Vault of Reason: Mettle Maker #243

Heads up!  This week’s mettle maker contains a coupon code for free shipping at Mitch’s General Store so read on.

What’s in these weekly mettle makers?

A martial segment, a fitness segment, a primitive skills segment, and a spiritual segment.  Want to get strong inside and out?  This is the way I’d advise doing it.

Vault of Reason: Mettle Maker #243

  • Warm-up thoroughly for at at least 8 minutes.  Do 2-3 minutes each of (a) jumping rope (b) light calisthenics and (c) shadowboxing, forms, or light heavy bag work, or 8 minutes of MBF.
  • Do some scufflin’ fitness.  Set a timer for repeating 1 min. intervals.  Cycle through 1 min each of Sprawl ‘n’ Punch, Bear Walks and Heavy Bag Squeezes (use your floor bag and squeeze as hard as you can!).  As a maintenance drill, run about 3 cycles (9 mins total) at moderate intensity.  For something more strenuous, up the intensity and run more cycles.  Created using Scufflin’ Dice ©.  Set includes 4 dice and a handout with link to training video.  Enter coupon code “SCUFF21” at checkout for free USPS priority mail shipping on any order — good until 1/31/21.
  • Hike, vault, and roll.   Put on a pack and hike to a place where you can practice your vaults and rolls.  Take off your pack and put in a few minutes of movement practice.  I used a couple of park benches — see video below.  When you’re done, put your pack back on and hike home.  Adjust weight and distance, and number and type of movements, based on your fitness level, training cycle, and so forth.  If you don’t have training cyclically, you should read my book Martial Grit: Real Fighting Fitness (On a Budget).

  • What plant is this?  Here’s a hint: it’s the same plant the famous wand is made of — the one Voldemort wanted to get his hands on so badly.  Answer below the photos.

This is Sambucus canadensis or common elderberry.  Berries ripen from late July to August and should be cooked before eating, which explains why you always see elderberry jam, preserves, wine, etc.

  • Acknowledge your higher power.  If you don’t believe in God you might want to reconsider.  Recognition of a higher power was central to the survival of our hominid ancestors when they were on the verge of extinction 70,000 years ago and is easily supported on scientific and logical grounds.  Of the roughly 20 sound logical arguments for existence of God, the best, in my opinion, is…
    The Cosmological Argument1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
    2. The universe began to exist.
    3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.
    4. The universe began to exist at the point of the Big Bang.
    5. Before the Big Bang there was no time, no matter, and no causality.
    5. Therefore the cause of the universe is timeless, immaterial, and uncaused.
    6. A timeless and immaterial first cause is commonly known as God.The first classic rebuttal is “Not all things that begin to exist have a cause.” But persons, animals and things are not popping in and out of existence all around us. If you insist on completely rejecting our current understanding of how things work, I can’t help you.  The only other avenue of escape from this argument is to dispute the standard model of the universe. But the standard model — in which the universe had a beginning and will have a cold dark end — has remained the scientific consensus despite all challenges thus far, including the Steady State Model, the Oscillating Model, the Baby Universe Model, the Multiverse Model, and so on.

    Based on the evidence and the current state of the scientific debate, we can say with relative certainty that the universe is of finite size, it had a beginning, it will have an end, and that only the Uncaused Cause – a.k.a God — is infinite.  So start saying your prayers. It might feel a little awkward at first, but like anything else, you’ll get better with practice.



TWO MARTIAL ARTS DISTANCE LEARNING PROGRAMS AVAILABLE. 100% free and operated through my non-profit, Cabal Fang is martial arts for personal development, self-defense and fitness. Bobcat Frontier Martial Arts is just $19.99/month and that’s your choice if you’re interested in Frontier Rough ‘n’ Tumble — the fighting arts, survival skills, lifeways and ethos of the colonial and indigenous peoples of North American during the frontier period (1607 – 1912). What are you waiting for — enroll today!

Holy Communion: Jan. 10, 2021

I am a Deacon in Ekklesia Epignostika Church and Seminary, and the Host I am consuming in the Communion video below has been Consecrated by my Bishop for this purpose. This is the Body of Christ, and must be given the Sacred Reverence due the Son of God.

