45 RPMs: Training Involution #98

This is the Cabal Fang t-shirt design. You dig?

This week’s training involution is inspired by one of Mark Hatmaker’s insane workouts (Thanks Mark, for pushing the envelope and inspiring the rest of us to try and keep up).  Mark’s workout was way too much for this old man, so I modified it.

That’s what I want you to do.  If this is too hard for you, modify it.

modify, Adapt and overcome.

  • Don’t have the the equipment?  Make your own or swap for similar exercises.
  • Have a bad back, a bum knee or some other chronic issue?  Don’t quit, just swap exercises for something that allows you to work with the body you have.
  • Don’t have the gas?  Take as many 12-count breaks as you need to finish or modify exercises.  Examples: If you burn out on Push-ups do the rest on knees, if you get fried on Pull-ups start doing Chin-ups or just leap to the bar and do negatives, etc.
  • Don’t know where to begin?  Does this workout seem too hard to even start?  Send me an email at first.elder@cabalfang.com and we’ll talk.

Why is modification and adaptation so important?

That’s how people overcome adversity!  A few years ago my lower back was so bad that I could barely get out of bed some mornings.  But I started a progressive weightlifting program.   I still have bad days and I’m far from super strong, but I’m able to do Back Bridges with a hundred pound heavy bag on my chest, and that’s nothing to sneeze at.  Don’t compete with others.  Do the best you can with with your equipment — your body, your gym, your life and your budget.

By the way, there are some major announcements in the quarterly Cabal Fang State of the Art Dispatch.  Did you get it?  No?  Well that’s because you’re not subscribed!  Click here to fix that problem.

And now…

45 RPM: Training Involution #98†

  • “RPM” stands for “Reps per Movement.”  Do you remember 45 RPM records?  Then you get the pun.  As long as you get your 45 reps, doesn’t matter how many sets.  I did both the weightlifting and the calisthenics segments in half-pyramid format.  In other words, 1 Hang Clean & Press, 1 Squat, 1 Chin-up, then 2 of each, then three, then four, etc. up to 9 of each.
  • 45 reps of each weightlifting exercise: Dumbbell Hang Clean & Press, Back Squats, Chin-ups (weighted if desired).  If you don’t have the required equipment, use a sandbag (throw sand, chains or gravel in an old duffle or backpack) and do Sandbag Hang Clean and Press, Sandbag Squats, and Sandbag Curls.  Warm up fully before you begin!
  • 45 reps of each calisthenic: Squats, Diamond Push-ups, Jackknifes, Get-ups, Side Lunges, Wall Touches.
  • 45 Drop Duck-Unders.  If you don’t have a partner do them solo (if you have a hanging heavy bag, square off against that).  Video here.
  • 45 Striking Combos for power.  Go after your heavy bag with maximum malice, delivering 45 striking combos — punches, kicks, elbows, knees, you-name-it (3 strikes per combo minimum).
  • 45 minutes of contemplation.  I’m an advocate of 10 mins of contemplation per day, but the occasional long session of 20 minutes or more can really open doors.  Set a timer, assume your posture of choice, regulate your breathing and allow your thoughts to dissipate like ripples in a pond.  Don’t feel badly if you can’t make the whole 45, just do the best you can.  If your legs cramp up and you have to stop after 30 minutes, pick up the other 15 minutes later that day.

† My weights for the above exercises were #30 per dumbbell for the Hang Clean & Press,#95 on the Squats.  I did the Chin-ups without weight and the last dozen or so I had jump to the bar and do negatives.

The Climb: Training Involution #97

You can say it’s about the journey not the destination all you want to, and I’ll agree with every time on a philosophical level.  I get it.  But when you’re talking about climbing, you have to admit it’s all about the view.

Make it to the top of something high and you’ll never forget what it’s like looking down.

What’s the last height you climbed?  Was it a physical climb or an emotional, philosophical, religious or mental one?  What was it like looking down? 

Well if it’s been awhile since the last time you scaled a great height, let me introduce you to…

The Climb: Training Involution #97


  • Half Pyramid of Push-ups, Jumping Jacks and Squats (that’s 1 of each, 2 of each, 3, 4, etc.).  Beginners climb to 10 (55 total reps of each exercise), intermediate to 14 (105) , advanced to 17 (153).  Transition to Push-ups on knees or Half-Squats if you have to, just don’t quit.  Remember: this isn’t working out, this is training.
  • Heavy Bag Max Power Shots 5 x 2:00/:30.  Do your shots in combos half-pyramid-styled.  So throw 1 strike, skip a beat, then 2 shots, beat, 3 shots, etc. up to 10 shots.  Then start over until the round ends.  No lollygagging.  
  • Enjoy the view.  Cool down for about 2 mins and then set a timer for 10 mins.  Assume your meditative posture of choice, keeping eyes wide open as you regulate your breathing to your natural, regular rhythm.  Life is a climb and every moment presents its own unique view.  Look at it with your whole being.  Use your visual, symbolic, experiential mind not your linguistic mind.  Don’t let yourself think in words.  Reality is beautiful and everything is sacred.  Just look at it and experience it for 10 minutes.

