November 28, 2012
My team got me this.
An early Christmas present for ‘Ol Coach Ben. Just in time for the AO too. If you’re interested in watching the livestream, I’ll post a link. I lift on Friday. CC lifts on Sunday.
November 26, 2012
If you’ve read through some of my earlier posts, then you know that I’m a big fan of traditional storytelling. As a matter of fact, that’s one of the reasons that I love lifting weights, ALL OF THE GREAT STORIES! This story is one of my favorites. Told to me by one of my first coaches, it continues to guide me as I form an identity with a team of my own. The story itself is very simple. And it was told to me well over 5 years ago, so you will have to forgive me for giving you the annotated “Ben Claridad” version.
I now present to you, “Yamdancers.”
Your first question might be, “what exactly is a Yamdancer?” Well, you won’t find them anywhere; not one trace indicates their existence aside from the lesson provided by their example. The Yamdancers were an ancient tribe, one of the first to implement agriculture. As you might’ve guessed, their sole crop, their diet, their entire existence was firmly tied to the growth of the yam. They ate it. They traded it. Children would play “kick the yam.” There seemed to be no end to the utility provided by this single crop. As with most early patriarchal tribes, there was one leader: a shaman. And it was he who led the tribe in their most sacred tradition, “The Yamdance.” Every year before the rainy season, the Shaman would gather the tribe at the field and they would dance the Yamdance. The rains would come. The yams would grow. As the tribe grew, so did the Yamdance celebration. It eventually became a week long ordeal, complete with dancing, praying to the rain god, drinking fermented yam liquor (is that even possible?) and all of the debauchery that would naturally accompany such a celebration. And every year the rains would come and the yams would grow.
Then one year an outsider joined the tribe. A fool. He began polluting the minds of the tribe with ideas about “science.” He explained to the tribe weather patterns and climate. He explained to them how foolish they looked dancing the Yamdance and how the rains would come no matter what. At first no one listened to this heresy. But the outsider persisted. The more “science” he explained, the more it started to take ‘ahold. People began doubting the shaman. And when the time came for the next celebration, no one danced. The rains came, just as the outsider said they would. But no yams would grow and the tribe starved to death. No more Yamdancers.
But what lessons can be learned from the Yamdancers? Well, let’s start off with why they died. With the information given within the context of the story, one could easily determine that the Yamdance was, in fact, necessary. A widely accepted explanation for why the crops didn’t grow is that the Yamdance served multiple functions unknown to the shaman and his tribe. As they danced, they turned the soil, thus making it fertile enough for yams to grow (you can tell I’m not a farmer, but just suspend disbelief with me). Did the shaman know that the tribe must till the land for the yams to grow? No. Like I said, they were among the first societies to discover agriculture. They were still figuring out the whole process. But they had a process and it worked; that is, until an outsider introduced different ideas into the tribe. Yes, the outsider was correct, but so was the shaman.
This is a story about ideology. Your tribe, your team, must buy into your ideology if you want to grow yams . . . or in my case, weightlifters. In a sport like weightlifting where there are hundreds of different ideas on how to reach the same goal, ideology becomes very important. This concept can be applied to anything: teaching progressions, coaching cues or even training environment. Make sure that you perpetuate your ideology to your team. If your training system is snatch, clean and jerk and front squat to maximum every day, DO IT. Dance your yamdance. Till the land. Watch your yams grow.
Are you the coach of a team? What is your training ideology? If not, and you’re just training yourself, who’s ideology do you buy into (if any)?
November 24, 2012
Love that song.
CC and I are headed to Palm Springs next week for the AO. Should be a good meet. Yamdancer story coming up as well.
November 20, 2012
I’ve worked with several coaches during the course of my weightlifting career, all of which provided a unique experience for me while developing in the sport. Through their collective knowledge, I’ve forged my own opinion, a perspective that I’m now sharing with athletes that I’m proud to call my own. It is my hope to guide these people through all the lessons and hardships and satisfaction that weightlifting has given me. I am still green. In fact, I’d say that my team teaches me more than I’ll ever teach them. But together we are growing and maybe one day, my voice will be one of many that helps guide their athletes through the process that is Olympic weightlifting. I can still remember the first day that I trained with Paul. I say “with” instead of “under” because I was never really one of his athletes. I was older; a college kid whom he would allow to come train with his younger prospects. I didn’t mind. Working out with him was the first time I was able to see how a serious competitive lifter trained. I learned pace, rhythm, the innate frustration built into the sport and the hard work needed to overcome. I made the most gains in that concrete room with an aluminum bench. I learned the most lessons as well.
