Workout of the Week #49: Slip Ball

Cabal Fang Workout of the Week #49 is simple: work with a slip ball for a minimum of 20 minutes.

That’s it.  

I made a video for you to make it as simple as possible.  Check it out below.  The challenge is to maintain focus on one and one thing only for a full 20 minutes or more.

 That’s it, because that’s enough.

The Cabal Fang Workout of the Week is usually challenging physically, mainly because we expect that pushing through the pain of exhaustion will translate to the ability to push through the pain of a self-defense situation.

But maybe we should consider the possibility that pushing through the frustration of repetition — maintaining focus no matter what — will translate to the ability to maintain focus in our daily lives.

Go ahead, try it.  No excuses.  Put a handful of rice in a sock and hang it from a pair of shoelaces if you have to.  Just start training.  But if you want to get all fancy and make a your own slip ball by putting a tennis ball on a piece of para cord you can read this post.

After your 20+ minutes, let me know what you think.

The Twilight of True Dialogue and WOOTW #48

This is an AP article from the Sunday, March 12th 2017 edition of the Richmond Times Dispatch. Probably a copyright violation sharing it here. But the state of readership being what it is they should be glad somebody’s reading it. Which is sad, because the local paper is a place we can all go to agree (more or less) on what the facts are. And that’s important.

When I got my first management job I made a lot of mistakes.  To be honest, I was a pretty awful leader.  So I read some books, and I took what I learned as a martial arts instructor, and I gradually stitched together a management style that seemed to work.  Then I layered on top of that foundation all of the things I learned in my spiritual explorations to arrive at what I think is a respectable management skill set.

In those days I was spending several nights a week teaching Taekowndo to inner city kids at the YMCA and for Recs and Parks.  That was a learning experience for sure.  And I read some really excellent books, like How to Win Friends and Influence People, The Costs of Bad Hiring Decisions and How to Avoid Themand most of all, Living the Martial Way by Forrest E. Morgan, Maj. USAF.  The book-learning and experience helped.

But what really mattered was that I cared about my people, took my responsibility seriously, and genuinely wanted to get better.  My greatest asset was my degree in English, which made me a capable communicator.  I could write policy, craft memos, stand up and lead meetings, and so forth.  I could form sentences that, whether they were spoken or written, had impact.  I could use words that inspired people.

To me, leadership is good communication of common vision.

So, although we have lots of cool tech to play with these days, and though we have the best of intentions with regard to safety, I have some concerns about the direction we’re headed in terms of communication in the modern age.

  • Electronic games are supplanting open-ended forms of play during which kids learn how to mutually decide what they’re going to do,  how to set up and agree on the rules, and generally educate each other how to find and achieve consensus.
  • Alarmed by mass shootings and out of fear of violence, modern school policies encourage kids to tattle on each other instead of solving their own interpersonal difficulties, such as bullying.
  • Terrified of law suits and other legal troubles, employers encourage employees to tattle and inform on each other instead of solving their own interpersonal issues.
  • The liberal arts are increasingly watered down in our SOL-driven primary and secondary schools.  Financial concerns are driving more and more students into vocational schools.  Reading and writing are taking a back seat to “practical” knowledge.
  • Texting and social media — such as the LIKE button — are killing real conversation.
  • The web makes it easy for trolls (most of whom don’t have the stones to be nasty face-to-face) to spew negativity and turn discussions into virtual screaming matches.
  • The internet smorgasbord of news makes it easy for us to ignore the stories that challenge us and to cherry-pick facts to support our existing points of view.

We need to guard our communications skills wisely.  Maybe there’s a reason why our political environment is so divisive these days.  Maybe there’s a reason why our leaders seem less capable than ever of unification, of building consensus, and of getting things done.

Are we not men?  There’s more to being human than wearing clothes and having thumbs. And if we don’t make an effort to communicate like humans, what exactly are we going to become?

