The following "Street Exams" are meant to show you the importance of everyday strength. They show you situations that require more strength than most people have – unless they develop it. "Strength for the Streets" focuses on helping you and your clients develop this kind of strength.
STREET EXAM #1: Avoiding disaster while climbing a cliff
At the U. S. Army's Sapper Leaders Course we were tasked with climbing a cliff with all of our combat gear. I was a pretty strong guy, but this was completely new.
Not being an experienced rock climber, I didn't have any idea how hard it would be; however, when the RIs (Ranger Instructors) told us to get moving, we did.
Finger and toe holds were about all we had to work off of, and they seemed to be harder to find the higher I went. Eventually, I couldn't find any more! I was stuck.
I looked around quickly, and felt my forearms cramping as I tried to hang on. Then it happened, I lost my grip and fell. Thank GOD I was attached to a safety line!
However, there I was hanging upside down, at a height where everything and everyone looked mighty small. Unable to get right-side-up, I was eventually hoisted to the top of the cliff by one of my Airborne buddies. I was glad Robby had the strength that he had! He was pulling me and all my gear by himself.
Static strength (isometric holds) can be instrumental in surviving a dangerous situation. Whether you are climbing a cliff or fighting a stronger opponent, this type of strength is a must!
STREET EXAM #2: Parking lot ambush
I was getting a cup of coffee with my brother pretty late one night at a little "greasy spoon" kind of place. It was a place where locals hung out.
A few seats down from us, an argument started and it soon erupted into a fight. It spilled out into the parking lot, and more people got involved.
We had gone out too, since we knew some of the people. My brother was a little bit ahead of me, moving fast.
As I passed the edge of the parking lot, a figure came out of the shadows slashing at me. Without thinking, my left arm circled up in a block and I intercepted my assailant's arm as it was coming down. I had a serious grip on his arm, and then I saw the blade.
For a split second, we were like statues, frozen in time. Thank GOD I was able to keep the blade from cutting me long enough for my brother to return and blind-side him with a powerful strike. The attack was over.
Grip strength allowed me to prevent his blade from slashing me, at least
long enough for help to arrive.
STREET EXAM #3: Swimming incident
At the Army’s Sapper Leaders Course, we had to complete a "helocasting" exercise. This drill involved dropping from a helicopter about 20 or more feet into a lake with all your gear, then swimming to shore.
No problem, right?
I hit the water hard, and a little bit on my side. The wind was just about knocked out of me, but I had to make it to shore as fast as I could.
I had no choice but to continue regardless of how I felt, and I made it just fine.
Survival isn't based on whether or not you feel your best. You might be hurt and still have to complete the task. If you cannot function under adverse, unpredictable conditions you probably won't survive.
Whether defending yourself, trying to rescue a drowning person, or handling some other
crisis, you may find yourself mentally and physically drained very quickly. Train yourself accordingly.
STREET EXAM #4: Two blows is all it takes
Many years ago, way before the UFC and MMA would become popular in America, the martial arts were making the transition from point matches to full-contact. It was an exciting (and painful) time in U.S. martial arts history. The rules were changing, if there were any rules. The same went for protective equipment. I had already competed on that day of competition, but I heard that one fighter did not have an opponent lined up yet, and volunteers weren't jumping at the chance to fight him. I had seen him fight quite a few times, and he was tough! So I stepped up to volunteer. Later I found out really well why no one wanted the match. I'll just use his initials, H. T., for now. H .T. was from Miami, and had a powerful physique, kind of like a small bull. Immediately after the match started, he drove a brutal, bare-knuckle, straight right punch right between my eyes. I probably looked like a cartoon character flying backwards through the air almost parallel to the ground. As I slowly got back on my feet, the referee told me my nose was broken, (it was bleeding up at the top between my eyes) but let me continue the fight. It was short-lived any way because H. T. landed a heel kick across the side of my head, and though I was somehow still conscious, it was over.
H. T. had only landed two fast, powerful, accurate blows. That was all he needed to use. Survival is often determined in a matter of seconds; much faster than most people would ever expect. Explosive force makes the difference.
STREET EXAM #5: Carjack
One of my clients, a practitioner of Uechi-Ryu, was driving to his air conditioning shop on the "South Side" of his city. This was not a real safe place for him to go to begin with, but that was where his business was located.
When he stopped at a red light, guy climbed in the passenger door of his truck and pulled out a gun. The guy told him to drive down several back streets, and then told him to stop.
Next the gunman ordered him to get in the back and lay down, but my client decided to fight. Though his assailant was maybe half his age, and armed, he knew there was no other way out.
As they fought in extremely close quarters, the gunman shoved the muzzle of the handgun against my client's chest and pulled the trigger.
The attacker had lost his edge and my client disarmed him, then the assailant ran from the scene.
Being able to apply high levels of strength from a very disadvantaged position is a vital skill to develop. Remaining clear-headed is also extremely important and, with decisive action, can be one of the keys to survival.
STREET EXAM #6: A single heavy lift to reach safety
I was stopped at an intersection of a poorly-lit street on my Harley Super Glide shortly before dawn.
Suddenly a car hit me from behind. The jolt threw me on the street and into the intersection. Though the crash was not life-threatening by itself, I now had to get my Harley back up on its wheels really fast. Traffic was coming and if I didn’t get out of the way before a speeding car hit me or my bike, I could be killed.
I lifted that heavy cycle up and got it moved to the side of the road in record time!
Minding your own business and obeying the laws does not mean that you are safe. Sometime the unexpected happens, and you must react instantly. The ability to pick up something very heavy, very quickly can be really important. It didn't matter how many repetitions I could do with a lighter weight at that time. One max effort "rep" was all that was needed.
Often, this ability is crucial in an emergency.
STREET EXAM #7: Another motorcycle incident
Here's another one for all the Harley riders out there. You've got to be strong to ride those things.
I was southbound on I-95, cruising about 70 mph at the beginning of an interstate trip. As I approached my exit, I slowed down a little and went in to the curve.
Suddenly, my handlebars were shaking violently as I struggled to keep the bike on the road. My front tire had gone flat.
Needless to say, I made it or I wouldn't be writing to you about it.
Reacting to sudden crises in a calm and controlled manner is crucial. Having the strength to hang on is imperative in many situations. Good balance and body control are also very important.
STREET EXAM #8: Attack dog and bad knee
My wife was taking a walk in our peaceful Florida neighborhood, we usually go together, but this time she was by herself.
Suddenly she heard some vicious barking and turned just in time to see a large Pit Bull had broken away from its owner and was headed straight for her.
The owner was yelling for the dog to come back, but it was of no use, the attack was on.
You should know that my wife is a very small, petite woman. She had not run in a long time, due to a previous knee injury and surgery. Years earlier, she had needed spinal surgery and had a metal rod in her back. This does not make for a world-class sprinter.
However, due to her medical conditions, she had been following my training program to strengthen her body and stabilize her joints as much as possible. She had done a lot of kettlebell training prior to this happening, plus other excellent resistance exercises.
She began to run and the owner got to the dog in time to very forcibly restrain it. Thank GOD!
If you have been injured, it is time to get cleared by your physician for a good resistance training program. Cardio training is not sufficient in itself. Even if you are not injured, you should learn about a variety of resistance exercises that can improve your speed and agility.