Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Kettlebells, Corrective Exercise, & Honolulu - Hardstyle Hawaiian Time!

That's right, folks! It's been a LONNNNNNNG time comin', but Doc's finally coming back to Hawai'i and bringing the Power of Pavel & the Goodness of Gray along with him!

I'll be teaching my first workshops on Oahu this coming June 7th & 8th at the newly opened Fitness Ranes on Beretania in Honolulu!

1213 S. Beretania Street, Honolulu, HI 96814  (808) 398-4931

But who are these workshops for?? Who can actually do them safely? Who's invited? And what will I get?

1) NEWBIES: For those who've never touched a kettlebell before, but want to see, feel, and understand the safest methods to train with this old-school Russian training tool that will get you stronger, kickstart your fat-loss safely & effectively, and training in the metabolic sweet spot while minimizing your chances of injury, this is the perfect intro.

Why? Because if there's one thing that I pride myself on, it's training people to have a solid grasp of fundamentals.

Whether you're a total beginner or a seasoned pro, the key to performance lies in safely refining the basics, and that's where Doc's delivery shines!

Instead of no pain, no gain, it's all about NO PAIN, NO PAIN when I teach!

2) KETTLEBELL INSTRUCTORS: For those of you insiders who've been following my work with the RKC/StrongFirst Hardstyle kettlebell training crew and earned your instructor certifications, don't you worry! The insights you'll gain will help you supercharge the stuff you already know & take it to the next level. Ask almost any instructor who's already attended any of my workshops, and I'll guarantee that anyone worth their salt took away far more game-changing goodies than they were expecting!

It doesn't matter if you've trained with another kettlebell certification group or not, I'm not putting people on blast. My whole goal is to give you more tools to help keep you, your clients, and/or your patients moving, feeling, looking, and performing better.

Considering that people will likely be coming from all over the islands, this could very well be the perfect networking opportunity for you as well to hook up with other trainers, physical therapists, and potential client referral sources! In addition to all of that, you get a special discount! Scroll down to see more!

3) BEACHBODY COACHES: It's been a few years since Tai Cheng has been released, but don't think I haven't heard your requests for a kettlebell training program! While Beachbody has yet to formally approach me to put one together, I've continued to teach for my personal teacher & mentor, Pavel Tsatsouline, as a Senior StrongFirst Girya SFG instructor.

In spite of the lack of a specific program in the Beachbody library, kettlebells and the "Hardstyle" training method have still attracted the attention of mega-coaches like Mike French (pictured above), who even trained hard & earned his instructor certification!

The kettlebell is the best weight-training device that I've found in my decades in the fitness, martial arts, and strength & conditioning industry. Its versatility in terms of space, variety of exercises, and benefit is damn hard to match!

So what are you waiting for? Scroll down towards the bottom of this post & register! If you're an active Beachbody coach, you just might get a nice discount off your registration!

4) PAIN MANAGEMENT PROFESSIONALS, REHAB DOCTORS, & PHYSICAL THERAPISTS: There's a reason why I got into kettlebells in the first place.... I was injured.

I couldn't run, I couldn't sleep through the night without pain, and I couldn't train without suffering for days afterwards. 

What changed all of that?... The methods that both Pavel & Gray Cook used to re-train my body got me back to where I could sprint right out of a seat, sleep through the night without my arms & hands going numb, and back to where I could move with power & confidence instead of the fear that the smallest movements were going to set off another injury.

The progressions we're going to go through with both the lifts and the Prehab-Rehab progressions are designed to get you moving better, feeling stronger, and suffering less. This stuff is the soul of what I do in my clinic in SoCal for everyone from the professional athletes to the person recovering from an injury post-surgery. For those of you who are medical professionals & movement therapists, this is some of my very best stuff, and I'm giving it to you!

I'm gonna be peeling back the stuff that everybody takes for granted to a level where even the most experienced look at what I'm teaching & have to stifle the urge to scream "Holy $h!#!!!!!"

Like I said before, if you understand basics, everything else is easier, safer, better, & lasts longer. So I'm kicking off Saturday with Hardstyle, High Detail & peeling back the ballistic hinge to reveal the essentials of restorative joint alignment & power production, and then changing gears to bring it down to the ground with the Secrets of Strength - The TGU Unlocked. 

