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Foreword to Convict Conditioning

 
 

Return to Convict Conditioning Detail Page

by John Du Cane

Some time in 1969. A brash Cambridge undergraduate sat hunched in the reverent silence, as two saffron-clad Tibetan Buddhist monks lectured on the mysteries of meditation and enlightenment.
 
The monks radiated gentle peace and ease. Their eyes crinkled with humor, as if sharing a perpetual inside joke. "Everything is beautiful, nothing matters," they seemed to hint. Their words washed over the young man's head—mostly wasted—as his mind darted from restless thought to restless thought.
 
One monk began to speak of the inner freedom that arises from the practice of deep meditation. The monk used an analogy: "You can be locked in a prison cell—apparently in bondage—and yet you remain free inside. Nobody can take that inner freedom from you."
 
The undergrad exploded out of his seat with an angry rebuttal. "How can you say that? Prison is prison. Bondage is bondage. There can be no real freedom when you are being held against your will!" A deep button had been pushed, the knee-jerk response out of all proportion to the monk's analogy.
 
The fellow monk smiled beatifically at the angry young man. "It is good to question your teachers," he said with absolute sincerity and no hint of irony. And the monks continued with their talk, flowing like a river round the jagged boulder in their midst.
 
Forty years later. Some time in 2009. The volatile young Cambridge undergrad is now a somewhat wiser and a whole lot more mellow fellow. He's running a dynamic and rapidly expanding venture called Dragon Door Publications—a vehicle for those with a passion for the cultivation of physical excellence.
 
And I'm about to introduce the world to one of the most exciting books I have ever read. It's a book about prison. It's a book about freedom. It's a book about survival. It's a book about humanity. It's a book about strength and power. It's a book that belongs in the hands of our military, our police, our firefighters, and all who protect our country from harm. It's a book to circulate in our high schools and colleges. It's a book for the professional athlete and for the out-of-shape desk jockey. It's a book for stay-at-home moms. It's a book for boomers seeking to reverse the sands of time. It's a book for anyone seeking the secrets of supreme survival strength.
 
It's a book by an ex-con—a man stripped of his freedom over a twenty-year period; a man confined in some of the harshest prisons in America. Forced into strength by the brute needs of base survival. A man stripped of all but his body and mind—who chose to cultivate himself against all odds and create a private freedom no one would be able to prize from him. The freedom of a strong body and a strong mind.
 
It's a book called Convict Conditioning.
 
Convict Conditioning?! How and why would a company of Dragon Door's stature dare publish a book with such a title? Surely, this has to be some glib celebration of the criminal—hardly deserving of one of the world's premier fitness publishing companies?
 
Many of our country's leading fitness experts have read preview copies of Convict Conditioning —and loved the contents. In fact, in many cases, raved about the contents. But in many cases, they balked and winced at the title. Convict Conditioning?! "John, the contents are superb, but they deserve a better title. This book belongs with every member of the military, every law enforcement officer, it should be given to every child by their parents…but how many of them are going to read it, with a title like this?"
 
I did waver, I admit. Not about the book, but the title. Would I be selling America—and even the author, Paul Wade—short by such a title? Would those two words, "Convict Conditioning", somehow turn away the hundreds of thousands who stand to benefit from the strength strategies within its pages? Would the title relegate these wonderful secrets to just a small band of enthusiasts who grasp the brilliance of Paul's Big Six progressions—and could care less about the title?
 
But the more I thought about it, the more absolutely convinced I was that the title had to stand. Because Convict Conditioning is about exactly that: a strength-survival system born from one of the most daily-dangerous environments any man can be placed in. Convict Conditioning is about taking your strength and power to a level where no predator would remotely consider attacking you. Convict Conditioning is about achieving an aura of strength and power that sends a dramatic and entirely unambiguous message to other limbic systems: "Don't even think about it!"
 
To call this reservoir of knowledge by any other name would be to do it a great disservice. It would be akin to taking a rare, rich Roquefort—bleeding with potency—and calling it Cheddar Mild. Sorry, can't do it.
 
And the central message needs to stand: there IS a freedom that cannot be taken from you—whatever little box you may be stuck in. And that's the freedom to cultivate the magnificence of your own body and mind, regardless of external environment. Paul Wade has created both a stunning testament to that truth—and a master-plan on how you can achieve that magnificence yourself.
 
Dive into the pages of Convict Conditioning and you will quickly realize that this is no celebration of "convictness"—no literary equivalent of gangsta rap. In fact, it's a book that will make you fervently wish you never, ever end up where Paul had to tread for so many years. But it's also a book to inspire you to achieve heights of physical excellence you may have once considered impossible.
 
And then comes another consideration: because this wisdom has been passed to us by an ex-convict, is this wisdom somehow tainted? If a police officer or a high school coach—for instance—use Paul's system and achieve unprecedented new levels of strength and power, have they somehow sullied themselves, betrayed their profession, because the wisdom came from an ex-con? Hardly, I would say. Because that would deny one of the great spiritual truths embodied in Convict Conditioning: "Judge not, that ye be not judged." And deny the central message of hope within this book—any human being has the potential for redemption, however dark their situation.
 
I recently tried to turn my 18-year old son, Peter on to one of the rock icons I had revered in my own teenage years—Lou Reed. After listening to a short excerpt of Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground, his response was definitive: "Dad, there can be only one Bob Dylan." While I disagreed with Peter about Lou, he wasn't that far off the mark. Lou Reed had idolized Bob Dylan—and because there was indeed "only one Bob Dylan" had a helluva time making the separation. To my mind, Lou achieved that rare stature. "There is only one Lou Reed," I would say.
 
In my life as a publisher I have had the good fortune to offer three remarkable authors to the world: Pavel Tsatsouline, Ori Hofmekler and Marty Gallagher. All three have an iconic stature that can be summed up in the phrase "there is only one…" There can be only one Pavel. There can be only one Ori. There can be only one Marty. And now I am equally privileged to add a fourth author to that list. There can be only one Paul Wade.