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Archive for the 'Training' Category

Discipline and Longevity

In my last entry, I shared a quote from NFL football player J.J. Watts. He spoke of his desire to make the most of his playing career. He has no time for distractions and is 100 percent focused on continuous improvement.

To no surprise, you will hear similar wisdom shared by Bernard Hopkins in the video below.

And while some may label his advice as common sense, I can say that it is everything but common. I have seen countless athletes who only abide by such advice when it is convenient or forced upon them. Many athletes simply do not have the discipline to follow such a lifestyle year after year.

As a result, the longevity displayed by Hopkins is rarely seen in any sport. He began fighting professionally in 1988. That was over 25 years ago. In other words, he has critics today that were not even alive when he was already fighting professionally. Hopkins is currently 49 years old and is the oldest boxer to ever win a world championship.

His most recent titles were not his first however. Previously, Hopkins reigned as the middleweight champion for over a decade. He had 20 consecutive world title defenses during that time. And while his middleweight reign seems like a distant memory, there were critics who had already counted him out in his mid thirties. I vividly recall when Hopkins was preparing to fight Felix Trinidad in 2001. Trinidad entered the bout at 40-0. He was fresh off a brutal knockout over William Joppy and many expected him to do the same to the older Hopkins. Bernard had different plans. I was fortunate to sit ringside as he put on a boxing clinic and dominated Trinidad before stopping him in the final round.

Much of the boxing world was shocked to see such a performance from a 36 year old fighter. I was not surprised at all. It was a few months prior to that fight when I was fortunate to run a 5K race with Hopkins. At that time, he adamantly proclaimed that he was going to be around for a LONG time.

Bernard Hopkins

Thirteen years later, we have come to expect nothing less from this ageless warrior. I won’t be surprised if Hopkins wins another title as a 50 year old man. I will not count him out until he is down and out.

In summary, if you are a young and aspiring athlete, you will be hard pressed to find better advice than the wisdom he shares above. Athletes do not last that long by accident. Hopkins takes discipline to a level that most cannot endure. I have heard of many fighters who have literally packed up and left his training camps in the middle of the night. The discipline and work ethic that he demands is more than most can handle. Once again, it all boils down to how much you are willing to sacrifice to become the best that you can be. And while not everyone is up to the challenge, at least recognize and appreciate the uniqueness of his accomplishments.

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It takes no effort to be ordinary. Ordinary is not even a challenge. You can do nothing and be ordinary. – Bernard Hopkins

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Wisdom From J.J. Watt

If you are a fan of NFL football, there is a good chance that you have seen J.J. Watt make some tremendous plays on the field. In just three seasons, he has already been selected to two Pro Bowls and been named the Defensive Player of the Year. He is undoubtedly one of the most feared defensive players in the game. The video below offers a brief glimpse into his dominance.

Yet despite the introduction to this entry, I am not writing to highlight J.J. Watt’s football career. Yes, there is no denying his talent. What is more important however is the wisdom he recently shared when asked about his extreme dedication. Take a look at what is written below.

J.J. Watt on dedication

Promising athletes from all sports can learn from this simple advice. If there is something you wish to achieve, it is up to you to determine how hard you are willing to work for it. And when you begin to make sacrifices, there will always people who question why you work as hard as you do. Certain people in this world will never understand. That’s okay. It is not your job to explain the passion you have to someone who does not share it.

As a boxing coach, a big part of my job is convincing fighters to make sacrifices outside of the gym. A fighter may train hard for 2 hours a day, but that does not give him a free pass to ignore the remaining 22. What happens outside is often just as important as what happens inside. I couldn’t tell you how many athletes I have seen who essentially threw away their careers by making the wrong decisions in life.

I know there are several fighters who read this blog so it is my hope that they pay attention to what is written above. You don’t need to be a football player to follow the example set forth by J.J. Watt. Focus on your goals and don’t be distracted by those who do not understand. Never forget that the clock is always ticking so do not take any day for granted.

Make the most of the present if you wish to create a future that is worth living.

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Effort is between you, and you, and nobody else. – Ray Lewis

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Lethwei Training Footage

Lethwei fighters training

Following my recent entry about lethwei fighters in Myanmar (see here), I was contacted by filmmaker Vincent Giordano. The timing could not have been better as he was recently in Myanmar capturing footage for a new documentary. If you are not familiar with Vincent Giordano, you may wish to visit the link below which includes outtakes from one of his previous documentaries.

Kushti – The Physical Body Outtakes

Fortunately, he is also releasing outtakes from the more recent lethwei documentary. Below you can see one example that highlights the training of the fighters.

Additional footage will eventually be posted to the following page:

Born Warriors – Burmese Boxing Documentary

As you will see, the training footage takes place outdoors in a makeshift gym that was created in an alleyway between two living quarters. Such a gym reminds me of a previous entry where I featured boxers from Kampala, Uganda (see here). The Rhino Boxing Club in Kampala consists of nothing but a space between two buildings in a crowded neighborhood.

