Canis Familiaris: Martial Arts Training Involution #174

The following essay is from the founder’s blog.

The Delightful Demeanor of the Domestic Dog

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If your dog is suffering enough to show it, take him straight to the vet.  If he’s in so much pain that he snips at you, he’s probably at death’s door.  Anyone who has ever had a dog knows this to be true.  Gizmo, my little Lhasa Apso, sixteen years old and falling apart at the seams, licked our hands and showed his love for us all the way to the euthanasia room.  I wish I could be half as loving, and half as tough, as that little guy was.

Underneath that happy face, lolling tongue and sleek coat lie millions of years of ingrained, evolutionary knowledge.  Sick wolves are unfit to be selected as mates.  Weak animals get singled out by predators and picked on by any bullies in the pack.  Snippy, grumpy dogs get less food from their human partners.  If you’re a dog, it has always paid to keep your whining to yourself.  It is, in fact, a matter of life and death.

Your dog’s happy demeanor is the result of practical stoicism.

Similar forces had to be working upon humans too.  Who knows why happy stoicism didn’t get baked into our DNA too?  My theory is that our self-awareness prevented it by allowing us an escape hatch — being two-faced.  If I’m right, that means that being a happy and loving stoic is directly linked to integrity.

You see, the stereotype of the stern and frowning stoic is just that.  Your dog knows that behavior is not a bilateral spectrum or a zero sum game.  Dogs — and people for that matter — don’t have to be either happy-go-lucky or  stoic.  Possessing self-control doesn’t mean you have to be inscrutable or have the deadpan aspect of a corpse.

Nor does it mean being fake.  To be clear, we are not talking about simply gritting our teeth and hiding the pain.  That’s grade school stuff compared to what any dog down at the dog-pound can do.  We are talking about actually being happy and full of love despite being in pain.  And this goes for physical pain as well as spiritual and intellectual pain, like stress, money problems, family strife, work pressures, and so on.

It boils down to being the same person all the time, no matter what comes our way.  Isn’t that what integrity is?  Being a dutiful person even when it’s inconvenient or dangerous?  Being kind and polite even when others aren’t?  Staying on course despite the winds of pain, anger, frustration and anguish?

Sometimes reality is literally a pain.   Deal with it.  Start with daily contemplation and awareness training.  Then make a resolution to be like a dog — to be happy and loving even when you’re suffering.  Be on the lookout for signs that you might be allowing your pains to change who you are.  Make a note in your training journal when you catch yourself being whiny, cranky or selfish.  Be introspective enough to untangle your behavior and figure out what’s eating you — just knowing what it is can release its hold on you.    

Toughen up buttercup, or your pains will become everybody else’s pains too.

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CANIS FAMILIARIS: MARTIAL ARTS TRAINING INVOLUTION #174

  • No talking, groaning, grunting or complaining for the duration of the training session.

  • Half Pyramid of Clean & Press. Don’t have a barbell? No excuses — get creative. Use two dumbbells. Gradually fill a ruck sack with barbells, chains, or tools from your garage (a bag full of wrenches and hammers weighs a ton!). Start with a naked weight bar and do 10 reps. Take a 1 min. break while you add approx 1/10th of your max safe weight to the bar. Do 10 reps, take a 1 min break, and repeat. When you can’t 10 reps, that’s okay. Just do as many as you can and keep adding weight until you fail. My sets were #20 x 10, #30 x 10, #40 x 10, #50 x 10, #60 x 9, #70 x 8, #80 x 5 #90 x 3, #100 x 2, #110 fail.

  • Heavy bag speed drill. Set a round timer for 10 rounds of :30/:30. Get after that bag as fast as you can for :30 and then rest for :30. Count your strikes for the final round and write it down. Come back in a few days and beat your number.

  • Dig a hole. Not literally, figuratively. Instead of digging in the yard like your dog, dig into yourself. Sit down in your meditative posture of choice, regulate your breathing, and think back to the last time you were cranky and/or not your ideal self. What was the “pinch that made you flinch” so-to-speak? Physical pain? Fear? Worry? Stress? What could you do to prevent that from happening again?

  • Journal. And, as always, record your performance, thoughts and realizations in your training log when you’re done.

Locomotion: Martial Arts Training Involution #173

Last week we discussed why tanks are scarier than cannons — because tanks can move and cannons can’t — and we did some movement-related training.  This week we’re taking it a step further by doing some “next level” movement drills.

Why?  Because, whether you’re a martial artist or not, being able to move through your environment isn’t just handy for clearing obstacles so that you can escape danger.  It’s about ownership of the space you occupy.  It’s about confidence, command and mastery of one’s body, practical fitness, fighting the spectre of workout boredom, and more!

LOCOMOTION: MARTIAL ARTS TRAINING INVOLUTION #173

  • Martial warm-up. Practice your forms or flow drills for 8 minutes.

