A few random thoughts from a guy running on too little sleep this morning.
My youngest sister married a guy who was a mixed martial arts nut. He got me into watching the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship). In the beginning, I could take it or leave it. I wasn’t really a fight fan, although my dad and I watched a lot of Mike Tyson together back when he was the man to beat.
One of the first fighters I remember seeing with the in-law was current champion Georges St. Pierre, who had an incredible physique and seemed ridiculously strong. This was also around the time that I was starting my long strange trip into the strength culture, and I was prone to noticing this sort of thing. More on St. Pierre in a moment.
Narrative in sport
But my new brother-in-law was also becoming one of my best friends, so the fights gave me a great excuse to get together with him. And little by little I got sucked in. Like most things in my life, it was all about the stories and the personalities. The same reasons that I still watch an NBA game now and then. There are people I like and I want to see them win, and there are people I can’t stand and I tune in hoping I’ll get to see them lose.
The additional wrinkle in the UFC was that if you tuned in to see them lose, you might seen them lose and get wrecked in the process. They might get their comeuppance in a lot of brutal, nasty ways, and I could see some great athleticism in the process of seeing story lines resolved (or prolonged).
On their athleticism
I’m not a fighter, but I found myself wondering what their workouts were like. How did they train? How could they sustain the pace that some of them did over fights that could go as long as 25 minutes in some cases? And most importantly, how could I get abs like them?
Ah, the follies of just a couple of years ago!
I found myself wishing I could do all of their training except for the fighting part, just to get in that sort of condition. Why? I don’t know. My job at the library really doesn’t demand a lot of ferocity and stamina.
Well, the long wait is at an end, because Champion Georges St. Pierre has released a fitness product called Rushfit.
I haven’t used it so I can’t knock it or make too much fun of it. I will say that I find this video wonderfully hilarious, particularly with so many shots of Georges walking up to the camera and throwing lots of kicks.
Here is why that makes me laugh: Salt Lake City is apparently the world’s headquarters for guys with barb-wired tattoos on their arms, and Tapout shirts. Every single day at work I see guys in their 20s, 30s, and occasionally in their 40s wearing a Shogun Rua walkout T shirt (the shirt the fighter wears during the walk to the cage on fight night), walking far too quickly and trying to stare everyone down.
I get the impression that they get the impression that they think they are UFC fighters. Unless they fight on the undercards that I rarely get to see, I’m fairly certain they’re not.
And I can’t help but picture them all buying a copy of Rushfit, which promises to take them inside Georges St. Pierre’s training camp. From the videos I’ve watched and the reading I’ve done, Rushfit looks like high-intensity circuit training. That’s absolutely fine, unless you’re just a spectator like me and you start to think you’re a tough guy because Georges himself is telling you to push through the pain and feel the burn.
These types usually make me laugh, but not everyone finds it as funny. Some are incapable of even smiling about it.
Fighting Without Rules
Over the last couple of years I’ve had the good fortune (some would tell you I’ve been cursed) to become friends with Adam T. Glass. If you’re not familiar with Adam, today I’ll just say that during a decade of honorable military service he was put in situations where he had to fight for his life. Adam and many others military men I have met through him don’t find anything very impressive about the combat sport, beyond the obvious displays of athleticism and strength. He is the closest thing in real life to Jack Bauer that I can imagine.
So I can see how someone walking around with their chest puffed out, pretending to be a warrior, can be a joke or an insult to someone who has been to war and has fought for their lives in an arena without rules or rankings.
Lifting weights doesn’t make you tough
It’s a superior activity, but that’s it. Getting stronger in the weight room has taught me a lot about myself, but it hasn’t made me tough. It doesn’t build mental toughness either. I used to think so, but now I know tough people, and they weren’t made in the weight room. They were made in brutal crucibles that changed them in ways that nobody else can understand.
Can you build endurance in the gym? Sure. Monstrous max strength? Absolutely. But every time I hear someone referring to going to war with the weights, or having a battle in the gym, or I see the pseudo-military nonsense of the RKC marketing, I have to tune it out. I used to eat it up, now I can’t. Getting stronger is a superior activity whose benefits cannot be overstated, but one thing makes warriors, and it is something that most of us will never know, luckily for us.
If you never got to read it, I highly recommend Adam’s I, Veteran article. I can almost guarantee you it will be the most powerful thing you’ll read this year.
That’s it for today. I’d love to hear from anyone who has tried Rushfit, or would like to weigh in on anything else in this post.
If you liked this post, please Subscribe To The RSS feed.
And if you liked the post, you’ll love the newsletter.