Ironically, although the lethwei fighters in Myanmar and the boxers in Uganda know nothing about each other, they both train in a similar fashion. These are fighters who make the most of the hand they have been dealt. You will not find athletes who complain about inadequate facilities. Instead, you will find hard working, humble fighters who have never known any other way.

And as I’ve said before, I do not share these entries to suggest that you must train in poverty to excel. I share these stories to eliminate all excuses that exist regarding training facilities and equipment. The fitness industry is notorious for complicating the training process. Training recommendations are rarely based solely on effectiveness. On the contrary, what is popular is often what carries the greatest revenue potential for those involved. You will be hard pressed to find any fitness guru who markets the potential of training in an alleyway between buildings.

Fortunately, filmmakers such as Vincent Giordano have provided a sneak peek into the real life and training of these high level fighters. Watching an athlete who is literally fighting for his life and well being is naturally free of the marketing nonsense that is more commonly found online. These fighters aren’t training to sell you anything or impress you. They are training solely to prepare for the brutality of their challenging sport.

In summary, when watching these fighters train, it is wise to heed the advice of Bruce Lee. Absorb what is useful, discard what is not, and add what is uniquely your own. Plenty can be learned by watching fighters who thrive physically despite living and training amidst poverty. There’s no fancy equipment, designer supplements, or complex programming. All that you will find is hard work, consistency, effort, and eventual success. Fortunately, you don’t need to live in Myanmar to uncover and use these freely available attributes. It is solely up to the individual.

How bad do you want it?

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Life is not always a matter of holding good cards, but sometimes, playing a poor hand well. – Jack London

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Forgotten Fighters From Myanmar

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Throughout this blog’s history, I’ve featured several athletes who have thrived in rudimentary environments. We have seen fighters in countries such as Thailand, Ghana, Brazil, Cuba, and Uganda. Many of these athletes have excelled at the highest level despite training amidst poverty.

In the documentary below, we can add to the list by looking at a group of fighters from Myanmar (Burma). These fighters compete in the Burmese martial art known as Lethwei. Lethwei is a full contact sport where there are no gloves and head butts are permissible.

Myanmar is one of the poorest nations in Southeast Asia. It has been estimated that 70 percent of the population doesn’t even have access to electricity. Fortunately for the fighters, lavish conditions are not necessary to achieve peak fitness. As you can see in the brief clips below, lethwei fighters thrive on the basics.

Much of the training seen above is similar to the approach that was recommended by Jack Dempsey in his 1950 text (see here). There is clearly an emphasis on sport training through sparring, mitt work, and bag work. Such training is also supplemented with rope skipping, running, and calisthenics. You won’t find any extravagant equipment or complex routines. The work is simple yet intense.

And while the non-fighters in the crowd may miss the relevance of this entry, there is actually plenty that can be learned. If these Myanmar fighters can condition themselves in such an environment, the rest of the world can as well. I don’t say this to suggest that you immerse yourself in poverty or bare knuckle fighting, but instead to remind you that fitness does not require high-end equipment or complex programming. Most people need nothing more than consistency and effort. How these attributes are applied is often irrelevant. As long as you consistently apply yourself through some form of physical exertion, you can expect to be well ahead of the average person. It is entirely possible to be healthy and fit without ever stepping foot in a commercial gym.

If you are interested in additional examples, look no further than the links below.

Ghana’s Fighting Spirit

Boxing Their Own Worst Enemy (Brazil)

The Kampala Boxing Club (Uganda)

Buakaw Banchamek Training Footage (Thailand)

The Boys Who Fought For Castro (Cuba)

The Zama Boxing Club (South Africa)

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Necessity is not an established fact, but an interpretation. – Friedrich Nietzsche

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Outdoor Workout in Germany

Last month, I created a video entitled The World Is Your Gym (see here) to highlight the exercise potential that exists in the world around us. Since creating that video, I’ve had several readers of the site pass along similar videos from different parts of the world. One recent example can be seen below.

Within the video, you will see two athletes work through a strenuous session in an open field. Once again, we are reminded of the fact that successful training does not depend on a specific piece of equipment or facility. These individuals, run, jump, work through a series of calisthenics, and make the most of their surroundings. They are clearly hard working and creative. For instance, I have never seen any fitness books that highlight the potential of bales in an open field. In other words, no one told these individuals that rolled bales could double as calisthenic aids. They went outside and figured it out.

Once you are determined to get up and move, you will find a way to get up and move. Regardless of your location, you will make the most of your surroundings. These individuals have demonstrated the potential of an empty field in Germany. I am thousands of miles away and often head outside to train in the woods. Therefore, while our environments are entirely unique, we are similar in our quest to make the world a fully functional gym.

Fortunately, you can do the same. The exercise potential of the world around us remains largely untapped. The fitness industry will never profit from you walking outside to exercise in open field. As a result, you will never see such environments garnering widespread attention. Profit potential will always dictate exercise trends. Hopefully, videos such as that above can at least counter some of the nonsense the industry continues to deliver. Just because the industry isn’t profiting from your outdoor workout doesn’t make it any less effective. Make the world your gym and you’ll never need anything but your own creativity and effort.

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The world is but a canvas to the imagination. – Henry David Thoreau

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