#04 Christopher Shen – The Unknown Strength Podcast

Macgregor McNair Podcast 0 Comments

Mac:
Thank you very much for joining us this evening on the Unknown Strength podcast where we aim to provide high quality information and insights into the fight game and the strength and conditioning training that translates into optimal performance in the cage, ring and on the mat. I’m your host Macgregor McNair and with me are my co-hosts Brenton McKiterick and Steven Phillips and we have a very special guest with us tonight the one and only Coach Chris Shen.
Steven:
Thanks Mac I was really excited about this interview I remember seeing Chris for the first time as a newly minted brown belt competing at one of the first grappling tournaments held at dominance and as I understand it Brenton he was also pretty close by for one of your early competitive experiences.

Brenton:
Yes, thank you Steve this is true Chris did actually officiate one of my first grappling experiences which was definitely an interesting experience. At this podcast I’m absolutely elated to have Chris on, considering my own personal fascination with the mental game of peak performance and grappling with the actual challenges with getting your head in the game pardon the pun gentlemen. Chris’ insight I think I greatly appreciate his insight on this podcast considering he elaborated on the mental health in society, resilience, strength and conditioning, wrestling, he’s even officiating experiences as well as his upcoming book ‘Wrestling with resilience’.

Mac:
Coach Chris was an absolute pleasure to interview as well, I think everyone in the fight game is going to take a lot out of this interview the insights that he shared were amazing and finally we would like to thank “Fuck the Fitzroy Doom Scene” for our theme song called “Dream” and without further ado ladies and gentlemen please enjoy the interview.

Brenton:
Chris really excited to have you on this podcast you're quite an omniscient force on the Australian scene, psychologist at your own private clinic, psychologist at multiple national representative teams, consultant and author and wrestling coach with team Take Down which I understand is a non-profit team you both created and run, you’re an MMA official, for the UFC and several MMA organisations as well as an accomplished martial artists yourself with over 40 years of experience that predominantly spans wrestling, Brazilian jiu jitsu, MMA as well as taekwondo, karate and judo and last but not least you’re a very distinguished gentlemen with quite an eloquent vocabulary.

Chris:
Thank you Brenton thank your sir that’s very kind I think my job is done ill just leave now. Brenton, Steve and Mac it’s a pleasure to be here thank you so much.

Brenton:
Excellent so over 40 years of martial arts what was it that got you started?

Chris:
2 things the first is my parents I was born and raised in country Victoria in Traralgon in the 1970’s we were probably the only Asian family in all of the LaTrobe valley and my dad who was the pharmacist at a hospital thought it was Prudent for myself and my brother Albert to learn martial arts first so that was the first influence without my awareness and the second was Bruce Lee in the 70s Bruce Lee was huge. My mom has a photo of me probably about 2 or 3 with Bruce Lee t-shirt on so I think it was Bruce Lee as well.

Brenton:
So you’re also a psychologist was it a defining moment or something that inspired you to pursue a career in this field?

Chris:
There’s 2 things the first brings reference to your very good question when the Australian Pat Cash won Wimbledon that was in 1987 I was watching it and I love all sport and I was watching him late night on television when the Wimbledon trophy over Ivan Lendl and then he went up the stands in a crocodile Dundee kind of way and stepped over people and hugged his entourage and one them was his sports psychologist and as a young year 11 student I actually thought that really interesting that athletes can actually have members of their support team to help them with the mental side so that was the specific moment and over all influence is I have always been interested in human behaviour. When I was in school I always found myself analysing and interpreting the behaviour of my friends and peers and other school teachers and I’ve always been particularly interested in anthropology, in detective work, in archaeology and of course I came to realise human behaviour and psychology.

Brenton:
So the why and the motivators behind humanity really.

Chris:
Indeed.

Brenton:
So what do you find satisfying about being a psychologist and specifically you’re a sports psychologist what are the major differences there?

Chris:
Thank you with regards to your first question I find it an enormous privilege to be able to help individuals and organisations when their mental health to diminish barriers and restrictions and to be able to give them tools that they can use to flourish and perform to their best with regards to sport and exercise psychology because I recognise the purpose of this delightful podcast is also about strength conditioning and physical performance. with regards to sport and exercise psychology it’s the one area of psychology which seeks to enhance high performance and to take them to their full potential where so many other parts or specialities of psychology such as clinical psychology, such as counselling psychology we see our patients, we see individuals when they are distressed, when they are experiencing poor functioning and we are trying to bring them back up to some kind of normality.

Brenton:
There has to be a lot of crossovers [06:00] or at least consistencies that you identify, you’re a coach of several teams and you consult to teams that has to be a lot of consistencies there as your role as a coach and psychologist.

Chris:
Indeed, in fact often when I work with sporting teams and athletes and coaches I actually explicitly tell the coach that he or she is working as a psychologist, actually one of your roles is the motivator is also to pick up your player and your fellow coaches when they are down after a loss or they are frustrated or they lose composure in a bout or a match. Absolutely there’s huge over laps between coaching and psychology where the limitations are from a psychologist is the psychologist focuses on the morale or the mental health, emotional health, the psychological skills of the individual or the athlete. He or she is not to stray into technical coaching, game coaching or that area.

Brenton:
Excellent.

Steven:
So Chris for a fight athlete or for somebody who’s training in the martial arts or training in the gym the idea of visiting perhaps a sports psychologist might be a new idea to a number of our listeners we are good at preparing on the physical side for competition or for practise, why would someone or why should someone come and see a sports psychologist?

