Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual - Jocko Willink

Summary

This book is divided into two sections, 'Thoughts' and ‘Actions’, which are essentially as they sound.  ‘Thoughts’ covers Jocko’s mindset and thinking on topics ranging from stress to procrastination to eating.  ‘Actions’ covers more concrete thoughts and instructions on things like sleep, diet, working out, martial arts training, and more.

High Level Thoughts

There’s no doubt Jocko is a hugely accomplished, terrifying-in-a-good way guy.  He’s clearly got his life very organized, and has a system for being successful in his life that works.

The good news about this book is he shares a lot of the methods and thinking behind his system, and that’s very useful.  Things like his workouts (see Appendix), his diet, and his fasting are concrete takeaways that you can implement right away.

His general principles for living life are also relatively simple.  Where the book lacks a little detail is how to get to those systems - often Jocko says things like “I do it anyway” or “I get it done”, which is a little thing on the details.  That said, his no-nonsense method of communicating these principles serves as a great motivator, and if you listen to him reading passages from the book (which I would recommend), it’s even better.

Overally, I’d recommend listening to Jocko read the book, and writing down your favourite quotes to serve as motivation for you.

Favourite Quotes

Here are some of my favourite quotes from the book, which I’ve been thinking about and using for motivation since reading:

"When do you start? You start right NOW. You initiate action. You GO.”

"Stop researching every aspect of it and reading all about it and debating the pros and cons of it … Start doing it.”

"It takes both emotion and logic to reach your maximum potential, to really give everything you have, to go beyond your limits. Because emotion and logic will both reach their limitations. And when one fails, you need to rely on the other.”

"YOU DON’T NEED TO EAT.”

"How do I handle those days when I’m just not “feeling it”? What do I do on those days? I GO ANYWAY. I GET IT DONE."

"Don’t count on motivation. Count on Discipline.”

"Power naps. They are real. If you are feeling tired they can be a lifesaver.”

And my favourite, which is the conclusion to the book:

“Don’t just read this book.

Don’t just listen to the podcast.

Don’t just watch videos online.

 

Don’t just take notes.

Don’t just study them.

Don’t just share them with your friends.

 

Don’t just plan.

Don’t just mark your calendar.

Don’t just “get motivated.”

 

Don’t just talk.

Don’t just think.

Don’t just dream.

No. None of that matters.

 

The only thing that matters is that you actually do.

SO: DO"

 

Detailed Notes

Part 1: Thoughts

OVERCOMING PROCRASTINATION: WHEN AND WHERE TO START

People want to know how to stop laziness. They want to know how to stop procrastination.

“When is the best time to start?” And I have a simple answer: HERE and NOW.

When do you start? You start right NOW. You initiate action. You GO.

YOU HAVE TO DO IT.

And you have to do it now. So stop thinking about it. Stop dreaming about it. Stop researching every aspect of it and reading all about it and debating the pros and cons of it … Start doing it. Take that first step and Make It Happen. GET AFTER IT. HERE and NOW.

THE PERSON YOU CAN CONTROL

The only person you can control is you. So focus on making yourself who you want you to be: Faster. Stronger. Smarter. More humble. Less ego. Discipline your body. Free your mind. Get up early, and go. Get after it and you will become the person you want to be. And you become that person through: One. Small. Decision. At. A. Time.

MIND CONTROL

You have control over your mind. You just have to assert it.

You have to decide that you are going to be in control, that you are going to do what YOU want to do. Weakness doesn’t get a vote. Laziness doesn’t get a vote. Sadness doesn’t get a vote.

So next time you are feeling weak or lazy or soft or emotional, tell those feelings they don’t get a vote. You are declaring martial law on your mind: MIND CONTROL. 

Impose what you want on your brain: DISCIPLINE. POWER. POSITIVITY. WILL. 

And use that Mind Control to move your life where you want it to be: stronger, faster, smarter, quicker, friendlier, more helpful, more driven. Don’t let your mind control you. Control your mind. And then you can: SET IT FREE.

