Adaptable

Are you stuck? Physically unable to move forward and adapt to new training stimuli?

Maybe it’s a mental/emotional issue? Everything is all very well connected. As my mentor Frank Forencich once told me “There’s no such thing as physical fitness.”

Now Frank was simply stating that the entire person must be healthy not just their physical selves and how fitness in one area carries-over and influences the others.

I’ve been there and I see it with my sons right now. They possess the physical skills to take on new task quite well, but maybe they’re worried about the bigger kids in the room? Or maybe their afraid of failure? But at times they are very reluctant to try out new things and it has nothing to do with their physical abilities.

This is a very broad topic that we’ll be talking more about as we travel along our paths together. But today I’d like to talk with you specifically about being physically adaptable as opposed to adapted or a one-trick pony.

What do you prefer? A body that learns new things easily? A body that responds well to new stresses and challenges or a fixed, rigid body that can only complete one very specialized skill?

I’ll take the former thank you.

Let’s examine 2 videos. The first video is The American Top Team, a group of professional martial artists in Florida. One of the best mixed martial art teams in the world.

Let’s look at their bodies, strong, lean, flexible and agile.

Let’s look at their skills. Now, these gentlemen are at the top of their fields in the world of martial arts but the skills they possess in tumbling and gymnastics are incredible. They are not professional acrobats or gymnast either, they are fighters.

They may not be the best at powerlifting, Olympic Lifting or Kettlebell Sport but I’m very comfortable saying that these men are strong and if they wanted to, they could easily excel at any strength sport those chose to. They could climb, swim and do well in many track and field events as well. That’s just my hunch, I could be wrong though.

They are adaptable.

This is my goal for myself, for my sons and for the entire Strength Garden. You included!

Now let’s look at the second video of an elite powerlifter.

Yes, it is 1008 pounds. I fully understand the awesomeness of that feat and I can appreciate his efforts in pushing human strength limits to new heights but at what cost?

That’s all I’m asking. At what cost?

He may be an awesome person. All the powerlifters I know personally are awesome people and this is not a critique of those individuals.

And I may be pointing out the obvious but have you even seen a powerlifter walk? How about run? How about throw a baseball or a punch? Right. Looks kind of silly. Labored. Difficult.

They are adapted. Turtles. One trick ponies. Of course not all are. I’m sure there are some powerlifters that possess more skills than deadlifting, squatting and benching. I’ve seen some jump fairly well.

And powerlifters are not the only tribe. Bodybuilders are pretty adapted and stuck as well.

When I was in high school almost all of the training information you could get your hands on was in the form of bodybuilding magazines. In one issue there was a challenge between Gary Strydom and Samir Bannout. Who could run a 40 yard dash faster?

Guess what happened during the actual race?

They both cramped up and neither could complete the 40 yards. All those years of training. All those muscles. Such nice abs and low body-fat and they couldn’t run 40 yards. You can check out both bodybuilders here.

Long distance runners are another tribe. I trained one women, a long distance runner, who could not perform one (1) lunge or bodyweight squat with good form.

Once when discussing wrestlers and conditioning with my boy Zach Even-Esh he told me story about Russian wrestlers being half gymnast and half Olympic Weightlifter and I thought that was a pretty great combination to create an ultimate, well-adapted athlete.

Part wrestler, part gymnast and part o-lifter. Nice.

If you want to be adaptable vs. adapted. If you want to learn new skills easily and enjoy physical freedom here are some tips that you might be useful.

Nothing Trains the Body Better Than the Body:
Get a good grip on your own bodyweight before moving onto the super heavy weights. Gymnastics, martial arts, Dance, Acrobatics, free-running, Parkour, try them all out. Experiment.

I’m convinced that the combination of grappling, gymnastics and dance will create super-fitness and movement skills and I will work diligently to create a world-wide tribe of Strength Gardeners that teach and spread such wonderful practices.

Hang Out with Awesome Training Partners:
Training partners are super valuable. I love the term cooperative-challenge. Push one another. Make one another work. Make one another smile and succeed.

Currently there are some pull-up challenges going on in our club using some odd pull-up tools. The first day we tried out the new tools the max number of pull-ups was 3. One week later it was 18. 18!!!!!

That came about from athletes pushing one another and having a good time teasing each other while fully supporting the progress of each athlete.

Don’t Specialize too Early:
Don’t be the kid that only plays Baseball or football. Swim. Skate. Bike, Run. Sprint. Mix it all up. There’s a common term in strength and conditioning circles, GPP, General Physical Preparation. And as Pavel Tsatouline points out in his book Easy Strength, the emphasis is on preparation, GPP is a process.

