Camille Flammarion and WOOTW #19

From the NASA page: ‘even though this illustration has appeared in numerous places over the past 100 years, the actual artist remains unknown. Furthermore, the work has no accepted name…The illustration, first appearing in a book by Camille Flammarion in 1888, is used frequently to show that humanity’s present concepts are susceptible to being supplanted by greater truths.’

Thanks to a post by my pal Phil, I was inspired to read about astronomer, writer and psychic researcher Camille Flammarion.  Flammarion is a fascinating figure, kind of the Carl Sagan of the 19th Century.

It makes sense that was a Theosophist, which basically means he was into “open-minded inquiry into world religions, philosophy, science, and the arts in order to understand the wisdom of the ages, respect the unity of all life, and help people explore spiritual self-transformation.”

I was struck by the following quote from his 1893 book La Fin du Monde (The End of the World), a sci-fi novel about the eventual death of Planet Earth.

“This end of the world will occur without noise, without revolution, without cataclysm. Just as a tree loses leaves in the autumn wind, so the earth will see in succession the falling and perishing all its children, and in this eternal winter, which will envelop it from then on, she can no longer hope for either a new sun or a new spring.  The universe is so immense that it appears immutable, and that the duration of a planet such as that of the earth is only a chapter, less than that, a phrase, less still, only a word of the universe’s history.” — Camille Flammarion, La Fin du Monde (“The End of the World”)

How can a description be so sad and yet so beautiful?

And now for the Cabal Fang Workout of the Week — WOOTW #19.

  • 20160826_083934.jpg10 x 10 Pop Combo Drill.  Set timer for 10 minutes.  Throw 10 punch-kick combos, each one including a Shoulder Pop.  Then take 10 breaths for rest.  Repeat until timer beeps.  Pro tip: Choose 3 or 4 of your favorite combos, insert pops, and work the hell out of ’em.   Need combo ideas?  Try Left Jab, Right Shoulder Pop, Right Roundhouse, or Left Jab, Right Cross, Left Shoulder Pop, Left Roundhouse.   Hit your heavy bag if you have one.  If you don’t, strike the air — just make sure you imagine a target in 3-dimensional space.
  • 10 minute Calisthenics Half Pyramid.  Set timer for 10 minutes.  Start with 1 rep each of Hop/Clap Push-up, Rear Lunge (per leg), and Bodybuilders.  Then do 2 of each, then 3 of each, etc. taking as few 12-second breaks as you need.  See how high you can climb before the timer beeps.  Try to get through of 7 of each (1+2+3, etc. is a total of 28 reps per exercise).

CFCOV4Did you like this post?  Are you in search of metaphysical or martial mastery?  A connoisseur of Cabal Fang?  A card-carrying cohort of combat culture?  Pre-order my up-coming martial arts book here:


Tenugui (手拭い), Hashi (箸) and WOOTW #18

Stay tuned for the Cabal Fang Workout of the Week at the bottom!  But first some culture!


20160814_1501250.jpgMy daughter-in-law just got back from Japan.  As you can see by the picture on the left, she brought me two gifts – tenugui (手拭い) and hashi (箸).

These two gifts, though small,  were profound and  inspirational.   You see, after being in the periphery of Asian culture for 30 years now, it occurs to me that I have repeatedly missed opportunities to really engage with any of them.

When I first got into Taekwondo back in 1986, I went full bore.  I read a ton of Korean sijo poetry in translation, studied Korean philosophy, read about the Hwarang, and so forth.  One of my favorite Korean martial poems is this one called Mo Taemara ka (“Ode to Knight Taemara”) by Siro (692-702) in praise of his master, Taemara, a member of the hwarang.

Ode to Knight Taemara

All men sorrow and lament
Over the spring that is past;
Your face once fair and bright,
Where has it gone with deep furrows?

I must glimpse you, Sir,
If I can, for an awesome moment.
My fervent mind cannot rest at night,
Far-off here in the mugwort-covered swamps.

