Sunday, May 22, 2016

Return from Exile...

...Enter Phase 3 of Integral Strength

     It has been too long since last I published an entry here at Integral Strength—the end of February to be precise.  Before that, I think things were rolling along.  I always tried to publish quality material, not just from myself, but from my son, and from Jared "JD" Smith.  And I think the last year has seen some of the best material since I first started this blog—primarily as an outlet for my writings that many of the magazines wouldn't touch—perhaps some of the most informative training articles you will find anywhere on the internet.
     But something happened to me a few days after our last entry, at the beginning of March: I was rushed to the emergency room.  I had lost all control of my arms, my legs, and my ability to speak. As I was being transported to the hospital in the ambulance, I thought I was going to lose consciousness.  And I thought, if I did, then my life had come to its end.
     I was prepared to die.
     I have regrets, sure, but my life is not my own.   It belongs to the God beyond all being and knowing—He may do with me as He pleases, and if He chose for that day to be my last, then so be it.
     But apparently He has other plans.
     Slowly, at the emergency room, I began to regain feeling in my extremities, and my ability to speak.
     I left the emergency room about 10 hours later.  The doctors were confounded as to what had happened to me, but they were pretty sure that I wasn't about to die in the next 24 hours.

     My E.R. visit was not a complete shock to me at the time.  What you don't know is that, over the last year or two, I have had many episodes of extreme pain, severe lethargy, and severe spasms in my arms and legs.  It has made lifting weights difficult at times, not to mention even basic things, such as getting ready for work in the morning, or doing my work once I arrive at my office.  It has affected my life and my family.
     The good news is that, after my E.R. scare, I was sent to a neurologist (I was sent to every damn sort of doctor you can imagine, to be honest, but that's besides this point) who has deduced that I have some sort of severe neurological disorder.  They are continuing to do tests.
     In the meantime, they have finally put me on a neurological drug that works — it has almost completely changed my life the past week.  I have been lifting weights harder this week than in the last two years.  I have also been training my sons hard in The Way of the Empty Hand—traditional full-contact Karate-Do, to be precise.  In the weeks before this week, I could instruct, but I could not truly teach (and by "teach", I mean whooping their asses in kumite).
     All of this is not to whine or "bitch and moan" about my health recently, it is simply to tell you that Integral Strength is ready to get back on its feet, and, hopefully, better than ever!

     I vision what you are about to witness is what I would call "Phase 3" of Integral Strength.  "Phase 1" included all of the stuff I wrote when I first started the blog.  There was plenty of good training pieces at the time, but I also wrote stuff dealing with more "New-Agey" or Buddhist stuff (not all of which is "bad", I might add, especially the more training-centric pieces).  "Phase 2" was after I had taken almost a year off from writing, and had converted to Orthodox Christianity in the meantime.  When I returned to writing, Phase 2 focused on some traditional philosophical writings, but it also focused on primarily serious, hardcore strength-training and bodybuilding.
     "Phase 3" will continue the work of "Phase 2", but with even more "hardcore" training pieces, geared toward the powerlifter, strongman athlete, the older strength athlete who still wants to move some serious iron, and just the average weight lifter who takes what he or she does seriously.  In addition to the serious training, the other pieces will be ones focused on real martial arts training—traditional full-contact karate-do for the most part.  Also, I will consider writing philosophical pieces that deal directly with power training or budo.

I hope you will enjoy what's coming.  Look for the next piece within a few days.  Until then, train hard, and stay strong.


  1. Glad to hear you better again! All the best to you and your family!

  2. Thank you, Mike, for the kind words.

  3. Have you considered neurological lyme disease?

  4. Yes, that is something that the neurologist has considered. I have another appointment tomorrow, and we will see. I have a friend who has that disease, and it's amazing how similar the symptoms are.

    Thank you for the advice - and for thinking about me.

  5. Hey Sloan-
    All I can say is....."WOW". Sounds like life shaping episode. I know your roughly the same age as I, and while not old in any sense. Im at a point where ive realized that I have more days behind me than lay ahead of me.

    If nothing else it helps (at least partially) crystallize priorities. Glad you seem to be on the road to finding answers.

    All is well here in paradise, training is solid but hampered but shoulder and elbow pain (tried to learn the snatch---pretty sure at 46 the mobility isnt there). Also lately ive really had trouble sticking to any set routine. Haven't missed a session and ive had great workouts. But lately I want to do whatever I feel like that day. (High reps, low reps, bands, chains, block and defici work etc---you get the idea)...looking forward to the next stage of IS!

  6. Jason, man, honestly I don't think there's anything wrong with having "whatever I feel like that day" workouts. I do that a lot myself. It's not something I specifically recommend on this blog - for the most part - but I think it's fine for "seasoned" lifters (I don't want to call us "old").

    Learning the snatch without shoulder mobility can be quite a challenge. Just drop it altogether, or start with something VERY light - such as a broom stick - and go up from there.

    1. Jason,

      I must add one thing that I should have originally: I absolutely LOVE the power snatch. I think when done correctly—and regularly—it can shape your physique in dramatic ways and give you that "yoked" look that a lot of guys don't have.

      I don't recommend it (or hardly at all) in workouts on this blog for one reason: most people don't know how to do it properly, and, if not performed correctly, it can cause severe shoulder damage (if not immediately, then later in life). All you have to do is look at some videos on YouTube of CrossFit trainees doing high-rep power snatches. They will pay for the god-awful form—not to mention the high reps—years later when they are our age.

      But, yes, if performed with perfect form, they are a VERY good exercise.

  7. Long time reader but I never bothered to post until now. This post really hit home for me as I have been experiencing some health issues of my own as well as having my father pass from stage 4 cancer in the past few months. Glad to hear that you are finding some relief; I think I speak for quite a few others when I say that we truly appreciate your work

  8. Eric,
    Thank you for your kind words. May your father's memory be eternal. I pray that your health issues get better, and I hope that you will continue to benefit from future posts here at I.S.

  9. Sloan,

    Glad you are getting your neurologic issues worked out. Neuro stuff, as you know and are learning, takes time. I missed your posts. Glad you are back. Take care of yourself and I'll be praying for you.


    1. Lee,
      Thank you for your kind words. It's nice to know that one's missed when he's away for a while.

  10. Replies
    1. Robert,
      Thank you. I'm glad to be back!


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