He Did Not Return From the Battle

Seconds after this iconic photo was taken in 1942, this young officer leading his men into assault, Alexey Yeremenko, was killed.

Alexey Yeremenko in battleGod rest in peace the strong souls of the warriors who gave their lives for a just cause, from the ruins of Stalingrad to the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan. We will never forget. For the living doing their duty today, here is a training tip.

Soldiers in BattleThe Russian Hockey Deadlift

A Marine in the middle of a firefight is not going to have the luxury of using OSHA’s guidelines—“Use your legs, not your back!”—when picking up a fallen comrade or moving heavy kit. The following exercise from the arsenal of Russian hockey players is supposed to condition one’s back against ergonomically unfriendly loading. This is what the late Dr. Mel Siff called “injury prevention by imperfection training.” It is a risky strategy and you could get hurt, but you chose to risk a lot more when you put on your country’s uniform.

Russian hockey deadlift

  1. Deadlift a light kettlebell with both hands.
  2. Then hinge your hips to the side and slowly lower it to one of your heels.
  3. Straighten out and twist to the other side.

2-3 sets of 15-20 reps are traditionally performed.

He Did Not Return From the Battle

I will finish this blog with a war song. Gone for over thirty years, Vladimir Visotsky remains my favorite singer. He stabbed with his lyrics and raw emotion. But you do not need to understand the words to appreciate that He Did Not Return From the Battle is one of the best songs about the war ever written.

A soldier asks his brother-in-arms for a smoke and hears silence. He is jolted with a reminder that his friend was killed in action the day before…

Pavel Tsatsouline
Pavel Tsatsouline is the CEO of StrongFirst, Inc.

16 thoughts on “He Did Not Return From the Battle

  • When I did these yesterday I heard my back cracking. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Did I adjust something in my back or did I do any damage?

    • Bob, cracking can mean many things, harmless and not. Only a doc can tell.

  • Russian Hockey Deadlift apparently works. Russian once again won the Ice Hockey World Championship in Minsk.

  • Very moving Pavel. Thanks for sharing that. Adam, I too am studying Russian. I am using the Pimsleur language course and it is going amazingly well. I am beginning to understand some of the Russian guys in my Systema class when they talk.

      • Pavel, is there a chance that you’ll bring the SFG event to Russia? I’m sure a lot of guys would be excited and I’m sure you miss the “rugged land” and its people from time to time.

  • i miss my dad who got kill in Vietnam ! love you pavel you are the best

  • Visotsky indeed! Nice touch Chief. It’s almost been 20 yrs since I visited his tomb at Novodevichy Cemetery. Will give the Russian Hockey Deadlift a go this week!

  • Love Visotsky!!! Fastidious Steeds is my all time favorite song. No Idea what he’s saying, but it is said with such powerful conviction….why I’ve been trying to learn Russian!

      • Adam, it is indeed a great song. In the song he begs the steeds to go slower, not to go so fast so he can just stand on the cliff a moment longer so he would finish his verse. The true meaning of the song becomes apparent when you realize that the steeds represent Time – he begs the time not to run so fast. Knowing how his star burnt so bright but so fast really adds to the song’s meaning

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