SGPT Interviews GORUCK Finisher Dennis Stoika

SGPT: Tell us about yourself?

DS: I am former United States Marine, former police officer, and currently a Supervisory Special Agent for the FBI with just under 30 years of total government service at this time. For the past 10 years, I have also ran a part-time self-defense and fitness business as the Owner and Chief Instructor of Modern Era Warriors specializing in reality based self-defense, Commando Krav Maga; grappling, Gracie Jiu-Jitsu; functional fitness, bodyweight, kettlebells, sandbags, etc.; firearms and shooting; and nutrition!

SGPT: Did you have an athletic background growing up?

DS: I played football from the earliest age possible throughout high school at Schaumburg, Il. In my younger days believe it or not, I was quarterback, but soon after and throughout high school played middle linebacker and offensive line. I was always the captain of my teams. Shortly after high school, I joined the United States Marine Corps. YUUUUUUUTTTTTT!

SGPT: How did you train for the GORUCK event?

DS: Myself and my team in our dojo/gym train extensively all the time with lots and lots of reality based self-defense and high intensity interval training using bodyweight exercise, kettlebells, sandbags, medicine balls, dumbells, etc. We incorporate surprise attacks into our reality based self-defense, and yearly benchmark workouts, monthly challenges, and this year became a GORUCK Firebase and added a monthly ruck. We started rucking at a good size hill near our location for 3 miles and worked our way up to 6 miles on the hill, 10 miles on flat ground, 10 miles carrying a 120 pound dummy on a stretcher, a combination of hills and flat ground of various distances after jumping in the river, and finished with each of us carrying a good size rock on the initial three mile hill we started with for a fun finisher before our GoRuck Tough/Mogadishu Mile!


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SGPT: Tell us a little about the event? Where was it?

DS: GORUCK Tough class 2438 led by Cadre Brian Sargent, a former Marine Recon Ranger, started in Washington, DC, our nations capitol Friday night at 9:00 pm at the Iwo Jima Marine Corps Memorial. We started with 35 men and woman and finished with 32. The first what seamed about two hours was the welcome party and only real individual event of the day, two hours of grinder PT and line drills back and forth always wearing our rucksacks, 30# weight for those weighing over 150 pounds and 20# weight for those weighing under 150 pounds, not counting our water, food, and/or other supplies you wanted to carry. We then rucked to Georgetown where we rucked up and down the exorcist steps (look it up) 18 times, one time for each of the 18 operators, soldiers, pilots and crew members who were killed in the battle of Mogadishu. This is more stairs than climbing the world trade center. From there we rucked through open streets, various parks, and open areas. Cadre Brian was lucky enough to quickly find a big bad ass tree trunk with a nice “Y” at one end, a knot in the middle, and not well rounded other end that was very comfortable on your shoulder. From that point for approximately six to seven hours, a group of 12 – 14 persons carried the monster trunk throughout the night while others carried simulated ammo cans (coolers filled with cold beverages for the end and ice), a team weight of 25 pounds which was a large US Army Ranger rocker, and old glory our United States flag. The last mile was without the tree trunk, but we took casualties. First four persons had to be carried, then six, then eight along with the ammo cans, team weight, flag, and casualty ruck sacks. We completed our mission back at the Iwo Jima Memorial at 9:15 am. One of the most amazing parts of the night was Greg Ackley, US Army Retired, who fought at Mogadishu narrated the battle at various stopping points throughout the night into the day.

SGPT: What was hardest part of the event?

DS: Without a doubt carrying that big bad ass tree trunk throughout the night when the team began to get tired, sleepy, hungry, thirsty, etc. The point when people’s monkey minds began to race. The point when people started to question why they were there. The point when people began to feel sorry for themselves. The point when everyone must re-establish their why. The point when people must interdict the fear dog and come up with a positive mantra to continue the fight together as a team. The point when everyone must take their eyes off themselves and focus on the team. One team, one fight!

SGPT: What is one thing you wish you would have done to get ready for GORUCK?

DS: Train like you fight. We do all kinds of craziness in the dojo/gym for self-defense and fitness; but, were not exercising while wearing our ruck sacks. We were just rucking and carrying things while wearing our ruck sacks in addition to our extensive high intensity interval training. So train like you fight and fit in a weekly regimen exercising in addition to rucking while wearing your ruck.

SGPT: Any tips for up and coming athletes that want to do GORUCK?

DS: Train hard, train smart, train safe, train real, and train for life! Find a qualified coach, gym, partner(s), and/or program(s) such as SealGrinderPT and others to get better 1% every day. Start slow, perhaps with a GoRuck light and work your way to greater heights challenging your physical, mental, emotional, intuitional/awareness, and kokoro spirit mountains.

SGPT: What kind of boots did you use for the event?

DS: I wore the Eight inch Nike SFB Special Field Boots built for the tactical athlete/warrior.
Absolutely love them!

They are lightweight and remind me of my old USMC jungle boots.

SGPT: Did you use double socks/compression socks or body glide on your feet to prevent blisters?

DS: I just doubled my regular old cotton socks and my feet held up great although I may wear some type of Body Glide Anti Chafe Balm for my GoRuck Heavy this coming Veteran’s Day in Washington, DC.

That event is 40+ miles in 24+ hours vs. 10 – 15 miles in 10 – 12 hours.

SGPT: What kind of ruck did you use for training and the event?

DS: GoRuck’s GR1. It really does the job, but I have heard lots of complaints from my lady warriors that GoRuck needs to build a better model specific for women. Specifically, I have heard lots of complaints about the straps being to wide for women.

SGPT: What book are you reading now?

DS: YOGA, The Path to Holistic Health by B.K.S. Iyengar. It is a slow go, but I am working on obtaining my 500 hour yoga certification; but, have to many irons in the fire with other ongoing studies and trying to grow my part-time business.

SGPT: Many thanks for the interview, Dennis.

DS: Hooyah! I look forward to the future and possible strategic partnership opportunities we may have together to perhaps host a joint SealGrinderPT and Modern Era Warriors two day event of reality based self-defense and everything SealGrinder PT represents. 1, 2, 3 GORUCK!

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QUESTION: Coach, what do you like to add to your workout shakes?

ANSWER: I use Athletic Greens in our shakes. It’s got tons of great nutrition—vitamins and minerals. Plus it mixes up easy in milk or water.