WEAKNESS

I’m always fighting. I’m struggling and I’m scraping and kicking and clawing at those weaknesses — to change them. To stop them. Some days I win. But some days I don’t. But each and every day: I get back up and I move forward. With my fists clenched. Toward the battle. Toward the struggle. And I fight with everything I’ve got: To overcome those weaknesses and those shortfalls and those flaws as I strive to be just a little bit better today than I was yesterday …

STRESS

Humans can withstand almost inconceivable stress — and you can too. So that is your first step: Gain perspective. And to do that you must do something critical in many situations: Detach. 

Whatever problems or stress you are experiencing, detach from them. Stress is generally caused by what you can’t control.

If the stress is something that you can control and you are not, that is a lack of discipline and a lack of ownership. Get control of it. Impose your will to make it happen. Solve the problem. Relieve the stress. If the stress is something you can’t control: Embrace it.

You can’t control it, but —

How can you look at it from a different angle? How can you use it to your advantage?

So. Don’t fight stress. Embrace it. Turn it on itself. Use it to make yourself sharper and more alert. Use it to make you think and learn and get better and smarter and more effective.

DESTROYER MODE

Where does the switch come from? The overdrive. The berserker mode. The full - on destroyer that will not stop? I think this is something that is learned. And it is a hard lesson and not everyone gets it. And it is an important lesson. A critical one. It is the thing that allows you to go the extra distance.

And it actually takes two opposing forces to bring it to life. It takes both emotion and logic to reach your maximum potential, to really give everything you have, to go beyond your limits. Because emotion and logic will both reach their limitations. And when one fails, you need to rely on the other.

When it just doesn’t make any logical sense to go on, that’s when you use your emotion, your anger, your frustration, your fear, to push further, to push you to say one thing: I don’t stop. When your feelings are screaming that you have had enough, when you think you are going to break emotionally, override that emotion with concrete logic and willpower that says one thing: I don’t stop. Fight weak emotions with the power of logic; fight the weakness of logic with the power of emotion.

And in the balance of those two, you will find the strength and the tenacity and the guts to say to yourself: I. DON’T. STOP.

UNTIL THE END

It is never finished. You always have more to do. Another mission. Another task. Another goal. And the enemy is always watching. Waiting. Looking for that moment of weakness. Looking for you to exhale, set your weapon down, and close your eyes, even just for a moment. And that’s when they attack. So don’t be finished.

Be starting. Be alert. Be ready. Be attacking. BE RELENTLESS.

APPLICATION OF DISCIPLINE

Discipline starts with waking up early. It really does. But that is just the beginning; you absolutely have to apply it to things beyond waking up early. It is working out, every day, making yourself stronger and faster and more flexible and healthier. It is eating the right foods, to fuel your system correctly. It is disciplining your emotions, so you can make good decisions. It is about having the discipline to control your ego, so it doesn’t get out of hand and control you. It is about treating people the way you would want to be treated. It is about doing the tasks you don’t want to do, but you know will help you. Discipline is about facing your fears so you can conquer them. Discipline means taking the hard road — the uphill road.

To do what is right. For you and for others. So often, the easy path calls us: To be weak for that moment. To break down another time. To give in to desire and short - term gratification.

Discipline will not allow that. Discipline calls for strength and fortitude and WILL. It won’t accept weakness. It won’t tolerate a breakdown in will. Discipline can seem like your worst enemy. But in reality it is your best friend. It will take care of you like nothing else can.

QUESTIONS

Which questions should you ask? Simple: Question everything. Don’t accept anything as truth. QUESTION IT ALL.

Question yourself every day. Ask yourself: Who am I? What have I learned? What have I created? What forward progress have I made? Who have I helped? What am I doing to improve myself — today? To get better, faster, stronger, healthier, smarter?

Is this what I want to be? This? Is this all I’ve got — is this everything I can give? Is this going to be my life? Do I accept that?

FIGHT

Go down swinging. And I’ll tell you: If you fight with all you have, more often than not, you won’t go down at all. You will win. But you have to make that attitude a part of your everyday life. Do the extra repetition. Run the extra mile. Go the extra round. Make the right choices. Give the full measure.

