Monday, December 17, 2012

Shots Fired: an Excerpt from Locked On

The following is an excerpt from chapter 2 of Locked On: Focused Training for the Modern Warrior. I've been getting non-stop feedback about the book and am very humbled by what I'm hearing. The praise and constructive criticism are keeping me motivated, focused and determined to train harder and share as many experiences as possible!
If you haven't seen it already, you can find information on the book and also download the first chapter for free right here to see if it's something you might enjoy. If you like reading the blog and have any interest in training or violent fight stories I think you might like it.

This particular chapter focuses on achieving clarity in chaos and how to simulate that in your training. If you address it in your training and reflect on your results, you'll almost go into a combative auto-pilot when in crisis mode. When there's no time for thought, you'll perform what has always worked best for you. How you train is how you fight.

And enough of me explaining! Here it is...

Chapter 2

“The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.”
-Lao Tzu

January, 2005
Montreal, Canada
The night had turned into chaos. I was working as private security for a group of people visiting the city on vacation. Or so I thought. It turns out, “security” to them meant that they would attack anyone they didn’t like and expect me to finish the job. They only let me bring one guy from my team of usual co-workers and paired us up with some eye-lowering psychopaths. I remember my only thought when meeting them: “thank God they’re on our side.”
On paper, the job was to go to a show in a small venue where they had reserved a balcony VIP area. My only job was to shadow one of the big shots in the group. Each member of this group had a security person assigned to them. The in-house security would handle the exits and make sure we weren’t disturbed. My hopes were for an uneventful night of drinking a little of their champagne and looking mean. I realized right away that I wasn’t going to get the easy gig I had hoped for. I broke my own sacred rule of freelance security: don’t take a client without references. I had no idea who these guys were and took the job anyway. Stupid. From coat-check to the bar, a distance of maybe 20 feet, I had to diffuse FOUR near-conflicts! Not a good sign…
When we got to the closed-off private section, I felt a little relieved that they were separated from the rest of the crowd. I figured if I could keep them contained we should be fine. I tipped all the waitresses and busboys generously to make sure that the ice stayed frozen, the drinks came regularly and, most importantly, that any unused glass objects be removed frequently (a trick from my sensei who had helped me prep for that job, thanks again Kevin!). A few bottles later and all my precautions would be thrown out the window. Fights among themselves started to erupt, which prompted the venue’s security team to intervene, which made the other “security” gorillas jump in and, of course, also meant that we had to fix the whole situation. Lots of restraining and verbal de-escalation and the next few hours would have random flare ups like this, but nothing more. That’s when things really got crazy. Someone in the general crowd had pulled a gun and the performer on stage saw it. In a panic, he yelled “Gun!” into the microphone while getting rushed off the stage by his bodyguards.
The crowd started to go crazy, naturally, as everyone was scrambling for the exit. I told everyone to stay in the VIP area because there was only one way in and we could guard it until things cooled down. Somehow, they took that as confirmation that we were invincible in our fortress and that they should start throwing empty glass bottles at the crowd from our balcony. Our other security partners had run out the second things got hairy and I could see them fighting with the bouncers who had been in our area earlier. Good job, guys. The next day, the news would report that there were “shots fired” at that show, but at the time I had told everyone to stay low without knowing for sure if there was any shooting going on. I knew that there was a chance and, even if there wasn’t, it kept them from throwing things at the crowd.
Suddenly, crystal clear focus came to me and I realized that I didn’t care about this contract anymore. All I knew then was that I was going to get home that night, get my friend home that night and not get shot. These were the only sure things in my life at that moment. I peeked out of the door and saw an angry mob heading toward our section. Who could blame them? Realizing that we were grossly outnumbered, I started scanning the crowd for those other two idiots, who were supposed to be security also. I found them, getting the shit stomped out of them by a large group of bouncers who decided that was more important than helping the crowd. Past them I saw a door. It was an emergency exit in a dark corner that no one seemed to realize was there. That was also my ticket home. I pointed it out to my partner and told him to run for it, grabbed the person I was shadowing (my partner grabbed his also) and ran for the door holding my client’s head like a football. The angry crowd had caught up to us by then and so it took some punching and elbowing to get through, but I knew if I could just keep moving forward I could get out. I hate winter, but I’ll never forget the moment of pure relief when that cold winter air hit my lungs and I knew I was safe. I even let myself think that my night was over for a moment there. So close…
After doing a quick head count we realized that we didn’t all make it out. I told them that there was no way I was going back for the other two nut jobs and that there was no hope for them now. My client then informed me that his little brother was still in there and that he was just a fifteen year old kid. They had been bribing the bouncers all night to let him stay and he was somewhere inside. I knew that I wanted to go home that night, but I realized that that kid probably did too. I’ll never know why I went back in but I did. Our emergency exit was locked from the outside so I had to go around the building, back through the front door and head first back into the riot with no idea of where this kid would be.
When I got back in, I immediately looked up at the balcony that we were in earlier, but there was no one there. The place was going insane and I felt like a fish swimming against a strong current. Every ounce of my being wanted to turn around and leave, but my focus had changed and I really wanted to get that kid out of there. Punching and elbowing through the crowd, some new faces and some familiar, I somehow spotted who I was looking for. By pure luck I just happened to look at the stage and saw him there, pinned against the front of the stage, frozen in terror. Poor guy. At this point I was covered in cuts and bruises and my shirt was ripped, but there wasn’t a scratch on the young man I came back for. I worked my way toward him, ducking flying bottles and unseen things whizzing past my head and made contact with him. He looked at me with watery and vacant eyes and I simply asked him if he wanted to get out of there and he just nodded slowly. At least he was somewhat with me. He was going to have some post-traumatic stress from this for sure, but the important thing was that he was going to be ok. I hoped.
(Ironically, this event would lead to my own experience with some post-traumatic stress, when I would later learn more details about the night)
After being chased around by my many unhappy followers, we made it out for a second time. There was a lot of ducking things in the air and using human bodies to push through congestion points, but we were home free. I found a nearby strip club to bring the tourists to, collected my pay and went home. I obviously never worked for those sociopaths again and never found out what happened to the hired help that had been with us but I did find out that that performer would never come back to my city after that night. I would meditate and reflect on the moment that I knew I was going to be ok for a long time after that night. I had never experienced anything like it. There was a clarity in the middle of my panic, I saw myself lying down in my bed and reverse-engineered the events of the night to make sure it ended that way. I knew what I wanted and an action plan formed itself, seemingly on its own. Some focus, determination and a little dumb luck and we were all safe.
Years later, celebrating my close friend’s return from Afghanistan over beers, I would be telling him this story, laughing about how crazy people can be in a crisis. He stopped me when I told him that I had to duck flying objects and loud whizzing sounds in the air. He explained to me that those could have been bullets. I laughed into my beer and he, with an uncharacteristically serious face, told me that when a bullet passes within three feet of your head you hear a loud whizzing sound. He told me that he had heard that sound overseas a number of times and that I described it exactly how he remembered it. We both drank quietly for a long time after that. I didn’t sleep for weeks. Instead, during those sleepless nights, I would meditate on whether or not I would have been able to stay so focused if I really understood the implications of the threat. I’ll never know for sure, but you can bet that I still meditate on this regularly. Stay sharp, stay alert, stay alive. 

