The Cave

The Cave Blog

Archive for May, 2010

The Three Fights - Part 3

Monday, May 31st, 2010

justiceLast, but definitely not least: the Third Fight.  It has been said that it’s better to be judged by twelve than carried by six.  I can’t argue with that, but what do we do if we find ourselves being judged?  The Third Fight takes place in the legal system and it may come in a variety of forms, from encountering law enforcement, to criminal court, or being on the receiving end of civil suit.  In any case, the key to winning this fight is preparation and the ability to articulate facts.

The most common manifestation of this Fight is with law enforcement.  If you ever have to defend yourself, you should definitely notify the police.  Make sure that you tell the dispatcher if you or your attacker is armed and/or injured.  When the police arrive, be calm and tell them what happened.  Tell the officers that you want to press charges against your attacker, even if you don’t think it was a big deal.  Pressing charges shows that you are the victim, rather than a participant in mutual combat.  Taking the time to make sure the incident is well documented by law enforcement will help protect you from criminal and civil liability.

Another thing that will protect you is understanding “reasonable force,” which is the force that a reasonable person would use in a similar circumstance.  Vague, I know.  Basically, this means that you shouldn’t ever escalate the violence higher than what is being used against you, or could likely be used against you by your attacker.  It also means that you won’t continue to hurt your attacker after he is no longer a threat.  Consider that there are only three things an attacker may want from you: your property, your body or your life.  If it is your property that the attacker is after, it would be difficult to justify using violence against him; just give him your money.  On the other hand, if the attacker’s motivation is to hurt you, rape you, kidnap you, etc. then use whatever force is reasonable to protect yourself.  If the attacker is trying to kill you, do whatever it takes to not die.

You should train to use reasonable force and to recognize the difference between low and high-levels of violence.  The other thing you need to be able to do is to articulate why you acted the way you did.  As long as you can honestly explain that what you did was reasonable, you have a good chance of winning the Third Fight.

Are You a Ninja?

Sunday, May 30th, 2010
A contestant attempts the warped wall

A contestant attempts the warped wall

If you haven’t watched Ninja Warrior before you should.This Japanese game show is a fantastic obstacle course. Here in the US the closest thing we have is Wipeout, which basically is blind luck to get through. Sure physical ability helps, but it’s still mostly luck. For Ninja Warrior this course is all about skill, strength, agility and some stamina. For those that watch the show the names Makoto Nagano, Tashihiro Takeda, Shingo Yamamoto, and the like are legend. This course is difficult. Really difficult. There are 4 stages, and generally fewer than 10% of the contestants make it past stage 1. Many olympic athletes have been contestants including several elite gymnasts. Paul and Morgan Hamm and Jordan Jovtchev have competed. All three have made it through stage 1 in at least one of their attempts, but Jordan has consistently done better than the Hamm twins. Completing all 4 stages is so difficult that only 3 men have ever completed all 4 stages. There have been 24 seasons of this show with 100 contestants in each show, which means only 3 of 2400 attempts have been successful. That’s just 0.125%.

So, why am I posting about a Japanese TV game show? Well, for one, it’s actually pretty cool to watch. Secondly I want to mention that the American Ninja Warrior submissions are happening right now. There will be a few challenges down in LA later in the summer, and video submissions are due before June 30. Yeah, that’s coming up quick. I’d like to do a group video submission. Anyone with me? Last year’s American Ninja Warrior featured some athletes we know well. Our own Shane Daniels finished in the top 8 with Brian Orosco to qualify to travel to Japan and compete in the real Ninja Warrior. I want to note that some of you would have crushed day 2 of the American Ninja Warrior challenge. Day 1 was the obstacle course. Day 2 was a test of work capacity. Many of the top contestants had a rough time with this. Let’s see what we can do and qualify to Ninja Warrior.

G4 Ninja Warrior Website

You Need To Move… Frequently

Saturday, May 29th, 2010
Rich In One of Many Seated DB Presses

Rich In One of Many Seated DB Presses

Most people in our culture have “desk jobs”. Jobs that require long hours at a computer, phone, desk, whatever. Unfortunately our physiology does not react well to this situation. First, remaining relatively immobile for long stretches is severely detrimental to our general health.

Here is an article about the specific postural problems caused by office chairs. Your Office Chair Is Killing You.

So we need to do all we can to change positions. Work from a standing position whenever possible. Have multiple seating options that are radically different from one another. Also, training staves off a lot of the damaging effects.