  • Spar or work your heavy bag for 20 minutes. If you have a partner, gear up and spar using whatever guidelines you prefer. At my clubs we generally spar using standard MMA rules and equipment except that we don’t allow strikes to the head (only smearing, grinding and cooking) and we don’t push the contact past about 2/3. If you don’t have a partner, work your heavy bag. I recommend using some aspect of the “S.A.F.E. M.P. ” protocol from the Cabal Fang Study Guide.

  • Practice some martial movement exercises for 15 minutes. Set up a little course of six exercises as much like the ones in the video below as you can manage (modify, adapt and overcome!) which are Suitcase Carry Sprints, Vault w/ Quad Run, Jump and Safety Roll, Log Walks, Kansas Burpees and Get-ups. Set a timer for 2:30 intervals and do as many as you can of each exercise for 2:30.

  • Walking Contemplation. Walk. Just walk. Go slowly to minimize the sounds of your footfalls. Be silent and do not fidget or scratch. Breathe silently and in a regular pattern, and narrow your eyes to minimize the need to blink. Do not think in words, prepare your grocery list, or any of that. Just put one foot in front of the other and allow your chattering monkey mind to gradually quiet itself until you’re in a quiet state of awareness.

  • Journal. And, as always, record your performance, thoughts and realizations in your training log or journal when you’re done.

Propel: Martial Arts Training Involution #172

Which is more intimidating: a cannon, or a tank?

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The tank right?  Why?

Because it moves. 

Your cannons are no good if they cannot move with authority.

Propel: Martial Arts Training Involution #172

  • Martial Fitness Warm-up. Set a timer for 8 mins and do low intensity 4-rep sets until the timer beeps of Sit-Outs, 5-yard Bear Walks, Crunches, and Reverse Bridges (Neck or Shoulder based on your fitness level).

  • 200 yard Bear Hug Carry. Carrying heavy objects is the most basic test of functional, moving strength and should be a part of all fitness programs. Set a goal of carrying half your weight at least 200 yards. If this is your first time, start with a light, manageable weight and walk that off 50 yards. Break 1 minute. If that was easy, add a little weight and repeat. Rest 1 minute. If that was easy, to ahead and try to walk it off 200 yards. Train this way 2 or 3 times per week using a linear training program with periodicity. I like the Ironmind sandbag. There's a video of sandbag training in front of the Cabal Fang Temple below.

  • Falls and Rolls. Never take the basics for granted. A competent martial artist should be able to safely fall and roll on real-life surfaces, not just on mats. Warm up on mats and then, if your technique is good and you're sure you're ready, take it outside on the grass. Complete 25 Shoulder Rolls and 25 Break Falls. If that feels good, and if you're sure you're ready, go to the sidewalk and repeat.

  • Move while you hit and hit while you move. Set timer for 3 x 3:00/1:00 heavy bag rounds. For the first two rounds, focus on mobility only, not power. Be in motion for every strike. All kicks should be switch-kicks or kicks with a décollage. For the final round, go for it -- full power with full mobility.

  • Contemplation. Walk it off off for 3 minutes or until your heart rate is back to normal. Do not fidget or scratch, breathe silently and in a regular pattern, and narrow your eyes to minimize the need to blink. Do not think in words, prepare your grocery list, or any of that. Be in a state of quiet awareness, motionless inside and out.

  • Journal. And, as always, record your performance, thoughts and realizations in your training log or journal.


Hunt: Training Involution #171

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The following essay is from from the founder’s blog.

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The Formidable Faculties of the Cricket Frog

I nearly stepped on him.  He was so still that I thought he was a part of the terrain.  I stopped and gave him a good look-see.  He didn’t seem to mind much.

He was a common cricket frog.  A storm had come bringing sheets of rain and a break in the heat of this late afternoon in August.  He had hopped onto the cement at the edge of the gazebo.  Like me, he was watching green leaves blowing from the trees and lightning cracking in the distance.  I’ve seen a million cricket frogs.  But there was something special about him, or rather, something special about the encounter.  I have grown old and wise enough to recognize this feeling.  I am about to realize something important.  Not right now, but soon.

The next day, after a very productive training session, I sat down to do some contemplation.  Let’s not play fast and loose with our words and refer to all forms of mental exercise as meditation.  Meditation is a form of medicine — both words have the same Latin root — it is focused attention with a purpose, often using at tool.  Those tools start with the letter M just like meditation: mantras(holy words), mudras (spiritual gestures), and mandalas (holy maps or visual aids).    Contemplation, on the other hand, shares its Latin root with temple, a space set aside for sacredness or divinity to enter.  To contemplate is to empty the mind.  You just just sit and breathe.  This is the zazen of Zen Buddhism.  You don’t think about anything.  You turn off your conscious mind and sit immobile.  

Like a frog.

It did not come to me in words, this grand realization, but in a rush of images in my mind’s eye.  I saw instantly that a frog contemplates in his own way.  Every creature that has ever lain in wait for a prey animal to come by — a frog waiting for a fly, a catfish biding for a minnow, a hunter in a tree stand waiting for a buck — has practiced contemplation.

