The pursuit of mastery.

The pursuit of mastery.

I remember as a kid when I saw something on tv, I wanted to be that guy. Fireman? Yep. Ninja? Just wait til I get to Japan. General in the Army? Where’s my rifle. Not just tv, places I went too. I’d “pretend” to be it all. One time we did a family trip to sea world, saw professional people swimming with dolphins and whales. At that moment I knew from the bottom of my heart, that was my destiny. But then I got older and discovered how much work it actually took to do something like that. Suddenly it didn’t seem so appealing. You can’t be GREAT at everything.

“What the hell do you mean I can’t be great at everything , (insert inspirational quote about doing impossible)”
You’re probably right, YOU can. But Let me tell you about Michael Jordan, arguably/not really arguable at all, the greatest basketball player of all time. Dude was amazing, broke records and dunked from the free throw line, boom, the greatest. Retires from basketball, decides he wants to play baseball for a bit, not so good at it, like, not at all. Yes he was still awesome for trying, he’s an amazing athlete, but his avg baseball skills did not measure up to his “mastery” of Basketball.
History is full of these people. Just look up any decathlon athlete. They are jacks of all trades but masters of none. They aren’t breaking records in all ten events. Bad ass athletes no doubt, they have to be good at all of the events.
Crossfitters are similar. They have their strong events and their really weak ones, some lift heavy ish but can’t swim to save their lives. They get that though, it’s part of the randomness of the sport. They are trying to master the random, or whatever they tell themselves (haha)
Now to my point!
My news feed is wonderful, lots of awesome people showing off their skills in various walks of life. Hairdressers like Gerry Brooker showing off their amazing prom client do’s, master chefs like justin Lyon cooking up amazing meals for his clients, photographers like my friend Aga bringing beauty to otherwise ugly object, like me haha.

But then we get to the bullshit. Why is everyone posting about “meal prep” and “gains”. Posing in front of mirrors like a Gahd damned bodybuilder. I’m constantly face palming when I look at my feed. Why is everyone trying to highlight fitness and exercise, when honestly it all looks like the same shit. Is it REALLY your passion? I get it, we all should exercise and eat healthy, but why are you suddenly a fitness coach selling products? Inspirational quotes with your selfie? How about go do something great first. What happened to that thing you are really good at? You’re going to trade a mastery of something for a half assed effort in the fitness industry? What’s going on here?
I remember when I trained at tiger Muay Thai in Thailand, there was a massive guy, who under the guidance of Thai hulk, a bad ass bodybuilder, lost a ton of weight. Next thing I know this same weight loss guy (but still tremendously heavy, obese) was training people. Blew my mind. I get it, you want to help people, fair enough. But that’s when you point them in the right direction, like to the Thai hulk, a MASTER of his craft. Look I’m sure I could cut someone’s hair, definitely could buzz it, but I’m not cutting hair. I’m going to point them to my favorite barber/hair stylist. I can’t do it all, and I’m ok with that.
When I was a kid I realized I couldn’t be great at it all. I’m an adult now, I can’t be a ninja warrior yoga master painting actor modeling baseball playing and a fighter at the same time. I’m good at this fighting stuff, I want mastery! I spend hour after hour trying to get better and put off everything else. I would love to do other stuff like bodybuilding or crossfit competitions, but I know the preparation for that would take away from my martial training. Why the hell would I give up my pursuit of mastery to be mediocre at a few things? I want my black belt in bjj and to kick peoples asses. How cool is it going to be in thirty years when I can show my grand kids all the cool shit I won. Do you think your grand kids are going to think it’s cool that you quit what you were good at to do half ass personal training or amateur bodybuilding?
I donno, call me crazy but the thought of being a master at something is exciting. It’s going to take me a lifetime to get there, but that’s what makes it worth getting. Can we all stop trying to BE what’s popular? If every person that loses weight is now a personal fitness/life coach, it’s diluting the product. This goes with BJJ too. Lots of bullshit teachers popping up. I wish I had a sponsor that sent me to schools to debunk these supposed “black belts” that are popping up. Why am I hating on people? Because these people are taking away from the legitimacy of our sport! If anyone can have a black belt, why the hell would you want it.
Listen, I’m pleading with you. Stop hand-standing, everyone’s doing it, remember “planking”, same shit. If you lost 10lbs, don’t call yourself a fitness pro. If you just got your blue belt, don’t open up a bjj school, and if you’re a three week white belt, don’t hashtag bjjforlife because I might run into you someday.
Pursue mastery in your PASSION, there is something you are exceptionally gifted at. Go for it and don’t be distracted or tempted by the popular stuff on the sides. Food prepping is a chore, no idea why it’s suddenly a thing, especially when you’re pounding beers on the weekend, defeats the purpose doesn’t it. Maybe I’ll start videoing when I vacuum the floor because it’s the same thing. 5 lbs on your mediocre max means nothing to anyone except you, give yourself a high five and carry on. Show off YOUR talent, the mediocre is worthless filler.
When I meet someone, I want to talk about something that makes their eyes light up, an idea, a plan etc of what they want to be, the thing they are passionate about. You can’t legitimately tell me that your mediocre gains are your passion. It’s like watching a B rated movie, kinda is a movie but not even close at the same time.