Those desiring to follow along and partake of Communion at home should first consider carefully. If you are also a Sacramental Christian, you should observe the guidance of your Bishop, as to whether, and in what manner, you may partake of Communion at at home.  Other Baptized Christians should observe the guidance of their Pastor or, if unchurched, discern with the help of the Holy Spirit. Persons who have not yet been Baptized into the Christian Church, should not take Communion.


If you enjoyed this content, please consider supporting my work by buying one of my ebooks or shopping at Mitch’s General Store!

The Ropes: Mettle Maker #242

The Cabal Fang monthly focuses are Self-defense vs. empty hands and the Rose.

the Ropes: Mettle Maker #242

  • Warm-up thoroughly for at at least 8 minutes.  Do 2-3 minutes each of (a) jumping rope (b) light calisthenics and (c) shadowboxing, forms, or light heavy bag work, or 8 minutes of MBF.
  • Do the monthly constitutional.   Complete a 15-minute half pyramid of Sprawls, Mountain Climbers, Push-Ups, Slow Side Kicks, Drop Duck-unders, Steam Engines, Jump Squats (for split leg exercises and kicks L + R = 1).   A half-pyramid is 1 of each, 2 of each, 3, 4, 5 etc. until the timer beeps.
  • Why the lantern? Because it was 27 F and dark at 6 AM when I did this little beauty the other day.

    16 minutes of Frontier Rough ‘n’ Tumble mix ‘n’ match fitness.   Set timer for 1 minute intervals and cycle through the following four times: Rope Climbs, Bowie knife air strikes, Sledge Blows, and Wrestling Shots.  Created using two dice from the MBF set and two dice from the FRT set, both available from Mitch’s General Store.

  • Can you tie a taught-line hitch?  It’s one of the most practical knots known to man, useful for setting up a clothes lines, staking out tents, and so on.  Knot slides easily but holds well under moderate loads.  Steps below.
  • Say a prayer.  If you already have an active prayer life, don’t let me interfere.  But if you don’t, let me show you the ropes.  Why?  Because recognizing a higher power was central to the survival of our hominid ancestors when they were on the verge of extinction 70,000 years ago.  Recognizing a higher power is step two in the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step program — the most successful mutual-aid, self-help program in history.  And there are hundreds of reliable studies showing that prayer improves cognitive function and happiness quotient, reduces alcohol intake, fights depression, aids in psychological resiliency, and much more.  Get started.  If you’ve never prayed before, or you’re rusty,  start small.  Say grace before meals, say your prayers before bed, or start your day with a simple prayer like, “Heavenly Father, I pray thee stand with me today, guiding my thoughts, desires, actions and beliefs so that I may walk in your ways in all I do and say this day.”  If you don’t feel better I’ll eat my hat.


TWO MARTIAL ARTS DISTANCE LEARNING PROGRAMS AVAILABLE. 100% free and operated through my non-profit, Cabal Fang is martial arts for personal development, self-defense and fitness. Bobcat Frontier Martial Arts is just $19.99/month and that’s your choice if you’re interested in Frontier Rough ‘n’ Tumble — the fighting arts, survival skills, lifeways and ethos of the colonial and indigenous peoples of North American during the frontier period (1607 – 1912). What are you waiting for — enroll today!

General Update: Surgery, Muscle Building, Goals, Progress, etc.

Lot’s going on in these parts!  Here’s an update on my wife’s orthopedic surgery (which is today), an update on chapel progress, one-year barbell lifting results, a rundown of the CD I just listened to and books I’m reading, and much more.  Video below.


If you liked this post you’d probably like my e-books.  Click here to download them in any format from Smashwords or purchase them wherever fine e-books are sold!

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Going Powhatan #4: Going to the Library

I live in Henrico County, VA.  I used to think we have a nice library system.  I was wrong.  We actually have a scintillating library system.

Back in November, as I was lining up resources and information for my Going Powhatan project I seemed to recall that Henrico County Public Library (“HCPL”) had an “ask a librarian” function on the website.  So I jumped over and took a look.  Sure enough, there it was.  “Can’t go inside on account of COVID,” I thought.  “Might as well give it try.”  I clicked the link and typed a quick message asking for assistance compiling a reading list of the most highly-referenced books on the lifeways of the native tribes of Virginia with an emphasis on the frontier period and prior (pre-1912).

