The Tactical Strength Challenge as Celebration of Life

Willard (Jim) Sloan entered to compete in the StrongFirst Tactical Strength Challenge (TSC) last October. People enter the TSC for a lot of different reasons, but Jim, at age 56, entered for perhaps one of the best reasons of all – to celebrate his life.

Celebrating a New Start

Jim competed in powerlifting, arm-wrestling, karate, and judo since he was quite young, He ran in competitive events his whole life. Five days prior to competing in a Tough Mudder, Jim didn’t feel right, but being a tough guy, he went home instead of getting checked. His recent yearly physical had showed “perfect” blood work. The following day he drove himself to the hospital and found out he’d had a heart attack.

After open heart surgery, Jim began the return to health with his physical therapist and doctors. He was told by many of his healthcare workers that he shouldn’t lift weights. However, his cardiologist told him that his strength training over the years had saved him and he should continue.

Jim Sloan Tactical Strength Challenge
Willard (Jim) Sloan (right) with Seth Thomas, SFG-II, SFB (left)

Jim credits a great deal of success to his training with kettlebells. In his words:

“The best piece of training equipment in the world in my gym goes anywhere and can get both cardio and strength practice done in thirty minutes – for me, the simpler the better, Occam’s razor fits best. Pavel brought different protocols and implemented them in unique ways with modifications along the way to forestall stagnation – in my humble opinion I consider him the best coach/instructor in the world because he uses science not conjecture.”

Jim Sloan Tactical Strength Challenge
Jim at the TSC event at Albany Movement and Fitness

A Reason to Choose the Tactical Strength Challenge

October 4, 2014, was Jim’s one year anniversary of heart surgery and the date of the Fall Tactical Strength Challenge (TSC). Jim had begun his reborn life and was determined to compete.

The Tactical Strength Challenge occurs in the spring and fall of each year. The exercises are the same at each event and the athlete can compare scores from one competition to the next. It consists of the following three elements that challenge the athlete across multiple domains:

  • Strict pull-ups or flexed arm hang – tests absolute upper-body strength
  • Deadlift –  tests absolute lower-body strength
  • Snatch test – tests work capacity by performing as many reps as possible

In Jim’s words:

“Without a doubt, the TSC was the best competition I have ever been in, and I have been in a lot! I have never been around so many good, decent, folks who are driven, but also so very supportive. Each had a goal – to beat the weights – not each other. No fancy powerlifting suits here, just real strength and courage – these were people you want to get to know.

My daughter Kelsey and I are training for the upcoming TSC three days a week with kettlebells and weights, using an 80/20 principle. Twenty percent of our exercises give us eighty percent of our results. The pull-ups, deadlift, and snatches with additional supportive exercises to reduce weak areas, and rotating them accordingly. At age twelve my daughter Kelsey pulled 185 at 99 pounds bodyweight. At her current age and weight she is on pace to pull 250 plus and she is the best training partner in the world!”

Tactical Strength Challenge

Ready to host a TSC event? Contact us here to learn more:

Andrea U-Shi Chang
Andrea U-Shi Chang is a Senior SFG Instructor, Functional Movement Instructor, Ground Force Method Global Instructor, and Z-Health Certified Movement Coach. She been training with kettlebells since 2005 and still loves every minute!

After the birth of her son, Andrea realized something different needed to happen. As a successful high school and college-level athlete, she had stayed active (she thought), playing competitive tennis, and working out regularly at the gym - but she weighed 195lbs and had 34% body fat. After being introduced to kettlebells, she was amazed. Not only were the exercises fun, but the weight started to fall off. In only five months, she lost 45lbs! Better yet, she went from 34% body fat to 17%.

Wanting to learn more led her to achieve her RKC directly from Pavel in 2006, and she has been sharing her ever-increasing knowledge with others since. Hand-picked by Pavel for a leadership role in StrongFirst, and continuing to teach and be a student at workshops specializing in Functional Movement Screening and Corrective Strategies, Ground Force Method, Z-Health Performance Soluctions, advanced kettlebell forms, taichi, and other modalities has broadened her understanding of the body and helped make teaching her passion.

Andrea opened the first Kettlebell training gym in the Pacific Northwest in 2009. Located in Seattle, KETTLEBILITY specializes in Russian Kettlebell Training and Elite Performance Coaching. The instructors at KETTLEBILTY hold the highest standards of StrongFirst and hardstyle principals - keeping their students safe, durable while getting them STRONG.
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