During World War II the Greek island of Crete was occupied by the Nazis and was a strategic stronghold. To take back the island, Great Britain created a small band of misfit resistance fighters consisting of poets, historians, and Cretan shepherds. Their job was to muck things up for the Nazis, but one day they decided to do something completely audacious: kidnap a German general and get him off the island.
Against all the odds, they accomplished their mission.
How’d they do it?
My guest today on the podcast went to Crete to follow in the footsteps of these WWII resistance fighters and along the way discovered that they had tapped into the ancient Greek art of the hero. His name is Christopher McDougall and in his book Natural Born Heroes, he takes readers on a whirlwind tour through history, psychology, and fitness to show how these clever, courageous Englishmen emulated Odysseys and other Greek heroes and what regular Joes can do to live more heroically. In today’s episode, Chris and I discuss the mindset, the virtues, and the skills needed to become an ancient Greek hero.
- How a group of British resistance fighters consisting of poets and historians kidnapped a Nazi general
- How the ancient Greeks defined heroism
- Why Odysseys was the hero of heroes
- The defining mark of manhood
- How outsourcing our basic needs to specialists has fragilized us
- How the emphasis on physique in fitness has made us physically weak
- The Cretan Bounce and the power fascia
- How to run like a Cretan
- How a WWII special forces combat trainer marshaled the ethos of Greek pankration
- Wild Bill Hickok and instinctive aim
- The theory that the ancient Greeks were the originators of all Asian martial arts
- How parkour taps into how Cretans traverse mountains
- How MovNat is continuing the legacy of the ancient Greek idea of physical fitness
- Why “be useful” should be the motto of your life
- How to eat like a Cretan hero
- And much more
Resources/Studies/People Mentioned in Podcast
- British Special Operation Executive
- The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours by Gregory Nagy
- fascia (foam rolling is a way to stimulate fascia)
- Tom Myers
- Bruce Lee’s one-inch punch
- Rex Applegate
- William Fairbairn and Eric Sykes
- Wild Bill Hickok
- Instinctive aim
- Wing Chun
- Lawrence of Arabia
- The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Parkour
- MovNat (and our article about it written by MovNat founder Erwan Le Corre)
- The history of physical fitness
- Barefoot Ted
- Born to Run — McDougall’s previous book
- Georges Hébert and The Natural Method
- David Belle
- Deep Movement in Tulsa
- La Sierra High School physical fitness program
- Phil Maffetone
- The Two Week Test for switching to a fat-as-fuel diet
- Chris’ series about Natural Born Heroes on Outside Online
If you love the ancient Greeks, WWII history, and physical fitness, you’ll love Natural Born Heroes. It’s a super fun read and jam-packed with info that’s both fascinating and practical.
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