Why Is This Important?

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(Kat Ricker nails her clean and jerk at the Tommy Kono Open last Saturday)

Today’s Workout

Heavy Jerks (singles and doubles, heavy)
Bench Press for Reps (sets of 4-6)
7 Southward combo: Pick a pushup or plank mobility movement. Make it something advanced enough that 7 reps is a little challenging (level 1: strict pushups. Level 2: pushups from the ground or Hindu pushups. Level 3: explosive pushups, 1 arm pushups or handstand pushups). Follow it up with 7 sandbag burpee clean and presses. Then shoulder the bag and carry it around the gym fast. Repeat for 6 reps of both, then 5, etc, until 1, run, done! Time it!

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VOTE BODYTRIBE

Hey… we took second place for best gym last year, losing to 24-Hour Fitness… ALL the 24-Hour Fitness gyms combined in Sacramento (about 25 of them). If one gym can go up against a chain (we beat California Family Fitness, another chain of about 10 gyms in the area), that’s pretty cool. So if ya have a second, before indulging in the mega-entertaining blog below, please click over to the Sacramento News and Review website and cast a vote. Yes, you’re required to vote for a few other things to… just make it up. Thanks a bunch!!!

A now, on with our blog…

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Why Is This Important?

Halfway through my existence on this rock spiraling through space, which, for those who are keeping tabs of my recent endeavors, means 20 years ago, I was not particularly cool. Wait… I know this may come as a surprise to those who have tuned in to the Bodytribe channel only recently, amazed at how I juggle my current uber-coolness with an endless supply of humility. But alas, this complete package that you witness today had many obstacles and lessons to learn. Despite all testimonies to the contrary, and all evidence that points otherwise, I was not born bad to the bone.

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(super cool with a 40K snatch? Maybe not… but I’m going to pepper this post with pictures from last weekend’s weightlifting meet, including the warm ups)

File this under embarrassing tidbits of personal history: In 1990 you could have found me at a Dungeons and Dragons convention. I, and a band of loyal gamer friends who all possessed frightening IQ’s much higher than my meager brain was capable of, along with maybe 800 other dice-rolling mutants who exclusively ate only food that contained Yellow #5 and could live on your shelf for decades, would converge onto some low-end convention hotel and pretend we all of some other era or dimension.

Yeah, well what did YOU do when you were 20 that was so much cooler? Sure, half of the folks at this convention just crawled out of their mom’s basements for the first time that year, Star Trek was discussed as fine art, and the man who wasn’t a virgin was king (emperor if he also had a first edition Dungeon Master’s Guide, which sounds way more exciting than it is), but let it not be said that this was not a fascinating group of people.

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Yes, I was a geek. AM a geek. Proud and loud. Despite the hubris of my first paragraph, this is no big secret. And yes, I do feel I am among kin! Sure, we may thrive when getting our inner- (and outer-) athlete on these days, but many of us, possibly you too, gentle reader, may have been decidedly anti-jock throughout our younger years.

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(Sam and his snatch… definitely cool)

There are few havens for strength geeks. Gyms rarely support either strength or geeks these days, and even most of the strongest of gyms don’t offer sanctuary for imagination. My travels have brought me to the exceptions of the trend, and praise be for the network we’ll all creating.

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(Brutal Recess workshop at Westlake Crossfit in Austin)

There might be a Mecca for our particular brand of nerd. The Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sport has the brains and the brawn, being run by a pair of folks who might hold the title for smartest, wittiest, and possibly strongest, couple in America. This particular duprass, Jan and Terry Todd, have both been former world champion powerlifters and both teach all manner of physical culture, from kinesiology to history to good ol’ fashioned weight training. And through their efforts a great deal of Strength’s past has been preserved.

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(Terry and Jan with the Weider’s at the Stark Center)

After spending several days there, in which my camera captured footage or interviews of folks from historian John Fair to world’s strongest man (and WWE wrestler) Mark Henry, I felt like I had just scratched off a winning lottery card, only to find a giant library underneath.

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(yes, he’s huge… about 400 pounds… but incredibly friendly, and fiendishly strong)

Oh my inner geek was whacked out on it’s addiction to lore, but the big question that struck me hard was … a question I actually DIDN’T ask anyone (oh but I will now):

Why is this important?

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Sure, as individuals we possibly pursue a passion for power (and alliteration, apparently), but what’s the point?

Oh no, this isn’t nihilism, because this question begot answers. See, we tend to Borg up with folks who share our weird, and this doesn’t actually promote the expansion of the brain with imagination driving the bus. Hey, I’m all for peer groups, but a support network in a vacuum is… well, even more dangerous than an orc with a +2 Sword of Sharpness.

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On top of that, I’m breaking my bank (and at times, my sanity) trying to create a documentary about my passion. With no budget or staff, mounting travel bills and equipment a few levels below ‘amateur,’ asking why this was important seemed like a move towards wisdom.

Next week I’ll discuss my answers, but how about some feedback? Is the history of movement, strength and ability important? Why?