Now this is way more than the workshop footage you may have seen that I did with IDEA on Kettlebell Rehab. This is breaking down what it really means to optimize, showing the value of the finer points, and re-educating your body in a way it's probably never experienced before!

"But I already know the Swing & Get-Up! Saturday is gonna be boring!"

Yeah, I thought so, too, when I went to my first RKC. As a personal student of Pavel's, I didn't think that the Swing or Turkish Get-Up would be even worth a mention as far as stress to me. Some of you may have heard that the Turkish Get-Up is one of my favorite exercises, so much so that I wrote the book (literally) for Gray Cook's Kettlebells from the Ground-Up DVD. But when I went through the RKC for the first time, a tall Danish fellow named Kenneth Jay, who was then a Senior RKC, called me out in front of the group for corrections on my Get-Up technique. Because of him giving me insights into how to look at something I took for granted for months & months, I ended up learning TONS more about the Get-Up, eventually becoming one of the world's authorities on its execution. 

If you think it's all about the high bridge, you couldn't be more mistaken!

During the Saturday session, I'll break down the TGU's 3 layers of benefit as a movement screen, a corrective exercise, and a strength & conditioning tool so that you understand how to address a multitude of people by applying a wonderful tool in a bunch of ways that are tailor-made to your audience & help you create strength that you never knew you had while improving your 1RMs!


Sunday's all about Subtle Strength. Developmental sequence training is something that the badasses in the rehab, chiropractic, osteopathic, and physical therapy worlds have been paying attention to for a while now. Most of the fitness world doesn't even have this stuff on its radar yet, but it's the best kept secret in terms of low-risk, high-reward fitness & rehab training, especially when paired with the human performance GPS known as the Functional Movement Screen

This material is what forms the basis for my Prehab-Rehab 101 DVDs, which were recently released by & have been blessed by some incredible praise!

So you need to be a medical guru to attend or understand the material on Sunday? NO WAY!

This stuff is going to be taught in a language that EVERYBODY can understand. I'm not big on geek-speak. I'm big on everyone going home with as much USEFUL information as they can possibly apply successfully.

The coolest thing about the Prehab-Rehab progressions that we're going to cover on Sunday is that they're NOT just for the injured or weak, just like they're not just for the pro athletes. The progressions we'll go over are for EVERYBODY, and as soon as you see how to break them down & get the most out of them, I have no doubt that they'll become part of YOUR TRAINING sessions!

How will we measure improvement? Simple! By revisiting the lifts from Saturday, the Sunday progressions will show you how much better you move & perform. That's a built-in gauge for you to not only see how well you're doing, but a great way of communicating that benefit to your clients!

OK... Now that I have your attention, people who register for BOTH Saturday & Sunday will receive a special swag bag with some of my favorite goodies inside!


You can choose to come just on Saturday or Sunday, but the best value for your dollar (and your training) is going to be for both days. These are EARLY BIRD PRICES & will go up on April 26th at midnight! Once we sell out the limited number of spaces, no more will be opened. 

Why the limited number of spaces? Because I want to make sure that I get a chance to work with EVERY SINGLE PERSON during the course of the day. This isn't about me showing you a couple of cool moves & just leaving you to struggle with an assistant. I want you to leave having the experience of working DIRECTLY with me! 

Also, Fitness Ranes isn't some big-box gym where you're just one of the nameless crowd. This is a special place, and you're going to be one of the first people in there to learn some potentially life-changing stuff. So it was a big honor for me to be invited to teach there by Bruddah Chris, and I want to make this something special for all of you!

Just go to the drop-down menu of the days you want to attend and register based on your affiliation! We will be checking IDs & require proof of either RKC/StrongFirst instructor certification OR active Beachbody coach status for those of you who are planning to enjoy those discounts.

YOUR BEST VALUE - Both Saturday & Sunday, June 7 & 8, 2014

Registration options

But if you can only make it to one day, it'll be an honor to see you and a pleasure to work with you or either of these days!

Saturday, June 7, 2014 only: 12noon - 7pm

Kettlebells Fine-Tuned workshop (Saturday June 7th, 2014)

Sunday, June 8, 2014 only: 9 - 12:30pm & 1:30 - 5pm

Prehab-Rehab 101 workshop (Sunday June 8th, 2014)

I'll be looking forward to seeing you there at Fitness Ranes - 1213 S. Beretania Street, Honolulu, HI!

