Five years ago I envisioned a new approach to martial arts called Cabal Fang. Like most dreamers I stopped and wondered if I had the energy, drive, and ability to make the dream a reality. I feared the sacrifices that would have to be made. I feared failure. I feared the opinions of others. But in the same way that a painter’s artistic vision begs to be put to canvas, the martial art I dreamed of had to be made manifest. I took the leap.
On Friday October 18th, 2013, my friend Charles Ellis achieved the rank of Elder, the highest rank of Cabal Fang. In 2009 he stepped into the yoke with me, put in hours of sweat and pain, and sacrificed many hours of his time — not just in terms of his own training, but in promoting the art. Not only did he come out the park and do the martial work it took to achieve his rank, he put in many days stapling promotional booklets, handing out flyers, and representing the club at events. He sacrificed sweat and blood, literally and figuratively. How fitting he would achieve his rank on the Full Blood Moon.
In order to understand Charles’ achievement, you have understand that Cabal Fang is not like any other martial art. You don’t just pay your tuition, show up, and pass the exams. Cabal Fang is always free, but there’s a DIY component that forces you to take charge of your own training. We meet outdoors, 12 months a year, rain or shine. There are no mats, no changing room, no heat, and no A/C. The contact level is high. I got a black belt in Moo Duk Kwan Tan Soo Do/TKD in 1989, and I can tell you that achieving the rank of Elder in Cabal Fang is easily twice as hard — and what’s more, there’s no coveted black belt waiting for you. Few people have ever heard of Cabal Fang or know what an Elder is. You have to achieve it because you believe in it. There’s no reward other than the intrinsic value.
Charles is a different person than he was four years ago. He was strong when he started, but he now possesses a kind of strength you have to look into his eyes to comprehend. If you don’t believe it, come out the park and shake his hand.
And as for me, if I get run over by a truck this afternoon, I can say that the journey I started wasn’t futile. I made a great friend in Charles, and he proved that Cabal Fang is everything I hoped it could be. Not only does it make people stronger inside and out, it brings people together.
There are other milestones coming. My son is training, and he’ll be an Elder soon. Someday there will be other groups practicing Cabal Fang as well.
But this milestone will always be the first, and perhaps the greatest. Congratulations Charles. You earned every bit of it.