Before I get destroyed by the fitness maniacs, good for you and your weight loss. If that’s the field you want to pursue, awesome. Consider who got you there, what their qualifications were. Just make sure you’re good at what you do, taking someone’s health into your hands is a big responsibility, make sure you’re qualified.

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The ultimate warrior

Ultimate warrior

When I think of professional wrestling, a few names immediately come to mind. Hulk Hogan of course, the undertaker, sting, the rock, just to name a few. I can’t say that I watch today’s wrestling. When I was a kid I believed it was real, the larger than life giants of men fought their hearts out, chasing after the glorious heavyweight title.
My brothers and I would take all the cushions off the couch, put them on the floor and stage “epic” battles. Jumping off the arm of the couch was the equivalent of the top rope. I was more of a “cruiser weight” because they were too big to lift up, so I did a lot of jumping haha. When Shawn Michaels won the belt from the hit man I remember leaping up out of my chair, clinching my fingerless leather gloved fists in triumph like it was me in there. Amazing moments for me.
It hit me like a ton of bricks when I found out pro wrestling was fake, it was the equivalent of finding out Santa wasn’t real. Terrible, earth shattering news for a twelve year old boy. I was absolutely disgusted, I quit watching cold turkey, no more wrestlemania or royal rumble ppv’s at the house, my parents were probably happy to skip that bill. I moved on to “real” wrestling in school, thus beginning my mma career.
As I got older I looked at wrestling in a different light. These men are amazing athletes. The physical demands they put on their bodies would break lesser men. The grueling schedule, the constant injury factor etc. You can only pull so many punches and slams before the impact is for real. Then you have to shake it off and keep going. Nothing but respect for these great men.
Onto the “ultimate warrior”. No one entered the building like he did. His music, the sprint to the ring, the wild hair and war paint, it was all so powerful. You can’t not get pumped up when he comes to the ring. I remember the crazy adrenaline dumps I’d get watching him perform. When he’d get clubbed and start head bashing, just awesome. Everything about him was larger than life. Even his incoherent interviews were amazing, no one could understand a word he said but it didn’t matter. This was the walking talking equivalent of Conan the barbarian, a man from a different world that was half here and half somewhere else. My long hair is a testament to “warriors” like him, a boyhood emulation in my adult life.
Hearing that he passed away, a little part of me and every wrestling fan goes with him. It made me happy hearing that he was inducted into the hall of fame. He was given his last moment under the bright lights before Valhalla called him home. I’ll never be a fan of wrestling again, I’m from the hulkamaniac days, everything after paled in comparison.there will never be another like you. Thanks for the memories Warrior, you left an impact on a small boy that will never be forgotten.
RIP James Hellwig aka The Ultimate Warrior

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Not even death

Rough draft and incomplete, feel free to leave me comments/suggestions. Hope you enjoy what I have so far 🙂