COMPROMISE

When working with other people and dynamic situations and relationships and deals, a person, especially a leader, must compromise.

And in many cases, a failure to compromise is a failure to succeed. But those are external compromises, with other people, other humans that have their own personalities and ethos and issues. And compromise is needed to unify. So to work with them, compromise is a must.

But internally — it’s different. With myself, I have to hold the line. There are areas within myself where I CANNOT compromise. I am going to work hard. I am going to train hard. I am going to improve myself. I am not going to rest on my laurels. I am going to own my mistakes and confront them. I am going to face my demons. I’m not going to give up, or give out, or give in. I’m going to stand. I am going to maintain my self - discipline.

And on those points there will be No Compromise.

DEFAULT AGGRESSIVE

I view aggression as an internal character trait. A fire in your mind that says: I am going to win.

NATURE VS. NURTURE

What is more important: Nature or nurture? In my opinion: Neither.

The people who are successful decide they are going to be successful. They make that choice.

And they make other choices. They decide to study hard. They decide to work hard. They decide to be the first person to get to work and the last to go home. They decide they are going to take on the hard jobs. Take on the challenges. They decide they are going to lead when no one else will.

And I will tell you something else: It is never too late to make that choice.

So. Think not about what you’ve been through and where you were. Think about where you are going, and choose.

FEAR OF FAILURE

But: I don’t want you to overcome fear of failure. I want you to be afraid of failure.

But more important — I want you to be horrified — terrified — of sitting on the sidelines and doing nothing.

SUGARCOATED LIES

Unless you have gone an extended period of time without food, you don’t need to eat. And you definitely don’t need to eat that poison. YOU DON’T NEED TO EAT.

So. When those foods are tempting you, calling your name, and enticing you with their SUGARCOATED LIES — get angry. Get aggressive. Stand your ground in the battle and fight by saying NO.

BAD INSTINCTS

This is the instinct that says: YOU’VE HAD ENOUGH.

Destroy that instinct. Replace it with the instinct that says: GET UP. GO. FIGHT ON.

NOT FEELING IT

How do I handle those days when I’m just not “feeling it”?

What do I do on those days? I GO ANYWAY. I GET IT DONE.

Even if I am just going through the motions — I GO THROUGH THE MOTIONS.

Now — these could be signals that you need some time off — and those signals might be right. BUT — don’t take today off. Wait until tomorrow. Don’t give in to the immediate gratification that is whispering in your ear.

REGRET

And the most important thing to understand about regret is that in and of itself, regret is worthless. It does nothing for you. In fact: The only thing valuable in regret is the lesson you learned. The knowledge you gained.

FOCUS

I want that long-term goal to be so embedded in my mind, that I never lose sight of it. EVER.

Don’t do that. Embed that long - term goal in your mind. Burn it into your soul. Think about it, write about it, talk about it. Hang it up on your wall. But most important: Do something about it. Every day. Every day: Do something that moves you toward that goal — that keeps that goal alive and in sight and in focus.

HESITATION

HESITATION IS THE ENEMY.

To win, all you have to do is overcome that moment: The Waiting. The Hesitation. And to do that, all you have to do is: Go. Move. Take the action. Get out of bed. Get your feet on the ground. Step forward. Do not hesitate. Do not wait. Go forward: And win.

DRAW FIRE

But that’s what I say: Draw fire. Bring that pain to me — I can handle it when others cannot. When bad things are happening — I will be the one good thing — standing tall — that can be relied upon.

GOOD

How do I deal with setbacks, failures, delays, defeats, or other disasters? I actually have a fairly simple way of dealing with these situations, summed up in one word: “ Good. ”

Take that issue, take that setback, take that problem, and turn it into something good. Go forward. And, if you are part of a team, that attitude will spread throughout.

DEATH

Instead: Let us laugh and love and let us embrace and venerate everything that life is and every opportunity it gives us. Let us LIVE — for those WHO live no more. Let us live to honor them.

EVERY DAY

Today: I’m taking scalps. I’m putting the pressure on. I’m the aggressor. I’m on the attack.

But I will not Stop.

