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Showing posts from February, 2018

A Conversation with Neil Melanson by Mark Hatmaker

Here is a chat I had with a good man with a good mind, Neil Melanson. If you are unfamiliar with Neil’s exemplary work he has coached at Xtreme Couture, Alliance MMA, and a HC with the Blackzilians. He is now at gym Genesis Training Academy and Coach of the Filthy Few MMA team.
-DVDs out are: Head Hunter, Catchwrestling, and Ground Marshal guard basics 
-book Mastering Triangle Chokes
-black belt under Karo Parisyan in the Hayastan Grappling System 
First things first, Brother Neil, thanks for taking the time to have this chat.
Allow me to get another thing out of the way, your book Mastering Triangle Chokes, top-notch. This is high-speed, low-drag stuff all the way. Often there is chaff to be culled through, but you have a linear approach that appeals to the pragmatic streak in me. Excellent work.
Thanks a lot man.  You are a real articulate and detailed coach so that means a lot coming from you.
Your approach to grappling appeals to my expansive tastes. Often, we see tribal separation of B…

Facebook Likes, Bathyspheres, & Borrowed Bucket Lists by Mark Hatmaker

Several studies have shown overall decreased participation in team sports, civic activities, club memberships, and other like participatory activities. [Keep in mind these are overall trends/numbers, not everyone is opting out—raw numbers in bulk are doing less, we must not mistake the images of doers as the mean.]

Some studies are also showing that [aside from the depressive effect of increasing screen times] we are seeing the lessening of cognitive load/ambition via “vicarious experience.” That is to say, some self-report that watching videos or reading posts of people doing certain activities gives them a similar experience to doing the activity.
You read that correctly. Viewing is the same as doing.
That statement is absurd on its face. Watching porn is not making love and viewing MMA is not getting punched in the face, etc. The man atop the mountain is in no shape, form or fashion US. That experience belongs to the man who climbed the mountain and he alone.

The cognitive load/tension…

Wearing the Morning Star, a Review & The Warrior Acculturation Program by Mark Hatmaker

Not enough
Never enough of her.

That one dancing there dancing
Never enough
Of the smell of her body
To me
Never enough
I cannot live without her breath.”

Here’s something a little different, an anthology of Native American Song Poems edited by Brian Swann.Mr. Swann has culled through the anthropological record to provide this mix of staggering beauty, unadulterated humanity [including the finest love-poem I’ve ever read], and open-faced bawdiness.
Within you will find women singing of vaginas as large as canoes with clitorises as large as men-and these are compliments. The anthropologist’s notes showed that these were sung by old and young women alike with no sense of it being indecent or untoward—just as we sing about the “Old Rugged Cross” with a dying man on it and it does not strike us as grisly.
I will admit there are several in here that have such an otherworldly reference system I don’t know what to make of them [yet], but overall this is a gorgeous glimpse into an alter…

Mass Shootings, Constitutional Change & "*ick Pics" by Mark Hatmaker

In the wake of evil acts we are left to grasp at solutions.
That’s a good thing. We all want to reduce malignancy in the world.
Many of our solutions turn to arguments, assertions, and aspersions on both sides because we often start our arguments in pre-existing camps where our tent-pegs of opinion are driven into concrete instead of soft ground where they can be moved if/when confronted with a compelling bit of new information.
Today let’s offer not a solution, but perhaps a deterrent. I say only perhaps, as I have no idea how to truly get inside the mind of evil scum nor do I have a desire to do so.
The deterrent I offer may be distasteful to some, trivial to others, and it has zero guarantee of success but…if you’ve got the time hear me out.
I offer the following ideas with zero expectation for anyone to take them seriously as one…
My idea calls for a change in the Constitution which is anathema to approximately half of the United States.
Me? I’ve got no problem with changing the Constit…

