In a recent discussion at warriortalk a point was brought up that one did not need to have a "physique" in order to be able to fight. I countered that fitness and fighting were two separate matters and showed images of the UFC fighter Tank Abbott. Abbott is a huge man and can fight, nobody can deny that. But he is fat and not "fit" in the sense of what we want fitness to be. I then showed an image of Clarence Bass, a 75 year old bodybuilder who looks better and is probably healthier at 75 than most men at 25.
If all we wanted to do was to "be able to hit hard and fight", we would be emulating the Sumo wrestler...getting as big and fat as we could, so we could bowl over lighter men. A sumotori would able to break a smaller man's wrist by simply taking his punch. But I will bet a health profile for a Sumo is hardly one promising of a long life. I will also bet a sumotori could not run any distance, and I will bet they don't get laid much either....except by female sumotori.
So in this article, I will explain what I think fitness is, what its components are, and then why it is a desirable thing to pursue. Whether one wants to be able to fight...or to just be fit. And we will also note that there are plenty of very fit and muscular fighters today whose physicality contributes unequivocally to their success.
Fitness. First we refer to the body's ability to adapt to challenging situations, be it cold, hunger, stress, or any physical hardship. Put ten people into a survival situation and all things being equal, the fittest will prevail, whereas the frail or unfit, will perish...perhaps even for food.
Fitness in a true form avoids specialization. The overweight wrestler or obese sumotori may be seen as "fit" for their sports, but they are specialized. Same with the emaciated marathoner that can run for 100 miles. He is the other extreme.
One who is fit should be able to run fast at moderate distances...say three, five, even ten miles. He won't be as fast as the specialist marathon guy, but he will do fine because he will be able to do it in boots, without a warm up, and on broken ground. He may even be carrying a rucksack with a percentage of his weight and the run done at a fast walk. Tell the sumotori to carry a ruck with half his weight for five miles in one hour over broken ground. Good luck.
One who is fit should be able to lift heavy weights. A good barometer of strength is powerlifting. A strong man should be able to bench press 1.5 times his weight, squat 1.5 times his weight, and deadlift twice his weight. And no, one does not need to specialize in those lifts either. I personally have transitioned from the Bench Press to the weighted Dip. But in any case, that means to be considered adequately strong, I at 170 currently, should be bench pressing 255#, squatting 255# and deadlifting 340#.
Great "cardio", like what a marathon runner has, will not allow you to pick up your wife and run with her on your shoulders to safety...nor to break another man's neck in a contest of strength. And yes, all martial bullsh*t aside, as Inosanto said, "You cannot ignore nature". Once the technical skills are equal, it will be the fitter man who prevails.
One who is fit should be able to explode into action without any detrimental effects. I recall recently Tom C and I sprinting through the terminal in Dallas after two hours sitting at rest. No problems. Explosiveness is made up of the ability to contract the muscles quickly and plyometrically but also anaerobically, without incurring an injury or a cardiac event.
One who is fit should look fit. Unless you really don't give a crap about how you look, smell, or dress, most of us want to look like we are fit...or at least trying to be fit. I do not spend the hours I do sprinting up hills and in the weight pile to be mistaken for Jabba the Hutt.
And all grey man nonsense aside, the thugs will look at you and think, "that guy right there....he looks like he can kick my ass...I will leave him alone". Then they will go find a weak looking fat guy. The life of the fit guy is easier. People immediately evaluate you based on your appearance. If you look fit, you will demand a physical respect that the frail will never be given.
One who is fit will be able to live as a strong man into his later years. I suspect if more men spent time lifting heavy stuff and running fast, there would not be any need for Viagra, or any of those "you can still be a man" pills. A gentleman does not talk about such things but those I associate with...other fit men, find no need for such pharmaceuticals...much to the smiling agreement of their equally fit wives.
One who is fit should be healthy and without the degenerative maladies of modern, soft, domesticated man. Some of this has to do with genetics, but that which does not...does not. I wonder how long the obese sumo wrestler...who is such a bad ass in a fight, will live?
Fitness has many aspects my friends...but the best aspect of all is that its only real cost is discipline. The bad ass Sumo killer? Imagine how much better he would be if he had the body of a George St. Pierre. The skin and bones marathon runner? Imagine if he had the body of someone like Hussein Bolt.
Fitness is its own goal. Once you are fit, in the sense of the word being discussed here, everything...EVERYTHING from fighting to pleasing your spouse will be better, easier, and repeatable well into your nineties. Select your path wisely.
Next time we will discuss the Triad Of Fitness!