Lachman, Chicago and Workout of the Week #33

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Last week I was in Chicago on business.  Thursday was cloudy, misting rain and 40º F.  I could’ve easily stayed inside and called for lunch delivery.  But my hosts wanted Gene & Jude’s, and since the place is world famous, who was I to say “No”?  Gene & Jude’s it was, and I have to admit it was a good dog.  Fresh cut fries piled on top of an old-school hot dog trimmed with mustard, onions, relish and sweet peppers.  What’s not to like?  As long as you don’t eat it every day, right?

Then, after work, I went into the city to meet a friend — who just so happened to be in Chicago at the same time! — and have a kale salad and a slice of pizza at Parlor.  A skyline worthy of Ridley Scott,  good food and great company — what’s not to love?  That I could do every day!

I almost always take a book when I travel. Nothing like a good book for conjuring wonderment out of waiting for planes, trams, taxis and shuttles.  This trip’s book was The Quest for Hermes Trismegistus by Gary Lachman.  Although I consider myself well versed on the subject matter, Gary impressed me with small details I wasn’t aware of and expanded my view with his unique insight into where Hermeticism began and where it’s headed.  His list of sources is alone worth the price of admission.  I added half a dozen of his sources to my Alibris wish list.  Excellent book. Highly recommended for anyone interested in the Thrice Great One.  You don’t read a book like this one every day!

I’m definitely going to be reading a great deal more Lachman in the months and years ahead.  But will he read mine?  I sure hope so!

And without further delay, below find the Cabal Fang Workout of the Week.

Cabal Fang Workout of the Week #33

  • High Intensity Circuit Training.  Make 4 exercise stations using tires, mallets, medicine ball, etc.  Set your timer to beep every 40 – 60 seconds.  Allowing about 12 seconds to transition, that means you’ll be working each station for 28 – 48 seconds with 12 second breaks between.  If you pick 40 second rounds, do 6 cycles, 50 seconds do 5, 6o seconds do 6.  This will keep your workout around 16 minutes.  If you’re doing this with your group, add sufficient stations such that everybody has a slot.  If you don’t have enough gear, just insert some calisthenics.   And you’ll need to modify the round lengths and cycles to suit the needs of the group of course.
  • Journaling.  Are you keeping a training log and journal?  If you aren’t doing that, you’re really missing out on one of the easiest and yet most powerful personal improvement methods known to humankind.  Get yourself a book you like — spiral bound, leather, fancy, cheap, doesn’t matter — and make entries as close to daily as you can.  Include your workouts, your mood, what’s bothering you, what’s inspiring you, you name it.  Start doing it today!



20-Minute Pie-burner Workout (WOOTW#32)

wp-1480165876029.jpgHave a little too much pie the last couple of days?  Well here’s a workout that will help with that problem and, more importantly, build up your fighting-specific fitness.

  • 10-minute Medicine Ball High Intensity Circuit.  Pick a medicine ball appropriate to your size and fitness level (8-10% of your body weight should be good for most folks).  Set countdown timer for 10 minutes.  Complete as many sets of 8 each Medicine Ball Push-ups, Medicine Ball Curl-ups, Medicine Ball Get-ups, and Medicine Ball Jump Squats as you can before the timer beeps.
  • 10 Minutes of Jump Rope.  Let that countdown timer keep running for another circuit.  Jump rope as fast as you can for 10 minutes.
  • Take as few 12-second breaks as you must in order to finish the whole 20 minutes.  What’s with 12-second breaks, you ask?  It’s a Cabal Fang thing.  We don’t take breaks longer than 12 seconds because in self-defense there probably aren’t going to be any breaks.  But if there are, they’re going to be short!

A Love Affair Ends and a Peach of a Workout (WOOTW #31)

The other day I watched an episode of the T.V. show Criminal Minds called Hopeless that centered around criminals wanting to commit “suicide by cop” and bloodthirsty cops anxious to oblige.  It  ended in the character Derek Morgan quoting Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

“These violent delights have violent ends.”  (Friar Lawrence, Act 2, Scene 6)

My fertile mind, in the thick of finishing up the martial arts book, is the perfect Petri dish in which such a quote is prone to unleash a bloom of intense thoughts and feelings.

I’ve been thinking for awhile now that watching and following combat sports isn’t good for me.  Taking pleasure in the “human drama of athletic competition” is one thing.  But watching two men give each other permanent brain damage?   What’s that doing to my brain?  What’s it doing to my spirit?