The first three things you are taught when learning zazen are (a) do not fidget or scratch, (b) breathe silently and in a regular pattern, and (c) keep your eyes open to narrow slits to minimize the need to blink.  You are instructed to make no judgments or conscious evaluations about about what is before your eyes.  You do not ignore the world, you just choose not to react to it for a time.  You are completely relaxed, open, and empty — motionless inside and out — in a state of quiet awareness.

This is the behavior of a creature that is lying in wait for prey.

Contemplation is not a human invention.  We just differentiated various methods, gave them names, and basically did what humans always do: we codified, boxed, labeled and pontificated.  There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that all human systems of contemplation and meditation (and maybe even prayer as well) have their origins in hunting behaviors.

From fish, to frogs, to mammals, to apes to humans, at every stage of our evolution, we contemplated in order to survive.  Contemplation is in our DNA.  It is not a skill that we cultivate.  It is something that we allow to happen.

Contemplation is going home.

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HUNT: MARTIAL ARTS TRAINING INVOLUTION #171

Martial Fitness Warm-up.  Set a timer for 10 mins and complete as many 4-rep sets as you can of Sit-Out Push-ups, 5-yard Bear Walks, Leg Triangles, and Shots.
Weapon practice.  Every martial artist should be able to pick up a weapon and use it to defend himself if necessary.  Select a dull practice weapon of realistic size and weight and ) and a heavy bag.  Advanced folks may use a live weapon and a pell or war post if desired, but only if capable of doing so safely.  Set timer for 5 x 2:00 and complete 1 round of each (1) Passing blows (strike as you sprint back-and-forth past target) (2) Stationary strikes, (3) Sprawl and strike, (4) Up and down kneeling strikes (strike as you go down to one knee, both knees, one knee, standing, repeat), and (5) Sit-up strikes.  Strike constantly, taking as few 12-count breaks as you need to finish.  If the business end of the weapon touches your body at any time, complete 50 Push-ups for each touch.
Half mile run.  Cover a half mile as fast as you can.
Contemplation.  Walk off your run for about 3 minutes or until your heart rate is back to normal, then sit still for fifteen minutes.  Do not fidget or scratch, breathe silently and in a regular pattern, and keep your eyes open to narrow slits to minimize the need to blink.  Do not think in words, prepare your grocery list, or any of that.  Be in a state of quiet awareness, motionless inside and out.
Journal.  And, as always, record your performance, thoughts and realizations in your training log or journal.

POP IN: CABAL FANG MARTIAL ARTS TRAINING INVOLUTION #170

IF YOU SEE IT, FLEE IT — BUT IF YOU CAN’T GET OUT, YOU GOTTA GET IN.

This is Ace of Cups from the Hoi Polloi Tarot.  A the moment, the Chalice is the spiritual symbol of the month at Cabal Fang HQ here in Richmond.

This is Ace of Cups from the Hoi Polloi Tarot. A the moment, the Chalice is the spiritual symbol of the month at Cabal Fang HQ here in Richmond.

To learn the specifics of implementing this strategy, see Cabal Fang: Complete Study Guide from Querent to Elder. But, in general terms, you need to have as many powerful techniques as you can master that are effective at very close range. Toward that end we humbly present…

POP IN: MARTIAL ARTS TRAINING INVOLUTION #170

  • Martial Fitness. Set a timer for 10 mins and complete as many sets as you can of 4 Chin-ups, 4 Kansas Burpees, 4 Back Bridges, and 4 Bear Walks (10′ diam circles). Beginners use a light bag for the KBs and no bag for the BBs. Intermediate, use a 65+ lb heavy bag for both KBs and BBs. Advanced, same as Intermediate except add weight to the CUs.

  • Popper pyramids. 3 sets of each side of Shoulder pops and Elbow pops, each set in pyramid format: 1,2,3,4,3,2,1. See video below. To build up speed, do this pyramid a couple of times a week for a few weeks, then be sure to add them into your heavy bag work and to your sparring repertoire.

  • Meditation. Meditation tools generally fall into one of three primary categories: visual aids (mandalas), words (mantras), and body movements (mudras). The spiritual symbol of the month at Cabal Fang is the Chalice — try imagining it as a kind of visual aid. Set a timer for 10 mins and assume your meditation posture of choice. Visualize a chalice in your mind’s eye. Don’t think in words — just visualize the chalice and breathe in a regular rhythm. Quiet your monkey brain — allow the Chalice to chase away negative thoughts, obsessions, and so on.

  • Journal. And, as always, record your performance, thoughts and realizations in your training log or journal.

BENCHMARK EFFECT: CABAL FANG TRAINING INVOLUTION #169

“THE WAY TO GET THINGS DONE IS TO STIMULATE COMPETITION.  I DO NOT MEAN IN A SORDID, MONEY-GETTING WAY, BUT IN THE DESIRE TO EXCEL.” ¹

What’s measured improves.