And there you have it. This chapter was carefully selected based on the kind of feedback I've been getting about the book. There are much worse stories and many more training tactics included, but I thought I would share this one in particular as readers have said that they appreciate the insight of what it felt like to be in a violent crisis. 

Please feel free to share your thoughts. Feedback, both good and bad, is always appreciated! If you have any questions feel free to message me here, on Facebook, on Twitter, via email or any other way you might know.

Oh, and one last thing, if you haven't already make sure you sign up for our newsletter! If you have then you would have had this article much earlier, along with exclusive extras and newsletter-only discounts on upcoming products (and a free ebook)! You can get more info on this right here:

Jordan Bill
Fight or Die

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Birthday Belly Experiment

I was at a party, a week before my 30th birthday, catching up with an old friend and it was something he said that gave me a strange idea. I had been working hard on losing weight, improving my body fat percentage and building muscle and was a little worried about my upcoming cake day. Moving my dietary "cheat day" would only help the situation, but with scattered dinners and social gatherings with friends and family it was clear that I would be breaking in my 30s with some caloric damage control. Then my friend told me about his trip to Mexico and how great it was. He told me about the great food and parties and how he gained 7 pounds in the week he was there, but didn't feel bad because he was on vacation and it was planned. That's when it occurred to me that the most frustrating part of dieting and losing weight is when there is seemingly no reason behind good or bad changes. If I removed the surprise element, I could allow myself a weekend of guilt-free binge eating and calorie drinking. This is, of course, the kind of reasoning behind any failure in dieting so there would have to be a catch.

