Saturday, December 11, 2010

The 4-Hour Body - Tim Ferriss

I've been looking forward to receiving the autographed copy of Tim Ferriss' book "The 4-Hour Body" that I pre-ordered a few weeks back. I'm keen to "compare notes" - so to speak - with Tim. Many of the topics addressed are near and dear to me. I have a lot of my own research, as well - and my MO is very similar to Tim's.

Anyway, yesterday, I received an emailed PDF copy of the book. I can't really tell who it's from and it was addressed to my public email. I haven't been able to contact Tim to find out whether his crew sent it, but I will assume it is. So, I want to get a review out before the release date. Who knows.... this may be the the straw that breaks the Guiness camel's back.

Before I get down to the book, I want to explain Tim's work for those who haven't seen it and to explain why his modus operandi is so appealing to me. I had heard that BJJ champ Dave Camarillo was to be discussed in "The 4-Hour Work Week", so I picked it up. I liked what I read. Aside from Dave's story on how he reduced his in-office hours, there were plenty of hints and tips about improving your revenue streams and reducing the time you spend working, as well as making the most of the dollars you have. Even if four hours a week might seem a stretch, the spirit is there.

There was more information packed into this book than a dozen others on the topic put together - and it was all pretty unique. This is relevant to the review of this book because it's the same. There is no filler. No long-winded paragraphs, no extraneous discussions. Just a discussion on what works, why it works and a few examples.

In the 90's I read tirelessly the work of Dan Duchaine. Diet-wise, I did what he recommended and did well. I also used his methods of self-experimentation and found little bits and pieces that worked especially well for me and for my clients. Tim seems to be from the same school. He's tried just about everything that has some basis and gives an assessment on whether it works or not.

Ferriss establishes the tone of the book early. Right from the chapter "Fundamentals" he begins quashing myths and generalisations about caloric expenditure, yo-yo dieting, genes and effective exercise. In my personal favourite part, he addresses the causation vs correlation issue I frequently encounter around the traps.

The next few chapters cover what most of the people who read this blog will want to know. The "Getting Started..." chapter will talk some philosphy before giving some home-truths about body fat before getting into motivation and setting yourself up for success.

The next chapter on "Subtracting Fat" will take you through Tim's "Slow-carb" diet and a few bits and pieces around why it works. It's kind of like a conventional diet book, except for two things. Firstly, it's just over 40 pages - not 400. Secondly, it's full of useable tips and tricks - not lectures on unreasonable long-term restriction and planning. I think the tips on binge preparation and recovery are gold.

The next chapter is the advanced fat loss chapter and delves deeper into fat loss and covers temperature and glucose manipulation and the tricks pro bodybuilders use to get super-lean - including a little on drugs.

The muscle building chapter also starts fairly conventionally and discusses Ferriss' approach to muscle gain. Tim has leaned heavily on his 34lb of muscle in 28 days transformation and Arthur Jones' work with Casey Viator in the past and continues to do so here. However, he doesn't restrict himself to Jones' protocols. He maintains his belief in simple, easy to follw routines, though. There is no doubt this method works.

This really isn't the place for discussion about different methods of training. What I can say is, for the target market, Tim's methods are spot on.

The next chapter is on sex and contains the much heralded section on the 15 minute female orgasm. This part of the book is kind of beyond my scope here, and I haven't read it fully. I will say this, though. There are some details in there you've never heard of before. I don't care who you are. Ferriss has really done his reasearch. Lucky bugger.....

The book is huge. I'm not going to continue through it. It's over 570 pages. And each of the 11 sections would make for a 300 page book themselves if Ferriss' writing wasn't so succinct and to the point. There's a whole section on sleep that is a must-read. There's a section on reversing injuries that will give you as many "Holy Crap!" moments as it does fantastic ideas for your own rehab (and prehab).

The sections on getting stronger and running faster bring together some of the best hacks you can find on the web, in text books and out of the brains of experts. And, a tried and tested viewpoint as to whether they work.

Swimming effortlessly, vaccines and medications, vegetarianism.... You name it. If it has to do with changing the human body, Tim Ferriss covers it in this book. If I was to go through the book in detail, the review would be 100 pages. There is just no fluff.

Does it all work? Who knows? Some of it surely does. Some of it probably doesn't. Here's what I can tell you. Never has there been a book with so much info about the human body been available at this price. You may never gain 34lb in 28 days or produce a 15 minute orgasm. However, for the little effort that most of the "hacks" take, there's no value lost in trying.

I've never met Ferriss. Nor have I met any of his associates (except maybe in BJJ circles). I have paid for a signed copy of the book and I bought his last one. I have no ties or allegiances her but I can say this.....

For twenty-something dollars, this book is honestly a steal.

Post Script: I've already copped some criticism over posting this review. And it's been up about an hour. The fact is, I don't do he said she said. I read a book and tell you whether it's worth it. This one is worth the purchase price.

I don't really care where Tim came by his information. That's for people with more time on their hands than me to sort out. Please don't email me or fill the comments with discussions irrelevant to the content of the book.

This site is popular because it leaves that out of the equation.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Mastering Mixed Martial Arts: The Guard - Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira

I've always been a great fan of the man known as Nog. His style influenced my style a lot. Although, if you've seen one of my fights, you'll know my guard is not nearly as active and effective as his. As a result, I've also come to inherit his legendary ability to take punishment.

Maybe this book is just what I need.

I've seen plenty of books on the guard and I've reviewed a lot here. However, this seems to be the first that really takes what is really the traditional guard-work of BJJ and show its adaptation to MMA.

I know I don't need to introduce Victory Belt as a publisher. They've been reviewed here on many occasions. This book was supplied to me by Victory Belt for review.