Cabal Fang Workout of the Week #48 — Mobility and Lack Thereof

There is a 99% chance that if you ever have to defend yourself you’re going to be hurt while you do it.  Why?  Because (a) nice guys don’t go around attacking first at the first sign of trouble, and (b) predators almost always use surprise, or at least blitz-style, attacks.

  1. Set timer for 2 min rounds with 30 second breaks.  Complete 1 round each of Grapevines, Shake ‘n’ Bakes (a.k.a. Up-Downs), Ice Skaters, Mirrors, Curb Touches, Tire Runs (or High Steppers if you don’t have tires), Sprints, and Foot Maneuvers (on toes!).  Take as few 12 second breaks as you need to avoid throwing up. 8 x 2:30 = 20 minutes of hell.
  2. Now put on 4 oz gloves, pair off in twos, and take turns pressuring your handicapped partner.  Do a round each with a rock in your shoe, one hand tied to your side, a bandanna over one eye, a strobing flashlight in your face, and a splint on one knee (an escrima stick and an ace bandage works well).¹ Keep moving toward him/her, advancing and pressuring constantly.  Try to cut off the workout space so that he/she has to really struggle with movement and defense.  Contact commensurate with experience — pressure newbies without striking and present palms for them to hit as targets.

¹ We took our inspiration from Mark Hatmaker’s excellent No Second Chance series of DVDs.  Hatmaker is the real deal.  Check out the drill he calls “Hop-along.”

Exploring Pyramids (and the #WOOTW)

Real pyramids vary by culture, but they are generally known to contain secret chambers and the resting places of the dead. But mainly they are repositories of the unknown. “What’s in there?  Why was it built, and by whom?  How did they make it?” we all ask.

What lies within the pyramid?  The unknown.  

And what happens when the hero confronts the unknown?  He learns something about himself.

Look, you’re unlikely to ever have the opportunity to explore an actual pyramid. Fortunately for you, I have an alternative, and it comes complete with a valuable life lesson packed inside.

What you do is far less important than how you do it.

If you approach the things you do with full attention and execute them to best of your ability, you get better, smarter, faster, stronger and so on.  And then you make better decisions about what you should be doing.  Which means if you do things right, what you do takes care of itself.

Trust me when I say that if you do this workout as designed below — if you climb to the top of this pyramid to the best of your ability — you will see inside the pyramid and inside yourself.

 Cabal Fang Workout of the Week #47

Full Pyramid of the following 5 exercises.  That’s 1 rep of each exercise, 2 of each, 3, 4, etc. to the peak, then back down to 1 of each.  Take as few 12-count breaks as you need in order to finish.

  • Push-up, Full Stop (hands off floor for split second at bottom of each rep)
  • Neck Crunch (front on way up the pyramid and back on way down, or left on the way up and right on the way down)
  • Bodybuilders
  • Bicycles
  • Squats

“How do I find my peak?”  Good question.  How many strict Push-ups or Squats can you do?  Index on the chart below to find your peak.  And this is the central, ‘secret chamber’ of this whole pyramid thing.

If you can do 15 Push-ups and/or 30 Squats in one shot without resting, your pyramid peak = 7.  So, even though you’ll never do more than 7 at one go, you’ll do 49 of each exercise total.  But a Bodybuilder contains a Squat and a Push-up.  Which means that this pyramid tricks you into doing way more reps than it seems like you’re doing.  It pushes you beyond your ordinary limits.

It’s not a contest with anyone other than yourself.  Just finish the darn thing without taking any breaks longer than a 12-count — take as few 12-count breaks as you need.

Max strict Push-ups no rest Max strict air Squats no rest Pyramid Peak
5 – 10 10 – 24 5 (25 reps each exercise – about 10 mins)
11 – 25 25 – 49 7 (49 reps each exercise – about 20 mins)
26 – 49 50 – 99 10 (100 reps each exercise – about 40 mins)
50+ 100 + 12 (144 reps each exercise – about 1 hour)

Use your common sense.  If you don’t exercise regularly and/or you haven’t seen a doctor lately, I strongly recommend that you consult with your physician before trying this workout and/or beginning any exercise program.  Proceed at your own risk.  All exercises and/or exercise programs entail the possibility of physical injury.