Chris:
Thank you Steve great questions firstly no one needs to see a psychologist or see anybody for that matter, the reason why I immediately refrain that very good question is we don’t want individuals to feel a sense of burden that they must see a psychologist or they must a particular person rather a counter question applies to us all today is why would it be helpful for me to see a psychologist or see a sports and exercise psychologist and my response to that question [08:00] I just asked and answering my own question here, is that much like we develop our technical skills as an athlete much like we develop our physical performance and conditioning much like we address our diet and nutrition. Its equally important that we focus a mindful understanding of the mental side of our game and sometimes the very fact that we have just been quite successful as an athlete or a coach without any dedicated focus on the mental side is serendipitous rather then you developing being equipped with a good range of psychological skills. One of the things a psychologist in sport exercise can do is to provide protocols, paradigms, techniques and resources that the athlete or coach can draw upon when the situation evokes and so then he or she is then well resourced and well-armed Steve.

Steve:
Thanks your question was better than mine too.
Brenton:
Something I particularly noticed is in recent years or even probably more towards a decade there has been quite a stigma surrounding mental health and even being able to identify with depression. You’ve seen trends recently like the IUK day even fighters coming forward and fight athletes and athletes across many disciplines coming forward and admitting and really coming forth with the fact that they are struggling with mental health issues, is that something that you have seen a trend yourself or being reflected in perhaps your work without giving specific examples but is that something that’s starting to be a bit more of a common theme?

Chris:
Great questions absolutely as a psychologist I am thrilled with the greater recognition of the importance of mental health especially for men [10:00] in our society in Australian society when men typically have been stowing, we haven’t admitted that we may have any despairing thoughts or even not be confident and we have not sought help. I’ve been really fortunate and blessed to collaborate with some mental health organisations to implement some mental health initiative in some iconic organisations and I’ve been really thrilled with Are you ok day and the great work of organisations such as Beyond Blue and others.

Brenton:
Regarding your own competition experience bring you back to the pass, did you get nervous at that time and were you a psychologist at that time?

Chris:
Great questions the first question did I get nervous? Absolutely now I faced a conundrum that’s faced by many a professional or an expert in what we do is physician heal thy self and I knew I faced that conundrum, what I mean by that is often a plumber I would have leaky pipes at home because he or she may 1…

Brenton:
Bring your work home.

Chris:
Correct secondly maybe a really bad client itself as well so as I was doing my masters in sports psychology when I was competing I became registered as a psychologist and I was still competing and I recognised that there were areas of my mental side that I wanted to improve and I recognised even thou ii had great theoretical and applied knowledge I was working with athletes and clients that I can’t treat myself, I can’t be fully injected so I engaged as a sports psychologist.

Brenton:
So obviously self-awareness is paramount there [12:00].

Chris:
Indeed, and I put it to all of us here that in order to imitate development or change or continue to improve and understand yourself you very nicely described it Brenton, its critical its absolutely important.

Brenton:
So in regards to your experience in this profession were there certain consistencies that you identified that really inhibit athlete from achieving their peak performance or are their come more general trends or themes that you find?

Chris:
Thank you Brenton and I like to add to this in the context strength and conditioning and physical performance which is the precognitive of your delightful podcast, broadly speaking I’m not calling on any researchers I’m sitting here broadly speaking my anecdotal observations are many athletes will derail him or herself by pushing so through pain so not recognising the difference between muscular discomfort or muscular soreness.

Brenton:
Proper injury.

Chris:
Correct but they will sometimes get what’s called hot spots and they will push through it and then they would dispel the advice to undertake proper assessment and rehabilitation just pushing through it and so they will often create a long lasting injury that is both physically and psychologically derailing where they needn’t have done that so that’s one of the more common derailers I see mentally in strength conditioning and physical performance. Another is a tendency to jump on trends and let me contrast a trend with an innovative, creative practise or protocol that is based on empirical research knowing of course that empirical research [14:00] has to be longitudinal sometimes it can’t be creative in both. I’ve seen a lot of trends in physical performance strength and conditioning that can be dangerous to the athlete and sometimes said to be more a commercial consideration of whoever is promoting it rather than a good practise as well.

Brenton:
From a psychologist point of view what can you actually convey on a topic of down time so we understand that rest is vital to recovery so how do you factor in downtime and why is it important if so?

Chris:
I’ll answer that in 2 ways if I can please Brenton, Steven and Mac firstly downtime is absolutely critical for us to restore ourselves physically and psychologically as many of your listeners who are coaches and trainers would know when we are stressed or more precisely when we are really stressed, we release cortisol what that does is that diminished our ability to restore ourselves and to recover and it impairs healing and the development of muscular 2 fold. Furthermore, blood flow cortisol is also associated with fatigue tiredness, with a diminishment of creativity and innovation and so it’s absolutely critical that we schedule purposefully rest which includes sleep, how much sleep? Enough sleep for the person to have enough rapid eye movement where we restore our self and also that they schedule in hobbies, activities, social interactions that they find to be pleasurable, that they find to be restorative and enhances their moods as well. The second question I would like to answer or the second way I would like to answer this regards to myself [16:00] what deliberately do is I schedule in flourishing time, that’s time with my partner and time with your partner is not the same as incidental time of living together and doing things together. Its purposeful activities together and also I make sure that I exercise quite vigorously above and beyond my coaching activities.

Steven:
Great thanks Chris so you’ve done a lot of work with the national lawn bowls team.

Chris:
I have that’s on public record.

Steven:
What these guys don’t know is that I actually come from a long time of bowls talent from my grandmother as well as my step dad, is there a piece of advice that you can give me about the mental game that you have seen in working with your athletes generally that you’ve seen almost like a trigger or switch like that Ah Ha type experience where you’ve been able to provide some advice to somebody and really break them out of perhaps a rut.

