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~5-Star Amazon Reviewer

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A Little TJ Love and WOOTW #72

Thomas Jefferson monument at the University of Virginia

Once, late at night, I stood quietly and gazed up at a monument to a great American.

I was a struggling student at the University of Virginia.  I was lost, in the process of flunking out.  And I was thinking about calling it quits.

But then, standing there in the dark looking up, I thought about how fortunate and blessed I was to be at such a fine school founded by such a great man.  By what miracle, I wondered, had a poor, stupid kid like me been admitted this institution?  Why was I being allowed to walk these halls?  What fate had smiled on me such that I had been born to a father willing to work two jobs so that could go?

And I thought,

“Maybe there’s a reason I was admitted that I don’t know.  Maybe I’m more than I think I am.  This is an real honor — who am I to disrespect those who gave me this gift by squandering it?”

I was inspired.  I worked harder.  I expected more of myself.  And yes, I graduated from Mr. Jefferson’s University (A&S ’83.  WAHOO-WA!).  So when I read that BLM protesters shrouded that statue with a tarp and labeled him as a racist and rapist, I can tell you that my spirit rose in anger.  It took a a day or so to calm down and process.

Free speech is our most important right.  Say what you want.  But, in my experience, the best way to make an enemy — short of a personal attack or an assault on a loved one — is to disrespect someone’s heroes and ancestors.  I’ve written about this before.

And I’m wondering if this is going to stop before increasing polarization tears our country apart.

I for one am not going to allow groups looking for trouble to incite me to extreme positions.  I’m refuse to be swayed by agents provocateurs lurking in my friend, family and social media circles.  I’m going to keep popping my filter bubble.

I’m going to remain calm and voice my opinion in ways that breed peace, not violence.  And I really hope that others will do the same.

And now for the workout of the week.

CABAL FANG WORKOUT OF THE WEEK #72: “Pieces of eight”

  • The eight movements of the Star of Ishtar.  Set up a training arm — a simple stick or pool noodle lashed to a post or heavy bag works great — and spend at least 10 minutes working on the eight self-defense movements in the Star of Ishtar.  Don’t know those movements?  Either watch the video below or buy the eBook.  Want to make a fancier arm?  Click here.
  • As many rounds as you can in 15 mins of: 8 Burpees, 8 Dbl Wide Pushups, 8 Leg Lifts.
  • Contemplation for 8 minutes.  Set a countdown timer for 8 minutes, assume your chose meditative posture, and set quietly.  Don’t make war with your thoughts, just let them slowly quiet and still themselves as you approach stillness…

 

Did you enjoy reading this?  Then the Cabal Fang book will blow your mind.  Buy a paper copy on Amazon or from Createspace or download the ebook here.

 

 

Take One of Each: Workout of the Week #71

Foreground: Craft sticks (1 qt. paint stirrers) with workouts on written them to be pulled at random from a cup. Background: Linear progression training program.

The Cabal Fang Workout of the Week is a three-parter that starts with an analysis of your workout plan.

If you’re training in Cabal Fang you are already keeping a training log or journal.  But if that’s all your doing, and you have no firm workout schedule, you’re missing out on big gains in skills and fitness.

Here are some questions to ask yourself today:

  • Do you have a written workout/training schedule?
  • Is it structured such that it incorporates linear progression and or periodicity?
  • Does it have a cyclic structure, a.k.a. an “off season?”
  • Does in include an element of randomness, or at least some room to pick what you feel like doing from time to time?
  • Does it contain at least one rest day per week?
  • How about at least two yearly breaks of one week each during which you do not exercise at all?
  • Does it include a plan for when you miss a workout due to illness, work-life-family needs and the generally unexpected?
  • Do you have an Burnout Self-Check protocol?
  • Do you make frequent small adjustments and course corrections based on results or lack thereof?

