Now then, on to the usual business. The Arrow has QUITE a few skills in his personal toolbox, among them archery, various melee combat styles, knowledge of medicinal plants and herbs, the ability to recovery incredibly fast, and a general overall toughness that has lead MORE than one person in the series point out how difficult he is to kill. While we may not have various special forces operatives to train us, or a hostile island to act as our crucible, we can still attempt to develop the skills that The Arrow possesses.
Obviously the hallmark of The Arrow’s skillset, the bow and arrow are his weapon of choice, and he has even adapted the bow to be a melee weapon. Although I know of no art that really specializes in using a bow in that manner, we can at least take on the projectile-shooting aspect.
The Arrow uses various types of recurve bows on the show, either the bow he got from shadow, or the cool high tech collapsible bow he has from season two onwards. Recurve bows are different from the original straight longbows in that the tips curve away from the archer, and the string rests on those tips when not drawn. This design allows for a more powerful draw weight than a comparably-sized longbow. More draw weight = more power in a smaller package (perfect for those nimble superhero types).
If you’re completely new to the world of archery, I’d recommend you head over to Archery360 and check out their beginner section to get yourself started. In addition to this, I’d also check out local sporting goods stores and see what kind of local archery culture you have in your area. There’s very often clubs, or even just groups of people that the people at the store can tip you off too. Sometimes gun ranges have archery sections as well, so check them out.
BAGC reader DarkJediJr also pointed out in a comment that Oliver has a particular method of shooting known as instinctive archery, a style of archery developed to shoot accurately without taking a long time to aim. Instinctive archery also doesn’t use sights, like The Arrow. It makes sense, being in the kind of combat situations that The Arrow finds himself in, that he would want to be able to shoot as quickly as possible while still remaining accurate. If you’re interested in that, you can read up on instinctive archery here!
The Arrow’s hand-to-hand combat style has a lot of elements from Filipino martial arts, particularly escrima. Escrima is a style of fighting with sticks and other single-hand sized weapons that has its roots in Spanish fencing. The Filipino martial artists, however, took those original fencing concepts and developed an entire combat system that works for multiple types of weaponry, as well as empty-handed combat. If you’re interested in stepping up your hand-to-hand game, I’d definitely recommend looking into finding a local Filipino martial arts school.
So, Oliver’s a pretty tough guy. Seriously, look at all those scars! He’s lived through a lot of situations that other people would not have, but why? How? In the show, there’s talk about how people have to go through “crucibles,” to forge who they are as a person. The thing is, we don’t always have just one “crucible.” A crucible is any extreme experience that forces you to find and get in touch with a deeper part of yourself to make it through. These can be physical, or mental, but the best ones are a combination of both.
If you’re truly interested in developing toughness, you want to try to put yourself through whatever hardships you can. Now, of course, you don’t want to go crazy with this to the point of serious injury or anything, but you can push yourself to the limit in quite a few ways. Here’s a couple ideas…
Seriously, your workouts should be little mini-crucibles for you. You are inherently forging yourself into a stronger person, both physically and mentally, every time you have a tough workout. For some people, this is running an extra mile, or going just a little bit faster. For other people, it’s lifting a heavier weight than before, or holding a position for longer. In any case, pushing yourself further than you’ve gone before is a regular test for yourself whenever you work out. Obviously, don’t injure yourself, but try to gut out just a little bit more every time you work out.
Participate in a “Big Event”
So, we are, as a culture, kind of obsessed with proving how badass we are. Seriously. Right now, the big rage is mud runs, like Tough Mudder and The Spartan Race. Before that it was “fitness boot camps” or people imitating Fight Club. The bottom line is, there’s always some event of some kind popping up for the express purpose of proving how tough you are. The benefit of joining these events is that they’re usually very public, and it forces you to prepare (see above) and have a goal to work towards when hardening yourself. See what’s going on in your area, and contemplate signing up for something. Bonus points if you can drag a few friends along for the ride!
Join the Military
Obviously, this isn’t for everyone, but there’s nothing that says tough-as-nails like making it through basic training, boot camp, or what-have-you. Now, I’m not necessarily advocating you drop everything and do this right now, but consider it an option if you really are having a hard time finding a direction in life, and you want to do something that’s going to transform you as a person. If this is a bit extreme for you, you can at least start training like you’re in the military. Military branch physical standards and training regimens are all over the internet, and while they don’t come with a screaming drill sergeant attached, you can still become seriously tough just by trying to conform to those standards. Bonus if you go for special forces minimums!
Learn a Martial Art
Any decent school that isn’t a McDojo is going to put you through the ringer on your way to black belt (or whatever the equivalent high rank is). Testing should be tough, you should have comrades in the school who are pushing you every time you go (and you should push them in return), and there’s nothing to prepare you for getting hit in the face like getting hit in the face a couple times. My black belt testing was quite possibly the biggest crucible I went through, and I wouldn’t give it up for anything.
The bottom line for toughness is to push yourself whenever you can, physically and mentally. Your body and brain will rise to the challenge if you allow them, just give yourself a chance. Take cold showers, run an extra mile, lift more weight, eat food you don’t like but you know is good for you! Toughness is forged in crucibles, small and large, every single day.
Finally, we move on to Oliver’s super recovery. Now, granted, the show takes some artistic licenses, and he also has a bevy of magical super herbs and whatnot to keep him fighting fit. That said, here’s a few tips to advance your OWN recovery…
Best possible thing for your body to recovery from sickness, injury, soreness, or whatever, is sleep. Your body needs it, your brain needs it, and there’s a reason doctors tell you to get it. If you’re an adult, shoot for 6-8. If you’re a kid, shoot for 8-12. Bottom line, sleep is important. Get it.
When it comes to muscle soreness, nothing beats icing it, nothing. When I used to do long mud runs the first thing I’d do when I got a chance afterwards was sit in an ice bath. Did it suck? Yes! But remember what we just talked about with toughness! Besides that, it didn’t suck nearly as much as walking hurting for a week afterwards, which is what would happen if I didn’t.
While sleeping is important, staying active is, too. Provided you don’t have an actual injury that shouldn’t be aggravated by being active, staying mobile when you’re awake will help your body keep itself healing. Keeping your blood flowing with regular exercise keeps nutrients going to your cells. There’s even evidence that low to moderate exercise can help boost your immune system when you’re fighting off a cold or infection. Don’t just mope around all day, do what you can, when you can! (unless your doctor tells you otherwise)
Eating well (Macros and You!) keeps your body fueled and energized. You need to hit your macro requirements AND get a fair amount of micronutrients as well, so get a balanced diet going in order to supercharge your body!
Goodness, that was a bit of a long post. I think we covered most of our bases, though. Remember to keep practicing with your bow, working hard, and seeking out your own crucibles! As always, live boldly, change the world, and continue to be awesome! See you Thursday!
Dan “DaRatmastah” Wallace