Chris:
Firstly I commend you and your family for your involvement with bowls it’s a magnificent sport and I was privileged to work with the bowls team and yes I speak broadly but not only did I see this with the bowlers with whom I worked I also see this with all athletes, a common derailer is ones inability to put out of one’s mind disappointment particularly in the a sport like bowls where you continue playing after you’ve bowled a particular shot and where a bowler and athlete is disappointed with how he or she is running a set and if they allow that disappointment to disrupt their game plan, their morale, their thinking then it starts effecting their micro skills [18:00] of performing the task in ways that’s almost imperceptible to them yet their coach will recognise that particularly in in representative bowls where you’re playing with other teams members in teams it might affect your communication with your fellow team members so one of the things we endeavour to do is to give people skills in recognising when they’re being derailed and then being able to implement tools to recover their composure.

Steven:
Great so it’s quite similar to golf in that your only one shot away from disaster or success depending on how you respond.

Chris:
It’s a good yard to treat success and failure as imposters and the something happened with so many sports. MMA where I blessed to officiate in particularly working as a referee, a competitor could be dominating and then suddenly submitted or concussed. Brenton and Steve your both coaches, your both accomplished black belts in jujitsu you both know that you can win or lose instantaneously with a submission, you know yourself coach Mac is a conditioning coach of various combat athletes how success or failure can turn almost in a dim so once they are able to recognise they can be able to accept it both success and failure earlier and be able to recover from disappointments is critical.

Steven:
Great thank you so just in terms of my own training, during competitive phases of my training a big part of my mental preparation has actually been around putting the effort into the physical preparation thinking that if I’m physically and technically ready to go then the mental side of the preparation by default has taken care of itself. Is that a mistake and if so is that a common error? [20:00]

Chris:
Thank you Steve my question to you is how are you going in competition?

Steven:
I should have mentioned that; my cupboard is full of silver medals.

Chris:
Firstly congratulations on the silvers, broadly speaking it is a sound intuitive strategy to draw confidence from your physical conditioning and fitness and then your technical side unfortunately what can happen and ill extrapolate away from you now Steve, what can happen to athlete is they may have fragile composure and mental skills that are then absolutely contented upon their physical state or their technical state whereas of you are able to focus in a dedicated manner on your mental game at the same time with your physical conditioning and your technical side then if you get injured if somebody is beating you technically, you can still deploy your mental game and not only tolerate or endure something that you can still master, how many times chaps have we fully sub missioned out? When somebody is fitter, stronger, younger which I often happening to me these days, based on the fact that you are resilient that you’ve got good psychological skills.

Steven:
I think for me you just described about 90% of the population fitter, younger, faster then everyone.
Chris:
Well apart from Brenton we can possibly call this show grumpy old men.

Steven:
You’ve been a jujitsu brown belt since 2006.

Chris:
I hope that’s true.

Steven:
And I remember seeing you fight in jujitsu for the first time at an old dominance competition from the very early more grappling competitions, I [22:00] think it was the first time I ever saw a brown compete so thank you for that experience.

Brenton:
Unicorn back in the day.

Chris:
In fact, you would have seen me just wrestle essentially.

Steven:
So 10 years later you’re still a brown belt, are you sand bagging?

Chris:
That’s fighting words Steve, no and my reason and rational for that is that I regrettably stopped my dedicated jujitsu training in 2011 where I sustained a serious knee injury and since then I have primarily been, I’m delighted to attest that I’ve had a second knee operation in March last year and had a great success rate so thank you to my surgeon and during that period of time I have been focused on coaching wrestling, submission wrestling or catch wrestling and all of my athletes which I’m sure will attempt take down with jujitsu players or mixed martial art competitors or both and I delightfully deferred to their own coaches in those disciplines and I coach them wrestling and the transition from whatever their sports whether it be striking or ground work from wrestling to those sports. Having said that my knee op was so successful and I’m surrounded by jujitsu players and in fact 3 of my team take down members beat OJ black belts and several of them are brown belts and several black belts in the wider community of jujitsu I coach them in the very first classes as white belts so with my knee at about 85% capacity I am quite keen to rile at that windmill and try to [24:00] earn that black belt down the track.

Mac:
Fantastic and of all the grappling sports that are on your resume I think one of the most impressive achievements that’s on there is your representing Australia on the wrestling team. Can you tell us some more about your experience doing that please?

Chris:
Thank you Mac that was a privilege and I have extremely fond memories I have also been able to draw enormous performance accomplishments from that period of time and apply to not only other areas of my life including my professional work also use that as helpful self-disclosure to some of my own athletes especially when they aspire to greater honours in wrestling or in their other combat sports. I came to wrestling very late partly that represents the state of wrestling in Australia, I started judo at 4 and the karate shortly after much throughout the 1970s and 80s. it was almost impossible to find a wrestling school, Brazilian jujitsu didn’t exist in its current form at least up until perhaps 1993 in Australia and so I realised I really liked grappling and its since been pointed out to me by several wrestling coaches including and ill name drop here because he’s no longer associated with the organisation and I wasn’t officiating at the time Randy Cutshaw who looked at me at the time I was travelling with him, I was helping him run seminars in Australia underneath the coaches and he actually said I have the perfect wrestling physic so for your listeners who can’t see me I’m about 5,7 and half or 5,8, reasonably stocky, I’m 96 kilos, I’ve got a low centre of gravity I’ve got flat feet. Randy said that’s upper important because he has flat feet and we’re both about size 11 [26:00]

Brenton:
So your saying you’re the quintessential beast.

Chris:
What I’m saying is that I have a very grappling fit so psychologically whilst I competed in karate, I had 4 mixed martial arts fights, I like wrapping myself around someone, I love throwing them and love which is why I have really taken to Harry Paulson’s catch wrestling, I love cranking and tearing.
Steven:
Ok just keep yourself at arms distance from me.

Brenton:
That must have lit you up when you have seen all the fame of a former champion compliments you and says you’re the perfect built.

Chris:
I didn’t know he had a rice bowl at the time yet I was absolutely thrilled.

Mac:
Fantastic Coach Chris tell us one of the most difficult things about your training transition from your previous martial arts into wrestling.

