The 8-8-8 Workout (and a video)

Today’s workout is the “8-8-8″ and it goes as follows:

The 8-8-8 Workout

Set timer to beep every 8 minutes.  Get your equipment ready so that you can transition smoothly and quickly from each segment to the next.  Take as few 12 second breaks as you need to finish.

  • Segment #1: Place a heavy sandbag on the floor (I used a #45 which is just shy of 1/3 my body weight).  Squat down, pick up bag, stand straight and press bag overhead; hug bag and squat ass-to-grass; squat again and place bag on floor.  Stand straight and reset.  Repeat as many times as you can before the your 8 mins are up (I made 35 reps).
  • Segment #2: Double-end Ball (or shadowbox if you don’t have one) as fast you can for 8 mins.
  • Segment #3:  Run or bike as fast as you can for 8 mins.

If your heart rate isn’t pretty close to max for the majority of this workout, well you’re in better shape than yours truly.

And now for a short video of me working my forging post.  This is 4″ diameter cedar fence post anchored to floor and ceiling.  WARNING: If you decide to try this at home, please be very careful and start slow.  Don’t push your speed until you are accurate enough to avoid cracking your wrist or shattering an elbow point.  It is very easy to injure yourself when hitting unpadded hardwood!

Bitter Medicine

205In a recent post I talked about thinking inside the box — about facing, absorbing, and ultimately turning your limitations into something greater.  This can be bitter medicine at first.  But it can be a door into something greater.

I’m still working on dealing with my physical limitations.  The effects of aging are some of the bitterest meds I’ve ever tasted.  It’s going to take time.  The irony is that I’m no stranger to this approach when it comes to metaphysical matters.

Long ago I learned that in order to progress spiritually it’s necessary to face facts and absorb limitations.  I learned to admit and face my doubts, to question the beliefs of my fathers, and to explore the reality of the box.  If I had refused to dig into every dark corner that my heart, mind, soul and spirit wanted to peer into, if I had doubled down on what I’d been taught as a child was true about the God, humanity, and the cosmos, I would have missed out on so many wonderful, mind expanding adventures.

Medicine heals.  That’s why they call it medicine.  Go figure.

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Continuing with the medicine theme, now for your three-part Cabal Fang WOD:

  1. Medicine Ball HIIT – 24 x :30 (6 sets) with #12 ball, minimum. Alternating Twist Passes (stand parallel to wall, twist, throw bounce and catch  — changing sides each set), Crunch Passes, Squat Presses  (press at bottom of Squat!), and rest.
  2. Kicks – As many spinning/turning kicks as you can complete in 10 minutes.  When you get dizzy, shadowbox until equilibrium returns, then start again.
  3. Bike – ride as fast as you can without coasting or taking breaks for 10 minutes.

When Life Gives you Lemons, Build a Cathedral

wpid-IMG_20130427_105635.jpgLast night my daughter shared a TED talk with me called Embrace the Shake (see below).  In the video artist Phil Hansen discusses how he overcame nerve damage by absorbing the injury, by making it a part of his art.

This is somewhat akin to saying “Think inside the box.”  But in Phil’s case, he went so deeply inside the box that he ultimately found another dimension.

I found Phil’s talk extremely relevant because lately I’ve been a little frustrated by the aches, pains and physical weaknesses that age is continually throwing into my martial arts and fitness practice.  But if I’m going to be a true artist — a master of pen, brush, fist, and spirit — I’m going to have to not only embrace my shortcomings but absorb and use them to my advantage.

Believe me when I say that I’m going to be sincerely meditating on this idea in the days and weeks to come.

One of the problems I’m dealing with (have been for a couple of years) is Achilles tendon tightness and Plantar fasciitis.  I’m not supposed to do any ballistic movements below the waist — no jumping rope, no running, no Jump Squats, etc.  Lunges are as close to ballistic as I can get.  It’s been driving me batty.   But after listening to Phil, I got up to work out this morning and I let it go.

I decided to roll a couple of my custom-made dice and blend them together into a single workout routine within the limitations my body presents.  I got WEIGHTS and CANE, and I created one heck of a martial arts fitness workout.  Give it a try.

Weapon-Dumbbell Command and Conditioning Workout

All dumbbell exercises are done one-handed with weapon in opposite hand.  Keep weapon hand “alive,” up and ready, never hanging limp at your side.

Run through this 3 times for a grand total of 6 sets.  Start light and increase weight of dumbbell with each set until you reach approx. 75% max weight.  Take as few 12-second rest breaks as you need to finish.

