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The Path of the Awakened Warriors

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By Brandon Cook

“Given enough time, any man may master the physical. With enough knowledge, any man may become wise. It is the true warrior who can master both….and surpass the result.”
- Tien T’ai

Brandon Cook

“Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart give yourself to it.” – Buddha

What’s up BIG guy? Hope you’re doing great and enjoying life! ;)

If you’re new here, I’d like to personally welcome you! This blog is a journey into transformation, evolution and personal growth… mine, my brothers and more importantly YOURS!  Not just on a physical front, mind you, but also mentally, spiritually and beyond.

Our ultimate goal for this blog is to create a tribe of Awakened Warriors that are following this enlightened path to health, fitness and personal development.

At the end of the day, we want you to achieve your highest potential in life and enjoy the process of pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone.

If you’re not growing, you’re dying and so we have to force ourselves to keep striving for excellence. We have to get comfortable, being uncomfortable and that means challenging ourselves in new ways and experiencing life to the fullest.

If you’re a long time reader of this site, then let me stop right now and say THANK YOU for returning to this site and blog and checking out the information and insights we’ve been sharing. I really hope this website has added some value to your life because that’s our ultimate purpose here.

It’s 2012 baby!!! :)

We’ve got some great stuff in store for you in 2012 and I, for one, am planning to push myself to write more consistently.  Time has been slipping away on me and I’ve got to seize the day! Even though I have a full time job in the wealth management industry, I love health, nutrition and training deeply.

In fact, I’m very passionate about it. My ultimate goal is to transition into doing this full time and I know I’m going to have to make some sacrifices and hustle to make this happen.

What I’ve been doing up to this point isn’t cutting it and I’m going to have to be smarter, work harder and give more of myself in the coming months and years if I’m going to make this a reality… AND I WILL!

The Realization of a Wounded Warrior

GSPAlthough my goal is to become an Awakened Warrior, lately I’ve felt more like a Wounded Warrior. In fact, I feel like I’ve lost a few rounds with the Champ! Lol

Even so, that which does not kill us only serves to make us stronger.

At the beginning of this post you will find my most recent transformation pic taken in November 2011.

I’m down quite a few pounds from where I stood this past March at 170lbs and 11% body fat. I’ve lost a lot of fat and unfortunately, a little bit of muscle too. On the bright side, this is the leanest I’ve been in a while. Of course, I’d prefer to be this lean at 170 like Georges St. Pierre!

It’s definitely been an interesting year and I was making good progress until…. Adversity struck!

To make a long, frustrating story short my shoulders started acting up again. Then I pulled my hamstring and had to skip out on the Warrior Dash race. Double wammy!

In fact, I’m still working to heal up both of these injuries as I seem to keep reinjuring them. Like many of my “iron brethren” I love training so much that it drives me to the point of insanity NOT being able to train. To top it off, sometimes I push myself a little harder than I probably should.

Knowing this, I need to be smarter before I end up making these injuries worse and ruining all hopes of a full recovery. I want to be training well into old age. After all, the point of training is to make you stronger, more athletic and to help you live a long, healthy life…


Because of this, my strength was literally zapped to nothing after these injuries.  A basic push-up and even bodyweight squats were nearly impossible to do pain free and it’s almost as if I had never trained at all. I was feeling pretty beat up and like a washed up meathead.

I realized, right then and there, that I needed to shift my focus onto longevity of training. Something I wish I would have known/done from the beginning.

When you’re young you can get away with some brutal training, yet in the end it will catch up with you. Therefore, I don’t recommend pushing yourself to the extreme. You see a lot of ‘hardcore’ guys doing this type of stuff and a lot of it is ego driven.

It’s definitely important to train hard. Ultimately though, your workout should be making you look and FEEL better in the long run. It should improve your quality of life… not detract from it. Just keep that in mind.

The good news is that I’m rapidly starting to heal up and am finally learning my lesson. Here’s how you can avoid the same fate……

Escape the Trap of Instant Gratification

Instant GratificationIn this day and age, everybody expects to be jacked in ONE MONTH!!! And there are plenty of marketing guys who will tell you that you can do so, but that shit ain’t the truth…

The truth is that it’s probably going take longer than that. I know that sucks to hear but deep down I think you know this at heart!