Become a generalist. Be well-rounded. You’ll know if you possess super-abilities. A coach will point it out somewhere along the way. When that happens you look into specialization but don’t rush it.

Finally. Eat a ton of Brocolli.
I made that up but I’m sure it will help.

The Strength Garden

As you know, the destination that we first set out for isn't always where we end up.  Often times that initial goal was simply the boost or impetus we needed to set foot out the door and make that crucial first step.

As we pursue our goals, we sometimes find those goals changing and the things we first thought important taking a back seat to things we later find more vital.

So, it is.  What I thought at first was a final destination has proven to be the first step of a much more complex and exciting journey.  One that may prove even more challenging yet has already shown itself to be absolutely essential.

Looking back it all seems inevitable; as I began my own journey it became plain that I would find myself in pursuit of my own personal quest and a new goal – The Strength Garden.

The Strength Garden stands not in opposition to but as an evolution of my other projects.  As the father of three vibrant, growing boys it has become crucial to me to leave a legacy of substance.  I take seriously the admonition to leave the world better than I found it and the Strength Garden is a big step in that direction.

The goal of The Strength Garden is to stem the tide of the growing lethargy and anti-physicality that has gripped the Western World; Children no longer play the way they used to; As a result they've forfeited much of their development both physical and mental and as a species we suffer for it.

Jason C. Brown- The Strength Garden Guy

The Strength Garden aims to provide practical solutions.  Using much of the lessons learned in my other work, we will apply them directly to the issues of childhood lethargy, obesity and attention deficit/hyperactivity.

Workshops and educational outreach are only part of the mission.  Beyond these lie  a practical solution – playground design.  Playgrounds retooled as actual “strength gardens,” functional components of households, community areas and schools, entailing productive gardens, exercise and play equipment all put together in a manner both functional and harmonious, designed to appeal to all aspects of human enjoyment.

Our goal is nothing short of a movement, it's aim to restore the best of our humanity, through a rediscovery of our physicality and a return to the totality of the human experience.

I hope you'll join me.

Resilient

I ask a lot of questions online and in person. One question that I always ask is “What can I help you with? Where are you struggling?” And many people answer back that they are broken, beaten…injured. They want to do more, live more but they’re afraid of getting hurt or hurting themselves further. And to be honest I understand that fear very well myself.

I play rough, I partake in martial arts (BJJ) 5-7 days per week now and if I get hurt I can no longer teach at my live events and workshops or work with many of my clients and athletes. I help people move better and if I can’t move well myself I need to find an alternative…and perhaps a different way to make a living.

The Strength Garden- Jason C. Brown

But I don’t see that happening anytime soon…I love doing what I do and will walk my path until I turn to dust. So I need an alternative and a way to stay resilient. The tips below are not fool proof, you can and may still get hurt but they will help build a resilient body that’s ready for life’s physical and mental challenges.

Take a tumbling class:
It’s never too late to learn how to fall, how to roll and how to engage the ground…build a rapport with the ground and the Earth.

Once upon a time gymnastics was a key component in our physical education curriculum. And now we’re lacking big-time in this fundamental movement skill because well…we know what happened to our physical education programs in most schools.

Since tumbling is a large part of gymnastics try to take a class or 2 at a local school or YMCA. And it doesn’t need to be too technical. You’re not training for a perfect score or the Olympics. What you’re looking for is confidence in your ability to roll or take a fall without doing major damage to yourself and your structure. Tuck your chin and take it across your shoulder. You may just fall in love with it and stay forever.

If you can’t find a gymnastics class please consider some martial art alternatives like Aikido, Judo and Jiu-Jitsu which should all have rolling and tumbling as a large part of their curriculum. Falls and rolls are actually called “Break-falls” in most schools because you’re learning how to break the fall in a safe manner.

To be honest, martial arts are my preferred route as they teach falling and rolling from many different angles, situations and positions in addition to learning some cool moves for self-defense.

Spend some time upside down:
Many people are afraid of being upside down. I’ve taught some very basic rolling to adults and they were completely disoriented while performing the most basic task. Get over the fear of being upside down.

There are many choices here.

You can try out some Yoga inversions or shoulder stands. You can try out some simple still ring work borrowed again from gymnastics like skin the cat and forward rolls.

Being upside down will directly help with your falling and rolling skills and they’ll become second nature.