As Above, So Below is Cinematic Gold

My pal Travis said this movie As Above, So Below would be right up my alley so, when my wife decided to go to bed early the other night, I fired up the cable box and gave it go.

Travis knows me a lot better than I thought he did.

This movie is really smart.  Writer/director team the Dowdle brothers know their stuff.  They understand what alchemy is at its heart, they’ve read their classics (including especially Dante’s Inferno), and they grasp the idea that salvation is not achieved but realized, not earned but consummated.

This is a horror movie firmly on the creepy-eerie end of the spectrum, low on gore with a smattering of good startles, filmed in jiggly-camera-docu-horror-found-footage style.  Scarlett is the heroine, set a little too firmly the Laura Croft-Indiana Jones mold, picking up her father’s research where he left off.   She assembles a team of explorers to venture into the catacombs that lie beneath the streets of Paris to find the Philosopher’s Stone.  And here’s a plus — this is the first and only feature film ever actually shot in the famed Paris catacombs.  And boy is it creepy down there.  And the ending is pure genius.

So if this movie is so good, why does it only have 6.2 stars on IMDB and a score of 39% on Rotten Tomatoes?  Probably because horror fans want gore not chills, everybody is sick and tired of found-footage flicks (honestly I simply refuse to watch them, and I only gave this one a chance because I got a recommendation from a friend), the set-up is rather cliche, and most folks probably aren’t smart enough to appreciate the depth of what they are looking at.

If you’re into the Western Mysteries, alchemy, inner or esoteric Christianity or Dante’s Inferno, and if you like creepy-eerie horror movies, you’ll love this film.


Rating: R (for bloody violence/terror, and language throughout)
Genre: Documentary, Mystery & Suspense, Special Interest
Directed By: John Erick Dowdle
Written By: Drew Dowdle, John Erick Dowdle
In Theaters: Aug 29, 2014 Wide
On Disc/Streaming: Dec 2, 2014
Runtime: 93 minutes
Studio: Universal Pictures


Grab Bag: Training Involution #96

A high school student’s wonderful interpretation of Achilles’ shield as described in the Iliad of Homer.

“Grab bag” is the theme of the week, starting off with a grab bag of info you may find of use if you are new to the blog.

  • Want to get a sweat on?  Click here and pick one of hundreds of fitness training segments we’ve used at the martial arts club since 2009 (we call them ‘constitutionals’).
  • Want to read a great book?  Go here to view the 50 books that have most influenced the development of Cabal Fang martial arts (click the link and buy one from Alibris I’ll get a few cents commission).  Or read the Cabal Fang Study Guide!
  • Want to get stronger inside and out?  Practice Cabal Fang martial arts at home. Email me at first.elder@cabalfang.com to enroll in the 100% free Hermit Path Distance Learning Program.  Cabal Fang Temple, Inc. is a federally-recognized tax exempt educational charity — so it really is free.

Grab Bag: Training Involution #96

  • Grab your training dummy, set timer for 15 mins and execute your favorite throw as many times as you can before the timer beeps.  Don’t have a training dummy?  Stuff a duffel bag with tightly folded linens.  That’s what I did.  There will be a detailed breakdown of this drill on The Emerald Lamp Video Series Vol.1 Episode 4 which will be available to Patreon supporters tomorrow, others next month.  Episode 3 is now live (see below)!
  • Grab your heavy bag and complete Wrestling Conditioner #1.
  • Meditate on the Shield of Achilles.  Assume your meditative posture of choice and place the image above at eye height — either print it out or stand up your phone or tablet (making sure to adjust the sleep settings).  Regulate your breathing and fall into the image with your visual imagination.  Do not think in words — just experience the picture.  Some people think that Homer’s description is of an ancient Greek mandala.  When you’re done, think about why Homer describes the other character’s shields as being emblazoned with the heads of Gorgon and other monsters, images of panic and terror, and yet gives Greece’s most devastating warrior a beautiful one depicting the whole range of human life and experience within nature and culture.


Locus: Training Involution #95

Locus: Training Involution #95

Do not approach this week’s assignment intellectually.  Just dive in, participate sincerely and get involved in the experience.

