Berserker Training for the Poor and Urban

It is not always easy to train as a berserker, or somaferan martial artist. We have no established schools. Our training methods are generally not welcome in most gyms. Many of us do not live in or near the woods. If you are in an area that is urban or suburban enough to not have any public space you could have a little privacy in, then you may be forced to train in your own home, for the most part, and on your own. Do not despair, though, there is still a lot you can do. I have used these techniques to train for more than one martial arts tournament, including some I won.

One of my favorite solo indoor exercises was hanging several coins or small rocks in a circle from the ceiling, using twine. I would stand amongst them and, using only my outstretched fingers, strike them all while standing in the middle. The key is to keep them all moving without letting any of them hit you, without leaving the circle. A good variant on this is blindfolding yourself first. This trains you to greater awareness of your other senses, and helps you develop a good spatial memory.

Bodyweight exercises are your friend! You know Charles Atlas’ work? This kind of exercise tends to build a lean, muscular fighter’s body without bulking up. Good for speed as well as strength.

Got a hallway? Use HIIT, or wind sprints. If you can, go jogging around the block a few times, on a regular basis. Developing endurance is the most important thing you can do as a fighter. Gentleman Jack Johnson, an old-time boxing champ, ONLY trained endurance, and simply outlasted all of his opponents.

Throw punches like in shadow boxing. Seriously. Doing thousands of punches, concentrating on your form, will do more for you as a fighter than almost anything else will. Aiming at your moving shadow will keep mixing it up, avoiding the problems that forms give.

Of course, this approach does require you to be able to elevate as a berserker inside, without bothering or freaking out your hosuemates, if any.

Good luck.

Gangr Amnesia

The following question was recently posted in the Comments section.

“I often hear berserkers saying they’ve blacked out during gangrs. That’s only happened to me a couple times for very brief periods. What’s more common for me is, in my gangr state, I’m aware of what’s happening and able to remember a some things, but it’s like I’m watching from the outside, almost out of body but that’s not quite the right way to explain. It’s like my mind is a passive obsever who is in no way controlling what the Beast is doing. And my memory of the event will be spotty. But I seldom have actual amnesia, just a loss of control and cant remember certain details after. Is that common?”

This is a matter of both luck and experience. Most berserkers start with complete blackouts and amnesia every time they berserk. With experience, foggy memories start to appear, and the kind of dissociated awareness that is described here. With even more experience, complete awareness and memory are retained.

Some few are just lucky enough to always be aware. That is rather rarer than what I described above, though.

This is all because the berserker state of mind is radically different than the normal human one. Its awareness is very different. The way it lays down memories and accesses them is different. The human mind has to become familiar enough with these differences for it to be able to access those memories, or latch onto the Beast’s awareness.

enhancing healing

As many berserkers in training soon discover, the berserker path necessitates a lot of healing. The same kind of enhancement that works for strength will work for healing. Just elevating will speed up the healing process, as long as you keep yourself well fed.

But we can do better than that.

The key is gestaltic visualization. Visualize the location of the injury. Concentrate on the feel of the injury. Try to picture the parts of your body that actually do the healing. Picture your body as a whole, coursing with power. Picture your elevated self. Picture yourself free of injury. Visualize every detail of the injured parts of your body from as many perspectives as possible. Visualize healing runes. Visualize them on your injury. Visualize yourself inhaling healing energy from the world around you, and directing it to the wound.

Keep switching from one image to another. Concentrate powerfully on each, but linger on none.

You are aiming to build up a powerful, complex, detailed image of your injury and your healing, one far more complex than you can manage just by concentrating on one thing. This will recruit and focus FAR more of your mind into the healing effort, and the speed with which you heal should improve.

New Book

I have published a new book about somafera. One thing I have noticed over the years I have been involved in the somafera community is that a lot of people do not process information well in the rather academic way I went about it in the previous book. Instead, they tend to understand things better when presented with examples. So I wrote a memoir, a narrative of my own story as a somaferan. I included, in brief, the stories of several others. It’s a short booklet, a little more than eighty pages, but I believe I included the important things. I go over what childhood can be like for a berserker, and how to gain control. I discuss the unique problems of a somaferan nature, and show some ways they can be dealt with. It can be purchased here.

(The title comes from something they always used to write on my report cards when I was a kid.)

dnpwwofrontcover

Tendons, ligaments, and the gangr.

Recently I received the following question in the comments section, and thought it deserved wider attention:

“when someone enters the gangr and try to lift a very heavy weight that would normaly is to much for his tendons en joints to handle, will the enforced healing capability fix this problem? I mean when his tendons begin to slowly rip apart will this be healed so that he still can lift the weight?”

The answer is, unfortunately, no. Berserkers heal fast, but not that fast. One of the hard upper limits on enhanced strength is the tendons and ligaments. A berserker enhances his or her strength in a few ways. The primary source of it is adrenaline, combined with burning whatever fuel reserves the body is holding by for an emergency. Lowering the activity in the antagonist muscles is another, permitting more of the body’s inherent strength to be exercised. A reduction of the brain’s natural inhibitions, a lack of ability to feel fear, and an insensitivity to pain can also allow you to exert more of your strength than you normally would, because you aren’t thinking about the consequences. Finally, one of the odder effects of the berserker unitary state is the ability to very rapidly un-knot cramped muscles, which also ups the amount of strength you can effectively use by a bit.