But when I started trying to learn the language though, I quickly realized that without a great deal of time and patience, and probably a few dollars too, this guy wasn’t learning Korean any time soon.

So instead of going deeper into Korean culture I branched out.  I read a great deal in translation from other martial cultures  — Gichin FunakoshiMyamoto Musashi, Tsunetomo, Lao Tsu, Yi Yulkok, and so on — but because I couldn’t read or speak the native tongues, I assumed that any kind of immersive cultural experience would be impossible.  I got to know a little bit about Korea, Japan and China but it was a sterile kind of knowledge.

But then the other day I got two gifts – a tenugui (手拭い) which is a common Japanese hand towel, and hashi (箸) which are chopsticks.  And I realized something powerful and important.

What better way is there to immerse yourself in a culture than learning how to handle is every day tools?

You would think that a hermeticist like myself would have more quickly seen the important symbolism of tools.  But, alas and alack, late to the party is better than not showing up at all.  Sometimes I amaze even myself.

So now I’m learning that there are a bazillion different culturally significant ways to tie tenugui around your head to soak up sweat.

Thanks for the picture Mr. John Marshall — you seem like a cool guy and a talented artist.

I wore my tenugui to workout on Tuesday.  And, as an immersive experience, every day I eat my lunch using the chopsticks.

If you want to connect with a culture and you can’t have a conversation, at least try sitting down at their table, eating with their utensils, mopping your head with one of their towels, and maybe walking a mile in their shoes.


Yes, I know it’s supposed to be bad luck to vertically jab your hashi into your food, but this is diagonally, so it doesn’t count.


Why am I throwing the “hang loose” sign? I don’t even surf.










And now for the Cabal Fang Workout of the Week.


My pal C. Benson made a suggestion the other night which I’m going to heed.  And, since he’s a huge Star Trek fan…

“Captain’s log, Stardate -307634.67.  Chief Engineer Benson says that I should put the martial stuff before the fitness once in awhile.  Benson makes a good point.  Adjustment noted and logged.  Mitch out.”

Unsticking Drill: This drill is for Form, specifically fluidity.  Set time for 3 x 3:00/1:00.  Shadowbox for the 3:00 segments, rest for 1:00.  (Note: this drill can be adapted for use with weapons too — practice being fluidly with knives and swords, chucks, cane, staff, etc.).  Try not to to freeze, stop, or otherwise get sticky.   Keep your combos flowing with smoothness, fluidity and grace.  Count the number of times you stick for more than 1 second.  When the drill is over, complete Knuckle Push-ups for each freeze (beginners 1 per, intermediate 2 per, advanced players 3 per).

Very Bad Karma PT Drill.  Set timer for 9:00 and complete as many sets of 9 each of Knuckle Push-ups, Get-ups, Front Lunges.  I got 6 sets — how many full sets did you finish?


Full Circle, New Circle

20160814_105721.jpgIt’s been a busy summer all around, and I haven’t had the chance to have much one-on-one time with the kids.  They’re mostly all grown up now with kids of their own, and it’s getting harder and harder to get more than a few minutes together.

I work out with my son once a week, but with my daughters it’s tougher.  Tiff’s in school and has a lightning bolt for a daughter, but we’re penciling something in soon.  Saturday I saw Suicide Squad with my middle daughter, Amber.

And Sunday I snagged a daddy-daughter day with Morgan, my youngest kid who goes off to university in two weeks.  When I asked her what she wanted to do, she said she wanted to go for a walk down at what the kids simply call “Texas Beach.”  In stuffy grown-up language, this is North Bank Trail and Texas Beach entrance to City of Richmond’s James River Park System.

How fitting.

When this punk was 3′ tall I used to walk her all over the parks and trails of our city and county.  I still remember her sense of wonder the year in early May when we solved the mystery of the falling tulips together.  That was at Echo Lake.   Every few minutes as we walked the trails, a blossom would fall down, seemingly from heaven.  I knew of course where the mysterious blossoms were coming from, but I let her figure it out on her own, feeding her clues.  Eventually we found ourselves at the foot the biggest tulip poplar you ever saw, easily 100′ tall and too thick for us to join hands around.

