Timidity Under The Bar

I’ve got a confession to make. It’s going to become a theme as the week rolls on, I suspect. No, I haven’t been lying to you or anything. Nothing of the sort. But there are things I did a pretty good job of lying to myself about. Especially when it comes to strength training.

You see, despite weeks doing nothing but barbell training, I’m still a little timid under a bar.

To understand why, I need to take you way back. The year, I believe, was 1989. I was 16-years-old and had just gotten the go-ahead from my folks to start lifting weights at the school’s weight room. It was open to all students, but it was really a football thing. I wasn’t on the team, but we were a small school so I knew everyone.

I was the small, kind of geeky kid in school, so I’m sure there were some thoughts about what the hell I was doing there when I showed up. I kind of recognized that I had stepped into the lion’s mouth, so to speak. Most of the guys who I saw as tormentors were in that room, and they were going to see just how weak I was.

Well, it seems someone thought it would be hilarious to pressure me into trying to bench my bodyweight my first time in the weight room. Now, at the time that was just 135 lbs, but when you’re arms are about as strong as overcooked spaghetti, that’s plenty.

My first attempt went about as well as you would expect. It was lifted off of me and I felt stupid. However, I didn’t want to be beaten, either. That’s probably how I was talked into trying it again.

Now, you need to understand something about that time. I knew nothing of how to bench. This was the years before YouTube or Amazon, so it was difficult finding information. Knowledge was often passed by other people in the weight room and contained about as much BS as your average load of natural fertilizer.

One thing I didn’t know anything about was form, and I had my arms running right next to my body. No arms at anything approaching an angle, and I had my grip about right for a close-grip bench press, but not an actual bench.

All of this contributed to what happened next.

The weight was lifted off the rack and moved over my chest…only to see my arms lose the ability to hold the weight right at the elbow joint. The weight crashed down on my face.

Yes, really. Continue reading “Timidity Under The Bar”

The Collapse Of Decency And The Real World Warriors

As I write this, I’m keeping a close eye on most news websites. You see, I’m in a tough spot. While I have committed to writing here every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I also have commitments to Bearing Arms.

Right now, I’m keeping that one eye on news sites looking for news on a mass shooting at a Maryland newsroom. This follows a serious string of events that has me more convinced than ever that unless something serious happens, the citizen warriors, or “real world warriors” as I’ve taken to calling us, are going to be more needed than ever.

First, let’s touch on mass shootings. Regardless of whether the media is inflating them and making them feel like they’re happening more often now than they did before or not is irrelevant. They’re happening. These are manufactured crises, for crying out loud. These are real things.

Couple that with the broader unrest we’ve seen over the last couple of years, stuff like Antifa wrecking anywhere they go and even a sitting United States Congresswoman calling for supporters to actively harass members of the president’s administration, and we see something deeper taking place.

Quite frankly, I can’t help but wonder if the crazy is going to get worse. Continue reading “The Collapse Of Decency And The Real World Warriors”

Now On YouTube!

For some time, I’ve toyed with the idea of starting a YouTube channel. There are a lot of great ones out there, but nothing that really seemed to touch on the things I was passionate about sharing with the world.

There were some great strength training channels, some great conditioning channels, some great fighting channels, and some great firearms channels, but nothing that really hit all the turf I wanted to see hit.

So, I made my own. Continue reading “Now On YouTube!”

First Impressions Of Titan Yoke And Bench

Now that I’m back in the gym and can tell that I’m not revisiting past injuries, I decided it was time to revisit my home gym setup. The reason was simple. There are times when I want to workout but can’t really leave the house to lift.

That meant I needed a setup here, and I needed one that would fit what I was already doing.

After doing a bit of research while working around schedules to hit the commercial gym, I settled on a couple of items to start with rebuilding the gym.

I looked to Titan Fitness to see what they had to offer, and while they have similar products to industry giant Rogue–which makes sense considering Titan has basically ripped off Rogue’s designs–but have them at roughly half the cost.

Yeah, it was a no-brainer.

I selected two items to start with from them, the Titan T-3 Yoke and their 1,000 lbs capacity bench.

Pardon the mess. It’s been a hell of a weekend.

Here are my initial thoughts on both products. Continue reading “First Impressions Of Titan Yoke And Bench”

Why The World Needs Citizen Warriors

The world needs citizen warriors.

I’m talking about the average, ordinary, everyday folks you see on your way to work, at the grocery store, or wherever they might be, but who are more than capable of taking bad people down a peg or two.

We need more folks like that. Desperately.

Over the last few months, our news cycle has seemingly been dominated by one topic other than Donald Trump. That topic? School shootings.

Many have postulated that the prevalence of guns in this country is somehow responsible for a perceived increase in mass shootings and that we need to ban certain kinds of guns because some mass shooters need them.

However, the problem isn’t guns. Bad people can use any number of tools to create havoc in our streets and in our hearts. Oklahoma City used fertilizer and fuel oil. A terrorist in New York used a Home Depot rental truck. Some tosser in Toronto used a van to kill people because he couldn’t get laid.

In other words, bad people will use whatever they can to do bad things. Banning guns isn’t an answer.