My martial arts oriented workout plan looks like this:

  • Sunday: Rest Day
  • Mon – Sat: Body toughening (15 mins) and temple rites (meditation, contemplation and prayer).
  • M: Weights, run or bike (Run Fall/Win, Bike in Spr/Sum — always high intensity 10 – 20 mins), solo martial arts practice (2 sections of 10 – 15 mins each chosen at random — see photo above)
  • T: Solo martial arts practice (early AM), martial arts group training (PM, 90 mins)
  • W: Weights, solo martial arts, hike (#40 pack, 1 hour)
  • Th: Run or bike, solo martial arts (early AM), martial arts group training (PM, 90 mins)
  • F: Weights, solo martial arts, hike

Almost every aspect of the above training as a linear progression element to insure consistent improvement over time.  If you’d like to check it out in detail, click here to view the Google Sheet.  You’ll find every workout I’ve done since 2012 (I’ve been logging all my workouts for over 10 years, I just don’t have them all online).

Interested in those little paddles with the random martial arts workouts on them?  Next week I’ll explain why I’m using them instead of dice these and I’ll give you some helpful hings for designing your own.

And now for the actual workout part of the workout of the week.

Cabal Fang Workout of the Week #71

  • Pick one calisthenics exercise and complete as many as you can before the timer beeps.  Beginners set your timer for 5 to 10 minutes, intermediate 10 – 15 minutes, advanced players for 15 or 20 minutes. Pick any exercise you want.  I generally prefer whole-body ones for this (Bodybuilders, Splays a.k.a. Down-ups, Jumping Jacks, Burpees a.k.a. Squat Thrusts, etc.) but there’s something to be said for Push-ups and Squats too.
  • Meditation of One.  This month at the club our spiritual focus is the Emerald Tablet.  Start my memorizing the second line of the Emerald Tablet: “That which is below is like that which is above, and that which is above is like that which is below to accomplish the miracles of one thing.”  Now dim the lights, be seated in your favorite meditative posture and set a timer for 10 minutes.  Relax, close your eyes and and silently recite the line in your head over and over until the timer beeps.  Record in your training journal any thoughts, feelings, impressions and mental images that appear in your mind’s eye.
Did you enjoy reading this?  Then the Cabal Fang book will blow your mind.  Buy a paper copy on Amazon or from Createspace or download the ebook here.

The “Kwy-EET-us” (Quietus): Workout of the Week #70

When I was a kid we used this word “quietus.” Hardly anybody uses it anymore.  Too bad, it’s a great word.  For the unfamiliar I’ve aggregated several different definitions into this one.

QUIETUSkwī.ēʹtəs

From the Latin quiētus (“at rest”).

  1. A stillness or pause; something that quiets or represses; removal from activity; especially: death.
  2. Final settlement (as of a debt).
  3. A wrestling hold or grip from which there’s no escape, a.k.a. the “sleeper hold.”

I’ve begun putting the quietus on myself with regard to things I’m not qualified to talk about.  I’ve started going through the blog and deleting old posts that are ranty, preachy or whiny.

I don’t want to be the kind of person who does nothing to solve problems but still claims the moral high ground and claims to know exactly what people should or should not be doing.

Many of the things my father used to say, I’ve realized, are a lot wiser than I previously realized.  Things like,

  • “If you can’t say nothing nice, don’t say nothing at all.”
  • “Mind your own business, son.  Nobody likes a tattletale.”
  • “Sweep out the corners.  The middle of the floor can take care of itself.”

What I realized earlier this year is that I don’t want to be the kind of person who fools himself into thinking that typing a few words, or hitting a “share” or a “like” button, actually constitutes action.

And now for the workout of the week.

Cabal Fang Workout of the Week #69

  • Complete a constitutional in under 20 minutes.  Sprints (25 each — 5 to 10- yards, out and back = 1), Crunch ‘n’ Punch (25), Push-ups, reg. (to failure), Neck Crunches (25 each, front, left, right, back, total 100), Jump Squats, split (50), Jackknifes (25), and Push-ups, knuckle (to failure).  Take as few 12-count breaks as you need to finish.
  • What have you done lately?  Dim the lights, be seated in your favorite meditative posture and set a timer for 10 minutes.  Regulate your breathing for a minute or two.  Then close your eyes and imagine there are two movies playing on a split screen in your head.  The movie on the left side shows  the things you’ve done recently that are sincerely selfless and genuinely altruistic.  On the right screen are the things you’ve done that are self-serving, hollow and/or virtual.  Which movie contains more action, is more interesting, engaging and realistic?  When the timer goes off, get up slowly and stretch for a few minutes.  Then record your thoughts and realizations in your training log or journal.
Did you enjoy reading this?  Then my book will blow your mind.  Buy a paper copy on Amazon or from Createspace or download the ebook here.