Many of you know that I spent many years as a chemical engineer and computer programmer. I spent countless hours in front of a computer. In crunch times I have spent 14 hours a day 7 days a week designing, programming and testing. At no time have I ever suffered from carpal tunnel, or many of the other maladies of office work. I have certainly felt the tendon irritation caused by these stresses, but the macro scale intense training has helped buffer against on going problems. I have always had a tendency to slouch, and have an anterior head thrust (my head juts forward). Lifting has helped this significantly. I plan on resolving this completely through training. The anterior head position has been present since my early teens. It could be simply genetic, but most likely it’s from poor posture from a very early age.

Pay attention to your seating arrangements. Constantly remind yourself to sit up tall, often. Get up and move around as much as you can. Get your desk lifted so you can stand and work. Your long term health depends on it, and you deserve to live a long healthy life.

Heavy Musings by Iron Maven

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

There are a lot of Olympic Lifting resources out there.  Several videos by Iron Maven are stellar.  Check this one out.  Post thoughts to comments.

Wow… Just Wow

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

Sorry that the majority of my posts recently have been demo/remodel related. It’s pretty much been my life for the past few weeks so you get to hear all about it. Tonight is no different. So right at the conclusion of the parkour classes we started taking the gym down. Rich L., Kevin L., Anna P., Jacqui M., Emily C., Marissa, Ryan F., Bill B., Andrey P., Andres D., Russ B. and Roger H. all got to work taking down gymnastics apparatus and moving stuff out of the gym. Then we got to work stripping the paint off the floor. Sledge hammers, tile scrapers and crowbars sent paint chips flying everywhere. People sweeping to keep ahead of the chippers. The amazing thing. We started stripping the floor around 7:45 and completed it around 10:45. 3 Hours to strip that entire floor. That’s darned good. I had planned for 5+ hours for the evening based on previous experience with that paint. I wasn’t running a stop watch though. I guess I’ll have to do that next time.

So we simply have the big mat move tomorrow morning. Starting when the truck arrives sometime between 10:00am and 11:00am. See you there.

The Three Fights - Part 2

Monday, May 24th, 2010

Continuing our discussion on fights from last week, the Second Fight is the actual physical confrontation.  It’s the real deal: you against one or more other people who mean to do harm to you or those you care about.  There are three factors that affect the outcome of the second fight and you have control over two of them.

Fitness?  Skill?  I'm chalking this one up to luck.

Fitness? Skill? I'm chalking this one up to luck.

First, is physical fitness.  This includes all ten aspects of fitness as you never know exactly what you’ll need to do in a fight.  Your opponents may be bigger or stronger than you, in which case you’ll need to use your physical advantages against them.  Remember, among combatants with similar skill levels, the one who is in better shape is more likely to win.

Skill comes second.  My sensei used to say that a fight was just a big ball of chaos and that the way to win a fight was to recognize an opportunity in that chaos, take it and use it to gain control of your opponent.  The more skilled a person is, the more opportunities he or she is able to see and exploit in a fight.  (An interesting side note, the Japanese word for a practice fight, randori, literally means, to seize out of chaos).  The more skilled a person, the greater their chances, even against a larger and more fit opponent.

Finally, luck.  That’s right, just plain dumb luck.  I always include this because it is important to remember that no matter how fit or skilled you are, your opponent always has a chance.  This helps keep me humble and reminds me not to underestimate anybody.  It’s always preferable to talk your way out of a situation, if possible, because you never know.

Another thing about real fights, they’re ugly.  It’s not like in the movies, even with skilled people.  Real fights are fast, furious and usually end up with both people wrestling on the ground.  There are no weight classes, no warm-up and no rules.  Real fights are not fair, so expect hair pulling, biting, gouging, clawing, weapons, multiple opponents and hitting below the belt; expect a dirty fight.  This is one reason why training in a combative sport, as opposed to training for unarmed combat, can be dangerous.  You will do what train to do, so make sure you’re training with the right mindset.

With strong mental preparation, you’ll win the First Fight.  With proper physical preparation, including physical fitness and self defense training, you’ll have a much better chance to protect yourself and those you care about from violence.   Next week, I’ll tell you how to win the Third Fight.

Please Pardon Our Dust (Updated Again)

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010
The old 500 sq ft space

The old 500 sq ft space

10,000lbs from truck to floor has been scheduled. The flooring will be arriving between 10:00am and 11:00am Wednesday morning 5/24. We will need lots of folks to help. Come on down and get in a real world workout.

And if you’re totally disappointed that you can’t make a mid-day work project we will be pulling a late night floor clearing Tuesday. To prepare for the mats Wed night we’ll be pulling down all of the equipment and clearing the floor starting right after classes Tuesday night. 7:15pm. We need a bunch of people that can finess a sledge hammer and scraper.

