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Elements of Good Training

Training is a lifestyle that involves being uncomfortable most of the time. Exposure to material is an element of training. However, that is not training. We have to know the difference. We can’t let our ego fool us. Exposure to material isn’t the same as drilling deep into something so that it becomes you. If you are comfortable during a training session or cycle you are not trying. Growth comes from being uncomfortable. It’s called growing pains for a reason.


Training is consistent perfect repetitions over a long period of time. This can be brutal. Ten to fifteen reps is no problem. Add a few zeros to the back of those numbers and the pain train comes rolling in. Perfect repetitions require mental intensity. Fatigue sets in quickly, and it’s a different type of fatigue. This is where discipline shines. The ability to buckle down and stay the course for rep after rep. Perfect rep after perfect rep. Do that for ten years and we have a deep reservoir of skill and experience.


Training contains ruthless accountability. Accountability to ourselves, our training partners, our tribe. Always strive to excel. We can not allow ourselves to take the easy way out, or lie to ourselves regarding our performance. We can not allow our training partners to lie to themselves about their performance. There is also accountability to our history. There are those that have gone before us paving the way for us. We owe them our best. Kimura did 600 to 1,000 pushups and Randori for up to 9 hours daily. That doesn’t include everything else he was doing each day to prepare himself. I don’t know about you but I definitely have not come close to that level of effort today or any day in recent history.


Most importantly training has to be grounded in solid material. Recently proven tested material. Realistic material. Not fantasy. One of the biggest benefits to the Aliveness training methodology is there is little room for fantasy. Things that don’t work don’t last. No one enjoys failure, and in this arena fantasy fails. Failure equals pain. The bad kind of pain so don’t do it.


Check those boxes and you’ll be well-trained in whatever it is you do. You will be competent and life rewards competence. You won’t be comfortable. However, you will be competent and that is comforting.

A Simple Recovery Plan

While we want to train intensely and intelligently we also want to recover as intensely and intelligently. Having studied and applied almost every possible recovery method I can find I want to share with you a stripped down and to the point recovery plan.

Here’s my recovery plan in four simple steps. (This list is compiled from multiple sources over years of doing the work so forgive the lack of citations.)

1) Sleep well. As in 7-8 hours of sound sleep. I’ve been guilty of getting quite a bit less than that. For years. Studies show the cumulative affects of less than 7 hours sleep a night can be detrimental. If this is an area where you’re slacking then this is an easy fix. Hit the rack earlier, and get those hours.

2) Get moving in a non-strenuous way. A couple easy 10-15 minute walks a day are immensely beneficial. This is not a training session, this is recovery. You want to get some blood flowing, breath some fresh air, and move your body. Listen to a podcast, make a few phone calls, or just unplug for a few moments while your enjoy the air.

3) Eat enough water-rich, nutrient dense colorful food. Folks don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables. Eating well ensures we will have the full spectrum of vitamins, aminos, and minerals necessary to fully recover between training sessions. Also hydrate. Add some sea salt to your water so you hang onto to some of that hydration. Eat and hydrate as well as you can everyday.

4) Guard your thoughts. Negative thoughts will sap your recovery ability as much as lack of sleep or poor nutrition. We all have those moments. However, we can’t allow ourselves to stay in a negative state. Just like we physically pick ourselves up from the mat we must mentally pick ourselves up when knocked down. Stay focused on our goals, and commit to daily improvement.

Those are four key steps to recovery in a streamlined package. Execute these steps everyday and recovery will never be your Achilles Heel again.

If It Bends

During Jiu-Jitsu class I frequently remind my trainees if it bends it will break. The it being any joint in the body from head to toe.


Your Jiu-Jitsu sets you up to be dangerous on your feet or on the ground. Anything you touch on your opponent should be in jeopardy instantly or within a few seconds. As Coach Matt Thornton, Straight Blast Gym founder and president says, “only one person should be comfortable in a Jiu-Jitsu match”. Meaning that during a fight you should be in a position to inflict  damage while being relatively safe from damage.


Within Jiu-Jitsu there is some discussion regarding leg-locks and wrist-locks as it pertains to the rules set forth in some competitions. My thoughts are this, train to be dangerous regardless of rule set. Similar to the saying; I’d rather have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. Read the rules, develop your game plan within the rules given, and then do the best you can. Simple enough.


Without the rules you are free to do as you wish, (within the law…), so be as dangerous as possible. Study and develop a complete Jiu-Jitsu game. It it bends it will break. If someone touches you with malevolent intent, start breaking it. All of it.

Sunday Ruminations; Embrace Adversity

We all have had, and continue to have the opportunity to rise to the challenge. We face adversity on a regular occasion whether it’s externally or internally generated.


Sometimes we might find ourselves thinking; not again, or why does this happen to me. I know I have battled those thoughts. With mental state being the most important aspect of this thing we do, we need to keep our mind right. Embrace adversity as an opportunity to show the world you can rise again. Nothing can keep you down, and this is the perfect opportunity to remind the world of this fact.


“Occasions do not make a man either strong or weak, but they show what he is.”
— Thomas A Kempis


Adversity doesn’t make you, adversity reveals you. Let the circumstances you are in show the world how badass you are. No matter how bad it looks let those watching see, you got this.