Fight? What fight? Workout of the Week #69

 

“Looking forward to the fight this weekend?”

The next time somebody asks me if I’m going to watch Mayweather vs. McGregor the top of my head’s popping off.

To start with, McGregor’s famous ring apology was the final straw — the reason why I stopped watching MMA altogether.  But the main reason I’m not watching the fight is that the behavior of both men has been despicable.  As sports commentator Mike Wise said in reference to the July promotional tour,

“Mayweather and McGregor didn’t just cross boundaries of race, bigotry, misogyny and profanity this past week — they obliterated them, bleeping their way through a two-continent, four-city tour of filth.”

So no.  I’m not watching the fight.  I’m not giving either combatant — or any of their managers, promoters, networks or affiliates — my hard earned money.

Martial arts, when practiced properly, are about mastery.  They are about confronting the dragon of chaos and constructing order from its bones.  They are about becoming the best possible people we can be.  And watching that fight wouldn’t move me forward one iota.

And now for the workout of the week.

Cabal Fang Workout of the Week #69

  • Grappling Conditioner #3.  Get yourself a heavy bag and set it on the mat.  No mat?  Put a tarp on the grass like we do at the club.  Don’t have a bag?  Make one.  Set a countdown timer for 10:00 mins and complete as many sets as you can before the timer beeps of 5 Bag Lifts, 10 mounted strikes, and 5 Splay ‘n’ Punch.  Here’s a video.  Take as few 12-count breaks as you need in order to finish.
  • Why are you studying martial arts?  Get out your training log or journal and write 250 words about why you’re studying martial arts.  If you don’t know why you’re on this journey it’s going to be really hard to direct your training, much less your thinking.  Where does your martial arts story end?  Don’t forget — people don’t tell stories.  Stories tell them.  What’s yours going to be?

Did you like this article?  Then my book will blow your mind.  Buy a paper copy on Amazon or from Createspace or download the ebook here.

A Monumental Effort: Workout of the Week #68

Last week I went to Libby Hill Park for the first time.  I’ve been trying to get in good enough shape to do some real hiking, and I figured the famous Libby Hill stairs would be a great training opportunity.

I put on my 40 lb. pack and explored the park.  Then I went down and up those 153 insufferable stairs four times.  They feel like standard 7.5″ steps, so each time up equates roughly to a 10 storey building — 4o storeys in all on the day.  I’m guesstimating of course, but that’s roughly equivalent to climbing the stairs of the James Monroe Building.

When I was done I met my friend Chris for coffee, after which I went with him to Shamballa meditation group at Ekoji Buddhist Sangha.  Yep, I’m in Christian seminary.  But I really enjoy sharing spirit with others, and there was a period in my life many years ago when I might’ve called myself a Buddhist.  During discussion at the end of the meeting, some in the group expressed complex feelings about having not gone to Charlottesville to stand against the white supremacists gathering around monuments there.  Some agreed with me that the most powerful message possible was to ignore them.

Later that day the tragedy in Charlottesville unfolded.  And no there’s even more talk about monuments.   I wrote another post about that, if you’re interested in such things.

 

And now for the workout of the week.

Cabal Fang Workout of the Week #68

  • Pick up something heavy and carry it up something steep.  Get the heaviest thing you can safely handle — backpack, auto tire, sandbag, weighted vest, whatever — and find the steepest hill or a flight of stairs in easy striking distance.  Get your heavy thing to the top as many times as you can in 40 minutes.  Take as few 12-count breaks as you need to finish, and be careful going down on noodle legs or you’ll fall.
  • Honor the chalice.  When you’re done, stand at the top and pay homage to the chalice by reciting your interpretation of the devotional from Chapter 15 of the Cabal Fang Study Course — feel free to make changes as needed to fit your spiritual worldview: “O Holy Chalice, blood of God and Goddess, blood of ancestors and kin, blood of friends and heroes, blood of sacrifice and nourishment — thank you for your love, support, and inspirational example. But most of all, thank you for my rich inheritances—material, emotional, spiritual and philosophical. Blessings to you all; please know that you all live on in me.”  If it wasn’t for the people who came before you, who carried some very heavy chores and responsibilities up some very steep inclines, you wouldn’t have most of what you have today.