Now don’t get me wrong, some people can and do make awesome transformations in short periods of time (if they do everything right). Even so, it typically takes 3-6 months of disciplined training and nutrition to make a big transformation… NOT ONE MONTH!

The harsh reality though, is that it can take up to two years or longer to build your physique. In fact, many champions have trained diligently for ten years or more before reaching “peak perfection.”

No one wants to hear that though… they want it RIGHT NOW!

I understand this desire for instant gratification and fell into this trap myself. I mean who wants to put forth years of hard effort IF you can get “swole” right away by popping some pills and drinking a few protein shakes?

If only it were that easy… Unfortunately, it’s this common mindset that can lead you into a huge pitfall of disaster.

The problem arises if you push yourself ‘too hard too soon’ without first preparing your joints, tendons and ligaments. As I learned firsthand, you can end up seriously injuring yourself. After hearing some guy’s horror stories, I’m just grateful that I got off pretty easy.

In the beginning, I was simply misinformed and following information that didn’t apply to natural bodybuilders. Most of these issues could have been avoided if I had a proper coach and wasn’t in such a rush. If you’re going to do this… then do it right the first time. Take your time and build a solid foundation.

The Ideal Path to Success

“When in a hurry… take the long, sure path.” – Sage Advice

All of this has caused me to think long and hard about my training, career and future. I’ve been searching for a way to overcome these injuries so that I can go on to make 2012 my best year yet.

Through it all, the one thing I’m most proud of is that I’ve never given up.  I’ve come this far and I don’t plan on giving up now.

In Dan Millman’s very insightful book “Body Mind Mastery”, he explains three possible learning curves for acquiring new athletic skills:

3 Learning Curves

As he states it, “Curve A represents the hasty, random, up and down learning curve of most athletes.”

Basically, they make great improvements at first, but they often have insufficient preparation and don’t spend the necessary time to develop a strong foundation upon which they can build.

Therefore, as the skill requirements advance, weaknesses begin to emerge and their progress levels off. In some cases it can come to a grinding halt if they experience injuries, like myself, or reach a plateau.

“Curve B”, he says, “Is the path of the body mind master. At first they appear to improve very slowly. The path is initially difficult, with little to show.

These athletes are working ‘below the waterline’, developing a hidden foundation. Gradually but surely, the learning curve begins to turn upward, until progress accelerates at a rapid, consistent, and almost effortless pace.”

You can see how Curve B starts off slow by learning the fundamentals and then soon surpasses Curve A in skills and ability.

Finally, Dan says that “Curve C is really the most important because it represents a second wind for most of us.”

As in the case for me, I feel that in order to move forward I need to take a few steps back and start over from the beginning. This way I can heal up, focus on rebuilding a solid foundation and rise above my current predicament.

That said, I believe there are 5 main reasons why I keep re-injuring my shoulder:

1. I’ve been training for fast muscle gains instead of long term athleticism

2. I never built a solid foundation through calisthenics (bodyweight training)

3. I’m trying to train at a level beyond my current capabilities allow.

4. I still have Muscular Imbalances around my shoulder joint

5. I’m not giving myself the time I need to heal (pushing myself too hard too soon)

As Napoleon Hill once said “Every adversity you meet carries with it the seed of an equivalent or greater benefit.” You just have to remind yourself to look for it!

After much reflection, I now realize that without these injuries I wouldn’t have had to learn about proper training, body mechanics, healing and recovery methods. In other words, this ‘blessing in disguise’ has given me more wisdom to pass on to my fellow warriors.

Having to start over from scratch is also presenting a unique opportunity for me to show you guys how to build your body properly from the beginning; while avoiding the many mistakes I’ve made along the way.

I truly believe this is going to be my second chance to live the life I was born to live and take my business and this blog to a whole ‘nuther level!

Nothing would make me happier than if you came along for the ride. Even more than that, I hope you’re an active participant in helping me design, experiment and test this innovative body and life transformation system my brother and I call Awakened Warrior Training.