The way to get more out of yourself is to self-compete.  This is “benchmark effect.”

  1. Train.

  2. Record performance.

  3. Evaluate progress.

  4. Adjust training regimen.

  5. Repeat.

No need to write 500 more words on this because there’s no point.  You’re either going to do it or you aren’t.  Which is it?

BENCHMARK EFFECT: CABAL FANG TRAINING INVOLUTION #169

  1. Work your body. Set timer for 8:00. Complete as many strikes as you can vs. your heavy bag before the timer beeps. If you don’t have a heavy bag, make one; if you don’t have anywhere to hang it indoors, throw a rope over a tree limb or lash it to a tree or post. When done, shoulder your bag and see how far you can carry it, switching shoulders as needed.

  2. Work your mind. Write down your strike count and the distance carried. Are you writing down measurable metrics for all training sessions — such as rep counts, time elapsed, distance, etc. — and trying to improve? If not, you aren’t training, you’re mucking around. “That which is measured improves.”

  3. Work your spirit. Set a timer for 10 mins and assume your posture of choice. Regulate breathing to a slow, steady rhythm and allow your mind to approach stillness. Don’t think, and don’t think about not thinking. Just sit. Most people call this meditation, but technically it’s contemplation. Doesn’t matter what you call it. Just do it and thank me later.

¹ Charles M. Schwab, as quoted in How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.  If you haven’t Carnegie’s world-famous book you don’t know what you’re missing.  There’s a reason why the book has sold 16 million copies.

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LIVE FROM TN: MARTIAL ARTS TRAINING INVOLUTION #168

We went to Western Warrior Boot Camp in TN to hone our skills. Read more by clicking the picture:

We are the two guys in Cabal Fang t-shirts on the right. Robert Mitchell Jr and Robert Mitchell III.

We are the two guys in Cabal Fang t-shirts on the right. Robert Mitchell Jr and Robert Mitchell III.


LIVE FROM TN: MARTIAL ARTS TRAINING INVOLUTION #168

Let’s try kicking in all five ways. Before you begin, warm up for a full 8 minutes.

  • SPEED: Set timer for 30 secs. Roundhouse kick heavy bag as many times as you can in 30 secs. Rest 30 secs and repeat. If you don’t beat your kick count the second round, do 25 Push-ups. Remember that count and carry that number through the rest of this involution.

  • POWER: Turn off timer. Whatever your kick count was last round, do that many kicks as hard as you can, with maximum malice. Take your time but don’t lollygag. Rest 30 secs and do it again. If you or any training partners think your power was less the second round, do 25 Push-ups.

  • ENDURANCE: Are you kidding? This whole thing, taken in total, is endurance practice. But if you were training solely for endurance you could do something like 10+ minutes (or more depending on your fitness level) of kicks with no rest breaks.

  • ACCURACY: Mark a spot on the bag no bigger than 2″. Kick to your count. Do 5 Push-ups per miss. Rest 1 minute and repeat. You guessed it — beat your score the second round or do an additional 25 Push-ups.

  • FORM: With one hand on a sturdy object if necessary, complete your kick count very slowly and with perfect form. Rest 1 minute and repeat. If your or any of your training partners think your form was lower on the second set, do 25 Push-ups.

Sack Cracker: Training Involution #167

For unrelenting misery there’s nothing quite like the sensation of being squeezed — by problems (social, work, health, financial, etc.), by a training partner (wrestling practice anyone?) or by a real threat.  I speak from experience.  I have, at one time or another, been squished, crushed, and wrung out by everything listed above.

When life — or your training partner or assailant — puts the squeeze on you, you need to squeeze right back.

This week’s involution will (a) help you start developing your crushing power by making you crack a sack, and (b) get you motivated to solve and overcome any social, work, health or financial problems you may be facing by pushing you to get your crack out of the sack.

SACK CRACKER: MARTIAL ARTS TRAINING INVOLUTION #167

As always, warm up full before you begin.

  • Crack yourself a sack. Get a floor bag (a heavy bag with chains taped). Make one if necessary. Set timer for 10 mins. Scissor lock the bag from the bottom and squeeze as hard as you can. Straighten your trunk while you hit the top of his “head” with hammer fists. When your legs gas, swap top/bottom foot position and repeat three more times. Roll to top position and straddle the bag. Complete a Smearing Push-up and a Horizontal Bag Lift (my version of Hatmaker’s KSB). Repeat three more times. When you finish the last lift, lay a Scarf Hold on the bag, squeeze as hard as you can,and then switch grips and hips four times. Drop the bag, go back to scissors, and repeat until the timer beeps. Video below.

  • Get your crack out of the sack. Run 1 mile as fast as you can.