Pro-gun proponents will often say that what we need are more guns. The sentiment is right but expressed poorly. After all, we now have enough guns in civilian hands to arm every man, woman, and child in this country. If there was a certain saturation point of guns that would stop these kinds of things, we’d have already hit that point.

The answer isn’t more or fewer guns–though I am not about to advocate a violation of our Second Amendment rights because we supposedly have “enough” guns. There’s no such thing–but that we need more people with the willingness, training, and warrior mindset to go along with those tools.

In other words, we need citizens with the means, skill, and opportunity to intervene in many of these situations and put down these rabid animals.

However, everywhere we turn, we see people opposing this idea. Why? Well, they’d tell you that they don’t like guns and don’t think “weapons of war” belong on our streets, but they’re lying to you.

Hell, they’re probably lying to themselves too, so don’t feel too bad about it.

You see, for most people, the warrior is terrifying. These are people who have the tools, training, and psychological makeup that closely mimic the people the warriors are protecting the masses against.

In the old metaphor of the sheepdog–you know the one. Where the people are “sheep,” and the bad guys are “wolves” and the only way people can be protected are the “sheepdogs?” That one–there a comment I’ve read along with it about how the sheep fear the sheepdog because the sheepdog looks uncomfortably close to the wolf.

It’s true.

People are often uncomfortable with those who have embraced any aspect of the warrior life. They accept it in military and law enforcement personnel, in part because these are trappings they understand. They see the uniform and can feel an expectation that these warriors won’t turn against them. At least to some extent, anyway.

But for the regular folks, they get uncomfortable. They get afraid.

Years ago, a group that my wife and I socialized with asked me to no longer attend. I wasn’t an asshole to anyone. I didn’t get drunk and wreck the place. I didn’t do any of that.

No, I was asked to not stick around because I scared them.

I scared them because I was a shooter. I enjoyed taking my gun to the range and testing myself. I shot some matches with the local shooting club and I really enjoyed it. Because these were supposed to be my friends, I shared my excitement over my pastime.

It was not appreciated.

When I was told I was making people uncomfortable with my beloved topic, I stopped bringing it up. I wouldn’t talk about guns or anything of the sort unless someone else brought it up first. I figured that at that point, it was fair game.

Since that day, I’ve reconnected with most of that group, and it seems that most liked me, but a handful of folks didn’t. I made them uncomfortable.

To revisit the metaphor, I reminded them far too much of the wolf.

But that is one reason why we need more citizen warriors, my own term for those private citizens not engaged in the trade of protecting their fellow citizens. We need more of them as a form of social exposure therapy for those so terrified of every shadow.

As things stand, many are trying to stigmatize gun owners to the point where they will never admit to being gun owners. They’re trying to “gun shame” us into remaining quiet, thus allowing them to dominate the gun debate.

Yet, if we can expand the number of citizen warriors to the point where everyone knows these people, where there’s one in every place of employment (if not several dozen), one in every church, one in every restaurant or movie theater.

We need them out there and we need them to be vocal. We need them to acknowledge that yes, they have the training and tools to do very bad things, but they are proud of their society and have no interest in acting against society’s laws. Instead, they will lay down their lives for their fellow man if need be.

A proliferation of these men and women–there is zero reason in this day and age that it simply has to be men–will make it harder to pretend that the citizen warrior is some kind of fringe group.

Unfortunately, such a thing will be difficult to do.

For better or worse, the stigmatization of warriors was long ago. It started with parents being told that games like “war” and “cops and robbers” wasn’t fitting for children. They were encouraged to engage in other forms of play. They were told that such things weren’t appropriate and that such play would invariably lead to more violence on our streets.

Some parents listened. Some didn’t.

However, schools carried the effort on. Whereas a schoolyard fight might have landed the kids some mild punishment in times gone by, today it is the cause of dreadful concern. Meanwhile, no effort is made to determine who initiated the fight or why it took place. Both parties are punished the same, thereby teaching that meekness is the only appropriate response to naked aggression.

Children’s entertainment has been constantly under assault by busybody parents who fear little Jimmy seeing a gun on television might damage his precious psyche and thus, such think should be purged from all entertainment.

In other words, a series of efforts through the year have successfully wussified the American public.

Through it all, though, there have always been the rebels. Those are the people who feel compelled to embrace the nature of the warrior no matter what. They can’t help themselves. They simply feel a compulsion to learn and train to protect their fellow man.

Many gravitate toward the military or law enforcement. However, sometimes they succumb to pressure to do other things for whatever reason. Maybe family obligations present themselves. Maybe an old injury makes pursuing a warrior’s vocation an impossibility. Who knows.

Still others did their time and came home from military service. The reasons are plentiful, but often they had nothing to do with needing an end to putting it all on the line for someone else. That is rarely given as a cause.

Now, these people are among us. They’re like a divine insurance policy against evil.

The problem is, these people are often few and far between. We need more of them. We need to undo the damage of decades of busybody mothers terrified that little Jimmy might see something unpleasant. We need to undo decades of parents terrified that violent play leads to actual violence, despite the legions who engaged in such play and have never harmed a soul.