Time Machines, Transformations, Alternative Facts and WOOTW #46

Emerald Hourglass2Although time is theoretically fluid, in the realm of theory and mathematical calculations at least, we generally think of time as static, like past events recorded on video or in a history book.

But that isn’t true.  The video, even though it may be shot in the round, is only one perspective.  Another camera moved in a different manner shows different facts.  A video of a clash between protesters and government forces looks different depending on which side you support.  But Math is as true as truth gets.  The statement “2 + 2 = 4” is true on a level unattainable using surveillance camera footage.

Trust the math.  The past changes all the time.

For proof, compare any two history books from different eras.  As I more fully explained in a previous post, your value system determines what you see.  So when you get more information and your value system changes, the past changes too.  The twist ending of The Sixth Sense changes everything you saw for the previous two hours.  When you discover that your husband of five years has been cheating on you, he becomes a different person, both present and past, and so do you.  Everything you did and said takes on a completely different character.

This is more than a witty or entertaining observation.  It’s extremely powerful wisdom from which you can learn certain valuable lessons:

  • First, if the past is changeable, how much more changeable is the future?  Now that’s inspirational!
  • Second, if your value system is so powerful that it is essentially a time machine, you should probably start working on making it as strong and alive as possible.
  • Third, since a value system is just a framework for making decisions and choices, and since you know that new and increased information allows you to make better decisions,  then keeping your value system current and up-to-date is a good idea.  Whatever your value system is, it can’t be so wishy-washy as to be worthless, but it should be cautiously malleable rather than static.
  • And fourth, “alternative facts” have the process backwards.  They are an attempt to force a perspective change by first manipulating information.  Yes, past, present and future can change.  But they have to change organically through revelation and evolution, not by jamming.

And now for the workout of the week.

Cabal Fang Workout of the Week #46

  1. Full Pyramid to 7 of: Walking Push-ups (take 1 “side-step” with hands between each rep), Split Jump Squats and Get-ups.  Double up on the Split Jump Squats and do a hop-switch so that you get even exercise per leg.  That’ll be a total of 49 Walking Push-ups, 98 Split Jump Squats, and 49 Get-ups.  Take as few 12-second breaks as you can.  Get it done in under 12 minutes you got me beat (12:15 here).
  2. As many kicks as you can in 10 minutes.  Air kicks or vs. heavy bag, whichever you prefer.
  3. Hourglass meditation.  Choose a past event that nags at you, something that makes you feel strange or tangled up when you think about it — nothing traumatic or catastrophic — just something like a misunderstanding or an awkward conversation.  Assume your chosen posture, regulate breathing, close your eyes and clear your mind. Now step into that past scene and try to untangle that knot.  Really put yourself there.  Envision everything you can about the scene down to smells and sounds.  Relax into that slice of space-time and see if you can figure out what really happened.  There’s a reason why you’ve been avoiding sorting it out.  Untangle that knot.





DIY Double-end Balls for Boxing and Martial Arts

What does it mean when your martial arts club is free, open to the public, and meets at the park?  Well, it means no money and no permanent equipment installations. These constraints force a certain amount of creativity.

Note: Creativity and freedom are not as closely linked as most folks think. Restrictions are what drive innovation, the same way that predators drive the evolution of prey animals, the weight of soil shows seedlings which way to grow, and the way Blues music sprang out of dirt poor people’s need to express their situation with the instruments they could afford.   Examples abound. Think about it.

So I made these horizontally mounted double-end balls for striking practice.  Before I show you how to make them, here’s a video of me playing with one for the first time:

Anyway, here’s a photo gallery showing how I made the “sharpshooter” tennis ball one.  Follow the captions below the photos.  Once it’s done, all you have to do is anchor your ball to opposing surfaces or sturdy objects — hooks in walls, posts, pillars, or what-have-you — using bungee cords.