A Personal Lesson from a Shipwreck Survivor by Mark Hatmaker

First, let’s set the stage. The following quote is an extract from Narrative of the Most Extraordinary and Distressing Shipwreck of the Whale-Ship Essex by First-Mate Owen Chase. In 1820 Chase was aboard the ill-fated ship that was attacked and sunk by a sperm whale (the basis for the fictional account Moby-Dick by Melville.) The survivors spent 95 days at sea in harrowing conditions and ultimately cannibalism was relied upon to survive.
I offer the below extract and the commentary to follow for a very specific purpose.
“I found it on this occasion true, that misery does indeed love company; unaided, and unencouraged by each other, there were with us many whose weak minds, I am confident, would have sunk under the dismal retrospections of the past catastrophe, and who did not possess either sense or firmness enough to contemplate our approaching destiny, without the cheering of some more determined countenance than their own.”
First, note there is no bitterness or burden detected in tha…

A Conversation with Fernan David Vargas by Mark Hatmaker

Fernan Vargas is a life long martial artist and author.He has studied Native American fighting traditions and is an aficionado and researcher in the field of Frontier Combatives.Learn more about Mr. Vargas at and

First things first, thanks for taking the time to chat. We’ve chatted before but the conversational shoe is on the other foot this time. I’ll grill you. You’re a man of many hats, but today I want to focus on one particular area—indigenous arts. In particular, indigenous arts within the United States. Tell us a little about your influences in that regard, it can be Apache knife-fighting what have you.
Do you find that indigenous arts have a different approach to that of modern combatives, or were modern combatives directly influenced by these earlier arts?
There is a definite difference in the way things were taught in the past as to how they are taught now.From my personal experience, European and Japanese martial …

The Rock Sprint & Blitz Circuit by Mark Hatmaker

This Rocky Marciano inspired Conditioning WOD is just the Old-School sort of thing the Rock might have found tossed at him by Whitey Bimstein on any given day of the Rock’s legendary grueling training camps.

It takes a mere 24-minutes to complete, but if you do it right it should cure what ails ya.

On a continuously running clock, for the first 12 minutes sprint 50 yards at the top of each minute.
That is 12 “Get the hell outta, Dodge!” sprints using the remainder of each minute as your recovery.

Upon completing your 12th sprint get yourself in front of a heavy bag and at the top of each minute bang H-A-R-D & F-A-S-T Rocky Marciano style for 15 seconds.

Do this at the top of each minute for 12-minutes using the remaining 45-seconds as recovery.

Hit hard, hit fast, hit non-stop.

If you sandbag any of it, the Ghosts of Rocky and Whitey will laugh you out of the gym.


[Formore old-school boxing workouts see the RAW Subscription Service and our book Boxer’s Book of Conditioning &Dril…

Voices of the Foreign Legion: A Review by Mark Hatmaker

The book is exactly what the title says, but tells the story of the Legion via diary entries, memoirs and interviews from Legionnaires themselves, from its romantic inception in the deserts of North Africa to the post-colonial anti-terrorist operations of today. This sort of skin-in-the-game/boots-on-the-ground history fascinates me more than academic history, as here we get the eyes-on view of top-down policies, that is, we hear what the folks in the comfy chairs think should happen in the world, and then we see what happens when real men must trek through sucking jungle, scorching desert, hostile streets to attempt to render these pseudo-manly pipe-dreams coherent. The real-world view never matches the academic view.
The book is harrowing in places, graphic in many, sad in most, and in the end so so so so much death and destruction and suffering for what? Colonies in Algeria, Vietnam, the Congo, Morocco that don’t exist today.
Compare with our own experience today in the United Sta…

Two Summonings & a Question Regarding Grit by Mark Hatmaker

Thor Heyerdahl, the explorer/adventurer who postulated that he could sail a homebuilt balsa wood raft over 4,000 nautical miles to prove a theory regarding Polynesian settlement, a theory that few took seriously, sent the following telegram to three of his friends.
Am going to cross the Pacific on a wooden raft to support a theory that the South Sea Islands were peopled from Peru. Will you come?”
All said yes.
The journey took 101 days not counting preparation time, the dramatic story is told in the book and documentary that takes its name from the raft itself, the Kon-Tiki. [If you seek out the documentary search for the unedited version which contains mind-blowing footage of the adventurers hand-fishing for sharks.]
I am going to ask you to read the telegram again.
Am going to cross the Pacific on a wooden raft to support a theory that the South Sea Islands were peopled from Peru. Will you come?”
If this were sent by a friend of yours, do you go?
If not, minus out 101 days, let’s cut th…