I immediately got a phone call — a phone call! — from a nice librarian named Kareema (I found out later she was Kareema Hamdan, Area Branch Manager of HCPL).  She said that they were working on it and they’d get back to me.  “This is  the sort of thing that librarians live for,” she said.  I didn’t know what to expect, but I thought it would be fun to see what they came up with.  I thanked her and waited patiently for a reply.

About a week later I got the following email from Kareema which said,

Hi Mitch,

I sent out a request to our librarians for any information we could provide to assist with your research and reading list. As you will see, we gathered more than just book titles so I hope some of this information is helpful to you. Please feel free to follow up with us if we can assist further.

Thank you,

Kareemah

Librarians who contributed:

Lisa Kroll
Elizabeth Hadley
Kelsey Crossley
Barbra Salas

Below are the resources and links they provided to me.  I’m still stunned by the amount of work they put into this, awed by its comprehensiveness, and deeply appreciative for the contribution they made to the project.  I told Kareema that she and her entire team were going in the book’s dedication, and I meant it.

The most insightful resources were the two relating to depiction of Native Americans in literature.  I’m not an insensitive person, but I can be a little naïve.  I honestly felt that sincerely immersing oneself in the language and lifeways of Virginia’s Native Americans was in and of itself a gesture of the greatest respect.

It never occurred to me that a reasonable person could view this project as disrespectful or exploitative.  But when I saw the references provided by the librarians, an old memory resurfaced.

Many years ago I met a fellow who assumed my first book was by and for neo-Nazis just because it had a red and black cover that featured a crow which he thought was an eagle.  I had been gut-punched.  I assured him that my book was most certainly not in any way inspired by, associated with, related to, or sympathetic toward anything Nazi — neo- or otherwise.  But was he still laboring under the misconception?  You know what they say about first impressions.

It all came back to me and my stomach knotted like kudzu.  What if somebody misunderstood what I was doing with this project?  How could I have forgotten that painful lesson?  Back then I had an excuse.  It was my first book as a self-published, freshman author.  But I’ve written six books since then.  I hope I’m older and wiser.

Thanks to the nudge of some kind librarians, and to the memory of an old lesson re-learned, I determined to break my back trying as hard as possible to see this project the way others might.

I started by reading a couple of contemporary books by and about local native peoples — Chickahominy Indians – Eastern Division: A Brief Ethnohistory by Elaine and Ray Adkins and  The Chickahominy Indians of Virginia Yesterday and Today by Eleanor West Hertz. I will read more.  And I will also get the opinions of local tribespeople before I publish.


Print titles owned by Henrico County Public Library

  • Eastern Shore Indians of Virginia and Maryland by Helen Rountree ( Any title by Helen Rountree should be worthy of reading)
  • The Powhatan Landscape: An Archaeological History of the Algonquin Chesapeake by Martin Gallivan
  • Indians in Seventeenth Century Virginia by Ben McCary
  • The Gale Encyclopedia of Native American Tribes.  Detroit: Gale, 1998.
  • Encyclopedia of native tribes of North America by Michael Johnson
  • The Powhatan landscape : an archaeological history of the Algonquian Chesapeake  Martin D. Gallivan,
  • Powhatan Indian place names in Tidewater Virginia Martha W. McCartney
  • The true story of Pocahontas : the other side of history : from the sacred history of the Mattaponi Reservation people by Linwood Custalow
  • Pocahontas and the Powhatan dilemma : an American portrait  Camilla Townsend, Camilla
  • Monacan millennium : a collaborative archaeology and history of a Virginia Indian people by Jeffrey L. Hantman
  • The Virginia Indian Heritage Trail edited by Karenne Wood.
  • RELATION OF VIRGINIA : a boy’s memoir of life with the Powhatans and Patawomecks by Henry Spelman (on order as of 11/2020) https://www.upress.virginia.edu/title/1636
  • First People: The Early Indians of Virginia | UVA Press Incorporating recent events in the Native American community as well as additional information gleaned from publications and public resources, this newly redesigned and updated second edition of First People brings back to the fore this concise and highly readable narrative. Full of stories that represent the full diversity of Virginia’s Indians, past and present. www.upress.virginia.edu

