Fuck Your Feelings, You Old Goat.
(In which I offend the delicate sensibilities of old people, fat people, Krav Maga True Believers, and 99% of the Three Percent…)
I’m currently suffering from a real job-induced case of severe “tennis elbow.” In the simplest terms, this is a case of a severely inflamed tendon in the elbow, from repetitive, high-stress, high-impact overuse. This particular case of tennis elbow, in my right arm (and yes, I am right-handed), is having a profound impact on pretty much everything that I do: from swinging a hammer, or carrying groceries and kids and other loads, to shooting and yes, (gasp!) my PT (seriously, my deadlift loads currently would be a joke for a serious strength athlete half my body weight).
It’s one of those nagging things that comes up, seemingly with far greater frequency after I passed forty, than ever arose in my younger years. What, even in my late-thirties would have been cured by a day of rest, a couple 800mg “Ranger Candy” boluses of Motrin, and a quart of water, has been nagging at me for the better part of a fortnight, with no real signs that it is going away (the fact that I have repeatedly foregone the “rest” part of that treatment, and replaced it with topical anti-inflammatory cremes and rubs, and then just “sucked it up,” to drive on and get done what needs to get done is immaterial…really…). It has become one of those things that, very distantly, and only occasionally heard, like a hollow cry from across the valley, reminds you, “Haha, dude! You ARE after all, mortal, and you are NOT getting any younger!”
It’s the same reminder my body gives me in the mornings, when I awake, and feel the arthritic stiffness that is the legacy of the broken hips, back, and femurs—along with a host of equally serious, but less dramatic old injuries—of a lifetime of hyper-aggressive combat athleticism and life. It has become, disturbingly, the sound of the Sirens’ song, tempting me to drive the ship that is my life, onto the rocky shores in a quest for the physical bliss of letting myself relax, and get fat, lazy, and useless.
Relax. While I AM going to touch on the fact that this is not a temptation that I am willing to allow myself to succumb to, instead choosing to have myself bound to the metaphorical mast of duty, so I can hear the song, without failing, this is NOT going to be the expected “Oh, gee, look, John Mosby is bitching about me not doing my PT again,” article that you are probably thinking it is…much…
Instead, this is a discussion about the role we—as the elders of your tribes—have to play, even as we recognize that we are –if not “past,” then at least—rapidly approaching, the pinnacle of our physical prowess. While there are things I’m far better at now than I ever was in my teens, twenties, or thirties, they are generally not the things that require the maximum amount of physical agility.
Too often (admittedly, mostly in the past, as I’m entirely too busy to waste my fucking limited time these days on the nonsense ravings and pleading protestations of the spineless “ne’er dones” of the Internet), I’ve seen the rantings of “preppers” and “patriots: who self-identify as “old,” or “crippled up,” about their inability to A,B, or C physical training tasks, whether that is PT, or actual defensive shooting drills, instead of sitting their fat ass on a bench, behind a table at the range, but their “willingness” and “ability” to “take some with me,” as they “die on my hill.”
At the calculated risk of micro-aggressing your self-deluded imagined “safe spaces” of glory, it’s utter, absolute, complete, bullshit, for a number of reasons. Yes, that’s right. If you lay claim to a willingness to “die on a hill,” because you’re too “old/crippled/tired” (translated into English as, “I’m a lazy fucking Oxygen Thief who doesn’t actually care about my people”), you are fucking full of shit. Don’t like it? Wanna kick my ass? Take a number and get in line. Or, let me know. I’ll invite you to a class, on me, and you can give ‘er hell. I’m passed giving two shits about whiny bitches.
At the risk of sounding melodramatic (as if the last two sentences of that last paragraph weren’t enough, right?), I’ve spent my entire life immersed in some aspect or another of “warrior culture.” I’ve been training in combat sports since I was a kid. I learned to read by reading old army Field Manuals and Soldier of Fortune magazine (as well as all the other mercenary porn magazines of the late 70s, and 80s.) I went in the military at 18. I signed into Fort Benning less than 48 hours after I was handed my high school diploma, and in one form or another, I’ve been involved in training myself and others, professionally, for interpersonal violence on the collective and individual levels, ever since.
Today, I met a young NCO. He was an army Staff Sergeant (the same rank I held when I ETS’d), who was 24 years old. Think about that. He was not even in High School when 9/11 happened. He was not even out of diapers when I went to Basic Training. I see young guys with multiple combat deployments, who were in grade school, when I was getting out of the army. Fuck, I am THAT old guy, now (I mean, not really. I’ve never driven a taxi in Columbus, claiming to be the former Regimental Sergeant-Major of the Ranger Regiment, or around Fayetteville, NC, claiming to be a former Delta Squadron CSM. So, there’s THAT, at least….).
If I am ever again called upon to ruck up, and go conduct a six-day combat patrol through the mountains, I am NOT going to be a happy individual. So, why do I still train? I have a pretty respectable legacy behind me in that area. I can whip out my DD-214 and show some student who questions how I know how this shit I am teaching actually works. “Well, dude, look what I did ‘back then!’” It will elicit the appropriate “oohs!” and “aahs!” and they will probably pay attention, and still learn something. My children will continue to believe, as my oldest told someone a few weeks ago, “Daddy is a superhero!” So, why do I bother?