Combat sports figures are increasingly bloodthirsty, low-brow trash-talkers.  And since the things I take in — food, books, sports, films — become a part of me, I can’t help but wonder if the mental and spiritual “food” of combat sports are the kind of nutrition I need to fuel the best possible version of myself.

Is this the kind of person I want to allow to influence me? Is this someone I’d like to hang out with?  Is this who I want to become?

No.  Definitely not.

Plenty of you are going to feel differently than I do about this, and that’s okay.  I’m not trying to tell you that you’re wrong.  There’s plenty of room in this world for more than one viewpoint.  All I’m saying is that I’m choosing to align myself with a different vision of the martial arts.

I’m done watching combat sports.

And now for the Cabal Fang Workout of the Week.  This one’s a real peach!

Cabal Fang Workout of the Week #31

This should only take you about 30 minutes total, but you should be fairly wrung out when you’re done!

  1. Complete a constitutional.  If you can’t be bothered to create your own, use the one we’re doing at the club this month:  Side Laterals (25), Pikes (25), Zombie Squats (50), Staggered Push-ups (40), Sprints (25), Mountain Climbers (100), Twisters (25).  That should take you 12 – 20 minutes.  Take a 2-minute breather.
  2. Kickboxing vs. heavy bag.  Set your timer for 4 x 3:00/1:00.  First round, just relax, warm-up and find your rhythm.  Second round, strike for accuracy (if your bag doesn’t have dots, use athletic tape to put Xs on it).  Round Three, strike for speed.  Hit the bag as many times as humanly possible in three minutes.  Round Four, go for power.  Hit the bag as hard as you can.  So to recap, that’s four rounds:  Warm-up, accuracy, AFAYC and AHAYC.  That’s 15 minutes.

Train hard, train safe, transform!






Big Anniversary and Cabal Fang Workout of the Week #30

The Cabal Fang Temple in the morning fog.

The Cabal Fang Temple in the morning fog.

Earlier this week we hit the first anniversary of the official consecration of the Cabal Fang Temple (to read more about the temple, click here).  I’ve been performing temple rites for years.  But I have to tell you that, when you commit to being the caretaker of a temple and you assume responsibility for its daily opening — ringing the bell, performing rites, and so forth — it changes everything.  It breathes a new kind of energy into your life.

Want to see the inside of the temple?  Well, most of the workout videos are shot in the temple, so watch the video below and you can get a slice!

Cabal Fang Workout of the Week #30

1.  Sandbag Workout.  Select a bag that’s at least 10% of your body weight, more if you’re intermediate or advanced (I used a 32 lb bag that’s 20% of my weight).  Complete 4 sets of 10 of the following exercises: Lift ‘n’ Press, Squat Press, and Squats (video below).

2.  Indomitability Meditation.  What’s indomtability?

In`dom´i`ta`ble: 1. Not to be subdued; untamable; invincible; as, an indomitable will, courage, animal.

Meditate on the nature of Indomitability (from time you should meditate on one of the Five Vital Graces of Cabal Fang — Wonder, Sagacity, Frugality, Indomitability and Fraternity).  Assume your chosen meditative posture, regulate breathing, and spend 10 minutes allowing yourself to experience the meaning of “indomitable.”  What does it mean to be indomitable?  What does indomitability look like?   Can someone in a wheelchair be indomitable?  Someone paralyzed from the neck down even?   Record your results in your training journal or diary.



The Secret of Aiwass

The Unicursal Hexagram of Thelema

The Unicursal Hexagram of Thelema (click link to read about Thelema at Wikipedia)

Many of the internal training exercises in the Cabal Fang martial arts program are modified versions of the now classic Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn rituals which contain lots of Hebrew words and phrases.  So that ours will have more universal appeal, I’ve been experimenting with substituting Proto-Indo European (PIE) for the Hebrew.

One of the PIE words that came up in my research is aiwesi which means “always” or “forever.”  It occurs to me that this is very close to the name Aiwass, the mythical being Aleister Crowley claims dictated the Book of the Law.   Is it possible, I wonder, that this isn’t a coincidence?

Could Crowley have consciously, subconsciously or instinctively chosen the name Aiwass because of its proximity to aiwesi, the root word for always?   Is there an expert out there who can tell us the state of PIE-related linguistic research circa 1900 so we can determine if Crowley could have known this?   And lastly, can we consider the possibility — assuming that Aiwass is a real being independent of Crowley as devout Thelemites believe —  that this mysterious entity chose its name based on its proximity to a universal word associated with things eternal

Fascinating, isn’t it?

