Westmoreland State Park (circa 1964)

These family pictures were taken at Westmoreland State Park in 1964.  I’m the little guy (I was three).


Rattlesnake Cabin at Virginia’s Douthat State Park

It’s been a while since I blogged over here.  Lately I’ve been putting most of my efforts in the new Heritage Arts blog, but this one’s a little personal, so I’m posting it here.

This weekend I staged a group camping event at Douthat State Park for Heritage Arts.  It was rainy weekend, and turnout was low — just me, my youngest daughter Morgan, her fiancé Jack, and their loveable mutt Gobi.

On Saturday we decided to go on a hike.  I wanted to show them the old CCC fire cabin at Tuscarora Overlook where, over twenty years ago, my son and I had our infamous rattlesnake encounter.  For those of you who haven’t heard it, I’ve recounted the tale at the bottom of this post.

Tuscarora Overlook is where the cabin is located — see the red diamond?

I had no idea we were going to come so close to reenacting it.

It was around 11:30 when we headed out.  We expected rain from around 2 PM to 6 PM. The plan was to hike up in an hour, get down by 1:30 PM, and be in camp before the rain started.  But it had been two decades since since I made the hike, and I forgot how long and arduous it is.  We got the two-thirds point and the rain rolled in early.  Morgan is as good a hiker as anybody, but she wasn’t in the mood for a strenuous hike, and wasn’t thrilled about getting both her and the dog soaked to the bone.  She encouraged Jack and I to go on without her.  She would hike down with Gobi, get warm and dry in the van, have a snack, and read a book.

My first glimpse of the cabin in over twenty years!

Jack and I went on.  A steady rain rolled in, and we got soaked to the bone the same way my son and I had years before.  But we pressed on and made it to the top.  Neither the cabin nor the incredible view have changed a bit these last twenty years.  I encourage you to make this hike.  Here’s the official review from the state park website, and here’s a link to the review at Hiking Upward, complete with topo maps and such.

A friendly couple with their two dogs were eating lunch on the porch when we got there.

Douthat State Park has been voted one of America’s ten best state parks.  It’s the highest elevation state park in Virginia, which means you can sleep cool at Douthat even in the August doldrums.  But when you’re up on the mountain it’s a good idea to keep in mind that when the Steve “the Crocodile Hunter” Irwin wanted to catch rattlesnakes he came to Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains.  He said, “This is one of the hottest spots I’ve ever been to in the entire world.  There’s rattlers everywhere!”

This rainy day picture does no justice to the view from the top.  On a clear day you get a breathtaking view.




The Rattler in the Cabin

My son and I have had many outdoor adventures over the years, most of them in the summer.  His mother and I split up when he was five, and he’d come out to spend a few weeks with me when school was out.  When he got older we expanded our adventures to include other times of the year and places in the world.  We’ve hiked Mt. Rokkō, done survival trips in WMAs, and much more.

One of our most memorable adventures was the infamous rattlesnake encounter in the cabin at the top of Tuscarora Overlook at Douthat State Park.  Robert was 14 or 15.  We got it into your heads that we were going to hike up to the cabin, settle in for the night, eat, play D&D and have a blast.

We set out with our packs in the afternoon.  About half-way up the two hour hike, a thunderstorm hit.  Lightning cracked, thunder boomed, tree limbs split and fell around us, and our nerves jangled.  Soaked to the skin, we made it to the cabin.  The wind blew the clouds away and view was spectacular.

In good spirits, we built a fire in the fireplace, stripped down to our underwear, and hung our clothes up to dry.  We got dinner made just as the sun started to set.  When our clothes were dry, we got dressed and started thinking about gaming.  I got up to get another stick to put on the fire and I heard a strange sound.

You don’t need to be an amateur naturalist to recognize that sound.  This particular knowledge is in your DNA.  I asked my son to shine his flashlight on the woodpile.  And when he did, there was the rattlesnake.

“Don’t move,” I said.

