And other rare occurrences
Those of you who are regular readers know that I have the privilege of being a friend of Scott Sonnon, and that I write about him from time to time.
(Quick disclaimer, While Scott is my friend, I am not a part of his organization, RMAX, nor am I certified to teach any of his programs. I do not receive any financial consideration for saying nice things about him, or from using his material. In other words, I ain't got no reason to be foolin' with you about this)
Here's the thing, if Albert Einstein had gone into martial arts and athletics instead of physics, he would have been Scott Sonnon.
This isn't hyperbole, I'm dead serious. Scott isn't just a genius when it comes physical movement and training, he has discovered something I consider equivalent to the theory of relativity for athletic endeavor.
What Scott has found is something very much like the Platonic Ideal of training. I've been watching him work on this for some years now, and it looks to me as if he has gotten his theorem polished.
Recently, Scott has been giving out a series of training programs under his Tacfit umbrella.
There are several Tacfit programs now including:
Tacfit the original. A great program for when you have a gym handy.
TacFit Commando, which is a program that requires no equipment at all.
TacFit Mass Assault, uses a simple set of dumbbells to do wonders.
Tacfit R.O.P.E., for pulling movements. This is basically a whole gym hidden in a rope.
and his latest in the series Tacfit Kettlebell Spetsnaz,which takes kettlebell work to a whole new level.
While all these programs are amazing in their usefulness and effectiveness, they are not what I find most interesting.
What Scott has done is create a matrix into which he can input any sport or movement discipline and output the perfect set of exercises and protocols to maximize your performance.
So someone could say "give me something for badminton" or "I need something to help me perfect my bowling" or even "How about a Tacfit Cheetah for barefoot/minimalist runners?" (not that I am suggesting that Scott should develop a Tacfit program that would help people to maximize their speed, power and endurance as runners while minimizing the chance of injury, just that the world would be a better place if he did :-) ) and within just a little while you would have a set of exercises with progressions and the protocols for executing them that would allow you to reach you full potential in that sport.
And that, my friends, is worth it's weight in gold, to have such a deep understanding of exercise at the Meta level that you can produce a high level training regime for anything involving movement. (I will postulate that this matrix can be used for physical, mental, emotional and spiritual movement, but explaining that will take another full post).
So what does all this have to do with walking your talk?
Well, perhaps you have noticed that while there are all manner of people who offer programs in martial art or exercise, there is perhaps less objective evidence than one might like as to the effectiveness of these programs.
This is especially true in martial arts. There is all manner of stuff out there, but the time to discover whether or not you made the right choice in training is NOT when you really need it.
But how to tell the value of any given material?
For me, there are two criteria. "Can he do?" and "Can he teach?". Now "Do" doesn't mean "do with your students", anyone can look like the baddest dude on the planet when working with the people who they have trained. And "teach" doesn't mean your students demonstrating in your class. "Do" means demonstrating that your stuff works against someone who has skill and is doing everything possible to make your art fail. "Teach" means your students can do the same.
Here's the rub. The only place to test out your stuff and show that you know what you're talking about (besides the battlefield) is in competition, and big name teachers mostly just don't compete.
I can't really blame them. If you get on the mat and lose, people might not think you know what you're talking about, and if your income is based on being an expert, that could be devastating. (Of course, the only people who have never lost in competition are the ones who have never competed, but many people don't understand that) So you don't see the big name teachers taking risks. (There are a few notable exceptions though).
When was the last time you saw (fill in the name of your favorite self-defense guru here) get on the mat with someone of real skill who was fully committed to beating him?
So some people were a little surprised when Scott put everything on the line and agreed to compete in the 2010 World Martial Arts Games.
He was anteing up his reputation, his company, his health and well being for this tournament. If he lost his detractors would have trumpeted it all over the Internet and it would have no doubt seriously hurt him financially.
And this was not some "do some demos and a form" sort of competition. This was full contact, submission/knockout play.
It's not like Scott has anything to prove. He has a whole list of wins from when he was a Sambo player, and then back in '05 he went to a San Shou Tournament and showed the world that he knew exactly what he was talking about. (read about it here and here).
Scott uses his methodology to train himself for the competition, which is pretty much a "put up or shut up" action. With that, the whole world gets to see exactly how good his stuff is.
So what happens? He goes to this Tournament and fights nine full contact matches in 24 hours against a field with no weight classes or age divisions (Scott just turned 40) and came home with four gold medals, two silver, and one bronze.
There you have it. A person that has proven that their methods are effective using their own body and reputation (and actually risking everything to do so) in open competition, an event almost unheard of in this day of Internet wonders and seminar warriors.
Here's a highlight reel of Scott's competition.
My personal favorite part is just about 2:45 in where Scott's opponent tries to get him in a triangle choke and Scott pretty much dives through his own navel, comes out the other side and gets him right into an ankle lock. Too Kewl.
You can listen to this Interview Of Scott by Steven Barnes for The Diamond Hour Show (right click to download) on the tournament, the training that lead up to it and such. It's well worth it.
Just when I think Scott Sonnon couldn't impress me more he does this. Respect!