NO MORE

No more excuses. No more: “I’ll start tomorrow.” No more: “Just this once.” No more accepting the shortfalls of my own will. No more taking the easy road. No more bowing down to whatever unhealthy or unproductive thoughts float through my mind.

STAYING MOTIVATED

Motivation is fickle. It comes and goes. It is unreliable and when you are counting on motivation to get your goals accomplished — you will likely fall short.

Don’t count on motivation. Count on Discipline.

ME VERSUS ME

But my glory, it doesn’t happen in front of a crowd.

It happens in the darkness of the early morning. In solitude.

Where I try. And I try. And I try again. With everything I have, to be the best that I can possibly be.

Faster and stronger and smarter. And claim one victory that no one can ever take away from me. Ever. A victory that is earned every single day. A victory of determination and will and discipline. A victory achieved because: I will not stop.

REMAIN VIGILANT

Most of us aren’t defeated in one decisive battle.

We are defeated one tiny, seemingly insignificant surrender at a time that chips away at who we should really be.

No. It is a slow incremental process. It chips away at our will — it chips away at our discipline. We sleep in a little later. We miss a workout, then another.

You have to BE VIGILANT. You have to be ON GUARD. You have to HOLD THE LINE on the seemingly insignificant little things — things that shouldn’t matter — but that do.

FEAR

Don’t wait anymore. Don’t think anymore.

Don’t plan anymore. Don’t contemplate anymore. Don’t make any more excuses or justifications. Don’t rationalize anything else.

Instead: Be aggressive. Take action. Now. And the first action you need to take? The first step you need to take? The first step you need to take is just that: Step. Step. Go. Now.

THE DARKNESS

As long as you keep fighting — you win. Only surrender is defeat. Only quitting is the end.

OVERWHELMED

Yes. Life can be overwhelming.

Line up those problems and confront them — face them — fight them.

Instead, let these challenges raise you up — let them elevate you.

So in the future, you look back at these struggles and you say to them: Thank you — you made me better.

NEGATIVE TALK FROM NEGATIVE PEOPLE

What do you do about the negative person talking behind your back and trying to bring you down?

Ignore and outperform.

HOLD THE LINE

Live in defiance of the weakness and in rebellion against the decay.

Do not surrender any ground. EVER.

BEGIN

When the alarm sounds. IT IS TIME. Rise. Despite fatigue and soreness. Curse the warmth of the bed. Curse the comfort of the pillow. Fight the temptation of weakness. Get up and go.

Do it quickly, without thought. Do not reason with weakness. You cannot. You must only take action. Get up and GO.

ENGAGE

I fight against fatigue and soreness and the weakness that says: Give in. I will not give in. I will fight.

LAUGHTER WINS

To spite the suffering. To spite the hardships. To spite the challenges. Laugh at them all.

PART 2: ACTIONS PHYSICAL TRAINING: GETTING AFTER IT

STRESS: GOOD AND BAD

So you have to be careful not to stress the body and mind too much. But again: YOU MUST STRESS THE BODY AND MIND SOME IN ORDER TO IMPROVE.

WHEN? 

The biggest excuse not to work out is lack of time. Something always comes up. But there is one time of day that no can take away from you: predawn.

GET UP EARLY! This will be hard at first, but it will become normal. And once you are accustomed to it, early rising is guaranteed to make your day better. So GET AFTER IT.

PSYCHOLOGICAL EDGE

There are a slew of psychological advantages that come from early morning physical training. First, there is a psychological win over the enemy. Knowing that you are working harder than your adversaries gives you an advantage. It gives you confidence that you can overcome them in battle. Another advantage to waking up early and working out hard is that it demands discipline to do both.

Before you go to bed, plan what workout you are going to do in the morning. Stage your workout clothes so you don’t even have to think when you get up. Write down a list of things you need to accomplish the next day. Set your alarm clock for 4: 30 a.m. and go to sleep.

When the alarm clock goes off — get up. Put on your pre - staged clothes. Brush your teeth and go get your workout on. Hard. Get done, shower, get dressed, and begin to crush your list of tasks for the day.

