Training versus working out, which one do you do?  Is there a difference? I think there is a difference, but I think most people don’t make the distinction. To me, the difference is very simple. Almost anything can be considered a workout. Any assortment of movement and exercises that are thrown together can be considered a workout.  That is not necessarily a bad thing. Back when I was studying health science in college, one of the big papers that came out at the time showed that accumulating 30 minutes of activity 5 days per week had a profound impact on your health by decreasing the risk for a disease.  Notice I said health, not fitness. Also, when we were an affiliate of Crossfit we labeled our daily training as the Workout of the Day. If you look at the definition of Crossfit, which I quoted on a regular basis, for several years it says,” Crossfit is functional movement, done at high intensity with constant or near random variation.” This type of training can be very effective, depending on your goal. Working out can help you attain a great level of general physical fitness and health. It is certainly much better than not working out.

What I would like you to consider, however, is how much better results you could achieve if you trained versus simply worked out. Training has a specific purpose. Even when we were Crossfit, we had a more structured training template. It was varied but definitely not random.  One of the many things that drew me to the Training for Warriors system was the fact that the template Martin Rooney had used to help train some of the best fighters in the world, mirrored what we were already using and had also found to be effective. There were some differences, which we have embraced. One was sprinting, the other was more specific training.  In other words, we have days which are more specifically dedicated to strength and days which or more specifically dedicated to metabolic conditioning. That is not to say that you cannot train both in the same training session but for many, it is difficult to truly focus on both in one session without one or the other suffering. As a coach, when I examine the TFW system,  it fills two primary needs:
1.  For the Jiujitsu athlete, it prepares you for both training and competition.
2.  For those who are not training Jiujitsu, it helps you burn fat, build muscle, and feel good!

This training can be dialed in even more if you have very specific goals.  The point of this article is to follow the Alliance Code and be honest with yourself about how you are approaching your training. Are you simply working out or do you have a specific goal? If you are just working out and you are good with that then that is great. Keep doing what you are doing. If however, you want to focus more on training, we are here to help you. That is where the strategy sessions come in. We can help assess your current goals and ensure we have you on the right path to achieve them.

Commit, Show Up, Don’t Quit, Be Uncommon

Embrace the Grind

In the first part of this series discussing the Alliance Warrior Code, we introduced Honesty. We emphasized the importance of honesty, not only with others but just as importantly and often times more important, honesty with yourself.

Now, I would like to introduce the second value of the Alliance Warrior Code which is Work Ethic.

I still remember back in high school ( yes, I can remember that far back) when the theme for our off season training for football was, “Hard Work Pays Off!”. When we made “X” number of training sessions beyond the required minimum of required summer workouts, we received a t-shirt with the saying on it.

Likewise, another saying, “Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard!” really resonates with me because I never considered myself possessing any special talent in regards to sports.

As a kid, when it came to picking teams, I was usually one of the last ones picked. I even remember being laughed at by some of the other kids when I was asked to be a part of the track team. But, what helped and propelled me was  I learned at an early age that if I worked really hard, harder than everyone else, I got better. I remember even then of having a goal of working harder and longer than anyone else in the gym.

Which brings me to the term, “Grinder” that is used frequently, especially in the “workout” world. It refers to that person who may not be especially talented, but just keeps working hard, pushing through, and refusing to quit. When it comes to the people I derive the most joy from coaching, I have to say it is probably the “grinders”. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy working with the gifted athletes also, but I probably can relate to the “grinders” a little better.

Another thing I have learned the hard way about work ethic is that it is not just about working hard but also, about working smart and doing the right work.

Let’s take the basic exercises of the squat, Deadlift, and bench as examples. I can work really hard and allow my back to round in order to get one last rep on a Squat or Deadlift or I can let my shoulders move into a bad position to get five more pounds on the bench. I’ve done this on so many occasions I can’t count them, but I promise you it is not smart and eventually, you will pay either with stagnation in training or worse, an injury.

Working smart goes for martial arts training also. Throwing a punch or kick with sloppy technique can cause damage to your joints. In Jiujitsu, this concept can apply to consistently not tapping (saying “Uncle” to get your opponent now to break your arm) to joint locks when you know you are caught, but your ego gets the better of you. It can also, apply to the unwillingness to open up your game in training in order to learn more.