  • Sack up and crack right back. Whatever pressures are putting the squeeze on you — social, work, health, financial, etc. — there is always something you can do. Restriction breeds creativity, not freedom. Get paper and pen and set a timer for three minutes. Don’t analyze and think deeply — you’ll do that later — just throw out ideas! Write down as many things as you can that might help your situation. When the timer beeps, calmly review and analyze the list. Pick the three best ideas. Put them on your to-do list, set completion dates on your calendar, and son. Taking action — any kind of action — is better than laying there and letting life, your opponent, or your assailant, crush the life out of you.

Repeat Offender: Training Involution #166

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About 75% of criminals have been incarcerated multiple times, and most experts estimate that the average criminal commits approximately 10 crimes per year for which they are not apprehended.  

If you are assaulted it will likely be at the hands of an experienced repeat offender.  And since you're a nice guy,  and you never hit first, you're likely to be punched, struck, stabbed or shot before you even start defending yourself.

Proposition A: We must practice fighting while hurt.

We are habitual, repeat offenders too.  We do all kinds of things we know we shouldn't do.  We skip training sessions, eat crap food, say stupid things, screw up at the office, drink too much, yell at the dog, etc. etc.

Proposition B: We must work on ourselves.

Repeat Offender: Martial Arts Training Involution #166

  1. Complete Wrestling Conditioner #2 while impaired.  Tuck one arm into your belt, tie a bandanna over one eye, put a pointy rock in one shoe, put on a brace that makes it impossible to bend one knee, or spread the contents of your gym bag across the training area and wrestle on that.  It's amazing how annoying it is to work on the mat with a stick under your knee or a rubber gun in the small of your back.  You can find instructions for Wrestling Conditioner #2 in Cabal Fang: Complete Study Guide from Querent to Elder or here.

  2. Self-evaluate.  What are you doing to get better in mind, body and spirit?  What's your plan?  Is it working?  If you don't have a plan, or if the current one isn't working, try The Hourglass Way -- available on Amazon, B&N, iTunes, Smashwords, and everywhere e-books are sold.

Sacred Words: Training Involution #164

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Should anyone other than a politically correct dweeb, a prime-time-ready talking head, garden-variety prude, holier-than-thou twit, or virtue-signalling chuckle-head want to clean up their potty mouth?

Sure.  Because speech is sacred.

Our greatest myths and holy books embody this truth.  According to the Egyptians,

"Thoth is the mediator through whom the world is brought into manifestation. He is the Tongue of Rā, the Herald of the Will of Rā,  and the Lord of Sacred Speech.”¹

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In Genesis 1 of the Holy Bible, God speaks the universe into being.  He says, "Let there be light: and there was light."  Later in John 1, when speaking of Christ, we hear,

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.  In him was life; and the life was the light of men."

The ancients revered the ability to recite poetry and holy words.  They embodied the idea of sacred speech.   Modern people have mostly surrendered in the battle against profane, rude and crude speech.  And few are able to recite any beautiful words even if they wanted to.

There was a time when we expected our kids to memorize poems, speeches and scripture.  Why?  So that they would have command of the words and speech on a fundamental level.

Sacred Words: Training Involution #164

Restriction breeds creativity, not freedom (for more on this topic watch this video).   Let's put some restrictions on ourselves and see if it drives our creativity.

  • Warm up thoroughly, at least 8 minutes.

  • Hobble yourself. Take a scrap of rope, an old Karate belt, Yoga strap, etc. and hobble yourself such that your ankles cannot get more than a shoulder's width apart.²

  • Complete a gauntlet. Set a timer for 8 x 2:00. You may do this with hand strikes only or with a practice weapon, your choice (I used my walking stick). Complete this twice: (1) Strikes vs. Heavy Bag (2) Get-ups (3) Sit-ups with two heavy bag strikes at top of each (4) Strikes vs. air while doing Prisoner Get-ups. ³

  • Cool down for 3 minutes and then hit the showers.

  • Hold your tongue. Refrain from swearing for one week and see how you feel about it. For extra credit, memorize some pretty words, some poetry, a piece of scripture, etc. Write it down on a scrap of paper, put it in your pocket, and study it every hour or so for a couple of days until you own it. Another way to do it is to make a voice recording on your phone and play it over and over until you can recite along with it. This is good for your brain and for your soul.


¹ Mead, G. R. S, Thrice-Greatest Hermes, Vol. 1, [The Thesophical Publishing Society, London 1906]

² I do several of these sorts of training exercises every month for self-defense practice -- hobbled, one hand tucked into my belt, one eye patched, a rock in my shoe, etc.

³  Prisoner Get-up: Drop to left knee, drop right knee to get on both knees, rise up to right knee only, then stand up.  Next time drop right knee first.  Alternate sides.

SNAKE, FISH, DOG, OWL: TRAINING INVOLUTION #163

This week’s T.I. comes straight from Karate College 2019 in Radford, VA. See pics at right.

