Matt Lawson Interview after SealFit Kokoro 40

Matt Lawson SealFit Kokoro AAR

I graduated SealFit Kokoro 30 in October of 2013.  It was a deeply powerful experience that has transformed my life in many ways.  Very few days go by that I do not think about the camp, the friends I made there or the lessons learned.

It is extremely exciting to me when one of my friends wants to experience this for themselves.  Recently, Matt Lawson decided to give it a go and has just returned from Kokoro 40.  Having successfully passed and graduated, I am excited to learn much more about his experience.  We will start with this interview, but hopefully we will return to discuss more with Matt about how he is using Kokoro in his everyday life.

So, if you are considering taking a real challenge in your life, SealFit Kokoro wont disappoint.  Check out this interview with Matt Lawson:

Name:    Matt Lawson

Age: 41 years old


 Co-Owner of Lawson Winchester Wealth Management

TR-What kind of athletic background do you have?

ML-I grew up playing basketball, football, baseball and golf.  I played basketball and golf in high school.  I received a golf scholarship for college.  I worked out regularly from college to age 28.  From age 29 to 38 my workouts were spotty and inconsistent at best.  At age 39 with our second child being born in March of 2013, I decided it was time to step up and make a change.

TR-How did you find SEALFIT:

ML-I was randomly searching the internet in May of 2013 for something different than the typical bodybuilding workout.  I was looking for a philosophy that incorporated more than just lifting weights.

TR-Have you done any other events like this?  Maybe a 20x, Goruck or other events?

ML-Yes.  I completed a SEALFIT 20X Challenge in November 2013.  I ran the Ragnar overnight trail runs in 2014 and 2015.  I ran a Marathon this past March in Knoxville.

TR-Why did you choose to do Kokoro?
ML-When I first read about Kokoro on SEALFIT’s website I was very interested.  I wanted to challenge my mental toughness. You really don’t know until you step up.  I wanted to see if I had what it took to make it through 50 plus hours of mental and physical stress.  I also thought this type of event would be a good example to use for our children to show them that anything is possible if they are willing to put in the work and follow thru on their commitment.

TR-I can remember the moment that I made the commitment to do Kokoro.  I put my credit card info into the website and hovered my finger over the submit button.  Finally, I presssed the button and knew there was no turning back.  What was your decision like?  What challenges did you have at home?  Work?
ML-I made the commitment to myself the first time I read about it in May 2013.  I just had a lot of work ahead of me.  My wife, Megan was hesitant at first.  She wanted to know what the point was in subjecting myself to something as demanding as Kokoro.  As time went on she became very supportive and encouraging which helped tremendously.  My business partner, Bill Winchester was great through the entire process especially with the amount oftime that was required to properly train for Kokoro.  My home and work environments were very supportive.  I am very grateful.

TR-Kokoro is not something that you can just do without significant physical and mental preparation.  What did your training look like?

ML-My morning workouts were at the RRL.  I did SEALFIT OPWODs in the afternoon and Saturdays about 4 months out from Kokoro .  I also did lots of running and rucking.

TR-Were you prepared?

ML-Yes.  There is always room for improvement but overall I felt pretty good.  I read as much as possible about Kokoro.  I really appreciate the information that you (Tom Rowland) shared with me about your Kokoro class 30 experiences.  That was very helpful.  Also having the support from friends and family goes a long way.  Especially when you are cold, wet and sandy.

TR-What one thing were you the happiest that you had done in training?
ML-Run, run and run with BDU pants and wet boots.

TR-What one thing would you add to the training?  

ML-More rucking while carrying heavy objects

TR-My experience was filled with many high points and lots of low points, but I can clearly remember several that stand out as the highest of the high or the lowest of the low.  Did you have a noticeable high point in the camp?  How about a low point?

ML-I felt unstoppable early Sunday morning after about 35 plus hours on the beach carrying my 50lb rock up and down countless stairs.  It was amazing and a testament to what we are all truly capable of accomplishing once we conquer our minds and remove the limitations that we place on ourselves. Of course when Coach Divine said we were secured after 52 hours of work that was very special too.  This was the culmination of 2 years of intense training, focus and sacrifice.  


