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In all areas of athletic endeavor, as it is in any profession, vocation, groups with specific interests or among those of various ethnic and racial backgrounds, there are individuals judged to be “nice” or “not nice,” “considerate” or “not considerate,” and “helpful” or “unhelpful.” Obviously within any group some will be liked and others won’t be dependent upon their behavior and attitude towards a number of variables. I was taught that being part of a specific athletic endeavor, profession, vocation, groups with specific interests, and/or various racial or ethnic backgrounds is never a basis for passing judgment on a person. Instead, my father’s credo was “Take each individual as they are, if they’re an asshole, they’re an asshole, it has nothing to do with being white, Black, Hispanic, Asian, or where they’re from. They’re just an asshole.” This has allowed me to go through many decades of life without prejudice related to almost everything people display prejudice about.
I am not one to make resolutions, not for New Years or on other calendar dictated occasions. However, I do recognize the necessity to periodically assess, reassess, revitalize, overhaul, and commit to approaching one’s quest for increased muscular strength and size. Thus I accept the vows, promises, resolutions, and oaths that accompany the turning of one year into the next. The proviso of course is that one should always be on fire and jacked up about their training and what it will take to reach the next level.
My father usually kept his opinions to himself unless directly asked to comment, especially about the cultural and social aspects of existence. With his very limited education and early introduction to hard physical labor, the term “cultural” as used in his case, should not be confused with any relation to intellectual pursuits such as reading, music, or art. “Social” too would not refer to the broader aspects of developing relationships outside the family as he was a committed loner who was most comfortable only within the borders of his work or gambling environments. However, at least to me, he had plenty to say about the hippies of the mid to late-1960s, those who would try to avoid military service if called upon by their country, what he determined to be the lack of respect of the traditional values he grew up with that included courteous public conduct, a willingness to learn from those older or more experienced than he was, and the application of hard consistent work to earn the goals one set for themselves.
As a high school student, my attitude and approach towards academic work ranged from indifferent to enthusiastic. This I believe is typical with most young people, excited and willing to work hard relative to subjects or topics that they enjoy or have a true interest in, and perhaps not stimulated enough to do more than the bare minimum otherwise. I took my teachers and coaches as they came, often with simmering distrust and dislike under a veneer of being polite and respectful at all times, and less frequently sharing a true passion
Of course had I known that last month’s blog/article would have prompted so many responses related to “training during a hurricane,” I would have planned on a continuation. Certainly there are a few humorous responses to that article to share with our TITAN readers and the answer is “No, I did not think others were filled with either, to quote the title of the article(s), as ‘dedication or lunacy’ as I was.” None who responded downplayed the seriousness or degree of danger brought by the hurricane or storm they referenced and of
course, neither did I. Especially with the home offices of TITAN SUPPORT SYSTEMS in the bulls-eye of Hurricane Harvey a month ago and a follow up disaster with Irma in Florida almost immediately afterwards, there is little to be trivialized. However, many were humored enough to send comments about my insistence on training, doing it outdoors, during the onslaught of Hurricane Donna in September of 1960. There were a number of comments made unrelated to lifting, that also painted a rather funny picture. My friend Rich Landsman who eventually developed into an accomplished athlete who took his track and intellectual abilities to American University in Washington D.C. had not yet demonstrated the benefits of strength training he would at a later date. In 1960 at the height of Donna’s intrusion, he was ordered to press his less than impressive 100 pounds of physical heft against the front door of his home so that it would not blow in on his family. As I attempted to both frame a picture in my mind of Rich, back to the door, arms outstretched to each side of the door buck, actually leaning with all of his might against the bulk of the door and the outside winds that buffeted it, I was also reminded of the sometimes “unscientific” and naïve thought process of 1960 and an older generation.
The easily identified positives about TITAN SUPPORT SYSTEMS’ location in Corpus Christi, Texas is access to an international port, a dependable shipping and delivery system with the presence of the nation’s largest carriers in the city, and a headquarters relatively centralized within the remainder of the nation. There is also the positive psychological benefit of having many long time friends and acquaintances providing loyal employment dedication to the company as TITAN functions in full, within the founder and owner’s hometown. I have noted in past columns/blogs that Pete began the business in his garage, with his mother set behind a sewing machine, producing the very first squat suits, and later, bench press shirts. A few months ago I sent a box to Pete and right hand man Isiah, a box that could have passed for a time capsule. One of the early collegiate strength and conditioning coaches who had also been a competitive powerlifter, was kind enough to reach out, contact me, and send a box of TITAN lifting suits from the 1983 – 1985 period of time and a few of the company’s original bench press shirts. I in turn sent these to Pete and Isiah for both their enjoyment and historical appreciation. The company and those representing TITAN have a definite presence on the local and regional lifting scenes and of course, the products reach an international audience and are used world-wide.
