QUICK START GUIDE
Read this entire article top to bottom: even if you’ve walked the TACFIT path before, many new layers and features have been embedded to prepare you for the full Tactical Gymnastics system.
- Go to TacticalGift.com
- Download the “Field Manual” & associated intructional videos at TacticalGift.com
- Study instructional and demonstration videos.
- Print out the scoresheet.
Get going! If you cannot complete an exercise with good form, drop down to the regression and continue. (If you can’t finish with a regression, then you’ve done your job. Take a break, and fight again another day.)
It couldn’t be simpler. Everything has been laid out for you day by day. All you need to do is fill in the blanks... and sweat, of course.
No, this isn’t some attempt to attach an incendiary term like Spartan to a workout in order to appear hardcore. This challenge acts as much as an opportunity and offer to our warriors, as it does act as a correction to the combative conditioning inaccuracies of the original “300 Challenge” inspired by the motion picture, “300.”
I’m here not to toot my horn nor blow smoke up the asses of real action guys and gals. I’ve fought at an international level in 5 different martial arts and won gold in each. I consult federal law enforcement and military agencies and contract for the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security. I serve those who serve and protect our communities.
So, I ain’t here to solicit contracts. I’m here to clear up some inaccuracies, and set the record straight on how research and experience has shown fitness to affect tactical readiness.
The original “300 Challenge” used to train the actors for the movie involved a specific protocol of completing 300 repetitions of specific movements as fast as possible (AFAP). Now, I’m not going to tell you that you need to stop your Physical Exam Batteries, quit practicing your 1.5 mile run, stop your sit ups, push ups and pull ups. (Actually, in the future, I’ll show you techniques and tricks to ace the exam, or better... annihilate them.) Doing exercise AFAP definitely helps you. But power, output over time, isn’t the primary consideration for tactical gymnastics.
Combative engagements are characterized not by sustained tempo, but by repeated collisions and retranslations with periods of brief recovery and reorientation. The late USAF Colonel John Boyd described this as a “loop” of Observing the threat, Orienting upon an opportunity, Deciding what to how to respond to the op, and Acting out that strategy (OODA). If you truly want to be “fit” for “tac” then you need to include protocols which focus upon:
- Moving through waves of intensity from 100mph to a dead stop and then back to 100.
- Moving the body through multiple planes (retranslating).
- Recovering as fast and fully as possible during the brief respites.
- Visualizing the goal clearly before and during performance (how smooth of an operator are you in your technique: are you king or crap?)
DEFINING TACTICAL GYMNASTICS
TIME is the most critical ingredient here. How do we perform repeatedly over time? Time is the top of the pyramid of importance, because it renders the needed energy system of the activity. For tactical fitness, we need the ability to perform at intense task, rapidly recover and retranslate to another intense task. After we establish the appropriate timeframe, then we can select the skills necessary to enhance the mechanics of our discipline. When we understand the mechanics, only then can we choose the tools: the chains of tension, or movements, and the type of tools to elicit those chains of tension. (See the model right)
For the Spartan Challenge, you’ll be performing the EMOTM protocol for the timeframe. I’ll describe that in a moment. Next, I want to describe what it means to recover.
Recovery is a known term, though frequently neglected activity. All your progress, growth and results happen during the recovery periods between your workouts; never during them. So, for all your hardchargers out there, if you’re not taking the time to recover, you not only aren’t getting better, you’re getting worse. Each time you exercise without recovery, you’re destroying the body, not building it.
Nutrition is king for recovery between workouts and missions. But that’s not the recovery we’re discussing now.; let’s call that recuperation. Recovery regards how to RESET between “collisions” - between rounds, sets, reps and even within an exercise repetition itself (how to recover one part of your body while the other continues in a different movement.)
To reset between bouts requires switching the nervous system from accelerator (the sympathetic) to the brake (the parasympathetic). To recover rapidly you must:
- Stop moving around, to avoid keeping your foot on the accelerator;
- On mid-foot, with your body completely relax, chug your body up and down by bending at the knees and hips. We tend to hop on ball of foot and do this, but that keeps the posterior chain tight. Midfoot keeps the calves relaxed and allows us to “vibrate” the residual muscle tone of the prior exertion. Tension only relaxes when you send it the frequency of its tension, like a tuning fork. The faster you return to full, resting length of a tissue, the quicker you’ll have maximal power output again for the next collision.
- Find your heart rate and a clock (if possible), because you need to create a bridge from the controllable (your voluntary nervous system) to the uncontrollable (autonomic nervous system).
- Exhale long, slow and deep into the belly through the mouth, for the longer, slower and deeper you exhale, the quicker your heart rate drops under the radar (heart rate maximum) of excessive arousal. The lower your heart rate, the faster you return complex and fine motor skills to function. If you train only at high intensity, then under stress,that’s what you’ll be conditioned to do; and at high stress >145BPM, you lose fine and complex motor skills. Who recovers fastest wins!
If you want your exercise to be tactical fitness, then it must regard this formula: how fast can you recover from high intensity output. That’s your litmus test. Not how big, strong or fast you are. Those are great attributes. But if you can’t recover from the first impact, from surprise, error, or the unknown, then bigger, faster, stronger isn’t better. Only better is better.
Tactical Gymnastics Protocol: Each Minute on the Minute (EMOTM)
The Spartan Challenge uses the Each Minute on the Minute (EMOTM) protocol, one of the six in the TACFIT “Metabolic Wave” which cascades through various energies so that you can maximize recovery. Power output is critical, but secondary to how fast and fully you can recover from putting out power. This is the essence of TACFIT and the Tactical Gymnastics system.
