“I don’t fear the man that has trained 10,000 kicks… I fear the man that has trained one kick, 10,000 times.” – Bruce Lee
In my current mesocycle of training under Flight (Barbell Shrugged) we have started from the very basics. During this month it is very rare that we go over head at all, and are putting only training plates on the bar if anything at all. Everything is about mobility and drilling the positions, every day, for hours a day. This, at times, can become tedium. Without a lot of weight on the bar it may seem redundant to lifters training in Weightlifting. I have felt anxious around the barbell, without a lot of stress on my body I feel dismoured. It is the same 1st three pulls from the ground, or some variation of, a hundred times a week or more (pull from ground with training plates, quad sitting pull, high-pulls, pause-pulls… you get the idea). It started to remind me of my time in the Marines during training exercises, and more specifically, “Grass Week.”
When you first join the marines, they hand you a rifle about 4 days into being at boot camp. At first you are excited: They just gave me an M-16, holy shit. Soon, it becomes something you begin to resent. You clean it several times a day without having ever fired it, they take you to the parade deck and you close-order drill… sometimes 8-hours or more a day. The drill instructors are in your face for having even missed a movement by a fraction of a second, or a sliver of an inch. Sometimes, you’re getting chewed out because somebody else fucked up. This goes on for weeks.
Then Grass Week happens. Grass Week is hell on Earth. The drill instructors put you into certain firing positions, sometimes for hours at a time, making you dry fire your weapon constantly. It feels like your body is put into a vice, sometimes parts of my body would go numb. Others threw up from the pain. You think you like the Prone Position… until you’re in it for 4 hours. The High Kneeling is the worst. Trigger pull after Trigger pull… hour after hour, day after day. And that was just the beginning (combat training and the rest of your time in the Marine Corps is spent training various, more advanced gun drills).
Finally, they hand you some ammo and send you to the range. It all starts to click. Some of us had never fired a weapon at that point in our lives… and were all of sudden putting 10-shots (while reloading) into a dinner plate sized target at 300-yards in under 30 seconds. The feeling when you first hit a 500-yard shot dead in the chest of your target with only iron sites, and you were thinking: Fuck, that’s so far, how am I going to hit that? It soon becomes apparent why US Marines are considered the best general marksmen in the world.
As I continue to train the pulls in this mesocycle, I am reminded of those times. Pull after pull, sitting in mobility positions that are painful and uncomfortable. One rep… 2,3,4,5,6…. it is endless. When will they hand me some ammo? When they feel I am ready, that’s when. Barbell Shrugged has now become my Grass Week. My current coach, Brendan McNeirney, while watching one of my videos said, “Try and lower the barbell the same way you brought it up.” Really, does it matter how I lower the barbell to the ground? Yes. Yes it does. I must drill the positions in order to fully implement my potential when the time comes to hit my 500-yard target. This comes from maintaining the discipline to listen to the teachings and pay attention to the movements. Let your body find itself. Muscle memory will take foot, and soon it all becomes second nature.
By the end of my Marine Corps career, the rifle became a part of my body. I slept with it, took it to the bathroom, ate with it, drilled with it, fought with it. That cold piece of steel became an extension of who I was, and I became nothing short of a professional with it. Eventually, the drills became more advanced: Box drills, Mozambique drills, double-taps, Urban combat drills, shooting and reloading while moving, geometry of fire…. the list becomes endless. None of it would have been possible, and perhaps I may never have made it out of the war alive if it wasn’t for those first few months with the rifle… the drilling, the cleaning, the position training, the trigger pulls….
One day soon I will challenge myself again, with another piece of cold steel that is slowly but surely becoming an extension of myself… one day soon I will have to lift what seems impossible, or seemed impossible at one time. One day soon… I will be back in the war.