  1. With weapon in right hand, pick up dumbbell in left hand and complete (10) of each of the following: Curl & Presses, Squat Presses, Side Lunges, and Sit-ups (hug dumbbell to chest).  Do not put weight down or rest between sets.
  2. Put dumbbell down and complete (100) full power strikes with your chosen weapon.
  3. Switch hands and repeat with weapon in left hand and dumbbell in right.
  4. Repeat.

If you don’t muck around this should take just under 30 minutes.

Welcome to the Party

Opposing viewpoints are cool. How about that one sticker that says, “Speak your mind, even if your voice shakes.”

People were coming in off the street, straggling into the old house by twos and threes.  Lots of people dressed in black.  Lots of eye makeup, torn fishnets, tattoos and cigarettes.  This was the kind of public party that earns organizers heavy citations.  A high volume of high people.  And no liquor license.

The only faces I knew were the two hosts and they were nowhere in sight.  Maybe they had passed out in a hazy embrace behind the cash register downstairs, or maybe they were in that one room with the Naughty Nurse who was just threatening to start her striptease.  Or maybe they had just fled to avoid prosecution.  I didn’t know.  I wasn’t going to track them down.  They were great guys and all, but I was there to mingle, meet new people, and sight-see.

This was not my usual crowd.

I’ve been a religionaut for most of my life and at the time I was hip deep in my Wicca phase.  By day this place was a shop that stocked metaphysical supplies, taxidermy, curiosities, and goth accessories, and I used to go there for candles and conversation.  But right now, long after closing time, it was a black light that was attracting the darkest little moths in the city.

There were lots of rooms in that old two-story house-turned-business, each its own tiny ecosystem.  Being a happily married, one-maybe-two-beer kind of nerd,  I settled on a room that was a little quieter and more completely clothed.  As I recall the fireplace was bricked up and there were no windows.  I think the walls were painted black and purple except for one that had a mural on it.  My memory of it is a little fuzzy.  In fact my memory of the entire night is a little fuzzy and I may have some of the details a little cock-eyed.  Sensory overload.

What I remember very clearly, like one of those pictures where the center is in focus and the rest is blurry, is that I met a guy who was not at all like me.  He was my diametric opposite in every measurable way.  And yet, as we talked, I knew I’d met a friend.

That must have been almost ten years ago now.  Since that time my friend and I have become best friends.  We’re both quite a bit different that we were back then.  I’m no longer into Wicca and he’s lost about forty pounds.  I’m less of a pie-in-the-sky dreamer and he’s a little less dark and cynical.  But it’s more than just the surface level stuff.  We’re both better, stronger people than we were  then.  We’ve challenged each other, pushed each other, had profound and lasting positive effects on one another.

That’s what happens when you make friends.

You don’t really learn much from your enemies.  With enemies there’s no dialogue.  With enemies you keep your distance.  Each has an entirely different frame of reference and sees everything from an opposing perspective.  In order to see things in a similar way you have to stand side-by-side and look together.

So when I scan the headlines and I see our country normalizing relations with previously estranged nations, striking new deals and arrangements, and reopening embassies, that sounds like good news.  Because I know that diametric opposites — precisely because they are diametric opposites — stand to learn quite a bit from one another.  And that is a very good thing.

Bold Artistic Lines (and your WOD)

Bold lines make the art. Now, when I say “bold” I don’t mean “bold” as in when you make a font heavier. I mean brave and committed.

Tentative lines make bad drawings, tentative strokes made bad paintings, and tentative movements make ineffective martial arts maneuvers.  Art is art.  Bold is bold.

Take a look at the three skulls below.  #2 has less detail and is less anatomically accurate than #1.  And yet, because it is bold and committed in its line and form, it is far more striking.  Now look at #3.  It is the least anatomically correct of all.  But because it is the most bold and the most committed of the three, it is the most artistic, the most interesting, and is the most successful at conveying a feeling of “skullishness.”

How many times have you seen a martial artist win a contest on commitment alone?  Isn’t the efficacy of a technique less important that the commitment?  Which would you rather rely upon: an effective technique thrown half-heartedly, or a simpler, less effective technique delievered with full force and commitment?

Whether your art involves the pen or the sword, pick a line and commit.  What makes your art good and interesting — even art at all — is often the certainty of your hand and eye.

#1

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#2

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#3

Now here’s your Cabal Fang WOD: PTDICE (4 sets to failure of Uneven Push-ups, Half Squats, Twisters, Wide Push-ups, Split Squats).  Heavybag (12 x :30/:10  AFAYC — 8 minutes total)

It’s All a Blur: The Paradox of the Heap

262Yesterday I was writing a chapter of my next book relating to the Paradox of the Heap.  Not all of my thoughts on the matter were a good fit within the context of the book.  Since they have to go somewhere, they gotta go here.

