“He was big and strong and an excellent fighter. He could swing a sword and throw a spear with either hand, if he wished, and he was so swift with a sword that there seemed to be three in the air at once. He could shoot with a bow better than anyone else, and he always hit what he aimed at. He could jump higher than his own height, in full fighting gear, and just as far backwards as forward. He swam like a seal, and there was no sport in which there was any point in competing with him.” –Njal’s Saga (the excerpt is describing saga hero Gunnar Hamundarson)
Want to know how to get people to follow your advice on preparedness? Give them a reason to believe that you have advice worth following. If you’re trying to convince people that they need to get in shape and train, then you’d damned well better be able to demonstrate a level of skill that illustrates those values.
Sometimes, we refer to this as “walking the walk, not talking the talk.” Nowadays, I just tell people to harden the fuck up.
The following is from a book on my shelf, and relates the the excerpt from Njal’s Saga, since people always want to talk about how our ancestors didn’t do PT, they just got strong and fit from daily life:
“Weapons training was a favorite sporting activity and probably essential for young men…stone throwing also formed part of the training of future warriors, and it is often mentioned as being used in battles…Tests of physical strength included wrestling, fistfighting, and the lifting of heavy stones. Amongst activities that involve a high degree of physical agility and balance, the sources mention mountain climbing and the ability to step from oar to oar outside the railing of a ship while it was being rowed…Running and jumping were activities in which children also participated. Much the same applies to swimming, which appears to have been practiced by women as well…”
The book is available at your local Barnes and Noble. I know, because that’s where I got it. It is called Viking Age: Everyday Life During the Extraordinary Era of the Norsemen. It is authored by Kristen Wolf. She happens to be a professor of Old Norse/Icelandic language and literature at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and is the Torger Thompson Chair of Scandinavian Studies there.