find a way to work with one arm, what does that say about the rest of us who are fortunate to have both?

If he can find a way, why can’t we all? Perhaps it is our ability to choose that is actually the real handicap. We often forget how lucky we are. We aren’t forced to persevere the way Michael does each day. At some point, in some way, we all take that for granted.

Meanwhile, Michael instead pursues the following:

I have no illusions or aspirations of being the best in the world. I just want to be the best I can be.

After watching the video above, I have no doubt that he will achieve his goal. And while he may not realize it, he will likely help many more achieve their goals as well.

Thanks to Michael for sharing the video. I am sure I speak for many when saying that I am truly inspired.


Self-pity is our worst enemy and if we yield to it, we can never do anything wise in this world. – Helen Keller


Tara Scott – A Testament To Consistency

Tara Scott is the epitome of exercise consistency and simplicity. I first learned of Tara after reading about an exercise streak of hers that spanned over two years. At the time, she was around 40 years old and had trained 766 consecutive days. Tara is now 46 years old and has extended that streak to an amazing 2700 days. For those who may not have a calculator handy, that’s over 7 years.

As for her approach to exercise, here is a quote taken from a previous entry:

Some days I go light, others heavy, and then others somewhere in between.

Tara describes her workouts as playouts. She subscribes to the philosophy that fun is fundamental. She enjoys the work so naturally looks forward to using her body each day. She often trains outside mixing calisthenics with tools such as kettlebells, sandbags, sledgehammers, and more. As for the results, you can see a brief sampling below.

First, you’ll see a casual pistol squat walk that she performs with ease.


She’s also clearly well developed throughout the upper body and core as evident below.


So in summary, we have a woman who is 46 years old with the strength, body control, and ability to humble many half her age. And what I enjoy even more than her ability is that her training is clearly rooted in simplicity. She thrives on the basics. She can turn any open space into a fully functional gym. Let’s also reiterate that Tara enjoys what she does. She is the perfect counter to anyone who suggests that workouts must feel miserable to be effective. If Tara felt miserable each day, there is no way she would continue for 2700 consecutive days.

When you enjoy what you do, you’ll be more eager to do it. And for those who still doubt the potential of a simplistic routine, Tara Scott is yet another example that proves otherwise.


Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying basic fundamentals. – Jim Rohn



One Arm Pull-up Awesomeness

One of the participants on my forum recently posted the following video of himself. It’s a classic video that is well worth a minute of your time.

There are so many great things about this clip that I’m not sure where to begin. For starters, this individual weighs over 200 pounds yet has some of the most impressive pull-up strength I’ve ever seen. It is much more common to see bar displays of this level from smaller athletes.

What is equally impressive is his ability to hold the upright position with relative ease. Drinking a glass of milk from this position may appear comical, but doing so is actually quite difficult. He is essentially holding an extremely challenging isometric position with the control necessary to calmly drink a glass of milk. He maintains this position for almost 20 seconds. He also gets bonus points for casually strolling through the snow with bare feet and a t-shirt. This is real man strength from a real man.

I also enjoyed the title of his video. He’s named it One Arm Towel Pull-up Certification. I’m assuming (and hopeful) that this title is a dig against the fitness industry. Never before have there been so many bogus certifications. We’ve literally reached the point where you can become a certified professional after a few hour course that is provided over the weekend. You could essentially leave your job on Friday evening with no experience and start a business on Monday with piece of paper that says your are a professional.

In the past year alone, I have had several people ask if I provide ab wheel certification courses. Yes, you read that right. An ab wheel certification?! I wish I was joking. We’ve reached a point that is beyond pathetic.

Contrary to what the fitness marketers would like you to believe, real knowledge and strength are not acquired over the weekend. It takes years of consistency and effort. If you wish to perform feats such as that seen above, prepare to invest several years of your life towards hard and consistent work. There are no shortcuts.

When recently asked on my forum about his training, the man above responded with the following:

Pleased to manage new personal records after 18 years of training, somehow PRs feels better and better year after year.

He went on to say that he has trained grip strength specifically for 4 and a half years. He also spent over 8 years working hard, manual labor.

Let me remind you again, there are no shortcuts. That’s not my opinion. It is a fact.


For 37 years I’ve practiced fourteen hours a day, and now they call me a genius. – Pablo de Sarasate


Bench Press Inspiration

Let me begin this entry by stating that I’m not easily impressed. I don’t mean that in a pompous way. I just have high expectations for myself and others. I’m not impressed by hard work. Yes, I respect it, but I also expect it. I believe we are all more capable than we may ever realize.

One person who may be an exception to that statement however is China’s Lei Liu. He has defied the odds and then some. At only 26 years old, he’s already done more than anyone could have ever imagined. As a young child, he contracted polio and was unable to walk. It’s safe to say that no one could have guessed that he’d become one of the strongest pound for pound bench pressers that we’ve ever seen.

Below you can see Lei bench 498 pounds. He did so at a bodyweight of 148 pounds with absolutely no leg drive.

I am beyond impressed.

It is performances like this that solidify my belief that it is up to the individual to determine how far he’ll go. Never ask someone how much you can achieve. No one knows. As a child, no one knew that Lei would eventually become a world record bench presser. It is impossible to predict what others will achieve. Technology may have come a long way, but crystal balls still don’t exist.

No one can predict the future. It hasn’t been written. It’s up to you to take out your own pen and decide for yourself.


There are no limits. There are plateaus, but you must not stay there, you must go beyond them. – Bruce Lee


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