Year Ten: Martial Arts Training Involution #179

I can’t believe that today we’re celebrating the 10th anniversary of Cabal Fang martial arts.

It seems like just yesterday that I started this crazy project.  What’s amazing is that thousands of people have read the Cabal Fang books, watched our videos, and visited this blog to find out about what we’re up to.

What’s even more amazing to me is that so many people have invested their physical, material effort, their sweat and attention, by training with us.  All of these folks are now my friends, and all of them — everyone who has ever attended a Cabal Fang training session here in Richmond, VA — has been invited to a celebration and homecoming event at my house this afternoon.

So I kind of need to wrap up this week’s T.I. and start getting ready for guests!

Anyway, in honor of our anniversary, this week’s. T.I. is a flashback to our very first official constitutional.  If you’re new to my blog and/or to Cabal Fang, a constitutional is a calisthenics training routine made up of seven different calisthenics exercises done back-to-back as quickly as possible and while taking as few breaks as possible.  A new constitutional is created each month, and everyone in the club is expected to get through it twice a week.  To see a complete list of all our monthly constitutionals back to 2009, click here.

At Cabal Fang we believe that calisthenics are an essential component of functional fitness.  So, without further preamble I present our first official monthly constitutional.

Year Ten: Martial Arts Training Involution #179

* Warm-up.  Set a timer for 8 mins and warm up thoroughly until the timer beeps.
* Martial mobility.  Perform 4-rep sets of Shots, Leg Triangles, Inside leg kick with décollage, and Sit-Out Push-ups for another 8 mins.
* Constitutional.

Lunges (100)
Log Presses (50) (use a sandbag or heavy bag if you don’t have a log)
Ab Punches (1.5 mins)
Neck Crunches (100)
Bodybuilders (25)
Jack-knifes (25)
Wall Touches (100)

If you enjoyed his training involution you’d probably enjoy my books.  Why not check one out?

Hatmaker’s Readiness Test — Part 4

Click here to see Mark’s entire post

If you missed Part 1, 2 & 3 in this series, click here.  In a nutshell, author and martial arts coach Mark Hatmaker recently posted The Self-Resilient Readiness Test  and I’m working my way through them to assess my ability to self-rescue.

I got sidetracked after a kidney stone, and now I’m back at it.  Over the last month or so I’ve faced the following questions:

To keep the rock from moving to a comfortable spot I taped it to my sock. Miserable.

#7 — 25 yard buddy carry.  I finished this one with not problem despite the fact that I used a buddy who outweighs me by 10 pounds.

#14 — One day fast in plain sight of favorite foods.  I’m an old hand at fasting (I fasted every Tuesday for about 5 months working on this project) but I didn’t rest on my laurels — I did another one.  Fasting is always an eye-opener. 

#16 — All day Tenderfoot Drill.  Works like this:

For one day place a rock/pebble in one shoe.  Place it so that you feel its uncomfortable dig into the plantar with each step. Go about your day. If at any point the pebble shifts to a more comfortable position, adjust it to less than fun. Do not complain to yourself or to any else throughout the day. If an occasional wince draws a comment such as “Is there something wrong?” You may reply honestly, “Oh, I have a rock in my shoe.”  That’s it.  If asked, “Why don’t you take it out?” reply simply, “I like it.” No other explanation.

This drill was endlessly self-revealing and not as simple as it sounds.  It was powerful enough to help constellate some disparate ideas into a unified whole (for more detail click here).  Highly recommended.

My Scores So Far

#2: Run at top speed for 200 yards.  I’m slow, but I did it. 1 point.
#3: Jump over waist high obstacles.  Close but no cigar.  1/2 point.
#5: 25 dips.  They were pathetic and I had to take breaks.  1/2 point.
#6: Drag a 100 lb. sandbag 50 years in under 30 seconds.  19 seconds.  1 point
#7: 25-yard buddy carry. 1 point
#9: One minute unprepared breath hold. Check.  1 point.
#10/11: Swim 25 yards underwater or walk 50 yards out/back on one breath. Picked the latter and failed.  1/2 point.
#12: Do you use drugs or alcohol to impairment?  No. 1 point.
#13: One minute shower on full cold. Check.  1 point.
#14: One day fast in plain sight of favorite foods.  Done.  1 point
#16: All day Tenderfoot Drill. Check.  1 point

Total Score so far: 9 ½ points out of 11

What’s next?  Only three left to complete!