From the William & Mary Libraries: Virginia Indian Research References

Websites affiliated with VA tribes or with tribe specific information

Publishing / Book Guidance by Native Americans about Native Americans in literature :

  • http://www.oyate.org/ “Oyate is a Native organization working to see that our lives and histories are portrayed with honesty and integrity, and that all people know that our stories belong to us.”
  • Established in 2006 by Dr. Debbie Reese of Nambé Pueblo, American Indians in Children’s Literature (AICL) provides critical analysis of Indigenous peoples in children’s and young adult books. Dr. Jean Mendoza joined AICL as a co-editor in 2016. https://americanindiansinchildrensliterature.blogspot.com/

Resources on Indigenous Virginians from HCPL Databases (you will need your library card number to access)

Ebsco eBooks High School:

Plants of Virginia

  • Britton, Nathaniel Lord, and Addison Brown. An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States, Canada, and British Possessions: From Newfoundland to the Parallel of the Southern Boundary of  Virginia, and from the Atlantic Ocean Westward to the 102d Meridian. New York: C. Scribner’s Sons, 1913.  An oldie but a goodie, in three volumes, comprehensive and still useful although the taxonomy is dated; available online at the Biodiversity Heritage Library, https://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/bibliography/940#/summary
  • Flora of North America, http://beta.floranorthamerica.org/Main_Page Comprehensive work in progress.
  • Foster, Steven, and James A. Duke. Peterson Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs of Eastern and Central North America. Third Edition. Peterson Field Guides. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014. Of limited use without second, identifying guide; general info about medicinal use, not specific.
  • Peterson, Lee. Peterson Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants of Eastern and Central North America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1999. Drawings and photos, habitat descriptions, seasonal guides, and preparation instructions; of limited use without second guide.
  • Virginia Department of Forestry. Common Native Trees of Virginia: Tree Identification Guide. 2007. Of limited use; available as free download from http://www.dof.virginia.gov/shop/index-books.htm
  • Virginia Native Plant Society,https://vnps.org/ Has info about Virginia natives, including regional guides geared toward the home gardener which can be downloaded for free, https://vnps.org/virginia-native-plant-guides/
  • Virginia Wildflowers, https://virginiawildflowers.org/ Amateur site with identifying photos of wildflowers found in southwestern Virginia; includes limited info on edible and medicinal plants and fungi.
  • Weakley, Alan S., J. Christopher Ludwig, and John F. Townsend. Flora of Virginia. Fort Worth: Botanical Research Institute of Texas, 2012. Large coffee-table book highly recommended by naturalists; first formal update of local flora since the 18th century; best of all, most of the information is accessible via (much cheaper) app, courtesy of the Flora of Virginia Project,https://floraofvirginia.org/

If you liked this post…

There’s a good chance you’d love my e-book The Wildwood Workbook: Nature Appreciation and SurvivalClick here to download it in any format.  35 exercises guaranteed to deepen your relationship with nature and get your heart and mind engaged like never before.  120 pages.

Want to study Frontier Rough ‘n’ Tumble martial arts?  Click here to enroll in the Bobcat Frontier Martial Arts distance learning program for just $19,99/month — all learning materials, testing and certificates included (and a free hat and t-shirt when you sign up too).

Holy Communion: Jan. 3, 2021

I am a Deacon in Ekklesia Epignostika Church and Seminary, and the Host I am consuming in the Communion video below has been Consecrated by my Bishop for this purpose. This is the Body of Christ, and must be given the Sacred Reverence due the Son of God.

Those desiring to follow along and partake of Communion at home should first consider carefully. If you are also a Sacramental Christian, you should observe the guidance of your Bishop, as to whether, and in what manner, you may partake of Communion at at home.  Other Baptized Christians should observe the guidance of their Pastor or, if unchurched, discern with the help of the Holy Spirit. Persons who have not yet been Baptized into the Christian Church, should not take Communion.


If you enjoyed this content, please consider supporting my work by buying one of my ebooks or shopping at Mitch’s General Store!