Everything internal and external will attempt to distract you from this marathon. When you have a job of this caliber to do, both mental and physical stamina will be required. Depend upon pace. Find the tempo which allows you to complete all 10 repetitions smoothly in 30-40 seconds. This gives you a minimum of 20 seconds to recover before the next round.
To recover, stand up, shake out your arms, legs, and even your face. Big explosive exhales, or sighs. These are “survival” breaths, and teach the body to switch immediately to the opposite side of the nervous system: the parasympethetic, which turns off the sympathetic, the one responsible for the 4Fs (fight, flight, feast or reproduction).
Don’t try to space out the repetitions across the full minute. You won’t make it. Having a few seconds here and there doesn’t give you quality recovery. You have to trick your mind into realizing that faster you go, the better quality recovery you’ll have (if you keep good form.) Go as fast as your form can hold it.
You will face three challenges: the Dive Roll, the Base Switch and the Tadpole Sprawl, in the full version, with regressions available for each challenge: the Crawl Roll, the Birddog and the Mountain Cimber. Record each round that you complete all 10 repetitions in 60 seconds. If you don’t complete all reps, then when the next minute begins, start over. You only get a point if you get all 10 in 60.
If you find that you’re hitting 2 consecutive rounds of incomplete repetitions and not scoring, then take a full 60 second break to recover and get back on track. Immediately jump up and find your heart rate. Start counting.
Exhale for the entire minute if possible while lowering your heart rate in the process. If you cannot exhale for the entire minute, then exhale out of the mouth squeezing your belly. Relax to allow a short, soft inhale through the nose. And return to your deep belly exhalation. The heart rate slows on exhale; increases on inhale. Since the goal of TACFIT as a system is to recover as fast as possible, focus on your exhale. You are only scored on the lowest level complexity level. For example, if you perform 2/2 reps of Dive Rolls, 2/2 reps of Base Switches, but only 2 reps of Mountain Climbers and not the full Tadpole Sprawls, then you don’t score the full round. The Spartan Challenge is all 10 reps at full complexity. But you can’t coast your way there. You’ve got to bridge the gap. Perform the regression if you can’t keep good form and continue with the full rep. You’ll get there next time or the one following. When going through Hell, keep going. Just keep using the appropriate skill. To “Defeat the Beast” you need to score 30 points in 30 minutes of the full complexity levels.
Remember to perform an effective warm-up to prepare the joints and muscles for work, and an effective cool-down to compensate for the tension you’ve created and release it before you leave your training field.
The following pages will give you visuals on the challenges involved in the Spartan Challenge.
TACFIT Spartan Challenge Exercises:
Dive Roll Exercise
Dive Roll Step 1: Begin standing, then dive forward to ball of foot as you reach out.
Dive Roll Step 2: Choose one forearm to roll over. The forearm rotates like a conveyor belt to protect your head and neck. Keep the elbow and hand in one line. Both feet and hands should
leave the ground to differentiate the dive from a crouch roll.
Dive Roll Step 3: Move your head to the side of the palm planted post. Begin with pinky outward (away from feet). As you roll, pull with the rotating forearm so the thumb rotates upward and eventually over (away from feet).
Dive Roll Step 4: Exhale as you round midback. Completely miss your neck and shoulder, by pulling the roll to first make contact with forearm, and then the shoulder blade. Bring knees to chest as you rock down your spine back to the original position.
Dive Roll Step 5: Tuck the leg that was originally forward under, until the shin is flat, to stand back for the next repetition on the opposite forearm. Continue your momentum forward until establishing a lunge position. Push back off the front leg to a standing position for the next repetition.
Base Switch Exercise
Base Switch Step 1: Begin in quad squat position.
Base Switch Step 2: Lift one arm as you prepare to sit through with the opposite leg.
Base Switch Step 3: Exhale and sit lifted knee through between posting foot and hand.
Base Switch Step 4: Keep elbow tucked and sit all the way under until both feet are flat to ground. Only then extend lifted elbow into crab position.
Base Switch Step 5: Lift the hand and foot opposite of the starting position. Tuck the lifted foot underneath between posting hand and foot and return to quad squat position.
Tadpole Sprawl Exercise
Tadpole Sprawl Step 1: From a flat foot squat, exhale and lead forward into hands and feet position, knees to outside of elbows.
Tadpole Sprawl Step 2: Exhale and kick feet straight backward while keeping elbows bent, belly tight, and glutes strong.
Tadpole Sprawl Step 3: Lean forward with your chest toward the ground to take the weight off of your feet. Begin outwardly rotating your feet, dropping your heels to the ground.
Tadpole Sprawl Step 4: Exhale completely as you contact the ground with your chest, bell and hips. Inside of feet touch the ground. Press your upper body upward with the inside of your knees and heels touching the ground. Do not bend at the lower back.
Tadpole Sprawl Step 5: Contract your knees outward and upward until on your shins and eventually back to original position flat foot squat. Once you re-establish a flat foot position, only then return to a standing position to begin the next repetition.
This article was featured in the June/July 2011 Issue of the My Mad Methods Magazine. "TACFIT SPARTAN CHALLENGE Tactical Gymnastics" was written by Scott Sonnon. Learn more about the My Mad Methods Magazine by Clicking Here
Scott Sonnon overcame childhood physical and learning disabilities to become the USA National Team Coach and International Martial Arts Champion (in Sambo, Sanshou, Submission Grappling, Sport Jiujitsu, and amateur Mixed Martial Arts), Scott Sonnon earned the Honorable Master of Sport. Author of numerous books and over a hundred videos, Scott now travels the world teaching for esteemed academies such as the NYPD Academy, FLETC, 3/160th SOAR, FILEX, NSCA, CPTN, the Arnold Expo, Penn State, Wake and Glasgow Universities. Find out more.
|< Prev||Next >|