Learn how to crawl and learn how to climb:
If you want strong and stable shoulders develop these 2 skills…crawling and climbing. If you want to move like spiderman or batman master these 2 skills. Again, your climbing does not need to be very extreme or too technical. Rock climbing a mile high is not needed. Do some work on a local playground learning to move hand over hand, from support to support, forward and backward, from side to side. There are many regressions and progressions to use and employ. There is something for everyone of every fitness level and body type.

The same goes for crawling, start with a simple bear crawl and add complexity and finesse as your strength and skills develop.

Mix Up Your Training Textures and Terrain:
Give your brain and your body something to work with. Your body craves engagement with the world, with the Earth. It wants to feel the grass, the sand and the rocks underneath your feet. It wants the nooks and the crannies just not on an English Muffin.

It grows and adapts from encountering micro-challenges from it’s environment.

I know runners that can’t run on anything other than a track. I know some people that can only run on a treadmill. I’ve heard some people claim or complain that grass was too bumpy and uneven to run on. Seriously? Grass? Have we become this weak and fearful?

If you’re training limits your abilities to run only on one surface it is drastically lacking and your body and it’s ability to adapt is severely lacking as well.

So how do you make it more adaptable and resilient? By providing challenges in a sensible and responsible manner. Start with some grass running, then move to some easy trails. Then onto rougher, steeper trails.

Jason C. Brown

Now, I’m just using running as an example but you can apply these little micro-challenges to any aspect of your training practice.

Practice the “same-but-different” principle. Stick with pull-ups but use different grips. Use different angles. Use different tempos, move fast and move slow, pause at different spots during the movement. Mix it up!

Train in the heat and the cold:
Ever see how swords and other weapons are created? Hot and cold…hot and cold…this is called tempering and you can create the same affect in your training….within reason of course. Don’t be careless and injure yourself but existing in a constant room temperature of 68 degrees and refusing to do anything outdoors is hurting your entire organism more than it’s helping.

You’re becoming a baby and will quickly be crushed the moment real change comes stumping into your world. Build resilience now. Become strong and flexible like a well crafted weapon.

Mix up your training tools:
If you’ve been doing barbell front squats for 56 years try some kettlebell front squats, try some uni-lateral kettlebell front squats. How about sandbag front squats or Zercher Squats etc..

I’m a huge believer in “Consistency on the Fundamentals” but I’m also a huge fan of the “Same-but-different” training principle. Squats are still squats, using a different tool does not make squats something else. Just the details change a bit. You body will appreciate this change in details and will adapt making you more resilient to changes of directions, angles of force and vector qualities.

Master the Art of Roughhousing:
Rough house!

Play rough with your kids, your loved ones, your puppies or kittens. Just do it. Go outside and roll on the grass, wrestle, have chicken fights in the pool. Pillow fights are quite awesome. Play superman and launch your kids into the couch cushions. Piggy-back rides are wheelbarrow races are not just for kids.

Add an element of danger into your play. You’ll adapt. Roughhousing is unique. It lights up our brains and bodies in a way that other forms of movement simply can’t touch.

It teaches us boundaries and limits. It let’s us explore our abilities and creativity. It makes us come alive. And smile.

How do you approach all these tips? Easy. Start small. Take one class at a time. Practice slowly at home.No need to be too aggressive from the word GO.

Let me know how you include those above goodies in your practice…your life. I’d love to hear from you.

The Slow Track

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I love Jiu-Jitsu. I’m passionate about it’s history, it’s movements and it’s philosophy.

But there was a time when this passion drove me elsewhere. One day I found myself sitting at my computer and I lost the art, the mat.

Literally lost it. 

The place where I should have been- out on the mat growing instead of watching and reading about how others are doing it. I’d become that guy, someone that would rather talk about Jiu-Jitsu  than actually do it myself and it needed to be the other way around.

It’s a very uneasy feeling knowing you’re not where you should be.

So I created the type of practice where I knew I could flourish. As a father of 3 vibrant sons I know that my time and energy are limited and that I needed to place success in my way.

I had to place my Jiu Jitsu practice right in front of my face. Right outside my backdoor if I was going to become the Jiu-Jiteiro I wanted to become.

This much I have learned. Jiu-Jitsu is something you do, you become. Not something you buy or watch passively from the sidelines.

It’s the process, not the sudden transformation that matters.

When you cultivate a little, dig a little deeper, move a little better, and , more important, don’t try to do it all at once, Jiu-Jitsu works with you.

If you find the right spot and the right time your hardest job is done.