It’s time to create our own reality…

The Way of the Awakened Warriors

Bushido KanjiMy ultimate goal is NOT just bodybuilding for the sake of building huge, useless muscles. To be fair, that was my original goal when I first started weight training over a decade ago. However, my thinking has evolved ALOT since then.

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, my purpose is to cultivate a hybrid method of training that combines the best of both eastern and western modalities to further refine the body, mind and spirit into a unified whole.

A jaw-dropping physique is just going to be a lovely side-effect of following the Path of the Awakened Warrior!

This system integrates a variety of disciplines to achieve this purpose:

• Calisthenics (various forms of bodyweight training), Strength and Conditioning, as well as, Martial Arts training will be used to build, strengthen, and simultaneously transform the body into both a weapon and a work of art.

• Cutting edge nutritional and supplement strategies will provide the building blocks through which health, vitality and overall well-being will radiate from every cell of the body.

• Techniques from Aikido, Tai Chi, Yoga and other eastern wisdom traditions are incorporated to develop the inner warrior, heal the body-mind and cultivate Chi (life-energy.)

• Daily meditation, self-hypnosis and visualization will be included to harness the power of the subconscious mind and eradicate any limiting core beliefs that may be holding you back from your goals.

As I see it, this is the future of health and fitness and we will be breaking new ground by utilizing such a holistic method of training.

Of course, in order for us to bring such a training method into being we’ve got to start taking MASSIVE ACTION towards this goal. Luckily, I’ve already begun and it all starts with healing my body.

My focus for the next few months is to apply everything I know about healing the body and restoring its ability to function at a higher level so I can get back to walking the Path of the Awakened Warriors.

As I heal up I’ll start documenting the training program that I plan to use to correct my muscle imbalances and rebuild my body.

I wish you the best in 2012 and am looking forward to continue sharing this journey with you!

Train with Heart,



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4 Responses to “The Path of the Awakened Warriors”

  1. Jesse Says:

    Hey man, glad to hear you’re doing well. I was wondering where you had disappeared to. Keep us posted!

  2. Mario Says:

    Hi Brandon!

    I’ve been reading your blog for one year now bro. My training reached a whole new level last 2011 thanks to your posts and the coaches you introduced us warriors here. Man I really wanted to thank you and your brother for that.

    Just like you, I also feel like a wounded warrior at this point. In my case, I started 2011 laying out a good foundation, improving flexibility, core strength and muscle balance. Then when my trainer who kept watch on my form gave me a go signal, I moved on to heavy squats and deadlifts. I did make some great gains, from 125lb to 133lb, but I also got to 10% body fat from a 5% (I’m 5ft 8in). Also then I realized some more weaknesses, and my progress in the bodyweight exercises reached a halt.

    To cut the rest, now I’m even leaner at 120lb 3%, and I also lost muscle, but I noticed that my handstand pushups on the wall and pullups are getting better. I feel a lot more control over my bodyweight. It has its advantages in gymnastics (I’m a beginner, focusing on events like the still rings and the parallel bars), but this new body has its disadvantages too (especially in wrestling, and I was doing striking before).

    I personally believe in Dan Millman. I saw Peaceful Warrior. The learning curves are great insight.

    So there bro. Just sharing. You’re an inspiration to all of us.

    With heart bro.

  3. Oz Says:

    Thanks for all your posts, certainly they’re personal, but also filled with insight as well. I’m not new to receiving your email post alerts. I’ve learned more, better with these! It’s all about the journey.

  4. Brandon Says:

    @ Jesse: Sorry to leave you hanging for so long! I hate when I do that. :(

    @ Mario: Thanks for all of the kind words and for sticking with us here! Means a lot. Squats and deads are great for mass, yet all the spinal compression can be hard on the body. Just got to respect them and progress carefully. Awesome about the gymnastics! Yeah Millman is one of my favorite authors. Keep at it bro!

    @ Oz: You’re right Oz, it’s all about the journey! Glad you’ve found the posts insightful. Thanks for sharing

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