Chris:
From my previous martial arts to wrestling to striking martial arts to grappling, throughout most of the 70s apart from a short period of time when I was 4 and 5 in judo which was great because it gave me a love of grappling that saved because at the time we had a break fall and gave me a sense of kenestacia that saved me well in my whole pathetic life, I only did striking martial arts throughout my adolescent and early teens. Predominantly godo karate, taekwondo and a whole heap of other striking martial arts some kick boxing in those wee days where you wore knee pads and then even though I had been exposed to grappling in martial arts such as taejitsu by Coach Kevin Mcminerman who was a brilliant overall martial artist, [28:00] Sake Tony Ball who also taught me some outstanding grappling and we had some in [inaudible 28:18] and my Sensei Gary Williams and Kenos Sabrano. I really only experienced true grappling when I started training with my brother Albert with John Joel while he was then calling shoot fighting in Melbourne in 1992/1993 so Albert and I attended John’s very first class in Melbourne, John at that stage was the editor of Blitz magazine and he was travelling all around interviewing people. He came into our karate headquarters our hombit dojo to interview karate masters Kenos Sabrano and he dropped off some pamphlets saying he was about to start teaching this Brazilian system of jujitsu and this is before gracing action, this was before you’ll see and so Albert and I was average martial artists decided to wonder down and at that stage I had done a stack of martial arts, I had represented and medalled in inter varsity judo and I though what’s this little guy I gave respect to him of course but John was a little guy. What might he be able to show us with this new system so I was quite open to that and it blew my mind away that Brazilian jujitsu had a system of controls and John beautifully demonstrated this with his lovely wife, where she must have been in fact I’m not even going to endeavour to offend anybody she was a slight athletic lass and we had in that first class law enforcement and military [30:00] operatives who were big guys much like me about 100 kilos and she swept them form guard, choked them, knee raid them and it spun us out. Of course the 2 of you here being dojo black belts Mac you’re an experienced trainer to Brazilian jujitsu of course we know that’s the case, back in 1992 it was mind blowing.

Steven:
The pupils didn’t even recognise that until UFC 1 years later.

Chris:
It was astounding and it changed the martial arts journey for so many of us so there’s photo around of that very first cohort which is concurrently happening in other states as well as all over Australia where many of us left martial arts and focused on BJJ now that’s an extreme perhaps what we should have done is integrated more yet we were so…

Brenton:
So consuming.

Chris:
And we were absolutely gleeful with that now in hind sight I actually met Horrion Gracie, he was actually brought out in a tour in about 1991 by Sheehan Barry Bradshil and Australian society practitioner of jujitsu I was at a seminar and at that stage they weren’t calling to Gracie jujitsu, he brought out a very famous black belt now who’s a brown belt who’s name escapes me and ran some public seminars so I noticed this years later when I was training with John that hey I’ve trained with this guy before.

Mac:
So that’s your journey from striking to grappling what about jujitsu to wrestling, this is what I really want to know.

Chris:
Thank you coach Mac, this happened because Albert and I, my life long trainer my brother Doctor Albert Shin what we did was we befriended Eric Paulson over the internet in [32:00] early days of the internet before graphic users and interface and so forth and he had just won the world light heavyweight shuto championship of the world. Shuto was one and still is one of the prominent then we called it valley shuto now we call it mixed martial arts organisations and he was a Caucasian who had won this title and Albert approached him and we were invited by Coach Eric to go over and undertake his intensive combat submission wrestling instructors course in 1997 in Asanto academy in Merriam Del Ray in California and so we were there training all week whilst we were there, there was a wrestling group training because of multidisciplinary training at the same time and I was really interested so I was watching and I knew of course about wrestling and the coach saw me interested and invited me to come and have a grapple with one or two of the lads. I actually remember thinking well I’ve done judo for a long time, I’m doing Brazilian jujitsu I’m training with Coach John or a long time.

Brenton:
How long have you been training Brazilian jujitsu at this point?

Chris:
I was still a white belt so probably about 3 years of it and these guys absolutely torched me my mind was once again blown in an absolute epiphany and I asked the coach what’s all this and he said its wrestling son when you get back to where your from in Melbourne you should look up the coaches there and came back to Australia and hunted around and started training wrestling with Coach Tony Ruslo who was training with a coach sorry I don’t know his surname Ziggy and [34:00] then eventually started training under Coach John Donnahue who was a black belt under Jean LaBelle and also one of the most decorated wrestlers Coach Chris Brown.

Brenton:
You finished 3rd in Abu Dhabi in 1999 I believe.

Chris:
A little bit earlier then that Coach Chris actually was the first person to beat Henzo Gracie with beautiful throw which has been immortalised and Coach Chris competed twice I believe he came 4th, I could be doing Coach Chris a disservice there yet he competed magnificently in the early days of ADCC.

Brenton:
That might be the further end of it as far as an Australian athlete has gone in Abu Dhabi.

Chris:
Actually I believe Stacy Cartwright she won a gold medal I believe in ADCC I believe that might be the case.

Brenton:
Fantastic.

Steven:
It was national women’s day earlier this week so props to Stacy.

Mac:
Yeah its great and so what can you tell us about Team Take Down? This is the million-dollar question as far as I’m concerned because as you guys know I’ve had a bit of exposure to Team take down being absolutely blown away but what you guys do on the mat so please just share with us what Tem Take Down is all about, how it got started?

