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Mongolia’s Success In Judo

If you have followed this blog for any amount of time, you know that I am a fan of simplicity. I firmly believe that an athlete’s strength and conditioning needs can be fulfilled without an elaborate facility or routine. I also believe it is important to observe and learn from other successful athletes. With that in mind, I was happy to watch the videos below.

The two videos analyze the success of judo in Mongolia. Plenty can be learned from these clips whether you are interested in judo or not.

At first glance, you may be wondering what’s the big deal about Mongolian athletes excelling in judo? Before you close this entry, let me explain…

For starters, the entire country of Mongolia has a population of less than 3 million. To put that number in perspective, the small state of Massachusetts has more than twice the amount of people. In other words, the Mongolian athletes must be doing something right if so many are excelling from such a small population. These athletes have also managed to succeed without the elaborate facilities that are common in more densely populated areas.

What Is The Secret To Their Success?

Fortunately, there are no secrets. For starters, these athletes work extremely hard practicing their sport. They do not get sidetracked by too much supplemental work. The bulk of their time and energy is expended on the mats. That is where they master their techniques and also develop the ability to execute those techniques in the face of fatigue.

Many of these athletes have also developed strength from their surroundings. For example, in the second video, you will hear from one of the Mongolian champions (Khashbaataryn Tsagaanbaatar). At approximately the 4:30 mark, he states the following:

My muscle was developed in everyday life…

The narration continues by stating that many of the Mongolians have developed their legs by living in nature.  They are regularly on the move and quite active outdoors. The Mongolians are hard working people who live the opposite of a sedentary lifestyle. Physical activity and work is part of their lives.

As for conditioning, these athletes work hard with the basics. If you refer to the 6:50 mark of the second video, you will see them about to begin a challenging mountain run. The air is both thin and cold but it does not deter them. These are not soft athletes who have been spoiled with lavish amenities. On the contrary, these Mongolians are hardened athletes who are physically and mentally strong.

In many ways, their training reminds me of another judo legend. Long time readers of the site may recall seeing a short documentary about the legendary Masahiko Kimura (see here). Kimura is considered by many to be the greatest judoka of all time. His training approach was also rooted heavily in sport training and low-tech conditioning. He did not just train the body, but also the mind. He pushed his athletes to levels that most people would struggle to comprehend.

Such an approach is certainly not required or suggested for general fitness, but is often necessary for high level combat athletes. Developing mental toughness is just as important as any physical quality. The body is only as strong as the mind that controls it. Once your mind starts to break, it is only a matter of time before the body does too. Training in harsh elements such as the cold allows one to develop the body and mind. It is impossible to separate the two when you are battling fatigue and the harsh elements around you. Speaking from experience, some of my most challenging conditioning sessions take place in the winter. I do not need any fancy exercises to create an extremely challenging session (ex. see here).

In summary, plenty can be learned by studying successful athletes who have thrived in rudimentary environments. Once all the gadgets and gizmos have been stripped away, you can see what really works and what is ultimately responsible for the success of such athletes. Hard work with the basics will always be a recipe that produces results.

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I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures. – Lao Tzu

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Sledgehammer Training Update

If you are familiar with this site, you know that I am a fan of homemade and/or low-tech training solutions. Much of my gym is outfitted with tools and equipment that I have either built or salvaged from elsewhere. One such example is an outdoor sledgehammer training station that I created in September, 2013. The station consists of nothing but a tire that has been partially buried.

I first discussed and demonstrated this outdoor station last year within the following video:

To no surprise, it was not long after I created the video that I began receiving inquiries about the durability of a buried tire. Many viewers questioned whether cement would be necessary to keep the tire in place. I received several emails from people who were interested in the idea, yet wanted to first see how the tire held up throughout the year.

With that in mind, I figured it was a good time to share an update. I have now had the tire buried for approximately 14 months. The tire has taken a fair share of abuse during each of those months. It is rare that more than a few days pass without someone beating this tire with a 20 pound sledgehammer.

As for climate, New England is perhaps the best testing area in the world. We get a little bit of everything. Fortunately, whether it was snowing in the winter, raining in the spring, hot and humid in the summer, or windy in the fall, the tire has never budged. It is still securely buried with nothing but dirt, gravel, and a few moderately sized stones. I could not be happier with this old tire that I acquired for free.

Sledgehammer training

In summary, if you are looking for an effective yet inexpensive conditioning option, a partially buried tire promises to be one of your better choices. Few conditioning exercises can contend with briskly swinging a sledgehammer. It is one of those exercises that you will never outgrow. I first swung a sledgehammer over 20 years ago and it still puts me in my place. Whether you swing the sledge repeatedly, for rounds, or as part of a circuit, it is only a matter of time before sledgehammer training catches up to you.

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Archie Moore showed all his old tricks to me when he trained me. He got me chopping trees to improve my explosive power in my legs, back, shoulders and arms which are all places where punching power comes from. And when we trained where there were no trees to chop he brought in huge truck tires and got me hitting them with a sledgehammer over and over. – Earnie Shavers

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Bad Days Are Inevitable – Keep Grinding

One of the most common misconceptions about exercise or sport is that you will eventually reach a point when you no longer have bad days. The assumption is that as you gain strength, the work becomes easier.

Good days and bad days

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but unfortunately the work never gets easier. I’ll even take it a step further and say that as you become stronger, the work becomes more difficult. It’s much more challenging to gain strength when you are already strong. A beginner to the game can gain strength by doing almost anything. That early phase of newbie gains will eventually expire however. It is at that point when you must really bear down and prepare for the long haul. True strength requires a significant investment in time.