Much aloha,

Sunday, December 1, 2013

No pain, no gain? How the toughness mindset can be our worst enemy in the long-run

Toughen up.

Man up.

Suck it up.

No pain, no gain.

Try harder.

Push yourself.

We've heard all of these words of "encouragement" for years. Regardless of your sport, your workout, or your occupation, there are times when the going gets tough, but the tough get going.... and oftentimes keep going past the point of health.

I spend most of my working hours in the field of clinical pain medicine. I see what goes on behind the scenes with high performers. And I see what happens when hard chargers tune out the warning lights for too long.

Pain is something we all need to learn to deal with, to control, to suppress. When you're in a life-or-death struggle, your little hangnail shouldn't be on your radar. When you're competing for an Olympic gold medal, a sore muscle or blister shouldn't be testing your commitment to giving your absolute best. When you're in the middle of fighting off an assault, you shouldn't be wallowing in the sadness of the breakup you just went through (unless it's to quickly tap into the anger that'll kickstart your offense). There are undeniably situations where forcing yourself to train through a mental block can create positive physical adaptations that improve long-term performance.

But when you're trying to sleep and diffuse, throbbing pain is robbing you of the ability to rest and recover, when you can't even bend down to pick up a child's toy without suffering sharp pain, when getting in & out of your car makes your breathing more shallow because of a twinge, when you need to use alcohol or pain killers or antidepressants or other substances just to be able to "function", something's VERY wrong.

What's the solution?

The solution is & isn't an easy one. We need to learn, apply, and constantly improve our self & contextual awareness.

Self awareness has a few fundamental components that need to be developed and habituated:

  1. Posture - Having the ability to align your body for maximum efficient power, a.k.a. joint alignment
  2. Relaxation / Engagement - Having the ability to take your muscles deeper into disengagement and maximal tension. This includes breathing, vision, and other seemingly non-athletic activities that we often take for granted and never bother to optimize.
  3. Range of motion - Being able to take your body parts through wider ranges of movement with ease and without pain

Contextual awareness deals with our ability to apply our self awareness in different situations:

  1. Load - How well do we align, engage, relax, and move (ROM) under load?
  2. Endurance - How long can we align, engage, relax, and move under a given load and for how many reps?
  3. Adaptation - How well do we align, engage, relax, and move under a given load, for how long, and for how many reps while dealing with different challenges (such as hunger, noise, emotional distraction, physical discomfort, etc.)

If we lack the contextual awareness to see that we reflexively deal with some sort of noxious stimulus (or stimuli) by unwittingly sacrificing posture, using improper relaxation/tension, or losing range of motion in certain patterns, this is where "toughness" gets in the way of health & performance.

It's great to be tough, as toughness is one of the attributes that feeds endurance. But when you start substituting stubbornness for toughness in the hunt for performance, you're actually pulling your performance ceiling lower and covering up the "check engine light" with electrical tape, so to speak. This makes finding a solution to the pain/performance paradigm more difficult.

It's a great quality to be driven to succeed. It's a fatal flaw, however, to be so committed to driving yourself (and your clients, students, etc.) "forward" that you're unable to adapt your programming in ways that honor safety as a part of performance.

Be flexible in your approach, in your programming, in your intensity, and in your mindset for the purpose of perceiving and LEARNING how to get better, safer results. Don't just slow down or speed up & expect that things will get better. Don't just use lighter weights or go heavier and expect that things will get better. Be observant and sensitive to how your body reacts to any given program, load, or challenge.

Too little stimulus, and no positive adaptation happens. Too much stimulus, and a negative compensation develops. So when you're spending time working off those pounds from the Thanksgiving weekend indulgence, make sure to listen to your body, to double and triple check your technique (and work with a skilled trainer if you're not 100% sure about proper technique), and to push the envelope of your capacity without tearing it.

Train perceptively.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

My Teaching Resources - The Doc Cheng list

The last few days, since making my new YouTube channel more active, I've been getting more messages from people asking for what reference material I have available.

Admittedly, I'm THE WORST when it comes to remembering what I've done. I'm always looking forward to the next multimedia project that I need to prepare for, thinking of the next workshop I need to pack for, and constantly struggling to steal minutes here & there to better my own understanding of the material that I love (which is also what I teach).