  • The Fool’s Journey.  Set timer 15 mins.  Complete the Fool’s Journey Form as many times as you can — without sacrificing power and elegance! — before the timer beeps.  No experience in Cabal Fang?  Sub a form, drill or combo chain from your martial art/style.
  • Conditioning runCR15A
  • Bear hug carry.  4 x 1:00, 1 x failure.  Throw some weight into a backpack or military duffle or use your heavy bag (strap dumbbells to it if need be).   Start with an easy load.  Hug bag and walk circles inside your training area for 1:00 min.  Rest 1:00 while you add more weight.  Do that 4 times.  On the 5th round carry to failure.
  • Meditation.  After cooling down spend a few minutes looking at the pictures below.  Then set a timer for 10 mins, assume chosen meditation posture, close eyes and regulate breathing.  Allow images from your training session, mixed with recollections of the photos below, to play like a slideshow in your mind’s eye.  Use your imagination and do not think in words, only in pictures.  Hopefully you’ll see the symbolism that ties all four aspects of this training involution together.  Record thoughts and experiences in your training journal.


The Toughest Martial Art on Earth

Sometimes I get disheartened because Cabal Fang isn’t popular.  I try to set a good example but despite myself I get bummed and whiny from time to time.  That happened the other day and I bent my wife’s ear a little.

“Promise me you won’t change anything,” she said.
I said nothing.
Promise.”  This time it was less of a request and more of a direct order.
“I won’t change anything,” I said.  “I promise.”

My wife said that because, although she’s never practiced Cabal Fang or any other martial art, she understands that Cabal Fang is an art.  You don’t change the Mona Lisa because numbered prints aren’t selling fast enough on Home Shopping Network.

There’s nothing wrong with Cabal Fang and nothing needs to be changed.

It’s never going to be popular because we have no rewards like uniforms, belts, certificates, trophies or competitions.  We train outdoors year round, contending with extreme temperatures, bad weather and bugs.   We’ve added rigorous spiritual and intellectual requirements like introspection, journaling and memorization.  And our strict martial fitness regimen is no joke.

Cabal Fang may be the toughest martial art on Earth.   

Maybe you’re unimpressed, or maybe that scares the pants off you. Don’t know, don’t care.  All I care about is that Cabal Fang remains true to its goals and ideals, and that it helps transform those who are inspired enough take the leap.

Email me at first.elder@cabalfang.com and let’s start your training.  Cabal Fang Temple, Inc. is a federally recognized tax exempt public educational charity, and all our programs are free, including our study-at-home program.

Start your transformation today.

Temple Financials and Training Involution #94

Here’s a lovely shot of the existing temple all covered in snow. We like it. But it sure would be nice to have a proper one that’s not on my personal property, one big enough for dozens of people to train in and open to the public…

I completed the Cabal Fang Temple, Inc. financial statements for 2017 — check them out on the Cabal Fang website by clicking here.

After 1 year of incorporation as an officially recognized 501(c)(3) tax exempt non-profit, the Temple Fund for buying or building a state-of-the-art temple is up to a whopping $1,032.00.  At this rate we’ll able to break ground in about 200 years.

But this is Cabal Fang, and we don’t give up so easy.  If that’s how long it takes, that’s how long it takes.

Sometimes gains are made in great dramatic leaps.  But most of the time, success is the result of the daily grind — consistent work over the long haul.

The Grind: Cabal Fang Training Involution #94

  • Push-up Grinder.  After a thorough 8-minute warm-up, complete a full pyramid to 10 of Prison Push-ups, Back-ups, Regular Push-ups, Jump Squats.  Take as many 12-count breaks as you need to finish, and do the Regular Push-ups on your knees if/when you burn out.
  • 1 long round on the heavy bag.  10 minutes for accuracy, no breaks.   If your bag doesn’t have targets on it, put some Xs on it with sports tape.  Throw combos at the marks with realistic malice.  Count your misses until times’s up and then — did you see it coming? — do Push-ups for each miss — beginners 1, intermediate 2, advanced 3 or more.
  • Jump rope for 15 minutes.  If you aren’t good at it don’t worry about looking cute.  Doesn’t matter if the rope hits your feet a hundred times, just start again when it does and keep getting over the rope for the duration.  Grind it out.
  • Pick one of the internal exercises from the Cabal Fang Study Guide and do it every single day this week no matter what.  Practice contemplation, do one of the Meditations of the Rose,  meditate on one of the Five Vital Graces, complete the Salutations of Sun and Moon, etc.  Just pick one and stick with it all week.

Footnote: During a seminar at Karate College, Karate Legend Joe Lewis once told me and the other guys in attendance that, in order to hone a true weapon, he stopped practicing dozens of kicks and stuck with only a few.  He concentrated particularly on Side Kick.  He would stay in the gym late and do thousands of them.  People thought that he was an overnight success when we won the Jhoon Rhee Nationals in 1966.  But leading up to that were two years of Side Kicks numbering in the tens of thousands.  Breakthroughs are real.  But the grind is realer.