Throughout your journey in strength, it is important to understand that you will have bad days. It is inevitable. Anyone who suggests otherwise is either full of sh*t or just plain ignorant. I have no problem admitting that I fail on many of my attempts. I’m also human and have bad days in the real world just like everyone else. I have yet to meet anyone who has never had a sleepless night or dealt with unfortunate circumstances that distracted from their goals.

I am always surprised to read emails from people who ask what I used to do when I had bad days. I had two such questions come in this week alone. These questions are asked under the false assumption that my bad days are a thing of a the past. Unfortunately for me, that’s not the case. I still have my share of bad days in and out of the gym.

As far as dealing with these bad days, I never let one day define the life that I have lived for several thousand days. Whenever I hit a bump in the road, I try to keep the following points in mind…

I. Don’t Panic

First and foremost, don’t panic. Having a bad day may mean nothing more than you are human. Don’t dwell on it. The worst thing that you can do with a bad day is magnify it so that it becomes a bad week. Rather than harping on the problem, try to have a short term memory and move on. Every day is a new day and no days are promised. No matter how bad of a day you’ve had, be fortunate that you get another chance to wake up the next day and start again. Not everyone will be so lucky.

II. Keep Grinding

Since we know that bad days are inevitable, they should not come as a surprise. Don’t be caught off guard and never let a bad day throw you off track. If you have goals that matter to you, you owe it to yourself to keep grinding. A temporary setback is just that. It is temporary. It does not need to be permanent unless you allow it.

III. Miss A Day

As macho as it may sound to proclaim that you never miss days, there are times when it makes sense to skip a day of exercise. Using myself as an example, I have trained regularly for over 20+ years. Missing a day every so often is not going to negate all of the hard work that I have put in before. Some of my best days of training have come after I have forced myself to take a day of rest.

IV. It Could Be Worse

If your biggest problem in life is that you missed a rep on the bench press, it is safe to assume that things could be worse. Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill. One of the reasons that I share so many inspiring stories on this blog is to put our own problems into perspective. My worst day pales in comparison to some of the stories that I have shared over the years. I say this not to minimize any individual problem, but instead to serve as a reminder that things could almost always be worse.

Don’t drown yourself in self-pity. Get back on your feet and keep moving forward. No one said life would be easy.

V. Listen To Rocky

When in doubt, you can always count on Rocky Balboa to point you back in the right direction. His speech below is as epic today as it was when I first heard it.

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You have to fight through some bad days to earn the best days of your life.

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One Week, 72 Program, Combat Fitness Special

If you are familiar with my site, you know that I am not a fan of most fitness marketing schemes. I am not ashamed to admit that I am everything but a marketing guru. I’m just an old school trainer who spends most of his time training athletes in a garage gym.

Therefore, it is very rare that I take part in a program such as that below. What you will see is a 72 program fitness bundle that is being sold at an extremely discounted rate for a one week period. My 2 hour jump rope DVD is one of the programs included within the bundle.

When I was first asked to contribute, I initially declined as I try to distance myself from the fitness marketing gurus of the world. After several conversations however, I eventually changed my mind due to the massive amount of material that is being distributed. I do not know all of the contributors, but there certainly is a ton of material that is included within this massive package for only $39.

For more information, please refer to the following link:

72 Program, Combat Fitness Special

One week fitness special

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40 Is The New 20

In the video below, you will see a reader of the site who is 41 years old and still going strong. He demonstrates countless exercise variations that would humble most men half his age.

This man is not just physically strong however. What I liked most about his video is the creativity that accompanies his strength. He is clearly capable of training almost anywhere with almost anything. He is not dependent on any particular facility. The bulk of his training is performed with nothing but a pull-up bar and ordinary household items such as chairs. This man certainly subscribes to the idea that the world is his gym. It is always open and can be found wherever he goes.

It is also great to see yet another example of a 40+ year old man who possesses such strength and athleticism. So many adults in our world today have been fooled to believe that 40 is over the hill. Sadly, it has become the norm for parents in their late 30s and early 40s to label themselves as old. Speaking as someone in this age group, I literally hear these words uttered on a weekly basis. I am always left speechless when a man or woman who is younger than me describes themselves as being too old for brisk exercise.

40 is the new 20

Personally, I think it is pathetic that society is surprised whenever a 40+ year old displays above average strength and athleticism. I wish I could share these stories as just another day in the neighborhood. There should be no need to highlight this man’s age. We should just be able to appreciate his strength and creativity.

Unfortunately, much of society still believes otherwise. It is not as if people want to become sedentary and unable to enjoy the world around them. The real problem is that many intelligent adults honestly believe that they are too old for exercise. This notion has become somewhat of a wives’ tale that has been passed on from generation to generation.

With that in mind, it is videos such as that above which truly need more widespread attention. Not only do you see a 40+ year old who is strong and capable, but also one who can train anywhere without spending a dollar. He is truly self sufficient. Wherever he goes, you can be sure that strength and vitality will accompany him.

Yet, perhaps most importantly, these priceless attributes are not just available to him. Strength is readily available to almost anyone who desires it. Ultimately, it boils down to an individual’s willingness to display hard work, consistency, and dedication. And fortunately, you can work hard regularly without feeling miserable. It is not difficult to see that this man is enjoying himself. He obviously enjoys his time outdoors.

In summary, the man above provides yet another example that exercise can be fun at any age, and doesn’t need to break the bank. If you wish to stay active as the years pass, you need to stay active. It is as simple as that. There is no secret formula or equation that is yet to be solved. Strength and vitality are there for the taking.

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Growing old is a bad habit which a busy man has no time to form. – Andre Maurois

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