The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter


Monday, March 22, 2010

TacFit Commando Review

I was in a hot tub recently, discussing politics with a hard right-winger who basically took the position that almost all government functions should be taken over by private industry and that the "engines of competition" would protect us. Clearly, he felt that those who run companies are of higher ethics and intelligence and intent than those working for government at any level. I would put such a comment on the exact same trash heap as a Leftie who tried to convince me that government was better at almost anything than private industry. I gave him multiple chances to adjust his position, but that really did seem to be it. I have no idea where this stuff comes from, other than a Calvinist sense that God loves the rich. The opposite would be that God loves the poor (he made so many of them!). Arrgh.

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Look, I can't help but be happy about what happened yesterday, for a raft of reasons. But my biggest is that my mother might still be alive if she hadn't been terrified to go to the hospital for tests until it was far too late. People who talk about the Emergency room as health care collaborated in killing her, the back of my head says. I try to tell it to shut up. The friend without health insurance who was on the verge of whoring herself --or committing suicide--out of sheer despair she wouldn't have felt right across the border in Canada is safer today. But I won't gloat. There is too much to be done before we get our life spans, infant mortality rates and cost per capita back to a civilized level.

##

I've been asked to review TacFit Commando, and will do it. There are few real reviews on the web: most of them are re-postings of a single semi-promotional article, and while I don't disagree with most of what it says, it ain't really a review.

Let me make it clear: I am hardly unbiased. Since first meeting Scott eight years ago, I've been a cheerleader. I participated in the pre-launch portion of TacFit, during which I had a financial interest in its success. I have no such interest now, and feel better about talking about it on this blog.

First, what it is: TacFit Commando is a download-only three-month program, a refinement of his "TacFit" program which was designed to provide wide-spectrum fitness to First-Responder type units. Using a variety of fun but simple equipment, it looked like great fun, very efficient. I only tried it once, several years ago when I visited Scott up in Bellingham. Sharp, smart, fun, functional.

TacFit Commando seems to take everything Scott did with TacFit, and modifies it so that:

1) It requires no equipment

2) It requires virtually no space (the area covered by a Yoga mat, basically)

3) All the motions are components of the core motions used by first responders, police departments, SpecOps, martial artists (both striking and grappling).

4)The motions increase in complexity rather than merely adding reps, weight, or speed. This is a very good thing.

I didn't get into TacFit too much, so I am going to talk about TC in comparison with Scott's other programs. It is the first time my buddy has put the entire package together properly. For years I've been begging him to collect his Body-Flow, Intu-Flow, and other ideas into a single package that teaches you how to apply it in your workouts. Rmax's curse was the same as its glory: there is simply so much depth that it is hard to know where to start. Scott was creating product at such a high level, and he himself is such an evolved athlete (arguably the overall fittest human being I've ever met) that he can forget what it is like to be a mere mortal.

Not this time.

So you plop down your money, and get the downloads of the PDFs ("Mission Calendars" overall instructions, instructional videos, warmup and cooldown videos, and three months of instructions at three different levels of difficulty.)

You sort it out in iTunes, put it on your iPhone or computer, burn it to DVD, read it over. Now you're ready to start.

What do you get? Three cycles of 4X7 (a "wave" pattern cycling seven times through a four-day pattern:

Day 1) Zero stress (joint mobility, Tai Chi like exercise)

Day 2) Low Stress (Yoga)

Day 3) Medium Stress (progressive resistence)

Day 4) High Stress (extreme endurance or all-out effort)

You can add additional recovery work, or recovery days, but not more "Medium" or "High" stress days--recovery is build into this program, and it is turn-key...just follow it.

So day one, you do 20 minutes of joint rotations. Nice. Day two, you perform a little joint rotation, and eighteen yoga exercises. Again, about twenty minutes.

Day Three, you will perform six minutes of joint warm-ups, followed by about thirty minutes of the "moderate" level, followed by six minutes of Cool-down (which could conceivably be spread over the day)

Day Four you will do the same as day three, only push harder during the exercises.

The exercises themselves are fascinating, and in many cases you've never seen anything like them. Here are some thoughts about how they are designed...and I can't spot everything that is there, and won't talk about everything that I spot. I'm sick of people ripping Scott off.

1) Tabata. You are working for twenty seconds, followed by ten seconds of rest. Eight sets for each of six exercises.

2) "Reset". Between each major exercise set you are performing a very specific exercise to increase speed of recovery.