We have reached a point in the remodel where the build is going to start impacting our current space. Please be patient with us. The wall between the two spaces needs to come down. The paint on the floor in the existing space is going to be stripped (YAY more fun with hammers and crowbars). Equipment will need to come down to prepare for the move, the hallway is going to explode, carpet coming up, and off the walls, general mayhem. In order to keep operating while this is all going on we’re going to need your patience and understanding. There will be days where’s it’s a bit of a mess. Deal with it. We’ve never been the perfectly tidy gym anyway. It will just be a bit worse. When we first moved in here at Tamal Plaza, all we had was the 500 square foot space with the P-bars, pommel horse, squat rack and other equipment. Training outside, at night during winter. In comparison we’ll be in luxury throughout the process.

Many of you have stuck with us through all of the changes, remodels, growth, parks, basements, etc. You are why we do this. Having you all on board for the journey makes it worthwhile.

Progress of the Remodel

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

Well I can officially start calling this a remodel, and not just demo. The painting has begun (as was shown by Andres’ post yesterday). Armando H. has done an amazing job blasting through the painting. These photos were taken this morning. Since then the blackboard paint is already up on the south wall. WOW!

Kerry Chun (yes, the name on the plyo box) has finished framing the “ugly stuff cover” on the east wall. This will be finished out soon. Once that is done the east wall will be painted and finished. We have a major project remaining for the north wall that is pending some engineering work. We have a bunch of equipment in the truck that was recently purchased. Additionally flooring and more equipment is to be ordered in the next couple of days. The floor will be covered by 3/4″ dense rubber. These come in 4X6′ sheets and are HEAVY. We will be needing a crew to help unload and place these mats when they arrive. Depending on the timeline they will either need to just be unloaded, or unloaded into place if the timing is right. In either case a LOT of help will be needed. We will notify you of the work day. Remember 10,000lbs from ground to overhead? Well this will be 10,000lbs from truck to floor, in a far more awkward form.

We’ve been able to manage the bigger sessions in the space we have, but there are days when it is getting pretty tight. This expansion is going to yield a lot of possibilities.

Who is This??

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

So while we’re playing guessing games, (and writing short blogs to boot since the remodel is sucking up most of our time) can you guess who this is…??

Some of you already know because you were in on Friday… but I will post the answer down at the bottom of the blog.

This looks like a guy out of a Star Wars movie...

This looks like a guy out of a Star Wars movie...


That's an aweful lot of painting getting done realy fast!

That's an aweful lot of painting getting done realy fast!







Last Year at Corte Madera Town Park


Do you know now?
Do you know now?

Say “Hi” to Armando and the Hernandez family in the comments section below.  Armando has been single-handedly painting the studio expansion in one weekend.  It took a whole team of us closer to ten days during the April 2009 remodel to paint and finish a space roughly equivalent to the one that Armando is painting himself in less than a third of the time.  It pays to have a professional and master of his craft helping us out!  Next time you’re in the gym, check out the progress that we’ve been making in the expansion Studio!

Power Clean Trajectory Video

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

Here’s a great little video that tracks the line of travel of the barbell and the athlete’s body through space on a power clean.  Notice that our featured athlete’s arms are straight and relaxed throughout the initial movement.  She “jumps” the bar completely with her legs and once the bar lofts from the momentum of the jump, she then gets her elbows around and catches it in a front rack.  Notice that her feet actually leave the ground with her arms straight and that she is completely extended in the air before she gets her elbows around  to catch the bar in a front rack.  Watch the trajectory of the bar as she jumps it off the ground.  This is how the trajectory of your lifts should look like when you do power cleans, whether you’re going light or heavy- especially if you’re going heavy.  It kills me to see some of our athletes muscle up the bar up with a reverse curl- often more severely when they’re going heavier.  Even if you make the clean, you’re just reinforcing bad mechanics.  Your form should be consistent and if you can’t lift heavier with good form just practice or do your WODs with lighter weight.  That’s why it’s called “The hard work of slow progression”.   It will pay off in the long run and you will be less likely to get a shoulder or elbow injury!   After all, you’ve heard the cliche, “practice makes permanent“- that is, it will be much harder to fix later the more you do it the wrong way!  If you’re going for the squat clean, you may not be able to jump the bar quite as high, but it still comes up in a straight line.  You  just have to get under it faster.  The technique is essentially the same.

I had Roger take a look at the video.  He commented that the hips are a little high to start the lift.  (I used to and sometimes still do my lifts like this, more from a dead-lift starting position.  I think it’s helped some now that I start in a deeper squat.)  He also noticed that her head cranes up at the initial position and mentioned that the cervical vertebrae should be in line with the thoracic vertebrae and that her jump is a little high, but I think that’s due to her performing the clean with a weight that is rather light for her.  Can you spot any form breaks?  Post thoughts, cues or compliments to comments.