“Don’t worry about it,” he replied.

It was about three feet long with a head the size of an egg, and it was not happy.  Neither were we.  The cabin is small, way too small for two humans and a rattlesnake.

There was a six-foot piece of two-by-four standing in the other corner, not sure where it came from, but I grabbed and began to try and kill the snake.  I had never tried to harm any animal in a state park before, nor have I since.  Neither have I ever, before or since, wanted to see something die with that much urgency.  My heart has hammering in my chest.  Robert kept the light on it while I tried to kill it.  But the snake found a chink where the wall met the floor and slid in like spilled water on cobbles.

I looked at Robert and he looked at me.

“You wanna sleep in here with him tonight,” I asked, “or do you want to hike down in the dark?”

“I’ll start packing,” he said.

We packed up fast and began the long and dangerous hike down the mountain in the dark.  The trail is somewhat rocky in parts and slippery when wet.  But at night it’s downright treacherous.  We went slowly and carefully, keenly aware that if either of us broke an ankle, the other would have to hike to the ranger station in the dark.

We made it to the campground, pitched our tent, and had a fun night.  In the morning we went to the ranger station to let someone know about the rattler in the cabin.  I told the kindly ranger our story, and suggested that perhaps a warning should be posted.  He made some kind of comment about how folks should always be aware of the “critters on the mountain.”

My son and I turned to go.

“You know,” the ranger said, “even if you had killed it, it’s just as well you hiked down.”

“Why’s that?” I asked.

“Rattlesnakes den in numbers up to a hundred.  You might’ve been killing ’em all night.”


Heritage: Mettle Maker #271

I promised the new brand would drop on 8/7 and here it is:

The non-profit has been renamed Heritage Arts, Inc. And as of today, all of my projects are being run for free under the Heritage Arts banner.

Cabal Fang is now Heritage Self-Defense. The program has been streamlined, improved, and is better than ever! Any and all fitness content that wasn’t martial-arts-relevant has been moved into the new Heritage Fitness program.

Bobcat Martial Arts has been dissolved. The martial arts material has been folded into to the Heritage Self-Defense program, and the outdoor skills material has been spun off into a dedicated nature appreciation and survival program called Heritage Wildwood.

The old temple space has been renamed St. Barachiel Chapel. Starting soon, church services will be broadcast online from the Chapel.

My YouTube channel has been renamed Heritage Arts, I’ll be getting a new “@heritageartsinc.com” email address, this blog will eventually be moved to the Heritage Arts website, and I’m sure there will be more cascading affects that I haven’t even realized yet.

Onward and upward!

Heritage: Mettle Maker #271

Warm-up before training.  To avoid injuries, warm-up thoroughly for at at least 8 minutes before you train. Do about 4 minutes each of (a) jogging, jumping rope, or similar activity, and (b) light calisthenics.  Martial artists should do 8 minutes of MBF.  

  1. wp-1622047728305.jpg

    Showing Vinny a Drop Duck-under

    Self-Defense: A grappling fitness constitutional, pyramid-style. Set timer for 8 mins.  Climb the pyramid until it timer beeps (1 of each, 2 of each, 3 of each, etc.).  Finish the set you’re on and then descend.  We did this one at the club Thursday night and it took us about 15 minutes.  Exercises as follows: Russian Squats, Hip Throws (w/ heavy bag), Shots, Crunch ‘n’ Punch, Push-ups, Prisoner Get-ups, and Shoulder Roll.
  2. Fitness: The 100 Bodybuilder challenge.  Complete 100 10-count Bodybuilders in under 20 minutes.  My record is 13:15.  What’s a 10-count Bodybuilder?  Jumping Jack (1,2), squat down (3), shoot feet back to plank position (4), Push-up (5,6), feet apart (7), feet together (8), hop feet back to squat position (9) and stand up (10).
  3. animal print holliday lakeWildwood: Tracking exercise. Find or clear a patch of dirt at least a couple of feet across.  Put a piece of fruit — a grape, slice of apple, etc. — in the center and leave it.  Come back tomorrow and examine the area.  What took it?  Pro-tips: choose muddy ground or moisten it with a hose if its in your yard.  And if you can make it back at sunrise you might be able to get more information by getting to the west of the location and looking at the surrounding area with the light reflecting off the dew by the light of the sun. 
  4. Spirit: Write a prayer and say it every hour.  When you’re faced with a trouble or difficulty — a work goal, a personal challenge, an addiction, a stressful situation, an unfolding calamity, a death in the family, etc. — an hourly prayer will help.  It doesn’t have to be fancy, lengthy, or poetic.  When I was struggling with how to solve all of the issues, goals and stressors surrounding the Heritage program, I said the following prayer every hour for a couple of days straight: “Heavenly Father, help me to remember that every human activity is an opportunity to usher Christ into the world, that I might bring forth Christ in my every thought, word, desire and deed.  Through Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever, Amen.”   