It meets their usual high standards for quality. It has 228 pages, which is a little light by VB's standards. The format is smaller as well. However, there is no less information in the book. I actually like the smaller format because it actually fits vertically in the bookshelf I want to keep it in. My only gripe is that the previous ones don't.

VB books always start with an introduction from the author themself. Of course, this has exactly that. While this isn't why most people buy the books, it's my favourite part. It's the mind that makes the fighter and his story that makes his mind. Nogueira's is a good story. He outlines the hardships he's had to endure and the objects he's overcome to get where he is.

Also, where these intros can be quite dry, I was captivated by Nog's never say die attitude. Although that could be the fanboy in me.

The difficulties in photography are still evident. It must be incredibly difficult to never get background colours overlapping poorly with the models and keep everything straight. The publishers have done as good a job as you'd expect, but it's not quite up to the rap I gave Anderson Silva's book. With that said, it's always clear and the movements can be made out with minimal effort.

As per usual, the book is broken down into sections. This time, we get sections on posture control, double wrist control, the inside hooks guard (butterfly), the half guard and the downed guard - essentially, the guard against a standing opponent.

As is my way, I personally became very interested in Nogueira's use of the double wrist control, which is admonished by Victory Belt author Eddie Bravo. It just goes to show, there's a place for everything somewhere and its important to approach with an open mind.

The book is very clear and, if you're familiar with Nogueira's style, you'll see where the moves in the book translate well to his fighting technique.

I found the section on posture control to be fantastic . It's the fundamental element of guardplay - especially in MMA - and Nogueira does it well. The techniques shown work and are well described.

Nogueira is well regarded for his double wrist control guard. So, as a fan of the man - especially of his time in Pride, I especially looked forward to this chapter. The chapter gives some great clues as to why he makes it work while so many fail.

One thing I love about VB's format is the introduction of the "Troubleshooting" sections that they've introduced. This book has one, too. However, it only covers the half-guard. I think the first two sections especially could have used a section on this, as well.

The other sections seem to be a little light on content compared to these sections, but the information is still great. I just wish I had more.

If you want an inside look at Nogueira's well-known guard and perhaps pick up on how you can make it work for you, you'll go well with this book. It probably won't revolutionise most people's games, but it will definitely show exactly how good, "old school" jiu jitsu can be well applied to MMA.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Machida-Do Karate in MMA - Lyoto Machida

I'm not really a DVD guy. I much prefer books for a number of reasons I've detailed here over the last couple of years. However, I realise there are things you simply need a DVD to get across. That's why Victory Belt's idea of a Machida DVD is a great idea.

Video is kind of a new area for Victory Belt. They've released one series in the past - Mastering the Rubber Guard. My review of that DVD set was mixed, but the technical instruction was sound and the production was good. I'm pleased to say that the quality of both has improved on this set.

The DVD set consists of four discs. They are presented in plastic DVD cases and sleeved in a cardboard box. Disc one is titled 'Movement and Fundamental Strikes, disc two is 'Striking Attacks and Takedowns', three is on 'Intercepting Attacks, Takedown Defense and the Clinch' and disc four is titled 'The Ground Game'.

The first disc covers the elemental techniques Machida uses in his fights. Don't be fooled by the term fundamental. What Machida considers fundamental can be quite advanced. The techniques range from the simple to the unorthodox. Not many other than Machida are likely to attempt a hook kick in the Octagon, but the technique is here.

Disc two takes the techniques found on the first disc and joins them together into combinations. Machida explains the principles he uses to build combinations and why they work. My favourite aspect of this video is the focus on feints and setups. He's good at misdirection - we've all seen it - and this video gives you a taste of how it's achieved.

Disc three concentrates on defense and counter-attack. His evasion and counter-attacks are what he is known for and is well displayed here. His discussion on takedown defense and the various clinch positions is probablyt not what you'd buy the DVD set for, but it is interesting to see how these aspects fit into Machida's game.

Disc four was surprising for me. This is probably the aspect of Machida's game which interested me the least. There are plenty of DVDs out there on the ground game from people who are much better known for it than Machida. However, in watching the video, it occurred to me that it is a well put together treatise on the ground game. There isn't necessarily anything ground-breaking here, but the approach is very systemic and easy to follow. It's particularly great for those who might not have a lot of Jiu Jitsu or wrestling experience. And, let's face it - that's pretty much where it's aimed.

As far as production goes, it's pretty damn good. It's over-dubbed in english as Machida speaks in (I guess) in Portuguese. This is something I've commented before that is distracting for me at times. However, production companies are getting better at it and Victory Belt seems to have learned some lessons from others who have made mistakes in the past. The audio mix is just right.

The sets are appropriate and not distracting. The instruction is clear and to the point. VB and Machida have also paced the instruction pretty well and there isn't too much instruction to choke down in one sitting.

I'm no karate expert. It's been seventeen years since I was in a formal karate class. I don't think I'd be able to pull off some of the techniques Machida demonstrates here. Some of the techniques require some significant prior knowledge and practise. With that said, there's enough here that doesn't require years of practice, as well.

I think that the set is aimed at the competent karateka to learn to adapt their technique. In that case, the set is spot on. At the same time, though, 80% of what is taught doesn't require any detailed prerequisite karate training. Just about anyone can benefit from understanding some of Lyoto's technique and - more than anything - the misdirection he is famous for.

Victory Belt are pretty young in the video game. However, they're well known as a provider of quality products and this is no exception. They've rapidly ascended as a competitor and even leader in book publishing. Now, they've made a foray into video and they've shown themselves capable of competing with the leaders.