Because I care not just about me. I care about my people. My children, my wife, my cousins and siblings and nieces and nephews, and my oath-sworn kin and their children as well. I care about passing on the life-saving skills and knowledge that I have (not just in the “face shooting” spectrum of skills either. Fat people make shitty gardeners, and worse livestock husbandmen), to ensure that my people, and thus the cultural values of our tribal community, survive the death throes of this imperial civilization (and if you are still in denial about THAT, well, you’re dumber than a bag of rocks sitting in a pond full of shit).
You know who doesn’t care about my DD-214? You know who doesn’t care about what a hard-dicked, soul-stealing, gunslinger I used to be? My best friend’s son. All he knows, if I’m a fat, lazy bastard, who drinks too much, is “Uncle John? Meh, he’s an old fat fucker. He tells good stories, but I figure they’re about ¾ bullshit!” You think he’s going to pay attention when I tell him he needs to eat right, lift heavy shit, run far, fast, and know how to shoot, move, and communicate? Not just “no,” but “Hell, no!” He’s going to go back in the house, away from the old farts, sitting on the porch, swapping yarns, and get right back to playing video games. Hell, I don’t even blame him. I would’ve done the same damned thing.
You can preach all you want, to your kids about “respect your elders!” but if those elders don’t earn that respect, they’re not going to get it. If you’re that elder, and you’re trying to pass on life lessons to the youth of your community/clan/tribe/church congregation/militia unit/what-the-fuck-ever, you’d damned sure better be able to walk the walk, rather than spinning a skein of bullshit yarns, or nobody is going to take you serious.
It’s really, Leadership 101, straight out of The Ranger Handbook: Be, Know, and Do.
If you’re going to tell your young tribesmen that they need to eat healthy, whole foods, instead of fast food and packaged, processed snacks, you’d better BE an example of the benefits of that diet. You’d better KNOW what they should be eating, why they should be eating it, and how to make it palatable. And, you’d better DO it. You tell me, “John, you should eat organic, grass-fed beef, and eggs from pasture-raised chickens! It’s better for you, and it tastes better too!” but I see you scarfing down a Sausage, Egg, and Cheese McDouble or three for breakfast, I’m going to know you’re full of shit.
If you want your young bucks to actually be able to fight well, as light infantrymen, in a grid-down scenario, to protect your community (and by inclusion, your precious self and all your resources), nobody expects you to outperform a 20-year old college athlete, but you’d better be able to at least keep up, most of the time, and you’d still better be able to outperform him at some of the stuff (like, oh, I don’t know, the shit that you’re supposed to be able to do better, like decision-making, “multi-tasking,” thinking and planning, etc, even on the run). If you can’t, then why in the fuck would they listen to you, just because you fought “in the ‘Nam,” or—for those of us of a younger, but still aging generation—“…in the ‘Stan?” Sure, I’ll listen to the old ‘Nam, Korea, and—rapidly decreasing—World War Two veterans at the local VFW or Legion Hall. Hell, I’ll even buy their beers. You’d better bet your ass though that everything they tell me is going to get filtered through whatever other experiences I have, or—in the case of the young buck who’s never been—think I have.
I met a young kid the other day, in a social environment. Early twenties, he’s a college student. Really nice kid. Conversation turned—as it seems to with increasing frequency these days, regardless of whom the conversation is with—about the “coming collapse.” He started telling me about how he is really well-trained and prepared for it, because he “used to teach Krav Maga.” Now, I’m not interested in a fucking debate in the comments to this article about how “awesome” and “effective” Krav is, “because IDF!” 1) The IDF guys I know laugh about the Krav marketing, 2) Whatever you THINK the Sayeret commandos are doing for combatives training is probably as accurate as what you think SEAL Team 6/DEVGRU is doing (in other words, not fucking very), and 3) Krav is a fucking joke. (I mean come the fuck on, US Krav guys are still teaching “Israeli Carry,” for fuck’s sake! If you think “Israeli Carry” is a good idea, do the world a favor, and go cut your own fucking throat, preferably before you breed that stupidity into the human gene pool.) None of that really matters though. What matters is, this was a kid in his early twenties. I guaran-damn-tee you, he didn’t weigh 125 pounds, soaking wet, in two pairs of boots. If he’s ever been in a fight in his life, it was getting beat up and shoved in a toilet in his high school gym class. However, because he “used to teach Krav Maga,” he is convinced he is a subject matter expert in combatives, knife fighting, and close-quarters gunfighting.
Do you think, for one minute, that me telling him, “Hey, dude, listen, that’s cool, but from a dude who has actually shot people for a living, for, like, real…that shit don’t work!” is going to make one bit of a difference in changing his mind to seek out more effective, REAL training? No. Fuck no. He doesn’t care. On the other hand, because I am—despite being “old”—still fit, strong, and training, I can “teach” him, in a friendly way, on the mats, that “that’s cool, but from a dude who has actually shot people for a living, for like, real…that shit don’t work!”