SNAKE, FISH, DOG, OWL: TRAINING INVOLUTION #163

The single most effective martial arts maneuver is running away.  Not literally running, but getting the heck out of Dodge City, evading, hitting the road, saying bye-bye.  A martial artist should be able to move.  And when the situation is over, be able to sit still.

Set timer for 7 x 4:00 mins, no breaks.

  • Rounds 1 & 2: Warm up thoroughly. Light to moderate activity, low-key calisthenics like Jumping Jacks, Push-ups on knees, Crunches, maybe some low-intensity Jumping Rope, etc.

  • Round 3: Slither free like a snake. Get your floor bag or grappling dummy and start wrestling.¹ Back Bridge it, Neck Bridge it, and Reverse it. Squeeze, throw, and flip it. Stand it up on end and practice your Shots against it, etc. No striking — just wrestling — and no breaks longer than a 12-count.

  • Round 4: Swim away like a fish. If you have access to a body of water, swim as fast as you can. If you don’t, get on the floor and do a dry swim. Alternate between Prison Push-ups, Swimmers, and Flutter Kicks. When you gas, take 12-count breaks in Elbow Plank position.

  • Round 5: Run away like a dog. Cover as much distance as you can in 4 minutes.

  • Round 6: Walk it off for 4 minutes. Get your heartbeat down to normal.

  • Round 7: Watch like an owl. Now assume your posture of choice — seiza, lotus, half-lotus, cross-legged, sit in a chair, or have a seat in the grass and lean back against a tree. Spend 4 minutes just sitting. Don’t judge, don’t fantasize, don’t evaluate, don’t plan. Just sit. This is how the owl gets wise — by paying attention.

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    ¹ There’s no excuse for a martial artist not having a floor bag.  Buy a used bag on Craigslist for $10 or make one.

FOLDEROL AND FRIPPERY: CABAL FANG TRAINING INVOLUTION #162

This week’s T.I. comes straight from the founder’s blog. You can’t be pushing the martial and/or fitness envelope. Sometimes you have to take it down a notch and do some internal work. Enjoy.


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A snail gets attacked and beaten up by two turtles. The police come.  They ask the snail what happened. The snail says, “I don’t know — it all happened so fast!”

My grandsons gave me some cool origami for my birthday.  They made what they made because I wowed them with snail jokes (I got a million of them), they love my cool watch, and I guess they always see me in collared shirts.  Great gifts from two amazing boys.

Origami is folded paper, which got me thinking about folderol, which is different but sounds similar.  Folderol is frippery, wish-wash, claptrap, and other unimportant stuff.  Origami gifts from my grandsons are treasures — they are not piffle, twaddle, or gimcrackery.  Still though, got me thinking.

So I re-evaluated my activities and made some changes.  You should do this too from time to time.

FOLDEROL AND FRIPPERY: CABAL FANG TRAINING INVOLUTION #162

Cabal Fang Vital Grace #3 is Frugality  — “to be efficient in the use of time, effort and resources.”  Take today off from training and spend an hour evaluating your use of time and resources.    What you can do to trim, slice or eliminate waste of all kinds and get more frugal?  For some examples, here’s what I got rid of and or adjusted this week.  

  • Fearless Fridays. Made a pact with a friend of mine as follows: every Friday we email each other a report of what we’ve done to advance our projects for the current week and we ruthlessly evaluate one-another — no quarter taken or given.

  • Adjusted training time. 15 minutes less time on fitness and 15 minutes more on technique. I’m training 80 minutes a day on average (including days off — 100 minutes if you don’t). Too much wear and tear on my body at this age.

  • Focused training time. Freezing my Korean Karate training. Current forms twice a week to maintain existing foundation in basics only. No new forms or techniques. 99% focus on Cabal Fang and Frontier Rough & Tumble.

  • Very little free stuff. Can’t hope to make any money teaching martial arts in my retirement if I keep making making YouTube videos that give away all my secrets. Only occasional tidbits and teasers going forward. More effort on interesting books and sale-able products.

  • Efficiency in fundraising. One more giant load to the recycling center to benefit the Cabal Fang Temple, then I’m done. Takes hours to crush cans, organize, bag, and haul, and we only get $100/load. The county can have it going forward. Writing books and increasing donations is a better use of my time.

  • Gave up shopping for a new vehicle. I not Miss America and heaven knows I’m not pretty enough to need a fancy car to wave from. My ugly truck runs fine. I can rent a car for a couple of trips a year and not take on a $500/month car payment.

Flag Day: Cabal Fang Martial Arts Training Involution #161

This week’s T.I. is out a day early so you can, if you desire, complete it on Flag Day.  Flag Day commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States on June 14th, 1777.

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FLAG DAY: CABAL FANG MARTIAL ARTS TRAINING INVOLUTION #161

  • 5 x 10 of Dumbbell Squats and Bench Presses (if you don’t have access to weights, just do 4 x 10 + 1 set to failure of Air Squats and Push-ups).  Choose a weight you think will work and get started.  If a set is easy, add a little weight on the next one.  If you can’t quite get your 10 reps, take a little off the next set so that you get as close to 5 x 10 as you can.

