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DDP Yoga Newsletter
DDP and the Military
BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan, Jan. 28, 2008
When the "Legends of Wrestling" tour rolled in here Jan. 26, service members and civilians gathered at the Morale, Welfare and Recreation clamshell to take part in the festivities.
For some die-hard wrestling fans, the event was a dream come true.
"I became a wrestling fan in 1999 after constantly seeing it on TV," said Army Pfc. Michael Grandi Jr., a member of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, who has attended numerous live wrestling events.
"I had constant adrenaline pumping during the event," he said of meeting his idols. "It was really cool how laid-back they were. And none of the soldiers were bothering them; they took pictures, got their autographs and moved along. There was a mutual respect."
The meet-and-greet session lasted for just over an hour, with the stars posing and chatting with all comers. Afterward, those who stayed were treated to an inspirational speech by Page, former three-time World Championship Wrestling Heavyweight Champion. In his address, Page told of how he overcame a turbulent family life, a learning disability and other issues to achieve his dreams through a process he called "living life at 90 percent."
"I once heard (football coaching legend) Lou Holtz say, 'Life is 10 percent of what happens to you and 90 percent of how you react to it,'" Page said. "In our personal lives and our professional lives, we are constantly hit with one adversity after another, most of which we have no control over. The one thing we have control over is our mindset."
Page introduced the audience to his no-impact workout system, which he calls "Yoga for Regular Guys." Page said he scoffed at the idea of yoga until a spinal injury threatened to keep him out of the ring.
"When I got injured, my wife tried to get me to do yoga," Page said. " But I always thought yoga was for sissies. I learned that flexibility was the key to youth, not just in the body, but in the mind. I wanted to get back to wrestling so badly that I started doing it. "
At the completion of his rousing speech, Page received a standing ovation from the audience. After signing more autographs and taking photos with fans, he led all those who stayed behind through an intense hour-long session of Yoga for Regular Guys.
The program, which consisted of slow-count isometric exercises, static holds and various yoga poses, managed to raise heart rates and get the crowd sweating.
"I liked it a lot, it was an awesome workout," said Army Chief Warrant Officer Stephen Cranford, Company C, 3rd General Support Aviation Battalion, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade. "I am going to get the DVD and keep doing it. Once I get better, I will introduce it to my guys for (physical training)."
(Army Spc. George Welcome serves in public affairs with 101st Combat Aviation Brigade.)
This is the email I sent out to my members of Team YRG and the UDC (Union of Diamond Cutters) after my last trip to Iraq
Any time I ever hit the road, packing is always my biggest obstacle... I hate it... what to bring ... how much to bring... weather it's going to be for a day or a week it's always a pain in the ass to me but when you are leaving for just under a 2 week to go to a foreign country it can even be more difficult and can take hours...
Anyway enough of the complaining about the packing... I got packed and I was off to the airport on August 25th at noon for a 2:45 pm to Frankfurt where I going to meet up with my buddy Brian Lee who is the tour manager, a great guy who I have already done a couple of Military tours with ... one to the pacific rim for the Navy and one to Iraq with my buddy Rob Dibble back in 2004... I have to admit I had a lot of reservations about doing a tour with 3 chicks, especially good looking one... I mean you know the deal... the make up the hair all the blah... blah... blah... but these ladies were great... they never complained about anything and believe me they could have and it would have been justified but they didn't, they were truly WARRIORS...
As soon as I hit the ground in Germany the first thing I did was have beer... lots of them... where I was going there was no BEER... None... Zero... Nada... Nothing... and if you have ever been to Germany you know the beer that you get in Germany has a whole different taste than it does in the states... I believe it's the best damn beer on the planet... When I finally got to the business class waiting area... I got a beer and met up with the rest of the group... Brian, ... a Wrestler/manager for TNA - Traci Brooks - www.tnatracibrooks.com who I used to work with when I wrestled with TNA... Bonnie-Jill Laflin www.bonnie-jill.com who was a Cowboys Cheerleader, 49ers Cheerleader, and now is a correspondent for ESPN not to mention the only woman scout for Professional Basketball ... yeah she's a scout for the Lakers how hot is that... and Kitana Baker www.kitanabaker.com who I know you will remember if you saw the Miller Lite commercials in 2003 where the two girls argue about "Taste Great... Less Filling" you know the ones where the girls rip their clothes off each other... Classic... it was so good that the girls actually ended up at Wrestlemania and did some silly pillow fight... go figure Vince exploiting women... But still hot to watch...
We finally touch down in Kuwait about 23 hours after leaving LA where we met our Army tour manager Chief Chris Pace and our head of security SGT Shawn Brunello... these guys were the best and we all became very good friends ... It's funny because I always thought of Kuwait as being in the middle of the shit (the War zone) but the truth is Kuwait is more like Beverly Hills ... Iraq is a whole different story... We got to catch a cat nap in Kuwait for a few hours and then we were off to Al Asad Base in Western Iraq to see the Marines... what a reception we got from these guys...