Chris:
Thank you for complements, Team Take Down is a non-profit wrestling club that I am blessed to coach, its invitation only at this present moment we have 13 active wrestlers plus 1 valued member in Townsville who fought Chris Justino and is one of Australia’s pioneers of grappling [36:00] and I’m very honoured for him to be a member of Team Take Down. We started in 2006 where I left the jujitsu club where I had been training and doing some coaching to endeavour to reach the Australian Olympic team for the Beijing Olympics and myself and my brother, my long standing assistant Coach Bret Thesis and a long standing student Mark Mandell got together and started training once a week in Richmond and so the Muscle and body shape gym where there’s an open area and we started just drilling, wrestling to try to get me as prepared as possible then something interesting happened where I started receiving approaches from different jujitsu players particularly the more senior lads and lasses who heard that we were doing this and asked if they could come along and initially I said absolutely and then I actually realised If I wanted to create a safe environment I felt responsible, I needed to do this properly, I needed to create an environment where I wasn’t merely doing my own training that if other people were coming and wanting to learn wrestling I had to be ethically, I had to be professional, had to be responsible and that’s how Team Take Down started. Now the ethos of Team Take Down of course is we are invitation only because I coach for a passion I don’t charge financially my athletes and I expect and demand they’re committed as athletes that they have a high degree of safety for each other, that they train to the best of their ability that they are respectful so that’s one [38:00] constellation if attributes and the second is around their quality as a person that they have good moral and ethical character that they don’t engage in activities that wouldn’t take them into disrepute and to the end I’ve expelled several people over the years as well.

Mac:
Tell us a little bit about what you guys are trying to accomplish with Team Take Down, what’s in the future?

Chris:
Thank you great question currently into the future and into the past my aspiration is to develop human beings through the diligent practise of wrestling so my purpose of martial arts I’m glad you asked that, is that we can become better people through diligent practise of the martial arts. We go through periods of time where we compete particularly when we are quite young yet if all we are combat athletes then when our athletic career inevitably comes to an end then we might not find it meaningful. Whereas with martial arts we can keep training, we can keep being involved for our entire lives and the Samurai Chinese kung Fu master’s martial artists in every culture around the world see themselves as ethical teachers and practitioners not merely athletes.

Brenton:
So it’s really a spirit of philosophy that you are imbed into all of your students and help them grow as people that’s fantastic.

Chris:
Thank you and the fact that I’m a psychologist helps.

Steven:
One of my observations having trained with a few wrestlers over the years has been their determination, they have been nothing if not dog good about maintaining a good position incredibly hard to sweep, to turn over, to push around. Is there something that you do with your wrestlers to help instil that sense of mental toughness?

Chris:
Yes, in fact we pride ourselves on our mental toughness and resilience, mental toughness and resilience can be developed, it can be innate to some people yet [40:00] it can absolutely be developed through rigorous practise of a particular endeavour whether it be sport, it might be some other craft or profession. We develop mental toughness through facing and persisting through adversity, that doesn’t mean winning or achieving your goals it means picking yourself up in the face of adversity continuing to persist so what do we do at Team take Down through drilling, through grilling cardio.

Steven:
Which I have witnessed.

Chris:
Thank you in a safe environment and we endeavour to push people past what their mind believes they can endure because the mind breaks before the body does and then with each instance of somebody pushing to failure they feel better, they feel a greater sense of resilience and accomplishment that they can draw up from next time.

Brenton:
I have a question to you about I suppose people that have felt the downs of life are those that have undergone depression and really had some difficult and trying circumstances, do you feel that perhaps one way of looking at it is on the flip side by understanding and feeling those kinds of experiences that can allow them to arise even greater because [cross talk 41:25]

Chris:
Absolutely that’s a very wise question Brenton, I put it to you that if we don’t experience disappointment or if an environment is managed that prevents us from experiencing disappointment then we can never truly develop resilience. I am aware there are some environments with focus on development and so they won’t keep track for example game drills of scores of submissions or whatever it maybe I actually understand that. Having said that if that is the only environment in which people [42:00] train and perform, they never truly experience the sharp loss of disappointment its baring failure that’s so important for us to countenance, to face and to recover from.

Brenton:
I think you learn a lot through failure and its absolutely tantamount to success.

Chris:
Of course we can’t just learn Brenton, Mac and Steve from failure unless we actually have paradigms and ways to learn.

Brenton:
Like scaffoldings.

Chris:
Absolutely.

Mac:
What I love about what you just said is the mind breaks before the body and the way you try to instil all of that with what you just said into your athletes, I think so many parallels with what I’m trying to do with the Unknown, that fear of the unknown pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone all these kinds of concepts I think are so well aligned between what you are doing with Team Take Down and what we do at the Unknown is fantastic.

Chris:
I’m thrilled that you can see those parallels so readily coach Mac, that’s fantastic.

Steven:
I think that all reconciles really clearly with the benefit of engaging in others to assist you in your journey so we talked at the start of this conversation around self-regulation and how you had to seek support elsewhere with psychological preparation for competition and the top speed I think I can go is of course my top speed because I don’t know otherwise, it’s having other people to put you into difficult situations and to come back to Brenton’s point it’s not failure for failure sake it’s in the focus and dedication and the reenergizing that happens after that event in an attempt to prevent it from reoccurring, you come back with a very focused view of where you need to improve because you’ve had it sometimes unceremoniously pointed out for you so it’s not [44:00] the failure component that’s important it’s that response.

Chris:
That resonates with me that so many teambuilding activates and initiatives involve some physical challenge particularly with your work colleagues or group and the theory that underlies a lot of those team building activities is to break people down to cause discomfort and inconvenience and then for people to face that together and try to come back from that. In itself that’s a very compelling premise yet only helpful if you actually have that scaffolding that you referred Brenton because otherwise if you break people down and then leave them to their own devices, they are broken people so you create a safe environment so my Team Take Down students come to trust me so I can break them down absolutely that’s in a safe environment.