  • Heavy bag carry.  Pick up a heavy bag and carry it as far as you can without stopping.

  • 2-mile flag run.  Okay, fine, you don’t have to run with an actual flag.  But run with something in your hand, like a water bottle or my personal favorite, a walking stick.  It’s a heckuva lot harder than it sounds.

  • Flag Meditation.  Set a timer for 10 mins.  Use the flag as an object of meditation, either visual (q.v. mandala) or verbal (q.v. mantra).  If you choose the visual method, meditate on an actual flag or a photo of one; if you choose the latter, use the Pledge of Allegiance.  Silently recite it to regulate breath.  “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America (breathing in) and to the republic for which it stands (holding breath with airway open), one nation, under God, indivisible (breathing out), with liberty and justice for all (hesitating empty with airways open).

Squiz: Cabal Fang Martial Arts Training Involution #160

SQUIZ /skwɪz/
Britain, Australia, New Zealand, colloquial. Perhaps a blend of squint +‎ quiz

  1. [noun] a look.

  2. [verb] to peer at or eye suspiciously.

But because this month's external focus is Self-Defense vs. Unarmed, we're going to add a new definition:

3. a self-defense quiz (contraction of self-defense and quiz)

And since our internal focus is The Candle (meditation) we're going to add in that element as well.

Squiz: Cabal Fang Martial Arts Training Involution #160

  1. The last time you stayed in a hotel, did you request a room between the 2nd and 4th floors? (FYI, fire ladders don't reach beyond the 4th)

  2. Do you know your spouse or significant other's license plate number?

  3. Do you know the nearest safe harbors to both home and work? (A safe harbor is a location that's open 24 hours which has some kind of security presence)

  4. Do you have your attorney's phone number memorized in case you're arrested?

  5. Do you know your state's laws regarding use of force?†

  6. Is there at least a quarter of a tank of gas in your vehicle right now?

  7. Do you have a fully stocked first aid kit in your home that contains a first aid manual?

Expand your definition of meditation beyond sitting on the floor in lotus position reciting a holy mantra.  Your mind treats visualization like actual experience with 80% efficiency.  Which means that in addition to preserving your spirit, meditation on strategy and tactics might preserve your body in a self-defense situation.

  1. Have you spent at least five minutes this week visualizing what you would do if you were the victim of a violent attack, such as a carjacking, abduction or sexual assault?

  2. Have you spent at least five minutes this week visualizing what you would do if someone tried to force their way into your home or office?

  3. Have you spent at least five minutes this week visualizing your own demise?  "Meditation on inevitable death should be performed daily." ~Hagakure

That's 10 questions.  How did you score?

10 = A
9 = B
8 = C
7 = D
6 or less = F

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† Here in Virginia, USA, our laws are basically "stand your ground lite."  In other words, youI don't have to run, but you can use only sufficient force to ensure your safety.  Details here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

ONE SHINING HOUR: CABAL FANG MARTIAL ARTS TRAINING INVOLUTION #159

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Exclusive of warm up, transitions and cool down, this T.I. is one hour of action.

Make this your shining hour.

Put out like this is your one shot for an Olympic gold medal or it’s your black belt exam.  Put out like Mom and Dad are watching you fight to free nuns and orphan babies from a concentration camp. 

All we want is all you’ve got.

ONE SHINING HOUR: CABAL FANG MARTIAL ARTS TRAINING INVOLUTION #159

  • Warm up for at least 8 minutes.

  • 10:00 half pyramid of BackNeck Bridge, Prison Push-ups, Ankle Picks and Get-ups.  See how high you can climb before the timer beeps (I almost finished my 9th rep of each).  Beginners sub Back Bridge for Back Neck Bridge, regular Push-ups for the Prisons, Lunges for the Ankle Picks, etc.  as needed.  Modify, adapt and overcome.

  •  10:00 on the heavy bag.  No round breaks and no pussyfooting around.  Take as few 12-count breaks as you need to survive this nightmare.

  • 10:00 run.  See how much ground you can cover before the timer beeps.

  • Cool down for 5:00.

  • 30 minutes of contemplation, mediation or prayer (your choice).

Firefly Style: Cabal Fang Martial Arts Training Involution #157

“If you can’t run, you walk.  If you can’t walk, you crawl.  If you can’t crawl, you find someone to carry you.” ~Firefly

This week’s T.I. is about understanding the power of realizing you are not alone.

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You are going to struggle with this involution. When you do, you’re going to be forced to do two things: modify the exercises and get your head straight. Rest assured that if you were training with the rest of the Cabal Fang crew, none of us would ever let you quit. Imagine you’re there with us, that we’re encouraging you, helping you, making suggestions regarding how to modify exercises, and urging you to dig deep.

Your brothers and sisters in Cabal Fang are right there with you. Now go get it done.