3) 6DOF. Each set of six exercises takes your body through all planes of motion, meaning that even if you did them without warm-up and cool-down (not recommended) your body feels remarkably as if you've stretched, rather than feeling bound-up. Beautiful.

4) Core Centric. The core is the most important aspect of your body to work. TC trashes your midsection beautifully.

5) Scalable. The whole thing is laid out so carefully, that you could do one rep of each exercise in each set, and progress by adding one rep per day. No, not one rep per exercise--one rep per day per set of six. That is a VERY slow progression, and falls within the realm of "learning how to do it" rather than "making your body stronger." This is a very very good thing, making the lowest level available to almost anyone who can walk or push up off a couch, while the upper levels are...well, they're superhuman. Designed to keep top-level SpecOps Warriors at their best. Scarey.

6) Staggeringly complete. Strength. Hypertrophy. Speed. Agility. Balance. Flexibility. Power. Muscular endurance. Cardio Endurance. I can't think of a single major aspect of fitness this program doesn't address, in cascades of overlapping adaptation. Hell, he even figured out how to create a PULLING motion without equipment. Mind-blowing. I really didn't think it was possible. If you get to the end of this, you are one of the fittest human beings God ever let live, I kid you not.

7) No two workouts will be exactly the same. You can literally adjust your workout mid-workout, depending on your subjective impression of fatigue, form, and pain. Designed to teach you an intuitive understanding of your body under stress. A lovely cure for Sensory Motor Amnesia.

8) The motions are tactically specific. In a martial art? You'll swear Scott was peeking over your shoulder, heard your plea for a portable program specific to your art, and made this. Bizarre. But you can feel the ground-connection, body-wave, rotary-force, hip-shoulder connection, guard position, plyometric upper/lower work...this was created by a professional fighter who thinks like a yogi.

9) Flow-Centric. Because of the spontaneous scalability, you can stay within the "Pain below a three, form above an eight" formula that allows us to sink into Flow.

10) Dynamic Flexibility. Flexibility produced through static stretching (yoga) is not optimal for sports or martial motion, which is dynamic. But this is all dynamic range of motion: extending the body at balanced angles, while fatigued, while changing rotary directions, etc. Which means that the range of motion is real. You won't throw your back out reaching for a can of peas, and you're working the component pieces of your reverse punch or rear-leg round kick...without actually practicing the techniques. It is generative rather than specific.

The result? Wow. I just got through the first 28 day cycle, starting on the second, which has a new series of exercises. The "Scorpion Push-up" is just Ninja, dude. I tingled for two days after completing it, a feeling I almost never get without actually attending a good MA class. This is VERY serious fitness, kind of startling in its No-B.S. approach, while maintaining a level of variation and creativity that engages the mind as well as the body. This is a real 21st-Century approach, based on real understanding of the human body-mind. This ain't Tae Bo (which I enjoyed). It ain't endless sets of Hindu Pushups and Squats (which is still superior to most of what passes for "fitness".) It ain't machines. I still love kettlebells, but am putting them aside for three months to test this program completely. My 58-year old body just LOVES this. I added extra rest days and then jumped back in...and in four weeks I no longer had to do that. I attended my first Bikram Yoga in a month (been too damned busy) and sailed through it.

I want to say this carefully, with acknowledgment that I tend to have enthusiasms, and have my own serious limitations and preferences. With those caveats, I'll say, bluntly, that at this moment, TacFit Commando is the program I've been looking for my entire life, putting everything right in one place. After I've been through the first 3-month cycle, I'll doubtless start experimenting and changing things around, adding in components. But this is gold, the real deal, and Jo Bob absolutely says: Check it out...if you're ready to move to the next level. If you do this, you WILL change. Don't bother if you aren't serious. For what it's worth, I stake my reputation that if you can outgrow this program, you are prepared to excel at any physical challenge you care to address. If this becomes the standard, future fitness programs will be a new breed, yoga rediscovered and reinterpreted to a level of efficiency that would produce the kind of martial artists commonly found only in fiction.

Average workout? About 30 minutes a day. In emergencies, as little as an hour a WEEK for world-class fitness. No equipment. No space. Can't touch this. Scott, compadre...you done better than good. You did it RIGHT.

25 comments:

Scott said...

"I have no idea where this stuff comes from..."

Comes from the idea that people are worse in groups, and tend to get worse as the groups get bigger and more powerful. Current Maximum Bad is governments; even small poor ones are more powerful than great big rich multinationals.