Brenton:
It’s really interesting you point that out I mean full disclosure one of the major motivators for me seeking to become extremely competitive in Brazilian jujitsu was A because I loved it and I wanted to see how far it but was B I’ve experienced several experiences of my life anxiety and found that jujitsu was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life and about a week out from my competition I start with the sweaty palms, I would be waking up with a racing heart and just a terrifying example of when being out on the mat and that idea in my mind of being crippled and lost and having everyone disappointed in me and so I think it’s a very crucial platform to explore yourself and explore success and be able to reconcile with it as Steve pointed out and be able to really learn through those challenges and its one of the most mentally challenging experiences you can go through but particularly what’s is incredibly valuable too.

Chris:
Firstly Brenton I commend you and acknowledge your candid about your own experience well done which then beautifully dove tells earlier about our earlier discussion about mental health especially for men so well done you’re a role [46:00] model there Brenton and more over with regards to all of the symptoms your described people face those readily not only for competition sometimes turning up to face a difficult co-worker sometimes facing family demands at home with the birth of a new child all these challenges.

Brenton:
Challenges opens many geysers.

Mac:
Coach Chris to change directions, since this podcast is really a platform to share ideas about strength and conditioning ideas and along with other facets of the fight game I’m really interested to know about your background as a strength coach yourself as a strength athlete yourself and just a bit about your philosophy’s and methodologies when it comes to strength and conditioning.

Chris:
Thank you I be delighted to regal you and your listeners, personally I started strength training when I was probably about 5 or 6 at home with just some dumbbells.

Brenton:
5 or 6 years old right?

Chris:
Yeah if anybody looks at me now I’m reasonably imposing because that’s many years of martial arts. If you look at my older brother Albert he’d be 70kilos and quite thin, one of the top submission grapplers who never competed, we had the same physic and I built myself into who I am. I used to buy this is slightly embarrassing, muscle…

Brenton:
Max’s muscle?

Chris:
No this was years before that.

Steven:
Not Rocco upper desano? [48:00] Chris:
Jane Wider used to have aa magazine.

Mac:
Muscle medium.

Chris:
Before that this was back in the 70s I used to buy body building magazines and read them and this is that classic tale chaps, we grew up in Tarelgen we were the only Asian family, we encountered wonderfully welcoming people also encountered a lot of racism so my dad enrolled us in martial arts. I was punching hard with kids much older than me for a long time and my dad would get telephone calls, he was the respectable pharmacist of a local hospital, hello Mr Shin your son Chris has been in another fight and my dad’s first question was how much older was the other lad? Said they were years older because they would call me a name and I just watched too many Bruce Lee films and just jumped on them and started pounding their head in or something and then I would use the Arnold Schwarzenegger programs in my local gym and of course we all now know that we actually never did those programs and it almost killed me and yet it gave me confidence because when these young guys are growing filled with testosterone as well, what happens is you can throw a barbell at a young lad or lass and give them the worst exercise in the world which I don’t endorse and they will still develop musculature because of the…[cross talk 49:22] and so I started getting super muscular and of course I was doing karate at that time, the kids stopped bullying me in fact in that childlike lord of the fly’s kind of way if you can beat them all of a sudden their your friends so people started befriending me and so forth and I started developing a self-image as a martial artist, as a capable person and of course without wanting to channel Mr Miyagi, what you can fight you don’t have to fight.

Brenton:
It’s the art of fighting without fighting. [50:00]

Chris:
From a strength and coaching perspective when I got to Uni I was studying psychology doing a bachelor of science not only did I train in every single martial art that was available I also joined the weight lifting club and a power lifting coach by the name of Michael I’m terribly sorry to Michael I can’t remember his name, from Waverly weight lifting club taught me 3 moves that have served me my entire life bench press, dead lift and squat. The foundation of power lifters and then my musculature went through the roof and I absolutely loved it, it built my physically in to who I am. From there I loved it so much I did a level 1 and 2 strength and conditioning power lifting course, I was delightfully appointed as a strength and conditioning coach with St. Catharine’s growing crew which is on public record, I also was a high performance coach at Melbourne park with their official tennis squads and then I bundled strength and conditioning martial training into a lot of the sports psychology gigs I had right through the 1990s as well because of course If you would you into a football club and you’re the team psychologist, what the players often do in the 1990s there was a stigma about seeing the psychologist so what I would is I would feed pads to the lads which I did for the Bulldogs which is on public record that I would sit down there as their wrestling coach. I would challenge the players to a bench press competition knowing full well that I could beat them to get credibility that’s what I would do.

Mac:
You get a lot of respect when you can out lift the guys [52:00]

Chris:
And then then that gave face validity to the player to then want to approach me about personal matters and so forth.

Steven:
And also have that opportunity to strike up a conversation.

Chris:
And I’m lucky enough that I have a range of attributes that I can do that, I don’t necessarily recommend that for any aspiring psychologist.

Mac:
Of course not what about for your fighters and athletes, is there any kind of philosophy’s or any particular methodology that you guys stick to over at Team Take Down for your wrestling specifically?

Chris:
May I ask you to please clarify that question a little bit more.
Mac:
Strength and conditioning sorry.

Chris:
Yes, yes, yes and yes firstly I differ to their strength and conditioning coaches, if I may disclose you and I Coach Mac collocate with our current athletes at Team Take Down and have in the past as well so the first thing I do is when I interview somebody for Team Take Down one of the first things I ask is what are their competition aspirations that they are currently competing and if you don’t wish to compete that’s ok, what are your aspirations to develop yourself physically and then I ask do you have a strength and conditioning coach and if they don’t I recommend several people your one Coach Mac. If they do, then I invite their coach to come into training which is what happened with us so we can we can go to collaboration and so I don’t direct people down a certain path rather I encourage them to have a specialist because I recognise the limitations and bounders of my expertise. I’m there as their wrestling coach and then I also them I’m a psychologist so I will be incorporating mental skill stuff as well.

Mac:
So rather than wearing too many hats in the coaching role as head of Team Take Down you differ them to other people for strength and conditioning.