Dirt, Bugs and Mud: Mettle Maker #270

Changing are coming folks — when Mettle Maker #271 posts Sat. 8/7 the non-profit’s new brand name will drop, and alll my projects (Cabal Fang, St. Barachiel’s, Bobcat, and this blog) will roll up beneath it. Read more here.

Many changes have already rolled out at the martial arts club.

But more are coming:

  • Separate distance learning tracks for each of the four topics covered in the weekly mettle makers
  • This means a new online survival skills program
  • A new online fitness program
  • And a new online spiritual nexus — all of these in addition to the martial arts program
  • A member area for connecting with others
  • And a mobile app to make participation fun and easy

Keep your eyes pealed!

Dirt, Bugs and Mud: Mettle Maker #270

  1. Warm-up before training.  To avoid injuries, warm-up thoroughly for at at least 8 minutes before you train. Do about 4 minutes each of (a) jogging, jumping rope, or similar activity, and (b) light calisthenics.  Martial artists should do 8 minutes of MBF.  
  2. 8 wood knife handSelf-Defense: Weapon Capture and Retention.  Today’s the last day of weapons training this month, so let’s really work.  Get out your wooden or rubber mock-up weapon of choice and go out on the grass.  Set timer for repeating 1 min. rounds. Toss mock weapon over your shoulder, then turn and pounce on it with your right hand using a belly slide.  Cut one “X” in the air against the imaginary enemy next to you on the ground.  Do a commando-style Get-up, and repeat until the bell rings.  Do a second round with baseball slides and a third round with shoulder roll pick-ups.  Cycle through 3 more rounds with left hand for a total of 6 1-minute rounds.  Be sure to wield your weapon with whatever grip to get — you need to be able to use your weapons with either hand in any grip!
  3. Fitness: Simulated mud run.  What makes mud runs like Tough Mudders and Rugged Maniacs challenging isn’t the obstacles — it’s mostly running with the added weight and altered body mechanics caused by pounds of caked on mud.  Do not rack up tons of miles this way — too hard on your body for too little benefit.  But a few mud miles per month will prepare you to cover ground under adverse conditions and make sure you’re prepped if a friend extends a last-minute invite to a Warrior Dash.  Go find some mud, get in there like you did when you were a kid, and then run.  Pssst: There’s dirt outside — I’ve actually seen it!  Or, if you want all of the misery but none of the fun, simulate a mud run by putting on a weighted vest, ankle weights, and wrist weights. 
  4. 20190625_180446.jpgSurvival & Spirit Combo: Sit down and shut up.  Go out into your backyard in the half-light of either early morning or evening.  This will ensure that the bugs are swarming and you can’t see your surroundings optimally.  Set a timer for 5 – 10 mins, sit down in your posture of choice, and practice contemplation.  Regulate your breathing to a slow and regular pattern.  Keep your eyes open.  Do not fidget, wiggle, scratch, move or speak (not even to swat or swear at that mosquito whining in your ear).  Like ripples on a pond, allow your thoughts to dissipate toward thoughtlessness — just sit and look out at the world without evaluating.  The four great spiritual disciplines — contemplation, meditation, prayer and sacred reading — are as much adventures in stoicism and survival as they are quests for enlightenment, atonement, and fulfillment.  If you can’t even sit quietly under any conditions, without moving or making a sound, to avoid capture, observe an enemy, or land a meal, how are you going to have any hope of making contact with God, your Higher Power, or Ultimate Reality?  Get there.