So this morning, before spending some training time with Squealie & hopefully bolting out the door to steal some time learning from Martin Wheeler, I tried to put down the most complete list of training, rehab, & educational references that I've been part of to date. 

First on the list is Tai Cheng
This program, that I put together in cooperation with Beachbody, the producers of P90X & Insanity, is the first program in their catalog that emphasized quality of movement over quantity. Instead of a "Fit Test", Tai Cheng starts with a "Function Test". Throughout the entirety of the program, movements are taught in a very precise, step-by-step fashion, leaving nothing to guesswork. Even the footwork patterns are done on a grid, allowing you to double check at every step along the way.

Additionally, I also worked in 4 basic foam rolling progressions and many of the strength, flexibility, and breathing exercises that are part & parcel of old-school Tai Chi as I was taught by my father & other masters. 

Instead of trying to come up with my own style of Tai Chi, I wanted to break down the first section of the Yang style Tai Chi large frame long form in a manner that would be digestible to western audiences who were more attuned to high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and Tabata protocols. So while Carl Daikeler wanted to name the program Tai Cheng with the Cheng referring to my last name (鄭), I named the program after one of the most important achievements (also Romanized as "Cheng", but written as 成) - health. 

Next up is the Kettlebells from the Ground Up DVD series 1 & 2, which was fathered by my mentor, Gray Cook. Gray & Brett Jones appear in the first DVD, while I authored the manual. Brett, Jeff O'Connor, & I appear in the second part of the series - The Advanced Progressions.

In these DVDs, we cover the Turkish Get-Up inside out, upside down, and from every possible angle that you can think of, dispelling some of the myths behind the exercise, and giving you the peelbacks that allow you to get more benefits out of the exercise with less risk.

I've also done the Kettlebell Warrior with DragonDoor. While this footage didn't hit the market until waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay after it was shot and some of the information in there was rather dated, it's still got some of my better teaching cues for the fundamental RKC/StrongFirst kettlebell lifts and shows the carryover for martial artist & combat sports.

Also, there was the Kettlebell Rehab presentation that Doug Nepodal & I did a few years ago for IDEA Health & Fitness Association at their Los Angeles convention. We took the two fundamental lifts of Pavel Tsatsouline's Program Minimum and taught them in great detail, tying in rehab principles along the way.

There are also a few podcasts that I've done for which are available for download. Some of those also feature my brother/colleague, Dr. Jimmy Yuan. Simply go to the site & type in Cheng in the search field to find some of the talks & podcast lectures that I've been honored to be part of.

I'm sure that I'm forgetting something, and hopefully folks who've recalled some other resources that I've been part of will chime in on the comments below. In the meantime, I hope this off-the-top-of-my-head list will steer you towards some material that will do you & your clientele/patients a world of good.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veterans' Day, the USMC, & Arnold Schwarzenegger - A vignette

Yes, I know I haven't blogged in ages, and I promise that I'm getting back on the wagon with this. ;-) But considering that yesterday was the 238th birthday of the United States Marine Corps, and today is Veterans' Day, I wanted to share a particular experience with you.

Over the years, I've been blessed to meet & work with a lot of really cool people. If you've followed me on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, you have an idea of what I'm talking about. It's a crazy life for the child of immigrant Chinese from rural Delaware, and there's hardly a day that goes by that I don't shake my head in wonder, tripping out on how life has turned out for me.

Thanks to one of my dear friends, I was fortunate enough to bring my son to meet Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger at the unveiling of his latest Muscle & Fitness cover on Venice's legendary Muscle Beach.

While we were waiting in line, there was a young Marine standing right behind us who'd just come back from deployment. I spoke with the young man about his experiences overseas, and he was telling us that meeting Arnold was one of the most momentous experiences of his life. He went on to talk about how Schwarzenegger's story motivated him and inspired him through some of the most difficult parts of his tour of duty. Holding an older digital camera, the young Marine asked if I'd take a picture for him when he got to meet Arnold, to which I gladly agreed.

When Squealie & I had just finished taking the pic above, the Fire Marshall and crowd control quickly shooed us out. I looked back at the young Marine with regret & disappointment at not being able to take the picture for him. 

I'd found out later that thanks to Gov. Schwarzenegger's right hand man, Daniel Ketchell, the young Marine was indeed able to meet his hero and snap a pic with him... much to my relief. While that certainly put a smile on my face, Ketchell later told me that Schwarzenegger then took the time to handwrite a note of personal thanks to the young Marine in appreciation for his service to our country.