You would have thought the sky was on fire with the shades of orange and red that flashed as far as the eye could see. Clouds streaked the sky canvas, painting the heavens with dazzling shapes and colors. A brilliant sight to anyone, save the two young lovers. They stood on the sandy beach, hopelessly lost in their own world.
The man brushed the hair back from her face, stroking her cheek. Kissing her forehead, he pulled her closer. She smiled, burrowing into his chest. He squeezed tightly, feeling her crush into him, as if trying to make them one being. He exhaled deeply, leaned in, and whispered, “I’ve missed you, my love.”
*******
The soldier flipped up the Visor on his helmet. Sweat dripped down his brow, stinging his eyes. He wiped them with his red and yellow surcoat. Dirty though it was, the stinging subsided. He looked up at the battlements, the blue flour de leis banners still rippled in the wind. French archers sent volleys of arrows down at the English invaders who scurried up ladders. Smoke still wafted from the failed siege ram, set alight by the boiling pitch. A foothold had yet to be won on any portion of the walls, a testament to the resolve of it’s defenders. He slid the whet stone down the head of his hand ax, as much for the sharpness as to keep his mind busy. The mind has a way of fighting battles before the real ones even begin. He studied the edge, confident in it’s edge, he slid it into his belt loop.
A distant horn sounded. The men around him gathered up their weapons, falling into formation. He sighed, “Just one more charge”. Flipping his visor down, the soldier drew his sword, pointing at the walls “Give me glory or give me death!” Battle cries and roars erupted around him, his men buzzing, they marched.
They held their shields high, forming a turtle shell as the arrows rained down on them. A few of the men went down, screams echoing around him, some arrows finding their mark. He finally reached a ladder and turned toward his men. “See you at the top”. He laughed at his own joke. Shield held above his head, sure footed and nimble, he climbed the rung . Nearing the top, he slowed, almost bumping into the man in front of him. Suddenly, the man in front of him screamed, a spear jutting out of his back. He pitched backwards, falling towards him. The soldier swung himself off the side of the ladder, holding on with one hand as the man plummeted down the tall ladder, knocking off others before crashing to the earth. He recovered his position, shield held high and determined, he continued his climb. At the top of ladder now, he drew a hand ax from his belt. A defender loomed in front of him, spear outstretched. The man thrust the spear toward him, narrowly missing as he swayed his head to the side. The soldier grabbed the haft of the spear, pulling the spearman closer. He thrust his head forward into the crown of his foes unprotected head, sending a crimson spray of blood as the mans nose shattered. Dropping the spear, he vaulted over the parapet and onto the wall. He raised his shield, charging the spearman into the wall. A sickening crack sounded as they hit the wall. The spearman slid to the ground, his skull leaving a trail of blood on the wall.
The soldier dropped his shield and drew his sword. Joined now by some of his comrades that had found purchase on the wall, he saw their chance. Caution to the wind, he rushed into the fray, sword and ax cleaving into flesh and bone, felling men all around him. He was in a berserkers rage, battle lust pushing all thoughts of pain and fatigue aside. Head tilted back and arms spread wide, he roared. ” to the death!” and charged into the defenders with his comrades at his side. The defense was faltering, they were losing ground now. The effect the soldier had on his enemies and his men had turned the tide. His ferocity only increased as men streamed up the ladders now, unimpeded by defenders.
He was barely aware of his surroundings, cutting and stabbing with both hands, sending men to their ruin. A sword ripped into his side, breaking through the chain-mail. Pain enveloped him but was quickly replaced by rage as he launched a riposte into the attackers face, his sword going through the mans mouth and out of his neck. He hurled his hand ax into a bowman who was notching an arrow. The bowman fell like a sack, not knowing what hit him.
The castle walls had been won, the remaining defenders retreated back into the keep, barring the doors. It would take some time to clear them out, but for now, the men lay down their arms for a moment of respite.

