The Morrison System: The Art and Science of Training for War - ITS Tactical

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The Morrison System: The Art and Science of Training for War

By Bryan Black

I’m stoked to introduce a new program and workbook that’s debuting today from my good friend and former Air Force PJ (Pararescue Jumper), Nate Morrison. I’ve known Nate since my Navy days in 2004, when I met him through a friend while training in Systema with James Williams.

Nate was one of the first and most prominent individuals to see the direct benefits of both kettlebell training and non-fatiguing high-intensity strength training and their application to the field of tactical strength and conditioning. Easily recognizing the short-falls of typical body-building methods and old-school PT methods, Nate  not only was one of the first, but also quite simply the most vocal in the US in applying specific preparation to address  the specific needs and demands of the tactical athlete.

Nate has been involved in both Army and Air Force Special Operations for the past 18 years and is currently a Military Freefall and Mountain Warfare Instructor. I’ve been proud to have him as a contributor to ITS Tactical and I’m anxious to tell you all about The Morrison System.

The Morrison System

I’ve had an advanced copy of The Morrison System for a few weeks now and have been busy reading ever since. My experience with fitness, nutrition and living well has been self-taught through weeding through the piles and piles of useless information out there and experimenting on my body to find what works. I feel like everyone is different and has certain ideas of the fitness levels they’d like to attain and maintain.

For me, I spent two plus years training for my shot at BUD/s in the Navy, which was very specialized training for the events found in that pipeline. During that time, I not only learned what my body was capable of, but that the mind truly does control the body. This is one of the biggest hurdles to overcome in any workout routine, whether it’s tackling a new methodology or simply being consistent and dedicated to your fitness goals.

One of the first things that caught my eye in The Morrison System, comes from the preface, where Nate talks about the basics. “Keep it simple, tune everything else out, train right and train hard. That is the way of the true professional.” I couldn’t agree more with this philosophy and that you become what you do consistently. Nate also advocates a core belief I advocate here on ITS, which is not only the how, but the why.

The Morrison System was designed to deliver an effective training protocol to Special Operations, mountaineers and adventure athletes. That being said, it’s also designed to properly align your training, no matter what your sport or occupation may be.

Whether you’re in the general fitness crowd or someone who wants an all around strength and conditioning program, the “whole human being” aspect of TMS seems to work well around this. What’s unique, is the attention that’s paid to the variables of training, individual response to training and actually teaching you how to recover properly; avoiding pain and injury commonly associated with overtraining.

Nate also mentions that you won’t be so wiped out while following TMS that you can’t function. Remember, functional fitness is about being able to function!

The Morrison System and the accompanying Planning Workbook are available here starting today.  I’m looking forward to getting started on TMS myself and report back with my results on ITS. I feel that it represents a fresh approach to fitness that’s truly modular and capable of adapting to everyone’s fitness goals.

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  • James

    I was interested, and even tried to purchase one. But because he’s using Paypal, and Paypal somehow doesn’t seem to understand that some people are deployed and where they would like something shipped to is not the same their Billing Address. I am unable.

  • chris mckinney

    outfuknstanding. must read/have!!

  • Does the system cover nutrition and training, or does it “tune out” everything but the training? I’m hoping for the latter, as mainstream fitness nutrition information changes so dramatically so often.

  • James, thank you for your service to our country and your Interest in TMS.

    We will be adding a non-paypal solution in the next day or so.

    Also keep in mind that TMS is currently offered as an ebook/digital product so there’s no actual shipping involved.

    The Morrison System Support Team

  • aa

    Paypal was a bit reluctant to accept a British ‘phone number but the download has gone through.

    Can’t comment on the content yet but I wanted to say the customer service from Nathanael Morrison and his team has been outstanding – I emailed a question about shipping to the UK and got an answer almost immediately (as stated in the previous post its an ebook so it doesn’t matter) I emailed a second time about registration and again got a very quick and very helpful response.

    The PDF has to be unlocked once you download it. I’ve transferred the documents to a kindle, unlocked them there and it’s working fine.