Cut the Chatter: Mettle Maker #241

Blah blah blah.  The older I get the more I become the old man who sees 99% of what goes in the world as racket.¹

Cut the Chatter: Mettle Maker #241

  • Warm-up thoroughly for at at least 8 minutes.  Do 2-3 minutes each of (a) jumping rope (b) light calisthenics and (c) shadowboxing, forms, or light heavy bag work, or 8 minutes of MBF.
  • Face the 25-minute “Stayin’ Alive” drill.  Set timer for 5 X 5:00.  Round 1, run away from your training area.  Round 2, run back.  Round 3, shadowbox.  Round 4, pick up your floor bag (a heavy bag with chains removed) and do not put it down until the timer beeps.  Practice your stand-up grappling — squeezes, Scarf Holds, chokes, etc.  Round 5, wrestle the bag.  Put it on the mat and practice your Bridges, Reverses, tackles, Bottom Scissors, etc.  Click here or the above pic for a video.
  • Pick a finisher.  Cap off your training session with a quick “finisher” — a short but intense contribution to functional martial fitness.  Take your pick: (A) 100 yard heavy carry (choose a sandbag based on your fitness level — I used #105), (B) 5 minute IMT run (C) As many kicks as you can in 5 minutes.  That ought to “cut your chatter.”
  • Do you know what bird this is?  It’s one of the chattiest birds in North America, and it’s name comes from the Greek kitta — “chattering bird.”  If you don’t know its call, then you don’t know one of your closest, most talkative neighbors. Give up?  Click here for the answer.
  •  Cut the chatter and see how different the world looks.  We are constantly awash in racket — music and media of all kinds, T.V., YouTube, podcasts, books on tape and on and on — much of it verbal.  Words can be very useful.  But pointless words are just noise.  Shut off the media, go outside (or at the very least go to a quiet space), and silence your chattering monkey-mind with 10 minutes of contemplation.  Set timer for 10 minutes and assume your posture of choice.  Regulate your breathing to a slow, steady rhythm, making sure that you fully fill and empty your lungs with each breath.  Keep your eyes open and do not fidget, wiggle, or scratch.  Full instructions and more info in the video below.

¹The new movie Wonder Woman 1984 was good though.  Maybe I should make a video about that, considering that I gave it 8 stars and IMDB says it’s only 5.5.



TWO MARTIAL ARTS DISTANCE LEARNING PROGRAMS AVAILABLE. 100% free and operated through my non-profit, Cabal Fang is martial arts for personal development, self-defense and fitness. Bobcat Frontier Martial Arts is just $19.99/month and that’s your choice if you’re interested in Frontier Rough ‘n’ Tumble — the fighting arts, survival skills, lifeways and ethos of the colonial and indigenous peoples of North American during the frontier period (1607 – 1912). What are you waiting for — enroll today!

How to Hold Any Weapon Effectively

The other day I got asked about weapon grip for the millionth time.  This time the question took the form of, “What’s your take on holding a sword with the point down?”

Although I didn’t say it out loud, I thought to myself, “It sounds about as sensible as splitting wood using a reverse axe grip.”  Yes, exotic grips are fun to watch in movies (I really dig it when Zatoichi does it).  But in real life?  Let’s not be silly.  So, to clear this up once and for all, I made the video below.

I cordially invite all those of who who disagree — contrarian trolls, upside-down-hammer-wielding house framers, people who think that Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter was a documentary, projectors from the land of Balnibarbi, side grip shooters, and so on — to go crazy in the comments.



TWO MARTIAL ARTS DISTANCE LEARNING PROGRAMS AVAILABLE. 100% free and operated through my non-profit, Cabal Fang is martial arts for personal development, self-defense and fitness. Bobcat Frontier Martial Arts is just $19.99/month and that’s your choice if you’re interested in Frontier Rough ‘n’ Tumble — the fighting arts, survival skills, lifeways and ethos of the colonial and indigenous peoples of North American during the frontier period (1607 – 1912). What are you waiting for — enroll today!

General Update: More Remodeling, Matt Rossano, etc.

Lot’s going on in these parts.  Video below.


If you liked this post you’d probably like my e-books.  Click here to download them in any format from Smashwords or purchase them wherever fine e-books are sold!

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Holy Communion: Feast of the Holy Family 12/27/20

I’m getting back into the habit of broadcasting Holy Communion on Sundays.  Get your bread and your wine together and follow along at home.


If you enjoyed this content, please consider supporting my work by buying one of my ebooks or shopping at Mitch’s General Store!