When it is time for breakfast, see what happens. You won’t want to eat junk.

When you are on the path you want to stay on the path.

Discipline begets discipline. Will propagates MORE WILL.

SLEEP

Sleep is a necessity.  Humans need sleep. Failure to get enough sleep has serious side effects. But how much sleep is enough?  Different people need different amounts of sleep.

For me, the condition I’m in and the cleaner I eat, the more quickly I will fall asleep, and the less sleep I need.

And finally, I choose not to sleep in. I don’t give in to the temptation of the warm blankets and soft pillow. I mobilize the will to get me out of bed and into the game. Obviously, I am an advocate of waking up early. But, since sleep must be a priority to maintain health, how can we get enough sleep and still wake up early? The answer is simple: Go to bed earlier. Going to bed at 10 p.m. and waking up at 5 a.m. gets you a solid seven hours.

So, go to bed early, and wake up early. People constantly ask me for the secret of getting up early. I tell them it is simple: SET YOUR ALARM CLOCK AND GET OUT OF BED WHEN IT GOES OFF.

Get up and get going. And one thing that will help you do that is going to bed earlier, which can be at least as hard, if not harder, than waking up.

FALLING ASLEEP

Yes. It can be just as hard for some people to go to sleep early as it is to wake up—if not harder. So here are some steps to help that: 1. GET TIRED. 2. Turn off the computer. Turn off the smartphone. Stop checking social media and stop watching one more YouTube video. 3. Read. 4. Most important: The key to getting to sleep early is GETTING UP EARLY. No, it might not help you tonight but tomorrow night it will. 5. Do it every day. People ask me if I still get up early on the weekends. YES. For a bunch of reasons. Obviously, the weekend is only two days so I want to get up and take advantage of it. The other reason I wake up early on weekends is to keep my sleep pattern consistent. So: Don’t break the cycle. Get up early every day. If you need extra sleep, take a power nap.

POWER NAPS

Power naps. They are real. If you are feeling tired they can be a lifesaver. And if you are feeling tired due to lack of sleep, they can be very powerful. I have a technique for power naps that is a combination of two things I learned.

During those breaks, if I got the chance, I would lie down on the floor, put my feet up on my bed, set my alarm for six to eight minutes, and sleep. Of course, I was tired, so I would fall asleep very quickly, and when the alarm would go off, I would wake up and feel completely refreshed.

Warning: Be careful about letting your six- to eight-minute nap turn into a two-hour slumber. If you do this, you will have trouble falling asleep at night, which leads to trouble waking up in the morning.

THE WORKOUTS

And first of all—let me say this: The most important thing to do is SOMETHING. ANYTHING.

Once you begin doing something, it is a good idea to track it. Recording weights, repetitions, and times is useful. The records allow you to track progress. They can serve as goals. They also let you know when you are overtraining. But, it is important to pay attention to your state at the end of a workout. The more experienced you become at working out, the easier this is. You will know when to push. You will know that there are days to hold back. My workouts are divided into some broad types of movements: Pull, Push, Lift, Squat. In addition to those, the workouts focus working the “Gut” and metabolic conditioning (MetCon). For the purposes of this field manual, I have established three basic levels of exercises: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced.

To see the actual workouts, go to Appendix: The Workouts

Again, use the workouts as a guide. Learn about your own body. Push yourself. Most important: Be consistent. And consistency starts with GETTING IN THE GYM. If you are tired or sore or burned out, don’t just give up completely. Go to the gym and stretch. Move. Do some light exercises. But keep the routine in place. Too often, people take the day off. And that turns into two. And two into three. And then they have gone a week without getting in a good workout. SO. Maintain the routine. Maintain the discipline.

BUILDING THE HOME GYM

Once you have carved out some space, it is time to start getting equipment in place. Start with a pull-up bar.

Another useful and relatively cheap piece of equipment is gymnastic rings.

Next up is a squat rack, which should include a pull-up bar and some kind of dip bar attachment. With the squat rack, a barbell and weights are needed. Rubber bumper plates allow for dynamic lifts like the clean and jerk and the snatch. That’s it. That’s all you need. That basic setup should go a long way in achieving exceptional fitness.

