James can be reached at TwinFreaks CrossFit, where he is an owner and trainer. James coaches barbell lifting classes and CrossFit classes. Contact him by email at james@twinfreakscrossfit.com or by phone at 720-204-2631.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Field Trips & Reality

My friend and honorary TwinFreak Barney recently asked me to help him with his deadlift.  He only deadlifts every other Sunday, so I agreed to meet him today.  We could have met at TwinFreaks CrossFit of course, but Barney trains at Fucktime Fitness, and I wanted to go in there and look around.

I did eventually succeed in changing Barney's starting position which we both think will help him, but it ended up being something of an ordeal because I couldn't stop laughing the whole time I was in there.

I saw some impressive cheat curls, some exemplary partial range of motion benches, and finally some serious leg work.
Leg day is every fourth February, right?

You with the clipboard, you don't read my blog do you?
Good man! You'll be fine when you're 80 as long as you get a recumbent toilet.
I really wasn't sure how to handle all this, so I took off my shirt and pretended to do curls in the squat rack.

I enjoyed my ninety or so minutes in Fucktime Fitness thoroughly.  At $20 a month I could go in there for an hour and a half three or four times a week, and I'd save serious money compared to going to the movies.  I want to go back there, but I figure I'd probably get kicked out, so next time I won't be so nice; no, I'll steal all those dweeb's girlfriends.

I have to admit I got quite an ego boost from being in Fucktime Fitness.  I momentarily wondered if perhaps I'm a genetic freak or if I'd been taking D-Bol and forgot about it.  I remembered, though, that I train at TwinFreaks CrossFit and that I'm making a serious push to hit a state record squat.

I guess I more or less accidentally ended up looking good while I was doing this last week.  I didn't have to towel any sweat off the chrome machines when I was done either.

Monday Squats
(working sets only)
5 x 275
5 x 285
5 x 295
5 x 305
5 x 315

Wednesday Squats
2 x 5 x 225

Friday Squats
5 x 355
Friday Deads
6 x 325 (conventional)

That is largely how my training will go for the November NASA meet.  I know that Monday will change to 5 x 5 x 315, and on Friday I'll drop the set of five and go first to two heavy triples and as the meet gets closer, I'll push for a new 3rm every week.  Deadlifts will alternate between conventional and heavier sumo every week.

Eight weeks of that and I think I might even look in the mirror again.

Fucking kids these days.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Interview with Me II

I thought I'd mix things up again this Friday and have another guest interviewer [GI] ask me whatever questions he or she had.

GI: Why do you love to compete so much, and how was this love of competition inspired in you?

JD: I have this argument repeatedly with a friend of mine, and when we're done we both know nothing. Before I confuse myself, the big answer is that I believe life is fundamentally competitive. The little answer is that it motivates me and directs my training. I was squatting about an hour ago, and I had to do 355 x 5. This is my first week back after the last meet, I still hurt, and when I unracked that the only thought in my head was, "motherfuck, this isn't going to work." Of course I did it anyway. I'm trying to set a state record in November. I ended up on the floor for a while, but I got it done because I know the next meet is approaching. If I were trying to impress women or something, I'd buy a car. It's a lot easier. Inspiration? Try losing once. I've done it many times. I'll continue until I die or get it right.

GI: Can you talk about where your deep love of BJJ comes from; what do you get out of it that inspires you so much?

JD: It's primal, it's competitive, and you have a live opponent.  See?  It's life.  I can't go through kindergarten again, so it's where I learn everything I know.  Despite what people think when they see me snort ammonia and scream, the barbell is entirely neutral to me.  It's very predictable, and all it does it asks me who I am.  An opponent is unpredictable and tries to tell me who I am.  Beyond that it's an art form.  I've trained with a few  world class guys.  I remember Otavio Souza sweeping me from de la Riva guard and using absolutely no force.  It was like the guy didn't do anything and suddenly I go from standing to sitting on my ass.  When you get that effortless water-like feeling, it's not so unusual to go the rest of a life time trying to duplicate it.  From there it's natural that you want to apply jiu-jitsu throughout your life: at work, in relationships, everywhere.  Finally I love the culture.  I think when I started BJJ I went from having two friends to several hundred.

GI: What's on your bucket list of athletic goals? Why?

JD: Right now I'm working towards going to the USAPL Raw Nationals in 2013 or 2014.  I was looking at the 2012 results, and I realized "holy shit, I wouldn't win this thing, but absolutely nobody would say I didn't belong there."  I've been lifting a long time and I just now admitted to myself I've gone from sucking to being legitimately good.  It's incredibly motivating.  I think by 2013 in Orlando, or more likely 2014 wherever it will be, I could even be above average in a national field.
Sometime in my life I have to go to the IBJJF Senior World Championship.  It's always held in Rio de Janeiro.  Win or lose I'd have a good time and drink Caracu again.  I'd probably stay there a while and train.
There are some more or less random things I want to do that I can't explain: the Pike's Peak half marathon, the Cobblestone Climb, a short but brutal bicycle sprint in my home town of Burlington, Iowa, and of course the Empire State stair climb.  I seem to have been designed to do the 500 meter erg sprint.  I'm not going to talk about what I think I'm capable of doing there.  I'm going to work on it.

GI: What inspired you to become a coach and what is it you are wanting to help people find or connect with as their coach?

