Realities Created, Maintained and Destroyed, WHILE-U-WAIT!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

If Batman existed he'd train like this

I got a note from a friend yesterday directing me over to the Dragondoor forum.

Dragondoor is the website of a fellow named Pavel Tsatsouline, who introduced kettelbells to the American public. Pavel has some interesting stuff and I have found some value in what he has offered. I much prefer kettlebells to dumbbells, though I have to admit I find clubbells even more to my liking, but that is very much a personal preference.

There was a discussion going on about using my friend Scott Sonnon's Flowfit program in conjunction with the Dragondoor material. I find such discussions useful as a rule, as much good knowledge can be gained through use of the dialectic.

Personally I think Flowfit is one of the most useful programs that someone who follows Pavel's kettelbell work can use. Most of Pavel's stuff tends toward to the linear, using high repetition and heavy weight for development. Flow fit, on the other hand, moves the body in every possible direction in each session, What Scott calls

The Six Degrees of Freedom

Heaving: moving up and down
Swaying: moving left and right
Surging: moving forward and back
Pitching: tilting up and down
Yawing: turning left and right
Rolling: tilting side to side
This compensates for the constant long repetition of simple movement quite nicely, and if one is intelligent about things you can get something of the best of both worlds.

I was enjoying my reading until I came to this post
Pavel is a Russian Beast compared to Scott

Pavel's skinier but he looks super tough. I don't know. Scott looks supersoft. But when I use my 2" handled clubbells it adds size to my shoulders and arms and serious size to my forearms. I want a 45lb clubbell to play around with but when I look at Scott's physique it's discouraging. It looks like he's gone downhill physically(gotten soft in the can among others) since all the yoga stuff.
"Dang", I thought, "It must be a Republican".

Lately we have heard much about the Right Wing Authoritarian Personality in politics, but this particular aberration is one of the most ubiquitous in every field of human endeavor. I suspect that this sort of mentality is also one of the core causes of trolling such as we see here on the net.

Rather than joining in on an interesting and fruitful conversation, this fellow had to sycophantically parrot the "media image" material, much in the same way that other sorts of fundamentalists use religious slogans to create a "group-think" collective.

If I were a Freudian I would make note of the sexualized language the the guy uses. Right wing Authoritarian types want to submit to "Authority", this is found often in a certain repressed type of individual and leads to a sort of unhealthy, sublimated eroticism manifesting in their thoughts. Hence describing Pavel as a "Russian Beast" and the focus on Scott's "can".

The biggest problem with this sort of psychological focus though, is its near complete replacement of any sort of objective reality with the "group social mythology". In this case it is Pavel as the "Russian Beast" who is the ultimate "alpha male". As a good Beta, the fellow who wrote the post in question cannot allow any "challenge" to his Alpha's supremacy, so talking about value in someone else's work is a major threat, hence the "snarl language".

If one were to look at the real difference between Scott Sonnon and Pavel Tsatsouline, physically speaking, one thing stands out to me. Because of the training philosophy that Pavel uses, he tends to carry a good deal of residual muscular tension. This is because of his use of pressurising and irradiation of tension to produce force. That extra tension can fool the uninformed into thinking a person has a better physique than is actually the case.

Scott, on the other hand has very little residual muscular tension when at rest. This gives the appearance of long smooth muscles rather than the striations of hypertension. What has happened I think is that we no longer really understand how to look at some one's body and see it for what it is. I suspect it is because we have been overly affected by the image of the "body builder".

Which brings me to the point of this entry, what you can do is worth more than how you look.

Here's the thing, If Batman or Daredevil were real, they would train like Scott Sonnon.

Take a look at this clip, it's one day out of a 28 day cycle. What you see is not just moving a heavy weight in one track to force hypertrophy.

This sort of exercise program produces not only strength, (which it does in spades), but also coordination, balance, endurance, flexibility, suppleness, speed, and so on. In other words, if you were looking to be someone who could do, rather than just "look" then this is how to go about it.

If this is "super soft" then that's what I want. I know that Scott can go through any of Pavel's exercise routines and at the very least match Pavel rep for rep, pound for pound, but I don't know that the reverse would be true. The dragondoor material, though superior to conventional bodybuilding, is still two dimensional, the CST material is of a different level all together and requires much more of you than just being able to "move heavy weight".

So if you want to move like Batman, being at home in all three dimensions, mastering complex tasks that require being strong, fast, supple, balanced and coordinated, then perhaps you want something more like Scott's 4x7 program.


kwasi said...

Good post Mushtaq.

I've been using intu-flow pretty much daily for a while now and I really like the effects I get from it. I couldn't bring the clubbells fro xtension with me though.

How much space to I need for flowfit practice? If its about the same as intu-flow I might get the DVD sent to me for christmas

Dave O said...

Hello Mushtaq,

This is Dave O from the RMAX forum, and I enjoyed your post. The following two points caught my immediate attention.

1) You wrote, "...What has happened I think is that we no longer really understand how to look at some one's body and see it for what it is..."

I could not agree more. Practicing CST has allowed me to get past that point of view, but I bought into it not too long ago. I think that there is an indoctrination process though popular media that most Americans get caught into.

2)You wrote, ""Dang", I thought, "It must be a Republican"."

While I agree that Americans should be very wary of Right Wing Authoritarians. I do not think that the Republicans have the market cornered on body image issues. There are alot of Americans abusing steriods, using unhealthy exercise modalities and suffering from eating disorders. My guess is that there are as many liberals as conservatives suffering.