That basic setup should go a long way in achieving exceptional fitness. Beyond that there are countless implements to include in your arsenal when time and budget allow. Kettlebells are probably the next addition, then a rowing machine and/or an air bike. A Glute-Ham Developer (GHD) is another piece of equipment that is definitely nice to have at home. Medicine balls, plyometric boxes, bands, chains, club bells, sledgehammers are also fun to use. But, while all those pieces of equipment are nice to have and can add some variety to training, none of them are really necessary, and although I have all those in my gym, I still most consistently use the basic equipment: pull-up bar, dip bars, rings, squat rack, and barbell with bumper plates.

MARTIAL ARTS

Everyone should train in martial arts, just as everyone should eat.

There are three broad forms of martial arts: grappling, striking, and weapons. Grappling uses leverage and holds to control or submit your opponent. Striking uses punches, kicks, knees, elbows, headbutts, and any other body parts to hit the opponent. Martial arts with weapons obviously utilize a variety of weapons, including sticks, knives, and, in the modern world, firearms. Perhaps the most critical form of self-defense is the mind. By being smart and aware, you can avoid situations that are likely to expose you to danger.

Of course, mishandled firearms are extremely dangerous and can cause serious injury and death to the owner or other innocent people if they are not handled with the four principles of firearm safety constantly in mind: 1. Treat every gun as if it is loaded. 2. Never point your gun at something you are not willing to destroy. 3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on target. 4. Always be sure of your target and what is behind it. Additionally, firearms should always be stored in a safe place where they cannot fall into the wrong hands. Most important, without proper training, possessing a firearm is useless, or even more dangerous to its owner than not having one. Learning how to shoot quickly and accurately while under stress is absolutely mandatory if one is going to own a firearm.

So, here are my recommendations on which martial arts to learn and how to proceed down the path of learning martial arts. Start with Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Our first form of self-defense is to get away—yes, run. If you are confronted by another person or a group of people, the best thing you can do is run away: avoid the conflict.

Another reason I recommend starting martial arts by learning Brazilian jiu-jitsu is because it is the most complex of the martial arts. Due to this unending depth in jiu-jitsu, it is also the most cerebral of the martial arts. It provides incredible mental stimulus and a never-ending challenge to learn, develop, and improve.

The next martial art I recommend learning is boxing. Boxing is an incredibly effective striking art despite its relative simplicity: There are only two weapons in boxing—the left hand and the right hand. But with those two weapons, an incredible advantage can be gained if you know how to throw them in effective combinations. Other critical elements learned in boxing are angles, movement (both of which are based heavily on footwork), and speed, which are utilized in both the offense and defense of boxing.

The next two martial arts to invest time into are Muay Thai and wrestling. They both add a plethora of options and skills to any fighter. Muay Thai adds a massive arsenal of striking options to a fighter. Where boxing utilizes only the fists, Muay Thai utilizes the fists, the elbows, the knees, and the shins in very aggressive combinations that are absolutely devastating in a fight. Muay Thai is also about pain and the ability to withstand pain.

Wrestling is a grappling art, perhaps the most widely known and practiced. It is an amazing sport for conditioning of both the mind and the body. The physical grind of wrestling hardens the body and mind without mercy. On top of the conditioning and mental toughness derived from wrestling, it is also king of position in martial arts—meaning a good wrestler can decide what position they will be in during a confrontation. No other martial art provides the practitioner a better ability to dictate the position of a fight with one simple idea: The main focus of wrestling is to get an opponent to the ground and keep them there.

In areas where there might not be any Brazilian jiu-jitsu schools, judo is the next best replacement.

There are other martial arts that can be good to look into such as Krav Maga and Systema, both of which focus on self-defense as its primary mission. Martial arts like Escrima and Kali from the Philippines, also known as Arnis, which focus on fighting with sticks and knives. Also, the Dog Brothers have pushed the limit in full-contact weapons sparring—and in that effort have garnered real-world knowledge beyond what was previously available. The list could go on and on. There is no reason to ever stop training and learning martial arts. Of course, it is good to be prepared to handle a self-defense situation, but the benefits of martial arts training go far beyond self-defense.

