Happy Easter One and All

Katabasis: Cabal Fang Martial Arts Training Involution #153

katabasis /kətă’bəsis/, IPA(key): /kəˈtæbəsɪs/ n. (plural katabases) From Ancient Greek κατάβασις (katábasis), from verb καταβαίνω (katabaínō), from κατά (katá, “downwards”) + βαίνω (baínō, “go”).

1. A journey downwards: a journey downhill, a decrease of winds, a military retreat, a trip to the underworld; a trip from the interior of a country to the coast.

For most of the world, today is a dark day.  For some it is the last dark day before the light returns tomorrow.  For others the darkness won’t lift until next weekend.  Today is a good day to think about katabasis — the idea of what it means to go dark.

Since our focuses this month are Basic Self-Defense and The Book (the Book of Hermes, a.k.a. the Book of Hermes-Thoth, a.k.a. the Tarot) we will explore the concept of katabasis with our bodies and with our meditations rather than with our intellects.

Katabasis: Cabal Fang Martial Arts Training Involution #153

This week’s T.I. is a session that my son and I did together the other night, just the two of us.  It’s not easy, so buckle up, hold on tight, and don’t forget: modify, adapt, overcome.

  • Warm up thoroughly (at least 8:00).
  • Sparring. Spar all-in for 30 minutes.  Adjust round length to suit your fitness level.  If you are going it solo, do Wrestling Conditioner #2 (see below if you don’t want to get out the Cabal Fang Study Guide).
  • Constitutional.  Jump Squats (100), Lunges (100), Crunches (100), Bear Walk (100 yds), Get-ups (25), Mountain Climbers (100), Sprints (50 x 12′).
  • Meditation.  Lay out the spread of cards below, print out the picture, or set up your tablet/laptop.  Set a timer for 5 to 10 minutes.  Look at the pictures.  What story does this little “chapter” of the Tarot “book” relate?  Don’t think in words — look at the pictures as if they are selected photos from a children’s book.  What are the intervening pictures that complete the story?  What comes after?
  • Record what you learned in your training journal.  If it ain’t in the journal it didn’t happen.

Wrestling Conditioner #2: Set timer for 10 mins. Top Saddle a.k.a Mount your heavy bag and strike it 10 times as hard as you can. Drop, lock, and roll so that bag is on top of you. Knee boost or Reverse the bag as hard as you can back to Top Saddle.  Strike 10 times as hard as you can. Drop, lock, and roll so that bag is on top of you. Bridge the bag and roll it off to regain Top Saddle.  Repeat until timer beeps.

Point Zero: The Navel of the Modern World Has Burned

la cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris

This week there was a fire at the cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris.  I hope I speak for the entire world when I say that any damage to this treasure is a devastating  loss to all of human culture.

Notre-Dame means “Our Lady.”  It’s a Catholic cathedral dedicated to the Holy Virgin.  Before construction began in 1163 there had been at least four different churches on the site.  Before those four churches, there was a Gallo-Roman temple.  And before that, some believe, there was pagan goddess temple on the site.  There’s no proof of that.  But what we do know for sure that, for some time following the French Revolution, Notre-Dame was renamed the Temple of Reason and the Goddess of Liberty replaced the Holy Virgin on some of the altars.

Fifty meters in front of the cathedral you will find le Point Zero des Routes de France. When a French city’s distance from the capital is measured, it is from this point that the measurement is taken.  Notre-Dame is the center of Paris and, from the Middle Ages through the Enlightenment, Paris was the center of Western culture — the home of the greatest academics, the greatest universities, the greatest libraries, the greatest museums, the greatest fashion, the greatest food, and more.

With all this in mind, is it a coincidence that le Point Zero is an 8-pointed star — the Star of Isthar?  Is it a coincidence that this cathedral would be so central to Western culture, given that it is the Holy Virgin who gives birth to the babe who changes the world forever?  Is it a coincidence that the famed North Rose Window of Notre-Dame depicts the Holy Virgin and Christ child at the center —  surrounded by 88 circled images?  No, it is not a coincidence at all. 

Because Notre-Dame de Paris is the navel of the world.  Surely we must grieve for her, pray for her, support her,  and see her restored and preserved forever.

The Famed North Rose Window of Notre-Dame de Paris. At the center are Mary and the Christ child. Surrounding them are 88 circles. Image not in the public domain. Shared via Wikipedia.

Le Point Zéro des routes de France

Star of Ishtar

XVII The Star from the famed Tarot de Marseilles, one of the oldest fully preserved Tarot decks, and certainly the one most often copied. Note that there are eight, eight-pointed stars and that 17 reduces to 8 (1+7=8)

Pay Attention: Training Involution #152

Why do you suppose it is that almost every religious symbol since the Egyptians screams out, “Pay attention!”?  A Celtic cross is basically a set of cross-hairs.  The Dharma wheel is a perfect target.  And the symbol of the Jains is literally a big hand saying, “Stop! Look at this target thingy right here.”

When you are giving something your full attention, time stands still.  When you are playing the guitar, making love, or getting hit in the face in a sparring match, you are essentially in touch with the eternal — from the Latin aeternus , meaning atemporal.  In other words, outside the bonds of time.