None of that has any effect on the tendons. Let me relate an amusing story that should serve you all as a cautionary tale. I am a big man. 6’2”, large frame, decently muscled. Most fights I have been in, both in and out of the ring, have been against fighters who were, at most, as large as me, and often smaller. Several years ago, I was in my amped-up training phase to prepare for that year’s Shieldbiter’s Cup berserker tournament when I learned about another amateur MMA tournament in my area, not specifically a berserker thing. So I thought I would enter it as a warmup.

It was a decent warmup. I went through my first few bouts undefeated. Then I was confronted by an opponent who was significantly bigger than me, and who had far superior training in classic martial arts to me. This pushed me to my limits when fighting him. I was deeply berserk. In that state, well, you revert to instinctive behavior, not a lot of human level thinking going on. One of my fight-ending techniques, that had often served me well, was to bull-rush my opponent, drop low, and use my berserker strength to lift him over my head and throw him. I did that with this guy, though he was over 300 pounds. My wolfish self assessed that I had the strength, when berserk, to do it. I did, in fact, manage to lift him completely overhead.

Then my MCL tore. That’s one of the tendons in the knee. My muscle output was amplified. Tendon strength was the same as ever. I fell. My larger opponent fell on top of me, of course. I spent a year on crutches and walking with a cane. I am only recently getting something like my old shape back.

Somafera, Religion, and Spirituality

It has recently been pointed out to me that I need to address the issue of somafera, religion, and spirituality again. I have done so before, on multiple occasions, but apparently I have written enough on the topic of somafera that it is not always easy for everybody to find everything.

First of all, let me make one thing clear: somafera practice is not a religion, and it is not a form of spirituality. At its most basic, the various somafera practices are forms of applied physiological science. They alter the way the body and mind function in order to make them work better, for short periods of time. Practically speaking, the matter is more complicated than that.
Entering a somaferan state involves transcendental emotions. For the vast majority of people, that is going to involve some kind of spiritual or religious experience. On the one hand, this is the only way most people can ever experience such powerful emotions, outside of life or death experiences. On the other hand, the experience of feeling transcendental emotions will be experienced as a spiritual or religious experience for the great majority of people. It is simply human nature that this is so.
The thing is, it is not this way for everyone. There are also atheist somaferans. Not many, but I have known a few. They do not use spiritual or religious experiences to achieve transcendental emotions. When they experience such emotions, the do not perceive them as having either a religious or as spiritual component (and no, “religious” and “spiritual” are not synonyms).
One thing that spiritual somaferans and atheist somaferans have in common, though, is the need for meditation. You see, overload alone is not enough. The overload has to happen in a state of meditative calm. This is because adrenaline alone is a really bad thing, when taken to excess. High levels of adrenaline cause the shakes, poor coordination, and bad judgment. Meditation calms the mind, and the rest of the nervous system, allowing the body to experience the benefits of adrenaline without any of the drawbacks. Additionally, meditation allows the deep subconscious to be more easily accessed, and this is a prerequisite of the gangr. elevating requires the whole mind to act in unison, and this cannot happen without tapping into the deep subconscious.
(Side note here: reflexive gangrs that occur in response to life or death crises do not technically require meditation at all. However, this is only because the sheer shock and surprise wipes away everything that was in the conscious awareness, and dumps the mind into an instantaneous, deep, default meditative state.)
Spiritual somaferans see meditation as a method of getting in contact with spiritual powers. Atheist somaferans see meditation as a form of hypnosis, entraining the mind into the right channels.
There is something of a debate in the modern world between the religious/spiritual perspective on the one hand, and the atheist perspective on the other. I do not take either position, myself. I am a monistic idealist, philosophically speaking. The only reason that we know that everything in the observable world is made of physical particles is because we have the mental experience of observing them. There is no experiment on the observable world that has ever been conducted or ever will be conducted that does not end with “…and I know this because I saw/heard/touched/smelled/tasted it.” In other words, the primary layer of reality as we experience it is mental, not physical. Physical objects, the entire outside world, is at its very foundation a special type of mental experience. Please note that this is not because experiments are badly designed. No experiment, no matter how cleverly set up, can ever change this. Reality is primarily mental.
Because I do not know enough to say that one of these views is true and the others are false, I do not claim that any religious belief is false. As a consequence of this, I accept all religious beliefs as provisionally true, at least until I get any better evidence one way or another. Therefore, I believe in Odin and the gods of Valhalla. I believe that Jesus died for my sins. I believe that there is one god, and Mohammed is his prophet. I believe that Buddha was enlightened and that Lao Tzu achieved great comprehension of the Tao. I believe in the lwa, and the orisha. I believe in the flying spaghetti monster. I even believe the atheists are correct. We all have a small part of the truth. Nothing more. To claim greater knowledge than this is hubris, the act of an egotistical fool.

Pavel Tsatsouline

Today, I wish to take a moment to offer you all some good advice: if you are into physical fitness, and especially if you are a martial artist, you need to check out the works of Pavel Tsatsouline. The Evil Russian, as he is known, is hands down the most knowledgeable and effective trainer for fighting fitness and general fitness I have ever run across. As a former fitness trainer for the Spetsnaz, he should be! Following his advice, I went from being a guy who had serious back and neck problems and got winded after a minute of intense activity to being a guy who is the winner of numerous amateur mixed martial arts tournaments and has defeated SEALs and marines in them as often as they have defeated me. Everything the Evil Russian has ever written is well worth buying.

And just in case Mr. Tsatsouline ever chances to read this: thank you, Comrade!