Upon our arrival at Al Asad which is one of those bases that is in the middle of NOWHERE, the girls were feeling a little sick from a crazy landing in the C130. I guess the pilot did some negative G shit along with many twists and turns along with a rapid descent... I didn't really feel it but ladies up front almost lost it... But these girls Cowboy up when the call is given. Although the pilots are required to do a few maneuvers in case a missile is being fired at them (it is a war zone), this particular pilot took it a little overboard, according to some of our passengers and our escorts. They said the pilot was trying to show off for the girls, but it actually back fired on the guys, because the ladies would normally stay and take pictures and hang out with the pilots forever... they love the pilots... The bottom line was they felt the C130 pilots where with them... they felt a little sick and as a result they wanted to leave as quick as possible... Like I said the girls Cowboy up (as they would do the entire tour) but they don't take any shit either... We all still took one group shot but the girls like I said would have gone over and above but they felt like they got ribbed so it was off to the next location.
First place we hit was the Marine FOB at Al Asad .. BTW I have never seen women get ready so fast to look their best ever that is besides my Black Bear Ang... there must of been 400 guys waiting to greet us... one of my favorite expressions was when a group of guys would see the Girls (and they never were expecting it ) THE GUYS WOULD WHIP THEIR HEADS SO FAST THAT THEY ALMOST GOT WHIPLASH... like oh my God did you just see that and then they see me and it was totally different reaction but it was just as good... It was like look at these 3 hot looking chicks walking by... and then the guy who was in their living room ever Monday and Thursday night and Saturday and Sunday morning DDP was bringing up the rear... yeah it's pretty much freaked them out... It's was a pretty powerful crazy feeling... On our way to our first performance as they would call it... the Performance... (it was a autograph signing and picture shoot)... I tweaked my knee on some rocks but I didn't seem that bad at the time ... but from time to time I would think to myself...great I just tweaked my knee... how am I going to do YRG for the next week and a half for an hour a night... at this point I had only slept about 4 hours of the last 48 hours and was feeling pretty burnt but as usual the troops pumped me up and I was ready to go...
Like I said the place is packed... there must have been 400 Marines there and they were probably the only ones that were off duty at the time... we were there about 3 hours and that is where I got my first semi-challenge ... a young Marine I can't remember his name but this is his picture. .. says to me "Oh my God the World Title Championship belt can I have it" I said no you can't have it ... then he said "I'll wrestler you for it" and I said I won't wrestler you for it but how about a push up contest ... he looked at me as if he was looking through me... there was NO fear in his eyes but I could see respect... he really wasn't sure if he could beat the man before him... So I said don't you think you can beat a 50 year old man...You know I had to throw that shit in there... finally he accepted the challenge and we went at it... I have to tell you, I never in a million years thought he would make it past 3 ... 10 second push ups... I will explain what th at means... you lower yourself slowly for 10 seconds ... then you hold 3 inches off the ground for 10 second then you lift slowly for for 10 seconds... the 10 second push up is a great test of your true core strength... the bottom line is the 20 year old kid got to 6 before he finally dropped... Thank God!!!... I was so glad because I was right behind him... he was really good... I won't be challenging him again...we there about 4 hours and hopping on Black Hawks and off to the Haditha Dam ... this place is like a submarine that has 7 floors (with NO elevator) it is stuck between two bodies of land holding back the water... it is also vital to the power and energy source of Iraq and the Marines are stationed there to protect it... but take away the view and this place sucks to live... you have NO idea what these poor kids go through for our country... but then again they're marines and these guys can handle anything. SSG Jack Johnson from Hawaii gave us the tour of the Dam that took us up and down the 7 stories at least 5 times (now I my knee was really starting to bother me)... there was no need to do any cardio on this day.
One of our first stops was a group of Marine Snipers who were on base for a couple of days -we took a few photos and signed some autographs -these guys were all tired from being outside the wire for weeks but they were pumped to see us. Later I got to talk to a really cool Marine who dug the YRG thing... named Tim Ayers and then I had him do some 10 second push ups, after he got down I couldn't resist myself I had to jump down with him... he did about 4 and looked up at me and said... I get it... he was sweating his ass off ... He was the first guy not to quit but to look up at me and say I get... He was hooked on YRG... later that night we ended up at their gym which was pretty nice... a bunch of meat heads or gym rats... which I can call them because I was one for over 30 years -they were asking me about their gym... I said it's nice but I don't lift anymore or do cardio and of course that brought me into the whole YRG program bit... bottom line is when I finish where I put my elbow up on my knees and then push up into a hand stand, the BIG guy I think his name was Sutter still didn't get it... so for the 3rd time today I challenge someone to the push up contest but this kid is 23 and a super stud... I still thought I would take him pretty easy but I forgot to take into consideration as his buddies who were there that if he lost to 50 year old man they never would have let him forget it ... The pride thing over there is HUGE... In a good way... it was intense... I even went into full boot camp sarg character ... I was yelling his buddies were yelling you better not quit... it was wild... but the funniest thing was we both got to 7 pushups we both stopped... We didn't we just stopped... I couldn't go any further and either could he... I call it getting stuck and we stayed there for over a minute ... everyone was screaming at some point since we were head to head...