  • #1: Swim half a mile
  • #4: 15 Chin-ups (I’ll face this one after I resolve my biceps tendonitis)
  • #8: Carry 45 lbs 1 mile in less than 12 minutes
  • #15: Three nights in a row get up and keep a vigil for 15 minutes

Wanna play along?  Post your scores in the comments!

DID YOU KNOW…that I have an awesome shop where you can buy all kinds of cool stuff, like martial arts training materials, bespoke books, artwork, and so on?  Check it out!

Heart: Martial Arts Training Involution #178

The heart is the center, the core, where everything begins and ends.  In martial arts, the heart sits at the the intersection of form, intent, action, and reaction.  In Cabal Fang martial arts, these four things equate to the Hermetic Quaternary — “To Know, to Will, to Dare, to Keep Silent.”  In the Frontier Rough  ‘n’ Tumble martial arts milieu, these equate to the four animal teachers —  Stag, Bobcat, Dog, and Hawk — and of course to the cross and to the medicine wheel.

These associations are prehistoric and are equated to the four directions.  Thus we see them cropping up everywhere — the Four Living Creatures from Ezekiel, the four heavenly creatures (Ox, Lion, Man and Eagle), the Four Holy Beasts from Vietnamese folklore, the Four Symbols from Chinese folklore, etc.

Heart: Martial Arts Training Involution #178

  • Form.  Spend 15 minutes working on your form.  How do you do that?  Here are some ideas: break down a technique by practicing it slowly, get in front of a mirror and analyze your movement, practice your kata, poomse, hyung, etc. with extreme exactness, etc.
  • Action and Reaction.  Spend 15 minutes working on your action and reaction.  If you have a partner, work flow drills.  If you’re going solo, run flow drills with your heavy bag, grappling dummy, floor bag, etc. (if you need some flow drills, read Chapter 26 of the CFSG).
  • Intent.  Spend 15 minutes honing your intent with meditation.  Intent is the secret sauce that makes everything you do open up like a flower (last week I explored a related idea in this video).   Think of a suitable phrase, about a dozen words, that embodies your intent.  Pick a famous quote from your choice of wisdom literature — a Bible passage like the one I used (“Be ye therefore perfect as your father, which is in heaven, is perfect” ~Matthew 5:48) or a quote from the Tao Te Ching (“Those who know do not speak. Those who speak do not know”).  Set a timer for 15 minutes and assume your meditative posture of choice.  Mentally recite the first half of the phrase as you breathe in.  Hesitate with lungs full and airway open as you mentally recite the second half of the phrase.  Recite the first half as you breathe out.  Hesitate with lungs empty and airway open as you mentally recite the second half of the phrase.  This phrase, when split and used in this manner, will focus your mind and urge you into box breathing.  Repeat until the timer beeps.
  • Record.  And, as always, record your results and thoughts in your training journal.

If you enjoyed his training involution you’d probably enjoy my books.  Why not check one out?

Book Review — Why God Won’t Go Away: Brain Science and the Biology of Belief

Chapter 1 is entitled, “A Photograph of God? An Introduction to the Biology of Belief.” When you open up a book and you see those words, you understand immediately that you are dealing with authors who are willing to trade in hyperbole and unafraid of laying iron traps of materiality for God. Reading on, you find that what the chapter describes is the manner in which the authors scanned the brain of a subject named Robert, a Tibetan Buddhist, at the height of a meditative experience of oneness.

While the story is interesting, it is obvious that the authors have not taken a photograph of God.   They have taken a photograph of Robert’s brain.

Serious scientists and theologians, and in fact anyone with a teaspoon of common sense, knows this.  What exactly are the authors trying to prove?  For whom is this book written?