Again, these are all things I am working on myself. It is my goal to continue to learn and pass on my knowledge and experience so that your hard work is both smart and right for helping you reach your intended goals.

Lastly, hard work and in particular hard physical training can become a vehicle by which you can tap into what Mark Divine of SealFit articulates so well as the Five Mountains. The Five Mountains are:

1. Physical
2. Mental
3. Emotional
4. Intuition/ Awareness
5. Kokoro (Warrior Spirit)

Our goal at Alliance is to help everyone who chooses to train with us and follow the Warrior Path to tap into and maximize these Five Mountains.

One of the ways (although certainly not the only way) to push yourself further is to participate in challenges or competitions.

My first Jiu-Jitsu instructor and founder of Alliance, Jacare, has always encouraged his students to compete. His reasoning was that you grow and learn so much faster by competing. I would say that his approach has been successful in that Alliance, the team he founded and the one we are a part of, has won 11 world championships including the last 9 in a row including 2016, last weekend.

Much of what is learned from competing or participating in a challenge occurs not just during the competition but during preparation and training for the competition. The point is that if you just enter a competition just for the experience of the competition but you do not do the proper training preparing for the competition, then, you are missing a big part of the learning and growing experience.

In summary:
1.  If you are short on physical attributes (and everyone is at some point if they continue to test themselves at higher and higher levels), being a “Grinder” and working harder than the competition can take you a long way.
2.  If you are a “Gifted” Athlete, (and I am proud that we do have a number of gifted athletes at Alliance) working harder will take you further and into realms that others can only dream about. Please do not take your God given talent and attributes lightly and do not waste them on not working hard.
3.  And finally, for both Grinders and the Gifted Athletes, the hard work that is put into challenges and competitions can certainly provide a lift up the Five Mountains to Self-Actualization and Realization!

Embrace The Grind

May 23rd, 2016


Warrior creeds have been around for many years and act as a code of conduct and inspiration.  The Warrior Ethos help define these warriors, although different words have been used by the Samurai, Spartans, Marines, and other Special Operation forces around the world.

The Navy SEALs have a code which is as follows:

The SEAL Code
Loyalty to Country, Team, and Teammate
Serve with Honor and Integrity On and Off the Battlefield
Ready to Lead, Ready to Follow, Never Quit
Take Responsibility for your actions and the actions of your teammates
Excel as Warriors through Discipline and Innovation
Train for War, Fight to Win, Defeat our Nation’s Innovation
Earn your Trident everyday

We have our own code for Alliance which will help define our core values.

The first value of the Alliance Code is honesty.  This  applies to being honest with others but, just as importantly, being honest with yourself.  In the past, you may have heard me quote Bruce Lee saying, “Being truthful with yourself is one of the hardest things to do.”.  I wholeheartedly agree with his assessment.

What I have begun to realize is that we all rationalize why we do what we do.  This rationalizing is just part of human nature, hard wired in our DNA.  It is very critical for our personal growth that we are aware of this desire to rationalize.  It is also a reason setting goals and having a strong “Why” are important.  Without the direction derived from having meaningful goals and a strong “Why”, we can fall into the trap of making excuses to ourselves and others for our actions.

I am guilty of  self-deception, as much as anyone.

For example, during the Kokoro Camp last year, I went through a period of time when I began to rationalize why I should quit.  My hips were killing me and I was barely able to pick my feet up when trying to run.  I felt that that I was slowing everyone else down on the runs.  While going through this self-dialogue, I would never admit that I was considering quitting because it was too hard, but rather that I may need to pull out because I was diminishing the experience for others! How was that for self-rationalization. And, if my “Why” had not been strong enough, I would have given into this rationalization for quitting.
We  make these rationalizations on a daily basis.  They can sound something like this,” it won’t hurt me to eat that desert, have that drink, skip that workout, or take it easy today.”. Sometimes these statements can be true. However, what is important, is that we are aware of this tendency and that we critically look as this potential self deception to insure that we continue to move towards our goals and continue to become the person we want to be.

My challenge to you is to take a look at what you are doing on a daily basis and be honest with yourself about the decisions you make.  Ask yourself the simple question, ” Are my actions congruent with my goals and the person I want to be?”. If your answer is consistently yes, then you know you are headed in the right direction.

Commit, Show Up, Don’t Quit, Be Uncommon,