I called Paul on his cell phone, signaling him to come unlock the chain link fence surrounding the premises. It went to voicemail three times before he finally answered and came out to let me in along with my motorized scooter. Yes, I rode a little Honda moped at the time. I was a trim 102kg (I was still wrestling) but still far too heavy to be riding on such a ridiculous machine. We had only met a few times before. I was a wrestling coach at the school he worked at and had seen him lifting and coaching at local weightlifting meets. He glared at me through his prescription sunglasses as I took off my oversized helmet and gave him a fat “Wazzup!” He said nothing; gave me the cool guy head nod as we made our way to the weight room. A few steps more and he finally asks, “So what are you doing today?” Relieved to have the ice finally broken, I begin filling him in on how much laundry had to be done and how I was really stressed about the upcoming chemistry exam and about- -“BRO! I don’t give a FUCK about your personal life! What’s on the workout?” At that moment our friendship had been sealed. I would come in. We would train. I would learn by example. But the greatest lesson wasn’t really a lesson at all. It was a story; an economics story at that. Years later, the story guides me more than ever. And I’ll do my best to re-tell my version of it for you.
(Stay tuned for pt. 2).
November 19, 2012
I’m sure a lot of you have seen this already. I’ll post it just in case.
You might recognize Coach Z, resident coach at the OTC.
November 12, 2012
When I was a kid, my dad would say “you’re not fat. You’re husky.” I weighed in at a husky 123kg yesterday. PR! I’m fine with it. I feel pretty good about myself and it’s honestly not that hard for me to drop weight once I get motivated to do it. I was in Monrovia this weekend for the Master’s American Open. Then I got home and decided that I wanted to compete. Drove to SF and had a pretty decent day of lifting.
November 7, 2012
Man, what a week. It’s been a pretty hectic few days. I don’t even know where to begin.
My team had a great showing at The Golden West Open. HERE is a link to the results. Check out how many people I brought. ROLLIN’ DEEP!
I, however, did NOT have a good day of lifting. It was a long day of coaching. I had a total of 8 lifters I was handling (including one member of the Sac State team). I had at least one lifter in every session with FOUR lifters in the session directly before mine. I literally went from watching CC’s 3rd attempt clean and jerk to being 15 out on the platform. Not a recipe for success. I’m OK though. Wasn’t the first meet I’ve bombed out in and it won’t be my last.
This was still a pretty huge meet for me from a coaching standpoint. This is the first meet where I brought most of THE CREW. It’s not just CC and I showing up to meets anymore. We got A CREW. To tell you the truth, I was way in over my head. We wouldn’t have been able to pull it off without S acting as assistant coach and counting attempts.
Also. I’ll be traveling to So-Cal this weekend for the Master’s American Open. I have one lifter competing and will be coaching one other from the area. I’ve never been to a master’s meet before and am excited to see what it’s all about.
One last thing. I set 3 goals in 2011:
- Snatch 150.
- Clean and jerk 180.
- Squat 250.
I got that 250 squat today. Better late than never.
November 3, 2012
HERE is the link for the livestream coverage of the PL meet taking place at my home gym this weekend.
Meanwhile, we’ll be in Redding for our meet.
November 2, 2012
Got a PR this morning.
I’m not trying to be dramatic or anything, but this Sunday is probably going to be my most significant day of 2012. The team is travelling to Redding this weekend where I will be coaching 8, COUNT ‘EM, EIGHT lifters through their lifts. Then I’m going to try and qualify for the 105+ A session at the American open. Yes, the most I’ve snatched in training lately is 135. But I just decided that I should compete this week which has really forced me to get my head out of my ass and start PULLING so I don’t embarrass myself. I also owe a lot to Alex “The General” Lee for pushing me past my comfort zone.
But like I said, I’m not trying to be dramatic. I’m just really excited is all.
Do you see those bleachers being built on the platform in the background of the video. That’s for the powerlifting meet that my gym/Team Supertraining is hosting this weekend. There are going to be some MONSTERS lifting. I mean, goddamn. There are some MONSTERS walking around my gym right now. I saw a dude with 19 inch forearms. NINETEEN INCHES of forearm. I’m fairly certain that the meet will be livestreamed. I’ll post a link tomorrow.