Scramble: Training Involution #102

This month’s external focus is General Self-defense and the internal one is The Book (Tarot).  So this week there’s more hardcore, targeted self-defense material in store — plus some preparation checking and some esoteric quizzing.  But first, here’s a little promo video I put together to promote Cabal Fang martial arts.  Dig it.

And now on with the show.

Scramble: Training Involution #102

  • Scramble through your purse or pockets.  What if you get stranded have to scramble for shelter, warmth, food, or a ride?  Do you have a knife or multi-tool, a way to make fire, and enough cash money for a cab or Uber ride?  If not, shame on you.  Fix that ASAP.
  • Scramble for your life.  What if you have to fight in a cramped place, like a car, closet or bathroom stall?  Get knocked down and have to get up?  Have to wrestle?  Beginners: Do 25 reps each of: Bodybuilders, Sit-outs, Get-ups and Crunch-n-Punch.  Intermediates, you do 33 reps and add Splays/Sprawls.  Advanced folks, do the intermediate version plus Drop Duck-Unders.
  • “Do you read Tarot?”  What if somebody finds out you have a Tarot deck and you have to scramble to answer that question?  Last week I tested you on your number symbolism.  Now for the suits.  Can you name at least one association or correspondence for each suit, such as element (Earth, Air, Fire, Water), Sphere (Matter, Ideals, Drives, Emotions), Quaternary (To Know, To Will, To Dare, To Keep Silent), etc.?  No?  If not, pull 10 cards and do the number of Push-ups on each face (Pages = 10, Knights = 6, Queens = 3, Kings = 2).

Short Video: Modify, Adapt and Overcome

This morning I shot a quick video explaining an important lesson I re-learned yesterday while training for the May 5th Rugged Maniac obstacle run to benefit the Cabal Fang Temple Fund.

I’m a crappy runner.  But guess what?  You can learn a lot by being crappy at something.

The Next (Final) Emerald Lamp Video?

Vol. 1 Episode 4 of the Emerald Lamp Video Series is now live.  Patreon supporters got access a month ago.  And yesterday they also got access to a private video on the subject of body toughening (conditioning and callousing of the body to better deliver and accept blows).  For as little as $1/month you can click here, become a supporter, and get access to all kinds of patron-only content — as well as early access to just about everything I produce.

Neither the Emerald Lamp series nor the Holy Communion series is really taking off the way I anticipated.  Episode 4 of the Emerald Lamp and Episode 12 of Holy Communion might mark the end of both series.  If you like either of them I suggest sharing them to your social media profiles, tweeting, posting and sharing like a madman.  These are the most labor intensive videos I make in terms of planning and writing.  If nobody’s watching, I could really stand to put those hours back into my training!

So if you like either series, show your love by sharing the videos.  And, in the comments below, please tell me which of my videos you like most and least and why.

Run for Your Life: Training Involution #101

Here at Cabal Fang HQ our monthly focuses are Basic Self-Defense and The Book (chapters 16 and 20 in the Cabal Fang Study Guide). From now on the Training Involution of the Week is going to be based around the monthly theme at HQ. I think that will go a long way toward creating a feeling of community within the Cabal Fang family, don’t you?

Run for Your Life: Training Involution #101

  • Are you paying attention to detail? (1) What was your spouse or significant wearing last time you saw him or her? (2) What is the color, make, model, year and license plate number of his or her vehicle? (3) Get up right now and check: are all your doors and windows locked? Imagine how guilty you’d feel if your spouse or significant other turned up missing and you couldn’t help the police with the most basic information. Imagine how you’d feel if someone invaded your home and you didn’t have it buttoned up. If you didn’t get at least two out of three right, complete 100 Squats and then review your preparedness and prevention drills on pages 224 – 226 of the Cabal Fang Study Guide.
  • Do you know your numbers? If you are going to use Tarot as a psychological and spiritual tool you need to know your number symbolism. What are astrological associations for the numbers 1 through 10? If you can’t name at least of 5 of them, do 50 Push-ups and then go study the chart on page 168 of the Cabal Fang Study Guide.
  • Conditioning Run. CR15P Tabata-styled. Run AFAYC for 20 seconds, walk 10 seconds, repeat for 30 rounds. That’s 15 mins total.

Conditioning Run Protocol

4/10/18 UPDATE: I added a couple of wrinkles to the notation to allow for more variants.  Enjoy!

The new Cabal Fang Training Involution scheme is laser-focused on building the knowledge, will, daring, composure, physical fitness and mettle to defend yourself and get to safety.

Short runs are useful for building fitness and mettle — if  done with intensity.  So you’re going to start seeing Conditional Runs (“CRs”) showing up in the weekly Training Involutions from time to time.

Note: These intense runs are designed to prepare you to fight hard and escape fast, period.  What will they do to your next 10K  performance?  Might help, might hurt, don’t know, don’t care.  All I know is I feel stronger and fight better when I add a couple of intense runs per week to my martial training and I think you will too.

Here’s how the notations work:  

  1. After the “CR” which stands for “Conditioning Run” you will see a number, a letter, and perhaps another exercise or some other instruction.
  2. The number is either the duration in minutes (double digit numbers) or the distance in miles (single digit numbers).
  3. The letter indicates the type of run.
  4. Notations after that indicate any specifics.

