The oldest known English work is Beowulf.  It chronicles the adventures of the Geat (Swedish) hero Beowulf as he fights monsters and dragons.  The epic was written around the end of the first millennium CE and was likely compiled from earlier oral traditions.  I have always had an idea that Beowulf was meant as a primer for young princes and noblemen.  It would, through a medium that would appeal greatly, teach them how a Nordic or Germanic ruler should behave.  A rendition from a later time seems to support this idea.  Sort of an annotated Beowulf, in it there are tips for preparation for battle, such as (I am paraphrasing here):

  • In battle, everything must be done with full force.
  • In battle, there is no pause or interval between strikes.

When I read this, I immediately thought of some parallels with CrossFit.  At CrossFit West, we teach that everything should be done, not so much with full force, but with full attention and technique.  Ninety five pounds should be cleaned off the floor with the same groove as 185 pounds.  We teach that everything should be done with full intensity.  Full intensity does not necessarily mean the intensity of Fran or Grace, but certainly the intensity of focus, of mindfulness. We stress this intensity, this mindfullness, as a safeguard against injury (as well as other more esoteric reasons).  Against the lapse of technique that comes from the mental else-whereness of  inattentiveness or the laser, faster faster, intensity of the metcon.

In the far-too-long time that I worked the door in downtown Santa Cruz, I had the opportunity to witness many many fights and altercations, and as a longtime martial arts and self defense teacher, I know that most people are unaware of the true speed of a fight.  There is no ebb and flow the way there is in a sparring match or competitive fight.  A real fight is just go go go.  And most people, trained or not, are caught by surprise.  They are also shocked by how 30 seconds of combat, a very long time for a fight, winds most people.

CrossFit, with its own go go go and push-through-the-suck and just don’t stop nature, is very good preparation for the oxygen depletion of a fight.  This is, of course, not to say that CrossFitters are necessarily good fighters, with all due respect to the battles that are waged daily in the box, but the intensity with which a Crossfitter trains would probably win a grunt of approval from the author of the Beowulf referenced above, and certainly from the tutor of a young turn-of-the-millennium Viking princeling trying to teach his charge the realities of battle.

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Clean Pulls 7×3 (set a stick across a squat stand’s uprights and try to hit it every pull)

Hit your power clean 1RM by the 4th set and try to get heavier for the last 3 sets.


5 Rounds

7 Bench Press 75% 1RM (concentrate on bar speed)

10 GHD Situps

250m Row

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