  • Can’t wait to read it. I think just about every infantryman in the Army knew how inadequate the standard approach to PT was, but in the 9 years I was in little of anything ever changed. Then a couple years ago a friend sent me a copy of Nate’s book “Military Fitness” and it was great to finally read a common sense approach to military PT. Although it was directed at the military professional the teachings in the book could easily be tweaked to fit whatever field of work you’re in. Nate’s book was also one of the reasons I pretty much abandoned traditional weights and switched to kettlebells. So if this one is as good as the last it will be a must have.

  • Cowboy

    Just purchased it. I’ll definitely post up some more information as I work my way through the product.

    Hell maybe I’ll do a short blog on the whole process. Maybe 6 months on the program and chronicle the process.

  • A recommendation from a warrior carries weight. I’m now hooked on Lock n Load Java and just ordered the Morrison System. Thanks for the hook-ups!
    Semper Fi from a not so old, but not so fit former Marine who going to be rocking the Morrison System now.

  • Maverick9110E

    Any chance of it coming to a print version?

    • bh

      I contacted Mr. Morrison via the website about print version and the reply was “the conventional
      print book will be available in 1-2 months maximum.”
      Hope this helps.

  • Matt H.

    I am also deployed and had no issue with using a APO/DPO address with previous things via paypal, I was able to use a billing and different shipping address? For the person above having problems with paypal.

    I will be checking this out in the near future once I finish with my program experimentation I am on now. I agree as the general military training is not geared very well for the tactical/combat athlete. And I am not a big believer in crossfit for combat athletes either. This is something I have been experimenting to come up with what I think is better, very interested to see what you guys have put together.

  • Steve

    Interesting, but hyperbolic marketing statements like “first”, “only”, “expert” and “all” can and do turn off some folks, especially if they’ve been in SOF and worked in physical training as long or longer than the author.

  • Flip

    I read through the book and the workbook and there are a lot of things in it, but not everything in it is solid (explained later).

    Here are some of my tidbits on it:

    1) The workbook has more value to me than the actual book (that should be a hint). As a Combat Instructor and Training NCO in the Marines for 5+ years (No joke, I’ve trained around 5,000 Marines in things from CQB, to detainee handling, to DT, to water survival, to first aid/responder, to etc.) the schedule he has is pretty decent. Logical and clutter free. I like it.

    2) The info in the book is hit and miss. He gives a no-no in one section and then admits the usage of it in the next. There is a lot of stuff in here that I agree with and used with my units that saw improvements in training, the PFT and the CFT (Sea/Duffle Bag training). The problem is that you can pretty much find that info on ITS, or other related sites, for FREE. The benefit is obviously having it all in one place, but that’s not hard if you know how to make a PDF.

    3) He gives very little info on himself and other than the amount of time he spent in certain fields/areas. A more in depth about his military history would have been nice. He mentions being in the Special Forces in the Army and Air Force, yet doesn’t state much more than that. In the Marines if someone said they were in Recon you would make sure it was FORCE Recon before listening to them and their tactical info/scoop. I’m not doubting his experience, but I’d like to have something more solid before I start taking this information without a grain of salt.

    4) Systema? Really? I’ve read into this a bit and it’s really sketchy. I’ve done MCMAP, general DT stuff and am now a level 2 in Krav Maga (super fun by the way). I can attest to Krav’s effectiveness. I’ve trained with the IDF and this stuff (under the right instruction, which I’m sure is the same for Systema) can teach you how to win a fight and not just score a point. But Systema? Just look at some of the videos by the instructors recommended in a reference in the book (russianmartialart com) and this stuff looks like acting. The only plus I can see from Systema is that it might improve your flow of movement and methods of breathing while fighting/training. One major negative I see in the system is that it leave your vital areas exposed in some of the move and that is not something I’m comfortable with.

    5) I spent the $50, but I would not recommend anyone else do it. I would say at most $20 for BOTH of the books and not a cent more. I understand this is his system, but some of those images used in his books I know are not his. One image is even take straight from the concept art of a video game. If he has the copyright, fine, but I am contacting the company (TellTale games) to ensure they have allowed it. I don’t want to be a snitch, but I hate bum/lame scoop and there is enough in this book/system to make me not care about that stipulatoin.