Best regards,


Tiel Aisha Ansari said...

"Pavel's skinier but he looks super tough. I don't know. Scott looks supersoft."

Yeah, but Scott is way sexier IMO.

(see his irrelevant comparison, raise one)

Steve Perry said...

I can't imagine anybody watching this vid and thinking "This guy is soft and not in shape ..."

The first exercise alone -- he's doing what, at least eighteen or two chins -- is a killer -- he's working his upper body and his abs really hard.
(I prefer to do this slowly and to full extension, in an L-stit myself, but I'm done after ten or twelve.)

Gymnasts manage to develop great strength and flexibility, some of them without ever touching a barbell or dumbbell, just using their own bodyweight.

I've seen skinny little yoga guys who have strength weightlifters gape at.

That said, I wonder why the vid (on my computer) seems speeded up. You notice it when you see people in the background, as if it was shoot at eighteen frames a second instead of twenty four.
That doesn't lessen the amount of strength necessary to do what he's doing, but it makes it a hair less impressive -- slow reps are generally harder than fast ones ...

Mushtaq Ali said...


All you need is the space of a yoga mat, ot there'bouts

Mushtaq Ali said...

Dave O,

Thanks for the comment!

I trust you will forgive me a little poetic licence in regard to Republicans. :-)

Mushtaq Ali said...

Hi Steve,

I agree about the speeded up part, I think they wasnt to keep the clip short as why they did it that way.

steve-vh said...

You know, as I was reading this I was formulating my comment and you beat me to it by the end. "Functional Strength" is where it's at. The fact that they are measuring success based on "the size of my forearms" shows that they have a different goal.
A coworker who is on a more functional program helped me notice the same thing. He is a cyclist and snowboarder who couldn't care less about "size". Yet when I asked how he thought his current program was working, he couldn't really quantify his results other than to say he was happy but "I havn't gotten any bigger, not that it's bad". When I pointed out to him he was on the right path but still using the wrong measurement paradigm, you could see the gears shift.

"Residual Muscular tension". Well dang that explains it. My son remarked to me that I didn't look all that fit until we were sparring and the muscles were taxed. "Wow, Dad!"
I wanna be like Scott!

Anonymous said...

I think that in the West, there is a tendency to see the "ideal warrior" as some kind of aggressive, abnornmally strong macho man.

And anything that deviates from that image (a thoughtful, nurturing, yoga-practicing strong man?) is considered unmanly.

Mushtaq Ali said...

Boy! That hits the nail right on the head!

Steve Perry said...

Thoughtful, nurturing, yoga-practicing? Bleh.

Sounds like a granola-eating, Volvo-driving, Chablis drinking sissy to me ...

cjcbrown said...

I saw that comment on DD also.
Being also at a curmudgeonly age, after dismissing the young pup's focus on physique - I did get what he was seeing and I like your analysis, Mushtaq, as the difference in residual tension...

but my first reaction was, if we must talk appearance, Scott is steak and Pavel is beef jerky. Not that beefcake comes to mind or anything.

Sean said...

Batman? Daredevil?

What about Chuin and Remo from the Destroyer novels (the "Sun Source" of Sinanju turned Remo into a physical dynamo without turning him into a hulking, overmuscled goon)

Reminds me of what Steve Barnes wrote about Firewalking in his Aubrey Knight novels (Streetlethal, Gorgon Child)

Recently started working with the RMAX stuff (thanks Bao!) and it honestly kicks my a$$ every day - in a good way :)

murid_aisha said...

Funny, the RMAX seminar had just come to mind... so I checked out their website and pics from SF last time. I can't wait for the next one. Can you please send more info.
An amazing teacher once showed me its not about the appearance but the skill level. What really matters is how such techniques and strength can be employed.
Scott is amazing in that video. If his system can give out results in a small portion of that i'm fascinated.
I would like to add, that yoga provides balance, and energy throughout the body in a holistic way that incorporates breathing and feeling microscopic changes in the body. Can Kettle bells do this?

Jonathan Kessler said...

Hello sir,
I have Coach Sonnen's Clubbell DVD (and a pair of clubbells, which I quite like). It's hard, though, to cut through the hyperbole (no more than a lot of other internet marketing, but sadly, not much less, either). This has put me off trying more of his material. Any insights you would share on that (how to cut through the hyperbole to the kernels of good movement within) would be much appreciated.
Jonathan Kessler (still looking forward to your reply to my piper questions from your more-used email account).
Feel free to edit or delete this comment ,trying to reach you and I know that the email account I have for you is one you don't check regularly. Thanks!

murid_aisha said...

Guru, found a forum about various M.A. the guy/one of many moderators seemed to know of you through previous forums. I found it through a link connected to Terry. Anyhu, I told him i'd give you a quick URL to the forum.

Also we're probably moving to Pland,Or. Glad to have met T&T there! Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Oh my yes, you're so right. The authoritarian personality is in full jackbooted march all over the place, and forums seem to be festering wounds of republicanism for some reason, especially guns-and-gear forums.

They just want someone getting punished. They don't care too much who it is. Someone has to get hurt and punished so the good god fearing people can feel justified.

Anonymous said...

Scared, paranoid, ultra right wing martial arts. Oh, and Crossfit to boot. At least they're all on one forum so we know where to avoid.