Walk, Weave and Spiral: Mettle Maker #269

Changing are coming folks — when Mettle Maker #271 posts Sat. 8/7 the non-profit’s new brand name will drop, and alll my projects (Cabal Fang, St. Barachiel’s, Bobcat, and this blog) will roll up beneath it. Read more here.

Among the changes already in place at the martial arts club:

  • New constitutionals (fitness routines) every session rather than monthly
  • All exercises have direct martial relevance — no fluff
  • Martial focus rotates weekly — Mettle Makers tied to the upcoming week’s rotation
  • First full week of the month is dedicated to striking, second week is grappling/clinching, third is wrestling, fourth is weapons. If there’s a fifth, split week at the end of the month, it’s for gen’l self-defense. Ex.: the next week for general self-defense will be Sun 8/29/2021 – Sat 9/4/2021.
  • Spiritual focuses have been simplified and are being rotated every session rather than monthly.

Check back often — more to come!

Walk, Weave and Spiral: Mettle Maker #269

  1. Warm-up before training.  To avoid injuries, warm-up thoroughly for at at least 8 minutes before you train. Do about 4 minutes each of (a) jogging, jumping rope, or similar activity, and (b) light calisthenics.  Martial artists should do 8 minutes of MBF.  
  2. 8 wood knife handSelf-Defense: Weapon command and mastery Create a constitutional and do it with wooden or rubber mock-up weapon of choice like the one on the right.  Intersperse one “X” air cut between each rep.  Example: Shoulder Rolls, Russian Squats, Shrimps, Vaults, Sprints, Sprawls, Sit-outs.  Set timer for 15:00 and climb (1 of each, 2 of each, 3 of each, etc.) until the timer beeps.
  3. wp-1627122638491.jpgFitness: Farmer Walks, Farmer Walks, Farmer Walks.  Most of the credit for my 60+ strength I give to heavy carries.  I recommend 2 heavy carries a week for functional strength, and 1 of them has to be Farmer Walks.  Don’t do tons of sets with low weight — push the weight up such that you can only do 3 sets of about 25 yards/meters each.  Set a goal of body weight per hand.  Here’s how to progress:  Start with a weight you can manage with relative ease, say 1/2 your 1 RM Bench Press per hand.  Walk 25 yds/m, rest 1 min., walk 25 yds/m, then walk until failure.  Next time add weight.  When you can’t get 3 reps of 25 yds/m each, reduce weight by %5 – 10% and restart your progression.
  4. Weaver Sheet Bend KnotSurvival: Sheet Bend or Weaver’s Knot.  A few months back I got stuck in kind of a tough spot and needed to be able to join two different diameters of cordage together.  Fortunately I knew the Sheet Bend or Weaver’s knot. Learn this knot and thank me later. Want a free knot book?  Check out Knotting and Splicing Ropes and Cordage by Paul N. Hasluck — that’s where I got the picture on the right.
  5. Spirit:  Spiritual strength, like physical strength, should be measurable.  If you’re doing your contemplation, meditation, prayer and sacred reading, you should be getting stronger intellectually, emotionally, in your relationships, and so on.  Are you getting along better with friends, family and co-workers?  Are you happier, smarter, and more productive?  Look back at your journal and see if you’re in a better place than you were last year.  If not, then it sounds like your spiritual work is walled off from the real world, and you need to get engaged.  What’s that? Did you just say, “But Mitch, I don’t keep a journal”?  Well, that explains a lot.  Sounds like you need to get your hands on a spiral notebook and put some ink in it.