    That’s all I have for now. Hate it or take it, it’s my honest opinion.

    • right on flip
      wish i would have kept my 50 bucks all the stuff is pretty much what most infantry platoons are already doing. I picked it up thinking there would be a lot more info.

    • Flip


      6) Unlikely training environments. This book is for tailored/controlled or Stateside environments. The advocated use of the O-Courses, which I personally love and wish I had more access to, is not practical for deployed units. In fact unless the O-Course is in an low activity area, most bases (that I have been to) have prohibited the use of them unless there are the proper elements in place (approved training and medical personnel in place). Also the dieting and supplements section are not always possible for deployed units. Either due to lack of options (‘Where’s my Organic Beef Patty MRE?’) or lack of space (ammo/ordnance takes priority over cod liver oil) the nutrition portion can only be limitedly applied to deployed units (which does not seem like the focus of this book).

      7) References and cited material. There are a few items/points made that I would personally like to see the sited studies/material for (Olympians being able to real 900% faster than a normal person, for one). He does a good job of ensuring that other sites/networks are cited, and his personal experience training military members/units, yet more solid references would have been nice.

      8) Crossfit. It is prohibited by this book to use due to it’s claimed rate of a 99% catastrophic injury rate(source?). I agree that with improper training that this can be dangerous, but that rule also applies to a lot of other concepts. I implemented certain elements of Crossfit into my units training and saw an increase in physical ability, stamina and endurance while seeing a decrease in injuries, and medical conditions (high BP being one of them). I am currently working as a contractor with NATO on an US Army base and I see their Ranger and Airborne units conducting Crossfit, but they are doing it the right way by ensuring they have proper form and not over extending the bodies natural range of motion. Hell, I had one Ranger ask me to join them in a session, so USSOCOM is using Crossfit, which the author says is banned by them. I honestly prefer the Military Athlete myself.

      I keep pointing out mainly the negatives, so here are some good points:

      + PT. Rifle, log and, as stated before, sea/duffle bag PT. I love this stuff and can not recommend enough about adding this to your PT schedule. Just ensure you are performing thing properly

      + Nutrition. The initial part of the nutrition chapter is pretty good. It follows the basics of the Paleo diet and gets into some detail about why some of the nasty stuff is nasty. The fact that the author implores the reader to do their own research as well is something that I agree with. The less processed the better.

      + Hydration. This falls roughly inline with how I feel about the topic, but again, sources are missing.

      + Mental recovery. A lot of units and their leaders forget about this aspect. While they enjoy testing the mental capacity and endurance of their troops, they forget or do to little to ensure the proper recovery of their troops mental welfare. The books addresses this and ways to deal with it.

      After doing some more research on the author I have found that this is not his first book, and it has been pointed out by others that the material in this book has been reissued/formated from previous books. While I cannot speak on the truth of these allegations, due to the not willing to purchase the old book (Military Fitness: A Manual of Special Physical Training. Read the 3 Star review in the following link to see the similarities in that persons review and mine. In the business we like to say this would grounds to establish a pattern or modus operandi. Link:, the fact that what I do find on or about the old book and how they seems similar to this one is disturbing.

      This author and this article has obviously irked me, and thus is why I am so critical of the material. I understand one has to make money, but tactics like this are, to me, despicable and I honestly expected better of ITS. While some methods are sound the rehashing of previous material and lack of sources for information provided has now raised a red flag with me and what I read on this site.

      Thanks for everyone’s time and sorry for the long winded reply.

    • Steve

      Flip, thanks for the review. Just one point–the About section of states that Morrison is a veteran of Army Special Operations. Most Special Forces guys make the distinction of being Special Forces rather than generic Special Operations, which in Army parlance also includes the Ranger Regiment, the 160th, Delta and elements of Civil Affairs, MISO (the new name for PSYOP) and support units.

  • Hello All,

    Nate Morrison here, author of The Morrison System. It’s always a bit interesting reading about yourself in a medium like this. It’s easy to get a little defensive but I try to avoid such temptations. Frankly you can’t and won’t ever please everyone and there is no getting around that. I accept that. No worries.