Chris:
Absolutely for that specialist knowledge because the trouble with being a jack of all trades is you become a master of none.

Brenton:
I really like Mac’s question of course personally my energy and focus completely zapped by anxiety and adrenaline dump and I touched on that a little bit before so are there any things or philosophy’s or techniques that a competitor can do admitting or perhaps mitigating [54:00] anxiety and competition jitters and take control of the situation?

Chris:
Yes, a tip that can be readily applied by listeners is to draw upon previous performance accomplishments or to create a psychological state of calmness, resourcefulness, stillness that they can draw upon when they find themselves anxious and derailed and so forth. How your listeners can do that is either recall a time where they performed very well where they were very resourceful or very calm or if they have never had that experience create a psychological calmness, resourcefulness and stillness and then when that experience is at its peak zenith, do something notable like clench their preferred hand into a fist and hold it and we build a strongness association between that particular anchor that is the clenching of the fist for example to that psychological state that is associated with either the memory or that new state and so then with as little as 3-5 practises of that for about 5-10 minutes, then what that athlete can do when he or she recognises or when his or her coach or training partner recognises that they are getting anxious , they can create that psychological state by firing off that trigger.

Brenton:
One of the books that I harp about and has a massive component is book called ‘Psycho self-addicts’ by Maxwell Milts and for me one of the critical points I derived from that was that the human psyche struggles to differentiate [56:00] a real memory from one that you essentially plant in your mind that you program yourself by creating those memories and reiterating them again and again until your mind interprets it as a real memory anyway so I find that really interesting that you point that out by that exercise by repetition until ultimately it does become a reality.

Chris:
Regrettably we also saw that reinforced through horrendously unethical psychology and psychiatry experiments back in the 1950s, 60s, 70s where they would subject participants to experiments, to torturous type ordeals and then convince them of a particular untruth and so you torture someone and have them tell you that the sky is pink and if you kept using adverse therapy, kept torturing someone, they will actually believe that.

Mac:
Chris I would like to change directions for a bit.

Chris:
You are the master of changing directions.

Mac:
I’m trying my best here but I really want to know what motivated you to take on what I imagine what must be a massively underappreciated and I guess at times thankless role as an official for MMA events.

Chris:
Thank you the moment you mentioned thankless you can only be talking about MMA officiating.

Brenton:
You’re doing a great job.

Chris:
Thank you sir I consider officiating at MMA to be an enormous privilege especially and this is on the public record, I am blessed to be able to work with the premier MMA sports league the ultimate fighting championship in Asia as an MMA official which I take very seriously, I’m very thankful to the organisation. With regards to your question way back in 2006 [58:00] when I was coaching Team Take Down I was working as a psychologist the Victorian professional boxing combat sports board approached me and they actually said that this new sport of cage fighting some promotor I think it Johnny Skido wants to put a no rules fighter on one of his kick boxing cards at the West end Hotel, do you know anything about that Chris someone gave us your name and can you help us I appreciate this and I actually thought by that stage I’d been swapping boot leg VHS UFC cassettes with people and had also helped coach Larry Propodolous and coach John Donahue, organise amateur C class Shuto MMA events in Melbourne and I though this a great opportunity instead of being like so many people saying wouldn’t it be great if UFC came to Australia, wouldn’t it be great if we had MMA actually been someone who tried getting it running so I out my hand up and got involved in helping to draft the initial rules because the unified rules in the association of boxing commissions didn’t exist at that stage and I refereed the very first match which was opted in a very good karate exponent David Slater round house kicking his opponent clean unconscious at there’s this phot sequence of me absolutely started to body lock him before he did any more damage and so that’s how I got started and then as the UFC grew in notoriety and then there was a brief period of time where we were showing packaged segments on free to air television and then this is what exploded there was a UFC magazine [01:00:00] that was available at service stations and all of a sudden people were wearing tap out and then more and more bouts became regulated in Victoria I then was blessed to actually meet some of my very dear friends Steven Percival and Greg Claygens who invited me to officiate with them in Tasmania and invited me to their referee and officiating association MMA federation of Australia and then in 2011 I was asked to work as a fighting inspector with MMAFA with the UFC in its Sydney event which was a great privilege.

Mac:
That’s amazing.

Chris:
You mentioned thankless can I actually say that I please emplor all competitors, trainers and fans not just in MMA all sports to please recognise and respect the role the officials play because sport wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for officials.

Steven:
I think it’s really easy to get caught up in the emotion surrounding any outcome of a sporting event and losing sight of the fact that as you just said without the officiate the event simply can’t take place. It’s as simple as that.

Brenton:
Definitely thankless job anyway my handful of experiences of refereeing.

Chris:
I refereed you at a submission grappling event.

Brenton:
I was very fortunate to have you raise my hand thank you appreciate it.

Mac:
So coach Chris tell us about your book that you’ve recently had published, let me get this right it’s called ‘Wrestling with resilience’.

Chris:
How’s that for a catchy title?

Mac:
I love it, hand book for developing resilience and mental [01:02:00] toughness.

Chris:
Thank you very much for graciously asking, that wasn’t a set up at all. Let me say its written with my lifelong friend and colleague and my PHD supervisor associate professor Simon Moss. It is currently in preparation it will be realised there after although Amazon is listing which scares me, what I will say is I’ve been continually asked by participants of workshops, by wrestlers, by jujitsu and MMA players and by other people as I go around incidentally do I have some resources about how we can overcome stress, do I some podcasts or web links or physical books or eBooks that I can recommend to deal with anxiety, could I recommend a particular book for getting the best out of myself as an athlete and what I’ve done beautifully is pulled together about 20 different sources and recommend it to those people that have asked.

Brenton:
Kind of like a compendium.

Chris:
Indeed, and so then the bright idea came about 5 years ago with no one source you mentioned a compendium Brenton, no one source is I believe mentioning those requests, that is my imperially based research so I thought hey I’ll write it and pitched to a publisher who love the title.