Here are the types:

When you train Cabal Fang you do not muck around.  So, before you begin whatever you’re going to do — whether it is hitting a heavy bag, doing calisthenics, or even running — decide if you’re going to work on Speed, Accuracy, Form, Endurance, Mobility or Power.  If it helps to remember it, you you can abbreviate that SAFE-MP¹ for “safe martial prep.”  Here are the runs:

  • S = Speed.  Run as fast as you are able without breaking stride.  Try not to take any 12-count breaks.
  • A = Accuracy.  Set a goal and try to hit the mark.  Pick a previous run and try to beat it in terms of fewer breaks taken, more distance covered, etc.   You are keeping a training journal, right?
  • F = Form.  Wreck your form.  Run backwards, run like an Apache, skip or side-gallop, run with your hands behind your head or behind your back, with one hand gripping your waistband,  etc.  Experiment.  What if someday you have to run for your life with an injury or impairment?
  • E = Endurance.  Run while wearing a weighted vest or carrying a heavy or awkward object such as tire, sandbag or medicine ball.  Take as few 12-count breaks as you must in order to finish.
  • M = Mobility.  Run on a trail, around cones, through mud  or water, run zig-zags across a field, up and down steep hills, run an obstacle course, etc.  Take as few 12-count breaks as you must in order to finish.
  • P = Power.  Intervals.  Alternate between running as fast as you can — full out sprint! — and either walking or calisthenics.  One of my favorites is  “CR15P, 20 Push-ups and 20 Squats alternating.”   I go the the local outdoor track, set a timer for 15 mins and then run a lap, do 20 Push-ups, run a lap, do 20 Squats, etc. and see how many laps I can complete before the timer beeps.  Take as few 12-count breaks as you must in order to finish.

Trust me when I say, you’re going to love to hate these runs!


  • CR10S — 10 minute run as fast as you can without breaking stride.
  • CR10A — Set a distance goal for a 10 min. run and try to hit it.
  • CR5A — Set a goal — for speed, to finish without breaking stride, etc. — and run 5 miles
  • CR15F P.O.W — 15 minute run with hands behind your head.
  • CR2E Tire — 2 mile run carrying an auto tire.
  • CR12M Hills — Run up and down hills for 12 minutes.
  • CR16P Sprints — Set timer for 8 minutes.  Sprint away from home until you gas, then walk for 7 breaths, then sprint until you gas, walk for 7 breaths, etc. until timer beeps.  Then turn around, sprinting and walking as before, and make sure get home before the timer beeps a second time.

¹ I’ve made dice of various kinds to create random workouts.  One of them is a 6-sided cube with sides that are S, A, F, E, M and P so I can generate focuses on the fly.



The Big 100: Training Involution #100

“It is said that Master Yagyu once remarked, ‘I do not know the way to defeat others, but the way to defeat myself.’ Throughout your life advance daily, becoming more skillful than yesterday, more skillful than today. This is never-ending.”  ~Hagakure (1716)

Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai by Yamamoto Tsunetomo is one of Cabal Fang’s 50 Most Influential Books.  If you haven’t read it, you don’t know what you’re missing.

And now, well, we’ve reached 100 hundred weekly training blog posts and that’s a milestone for sure.  What do you say — should we make this one a real doozie?

The Big 100: Training Involution #100

  • 100 strikes/min (heavy bag for speed).  Set timer for 3 rounds of 3:00/1:00.  Strike heavy bag with hands and feet as fast as you can.  Count strikes in the final round.  If you don’t break 300 strikes (100 strikes/min.) try again tomorrow.  Tip: count your strikes in sets of 10.
  • 100 grappling moves.  If you have a partner, pick one grappling move — maybe Single Leg, Ankle Pick, Drop Duck-under, Slip-by to take down, you name it — and do it 50 times each.  If training solo do it 100 times.  Either way, if you aren’t done in under 8 mins., you’re going way too slow.  Try again tomorrow.
  • 100 Calisthenics Half Pyramid.  Squats, Jumping Jacks and Push-ups (beginners do Half Squats and/or Push-ups on knees, advanced folks, do Jump Squats and/or Clap Push-ups).  Climb odd numbers only up to 19 for a total of 100 each (1 of each, then 3 of each, then 5,7,9,11,13,15,17 and 19).  Get it done in under 13 mins or try again tomorrow.
  • Journal review.  Are you keeping up with your training journal?  Are you logging all training sessions?  Making regular diary entries?  Noting your mood and any milestones?  Establishing goals based on your progress?  Spend a 10 minutes reading backwards in your journal.  Are you satisfied with the frequency and quality of your entries?  Are you happy with your progress in all four major dimensions — intellectually, emotionally, martially and spiritually?  Record your thoughts and answers to these questions in your journal!


How to Meditate

How to Meditate*

(Note: Most people call this “meditation” so I’m using that term.  But this is actually what I call contemplation, not meditation.  For a full explanation of the differences between meditation, contemplation and prayer — their definitions, how they work and how to use them — see Cabal Fang: Complete Study Guide from Querent to Elder.)

The best thing about meditation is that there is no goal, there are no achievements to mark off, there’s no way to measure progress and no need to do so.  You just do it.  And that is enough.

1. Sit down.  Choose your pose — lotus, half-lotus, cross-legged, or my personal favorite, seiza.  You can hold your hands any way you like.  I personally like hands on thighs, but it’s your call.  Eyes open or closed is fine, but when you first start out, it might be better to stare at a blank wall to avoid distractions.

2. Be quiet.  Still your thoughts, allowing them to dissipate like ripples in a pond.  The more you struggle against your thoughts the more ripples you will make.  Don’t resist.  Just allow your mind to approach stillness.

3. Breathe. Inhale, hold, exhale, hold, each in roughly the same measure (somewhere in the 4 to 8 second range is fine).  Keep airways open during the hold phase — never clamp down on your breath.

4. Practice daily.  Ten to forty minutes is perfect, but as little as 3 minutes will be beneficial.  I meditate about 10 minutes per day with one long session per week.

* Russ, this is for you brother!