Long before the phrase functional fitness, or before tire throwing and battle rope thumping were ubiquitous in gyms across the world, Bas Rutten sent MMA fighters around the world CDs of himself yelling numbers.
An fighter best known for his trademark “liver shot,” Bas is a well loved figure in MMA, a kind of grandfather / weird uncle who prank calls Chuck Liddell and invents weird swimming exercises.
These tracks are low fi, recorded at a time when Joe Rogan was still best known as the Fear Factor host.
I paid the original price for these CDs in 2006, and refuse to pay for them ever again. That meant for many years I moved these audio files from dying computer to dying computer, listened to grainy versions of other people using the tracks on YouTube, and tried to make my own.
To my delight, as of 2018 these tracks are available on Spotify for free.
Bas assumes the listener has a familiarity with MMA combos, and he wastes no time. You have 15 seconds to get ready at the beginning of the track. Then he starts shouting.
TWO. (Jab, cross.)
THREE. (Jab, cross, kick or right hook, depending on the track.)
ONE. (Shit, I’m still on THREE.)
DEFENSE. (A kind of half sprawl half Burpee that exhausts you well into the next combo. I dread it).
DEFENSE, AGAIN. (Shit!!!!)
Completing these tracks is punishing but rewarding. As one YouTube commenter put it, “I thought I was going to die but it was worth it.”
Bas is Dutch, with a slight accent, and he shouts encouraging, intense things in between numbers.
Since I’ve been using these tracks for 15 years, the cadence of how Bas says these phrases is seared into my brain.
“It’s going to be difficult... MORE difficult...” he says at 15:14 of Track 1 of the All Around Fighting CD.
He says this almost sheepishly, like he’s correcting himself.
“It’s going to be difficult… Sorry, I know the last 15 minutes and 14 seconds have been difficult… so let me clarify… It’s about to become MORE difficult.“
This phrase, and the way Bas says it, keeps popping into my head when I think about the future.
Climate change and the unprecedented temperature rise on the horizon. (This summer, hotter than ever, will be one of the coolest this century).
My own day to day — my priorities, how I spend my time, how I connect with others.
What I want to spend my last years doing, whenever those might be.
“It’s going to be difficult... MORE difficult...”
So… Who do you want to be?
PPS - today is a good day to learn about and support the Indigenous Futures Initiative.
PS- A lot of the questions I’ve asked people in putting together Working 2050 have helped me practice imagining a hopeful future. I’ve been experimenting with doing different iterations of this as a sort of fiction writing/journaling/grounding workshop.
I’m going to host another one on December 9th at 7 o’clock CST.
The last one was a lot of fun. If you’re interested, register here: https://forms.gle/Rpg18N8RJS4SMLbw8