Did you like this article?  Then my book will blow your mind.  Buy a paper copy on Amazon or from Createspace or download the ebook here.

 

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On Taking Down Monuments

Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument

Last weekend I went for a hike in Libby Hill Park where stands the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument.

Afterward I went to Shamballa meditation at Ekoji Buddhist Sangha with a friend.  Although I’m in Christian seminary, I enjoy sharing spirit with others.   Some in the group expressed complex feelings about having not gone to Charlottesville to stand against the white supremacists gathering around monuments there.

Later that day the tragedy unfolded and an innocent young woman named Heather Heyer died while spreading love.  It was hard to think straight on the subject of monuments.  But I think I’ve processed enough now that I can think and speak clearly.

I fear that we’re missing an opportunity to be culturally vibrant, awake and mature and that we’re failing to engage with ourselves, each other and our ancestors.

Robert Mitchell — November 21, 1934 ~ July 8, 2008

Realizing as boy that my father wasn’t perfect, well, that was part of growing up.  But the day I realized, as a young father myself, that I had been unconsciously trying to be my father was the day I began becoming my own man. Growing into an adult means figuring out which of your parents’ ideas and behaviors  you should carry forward and which ones you shouldn’t.  Pop was awesome.  My assignment is to be even better.

We have to try and outdo our parents.  And we had better succeed.  Because if we don’t there’s no hope for the future.

And if I do succeed in being a better man than Pop, would it be right for me say so out loud?  When I discovered that my father was human, did I disrespect him?  Did I rub his nose in his faults?  Now that’s he’s gone, do I bash him in conversation or on my blog?  No, no, no and no.  I respect his accomplishments too much to do anything other than focus on what he did right.

It’s no wonder ancestor veneration and worship are still very common practices worldwide.  Almost everything we enjoy — our science, art, architecture, music, customs, fashion — comes to us as a fantastic gift from our imperfect predecessors. If they hadn’t invented agriculture and medicine, for example, we’d be sick and starving. We owe them big time.

Taking down a monument is a metaphorical act of patricide.  And that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

One of my favorite monuments — the “Iron Mike” monument to the Civilian Conservation Corp in Shenandoah National Park.

I personally dislike Christopher Columbus.  I think he was a buffoon who thought the earth was pear-shaped, a mercenary who butchered the natives of Hispaniola.  But to the 2 million members of the Knights of Columbus, who do great charity work, Columbus is a hero.  Should we tear down all of the Columbus monuments?  There was time when I might have said “yes.”  Now I’m not so sure.

Thomas Jefferson bowed to public opinion and gave up on emancipation.  Davy Crockett bought votes with liquor and tobacco.  Teddy Roosevelt had imperialist tendencies and made some bigoted remarks.  Franklin Delano Roosevelt put 100,000 Japanese Americans in internment camps.  All of those guys are heroes of mine.  I’m not forgetting the facts, I’m just choosing to focus on the most positive attributes of those great men — not their faults.

If we only allow monuments to perfect people there will be no monuments.  

Millions died at the hands of Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot.  That’s a clear cut distinction.  No monuments to genocidal maniacs should be allowed.  But what about Robert E. Lee?  I’ve read Bruce Catton’s A Stillness at Appomattox, and my personal opinion is that Lee was a good man who faced an impossible, unwinnable choice — fight against and kill his fellow Virginians and his own family or side with the secessionists with whom he disagreed.  After the war he became a college president and set a positive conciliatory example for his fellow southerners.  This man was no monster, no murdering despot.  The decision to take down his monuments should be made calmly, fairly and respectably.

But it’s impossible to have a calm conversation about any of this when there are evil, bigoted, white supremacists, Klansmen, Nazis and other domestic terrorists standing in front of our monuments spewing hate and and killing people.  Perhaps we’ll be able to talk about it later when we’ve locked up the killers and healed our wounds.

In the meantime, let’s not surrender to our anger, over-react to what happened in Charlottesville, and start smashing things that don’t belong to us the way they did in Durham yesterday.

Remember, we need to do better than our forebears.  Violence begets violence and two wrongs don’t make a right.