Wednesday, September 29, 2010

"Get Your Technique Every Rep"

In 1981, Gary Heisey was 6'7" and weighed 198 in his mid 20s. In 1992, he deadlifted 925 pounds weighing 358, the 7th highest deadlift of all time. He states at 4:25 of this video on going for a PR deadlift after the fatigue of squatting and benching in a meet:

"The hardest part is keeping your form...If you train it in the gym to get your technique every rep, every rep during every set, it's a lot easier to focus..."

World Games gold medalist Mike Tuchscherer, who has deadlifted 826 in the 275 lb. weight class, similarly notes at 3:10 of a recent squat training video:

"From the time that you approach the bar from the time that you put the bar back into the rack, every movement is important, and everything has to be efficient."

And as Ernie Frantz put it in two of his "commandments" from The Ten Commandments of Powerlifting:
  • "Act like your light lifts are heavy, so your heavy lifts will feel light."
  • "Concentration separates the good from the best."

Saturday, September 18, 2010

James Toback on Spiritual Integrity

I recently re-watched parts of the documentary The Outsider, about the filmmaker James Toback. I find his movies to be hit or miss--or more precisely hit and miss in the same movie. The scene in Fingers between Harvey Keitel and Lenny Montana is a brilliant example of when he hits.

At one point in the documentary, Toback discusses the importance of defending oneself in relation to a scene from Bugsy (which he wrote) where the protagonist confronts someone who has stolen from him. Toback remarks:

"I think it's cowardly and weak and very bad for the soul to allow oneself to be violated. Directors who allow themselves to be bullied into doing what they know is dishonest and untrue cinematically--that is directly connected to in one's personal life allowing oneself to be violated...It ceases to be a practical consideration. It is one of personal honor, and that may be an outmoded concept. I think there are scores that must be settled, and I think people who make excuses for their own allowance of being violated do tremendous damage to their own spiritual integrity. They cannot in honesty feel good about themselves knowing that they allowed some vile scumbag to harm them or harm someone they cared about."

I think there's a lot of truth there.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Wyatt Earp's Judaic Temperament

I really like Lawrence Kasdan's 1994 film, Wyatt Earp, which I was watching again recently. In one scene, Earp orients Bat and Ed Masterson to law enforcement in Dodge City, Kansas. He asks them to disarm two drunks walking on the thoroughfare in violation of the city ordinance on carrying firearms. Ed engages them in prolonged conversation before Earp intervenes definitively. He comments:

"You talk too much, Ed."

This wasn't about a mere difference in style. It's revealed moments later that one of the men was reaching for a pocket pistol. In other words, Ed's excessive speech endangered himself and his peers.

Earp's approach might seem aloof or hostile in a logorrheic society. In fact, his comment to Ed Masterson has a strong Biblical foundation. Consider the holy words of King Solomon:
  • "In an abundance of words, offense will not be lacking, but one who restrains his lips is wise" (Proverbs 10:19).
  • "One who is sparing with his words knows knowledge, and a man with a spirit of understanding speaks sparingly" (Proverbs 17:27).
  • "Be not rash with your mouth..." (Ecclesiastes 5:1).
The ArtScroll edition of Proverbs notes regarding the second verse, "The Vilna Gaon understands the verse to refer to a person who values not only his speech but his thoughts, and doesn't waste them on worthless topics."

Excessive, idle talk is all about ego and arrogance--the antithesis of humility prescribed so often in the Torah. As the sage Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi summed up the matter:

"If a word is worth a coin, then silence is worth two."