That left tears of pride and joy streaming down my cheeks. 

Veterans, you are the front line of a fight that makes our way of life possible. As I count my family's blessing on a daily basis, I count you among them.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Reality Check

There are some times that I'm really glad that I have a voice memo function on my iPhone. When I remember to use it, especially when I'm about to get into a conversation with someone who sounds like they have a good point, it can yield some pretty useful content.

"Hey, Dr. Cheng, I think your Tai Cheng is perfect for some older folks & people coming back from injuries. It's really awesome for making people feel better!"

Oh, thank you so much for your kind words! Have you used it?

"No way, man. I'm an athlete. I can't get anything out of those slower workouts. My body needs to MOVE to burn off  feel alive!" [with a big grin and a puffed out chest]

Oh, cool. Have you tried kettlebells before too?

"Oh, yeah! I got some DVDs from the gym & tried them, but they hurt my knees and interfered with my plyos."

Interesting. May I see you do a couple of Swings, please, with this 12kg bell?

"Sure!" [proceeds to demonstrate a squat-centric Swing with a slightly ounded back]

How would you rate your form on this exercise?

"Oh, I studied the DVDs. I know the Swing. I'm sure you could find some little correction though." [with a snide tone]

What if I told you that your execution on these exercises is actually hurting you? What if I told you that it's not only hurting your ability to do certain exercises, but also tearing your body apart? Would that alarm you at all?

"Well, I feel fine."

Really? For as hard as you workout & train, you should be able to not only run a mile without pain, but also do 60 seconds of box jumps without pain, get up & down out of a chair in a relaxed fashion without pain, and then hit 5 non-consecutive pullups without kipping and without pain. Can you do any of that and still tell me that you feel "fine"?

"Ummmm...." [blank expression]

Dude, you're TWICE my size. You should be able to Swing a 32kg kettlebell with absolute impunity if you used proper form and experienced IMPROVEMENT in your plyos, NOT impairment. An "athlete" should be someone who can not only handle activities of daily life, but who can also go above and beyond with their body. If how you train is forcing you to "supplement" with pain medication and Advil figures prominently on your grocery list, then you need a reality check, my friend. Sorry to have to put it to you this way, but I'm not going to sugar coat the truth for you..... You're training just for social bragging rights, not for long-term functionality or performance.

"Well, what exercises can I add to my workouts to get better?"

It's not what you can ADD to your workouts that will save you at this point. Right now, you're going to get the fastest & most lasting results by setting your ego aside just long enough to save your own life. 

"Oh, like your boy Gray Cook says: Remove the negative. Right?"

Gray Cook is my mentor, but yes, right now, any exercise that you can't execute with proper form is a negative. There's nothing wrong with ANY exercise. The problem right now lies in how you execute those movement patterns. Your neuromuscular system needs a bit of re-training without any reinforcement of bad habits. Once you've accomplished that, I can almost guarantee that your physical output in your preferred training style will improve, but more importantly, you should be able to do your activities of daily life without having to waste energy bracing for pain. In other words, you'll get more out of your workout with less damage to your system.

"Right on! Sign me up! Is there a DVD or anything that has the stuff you're talking about in it?"

Absolutely. It's called Tai Cheng.

Monday, February 11, 2013


As a general rule, I like to take inventory of my life on a regular basis, much in the same way that I say that it's important to take inventory of your body's available ranges of pain-free motion in the Function Test of Tai Cheng. This is especially true for me around the Chinese New Year.

As I look at the faces of my children, reflect on the trials & tribulations of this past year (as well as the trials and tribulations of those close to my heart), examine the successes and strong points of those whom I respect, and reprioritize my resources based on who and what I have become, I've come to some important realizations that things must change in order to evolve.

I've been teaching for just over 2 decades, both privately and in group classes. At one time, I taught group classes 7 days a week, while I was an undergrad. Until very recently, I taught regular group classes only on Saturday & Sunday mornings at a martial arts school in West LA.

But as my son grows more teachable & impressionable, and I see my elders and peers age, it becomes more and more apparent to me that I need to honor the "last wishes" rule: e.g., if asked at the end of my life if I had any last wishes or regrets, what would those be?

