By Bill Fox
One of the most important things I learned on my way to a Masters degree in Philosophy was the “type/token” distinction. Think of it this way. A Ford 150 and a Dodge Ram are tokens of the same thing, big American pickups (forgive me Ford vs. Dodge nuts!). It could be argued, on the other hand, that a Prius and a Ferrari are two different types of things altogether. Yes, they’re both cars, but at some point everything is a “thing,” so it is fair to say these are two different types of things. They both have four wheels, but one is about efficient transportation, the other is about beauty, history and power.
When I first discovered Pavel in the ’90s, I was already many years into my training and martial arts journey. I had read everything I could on training for sports, martial arts and strength. Pavel offered a different type of thing altogether. Although Pavel is one of few strength coaches who always gives credit to his sources—and there are lots of them since Pavel reads widely—once Pavel synthesizes this information, adds his insight and molds it into his own template, it becomes a different type of thing altogether. A Ferrari among a sea of Priuses and pickups.
The effect on my training has been profound. I can simply never buy a program that’s too complex now—because I know PTP, ETK and other similarly simple plans work better. I can never buy a plan that hurts you and makes you tired—because I know you can be strong and flexible and fresh. I can always check out something new, because there are many ways to skin the cat and you never know where you can cull one little gem that will spark your training forward. I’m a beat up old ex-martial artist now, with two sons under five, who travels almost every week for work. So you know what I can really never buy: excuses for not training. Real reasons (injury, disability)—of course, but excuses—no way, comrade.
Understanding Pavel’s principles has allowed me to tailor my training to the ever-shifting realities of being a parent, husband and boss. When you understand how to use tension to leverage your whole body to do every drill, you know you don’t need 15 drills to train your whole body. When you have the discipline to eat correctly, you don’t need to run on a treadmill like a hamster to be lean and hard. When you understand how to really train hard, then you don’t need to train 2 hours a day.
My training is mostly very simple—floor presses, curls, goblet squats. Whenever I’m home I do a finisher set of at least 100 two-hand swings with a 32kg kettlebell. I tend to train in little micro compensation cycles based around my travel. I generally travel a few days a week and I’ve found training 3-5 days straight and then resting when I travel really works well. My typical schedule (completely random, changes every week):
Sat—heavy bag training/also serves as warm up (strikes and weapons), floor presses
Sun—Goblet squats, curls, 2 hand heavy KB swings as finisher
Wed—back home, same as Sat
Thursday—same as Sunday before travel
Sat—same as Sun
Sun—same as Sat
Mon, Tues, Wed—round trip from Philly to San Fran and back (3 days off to recover from 4 out of 5 straight days)
And so on… with intensity/sets/weight always waved up and down for non-linear progression.
It’s been over a decade since I first discovered Pavel. I’ve had the opportunity to be taught by him, train Navy SEALs with him, and most importantly spend a little time with him outside of all that. I’ve continued to read, experiment and play with different training ideas and methods, but always wind up back at the source.
I have a bookcase in my basement with 200+ martial arts and training books. But no book can match the experience of training with Pavel. Pavel has richly earned the opportunity to develop and broaden his ideas and audience through the StrongFirst platform. Pay attention, it’s a different type of thing altogether.