The Struggle is Real

Issue No. 5 | March 18, 2022

Friends, Americans, Countrymen:

Know thyself, goes the ancient maxim. But how? It’s a mistake to assume this is just a job for the mind. We’re our bodies, too. (Move along, Gnostics). 


Look at Jacob. He met God by wrestling him. That night in the desert he was scared; a career of duplicity and betrayal was about to catch up to him. (The name Jacob means “deceiver”). Then the stranger challenged him. They battled all night, until Jacob got his hip knocked out of joint. But he still wouldn’t submit. The reward for his perseverance was a new name: Israel, “he who struggles with God.”


Is this wrestling match a metaphor for prayer? Yes. But it’s also a wrestling match. It’s significant that our most important task as men – to test ourselves against the highest standard – is portrayed as a feat of physical courage, endurance, strength, and skill. Use it or lose it. 



Rogue Fitness is a Columbus, Ohio-based company dedicated to fostering both physical and national well-being. They offer everything a man needs to build a home gym: dumbbells, barbells, benches, kettlebells, and more. All made in the U.S.A. 


As the Rogue founders put it: “We strongly believe that manufacturing creates an ecosystem that is unlike simply a service economy. Workers that earn a fair wage, in turn, have the ability to purchase more goods within that same ecosystem, bringing orders back into factories and sustaining the cycle. When we started Rogue in a garage, we really had no idea just how far we could go. The investment has always been in great people and new equipment.”


An often neglected element of physical fitness is grip strength. Not only is it critical for a wide range of practical, day-to-day activities (carrying things, opening jars, climbing), but it is also a good predictor of overall health. And it’s been declining in American men.


But not in the men you’ll meet in Oliver Bateman’s “Getting a Grip,” an exploration of the robust online subculture of elite grip athletes. It appears in the debut issue of Return, a New Founding publication devoted to fostering a more human way of life in the digital age. You can subscribe here


If you find the prospect of closing a Captains of Crush level 3 gripper daunting, you might want to start your training with Rogue Fitness’s recently announced Cliffhanger Challenge. The rules are brutally simple: whoever hangs on the longest wins. Registration is free, and you can participate from home by submitting a video. 


This three-minute clip should be all it takes to determine if you’ll enjoy 2011’s criminally overlooked “Warrior.” Here all that the movie has to offer is on display: courage bordering on recklessness; tense jockeying for status; well-choreographed fighting; and a scrappy, flawed underdog. 


Joel Edgerton and Tom Hardy play estranged brothers. They’re also estranged from their father, a recovering alcoholic played with all the grizzled majesty of late-period Nick Nolte. The brothers each face problems they attempt to solve by entering the same high-stakes MMA tournament. We’ll leave it at that. Suffice it to say that “Warrior” is a visceral and compelling portrait of troubled men working out their “issues” the best way they know how – by pounding the crap out of each other. 


Our 26th president was the most jacked man ever to occupy the Oval Office. He regularly took his advisors on rough, obstacle-filled hikes through the wilds of Washington, D.C., and could often be found boxing at work (a habit he only stopped when a detached retina left him blind in one eye). He was the first American to get a brown belt in judo. And once, on the campaign trail, he took a would-be assassin’s bullet to the chest and went on to deliver a 90-minute speech before going to the hospital. 


But Teddy Roosevelt was not always a prime physical specimen. As a child he was frail and sickly. When he was about 13, his concerned but loving father took him aside. “You have the mind but not the body,” he said, “and without the help of the body the mind cannot go as far out as it should. You must make your body.” 


This wisdom prompted the young Roosevelt to embark on a lifelong quest for physical mastery, leading to a celebrated military career, and a series of public offices culminating in the presidency. He stands as a tribute to the glories of the vigorous, masculine life, and to the uniquely American power of self-invention.

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