I leaned my head next to his head and whispered... do you hear how I'm breathing right now... it was a calm as could be and then I said do you hear how you are breathing ... he was sucking it up BIG time and I mimicked him and then I said if you were breathing like I am breathing you've got an other 3 in you and then said I'm going to lower myself now... if I didn't we may still have been there... Marines don't quit... Especially when your buddy Marines are depending on you to step up... So stepped off... when he stood up he was sweating like he just ran 5 miles... after congratulating him -I looked him right in the eye and said btw bro that was my 3 time I did this today... I told him I was leaving 2 YRG DvDs (I left the YRG DvDs everywhere I went) at the dam for him to work on his core... I wonder if he'll ever do it... I'll keep you posted... the next morning I was up at 5:30 am to do YRG with about 30 Marines no wonder they call the Dam the sweat box...
Later that morning we BlackHawked off to Fallujah, another Marine base... we did our usual tour were you go see the troops as they are working because that's what they do a 12 hours or more a day .... after that we got to meet Brigadier General Neller... Talk about a class act... we got to spend some quality time together and then we were off to see more Marines... At dinner I would always find a group of Soldiers or Marines who had that look on their faces like is that who I think it is... and then I would just ask them if I could sit down with them... introduce myself to each one of them and then just shoot the shit... it could be what I'm doing now.. to old wrestling story's ... these were really special moments for me and for them as well and it really seemed to make a difference... on this day these guys were just coming back from patrol and were eating lunch and then heading right back out so if I didn't see them right then I never would had the honor of meeting them... right as they were leaving General Neller walked up and took a seat across from me and he expressed how much it not only meant to him but to everyone when someone shows up out in this small little corner of the world to show they care... He told me about a few of the men that his company had lost and I could tell by the way he told the story that it was if each one them were his own son... It totally choked me up... General Neller is a one special guy and it was truly an honor to spend those moments with him…
He is someone I am sure I will build a long distance relationship for years to come... That is what is so cool about doing these tours, the people who's lives you touch and the ones that touch yours.
Later that night they did the marine combat demonstration. A female marine got up and sang the National Anthem with the American Flag waving behind her. The realization of being in Fallujah, Iraq(one of the most dangerous areas in the world) with a room full of Marines and Soldiers and hearing the song of our country almost had the girls in tears, it seemed surreal.
Afterward the man who invented the Marines Martials Program, LT COL Bristol got up and gave one of the most powerful speeches I've ever heard ... It inspired me so much I just got up and spoke after the Colonel was finished... I had no idea what I was going to say but all just came to me like I had been doing it for years... I think it was one of the most powerful presentations that I have ever given and the people seemed to agree. Of course I brought YRG into and before you know after we signed about 400 autographs I had about 35 people stay for the YRG class... we didn't get out of there until almost 11pm and we were up the next day up at at 3:45 am, yes 3:45 am so that we could catch a 4:30am fight to Camp Victory where they picked us up in an Armored Truck ... if you have been reading these emails for a while you know that is where I started my tour last time... Camp Victory or Baghdad is where that asshole Saddam used to live ... when I was there last time it was pretty beat up ... today it's pretty sweet and we got a tour of the AL Faw Water Palace, signing autographs along the way. We ended up at the DFAC (mess hall) which is always the best place to surprise Soldiers who have no idea your there... the next morning I had to get up for 5:30 YRG class, it's funny because that's the normal time on that day that they actually have a yoga class but only about 4 or 5 people show up... a few of the guys the day before told me that they went to try the yoga class once but they were playing weird music and chanting and shit... can you imagine me doing that in my class? ... For such an early class we had more than 40 people...
After the workout we hopped on a Black Hawk to FOB ISKANDARIYA on the outskirts of Baghdad which is where our troops are protecting a huge Power plant ... this was the hottest day to me it was somewhere between 130 and 140 degrees. This was one of those bases similar to the ones I visited with Rob Dibble two years ago -we road around in Humvees and did a autograph signing in one of the few air conditioned rooms they had on base. We where there for 3+ hours and I brought up some of my wrestling matches on my laptop and the boys were loving it.