Get this through your head right now.

  • Paying attention is the secret sauce that makes your martial arts burger tasty and delicious.
  • Paying attention is the splashy color that makes your oil painting fry people’s brains out when they look at it.
  • Paying attention is the magic mojo that makes your lover want to hold your hand until the sun becomes a black hole.
  • Not paying attention is what makes you step on snakes and tumble down slippery slopes and fall on punji stakes and suffer a short and miserable life.

Pay Attention: Training Involution #152

This week do whatever you want — as long as you do it with your whole heart, your whole mind, and your whole attention

It doesn’t matter what you do as much as how you do it. 

This is why we journal in Cabal Fang — to focus and refocus our attention — and this is why journaling makes you powerful.  Do something with full attention and write it down.

That is all.

HIIT Parade: Cabal Fang Martial Arts Training Involution #151

Last week’s T.I. was a double-down.  So this week we’re going to take it down a notch — see below.

This month’s internal focus is The Book, a.k.a the Tarot.  The Tarot is essentially an encyclopedia of symbolism in the form of a deck of cards, a way to train your mind to see the world in terms of story and symbol.  When used as a tool for reflection and psychoanalysis, Tarot is fun and beneficial beyond measure.

Tarot cards are not dangerous and scary unless you use them to tell fortunes.  I’m in seminary, and neither of my bishops see the slightest thing wrong with using Tarot cards to gain insight into oneself or as aids to meditation.  The finest Tarot book ever written was penned by a devout Catholic.  Divination and magic, on the other hand, will get you into hot water.  I advise against it.

Here’s an example of how Tarot can work, using songs instead of Tarot cards.  On the right is a copy of a CD I made for a coworker back in ’07.  Chuck was leaving the company headed for greener pastures, and I said goodbye to him with a CD.   I liked it so much I made a copy for myself.

Give it a listen.  Pretend it’s a concept album and see if you get the story that’s being told by the various tracks.  Here’s the YouTube playlist.

That’s kind of what you do with Tarot cards.  You lay out a spread of cards, look at the pretty pictures and amazing symbols, and see if you can follow the story.

HiIt Parade: Cabal Fang Training Involution #151

A parade is a “succession, series, or display of items.”  The origin of the word parade is the Latin paro which means to prepare, provide, or resolve. 

Let’s do this.

  • Warm up thoroughly — that’s 8 minutes minimum.
  • Cabal Fang Grappling Conditioner #2. Set timer for 3 x 3:00/1:00.  For each 3:00, Splay-n-Punch 1-2, Splay-n-Punch 1-2-3-4, Splay-n-Punch 1-2-3-4-5-6, etc. up to Splay-n-Punch 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10, then start again.  If you’re not dawdling you should be able to get at least 5 climbs done during every 3:00 round — that’s 25 Sprawls and 150 punches.  For the 1:00 “rests” body-lock a heavy bag and squeeze it as hard as you can.  Take as many 12-count breaks as you must in order keep from upchucking.  Just breathe.  I promise it’ll be over in 12 minutes.
  • Scuffling, grappling and wrestling HIIT. Set a timer to beep every 40 seconds. Whenever it beeps take a 10-second break and then start the next exercise. Cycle through the following 6 times for a total of 16 minutes, each as many as you can for 30 seconds: Smearing Push-ups, Cross-arm Clinch Lunges (maximum cutting power!), Leg Triangles and Splay-n-Punch. See video below for details.  Look familiar?  It should.
  • Tell a story. Shuffle your Tarot cards and deal out nine cards, all face up, in a 3 x 3 square.  Think of them as panels in a comic book of your life — the top row your past, the middle row your present, the bottom row your future.  Come up with a plot that connects the pictures.  Spend some time asking yourself questions about the little story you made up.  Which episodes from your childhood are brought to mind by the first three cards?  Do you know why?  Does the story have a good or bad ending?  What could you do to change it?
  • Record everything you learned in your training journal.  If it ain’t in the journal, it didn’t happen.

Cabal Fang Martial Arts State of the Art Dispatch

The newest issue of the Cabal Fang Martial Arts State of the Art Dispatch is free and available now!  And thanks to the efforts of our new editor James Williams, this is the most amazing and jam-packed issue ever!  It even has book and video reviews — so check it out…

The Cabal Fang State of the Art Dispatch

Live Bowie Knife Cuts

Below is a video of me illustrating the 8 angles of attack using my custom, handmade Bowie from Meherrin River Forge & Knifeworks.  Kenny made me one heck of a devastating tool.

I do a fair amount of live cutting with Bowie and tomahawk.  When I’m not doing live cutting I use a 10″ crescent wrench on the heavy bag.

The world is full of people who claim to be proficient with various martial arts weapons — without doing live cuts and/or without using mock weapons of realistic weight.  Training with lightweight wooden weapons and never actually hitting or cutting anything isn’t martial arts — it’s martial-themed ballet.

I love to watch Nutcracker fight the Mouse King and I respect the athleticism and artistry.  But I don’t expect the dancer who plays Nutcracker could pick up a real sword and fight his way out of the theater if a terrorist attack broke out.  You’re welcome Hollywood for the premise of your next blockbuster action movie.