A Clue to What’s Coming…

Changing are coming folks. Been telling you for several weeks that you should “watch this space!” and get ready. What’s the big announcement?

Well, there’s a clue at the bottom of the page.

What does it mean?

Stay tuned!

What’s this? A buffalo check bandana, that’s what!

Realignment: Mettle Maker #268

Changing are coming folks — I told you last week, “watch this space!” When Mettle Maker #271 drops on Sat. 8/7 the non-profit’s new brand name will drop, and under it will absorb all my projects (Cabal Fang, St. Barachiel’s, Bobcat, and this blog).

Why this realignment?

Because it makes practical sense to improve efficiency and focus. Each of these projects has had low to moderate success.

The plan is to forge four dull knives into one sharp sword.

But mainly because, as deacon in pursuit of holy orders, I believe that every human activity can be an attempt to usher light into the world, and I should be striving to align my every thought, desire, action and belief with that possibility.

I believe this is the way to do that.

Stay tuned…

Realignment: Mettle Maker #268

  1. Warm-up before training.  To avoid injuries, warm-up thoroughly for at at least 8 minutes before you train. Do about 4 minutes each of (a) jogging, jumping rope, or similar activity, and (b) light calisthenics.  Martial artists should do 8 minutes of MBF.  
  2. Self-Defense: Practice your slips The best way to practice not getting hit in the face is to let people try and hit you in the face.  It’s called “sparring.”  The problem?  Repeated blows to the head lead to poor long-term physical and mental health outcomes.  To the rescue: the humble pool noodle!  See video at bottom of page.  
  3. Fitness: Back Squats, Rope Climbs, #30 Ruck.  Last week we did heavy Back Squats followed by a set of weighted chins and a short, fast run.  Make sure that your training has a periodic element.  This week, let’s do 2 x 10 at 66% 1RM of Back Squats + a third set to failure (more reps less weight), followed by four rope climbs (more reps less weight), and a moderate ruck, say #20 – #40 depending on your size (more weight, less intensity).  Hate to sound like a broken record, but LPs without periodicity = injures.  Switch things up! 
  4. Bushcraft: Don’t be afraid of redundancy.  One of the things I always make sure I have plenty of are first aid kits.  I have a complete med kit (the kind with quick-clot, sutures, etc.) in the bug-out bag, traditional first-aid kits in the utility room, one in each vehicle and in the bug-out trailer (read more about that here), and mini-first aid kit (with needle and thread added) in my shoulder bag and in my desk at work.  You never know when disaster is going to strike.  Or when a paper cut is going to need a bandage, or when a crashing headache is going to demand ibuprofen.  Whatever you think you need in an emergency, make sure you have more than one.  Seriously.
  5. Spirit:  Spiritual but not religious?  I’m not buying it.  Spiritual strength, like physical strength, is built through work.  When you train martial arts, always remember to work on “S.A.F.E. M.P.”©  which is speed, accuracy, form, endurance, mobility, and power.  When you train spiritually, work on your thoughts, desires, actions and beliefs using the four spiritual practices: sacred reading, prayer, meditation, and contemplation.  If you’re not doing those four things you’re not “spiritual.”  You’re just lazy.    


COUNTDOWN! Mettle Maker #267

Heads up folks — watch this space! When Mettle Maker #271 drops on Sat. 8/7 it will reveal the new brand name for Cabal Fang Temple, Inc.! Once my friends, fellow board-members, and I decide and make the switch, the dominoes start to fall:

  • The new brand’s martial arts track will absorb all of the material from Bobcat Martial Arts, which will be shut down.
  • All of my classes and projects will roll up under the new brand, including St. Barachiel’s of Richmond.
  • There will be four learning tracks — self-defense, fitness, bushcraft, and online church.
  • Everything I do and teach will be supporting the non-profit under it’s new brand.
  • Mitch’s General Store will have a fire sale and be closed down.
  • And finally, my Patreon will be closed and donors redirected to the non-profit.