The soldier sat slumped against the wall, exhausted beyond belief. Bloodlust had warn off and he was keenly aware of his body now. His arms ached from the many blows thrown, jarred on metal and flesh. Blood seeped out of a score of wounds, the gash on his side bled profusely. His helmet had long been discarded, lost at some point in the battle to an errant mace blow. Lifting a water flask to his lips, he sipped the water,reflecting on the day. A hooded field aid wandered up to him and began dressing his wounds. He winced as the aids cloth dabbed at his wounds. “Hold still now warrior, this will only hurt a little longer.” He presses a cloth to his side, it stung. “The men are speaking of your valor, sir…they say you won the battle single handedly”. He smiled at this, shaking his head “Relax, close your eyes… rest…You’ve earned it”. Said the aid. The soldier stared off. He thought of her, that last night, weeks ago. He wished she were here, if only for a moment. His eyes closed.
*******
“I don’t want you to go”! She yelled. He stared at her, long blonde hair cascaded down her back. Sheer as it was, her night gown left little to the imagination.Even with her features locked in an angry scowl, she was beautiful. Her full lips kept moving, but the soldier just stared at her, the words lost to him in his revery. Suddenly he held his hand up. “Enough… Tonight I want to forget ourselves…I want to be lost with you, let tomorrow worry about itself…This night, this moment.” Her shoulders slumped, exhaling. Smiling at her He held her cheek, kissing her full lips. He swooped her into his arms effortlessly, and carried her to the bedside. “Wait. I want you to promise me that you’ll come back to me. I need you, the thought of losing you, I couldn’t bare it. Say it, say that you will come back.” She said. “Nothing on this earth can keep me from you. I will return to you, my love. Not even death and certainly not the French could keep us apart.” She smiled. They fell onto the satin sheets, lost to the world as their bodies joined.
*******
“A messenger for you milady!” Rushing down the steps, she could barely contain her joy. News from the last battle had reached them, the English army had overwhelmed the French defenders and they had taken the castle. She had been waiting every day since for word of his return. Reaching the doorway, she stopped. “Milady” said the grim faced messenger, bowing. Snatching the scroll from his hands, she broke the wax seal and unraveled it. Quickly scanning the parchment, her hand raised to her mouth. The paper fell to the floor. She bolted up the stairs, tears streaming from her face. Her door slammed, echoing down the stone hallway. She threw herself onto the bed, burying her face into a pillow.
Later in the evening, candles flickered in the room. Her face was pale and drawn with a grim expression. She had stopped crying, resolve had set in. Taking a quill from the desk, she dipped it into the ink well and hastily scrawled an apology onto the parchment. Setting the quill down, she walked to the window, opening the latch. Pushing them open, she stepped onto the ledge, looking down at the crashing waves below. The height was dizzying, she swooned. Steadying herself, she caught her breath, and closed her eyes. “Not even death” she whispered.
******
A thick haze covered the great road. He could barely see a few feet in front of him as he was guided by the small figure in front of him.
The little boy held the soldiers hand, though there were no distinguishable landmarks, he seemed to know exactly where to go. It wasn’t long before they came to a massive wooden hall. The soldier had never seen the like, it was bigger even than the great cathedral at Canterbury. Using his wooden sword, the boy rapped on the massive oaken doors and shouted “Værge,åbent! The doors swung open, allowing entry. They walked through entrance and into the hall.
The room was packed. Various drink filled the mugs of the gathered warriors. A samurai touched his small ornate cup to the foaming mugs of a giant man wearing a horned helmet and another bearded warrior wearing a conical helm.”Kanpai! Skål! Za zdorovje!” All around the hall similar scenes played out; feasting, drinking, arm wrestling, knife throwing, wrestling, all forms of manhood being tested.
Looking down at the small boy he asked “What is this place?” The boy spread his arms wide and replied “Its Valhalla! Resting place of the honored dead. Come, let us get you something to fill your belly and spirits to fill your cup.” He motioned toward the stacks of barrels containing ale and wine and the tables overflowing with all sorts of roast game. Flustered, he shook his head. “No. Where is she? Take me to my love.” He said. The boy shifted nervously, “But sir, she is in another place. This is a hall for the greatest heroes, only the noblest of warriors belong here. There is no better place for a man to rest.” Said the boy. “Valhalla be damned!” Roared the man. “There is no rest without her, we belong together!” Turning towards the door, he rushed towards it. “I will not stay another moment in this God forsaken place!” Warriors all around glanced up, interrupted from their revery. A moment passed and they quickly resumed their feasting and drinking. The boy was crestfallen as the soldier stormed out of the mead hall, slamming the great oaken doors as he left.
********
The lady shuffled along the misty road with the others. She had no recollection of how she had gotten there, but she was compelled to follow. One foot followed the other, methodically onward, destination unknown. Curious. She couldn’t hear the sound of her own footsteps.
*********
His opponent was good, his strikes fast and precise. They parried back and forth, the swords clanging together loudly. He ducked under a wide sweeping strike, his hair rustled as the blow passed, narrowly missing. Recovering quickly, he thrust his sword forward, his opponents eyes widening as he leapt backwards. Both breathing heavily, he smiled, and switched his sword to the other hand. His opponent visibly shaken by the turn of events, he pressed the attack now, his strong arm prodding, jabbing for an opening. He lifted his knee as if to kick, drawing his opponents eyes towards his feet while his sword arm swung in a mighty sweep. The blow connected with the side of the wooden dummy, ending the “duel”.
Sheathing the wooden sword into his belt, he ran back into the house. His father was sitting at the table, whittling a piece of wood. “What are you making pop”? He asked. “I’m finished, here, it’s yours”. He held out the small wooden figure of a knight, sword and shield in hand. The boy grabbed it, hugging his father tightly. “Thanks, pop! I love it”. A moment passed as he stared at it in wonder. He thought for a moment.”Pop, do you think mom sees me from heaven? I miss her, I her to see me become a knight.” His father looked away. “I don’t know, son”. It had been a month since the plague had taken her. His father had been grief stricken, staring into the distance and saying very little to anyone. He had lost so much weight, his skin sunken on his face. Not knowing what to do, he walked into his room. He set the wooden knight on his bedside table, next to the other carvings of soldiers and knights. He lay down on his bed, rolling to his side. He reached behind him feeling for the lump that had steadily gotten bigger in the last few days. It ached dully, but he brushed the thought away. The sound of his mothers melodious laughter echoed in his mind. He missed her. Closing his eyes, he quickly fell asleep.
*****
He was completely lost. After leaving the hall, anger drove him mindlessly onward. The problem was, everything looked the same on the road. The perpetual mist made seeing just a few feet in front of him difficult.