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To Kat, Paige, Tom, Sam, Camilo and all the other friends of the local strength culture who came to support these lifters last Saturday…

Big Thanks!! The Tommy Kono V was a blast… only to be topped by a visit from the master himself!

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Thank you, Tommy Kono, for visiting the Tribe. Your kind words, both in your lecture and between you and me, will always be remembered! Oh… and for anyone who doesn’t know, Mr. Kono has just published his second book, Championship Weightlifting. Seriously, this is the most insightful book I’ve read yet about the art of the sport of weightlifting. So, strength geeks, it behooves you to add it to your library, although I have no idea how to order it yet.

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We’ve got an entirely new schedule of workshops and such to be posted next week. But for any friend of Bodytribe who is in or near Colorado, come play with us in Fort Collins on September 18th! Our Brutal Recess party is coming to Emergent Fitness, and I’d love to see you there! Plenty of info if ya clicky here.

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(I may not be particularly strong, but I have a good photographer. Thanks, Allyson, for documenting the weekend!)

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7 Comments

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7 Responses to Why Is This Important?

  1. Zac

    Speaking of uncool 20-year-olds, I spent my first four years out of high school obtaining a bachelors in European history at UC Santa Cruz and spent a lot of time contemplating a career in academia (I opted out), so this whole “is knowing/documenting/analyzing the history of X important?” thing is very familiar to me.

    I could only spend so much time pouring over medieval accounts of the Crusades before that question would rear its head. And while I may have spouted off some post-9/11 stuff about hoping to find insight about Western/Islamic relations in the early encounters between the two cultures, I was really just excited about it all because it was *cool.* It was interesting. It was like D&D, but real. Big dudes with swords!

    Ultimately, the more I studied history, the more I scoffed at the “learn from the past lest you repeat it” justification, because I just kept finding squalor & tragedy repeated ad infinitum, with the peaks of human achievement being the result truly bizarre and irreplaceable circumstances. The only true discernable trend throughout history that I could see was humanity’s competition for resources (my “big dudes with swords stealing stuff” theory of history). Nevertheless, I was compelled to study the stuff – because it was cool. It was for aesthetic purposes. Studying history was like studying literature – it was pleasing, and it spoke to something in the character of humanity, but I doubted that we’d really learn anything of practical use from it.

    Now, I can certainly say that your efforts to document the history of physical culture has value for aesthetic purposes – you’re certainly enjoying it. And I think you have an audience – me, other Bodytribers, other strength geeks out there in the interwebs – who would derive much pleasure from seeing what you produce. But as for a “higher” purpose? Well, saying that aesthetic pleasure is a higher purpose sounds like something Anton LaVey would say, but I think it can be. You wouldn’t doubt the value of the art shows, would you? Think of the documentary that way.

    Beyond that, I do feel that – as just ONE aspect of the growing pains of modernity – we are facing a crisis in the way that contemporary Western society is soooo disconnected from their own bodys and from movement, and that the Physical Culture (capitalized) movement was (at the turn of the century) a promising antidote to the ails of modernity. I think that our current “fitness” industry needs to be transformed into a renewed physical culture movement that will again do what the original movement was trying to do. And for that reason, I think documenting the history of physical culture is valuable – here we *can* learn from the past (it helps that it’s a little more recent).

    So yeah, your efforts certainly aren’t in vain, IMO.

  2. I can relate. I used to hang out at A1 Comics and read their books. I stopped going after I wasn’t allowed to sit down and read the comics. I spent $500 on comics over there too. I never partook in any of their board games though. I played chess in High School and beat the chess teacher with the 2 move check mate. Other than that people don’t like to play me card and board games because I dominate. There’s lots of fun ones out there too. I start feeling a little too nerdy if I play the stuff too much. You don’t meet too many people that play that stuff and know how to do other activities for fun too that are unrelated.

  3. In my Mom’s basement there’s a DM guide from 80 or 81, but I left long ago.

  4. andy

    God damn, Zac … I was nowher nearly as productive at 20. I abandoned the gym, dropped out of college and instead chose the binge-drinking, pill-popping, blunt-rolling, chain smoking and junk food eating route. My entire life consisted of going to work, getting high, getting drunk, fighting with my equal slob of a girlfriend and maybe making it out to band practice once a week. I’ve literally forgotten most of 1999-2001, except the sense of feeling this was all I would ever be. Man, writing this today makes me feel so grateful for loyal friends and the opportunity to pursue greatness.

  5. Uh… let’s just set the record straight…

    Andy no longer leads that lifestyle, for those who don’t know him. That kid he’s writing about turned into a man of integrity and responsibility.

  6. I leave Sisyphus at the foot of the mountain! One always finds one’s burden again. But Sisyphus teaches the higher fidelity that negates the gods and raises rocks. He too concludes that all is well. This universe henceforth without a master seems to him neither sterile nor futile. Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night-filled mountain, in itself forms a world. The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.

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