Note: if you came for today’s Cabal Fang WOD, it’s at the bottom.

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In his amazing little book The Chicken Qabalah, Duquette points out one of the tried and true methods of mystical seeing: bending your logic until it snaps.   Duquette is right.  Although this technique might not take you as deep as meditation, it’s a quicker high.  One of my methods is to take a big lungful of the Paradox of the Heap.  Let’s do that and see if we can catch a buzz.

The Paradox of the Heap is an logic puzzle that dates back to ancient Greece, and it goes something like this: You have a heap of 100 stones.  Take one out.  Now you have 99.  Is it still a heap?  Take out another.  Is 98 stones a heap?  Keep going.  At what point does your heap cease to be a heap?  Is a single stone a heap?

Apply the same logic to something else, say rounding.  Start with zero and add 1/10th.  Nothing remarkable yet.  But add another 1/10th.  Now you have 2/10ths.  At what point do you round up to 1?  Is 5/10ths equal to 1, or must you reach 6/10ths to round up?  Try it again, this time with 1/100th.  Do you round up at 51/100ths?  Now try 1/1,000,000ths.  Does 500,001/1,000,000ths round up to 1?  Now imagine that you continue using smaller and smaller fractions until you reach 1/infinity.  But isn’t that effectively zero?  You’d have to add up an infinity’s worth of 1/infinity-ths to reach 1.  What is one half of an infinity, and does it round up to 1 infinity?

Try it with some other spectrum.  Let’s try male vs. female.  Imagine a classically male figure, completely nude.  In your mind’s eye, begin softening the facial features, losing some of the bulky muscle, rounding the chest planes, shrinking the genitals, and so on.  When does it become female?  Now imagine a naked female bodybuilder.  Slowly begin to soften her angular curves, losing some of the bulky muscle, rounding the chest planes, growing the genitals, and so on.  At what point does she become officially male?  Isn’t she more “male” at the beginning than at the end?  What is “male?”  What is “female?”

Try more scales.  Slowly transition a Democrat into a Republican, a white person into a black person, a single-celled organism into a human being, a sphere into a cube, etc.  The more objects and scales to which you apply the Paradox of the Heap the more arbitrary all of your delineations become.  Everything starts to look silly.  Numbers and sex are meaningless, color is ridiculous, philosophies are balderdash.

If every delineation we make is arbitrary, aren’t the decisions we make based on these “facts” arbitrary as well?  What is “same sex marriage?” When does a fertilized egg become a human being?  What is a fair wage?  What is right?  What is wrong?

What if there is just existence — a great big cosmos full of stuff that we should stop trying to divide and conquer with ideas and concepts and scales?  Maybe we should just lay back in the nice warm tub of existence and soak it all in, just enjoy it and experience it instead trying to stick a thermometer in the water to see if it’s officially the perfect temperature.

What if we should just be?

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Today’s Cabal Fang WOD:  As many kicks as you can in 30 minutes (I did 674).

Cards, Dice, Art, and your WOD

Some people create stuff, and that takes guts.  Starch.  Balls.   Because when you create art, some people might not like it.  I’m always creating stuff, and I do so unafraid because I have to create.  To quote the late great John Lee Hooker’s Boogie Chillen’, “It’s in him, and it’s got to come out.”  So maybe creativity doesn’t take guts.  Maybe what it takes is enough creative urgency, effervescent desire, and volcanic drive to overcome the of fear of criticism and hit the LAUNCH button.

If people don’t like what I create, no bigs.  It’s okay not to like stuff.  I see stuff I don’t like all the time.   Usually I don’t say anything because I’m a creator myself, and I know that sometimes I put a ton of effort into creating things that nobody seems to dig.  So even if I think somebody’s creation is kinda crappy, I often respect the effort.  But I do appreciate constructive criticism. So when I do comment on stuff I don’t like, that’s what I usually offer.  Constructive criticism: an essential part of a nutritious breakfast.

This morning I created a video for today’s WOD.  Check it out.  If you don’t like it, do whatever you want.  Slam it, pan it, dis it, or if you’re in a Boogie Chillen’ kind of mood, just offer some constructive criticism.  Note: This workout is a variant of one of the workouts in my book The Calisthenics Codex.

Instructions: Take a deck of ordinary playing cards, remove the Jokers, and shuffle.  Put the deck on the floor and flip a card.  Black = Push-ups, Red = Squats.  Aces = 10, face cards = 12.  Complete reps as indicated.  Flip a card and repeat.  If you do the whole deck, you will have done 200 Push-ups and 200 Squats.  I got to 34 cards before I gassed.  Oh well, there’s always next time!