I was teaching Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class tonight and for the umpteenth time, I was trying to introduce some basic prehab work to the curriculum. Things like the deep squat test, the couch stretch and other Kelly Starrett inspired material. Let’s just say it hasn’t really hit home yet… I mean, the white belts all dutifully did what I told them. And to be fair, there was one guy who even approached me after training confiding an interest in mobility stuff. But most of the regulars just looked at me like “WTF is this all about? Let’s just train and go balls to the wall!”
I’m not complaining. I too was 23 once, and I would probably also not have understood. But being in my mid thirties now, and after 26 years of martial arts and several injuries and surgeries later, I can say one thing with absolute certainty: No matter how important you think the next upcoming competition is, it’s not. Investing in long-term prehab is ALWAYS more important, and should always take priority.
I, like most people, struggle with balance in my life. And it really is a rather difficult subject, especially if you are the ambitious kind: You want to make progress with your chosen career or your studies. You want to start your own business on the side. You want to workout and look good. You want to eat healthy and lose weight. You want to sleep more and get sick less often. You want to network and meet interesting new people. You want to practice an instrument, learn a language, make a habit of reading more or whatever else strikes your fancy.
How are you supposed to fit all of that into one day? It seems a very stressful, if not hopeless endeavor.
I despise people who use the term “holistic” with a passion. Just Google it really quick and see what comes up: “Holistic Healing.” “Holistic Bodywork.” “Holistic Skin Care.” Oh, and my personal favorite: “Holistic Pet Care.”
Basically, “holistic” functions as the battle cry of the new age nutcases of this planet. They use it as a vague description for an alternative, more wholesome way of going about things, without really knowing what that entails. Kind of like the same type of person keeps bringing up the word “energy” in conversations, without any concrete meaning attached to the word.
Despite this obvious abuse, the idea of “holistic” can have a huge, measureable impact on your life and your productivity, if you drop the hippie-sentiments. The true concept behind the word is actually a profound one: Any alteration of the elements of a given system will have a significant impact on the system as a whole; either strengthening the system or weakening it.
I’ve been reading Robert Greene’s “Mastery” for the last couple of days and I like it a lot. It may be his best book yet. In a nutshell, the book is about how to excel at something, be it writing, physics, playing an instrument or boxing. In typical Greene fashion, he looks at numerous case studies of historical masters, to extract the common underlying principles of their success, giving you a starting point for your own journey to mastery.
One thing Greene really stresses is the importance of finding the right teacher for what he calls the “apprenticeship phase”. I completely agree with the idea, but there is one minor problem: what if you regularly choose to learn things that are so outlandish, there is simply no good teacher around?