"7 pounds in a week? That's impressive." I said to him.
"Yeah and I think I can lose it all in the same amount of time. Hitting the gym like crazy." he replied.

There it was. Four days of guiltless festivities, on the condition that I could lose it all in that same time frame. Not an easy task. I prepared an action plan later that night.

In preparation, I spent that entire week eating light and training a lot. I kept my metabolism high through high protein meals, four or five times a day. I was tracking my measurements and caloric intake, but to spare you the boring stuff that isn't relevant to this experiment here are some important numbers on my "morning of" weigh-in:

Weight; 209 pounds
Body Fat Percentage: 14.7%

Not the best shape I've ever been in, but this is the jump-off for the celebrations. 96 hours later, after four amazing days shared with family, friends, feasts, cake and every kind of alcohol, the damage was right around what I thought it would be:

Weight: 215 pounds
Body Fat Percentage: 18.8%*

*Body Fat Percentage was calculated using online plug-ins. I entered my measurements and had them calculate it. The numbers above are the average of 3 different site, but judging by how much the sites varied from one another I doubt they are completely accurate. I posted them anyway for the sake of showing how much my body had changed.

So keep in mind that a 4% increase in body fat and 5 pounds is entirely from an increase in calories. I wouldn't be complaining if this was an increase in muscle, but 5 pounds of fat is usually a swelling of the face and belly. Not pretty. After my allotted time of pigging out, I put my plan into action. Here are the some of the changes that I made immediately that I believe had the most significant results:

-Daily food intake would be spread into 6 meals, 3 hours apart, between 100-500 calories, starting withing 30 minutes of waking up and ending within 30 minutes before bed.
-All dairy, red meat, sugars and "white carbs" would be demoted to "cheat day" only once again.
-Total fat intake would remain under 120g, while saturated fats under 20g (general guideline for me all the time).
-Cholesterol intake to stay under 200mg (some nutritionists say that 300mg is still safe, but that's to maintain weight, not necessarily to lose).
-Sodium intake to remain under 2500mg (proved to be most difficult, as high protein foods often have high sodium).
-Every meal to contain at least 20g of protein to keep metabolism high all day.
-1.5 liters of cold water within 30 minutes of waking up, then scattered all day. It's harder than you think when the water is cold and you just woke up. Keep a water bottle on you all day.
-Morning meal (within 30 minutes of waking up) and last meal should each contain no less than 30g of protein. This was probably the most significant change for me. Big results.

On wednesday morning, after a full 48 hours of doing this, my numbers were:

Weight: 206 pounds
Body Fat Percentage: 14.2%

In the race against myself, it took only 48 hours to get rid of my birthday binge pounds. I'm just sharing the info with you, not recommending that you try this or that you'll ever get the same results. Keep in mind that a contributing factor here is how lightly and healthy i was eating before the weekend. The caloric invasion during my four days of eating and drinking sent my metabolism into a frenzy, then met with an even healthier set of eating habits, therefore working much harder than usual. Typically, I get a small version of this every week when I celebrate my cheat day. This keeps my system working all the time, keeps my digestive enzymes active and my protein synthesis stimulated. It was an interesting experiment, but I would recommend being a little more reasonable with your diet.
Another factor to consider is that during my four days off, I wasn't training at all. As soon as I was back to eating healthy, I was hoisting some weights and rolling on the mats again. The numbers are always interesting but rarely ever tell the whole story.
What I've taken away from this is just how important my eating habits are. For those that read my previous article about eating healthy, if you've experienced results from those habits listed, I also encourage you to incorporate the ones I've listed here right away. You should experience some changes within a few days! Interesting side note, eating six meals a day will increase your sex drive. Do with that what you will.

Make sure to leave a comment below, I'd love to get your feedback or similar stories!
Also (last thing I promise) make sure you send a blank email to to subscribe to our news letter and stay updated on training, seminars, videos and general fight news! Go now and receive "Best of Scrap Blog" as a digital ebook for free! Thanks!

Jordan Bill
Fight or Die