The offer of “Alright, you use whatever you think you’ve got to stop me from planting your face in the mat, and my foot in your cervical spine,” and then simply demonstrating, in a friendly training environment, on the mats (“Man, that’s really cool. We should train some time. Maybe you can show me some of that stuff!” actually works really, really, really well, in my experience. Far, far better than, “Your kung-fu sucks. My kung-fu is better!”), is convincing in a very visceral way.
(The same thing works for FoF training with firearms, incidentally. Even with AirSoft guns, the lessons of getting pellets smacking into your face shield, is apparently very convincing.)
“What the fuck is the point, John?” you are thinking. “I thought this was NOT going to be a ‘do more PT’ article?”
Your job; your role; your position, at the fall of empire, if you actually give a shit about ANYTHING beyond yourself and your material “stuff,” is to be a fucking mentor. You need to be making concerted efforts to pass on the traditions, values, and customs of your tribal/community culture, whatever they may be. From “these are the foods we eat, and this is why,” (that is a custom and the cultural value underlying it, for the anthropologically-challenged) to “we never hit women, because women are the mothers of the future of our tribe,” (again, a tradition and a value that is the reason for the tradition); from “hit him first, hit him hard, and keep hitting him until he can’t get up, because fair fights are for suckers, and if you lose, you—or someone else in the community—may die as a result,” to “stay fit and strong so you can protect the less able,” if you are not taking every opportunity that arises—and creating those opportunities when they don’t arise on their own—then you don’t actually give a shit.
If that is the case, you are the worst kind of caricature of a “prepper” or “patriot:” the kind who blathers about freedom, liberty, and cultural values, while really just being afraid of losing your stuff. If that is you, fuck you, I hate you, and I hope you lose all your stuff in a house fire, and the insurance company fucks you over.
If that is NOT the case. If you ARE creating and taking advantages of those opportunities for mentorship—or even just TRYING to do so—then you have to look at what kind of mentor you are being. Are you just THAT old guy, that the kids listen to because their REAL mentors convinced them to “respect their elders,” or are you the kind of mentor that actually mentors, by being a leader, and leading from the front? Remember, at the end of the day, ESPECIALLY when it comes to teaching, “Who Does More Is Worth More.”
It doesn’t matter if you’ve got a really bad case of tennis elbow. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got a jinky knee or hip, or a bad back. It doesn’t matter if you think you’re past your prime. You need to have good, quality information to pass on, and you need to be ABLE to pass it on by demonstrating it, and showing that it works. Be a GOOD mentor for the youth of your tribe. Be a LEADER. Quit making excuses. Go get training. Learn to do shit the right way, instead of the lazy way, then pass the good information on.
I’ve had men in their seventies show up to my classes. They couldn’t keep up with the guys in their twenties all the time on the physical stuff, and neither they, the other students, nor myself, expected them to. I’ve had guys show up to my classes, realize they weren’t fulfilling their potential, yet, and change their life afterwards. From becoming serious strength and conditioning athletes, to beginning training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, to becoming fucking gardeners in their 1/8th acre, suburban backyards.
Seriously…I saw just the other day, a former student, who wasn’t a weight lifter before he took his first class with me a couple years ago, is entering his first powerlifting competition…in his 50s. I posted an email from a former student a couple years ago who credited surviving a heart attack to the PT program he began doing AFTER he took my class. I know of three men, all friends, who started training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, after training with me. One is in his sixties, the other two in their fifties. What the fuck is your excuse again?
So yeah, I’m old now, and getting older by the day. I am still going to continue doing PT, and shooting and doing dry-fire every day. I’m still going to do my combatives training. Not because I have delusions of being some sort of super-guerrilla commando raider in the “Coming Revolution,” but because I know that, if I want my children and grandchildren, and our cultural values, to survive the death throes we are currently living through, they are going to need a tight-knit community of kith-and-kin who are just as dangerous as my children and grandchildren will be (and are, really, already, on a pound-for-pound basis), to help them. The only way THOSE members of the tribe are going to take my training advice serious is if I am able to SHOW them why it works, rather than just telling them old war stories.
Go. Train. Be Dangerous. Be a Mentor.
Editorial/Admin Bullshit Stuff:
A few readers have emailed asking about the proposed subscription-based training stuff. We’re still working on how to make that happen, and even if it should (apparently it should, according to the very…ahem…vehement responses I got from a couple of trusted confidantes…). If my previous track record of trying to monetize shit on this blog, such as the t-shirt, sweathshirts, ball caps, and patches/stickers sales effort, is any indication, it should go live sometime shortly after the climax of the world’s next imperial civilization, in roughly 2600CE, by the current calendar. HH6 and I are however, among a host of other, equally–perhaps more–pressing issues, trying to figure that out.
Also considering trying to record a few podcast episodes this winter, once I get started working on the next book. Any interest in it? I actually like doing the podcast interviews I’ve done with folks, and I almost feel like I can get more information across, more expeditiously, in that manner, than I can in articles, as long as I can stay on track while speaking (as anyone who has ever actually been in a class with me will attest however, I am really, REALLY good at going off on tangents, and then struggling to find my way back to the last en route rally point of the conversation…)