So train. Don’t think about it. Don’t take time to “get in shape” before you start. Just go start. The rest will come …

WHERE TO TRAIN

When picking a good jiu-jitsu academy, first things first: Find some schools that are in your immediate area. Proximity is important. The more convenient it is to get to training, the more often you will be able train.

Once you have identified some academies close by, go and pay a visit. The atmospheres in gyms can vary greatly. Some are very traditional, demand matching uniforms, bowing to instructors and to the mat, and are run in a very rigid manner. Other schools do not operate with that tradition. There is no bowing. A wide variety of uniforms can be seen on the mat.

Also, don’t just show up and watch. Bring your gear and participate. Evaluate the class. How was it taught? What was the attitude of the instructor and the other students? Talk to the students. What are their goals? Are their goals similar to yours? Was there much ego on the mat? Did anyone try to rip your head off? What about the instructor? Depending on where you live the instructor may or may not be a black belt. While a black belt instructor is optimal, some areas of the world just don’t have any. That’s okay. A brown belt or a purple belt can give great instruction as well. There can be some concern about the legitimacy of the lineage of the instructor as well. Luckily, the internet has solved most of that.

Also, with regard to the instructor, remember jiu-jitsu is not a religion and a jiu-jitsu instructor is not a god. So, while they deserve respect, just as any other person does, they should give respect as well—even to brand-new white belt students. Jiu-jitsu should not feel like a cult—at all. Bottom line, jiu-jitsu should be fun, friendly, and engaging. You should look forward to going to jiu-jitsu because you know you will get pushed mentally and physically. While jiu-jitsu will absolutely be humbling, tiring, and frustrating, if you don’t enjoy it, you are either letting your ego get in the way, or you are in the wrong school.

IMMEDIATE ACTION DRILLS: FACING A THREAT

Obviously, training is the best way to prepare to face threats. But there is a difference between a training scenario at the gym or at the range and a real confrontation on the street. How can you be ready for that? And how should you react? The first thing to do is train. Train hard. Train for worst-case scenarios. Train for things to go wrong by putting yourself in horrible training situations and finding your way out of them. The next most important concept is avoidance. Yes. Avoid the danger. Stay away from high-threat areas.

So it is important to maintain situational awareness at all times. Pay attention to your surroundings. Look at suspicious people. Look at unsuspicious people. What are they doing? Where are they going? What are they looking at? Assess. While you assess, think of contingencies. Where is your closest escape route? Where is the closest cover and concealment—“cover” being a place to shield you from bullets and “concealment” being a place to hide. 

If you are maintaining situational awareness, you should be very hard to surprise. If you sense something is going wrong or you sense a threat, proactively move away from it. Walk to the other side of the street. Accelerate your car. Walk out the door. Don’t wait for things to get worse. 

If you do get surprised and you are caught in a bad situation: ACT. 

If you can run away from an assailant, do it. If you can’t run because they have a hold on you, attack them. Put all your training to use as quickly and as violently as possible. As soon as you can break free, do it and run. 

If shooting starts, get down. Call the police at the first opportunity. If the shooting is single shots being fired at a slower pace, run immediately and keep running. If the shooting is rapid-fire, find some solid cover to get behind. Wait for a lull. When the lull comes, run—that may be your only chance. 

If you are trapped in a room with an active shooter outside, barricade yourself. If there is an ideal hiding place, hide. If not, prepare to attack them as soon as they enter the room. Get anyone in the room with you on board and ready to swarm the attacker.

BALANCE

Homeostasis is the tendency to move toward a state of balance.

So, the solution seems obvious: Stop eating carbohydrates - or at least minimize carbohydrate intake.

ADDICTED TO SUGAR

Sugar truly is addictive.

Stay strong. Get off the sugar train. Get off the addiction.  Stop eating sugar.