Mac:
What’s in the name.

Chris:
It’s all in the pitch lads and then I’ve been slowly writing it as I have been acquiring experience [01:04:00] over the years and Simon Moss who’s head of psychology at Charles W Uni has been proffering the research for me and I’m very proud that my very first book will be published a little bit later on this year.

Mac:
That is absolutely incredible congratulations.

Chris:
Thank you lads.

Brenton:
So I imagine the sequel will be called ‘Gut pulling for the tough’?

Chris:
I don’t believe right now, I’m mortally affronted and will be walking out of here right now.

Brenton:
Please tell me audible read by your own voice.

Chris:
Thank you for asking if anything I was thrilled I spoke to my publisher at Baled Books the other day and they releasing the books as both eBook and I’m quite keen to actually release a spoken version.

Brenton:
Please do expose that path.

Chris:
Il expose that path with you because my technology guru over here.

Steven:
So Chris I’ve actually got a wrestling resource at home a book called ‘Wrestling tough’ I think I read the book probably 15 times and then I’ve read it in partial attempts probably 20 times so is there something I can do to get a new book so once that book has been released will we be able to get you to share for our listeners benefit where they will be able to get a hold of that.

Chris:
Of course thank you for that kind request, wrestling tough is an outstanding book I also endorse for a wrestling perspective ‘A season on the mat’ which follows Coach Dan Dabbles ‘Hawk eyes through a season’ in the 1990s, ‘Zen in the martial arts’ by James Hymes which was a seminal book for me, I’ve worn out about 5 different copies of that I’ve got it on eBook of course. There’s a lot of psychology that we have discussed I use a contemporary body of psychology called ‘Positive psychology’ in a lot of my work [01:06:00] which is very much about enhancing techniques and tools to enhance people’s mental health. One of the key components is Professor Martin Sellermen he has a book called ‘Flourish’ which I highly endorse as well. Further to those I’ve just listed the way I’m consuming knowledge now my partner and I deliberately have to shoot physical books so in our home there are no physical books, she’s studying at the moment yet all of my books particularly my psychology textbooks in my clinic so everything I’m consuming now to answer your question is electronic. I’m following quite a lot of podcast such as your congratulations chaps on the interview with Coach Daniel Kelly, who I think is a result of your interview 1…

Brenton:
We’ll take all the credit but…

Steven:
He was 15.41% more effective on the night.

Brenton:
And that’s rounding up.

Chris:
I can’t identify any specific tones yet what I will say is read and view widely listeners. 2017 is open learning there’s universities opening their courses to people now is the time to learn about anything and everything.

Mac:
Coach Chris tell us about what’s on the horizon for you in 2017, what do you have planned what’s in store?

Chris:
Thank you I’m gleefully super busy at the moment with a couple of things that I’m doing concurrently. The first is I have been engaged by my valued clients both individuals and organisations I absolutely want to continue to bring innovative and helpful psychological strategy’s and principles to help them [01:08:00] in their work and their lives. The second is I’m doing my PHD and my PHD is examining techniques to improve individuals and organisations, my book with Simon Moss is coming out soon furthermore you have engendered and evoked a little bit of interest to see if I can get back onto the jujitsu mat although I don’t know about all this stuff that you fall on your back like a turtle, I don’t know what that is.

Brenton:
That’s just a path of beating someone quicker.

Chris:
Anything that existed in 2006.

Steven:
It’s a cunning plan.

Brenton:
It’s the dark side.

Chris:
Furthermore, I’m delighted to announce that I’m exploring veganism as well so I’m endeavouring to become a vegan athlete.

Mac:
Your partner Meera is a vegan yeah?

Chris:
Correct.

Brenton:
So what’s the motive behind that? Everyone has different reasons, for yourself?

Chris:
I love animals and when I’ve explored the way animals are treated during the food production industry it shocks me and so as a slightly yet very good shape older bloke, I’m exploring veganism for animal rights and so forth and I’m endeavouring to maintain my muscle mass and still keep training as a vegan athlete and of course current Mr Olympia is vegan, Arnold Schwarzenegger has recently turned to veganism as well, absolute MMA athlete Clare Fury Foreman is a vegan athlete who my partner admires and I’m going to hit you guys to please get an autograph for my partner. Then my partner and I [01:10:00] are keen to do some travel as well particular because up until I retired from wrestling I did a lot of travel yet it was mostly going from airport to wrestling mat to…

Brenton:
It was stressful it wasn’t for leisure.

[cross talk 01:10:19]

Steven:
No Chris is wrapping the interview up on behalf of Coach Mac, Brenton and myself I wanted to really thank you for taking the time out to see us, your and OG of the jujitsu and grappling scene in Melbourne, we were really excited about this opportunity and very genuinely so often when we are as excited about having a guest on the podcast we create this sense that the time we spend together is going to be absolutely fantastic and in this case you have exceeded those expectations so on behalf of the 3 of us, I know for me personally I’ve got a lot out of it, talking to Brenton before we kicked this off we were both really excited about seeing you and please come back.

Chris:
Thank you Coach Steve, Coach Brenton, Coach Mac thank you for your kind words and your welcome it’s been an absolute pleasure I look forward to maintain our warm and sincere relationship and keep going with this wonderful podcast.

Brenton:
Thank you and when can we expect to see the book?

Chris:
The reason I’m pausing is because I’m just trying to be precise here Amazon have listed it for August 2017 they seem to know more about it then I do as the author so I imagine it will be coming out soon of course all of you here not the listeners that would be too many but all of you here will be invited to the launch and I’ll give you a personally autographed copy. KABOOM!!

Mac:
Absolutely love it.

Brenton:
Fantastic thanks Chris.

Chris:
Thank you lads.

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