I don't insist it's true; and there are nuances like governments insisting they have the right to shoot nursing mothers in the face (Ruby Ridge) or burn children alive (Waco); anyone declaring a monopoly on violence is self-declaring tyranny, the correct response is to guillotine him. The 2nd Amendment isn't about self-defense from muggers....

Dan Moran said...

"with acknowledgment that I tend to have enthusiasms"

One of the things I most admire in people generally, and in you in particular. People who know everything are bores.

Anonymous said...

"I won't gloat. There is too much to be done before we get our life spans, infant mortality rates and cost per capita back to a civilized level."

Those are reasonable things to desire. The problem that I have with Obamacare is that I don't believe that it's going to achieve those things. What I do expect is that it'll leave our national health statistics unchanged while stagnating innovation and causing either higher prices or outright shortages of medical care -- as government rationing of energy did for gasoline in the late 1970s.

Megan McArdle's reviewed the cheerier predictions of Obamacare's effects, and made some counter-predictions of her own. Obviously, it'd be good if she was proven wrong by future events. The reason I've opposed Obamacare is that I don't believe she will be proven wrong.

As for "gloat": come on. If you're really right about how glorious Obama and Obamacare are, it'll be good for everybody. If you're really wrong, all the "we won!" spirit in the world won't help you (or me). This is not about whose high-school clique is the coolest in school; it's about what really works in the national politics and macroeconomics of 300 million human beings. If those of us who you've "beaten" are right, then the temptation to gloat may go away very quickly indeed.


--Erich Schwarz

Ethiopian_Infidel said...

"Current Maximum Bad is governments; even small poor ones are more powerful than great big rich multinationals."

I find Conservatives who view federal powers as incipient Stalinism and Liberals who fear everything corporate as a quasi-Fascist conspiracy both exceedingly stupid and tedious. I.G. Farben burned vastly more babies in its Nazi ovens than died when rabid Christan cultists took on the USA at Waco. Statists are tared by the legacies of the Gulags and Killing Fields; Corporatists must answer for the endless wars munitions makers fueled, centuries of slaving, as well as the numerous Fascist tyrannies, Nazism included, that were supported to defend monied interests. For myself, I hate nor love neither CEO's nor Heads of State. I'm passionate about enacting specific policies pertaining to human rights, sexual freedoms, advancing science and Atheism. Whatever powers corporate or federal will enact such, I support.

AF1 said...

It's always enjoyable to read the blog when you get enthusiastic about workout or martial arts topics.

At least for me, that's what brought me here in the first place. More so than the usual political stuff.

Ethiopian_Infidel said...

Whenever someone clams disinterest in politics, that line from an old Athenian statesman comes to mind:

"Just because you take no interest in politics, doesn't mean politics takes no interest in you"

-Pericles

Steven Barnes said...

I'm not saying "Obamacare" )which is an odd name, considering how disgusted Leftists are that he wouldn't specify what he wanted for so long) is "glorious." I'm saying it is a vital first step: get the ball rolling. The role models are very clear, but there was no way in hell to get directly to single payer. It's going to take some zig-zagging, but at least we're in the game now. And the results, when we get there, seem very clear and statistically provable.

Steven Barnes said...

Oh! Also, I wanted to be clear that I got my copy of TacFit Commando free. Steve Perry nudged me.

Pagan Topologist said...

Ethiopian_Infidel, I heard Ralph Nader once say "If you don't turn on to politics, politics will turn on you."

Anonymous said...

Thought you might find this interesting:
http://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S26/91/22K07/

Peter said...

Steve, can you address what the differences are between TacFit Commando, and the regular TacFit? I do have access to some equipment, including KBs, pullup bar, sandbags, and am not averse to making or acquiring CBs, PVC bars, medicine balls, etc.

Also, if you could comment on how it compares to CrossFit.

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Anonymous said...

I'm in the same boat at Peter. I currently do Crossfit (which I love), and then I saw some of the movements on youtube that Scott was doing in TACFIT commando and I was very intrigued. Does anyone know how TACFIT Commando compares to CrossFit?

Also, what is the true value difference between TACFIT Commando and TACFIT? I have some KBs and a pullup bar and can make the rest. Is it worth all the extra money to do TACFIT vs TACFIT Commando? Especially since I am already doing CrossFit. Mostly, I think I just would need to learn those intriguing bodyweight movements. What do you think?

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