Two of my favorite movie swordsmen are complete opposites.
The Black Knight is an unyielding buffoon from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” and Ujio is a dedicated warrior, from “The Last Samurai.” The Black Knight is totally comedic. Ujio (eew-gee-oh) a samurai, is quite the opposite.
Two awesome guys!
If you’re not a Monty Python fan, The Black Knight is famous for saying the most absurd things while LOSING a sword fight. I mean, you’re LOSING a sword fight and you’re talking?
In the movie, King Arthur systematically dismembers The Knight. And if dismembering can be funny, then this scene is the funniest dismembering scene in cinematic history.
The King wants to end the duel since he’s obviously beaten the Knight. But as each body part is lopped off, the Knight continues to taunt the King, trying to provoke him into continuing the duel. It’s silly and so stupid that it’s funny.
The Black Knight’s famous response, after the King cut off his arm, was to dismiss it as nothing because “it’s just a flesh wound.” And even as King Arthur is leaving the scene and continuing on his quest to find the Holy Grail, the dismembered Knight continues taunting and yelling at The King, calling him a coward and trying to get him to keep fighting!
In the very serious “The Last Samurai,” Ujio spends the first two thirds of the movie wanting to kill Tom Cruise. A feeling that we can all relate to from time to time, no doubt. (Probably more so after that whole “couch hopping” foolishness on Oprah. Or after his interview on The Today Show when he called Matt Lauer “obtuse” or “feckless” or some such vague, but insulting sounding word.)
But in the end Tom and Ujio become comrades and go into battle together against a common enemy. It would be a battle that Ujio would not survive.
At one point during the battle, Ujio is wounded multiple times, severe enough that he could have been taken from the field, and where he would surely die … behind the lines. Not an option for a proud and noble samurai. No warrior wants to die on the ground behind the lines.
Ujio rebuffs the concerns and the assistance from his fellow samurai, all the while spitting out blood. He gets to his feet without help, stands up straight, readjusts his battle armor, and without a word being spoken, nods to his fellow samurai, to let them know of his readiness and his resolve. Ujio then sets himself in preparation for the next wave of enemy soldiers. And when those soldiers attack, Ujio rushes into the battle to meet his enemy head on!
The fact that neither The Black Knight nor Ujio ever gave up would be reason enough for me to admire them. And would be reason enough for me to tell you about them.
But what I particularly like about Ujio and The Knight are their obvious choices to focus on something other than their circumstances, their wounds, and their sure defeat. They are singularly focused on their duty. Their eyes are fixed upon doing their duty, staying the course, and finishing their mission. They are mission focused and mission capable. By an act of their will, they ignore the obvious calamity and turn their attention to finding a solution to their dilemma and completing their mission.
“Tony are you ever serious?” I get asked from time to time. Usually it’s in the form of some critical remark or tone. Usually it comes from some stuffed-shirt-stick-in-the-mud-fuddy-duddy who takes things waaaay too seriously and takes exception to my jocularity and optimism. Usually it’s from someone who doesn’t know me very well.
I get the impression from them that they believe that somehow I’ve managed to live this long without being touched by tragedy or heartache. That somehow the lines on my face have been caused only by sophomoric and juvenile jokesterisms and tomfooleries. That I’ve been spared the trials and tribulations that accompany most others through this journey. That I’ve somehow veered away from the potholes and pitfalls; I’ve avoided the deathbeds and the funerals; I’ve missed out on life’s misfortunes, the pain of loss and loneliness, the death of a dream, or the tragedy of brokenness.
But if you know me at all, then you know that I am well acquainted with those things, the same things that accompany all of us in life.
What I refuse to do is to focus on them.
Or at the very least, try not to focus on them. I’ll take the rose colored glasses any day over playing the victim.
I don’t want my worst moments, or my most misguided decision, or my deepest tragedy, or my most horrific experience to define who I am or to permanently discolor my world or my personality.
I want to be like The Black Knight and Ujio. I want my focus to be on moving forward. On the mission.