FUEL

When we eat grains, they are turned to sugar in our stomachs.  So, it is better to eat what we have evolved to eat - that is the diet of the Paleolithic man or caveman.  Here is what that diet consists of:

Eat these:

  • Beef (preferably grass-fed)
  • Poultry (preferably free-range)
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Nuts 
  • Vegetables
  • Fungi
  • Roots
  • Some dairy (full-fat butter, cream, yogurt, cheese)
  • Limited fruit

Do not eat these:

  • Grains
  • Potatoes
  • Refined salt
  • Refined sugar
  • Processed oils (margarine)
  • Legumes

Don’t follow the 80/20 rule.  Going cold turkey and HOLDING THE LINE is the best way to stay on track.

Once you have spent enough time staying 100% clean and you are adapted to that method of eating both mentally and physically, you can make some excursions to the dark side.  I have an occasional mint chocolate chip milkshake or some other delicious but not nutritious treat.  And I make sure I earn it beforehand with some serious, extreme physical activity.

I have some treats that make it easier to stay clean. I eat a couple squares of 80%+ dark chocolate dipped in coconut oil. I have a small glass of full cream with a little MCT oil and a dash of chocolate milk powder. Sometimes I’ll have whipped cream with nuts on it. If you are on a strict diet, each one of those treats will taste like the richest most satisfying dessert you have ever had.

Now, there are times during travel and work and life when the right foods simply are not available. In an airport or an office party or a restaurant where you are having a business meeting. My solution to that is very simple: Don’t eat. It’s called a fast, and it is actually very good for you.

FASTING

Often, not eating—fasting—is beneficial for you. Here are some of the physiological benefits that fasting appears to bring:

• Improves function of cells, genes, and hormones

• Induces loss of body fat

• Reduces risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes

• Reduces oxidative stress and inflammation

• Induces cell repair processes

• Increases brain-derived neurotrophic factors

• Increases levels of endorphins

• Induces detoxification process

There are also some psychological benefits that I find very real. First of all, fasting demands that you exercise your will.

I fast twenty-four hours fairly regularly.

I do seventy-two-hour fasts approximately every three months.

I drink water, some tea, maybe eat some sunflower seeds in the shell just to have something to chew on.

REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE: INJURY PREVENTION AND RECOVERY

STRETCHING

Stretching is an important part of being physically fit. It improves range of motion, helps in recovery, and also prevents injuries. There are a multitude of stretching routines out there from ancient forms of yoga to present-day innovations from people like Pavel Tsatsouline and programs like Kelly Starrett’s MobilityWOD. Explore those and find the stretches that work best for you. 

Some basic stretches that I find most useful are: kneeling hip flexor stretch, swimmer stretch, Cossack stretch, hip external rotation stretch, reverse sleeper stretch, couch stretch, downward dog, and the cow face pose.

You can also stretch during your warm-ups and your workouts by ensuring that you use a full range of motion during the exercises, especially during warm-up sets when doing slow repetitions. For instance, when doing a slow squat during warm-up, make sure it is not only slow but also makes it through the entire range of motion of the squat, perhaps even a little further than you might go when performing the exercise with weight.

Like anything else in health and fitness, stretching requires consistency, so figure out what movements are most beneficial for you. Don’t pick too many—stretching can be done in as little as ten to fifteen minutes. But it needs to be done, so make it part of your routine.

Then: Stick to your routine.

DEALING WITH INJURIES AND ILLNESS

My theory for overcoming injuries and illnesses is simple:

DO WHAT YOU CAN.”

Hurt your knee? Work your upper body. Work the good leg. Hurt your shoulder? Time to work on one-armed pull-ups and push-ups. Focus on your core and legs until your shoulder heals up.

Take advantage of physical injuries and sickness by doing something you don’t normally have time for. In other words: GET AFTER IT.

DO

Don’t just read this book.

Don’t just listen to the podcast.

Don’t just watch videos online.

 

Don’t just take notes.

Don’t just study them.

Don’t just share them with your friends.

 

Don’t just plan.

Don’t just mark your calendar.

Don’t just “get motivated.”

 

Don’t just talk.

Don’t just think.

Don’t just dream.

No. None of that matters.

 

The only thing that matters is that you actually do.

SO: DO