Would they be that I didn't spend enough time teaching group classes?

Would they be that I didn't put enough effort into traveling the world?

Would they be that I didn't give enough to the people I've already been giving plenty to?

Highly improbable.

Especially this Chinese New Year, for some reason, my heart's been aching for me to devote more time to some pursuits that really define what I think are some of the best parts of my heritage, my legacy, my learning, and my skills... most of which revolve around the traditional Chinese martial arts.

All the good things that I've ever had in my life came to me through my involvement in the martial arts. I've made no secret of that, and anyone who's been following me knows that the martial arts & the traditional cultures surrounding them are my soul.

Effective immediately, I am hereby canceling the remainder of my group classes indefinitely and focusing on my own training & improvement as well as that of my children. Outside of my family members, those whom I teach with any semblance of regularity will be those who know how to appreciate what I teach and how I teach it, without weighing me down with responsibilities to change behaviors that I'm neither paid for nor entitled to regulate.

I will continue to teach at workshops (such as those of StrongFirst, Functional Movement Systems, Beachbody, or other groups that I am affiliated with). I will also continue to maintain my private client roster, although I will only be accepting new clients by referral only. A list of instructors that I've trained & recognize will be posted here in the coming weeks.

I'm also going to make a concerted shift to putting more & more of my best stuff on DVD, such as with Kettlebell Warrior, so that neither you or I are limited by time & space. If you want to learn what makes me tick, what lifts my heart, and what restores my body (as well as that of my patients & clients), then I'll do my best to make it accessible to you.

Looking forward to a strong, bright, and shining future to us all!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Emotional Attachments: Exercise, Identity, & Addiction

One of the most challenging things to deal with for exercise, rehab, & medical professionals is a client/patient's attachment to a particular form of exercise or sport. As my mentor, Gray Cook, pictured below with Master RKC Brett Jones, has often said, "It's probably easier to get someone to quit smoking crack than to get a runner to stop running long enough for you to get them functioning properly."

This, sadly, is one of the trademarks of modern fitness..... emotional addiction. And it's little surprise.

We spend so much of our lives limiting our movement, starting as early as pre-school. Instead of being outside, running, jumping, playing, and exploring our environment and our movement capabilities as we evolved to do, we're in class for hours each day, forced to sit in partial flexion, and receiving less and less education (and, in many cases, misinformation) as to what our bodies are really capable of.

Over time, our bodies start losing the ability to move in a fundamental fashion. Our cores become flaccid and our limbs become spastic. Yet, society and nature tell us that to be considered vital, to be considered sexy, we have to look great and move a lot.

Notice that I said "move a lot" and not "move well."

When you're hungry enough, you'll eat just about anything someone puts in front of you, and you'll scarf it down like it was the tastiest thing you've ever imagined. When you're dying for movement, or in some cases, dying from lack of movement, you're likely feeling the urge to make up for lost time by putting in a major dose of extra hard, super HIIT (high intensity interval training) or some other means by which you can feel the reward of sweating buckets, tons of adrenaline kicks, and bathe in endorphins bubbling forth from your goosebumps. Over time, you identify yourself with the means through which you experienced that high, and it becomes part of your psyche, your sociology, and your soul.

The problem with that is two-fold.


While we're all driven by a need to belong, we need to realize that belonging to one group over another comes at a cost. You can see it in religion. You can see it in nationalism. You can see it in social cliques. And you can see it in human performance and medicine!

When someone is so driven to be a football player, a drummer, an attorney, a cyclist, a kettlebeller, a P90Xer, a violinist, a martial artist, an exotic dancer, an actor, a researcher, or whatever other pursuit that brings with it a label that pigeonholes how you move, how you live, and how you think of yourself, the body modifies itself to accommodate such specialization.... or as my old professor used to say, "The body is a conservative system."

If you live, work, or train in such a manner that you regularly compromise your body, you have to make sure that you are constantly repeating the IPDE loop - Identify, Predict, Decide, Execute.

* Identify possible dangers in your training, your sport, your job, or your workout routine.

Let me use myself as an example. I'm a lifelong martial artist. I love it. It moves me. It brings me incredible joy. It has been the reason why I've met some of the most influential people in my life..... and it has been the source of some of my most debilitating injuries. Because of my training in the martial art I love the most, Combat Shuai-Chiao, I've taken repeated high-throw falls until my hands didn't function properly.

