Strength is a relative term. Some people equate strength with how much weight you can lift. Others, how many push-ups you can perform. Still others, how hard you can punch or how far you can throw. You always hear people use the word strong as a positive trait, one that every athlete should achieve. Yet there isn’t a set definition of what true strength really means. It’s an amorphous attribute that changes based on every individual’s specific goals.
Had these two stepped into a bodybuilding competition, the outcome might have been different.
Popular opinion tells us that the strongest men and women in the world lift weights and gain bulk, but there are many arenas where that is not true. You can strength train with or without weights, and bulk is not the only indicator of power. I once went three years without touching a weight. All I did was calisthenics, and it brought positive results. Still, one guy constantly encouraged me to lift weights again. He specifically said, “Come on. You have to deadlift.” However, whenever we played basketball together, he was unable to move me out of position without throwing his body at me( sacrificing his balance and any chance at making a good play), nor was he able to back me down in the post. If we both walked into a weight room , he would’ve bested me no problem. In a physical game of basketball, I stood my ground and often won our battles for position. He might have been surprised, but I wasn’t. As someone who grew up with a slight frame, I was accustomed to guys assuming they could dominate me and failing, much to their chagrin. After a while, other ball players compared my defense to Dennis Rodman because I was able to disrupt larger players with body positioning, footwork, and a firm stance. I understood at an early age that people tended to confuse size with strength and assumed that lifting weights was the only way to gain power. They never expected a thin person to stand up to them as well as I did.
Dennis Rodman’s career revolved around making life hard for larger players.
The best athletes in history were very muscular and strong in their primes, but they were not massive. Michael Jordan weighed no more than 215 pounds at his best(not very heavy for someone 6’6”). He was thin, but powerful enough to move players twice his size out of his way. He would not have won a bodybuilding competition, but he had no equal on the court. Retired players commented on how strong Michael Jordan was despite his slight frame. It was the one part of his game that shocked people the most.
Case in point.
If you don’t think this is powerful, you know nothing about basketball.
The same could be said for Jordan’s successor, Kobe Bryant. He had a similar body to Michael Jordan throughout his career, and he also held his own against larger players. Both Bryant and Jordan hit the weight room, but they didn’t lift for size and they likely couldn’t out-lift professional bodybuilders. All of their conditioning was geared toward the functional strength necessary to succeed on the court. You’ve seen the results.
These are not the dunks of a weakling.
Fighters are another prime example of amorphous strength. Muhammad Ali’s conditioning consisted of running, boxing, and calisthenics. In his prime, he weighed 215 pounds, but he moved like he weighed 40 pounds less. He went against his era’s conventional wisdom of how a heavyweight boxer should fight; opting to out maneuver his opponent instead of brawling with him. As a result, he was the best heavyweight boxer to enter the ring, and he didn’t get there by having the best bench press or gaining the most bulk. He achieved greatness with the kind of timing, accuracy, agility, and explosiveness that was unexpected for a boxer in his weight class.
It didn’t matter if you were bigger or stronger than him. Ali always came to win.
The best example is Bruce Lee. He practiced Wing Chun for years before he picked up weight-lifting, and he only tailored his weight training toward his advancement as a martial artist. As a result, he never weighed more than 165 pounds. When someone showed him a bodybuilder with huge muscles, he once said, “Yeah, he’s big, but is he powerful? Can he use that muscle effectively?” The answer was yes. That man was very effective in his field, but he would’ve been foolish to engage Lee in a fight. Bruce Lee had a slight frame, but he possessed a masterful technique and frightening power that martial artists still talk about to this day.
Timing, speed, and power. Bruce Lee had all of these essential elements in spades.
This is not to disparage weight-lifting(I combine weights and calisthenics myself) or the desire to gain muscle mass if that’s your goal, but we all have to realize what strength means to us as individuals and work toward it. If you are a bodybuilder, then keep lifting for the physique you want. If you’re a martial artist, practice until no one can beat you. If you’re a basketball player, train your body until you become the baller you’ve always dreamed you can be. Strength may be physically ambiguous, but every strong person possesses the same strong mind. They are all willing to push themselves to achieve their own definition of true strength.
Ronda Rousey weighs 135 pounds, but no one doubts her strength and will to win.
Some of the greatest fictional heroes possess this mentality. However, their definition of strength differs depending on their goals. Wonder Woman is not as massive as a real life female bodybuilder. In fact, she’s often smaller than her opponents, but she’s a genius in combat who seldom loses. With her skill and intellect, she takes down opponents who would frighten men twice her size. For that reason, she is the best melee fighter in the Justice League and she uses her abilities to combat evil.
Skill beats brute strength every time, and Wonder Woman is quite skilled.
The same could be said for characters like Kakashi Hatake, Son Goku, and many others. The heroes who inspire Achilla Johnson’s positive attributes share her deceptive strength. Much like Achilla, who weighs no more than 120 pounds in Achilla The Strong, they don’t possess a lot of mass. Still, they have unbelievable power. They can move mountains while looking like mole hills to the untrained eye, and that makes their very bodies a method of misdirection in themselves.
Goku never confused mass with effectiveness in a fight.
Kakashi and Obito are no bigger than the average Joe. Their blows on the other hand…
Achilla Johnson will grind for the pinnacle of her true strength, and in Angel of War, you will see the fruits of her labor. She will fight like she has never fought before. She will achieve feats that will blow you away. Just don’t expect her to look or train like anyone but herself. One man’s strong can be another woman’s weak. It all depends on what you strive to achieve. Achilla Johnson’s goal will become clear in Angel of War. Will she achieve it? You’ll have to read to find out. Until then, best of luck achieving yours.
Stay strong, my friends.