JD:  I live as a free range Human.  Everyone should taste that before they give up, get a job, a house, a car, a flat screen television, and a mate to have a dysfunctional relationship with.  I have days I want to shoot myself in the head, but that's because I'm doing what I want.  Polite people aren't going to admit this in public, but I bet a lot of them want to shoot themselves in the head because there's nothing on TV.  Same result, but I'll do it my way.  I'm afraid I have a natural lifespan.  I'm only going two-thirds of the way up the mountain, and I want to take everyone there with me.  If I can push one successor beyond me, I'll die happy.

What does this have to do with training? If you can work a barbell, you can tell the Kardasians to fuck off to their faces.  Perhaps sadly, that qualifies as a survival skill in contemporary society.

GI: You have a very hands off approach to your coaching, why are you not a hand holding coach?

JD: During an event, and this would include a "normal" crossfit workout, the athletes are unquestionably in charge.  A coach may or may not help.  UFC fighter Eliot Marshall once coached me during a BJJ match.  That guy is ten times more excited about anything than I am, and you couldn't ask for a better combat sport coach.  He was screaming at me to front choke the guy, but he couldn't see I already had an armbar on.  Awesome coach or not you don't let go of an arm when you have it, and that's the same way I expect athletes to react to me.  They're in the experience and despite my theoretical knowledge, they know more than I do.

If you're referring to my apathy regarding group warm ups, they don't give Grammys for choreographing warm ups.  You can walk into the most random CrossFit work out with no advance warning of what's going to happen.  Do twenty kettlebell swings and you're good to go.  That may sound like a cop out, but if you know me long enough, you'll actually see me do that.

The only way I've figured out to teach anyway is by doing.  I'm aware that when I talk only half of what I say is going to be in English, and three-quarters of that is going to be allegorical. I see that over time the people who choose to work with me start radiating their own awesomeness.  That's what we're after; we don't have to be friends.

Yes I could be a whore, wear a polo shirt and follow people around with a clipboard while smiling and asking how their vacation was.  Those guys are fucking weak, and I'm not going that way.  Seriously, do you think those guys squat 135 to parallel?

GI: What goes through your mind when people say: I'm too old, too busy, too broke, too ___________ (fill in the blank) to start competing in a sport?

JD: Right, so am I.

I was squatting alone Wednesday when a guy came in and asked more or less why nobody else squatted as much as me at the last meet.  I looked around and asked him who else he saw there.

Look, I don't have a job, a girlfriend, a working television and so on.

I have love.  Without that you're a cold fish and you should leave me alone and go back in the aquarium.

GI: Have you ever played team sports and do you enjoy them?  Why do you tend to gravitate towards solo competitive sports?

JD:  I played football.  I'm sure I can still play middle linebacker, but again this year I was not heavily recruited.   I like the way BJJ eventually conforms to anybody.  Given a choice I fight off my back, and I have a tendency to turtle like my role model Eduardo Telles.  If you do something like that in football, the guys who are banging the cheerleaders get mad at you.  The thing is after high school those idiots are in heating and air conditioning.  It's not like they know what's right.  I'm fine on a team, but I like my individual expression.

GI: At the CrossFit Masters you weren't at all impressed with the beast athletes, but I could see in your eyes deep respect for that last guy standing on the floor.  I'm not interested that specific situation, but hearing more of your reasons why you seem to admire the dead guy on the floor killing himself more than the well trained accomplished athlete competing?

JD: It's a trivial problem to be a winner.  You have to be younger and get better parents.  Actually in my case my parents were good enough, so I'd just have to be younger and teach my mom how to cook paleo.  What becomes interesting then is how you perform when you're getting your teeth kicked in and absolutely nobody cares if you finish 32nd or 33rd. Go Youtube the English, I believe, ski jumper Eddie the Eagle.  I fucking love that guy.  The guy jumps thirty feet or whatever, and yet there is no doubt that he has no doubt that next time he is going 300 feet.

I don't exactly know how to explain it.  You have to be awesome when you are in that pool of your blood.  That's really all I do, so yes I admire it, and I get disappointed when I see people shy away form it.

Thank You, GI, for the questions.  I could have written a book on any of them, but I wanted to maintain primacy and authenticity so I just answered them the best I could today.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

the Wizard can Fuck Off

I don't believe in can't.

I squeeze it out ten pounds at a time, but ten tens is one hundred, and it tries to come back.  I was very good at squatting over 300 pounds, but 400 took months to fall away, and sometimes there in the high 300's I looked outside myself.

One week ago I squatted over 400.

Eight days ago I was walking around the neighborhood thinking about what I was missing.  As I walked by the flop house, I was confronted by a raving junky.  The junky was unarmed, and my jiu-jitsu is adequate if not worth Youtubing, so I decided to listen to him as he approached and told me,

"just remember this, 'Oz never did give nothing to the Tin Man that he didn't already have.'"

And I thought about that until I knew it was true.  The only thing I needed was to quit looking outside myself.

None of this is easy.  If you happen to be me it's just fun and appropriate to flip off the Wizard and know that punishment and reward are the same thing.

So yes, I haven't seen the Wizard and therefore he'll eventually come for me.  I'll listen to whatever he has and say, 'well yes, motherfucker, but I surfed."

If you have to be the Tin Man, surf.  It's okay that you don't float and you're never coming up again when you fall off the board.  The Wizard can rant.  You rode the pipeline.

Or if you have to be the unicorn, be happy.  You didn't need to be told the ark was leaving, and your corpse is still beautiful even if it's not uncovered after the next or any future ice age.

If you're a kid from Iowa with a barbell and a dream, get out of bed at least as long as the prose poetry continues.  Your blog gets a thousand views a month.  Nobody knows Homer either.

If you are one thing, understand that one is ten thousand.

Don't go to the prom.

Just dance.