Consistency over time is the real key to the kingdom. There are a lot of programs, and approaches that promise fast results. Some are legit and have something to offer, but nothing in this endeavor comes easy or quickly. There are ways that are more efficient than others to become proficient but there is no way around consistent effort over a long period of time.


I give my Jiu-Jitsu foundations class homework. They are expected to work on fundamental movements everyday on their own. Preferably several times a day. This applies to everything we as multidisciplinary practitioners train.


Every Day On. No Days Off.

Red Zone Knife Defense by Jerry Wetzel


If you have ever heard me talk about knife defense you’ve heard me mention Jerry Wetzel. Jerry’s Red Zone program is the premier knife defense program. There are a lot of knife programs available, and almost all have some merit. However, the material I trust my life to, (and the life of those that train with me), is Red Zone.

Yours truly, Jerry, and cover model Drew.


In the spirit of full disclosure, Jerry is a long time friend and we’ve trained together quite a few times over the years. He’s helped me with my programs, and I’ve offered my input regarding his programs over the years. As a result this has driven us to give honest feedback in an effort to offer the best possible service to our trainees. We test and evaluate extensively before we roll something out to the public. We understand the stakes so there is no way we are going to say the comfortable thing rather than the honest thing. Jerry, like all of my friends, shoots it straight and expects the same in return. So when I received a copy of Red Zone Knife Defense I expected excellence, and was not disappointed. Jerry has pressure tested this material for years upon years as well as having guys like myself pressure testing and evaluating the material. The result is a bomb proof approach to dealing with an edged weapon attack. So order a copy of the book, and more importantly get yourself into one of Jerry’s courses so you can experience the material for yourself.

Luis and I pressure testing knife defense material during the filming of the ISR Matrix instructional circa 1999. I’ve been working on this problem for a long time, and have found the Red Zone material to be the best out there.



Hit First, Hit Fast, Hit Last

One of the first of many cool sayings I heard as a young man in the fight game was; hit first, hit fast, hit last. I’ve heard this attributed to a number of folks so I really don’t know who I should say I’m quoting. Teddy Atlas? Cus D’Amato? Salim Assili? This would seem to be one of those universal truths that apply to any fighting art. Bottom line, as one that was brand new to the game this was an important lesson for me to learn.


It would seem self-evident but sometimes we need an outside voice to give us permission to make the first move in defense of life and limb. Putting my hands on someone without waiting for them to put their hands on me was a foreign concept. Most of us have been taught by family, friends, and society to avoid throwing the first punch. The person throwing the first punch is always the aggressor therefore, wrong. At this point I realize how wrong I was to accept this as true back then, and after having witnessed a few violent confrontations I can assure you I have no issue throwing the first punch. Think about it this way, how many hits can you take before you’re unconscious? Once unconscious you can no longer defend yourself or your loved ones. Don’t let that happen. You need to act, and act right now. You can solve the legal challenges after the fact, with the help of competent counsel but right now, in the moment when your gut is screaming that something just isn’t right? You gotta get it on before he makes his move.


Reblog; Lessons from an Armed Robbery — tacticalprofessor

Excellent analysis from Claude Werner, the Tactical Professor. If you aren’t following his blog, and social media page, you should be.


Barry Fixler, former Marine and Viet Nam veteran, owns a jewelry store in New York State. On Valentine’s Day 2005, a couple of criminals decided to relieve him of his merchandise. It didn’t turn out the way they planned. We are fortunate that much of the incident was captured on video. There are numerous lessons […]

via Lessons from an Armed Robbery — tacticalprofessor

Imposter Syndrome



One of the things I struggle with is imposter syndrome. That nagging feeling that I’m not really deserving of any accolades, or recognition I might receive. I worry that I’m deep in Dunning-Kruger and as a result don’t know enough to know how much I don’t know.


I don’t know how to stop those thoughts from running through my head. All I know is I train like a madman to make sure I’ve done everything I can do to deserve anything I’m given. I’m actually envious of people that have no clue how much they suck. Their confidence in their non-existent skills has to be a great feeling. I mean that sincerely. I wish I could be that but I can’t. I will continue to struggle with whether I deserve to even wear a black belt, or have anyone listen to anything I say on the topic of self protection.


And I will continue to work my ass off to ensure that those that have trusted me enough to invest their time and effort in passing on their knowledge to me aren’t disappointed. I will continue to work my ass off to make sure folks that trust me enough to train them will find that training valuable.


That’s the only answer I know or have ever known.


In police work recruits are taught to watch the hands when making contact with citizens.

In the first course I took from Paul Howe we were given a scanning hierarchy when dealing with folks we encountered. Guess what the second item on the list is? You got it, the hands.

In the first seminar I attended by Megaton Diaz he made a statement that has stuck with me over 20 years later. “Never let them touch you. If they grab you grab them back.” Megaton was speaking to the importance of never allowing our opponent to establish a grip on us, to always monitor and control the opponents hands.

It seems there is a string that threads through every potentially violent endeavor. The opponent’s hands will hurt you if you don’t control them.

In particular I can’t over emphasize the importance of monitoring the hands of an unknown contact. Your ability to apply your avoidance, deterrence, and deescalation skills are greatly enhanced by your ability to monitor the unknown contacts hands.

Uncontrolled hands for some reason, (looking at you Murphy), seem to migrate to our weapons, don’t let that happen. Control the hands, control the space/distance, get to a dominant position, and finish them.