    That said, I would like to clarify a few things…

    1. Steve: It is rather amusing at the constant phallus measuring that goes on and the questioning of who is who and if they really are cool guys. Unfortunately I suppose it is necessary, though strange since the owner of ITS Tactical has known me for almost a decade, met me on the job and stated as much… But hey, whatever… 🙂 So, lets look at it. I state that I am/have been a member of BOTH Air Force and Army SOF. That is a true statement. I am NOT an 18 series nor do I wish to be. I recently returned to the USAF after several years in the Army. No I will not discuss MOS or units. Don’t ask, this is a public forum. What is publicly available is that I am a Pararescue team leader and I have a very extensive deployment background to include starting both of the last 2 wars. I recently returned from closing down Iraq.

    2. Flip: Sorry it didn’t appeal to you. You have some strong opinions. I don’t think it would be productive to discuss them publicly. I’m not sure you would be receptive. All I can tell you is that it works and many of your thoughts are not accurate. Since I don’t know you I can’t speak for why you hold those thoughts. You are entitled to you opinions. I will say that you and Sager are the only negative comments I have seen.

    3. Sager: My goodness… If the information in the book was not enough or informative then I have no idea what you’re looking for. I’m stunned to be honest. Again, I’m sorry of 272 pages of the latest proven sports science is not adequate. I would recommend Supertraining by Mel C. Siff for some deeper reading of you are really interested.

    All, please feel free to send me an e-mail with any questions, comments concern, etc… I celebrate the fact that everyone can have an opinion and I am open to good conversation and discussion.

    All the best,
    Nate Morrison
    [email protected]

    • Steve

      No dick measuring here, Nate. The bottom line is you’re marketing yourself as something, but get really squirrely when asked specific questions. If you were a Delta guy, saying so won’t kill your OPSEC. If you were in a rifle company in the 75th, you can say that as well. Of course, saying you were a support guy vs. a primary shooter in either unit, while completely honorable and pride-worthy service, doesn’t carry the same shine when you’re trying to sell yourself as a cool-guy operator hawking a cool-guy operator system.

      I don’t know you from Adam, but some folks out there seem to, and they are making counter-claims to your marketing material’s implied duty descriptions. You don’t want to make a clear, unambiguous statement as to what you did in what unit, that’s fine by me, but don’t get all butt-hurt if folks call you on it.

    • John

      Nate Morrison is an Airforce PJ, he stated that and I f thats not “high speed” cool enough for you than I dont know what you are looking for. The man is the real deal!

    • Flip

      Mr. M,

      Not all of my review is negative, just a majority of it is. The “big picture” items in your book I liked, but the devil’s in the details and unfortunately I can see that pitchfork poking you in the ass here. If you ironed out some of the problems I listed I’m sure your clients/followers/customers will have fewer questions and a more solid foundation to go off of. Right now the items in your book seem to say, ‘Just take my word for it.’ Sources and references, which I’m sure you have, go a long way.

      Also it seems that there are other people out there that have had negative reviews (you might recall that you replied to some of their crude comments on the website).

      Last bit. You are a public figure. When you have a website named after you and youtube videos of you floating around you are 1) seeking attention (good or bad) for your business and 2) going to have to start addressing your followers/critics in a public forum when that is how they are addressing you. Doing so shows a willingness to mentor people (as you wish to do) and might prove the person wrong, regardless if they believe it. Others are reading their words and that means the critics thoughts are now bouncing around in their minds. It would seem to be in your best interest as a public figure to address your public.

      I’m really trying to help, it’s what I do, but it’s for you to accept it or not. I’ve tried to keep my comments as constructive, maybe something else put you in a defense mood and closed down your mind to my suggestions.


  • Chris Webb

    Thanks for the heads-up on this. Just purchased the system. Looking forward to beginning.

  • jim

    hi , interested in this but looking forward to paperback version , background is uk Royal Marine and currently serving firefighter and reserve combat medic with ops experience .im interested in how far we can push the human physical envelope and as a late 30 something guy struggling with injury and health this publication interests me to follow

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