So we put brackets on this segment of her life’s grand adventure, ending this little phase as we began it — walking in the woods hand in hand.


Wushu Impact, Your Combat Clock and WOOTW #17

screenshot_2016-08-12-05-20-43.pngIf you don’t think that martial arts can change the world, read this fantastic article at Fightland.

And now on with the Cabal Fang Workout of the Week.


1. Complete a full Constitutional as follows:

Bicycles (50)
Mountain Climbers (50)
Ab Punches (1 min)
Push-ups (50)
Zombie Squats (100)
V-up Holds (1 min)
Burpees (25)

2. Drill your self-defense clock for 15 minutes.  Have your partner attack you with a dull training weapon from at least 8 points on the clock, all the way around.  You should have a defensive counter for every point on the clock.


If you don’t have a self-defense clock, you can use mine.  From defender’s perspective as follows:

12:00 Supinating Wristlock (kotegaeshi)
1:30 Top side Wristlock
3:00 Stop Hit
4:30 Hyperflexing Wristlock (“gooseneck” lock)
6:00 Elbow jam to Muffle
7:30 Double Wrist Lock
9:00 Stop Hit
10:30 Master Lock

All of these defenses can be used from multiple points on the clock, but putting them at specific points gives them a home, making them easier to teach, practice and remember.

Don’t know what these holds are?  Don’t understand anything I’m talking about?  Pre-order the next martial arts book and you can find out on release day!



Basic Buddhists, Bad Buddhists — Bulletin for the Study of Religion

I found author Adam T. Miller’s relativistic challenge of “basic” vs. “bad” absolutely fascinating.  In the end, as Miller points out, the counter culture in some way supports the culture.

The metaphysician or mystic apprehends that labels are lies, maps are not the terrain, and all actions are merely techniques with results.  The monk, for example, who abstains from eating meat experiences certain things that may be beneficial.  Another monk who defiles himself by imbibing urine experiences things through transgression that might be beneficial.

Each may be an effective mind expanding technique depending on the circumstances and his or her personal developmental needs.


by Adam T. Miller — A few days back, the Bulletin’s own Nathan Rein asked the hive-mind that is Facebook to fill him in on what it means to be “basic.” In the ensuing discussion, someone shared a link to a Bustle piece titled “How to Spot the Basic Bitch: A Field Guide.” In the article, brief mention…

via Basic Buddhists, Bad Buddhists — Bulletin for the Study of Religion

Calling All Cops and Autobots

My wife’s favorite band, Motion City Soundtrack, is taking an indefinite hiatus. After a 19 year run, during which time they were constantly in our car trip rotation, they really grew on me. So last night we went to see them in concert one last time.  We are somewhere in this photo right here:









It’s kind of cool, and rather fitting, that the band would go out this way. Everybody’s getting married and settling down and/or bone tired of touring, ready to wrap it up.  No nasty breakup, nobody overdosed, no heavy drama. Just a bittersweet goodbye.

It’s fitting because, if you’re unfamiliar with the band, they have a way of packaging mixed emotions inside witty, humorous lyrics and catchy pop melodies. They were a damn good band. Are a damn good band.

So long guys, best wishes, thanks for the fun.

Knotted Ropes and WOOTW #16

No big intro today kids, I just got back from vacation last night and the chores are backing up — my grass is growing out of control!

Cabal Fang Workout of the Week #16

  • Start off with a Full Pyramid to 10 (that’s a total of 100) of Prison Push-ups and Prisoner Squats.
  • Then 2 x 25 each hand, double Back Fists (see video below).  Try to get as close to the rope as possible without making contact.  Count the number of times you either fail to get within 1″ of the rope or actually touch it.  When you”re all done with your 100 double Backfists, complete 3 Push-ups per count.rope, counts as “1.”