FIREFLY STYLE: CABAL FANG MARTIAL ARTS TRAINING INVOLUTION #157

  • Warm up for a full 8 minutes.

  • 3 sets of HSPUs to failure. If you can’t do HSPUs, do Jackknife Push-ups. If you can’t do them, do Regular Push-ups.

  • 3 sets of Squats. 2 x 5 + 1 set to failure. Pick a weight that works for you (I used 110 lbs).

  • 10 x 10 yards of Heavy Bear Walks. Select two hex dumbbells. Go way lighter than you think you need. I used 10 pounders. Bear Walk with dumbbells in hand for 10 yards. Stop and do 10 Push-ups with a Plank Row between, alternating sides. Repeat 10 more times for a total of 100 yards of Bear Walks, 100 Push-ups and 100 Rows.

  • Unless you are Captain America, you are going to fail at this. When you start failing, imagine all of the other people in Cabal Fang working right there with you. If you gas on the Bear Walks, drop the dumbbells and go on without them. If you gas on the Push-ups or Plank Rows, come up and do them on knees. Switch to lighter dumbbells halfway through if necessary. Make whatever changes you have to make and take as many 12-count breaks as you need. The only rule is don’t give up.

  • Cool down for 3 minutes.

  • Stretch and practice contemplation.

  • Record what you learned in your training journal.

Real Deal Basics: Cabal Fang Martial Arts Training Involution #156

This week’s T.I. marks the third anniversary of the weekly program — the sixth anniversary counting the original protocol.  Sometimes, when folks go on vacation and such, we re-post previous T.I.s. But mostly you get something fresh every week. 

Being fresh ain’t easy, because martial arts aren’t as much about exploring new territory as they are about knowing the road map of fighting like the back of your hand.  Self-defense requires fight-specific strength and complete, automatic command of the basics.

That’s why we often re-combine essential ingredients to give freshness to the basics — kind of the way Taco Bell creates new products from the same basic meat, cheese, sauce and tortillas.  Those of you have been doing C.F.T.I.s for a few years will recognize some familiar ingredients in #156 for sure.

REAL DEAL BASICS: CABAL FANG MARTIAL ARTS TRAINING INVOLUTION #156

  • Ideally you will have two heavy bags –one hanging/standing and  one for the floor.  Substitute a large gym bag full of gear for the floor bag or make one.

  • Warm up for a full eight minutes by doing multiple mini-sets at 50% effort.

  • Set timer for 5 x 3:00 (beginners 5 x 1:00, intermediate 5 x 2:00).  Rounds go as follows: HB Shrimps, HB Bridges and Reverses, Punches, Kicks, and Clinch Work.  Take as few 12-count breaks as needed to finish standing up.  See video below for details.

  • Perform the Salutations of Sun and Moon per the Cabal Fang Study Guide.  Our internal focus this month is The Luminaries and our external focus is Evasion.  More on evasion next week.


MORE TRUTH: CABAL FANG TRAINING INVOLUTION #155

This week we’re revisiting T.I # 50…

During his fight with Maleficent in her dragon form, Prince Philip loses the Shield of Virtue because that’s what we all do.  We’re human.  We mess up, we make mistakes, we do things that we know are not in keeping with our own moral and ethical codes.  But as long as we hold tight to truth the way that Prince Philip does in the movie, we can slay any dragon and ultimately regain our virtue.  Because making a commitment to speak the truth is more than just a speech modifier.  If you do things you’re ashamed of you’ll have to lie about what you did.  So telling the truth is a behavior modifier too.

Truth may be the highest ideal known to man.  That’s why it figures so prominently in the initiations of Cabal Fang.  Individuals and cultures that do not revere truth may reap short-term rewards of one kind or another but eventually they will completely lose their virtue and have no way to regain it — and some dragon or other will eat them up in their bankruptcy.

Hold tight to truth my friends, and aim your compass toward it like it’s true north.  You’ll screw up because we all do.  But at least you’ll be able to get back on course!

MORE TRUTH: CABAL FANG TRAINING INVOLUTION #155

  • 10 minutes of slipping and bobbing.  Set a timer for 10 minutes and practice your slips and bobs, preferably with a slip ball.  Beginners use this intro video.  Advanced folks, run this slip ball impairment drill.

  • Heavy bag 4 x 2:oo/:30.  Go after a heavy bag with maximum ill intent, just make sure that between each combination you (a) complete at least 2 slips or bobs, and (b) you circle the bag rather than standing stock-still.  Hit while you move and move while you hit.

  • Meditation on Truth.  Look into your past starting with most recent history and find a time when you were less than truthful.  Now set a timer for 10 minutes and assume your chosen meditative posture.  Untangle that lie through meditation.  Use your imagination to step into the scene.  Relive the incident.  See if you can come to understand why you weren’t truthful, what you should have done, and what you think you might do the next time you’re in a similar situation.  Record your thoughts and realizations in your training journal.