*The more I do in life the less bothered I am with dying. I think that those that grow old and look back with regret have a hard time coming to terms with it. Others that jumped at every opportunity and really lived life to the fullest seem to find a certain peace that I envy. Here’s hoping to finding the road less traveled and answering the door when opportunity knocks. To the death!

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Tomb Raider review/thoughts

First off, background on this game and I. I love history, the thought of archaeological sites excites me, pyramids, coliseum, Petra, all of it. So when a video game based on exploring these hidden away places comes out, I beg my parents to get it for me. Boom, by some dumb luck (or a lucky gambling streak by my mom) , I end up with the game. I’m hooked, this chicks a bad ass. She rides a motorcycle, has cool sunglasses (back then) you jump, climb, explore all the places I dreamt of going. Also shooting a tiger or two at the Great Wall to break up the tomb diving. This is what I want to do when I grow up, go to legendary places, climb walls, shoot stuff, find treasure and live in a mansion.
Fast forward to the present. I’ve done a lot of cool shit. I have 5 pairs of Wayfarer sunglasses, have a motorcycle, fight things, go to places worth taking pictures of, I rock climb and would gladly fight ANY tiger given the chance. I haven’t discovered anything new, I came to find out that archaeology is 95% in an office with very little field work. No thanks. I like to think that I grew up to be a lot like the heroes I looked up to.
So now to review the NEW Tomb Raider. It’s basically a reboot. It takes place during the time Lara Croft (the hero) becomes the Legend, kind of like batman begins. You find yourself ship wrecked on an island near Japan and armed with nothing. You are a scared girl with no experience in combat or survival. You are vulnerable, sneaking rather than engaging enemies, hiding and scavenging for food and shelter. It’s suspenseful, a nice change from the all powerful heroes in modern gaming like Master Chief and Kratos. Then you get your first weapon, the bow and arrow. Suddenly you have a fighting chance. Mercenaries are everywhere, but nearly getting raped has brought out something primal in her, the warrior within arises. I love this! There is something raw about humans being stripped down to the bare essentials, we revert to our animalistic survival sense that technology has suppressed in us. This is what I yearn for, to throw away my iPhone, put on my trusty backpack and set off into the world not knowing where I’m going.
The hunting segments of the game, the free climbing up mountains, the hand to hand combat that is realistic (no Kung fu bullsh*t), simply awesome. And then I found a pistol. Things got easier. Then an assault rifle, shotgun, grenade launcher etc. dammit. There goes that primitive survival mechanism. You went from scared girl to animalistic survivor to God mode. By the end of the game I could literally stand out of cover and shoot anything I saw without fear of death. Climbing even became a joke with a pick axe and rope ascender. Mfer.
The problem with technology is our reliance on it. Sure it saves us time. I can boil a pot of water in seconds, check what next weeks weather is, order a meal to be delivered and cooked to my house, all with my finger tips. But in doing this I have eliminated what is best in us, our ability to adapt and overcome. For heavens sake we outlasted the saber tooth and velociraptor! We are the worlds most cunning animal! But drop 99% of people today in the jungle, we probably won’t see them again.
So in closing, this was for the first half exactly what I wanted, a raw survivalist barely scraping by, exploring cool places. After that I lost interest. The game was perfect in my eyes until I received a gun. Game makers, please develop a game that takes place before gunpowder and modern technology. Vulnerability brings out the best in life and games.

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