Onward and upward!

COUNTDOWN! Mettle Maker #267

  1. Warm-up before training.  To avoid injuries, warm-up thoroughly for at at least 8 minutes before you train. Do about 4 minutes each of (a) jogging, jumping rope, or similar activity, and (b) light calisthenics.  Martial artists should do 8 minutes of MBF.  
  2. Self-Defense: Practice your chokes Chokes cut even the largest aggressors down to size. You and your partner put on your paintin’ clothes in case something gets ripped and spend 10 minutes practicing your garment chokes.  If you don’t have a partner, put a shirt on your grappling dummy and go to town.  If you don’t have a partner or training dummy, that calls into question whether you’re a martial artist or not.  The chokes I’m most partial to are: Old #7, Bracing Choke, Loop Choke, X Choke, Jersey Choke, Guillotine Choke, Double Lapel Choke, and Ezekiel Choke.  What are your favorites?  For extra credit, practice using material from the environment as subs for the shirt itself, things such as drapes, sheets, towels, sleeves, etc.  Be careful with your partner and apply chokes with care — they are for real.
  3. Fitness: Back Squats, Chins, Half Mile run.  Back Squats: 2 x 5 at 50% of 1RM, followed by 2 x 1 of 1RM.  Chin-ups: 4 sets to failure.  If you can do more than 5 at one go, add weight such that no set exceeds a rep count of 5.  Run: Cover 1/2 mile as fast as you can. 
  4. Bushcraft: Identify this plant.  If you gather some of this and add it to your salad, or toss some of them into a pot of greens, it might be your last meal.  Answer at the bottom of the page.
  5. Spirit: Learn the difference between icons, idols and symbols.  Confusion on this score causes argument, lack of discernment, and failure to avoid the suffering associated with idolatry.  An idol is that which points to a finite object or idea and is treated as if God.  An icon is that which points to God and is treated as if finite.  A symbol is a finite representation of an idea, concept or quality.  “Symbol” is an umbrella term encompassing icons, idols, and any shorthand representation of something larger.  Stars of David, peace signs, swastikas and the little trashcan on your laptop representing the recycle bin are all symbols.  A symbol can stand for something positive, negative, or neutral.  To a non-believer, a crucifix is just a symbol.  To a believer, it is an icon — as long as it points to God and is treated like a mere object.  A crucifix becomes an idol when its owner points it away from God to his or her own desires, treats the object like a magic charm to get what he or she wants, etc.  An American flag or a poster of a hammer and sickle is just a symbol.  But either becomes an idol if we treat it as if it is God.  Many people, atheists, agnostics and religious alike, decry idols and idolatry, not realizing that they are treating pastors, politicians, nations, science, and other finite objects or ideas as if they are God.  We know where idolatry leads — to extremism, totalitarianism, anarchy, disorder, and the bad old days of the ancient past.  Learn these distinctions.  Hunt down the little idolatries in your life and banish them.  You’ll be happier and more fulfilled, I guarantee. 


The plant pictured above is Common Nightshade, a.k.a. Solanum nigrum Dangerous — do not eat!

Homily for Sunday 6/27/21: Christ Compresses Time Into the Now (Mark 5:21-43)

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New Direction: Mettle Maker #266

Last week I suggested that you could use self-criticism as a power source. Once we self-analyze and see our faults, we have to admit we messed up. Depending on what kind of faults we uncovered, we’ll have to face the fact that we wasted time, energy, money or effort, that we hurt, damaged, offended, betrayed, etc.

When you change your perspective, you change how you think, act, feel and believe. You become a new person.

It hurts to let our old selves die so that the new self can emerge. What does that mean exactly?

  • Changing how your think will change the media you consume, your topics of conversation, your interests, the clubs you participate in, friends who choose to hang out with, and so forth.
  • Changing how you act affects how you behave, speak, and even look — how you dress, how you cut your hair, whether or not you get tattoos, all of that.
  • Changing how you feel and believe changes your motivations, your career choices, your goals, aspirations, and so forth.