Doctor Strange and I Walk into a Bar — and the Workout of the Week


My Nerd Fu is strong!

Doctor Strange and I walk into a bar.¹  The bartender says, “What’ll it be?” Strange says, “Away with your riddling existential questions!  Barkeep, bring me a Sazerac if you please!”  I hate it when Strange tries to crack wise, so I shake my head and ask for a cup of coffee.  The bartender looks at me and says, “What, no lame jokes or smart aleck remarks like your friend the Sorcerer Supreme over here?”  I smile broadly and and say, “Nope, he’s the comic.  I’m the real thing.”

But seriously folks, I am kind of the real thing (what can I say?  Strange and I, we both struggle with our egos a little bit).  Let me explain.

  • Strange and I grew up together.  He was born in the 60s and so was I — his birthplace is Strange Tales #110, mine is Richmond, VA.
  • While the cocky, self-involved Stephen Strange was strutting through the world as a brilliant surgeon, I was being a successful young professional climbing the corporate ladder.
  • A car accident with lingering injuries sent Strange around the globe searching for a cure.  A health scare, a failed marriage and a moment of clarity while sitting in traffic jam caused me to go in search of a cure for my weight problem and selfish attitude.
  • He ended up spending years studying the martial and mystic arts in Kamar-Taj where he ultimately experienced a spiritual awakening.  I ended up spending years practicing a multitude of martial arts and religions, which ultimately led to my spiritual awakening.
  • He accepted the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme.  I founded a new martial art.
  • He’s got a new movie out now, and I have a new book coming out next year.
  • Strange wants to save the world and so do I.

If you want to be the real life equivalent of Doctor Strange, practice Cabal Fang martial arts.


Wife and I at the movies last night

By the way, if you haven’t seen the new Doctor Strange movie, it’s well worth watching.  I’d give it a B+.  Criticisms: The magic and horror elements of the comics were too downplayed. Magic largely took the form of conjured weapons and fighting enhancements —  where were his cool phrases like “By the hoary hosts of Hoggoth!” and where were the Vishanti? — and  Dormammu failed to terrify.   Things I liked: Good overall message, solid story, strong acting performances, best special effects in recent memory, good screen translation of inter-dimensional “strangeness” of the comics, Wong was a bad-ass, Mordo was complex, and Tilda Swinton surprised me with a great, modern update of the Ancient One.

Without further ado, here’s the Cabal Fang Workout of the Week.

Cabal Fang Workout of the Week #29

  1. 10-minute Half Pyramid.  Set countdown timer for 10 minutes and climb a pyramid of Zombie Squats, Crunches, Uneven Push-ups (one hand on a Yoga block, brick, bench, etc.), and Jackknifes until the bell rings (1 of each, 2 of each, 3, 4, etc.).  You probaby won’t, but try to make 9 sets, which would be 45 of each.
  2. Cover 1 mile AFAYC.
  3. Life Review Meditation.²  Set countdown timer for 10 minutes, assume your chosen meditative posture and regulate your breath (inhale 8-10 seconds, hesitate 4-5, exhale 8-10 seconds, hesitate 4-5).  Starting with the present moment, review your actions like an outside observer.  Every time you exhale go a little further back in time, bit by bit.  Look for “sticky spots” — things that make you feel sad, embarrassed, awkward or uncertain — and poke around them until you desensitize enough to move on without feeling like you copped out.  When the bell rings, come back to present day and record what you learned in your training log or journal.


† This particular one had doors.  As many of you know, some bars don’t.

² This is the meditation I did yesterday for this week’s WOOTW.  In a “strange” twist of fate or coincidence, imagine my surprise when I went to see the Doctor Strange movie last night and time travel figured prominently in the story.  Is that “strange” or what?!?!

Kicking the Crap out of Cancer

nsn_full_stackedOne of my coworkers is fighting cancer.  Instead of sitting around feeling helpless, I decided to do something — I signed up to participate in No Shave November.

It’s easy to help.  All you have to do is click this link and donate money to my campaign.

Or you could actually participate by putting down your razor for the month, donating the shaving money you saved, and setting up a donation challenge of your own!

This is my scruffy face.  And I’m using it to kick cancer’s ass.