To tease that out, let’s begin with the observation that most people who believe in God understand that God is the ground of being. As a result, there’s no mystery or internal conflict in the observation that the experience of mind is inextricably linked with the vehicle called the brain.  As a Christian, this issue has already been fully explained and illuminated for me.

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 through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  John 1: 1-5 (RSV).

This passage is eloquently describes the relationship between God, conscousness and matter.  Religious people, who have wisdom literature like this at their disposal, don’t need to see scans of the brains of other believers to know that the experience of deity is real.  Hard scientists and unswerving atheists aren’t likely to be even mildly intrigued by Robert’s brain scans.  That leaves the floundering middle — neither reasoned believers nor scientific atheists — as the target of the book.  And I suspect that is also the camp to which the authors themselves belong.

That’s not to say that Why God Won’t Go Away doesn’t contain some entertaining and valuable insights.  I was impressed by its exploration of how myth and ritual are in fact practical survival instincts.  They do a wonderful job of explaining how the brain works in layman’s terms.  They provide a convincing scientific argument for the integrity of mind and brain, and this might be an eye-opening realization for someone looking for an escape hatch from the iron box of materialism.

And I think that’s the authors’ ultimate goal.  In the final chapters they finally come out and say it.

“We believe neurotheology provides the best source for developing satisfying mega- and metatheologies.”  (p. 176).

They are essentially positing the need to create some kind of new, common-denominator religion by starting with the brain and its chemistry.  Why would anybody want to do that?  Because the authors have bought into pop-culture history, atheist tropes, and all of the common snares and traps that snag the naive and hapless and seal them off from a universe filled with God’s wonder and beauty.  The final chapters are peppered with all of the old saws — that the church persecuted Galileo and is the enemy of science, that religion causes wars and strife, and so on. [If you believe this sort of foolishness, please read this.]

The authors believe we need a new religion that doesn’t do what the old ones do.  For those who are floundering in the same manner as the authors, this book may be a ray of light.  But once the light is seen, God awaits us in the great faiths of the world.  We do not need to reinvent the wheel, for in them we will see wheels withing wheels.

If you liked this article, there’s a good chance you’d like one of my books.  They’re available pretty much everywhere, but you can get most any of them in eBook format here.

Why God Won’t Go Away: Brain Science and the Biology of Belief is by Andrew Newberg, M.D. Eugene D’Aquill, M.D., Ph.D., and Vince Rause.


Excuses Excuses: Martial Arts Training Involution #177

This laser-focused workbook could change your life.

What’s the difference between a reason and an excuse?  An excuse is a failure.  A reason is a delay.

You are either going to reach your ultimate  goal or not.  If you don’t reach the goal, your “reason” is an excuse.  But if you reach the goal, your excuses are valid reasons for being delayed.

This week’s T.I. is an excerpt from my most recent book The Hourglass Way: Transform in 12 Weeks with Cabal Fang.  Get it on Kindle, as a paperback, Nook book, or in any ebook format via Smashwords.



Things happen. People and situations are not perfect or ideal. You are going to have bad days, bad weeks, maybe even a bad month or year. So what do you do if you wake up one day and realize you haven’t touched this workbook for a while – a few days, weeks or even months? Well, did you read the section above or not?

If you mess up on the program, all you have to do is get up, dust yourself off, and get back to work. Cabal Fang will change your life – but only if you stay with it. If you only missed a few days, you can pick up right where you left off. If you fall out of the program for a couple weeks, back up a week and resume. If you drop out for a month or more, it’s probably best if you start over.

Have you ever heard the expression, “I don’t know where you’re going but you can’t stay here.”? You picked up this workbook because you know you need to work on yourself. Obviously you don’t want to stay where you are. Well, the only way to get to a better place is to move and keep moving.

Listen to the lies you are thinking:

* “I don’t have time to do this program properly right now.”  Nonsense. People make time for the things that are important to them. Take a little time away from TV, social media, web surfing, napping, snacking, partying, video games, etc. etc.