TR-Tell us about your lowest moment

ML-It was Friday night after a 27 mile ruck up and down Palomar Mountain under significant load.  We were all cold, wet and sandy bear crawling 200 yards up and down hills along with other drills that pushed us beyond our perceived limits.  The intensity and pace were relentless.  Then came the countless rocking chairs in the lake coupled with the cold winds.  It was tough but that is when we started to come together as a team. Our communication improved greatly and we started focusing on the person beside us. That was an awesome feeling.  We still had a long way to go but that was a big first step.

TR-What was your diet like in preparation?  

ML-Fat boy special with extra protein and creatine.

TR-Between the lack of sleep, cold water or endless running and rucking, which was the most challenging?  

ML-All of those represented their own unique challenges.  The rucking under load plus carrying additional objects at a fast pace over a long distance was challenging.


TR-What one lesson will you take back to your personal life?  

ML-I learned countless lessons through the pain and suffering.  
We are all capable of 20, 30 times more than we think is possible.  We have to remove the self-imposed limitation on ourselves.  Teamwork is the key and lifting each other up with positive reinforcement is everything.  We are so much stronger together than as individuals.
100% effort, 100% of the times.  We will all need assistance at one point or another and we should be quick to reach and lift up each other.  A positive gesture or comment goes a very long way in helping your teammate and yourself.  Always be positive and encourage others.  Kokoro is very special and I can draw upon the lessons learned for the rest of my life.

TR- 50 hours of non stop exercise makes a person hungry.  I can remember eating a TON of food, ordering 3 milkshakes at once, eating 3 hamburgers and then going out for dinner.  What did the next 24 hours look like for you and your diet?

 ML-My first meal after being secured was the buffet spread SEALFIT provided just off the grinder.  It was chicken, beef and barbeque tacos and rice.  Plenty of extra sides, fruitand desserts.  They had beer and just about any other beverage you can think of.
It was really cool because all the coaches and interns stayed and ate with us.  It was fun.  That lasted for a couple of hours.  I went back to my room and slept for about 5 hours then ate a large pizza and went back to bed.  The next morning I killed some waffles and eggs.  I drank tons of water.   I really could not eat enough for about a week after the event, my body was so depleted and broken down.
TR-What one thing would you take to Kokoro?
ML-Since I had consulted you before leaving for Kokoro, I was very prepared on what to take.  The towel came in very handy.  The funny thing is we traveled and packed like Spartans, meaning coach Cummings had us place a couple of pairs of shorts, BDU’s and tee shirts along with our running shoes in a plastic garbage bag.  We were wearing boots, BDU pants and tee shirt.  We left SEALFIT HQ Friday morning with only our garbage bagsand traveled to some remote mountainfor the first 24 plus hours of evolutions.

TR-I saw some amazing things in my camp.  Was there one thing that you can remember as the most impressive thing that you saw someone do or endure?

ML-There were several things that impressed me over the 52 hours at Kokoro.  Teammates breaking down only to be picked up by others and come back stronger than before.  The overall support and encouragement from all team members is hard to put into words.  It is truly amazing what we all can accomplish when we remove ourselves and focus on others.  The class was constantly rallying around teammates to lift them up, not to their load but to provide words of encouragement.  All that being said, there was one situation where the coaches wanted to drop an individual.  They put it up to a vote.  We voted to keep him.  That was not good enough, so the coaches said if there was anyone in our class that can complete the “FRAN” in less than 3 minutes then the individual can stay for now.  One of our teammates stepped forward and after roughly 20 to 24 hours of evolutions (while being cold, we and sandy, no sleep) he completed the “FRAN” in 2:48.  To say it was impressive is a gross understatement.  The coaches were speechless, which as you know is rare.

ML-Thank you Tom for the interview

TR- Congratulations on completing Kokoro.  I look forward to seeing how you incorporate the lessons you learned into your everyday life.  Hooyah!

Matt Lawson