We need to undo it all.

In the process, we need more citizen warriors so they can be everywhere they need to be. They can be on the New York subway car. They can be on the airplane. They can be in the movie theater or office building. They can be there the very moment they’re needed.

Maybe it’s a mass shooter, some jackass who thinks he needs to take vengeance for some imagined slight. Maybe it’s a terrorist who thinks his 72 virgins await. Maybe it’s some loser who thinks this will make some kind of a point.

It doesn’t matter.

What matters is the moment that evil rears its head, someone is there to meet it and put an end to it. Permanently, if needed.

The only way that happens is if the warriors are there when they’re needed, and for that, we need more of them.

Training To Be A Badass Can’t Be Your Whole Life

Yesterday, over at Bearing Arms where most supposedly self-defense focus training falls down, I laid out my thoughts on. Admittedly, I have to go on anecdotal information about training since it’s not humanly possible for me to train with everyone.

Now, I might well be judging those trainers too hard. Most are providing a service and all that and they’re providing exactly what their customers want. The problem is with we, the consumers of said training.

What I laid out in that post, however, covers a whole lot of ground. There’s a lot of things to learn and train in. After all, between firearms training, hand-to-hand training, and physical training, you’re looking at hours upon hours per day potentially, all geared toward making you an uber-badass.

The thing is, you have a life. You may have a family. You probably should have either a job, school, or both. You have a whole lot going on. Continue reading “Training To Be A Badass Can’t Be Your Whole Life”

8-Week ‘Starting Strength’ Program Review

One of the recurring themes here at By Spear And Axe has always been the subject of strength. Yes, I’m kind of obsessed with the idea of it. Part of the reason for that is that for so much of my life, I didn’t have any. I was the proverbial 98-pound weakling growing up (though I weighed less than 98 lbs for much of that time).

As a result, I dealt with some variations of what I can only describe as hell because of it. I lacked the strength to do anything about it and, frankly, my requests for help in learning how to fight were rebuffed by my parents. I was kind of hosed.

However, as soon as I could get into a weight room, I did. The allure of iron was strong, and I spent a lot of time in the gym.

I didn’t have a damn clue what I was doing, but I spent a lot of time in the gym. I only wish someone back then had given me a copy of Mark Rippetoe’s book, “Starting Strength.” Continue reading “8-Week ‘Starting Strength’ Program Review”

An Apology

OK, folks, let me be blunt here. I’ve dropped the ball.

Horribly.

I can give you a lot of reasons for this, but mostly it’s been a case of I spend so much time writing about stuff that I’m kind of burned out when it comes to writing stuff for me. For better or worse, this site constitutes just that. It’s for me.

Well, it’s for me and it’s for you. However, I know what my readership is like, but I also know that I don’t really get paid for this at this moment. While I do like to help people, paying the bills comes first.

Regardless, however, I promised to write more and I failed.

For that, I’m sorry. I truly am.

So, with that in mind, what has gone on since last I wrote here? Well, a lot. For one thing, I kept injuring myself with my lifting until I pretty much just stopped.

Then I started back. (More on that tomorrow)

I’ve been educating myself, of course, and I hope to share more of what I’ve learned here, of course. Provided it can be a benefit.

However, I’ve also been doing some thinking on things like balancing one’s inner warrior with the requirements of the real world. Like it or not, we can’t spend all our time being badasses, much less working to be badasses. We have to have lives.

Again, all that is for further discussions in the future.

For now, just let me say that I’m sorry. I hope to continue writing here at the site and use it as a repository for stuff that I can’t write at Bearing Arms or PJ Media for whatever reason.

What I won’t say is that I will post on any particular schedule just yet. I’m going to try to hit something once per week, but I’m not about to make a promise I’m not sure I can keep.

In the meantime, I appreciate your patience.

Back In The (Kettlebell) Swing Of Things

Last week, I didn’t get much working out down for a number of reasons. One of which was feeling like crap. Another was having workmen in our home to do a number of things. I hate working out with an audience, after all, and when I feel like crap…well.

No excuse, though.

There can’t be any excuses. Not anymore. I’m trying to stay alive in a world where there are a large number of people who want me dead. Yes, some include people who want me dead personally, most likely. Others just want me dead because I didn’t vote for the right candidate or I support the wrong policy. Still others want me dead because I live in the U.S. and am happy to live here.

They won’t delay because I didn’t feel good one week.

That meant it was back into training. No, I didn’t do any DDP Yoga. Not yet, anyway. I’ll probably do some tomorrow for stretching purposes, but I didn’t do it today because I love lifting stuff. Period.

So that put a kettlebell back into my hands. Continue reading “Back In The (Kettlebell) Swing Of Things”

Two Experts On Situational Awareness

Tim Kennedy is a U.S. Army special forces sniper and a fighter in the UFC. Mike Simpson is an emergency medicine doctor are former special forces soldier. Both appeared on the History Channel’s “Hunting Hitler” and both know what they’re talking about on a lot of things.

Well, a while back they spoke on their podcast about situational awareness, and there’s some awesome stuff to think about. Continue reading “Two Experts On Situational Awareness”