* “This is a great program but I can’t do it justice.” You know how you do justice to a great program? By not quitting it.

* “I don’t have the __________ (focus, strength, willpower, determination, etc.)”  Of course you don’t.  You know you don’t.  I know you don’t. That’s why you’re in the program you chucklehead. Just do the best you can.

Bottom line? Doing the program half-assed is better than not doing it all. Nothing’s stopping you from doing it over again later! In Cabal Fang, we don’t judge. But neither do we whine, complain, or make excuses – and especially we don’t quit. We modify, adapt and overcome.

Enough talk. Let’s get started.

Excuses Excuses: Martial Arts Training Involution #177

Last week we took it easy.   But not this week.

  • 20 minutes on the heavy bag. Warm up for 8 minutes while you decide if you want to work on speed, accuracy, form, endurance, mobility, or power (“SAFE MP”).  Don’t just wail away on the bag without any purpose.  Adjust round length to suit your goals (shorter when working on S or P, longer for E), add tape targets to the bag for A, etc.  For more ideas read this.
  • 20 minute Half Pyramid.  Then set a timer for 20 mins and climb as high as you can before it beeps — 1 of each, 2 of each, 3, 4, 5, etc. of the following: Sit-Out Push-ups, Shrimps, Drop Duck-Unders, Bear Walks (5 yards), Jump Squats, Bodybuilders, Jackknifes.  Don’t know an exercise?  Read this.
  • Complete a nice long sit.  Animals and humans, both predators and prey, have been doing it since the dawn of life on Earth.  Contemplation (a.k.a “passive meditation”) is baked into your DNA.  If you want to explore how your mind works, learn patience and self-control, slash your body’s production of cortisol and other stress hormones, relax more deeply than you thought possible, and strengthen your relationship with the divine, this is the thing for you.  Set a timer.  Beginners 10 mins., intermediates 30 mins., advanced folks 1 hour.  Assume your meditative posture of choice.  Narrow your eyes somewhat to minimize blinking.  Do not fidget, wiggle, or scratch.  Breathe in a slow, steady rhythm.  Don’t get up until the timer beeps.
  • Record everything you did and learned in your training journal.  If it’ ain’t in the journal, it didn’t happen.

DID YOU KNOW…that I have an awesome shop where you can buy all kinds of cool stuff, like martial arts training materials, bespoke books, artwork, and so on?  Check it out!

QUANTUS a poem


Embodied in you, my skin
So into you, my mind
Burns in my skull, your bone
Is my bone and my home

Cry out to you, my friend
So long ago, I saw
The dark and still, the warm
Where we were first born

I can’t but you will, I know
Let be and let go, please show
Me the way, my stone
To rejoin and atone

There is a place, it’s there
Where we will go, someday
One heart and one mind, rewind
Released and unblind

“Hey Mitch, what’s this poetry thing all about?” I want to collaborate with Blue Öyster Cult and I’m hoping the Öyster Boys will think this would make a good lyric.

Did you know I wrote a paranormal/mystery/romance book inspired by Blue Öyster Cult’s lyrical themes?  Click here to download it here for free!

The cover to my book “Chatters on the Tide” inspired by the music of Blue Öyster Cult

P.R.A. for Self-Defense and Survival

When it comes to martial arts, most folks focus on flash and neglect preparation and prevention.  The video below is an introduction to P.R.A., which stands for “Preparation, Recognition and Action.”  Because here’s the thing.

He who avoids conflict cannot lose.

That’s the preparation part. The prevention piece breaks down into a series of four steps I call P.A.D.E.  It breaks down like this: if you’re never avoid anything you hit everything, 

And failing to prepare is preparing to fail.

Want the details on P.A.D.E.?  Well, if you prefer the Frontier Rough & Tumble quick fix, read my self-defense booklet “Nine Lives of the Bobcat!”  But if you want the whole martial arts program enchilada, get yourself a copy of the Cabal Fang Complete Study Course from Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, or wherever fine ebooks are sold.