Pathways and Mentors Part 1

Busy, busy, busy… There just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day. My “nefarious” plan to update this blog once a week has fallen by the wayside due to an increase in training clientele, teaching a women’s self-protection class, prepping for teaching my first nutrition seminar, prepping study material for my first (training) intern, my daughter graduating high school (at 16!), normal life stuff: family time, yard work, training time (cause no one wants to work with a fat trainer), what little writing time I’ve squeaked from around the edges, et cetera…

I had plans to write up a review of the new Prasara Primer 2.0, Matt “Wiggy” Wiggins’ new program, add affiliate links to Mike Mahler’s products (I WILL get to these eventually), as well as the normal meanderings on life, training and writing.

Sigh…

Oh well; all I can do is what I can do. Can’t go back in the past and change it. All I can do is move forward… Shark like: sink or swim…

My daughter’s graduation has brought up a whole slew of stuff about paths taken and those that have or will help in my development.

When I was in college a lifetime ago, I couldn’t decide what I wanted to be when I grew up. As a kid I only had wanted to be two things: a superhero and a writer. After I started boxing (at 10 years old) I wanted to “do” sports — especially combat sports. So I followed that path, boxing, studying Okinawan Karate, Judo, Filipino Escrima, until my freshman year.

At that time my coaches were the biggest inspirations (along with my family — especially my grandfather Charles Witte): Salizar De Los Santos my boxing coach, Sensei David Webster, Sensei Jim Blaisey, Escrimidor Tommy Lopez…

It seemed fitting that I explore the underpinnings of the pathway, so I took up the study of physiology (with an emphasis on kinesiology). My problem was I also liked to do other things, things that took up A LOT of brain space. I love to paint, draw, sculpt, write, and other artsy things. So I also decided to major in drawing and painting as well as took select classes in journalism and creative writing. I spent 5 years at Colorado State University as a double major, getting very little sleep (especially since I was still training and competing in kickboxing and Judo at that point).

In my sophomore year I started working part time as a trainer at a now defunct gym in Fort Collins called Healthworks, this along with restaurant work was how I put my self through school. Nautilus was big then, as were aerobics classes and leotards (ugh).

A year later I trained with the first of the “big name” martial artists/coaches that was to have a lasting impact on my personal approach to training, and MA: Bill “Superfoot” Wallace. Now Bill Wallace is a bit of a goofball. He loves to joke and play pranks, and generally have as good a time as he can. He also has a very big brain. Something the humor and southern “ah-shucks-good-ole-boy” stuff hides. I spent a week (8 hours a day for 5 days) training and learning from him.

That seminar also opened up a door for me and in the next six years I saved my pennies and trained with bunches of gifted athletes, coaches and trainers. That same year I trained with Benny “the Jet” Urquidez, and got my ass handed to me by Bobby Chacon — learning a boatload in the process.

Next came: Larry Hartsell, Tim Tackett and Paul Vunak. A year later was Steven Hayes, and David Lin. In 1989 I trained with Salem Assli and Steven Hayes again.

I took a few years off the seminar circuit, not returning till 1993. That year I trained with Arjarn Chai Sirisute, and for a week with Rick Faye.

I kept up my love for Muay Thai for the next four years as my exclusive (seminar) pursuit. In 1997 I spent some time with Paul Vunak again and Rick Tucci. In ’98 it was all about BJJ. I spent my training allowance on Cesar Gracie, John and Carlos Machado. In 2000 I met Frank Shamrock for the first of three seminars/training sessions.

I learned a TON from Tony Blauer (who continues to be an inspiration).

Along the way I took up yoga and experimented with body building, Olympic lifting, BW training, Nautilus, and Cybex machines. I tried Super Slow lifting (this didn’t last long, as I thought it silly), HIT, and others…

In 2001 I started working with Scott Sonnon’s materials, though I wouldn’t meet him till 2003. I’ve trained with him three times now, as well as a slew of his coaches and instructors: Ryan Hurst (2x), Jarlo Ilano (3x), Jeanne Gostnell (3x), Brandon Jones, Ryan Murdock, Joe Wilson (2x), Adam Skogen, Joseph Schwartz (8hrs), Isaac Marcus (2x).

As an aside: some have asked me what I see in Scott’s stuff…

When I first started working with his material, the idea put forth was to understand the material so you could be a “coach” to yourself, freeing the “need” of a coaching/training staff. This has changed 180 degrees in the last few years — and for good reason, I think, as we all need feedback from those farther along the path than we are. But while that was going on — as CST came into being, if you were aware of it, (all) the training principles were introduced and refined — in print, or on the RMAX forum. And that’s what I was looking for. I don’t care (particularly) about tools: barbell, dumbbell, kettlebell, sandbag, bands, body weight — or whatever… I only care about how to use all those tools in the most efficient and efficacious manner to meet my training goals. And no one (in my experience) had that before Coach Sonnon. Each tool had its expert(s), all of which denigrated (to some extent) the other tools (and tool experts).

When I was coming up as a trainer NO ONE talked about structure or breathing beyond the most elementary cliches. No one talked about how to break a movement down into components to understand (as well as “perfect”) the movement. It was always euphemism: “try harder,” “move slower,” “concentrate.”

No one talked about compensations (and how that is different then stretching), et cetera…

Whatever…

Now before I go much farther let me say that while CST is the foundation of my personal training, I do not use it to train my clients. That would be disingenuous as I am not, nor have I been a CST instructor or coach. What do I use? A blend of things that I’ve learned over the last 27 years as a trainer.

Other influences (in no particular order): Dan Inosanto, Burton Richardson, Thomas Myers, Geoff Thompson, John Lewis. Joe Lewis, Kelly McKann, Jerry Wetzel, Rodney King, Steve Cotter, Steve Maxwell, Pavel Tsatsouline, Dan John, Mark Twight, Matt “Wiggy” Wiggins, J. C. Santana, Charles Poliquin, Michael Rutherford, Dave Camarillo, Dan Camarillo, Roy Harris, Roy Dean, Ray Floro, Tom Furman, Mike Mahler, Mike O’Donnell, Gant Grimes, J. C. Brown, Billy Hendricks, Nate Marquart, Amal Easton, Matt Jubera, Paul Chek, Matt Thornton, Kathryn Sagar Brenny, numerous yoga instructors and practitioners, Mell Siff, Charlie Francis, Jim Salisbury…

And especially Martin Rooney, Ross Enamait and Paul Sharp for their no-nonsense approaches to training, getting results and in Paul’s case also for the ISR-Matrix that is the bedrock of my personal defense.

There are probably a humpty-gazillion people that I am forgetting about… If I learned something from you and neglected your name, I am sorry… Ping me and I’l edit you in…

More to come…

Ciao for now.