* Predict how those dangers can affect your quality of life in the BROADEST possible sense.

Again, using myself as an example, that repeated whiplash & impact from hard throws & improper breakfalls is a danger that can affect my performance as a clinician, as a strength coach, as a martial artist, and most importantly as a father if my fine motor skills are impaired by any compromise in the structures and soft tissue around my C-spine.

NOTE WELL: Chronic stiffness and aches (even if not "crippling" in intensity) impair sleep, energy levels, strength, mental clarity, mood, and performance. Just because it doesn't hurt you badly enough for you to stop dead in your tracks, don't think it isn't affecting your performance AND your quality of life. Compensation is sinister.... until it's obvious.

* Decide how you're going to manage those dangers & liabilities in such a way as to minimize or eliminate risk. In a lot of ways, this is the step in which you have to either FULLY and CONSCIOUSLY accept the effects and consequences of what your chosen pursuit is. If you choose to define yourself via your pursuit, then you need to also maintain your fullest abilities as a human being OUTSIDE of your specific skill. For example, if you're a violinist, you need to make a plan to optimize your upper body ranges of motion outside of drawing the bow, finger placement, and keeping your jaw on the chin rest.

For myself, that means figuring out how best to both rehab my neck & injured joints while also minimizing the damage from repeated hard falls. Through lots of research, experimentation, & work, I've identified the prehab training methods that will strengthen my body to be more resilient. I've also identified the passive treatment modalities that I need to implement regularly to keep myself at my functional best. And finally, I realized that using a crash mat is a sign of intelligence and not weakness. Hard-charging athletes need to realize that safety is a sign of long term vision, not wimping out!

As Guro Dan Inosanto, pictured below demonstrating with Bruce Lee on a hardwood floor, has said many times, the older generations did things a certain way because of what they had available at the time. Ancient martial artists trained hard with no protection because such gear had not yet been invented. Earlier generations trained with some protection because they invented it. We as the newer generations have luxuries afforded to us that were simply unavailable in decades past. Since we have these improvements in safety gear, we should be able to train to a high level for a longer duration than our predecessors with less injury. Not using such safety gear, corrective exercises, or other improvements out of allegiance to "how the old timers did it" is myopic at best.

* Execute the plan you decided on. As Gray Cook would say, "Consistency trumps intensity every time." Doing your prescribed corrective or rehabilitative exercises once or twice and then complaining that they don't work is not a sign of either awareness or honesty. It takes time to develop a neuromuscular habit, and it'll take repeated practice to groove a new, better, safer, stronger neuromuscular behavior pattern.

Don't believe me? Great... Keep doing things your way & prove to me over the long-run that your way is correct. Until then, I'll keep studying, keep practicing, keep refining, and keep making the most of the hard-earned information that we have at our disposal these days.

Do the half-kneeling chops to prevent your lower back pain from the golfing. Do the Tai Cheng to keep your neck & shoulders from aching so much after your hours behind the desk. Do the deadlifting to make sure you're developing the posterior chain & postural reflexes after those long bike rides. Do the soft tissue treatment to make sure you're keeping the optimal elasticity in your muscles. Do the non-sport-specific endurance work to make sure you have the capacity to maintain a higher level of performance throughout a match or event. Do the flexibility/mobility work to make sure your body can handle the unexpected ranges of motion of sport. Do the seemingly remedial stuff to make sure that you do the higher level stuff in an even safer, smoother manner. Do the explosive plyometrics, such as those found in workouts like P90X or training systems like Parkour, that force you to learn how to handle speeds and vectors that are outside of what you're used to.

Outside of movement, change up the music that you listen to on occasion. Vary your eating/dietary patterns. Study a new language. Make new friends. Don't be content with mere survival and don't let yourself become stagnant.

Human beings were meant to be so much more than what most of us conceive of ourselves as today. While we have learned to be tremendous specialists, we've lost so many of our abilities that, generation after generation, it's killing us in a more & more sinister manner. Because the familiar is comfortable, we've become addicts to routine and have prided ourselves on identifying with our addictions.

As MovNat founder, Erwan LeCorre said, "Adaptability is the Holy Grail of human evolution." So let's break our addictions and live our lives in a way that honors our many areas of evolution. This, in turn, will thereby improve how we both live our daily lives and perform in sport-specific conditions.