Hell Fire: Martial Arts Training Involution #203

Harrowing of Hell — Fresco, by Fra Angelico, c. 1430s

Yesterday was Good Friday and tomorrow is Easter, the days we commemorate Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection respectively.  That makes today Holy Saturday, the day we reflect on Jesus lying in his tomb — the day many Christians contemplate the Harrowing of Hell.

“Harrow” is a very old word that means comb or rake.  In the old days a giant square device with teeth was dragged across the fields behind a plow horse to break up the larger clods of dirt, smooth out the earth, and pull out weeds.  Nowadays that task is done by a disc harrows.  This prepares the soil for planting so that seeds can sprout and grow.

A fire in my back deck chimenea

The idea of the Harrowing of Hell is that, after the rock was rolled over the door to his tomb, Jesus descended into Hell.  After having spent his life ministering to the living, Jesus then spent his death ministering to the dead and sharing their experience.  Just like an agricultural harrow prepares the soil for its spring reemergence, Jesus prepares the dead for their ultimate resurrection.

The night of Holy Saturday is also called the Easter Vigil — when bonfires are made from which to relight the sacred candles which yesterday were dark, when new catechumens (adult converts) are baptized into the faith, and so on.

Hell Fire: Martial Arts Training Involution #203

  • Warm-up thoroughly for at at least 8 minutes. I generally do 8 minutes of MBF or either 2-3 minutes each of (a) jumping rope (b) light calisthenics and (c) shadowboxing, forms, or light heavy bag work.
  • Try to set a PR (personal record) at one of your martial metrics. I hope you have some!  How many minutes can you go all out on a heavy bag without taking any breaks?  How fast  can you complete 250 kicks vs. air?  How about 150 max power kicks vs. heavy bag?  How many times can you hit your pell with a tomahawk in 4 minutes?
  • Complete this month’s constitutional.  In Cabal Fang we create a new constitutional every month and we complete it twice a week.  This month’s is sandbags.  Video below.
  • Harrowing meditation.  Wait until after sundown and make a fire in your fireplace, in a fire bowl on your back deck, in the chimenea on your patio, or in the burn barrel in the alley if the fire codes allow.  In the Middle Ages, Easter — tomorrow — would have been New Year’s Day.  Consider that the greatest of us brave the darkest places to help the those who are lost and in danger.  Think about the fact that it is the sacrifice of self that leads to rebirth.  Before you go to bed, write a few words your journal about how this speaks to you as a martial artist.  Cool down for about 3 minutes, then set a timer for 10 minutes.  

On May 1st my new newsletter SHIFT goes live.   This is where everything I do will come together — my fitness work, my primitive skills and martial arts material, my management, coaching and financial advice, and of course my spiritual teaching.  Sign up now to get tips, fun and inspirational articles, quizzes, meditations, exercises, and more — all 100% free — and guaranteed to shift you in a new whole new gear.



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