Tactical-Specific Conditioning System

Hey Folks, over the next few days TACFIT Designer and Founder, Scott Sonnon shares with us his story as he traveled to Europe to seek out ancient martial wisdom backed by Soviet sport science to bring this rare combination together designing the first Tactical-Specific Conditioning System (TACFIT); used by secret service, counter-terrorism units, fire brigades and military academies.

Scott’s journey didn’t start out so trouble free. Having connective tissue disorder at such a young age he shares with us the difficulties he faced having to overcame theese physical challenges at a young age. So lets begin as we learn why joint mobility training is so important.


Craig Ballantyne: Hello everyone, this is Craig Ballantyne, and I’m here with TACFIT Trainer Scott Sonnon.

Scott Sonnon: Thank you, Craig. I really appreciate it.

Craig Ballantyne: Hey, why don’t you tell us a little about yourself, because I know who you are and a lot of trainers and some advanced fitness folks might know who you are, but you might be a new to a lot of others, especially to my readers. Then we’ll get into how to make the program work with everyone.

Scott Sonnon: Sure. Thanks, Craig. Basically, I was born with a congenital joint disorder, which made contemporary fitness approaches like power lifting and ultra distance endurance activities impossible, it would shred my connective tissue.

So, much of my youth was spent in agony, because I wasn’t going to let that kick me down but every time that I attempted some type of sport or athletic approach it would just shred my connective tissue.

So, my parents basically tried to support me by finding alternative movement methods and alternative therapies. I’m 40-years-old, so that was 30 or 35 years ago and the approaches weren’t as cutting edge as they are now.  We’re talking like the “Dewey Decimal era”, not quite the “Google era.” We had to hunt our way through a lot of information spending our time trying to find what to do and that led us to martial art’s training.

Martial Arts training had a lot of baggage that you had to sift through; a lot of tradition that were just garbage that had been passed along from one generation to the next.

Over time I stumbled upon the Russian approach, which is basically very much along American lines of trying to be as pragmatic as possible. Take what works and discard the rest. It’s a long story how it happened, but I ended up stumbling into a form of martial arts called Sambo from an American, who was a bronze medalist in the world.

It instantly resonated with me because I could see that he was small and wiry, I’m talking like this guy was a not of muscle. However, he could  hunk guys who were three and four times his size across the mat, you could tell that he as in great shape from how he looked, and he was so much superior to the guys who were large and puffy who couldn’t to perform as explosively or as long as he.

His training methods were unique even though he had only a portion of the Russian approach at the time.  After spending a few years with as a U.S. Team member and competing around the world in Sambo, I petitioned to be the first American to go over to Russia, as an intern. They finally chose me to go over there. I was a world class athlete at the time and there were 16 and 17 year olds outperforming me.

They would send out their seventh string because we were pitiful compared to them. They had such enormous connective tissue strength or joint strength that they would continually outperform us even though we were training hours and hours and hours a day so much longer than they were. I would say we trained even much harder than they were, yet they were still able to outperform us and looked better than we did.

When we came back to the United States, I did my best to try and back all the research stuff that I had discovered. After spending six years it was  a little weird to think of their Special Forces trainers, their Olympic and national coaches, even members of their cosmonaut program.

So, there is a joke that goes something like this. America spent a million dollars developing a pen that writes in zero gravity and the Russians took a pencil. They were low-tech on everything and they had the science to back it up. So, we just didn’t have the science on low-tech information we had all of our science based upon pharmaceutical solutions to things.

So, only in the past 20 years the Soviet Union imploded and all their research basically disappeared. We came back and now not only have we caught up with them, but we’ve actually surpassed where they were because we’re able to apply it on a consistent basis and we have the calories to support it. We have the drive to support it and that’s what happened with our organization.

I selected a group of professionals from different areas to help me support the information that I had discovered in Russia and actually systematize it brought us to the current moment with RMAX International of a group of professionals who are trying to develop a new approach based upon an old understanding.

Craig Ballantyne: How old were you when you first started when you stumbled upon the Sambo?

Scott Sonnon: Let’s see it was 1990. I had been kickboxing at the time and when you wear a size eight hat you basically a walking bull’s eye. I definitely joined the wrong sport.

However, when I was down in Millersville University that’s when I first an athlete by the name Andy Bachman, who was from Caracas, Venezuela. The disparity between Sambo and other styles of a martial art was huge for me. There was a complete absence of tradition and of high focus on science.  

Craig Ballantyne: Very interesting.

As we continue on with part 2 of our interview excerpt with Scott Sonnon, we find out what Ops units are training with these methods right now.