I’m not looking for excuses. I’m looking for opportunities. I want to face my enemy with a sword in my hand and a crazy grin on my face. And in the process I’m going to be irreverent and silly, occasionally serious, but mostly absurdly borderline inappropriate, light, and funny.
But I will also purposely and regularly engage in introspection and reflection with a hope of discovering a better way to be a better me.
But at the end of the day, I want more laugh lines in my face. I will systematically put aside those things and those people that are not in my best interest, who take the smile from my face, or who drain the energy from my life.
And so should you.
There are many of you reading this who have overcome incredible and horrible experiences and yet you CHOOSE, by an act of your will, to focus on the now and the future! You know that happiness isn’t found, it’s manufactured … from within. You refuse to be shackled to the past or to an experience that YOU did not choose.
Many of you have honored me by sharing some of those experiences with me. You have brought me into your inner circle of friends and family and allowed me to see the burden — invisible to the rest of the world — that you have chosen to leave on the side of the road. You’ve shared with me your stories of victory and triumph. And the ugliness of those experiences have only made me admire, cherish, and appreciate you all the more. You shine like diamonds in the sun! You fellas have become more noble and winsome in my eyes … you women more precious and beautiful.
If I have a recurrent theme, a sermon, a message that I am almost daily compelled to share and to be reminded of in my own life it’s this ancient lesson from Plato: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
Choose life! And choose it on your own terms! Ignore the critics and the fearful. Take chances. Say yes!
Live an extraordinary life, despite your circumstances!
FORWARD MARCH, Y’ALL! … FORWARD MARCH!
I’m happy to tell you that Tabitha is at home! She and I had a Facebook chat on Monday! In addition to the stroke that she had, while she was in the ER she had a seizure as well. And that’s been a concern along with everything else.
Her progress is encouraging and there’s reason for tons of thanksgiving! She is beyond thankful for what we are doing here on her behalf. She even protested and said, “This is just too much … how can I ever thank everyone?!!” I told her to get well, that would be our thanks.
Her progress is good, but her memory is a bit off still. For example, I asked her if she knew who I was. She seemed to hesitate, so I thought I’d give her a hint. “I’m the most awesome guy in Memphis.” I thought that would help. She said some other guy’s name. So I’m pretty sure that her memory is really really impaired! hahaha Not really, of course! She knew who I was without the foolishness!
I want to thank you all for making donations already. Most of the money donated so far has come from people who don’t know Tabitha. How very kind of you!!
Here are some ideas for fundraising that some of you have offered up. Let me know if anyone wants to organize it.
Dunk tank for Sgt. Tony after the Weekend Warrior Workout on May 1.
Here are things already happening:
Piano’s Flowers and Gifts will donate 10% of your orders from now until Mother’s Day! This is soooo cool! Thanks David Strong and Nikki Strong. 901-345-7670
Weekend Warrior Workout and 1.5 mile Run/Walk on Saturday, May 1 at 8 AM. This is for anyone and everyone! Minimum $20 donation.
Eric at Fleet Feet and I are coming up with a cool tech shirt idea that you’ll hear about. (Eric, THAT was the real reason for me coming in today … but that “window of opportunity” thing TOTALLY jacked my head up.)
Thanks again, everyone! Keep on thinking!!
Q. When is it time to go up in weight on your dumbbells?
A. Now!! More than likely.
Sgt. Tony’s Return to Running!
I am planning my return to running by running in the first annual Freedom Run 5K on April 24.
This is a new race sponsored by the Navy – Marine Corps ROTC unit at the University of Memphis. This is the unit that my son Matthew was the Commanding Officer of last year. And our own Pat McGhee’s son, Christopher, is a member of.
I will be a “beginner” runner, so my pace will be slow. Won’t you join me? Maybe run with me and keep me company? Run past me and make fun of me?
Never run a 5K before? Wouldn’t this be a perfect FIRST 5K?!!