Be prepared though — these seem to be bit harder to hit that vertical double-end balls!


The Rogers Axiom and Your Workout of the Week

Too exhausted to take my own photo. Courtesy of Wikimedia.

Too exhausted to take my own photo. Courtesy of Wikimedia.

Yesterday morning I slept in.  The night before I forgot to swap out my dress watch for my casual watch, which meant that I didn’t have a wake-up alarm on my wrist.  I also forgot to set up the coffee pot that night.  I just staggered off to bed without my usual prep.

So, instead of getting up at 4:30 and starting my workout by 5:15, I didn’t roll out of bed until 5:30.  I awoke with a headache and a  stiff neck.  My arms and legs felt heavy and my head was foggy.  I made coffee and performed a self-check.

I asked myself,

Over the last 7 days, how many of these have you experienced?

  1. Headaches
  2. PR failures †
  3. Concentration lapses (daydreaming, dropped tasks, missed to-dos)
  4. Diet transgressions

I counted 3 headaches, 2 failures to PR, 4 concentration lapses and 2 diet plan transgressions for a total of 11.   In a typical week that total is somewhere pretty near zero.  The message was clear — I’m over-training and I need a break.  So I didn’t work out this morning and I’m going to take off a few days to rest.

Everybody’s different, so your self-check questions may differ.  Feel free to share them in the comments below if you have other ideas.  Bottom line: you need to be sufficiently in touch with your body-mind-spirit that you can tell when it’s time to rest.  Or, as the the great American sage Kenneth Ray Rogers famously expressed it in what I like to call The Rogers Axiom,

“You gotta know when to fold ’em, know when to hold ’em, know when to walk away, and know when to run.”

And now for the Cabal Fang Workout of the Week.

Cabal Fang Workout of the Week #45

Perform the above self-check.  Are you over-training?  If not, got get one of the constitutionals off of the Order of Seven Hills website and get it done in less than 20 minutes.  If you are over-training, take a flipping break.  Cabal Fang is full-context martial arts.  You don’t have a title on the line and there’s no Olympic medal in play.  You’re not in a self-defense situation and you’re not fighting for your life.  In fact, if you’re walking around exhausted you’re not in optimal condition to protect yourself or your loved ones.  Rest up.

† “PR” stands for “personal record.”  In a progressive workout plan, such as weights, running, etc., you should be striving to PR every workout.  Either in weight or reps, time or distance, etc.

Cabal Fang Temple is Offical


Just got this yesterday. We’re official!

Yesterday we received the incorporation documents in the mail from the SCC — Cabal Fang Temple, Inc. is a bona fide corporation officially authorized to conduct business in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

We’re still not a 501 (c)(3) non-profit corporation though.  That’s a designation that comes from the IRS and we are still completing the necessary paperwork.  All we have so far is our EIN which is 81-5406720.  

I have been talking about building a proper temple of Cabal Fang for years.  And at various times over those years,  people have given me “the look.”  You know what I mean.  The head tilt.  The half smile.  The “isn’t that nice” look.  Those annoying looks were all my fault, because I didn’t do a good job of making my vision clear, didn’t let my passion shine brightly enough, didn’t demonstrate my determination.

Those days are gone.  From now on we’re going to be clearly demonstrating our vision, passion and determination.

The current tiny Cabal Fang Temple will be replaced by big, beautiful and functional structure.  As soon as we get our 501(c)(3) designation and we can collect tax-deductible donations there’s going to be a fund drive to build or buy a suitable temple space.  See below for a slide show of what we’re trying to do.

And since every temple needs a priest, I’ve been ordained as an Interfaith Minister and I’m attending the Ekklesia Epignostika seminary in pursuit of Holy Orders with apostolic succession.

Look out world, here we come.


This is FICTIONAL. This is what we want to create, not what is. Yet.


This is FICTIONAL. This is what we want to create, not what is. Yet.