Next it was off to the International Zone - we all went to the "Hands of Victory/Saddam's Swords", where Saddam marched his troops after the victory over Iran. Then we went to the kick ass hotel, where they had a pool and food waiting for us upon arrival it was truly like a miracle ... Up till that spot the trip was brutal... this was nothing like the last places that we stayed... We kicked back for an hour and headed over to see the boys... I was so burnt out but I was getting my 7th wind and was feeling pretty dam good... those smiling faces will do that to you... That's when a pumped group of guys came bouncing into our area... they seem to raise the energy level of the room and before I knew it I'm face to face with kid who has to have been fan of mine since he 10 years old... he was very respectful and I could tell he was a real Warrior... before you know it I'm talking to him about YRG and the 10 second push up... he got a little cocky but at the same time he was very respectful... I tried to get him to challenge me but he just wouldn't do it... finally I said forget that let's do it... his name is Chris Crosline, 23yrs old, we would end up doing 7 or maybe more 10 sec push ups... Brian who filmed everything on this trip started filming at some point... the reason I have gone into so much detail about this kid is because he is the first time anyone has ever actually dropped me at my own game... with that Big Marine Sutter at the Dam I might have ended up dropping but I didn't I lowered myself and I gave him the win but he never dropped me and this kid did... it was electrifying... The guys were going crazy... I gave him a YRG DVD... I will be real interested to see what he does with it...
I found out later that he had just won the base bench press contest a week earlier... that was destiny and a lot of fun. That night we watched "Devil's Rejects" in the house's living room, and it felt as though we were at a sleep over at someone's house, rather than being in the middle of a war zone.
We went to Q-West the next day. Trust me it's no Key West... It was about an hour and forty minute black hawk ride. We did some negative maneuvers and had a little fun during the ride. There was an unbelievable view during the ride. The terrain was magnificent. As we flew over the small villages, locals would wave to us, as their way of showing appreciation and gratitude for us being there.
The next morning we went to Balad/Anaconda Base. This was the first place we did the YRG class in the gym, while the girls went to visit some soldiers in the hospital. We did both signings in the DFAC at this base.
Next we went to Mosul. No pictures allowed during the signing in the DFAC. but the troops could take them in gym... this was the biggest turn out for YRG over 60 guys
This was the first day decided to see who wanted the new YRG "I survived YRG with DDP"
I wanted to see how hard these guys would work after a kick ass workout... so I offered up 2 t-shirts to the winner... 1 to 2nd place and I never told them but whoever came in 3rd I would take off my sweaty t-shirt and give him that one... this was a huge success... like I said I have most of them filmed ... we filmed everything for my friend Arthur who is doing a movie called Y for right now it's called YYogathemovie.com (check out the website)... anyway that's why we were filming every workout... I guess I am one of the treads that goes through the movie ending with Yoga or should I say YRG in a war zone... Like I told these guys I worked out with... I call it YRG but it is still yoga based and it's going be really cool in Arthur's movie... anyway the one thing I didn't get to film and it was the funniest thing that happened the whole time I was over there. This young red headed Warrior was asking me if he and his platoon could put me in a ground fighting hold... I can't remember the name of it but here it is...
They really thought they had me and the red headed kid on the left is saying to me so Diamond what are you going to do now and he's laughing like a mad man... and I said well how about this and I laid what may have been the loudest fart you have EVER the fact it was on the basketball floor only made it louder ... they sold it big time... they scattered like cockroaches... I'm still laughing out loud when I think about. The next morning we got up and went to the shooting range, and got to shoot the sniper rifles, and other various rifles and pistols which was great.
When we got the next base in Tal-Afar(Northwest Iraq), I sat down at lunch like I always do and started talking to the boys at some point I said so what do you do to fill the time when you not working or working out and the one guy says I'm building a go-cart out of spare parts we find around the base... later as we were doing our rounds I saw the same guys and the mechanics outside and stopped to check the Go cart out... Later that night I gave a speech in a large theatre that was nearly filled. After we finished I was off to do YRG with the boys
When we got off on our last stop at a place called Kirkuk/FOB Warrior I ran into a buddy of mine & Tim Sullivan's name Rick Bolander on the airpot runway... dam what a small world ... Rick saw a flier saying I was going to be there and made plans to hang with us for the day and stayed till the night where we once again signed autographs and finished with the YRG workout afterwards. We sure as hell started a YRG movement over there in Iraq and I can't think of a better place to have it started it to help the guys with there breathing and inner peace...
I want to personally thank each of the girls (Bonnie Jill, Traci & Kitana) for being so great with guys and so easy to work with and Shawn and the Chief for taking care of all of us as good as it can be done and of course Brian Lee aka Sag Hulka... aka the Big Toe...aka Miso Lee... aka Mr. Burgandy... your the best bro I look forward to our next journey together...