I’d love to have a big group of us turn out for this run.
APRIL IS OUR ANNUAL “BRING A FRIEND TO BOOT CAMP MONTH”
In honor of my friend Tom Farrar, you can bring a friend to Boot Camp during April for a FREE WEEK! No strings attached and no obligation to join.
The Boot Camper who brings the most friends in April will get $100!! US Legal Tender. Not 100 Dollars in Boot Camp Bucks! Real money!!
Here are the only rules:
1. Your visiting friends must be prospects for membership, so no out of town visitors will count toward your total number of friends for the contest.
2. Repeat visitors don’t count beyond their first visit – so you can’t bring your friend Bob 15 times during April and count it as 15 friends!
3. Friends who join are counted twice!
Your friends can join USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP for only $90 in April! That’s 50% off the first month’s fee of $180! Only your friends and family can take advantage of this deal.
Use Facebook to invite your friends AND get a discount on your enlistment. (See below)
RAMPED AND AMP’ED IN APRIL!
Hasn’t April been FUN??!!! You keep showing up and I’ll keep bringing it!
Here’s the schedule for the rest of the month.
The 0530 Class
On Tuesday April 6 and 13 at the 0530 class, we’ll be inside for those rockin’ workouts that some of you guys will remember. We’ll be in the “other gym” the east gym … not the blue one that we usually use. Enter the Recreation Building off the north side entrance.
Tomorrow we’ll have BOGA in the blue gym.
On TUESDAY April 20th and 27th we’ll have BOGA in the blue gym.
On Thursday, April 22nd and 29th we’ll be returning to the U of M for our “Mt. Fuji” workouts at 0530. We’ll be using the parking garage on Zach Curlin at the U of M.
The Tuesday and Thursday evening classes have returned! We are running at the track at St Agnes, located at Walnut Grove and Mendenhall, on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at 5:45.
In addition to the 0530 class tomorrow morning, BOGA will be on tap for the 5:30 PM class on Friday!
There is no BOGA class at the 0830.
All BOGA workouts are inside unless I say otherwise!
BOGA is 22 minutes of hardcore Boot Camp + 22 minutes of Power Yoga = BOGA
LOSE THE WEIGHT – “TAKE SHAPE FOR LIFE!”
You could lose 20 pounds by June.
The secret behind weight loss is more about diet than exercise.
After my own personal success with Take Shape For Life, I became a health coach for TSFL.
It’s super easy, it tastes good, you’re not hungry, you don’t starve, it’s affordable, AND you get to have “normal – regular” food too.
You can go directly to my Take Shape For Life website (below) to get more information. You can also sign up there as well.
Feel free to call me if you’d like more info. 901-644-0145. I’d be happy to be your coach and help you genuinely lose the weight you’ve been wanting to lose!
Go to: www.combatchallenge.tsfl.com
BOOT CAMP DISCOUNTS AND FACEBOOK STATUS UPDATES! NOW YOU CAN USE FOURSQUARE TOO!
This has been pretty amazing!
Here’s how it works!
Make a Facebook status update and get a discount!
For every status update that you make that references:
“USMC Fitness Boot Camp,”
“Sgt. Tony’s Boot Camp,”
or something similar, you can take $2.50 off your reenlistment fee!
Up to $20 off for any given month!
Your status update has to be a specific reference to USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP or to me specifically by name.
Use your own wording and personality, just include the specifics.
Restrict yourself to just one of these status updates per day. You don’t want 8 status updates in a row going out on the same day!
FOURSQUARE UPDATES WORK! If you use the app “foursquare” on your phone, you can “check in” at USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP when you attend and that will count toward your discount too! How cool is that, a discount just for showing up and checking in on Foursquare.
“I’ve never seen a smiling face that was not beautiful.” ~ author unknown
To you continued good health and fitness!
Sergeant Major Tony Ludlow
USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP, Commanding
Mailing address: 4888 Southern Ave., Memphis, TN 38117
Cell Phone: 901-644-0145