I wasn’t planning to go to a Part Three in this series of articles that specifically questioned whether consistently performing the three competitive powerlifts made one a “powerlifter” or if actually competing in what can only be termed a legitimate contest made one a
“powerlifter.” Quoting from last month’s installment, I raised the question (and many might state, I “begged the question” utilizing its formal meaning), “While utilizing the three competitive lifts to become muscularly larger and stronger can be and usually is beneficial, performing these on a regular basis does not mean that one is ‘powerlifting.’ It is only when one trains to specifically compete against others doing the three lifts under the circumstances of a judged standard do they earn the right to be called a powerlifter…”
I like to believe that the powerlifters who take the time to scroll through the TITAN SUPPORT SYSTEM site are a “step above” the typical lifter, with at least some appreciation of the sport’s history. I have been consistent, strident, and unwavering in my belief that knowing the history of the activity enhances all aspects of it. If there was a “Number One, Number Two, and Number Three” order to the lifting sports inclusive of Olympic Weightlifting, Powerlifting, and Bodybuilding, the application to athletics would have been in the above stated order through the 1960s and ‘70s with the understanding that weight training in any form should not be done at all, prior to the early 1960s. By the early 1980s, the order would have changed with powerlifting nudging its way to the top of the heap, primarily because a greater number of powerlifters were involved as strength coaches. Bodybuilding was always seen by coaches and most athletes as not providing the benefits as applied to athletics, that the two “real lifting sports” would. Of course if one were to examine the lifting portions of any major university or professional sports team’s preparation program, one would be hard pressed in most cases to figure out where the emphasis was or which of the lifting sports held more of an influence.
I understand the possibility of reader confusion regarding the intent of this month’s article, based on the title. In part, that comes from the purposeful wording of the title and in larger part because the overwhelming majority of powerlifting participants refuse to understand the importance of knowing the history of the sport. As some reach “older age” many also reach “elder” status and I know that I have been granted far more credit for everything for no other reason than my age and length of involvement in strength training. However, being an elder does allow me the advantage of understanding that there is a lot more enjoyment, potential for success as a lifter, and application to other areas if one knows and understands the origins and utilization of powerlifting through the course of the decades of its existence. I would frequently sit and talk with the lifters I was charged with improving, either in small groups, just “gals and guys hanging out and talking lifting,” or individually in order to impart specific instruction or advice. Invariably, those that heard and could relate to at least some of the sport’s history and legendary past performers did better relative to their own potential, than those that would more or less roll their eyes and say or think, “I just want to know this bench specialization program.”
For those who have taken the time to read Parts 1 and 2 of “There’s No Escaping Politics!” as well as any of the materials related to this topic in the more than eight years I have contributed to the TITAN SUPPORT SYSTEMS blog/series of articles, the obvious question becomes, “Okay, what is your personal feeling regarding the politics of the sport?” It’s not as if my feelings or opinions matter, they don’t, probably not to the overwhelming majority of our readers and certainly not to those who hold the reins of powerlifting in their hands. Many of the older or more experienced lifters know me, have read my articles and training materials since the late-1960s, and some have followed my articles in Strength And Health, Muscular Development, the Weider magazines, Iron Man, Bob Hise’s International Olympic Lifter, and the more than two decades of monthly features in POWERLIFTING USA. The most obvious disadvantages I have in making any comment about the politics of the sport of powerlifting revolve around being present when the sport began, being an unabashed fan of “sport for the sake of sport and enjoyment” as opposed to sport for profit, and being exceptionally cynical about human nature, reflected in my father’s dictum that “If someone is being nice to you, they probably want to blow you up and fuck your mama.”
The Alaniz family are true American pioneers in the field of innovating and manufacturing Powerlifting and Strength products.Since 1981, they have played a leading role in the development of equipment and the growth of the sport through sponsorships and contributions. Pete Alaniz was awarded the prestigious Brother Bennett award from the USAPL in 2006. ×
Since 1981, Titan Support Systems Inc has been leading the charge in innovation and craftsmanship of Powerlifting and Strength products.
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