Letting go of old friends, old clothes, old habits, and especially old misguided dreams has a powerful sting.

But there is incredible, transformative power in taking a new direction. Especially if our new direction is inspired by, and draws upon, the the only infinite power source: God.

I’m intimately aware of this because I recently took a hard look at my life, my projects, my hobbies and my goals to insure that all of them are drawing their power from God rather than from what I want, need and desire. Toward that end, you are going to see some changes.

  • Cabal Fang and the non-profit Cabal Fang Temple, Inc. will get a new name and a new logo (with the help of my friends and the cooperation of the board).
  • All of my classes and projects be be rebranded and will roll up under that rubric — self-defense, ecumenical church, bushcraft, and fitness — and they will all be operated through the non-profit.
  • Bobcat Martial Arts will be folded in to the new rebranded Cabal Fang.
  • St. Barachiel’s of Richmond Christian Meet-up will be rolled up under the non-profit’s brand.
  • Mitch’s General Store will have a fire sale and be closed down.
  • And finally, once the new brand has been created, my Patreon will be closed and donors redirected to the non-profit.

Onward and upward!

tree sweetgum

New Direction: Mettle Maker #266

  1. Warm-up before training.  To avoid injuries, warm-up thoroughly for at at least 8 minutes before you train. Do about 4 minutes each of (a) jogging, jumping rope, or similar activity, and (b) light calisthenics.  Martial artists should do 8 minutes of MBF.  
  2. Self-Defense: Select a weapon type you are not accustomed to — or even a household object! — and complete as many strikes as you can in four minutes.  Eye protection required, and warm up for four minutes first so that you can learn the basic mechanics of the object before going full speed.  Beginners, do air strikes with a wooden/rubber tool.  Intermediates, use a dull, mock weapon and strike a heavy bag, pell or forging post.  In real life you may need a force multiplier, and you can’t be assured it will be something familiar, symmetrical or easily wielded.  Get there.
  3. Fitness: Bear Hug Carry followed by a 3-mile run.  Select a sandbag of appropriate weight based on your fitness level.  Advanced folks should be able to carry their body weight, beginners should be able to handle about 1/3, intermediate folks somewhere in the middle.  Walk off 25 yards/meters, rest 2 minutes, walk off another 25 yards, rest 2 minutes, then walk as many 25 yard/meter laps as you can until you can carry it no more.  Rest 2 minutes and then cover 3 miles as fast you can, even if that means you have to break stride and walk some of it. 
  4. Bushcraft: Spend a day being a raccoon.  Do not attempt this challenge if you have a health problem such as diabetes, low blood sugar, etc.  For one whole day, consume only what you can scavenge for free.  Tell nobody what you’re doing, do not beg your friends or coworkers, and keep it a secret even from your family members.  Eat only the cold pizza or stale doughnuts that somebody left on the conference room table, the free hot-chocolate or instant soup from the break room or concession stand, the wild edibles you can gather in your neighborhood, the free samples they’re handing out at the big box store, and so on.  You might have to go hungry a little.  Don’t worry, it won’t kill you and you might learn something.   Want more exercises like this is one?  It’s from my book The Wildwood Workbook.  Gitcha some.  
  5. Spirit: Cultivate some patience and discipline by sitting still for 20 minutes. Set a timer for 20 minutes and assume your posture of choice — cross-legged, in a chair, leaning against a tree, in lotus position, on a prayer stool, etc.  Calm your breathing to a slow and steady rhythm, and do not fidget, wiggle or scratch.  Keep your eyes open, think about absolutely nothing, and sit absolutely still.  Your mind will wander.  Don’t make war with yourself, just calmly let thoughts wither on the vine so that you can get back to “zero.”  Write down what you learned about your patience level and ability to be calm in your training journal.