Mettlecraft Month 2020 is Here!

Mettlecraft Month 2020 (a tougher challenge than we initially thought) is all done — see full and final recap below!

Well, it’s that time of year again — Mettlecraft Month!  Everyone — students past and present, old friends, new friends — please play along and share videos and/or photos of yourself facing the challenge.  Watch this space for updates!

So what’s the challenge?

12 Minutes of Very Bad Karma plus as many kicks as you can in 8 minutes

Like video? See below.   If you prefer written instructions:

  1. Set timer for two intervals — 12 and 8 minutes with no break. [Tip: if you only have a repeating countdown timer, just set it for 4-minute repeats and listen for 3 cylcles and then 2 cycles].
  2. “Very Bad Karma” from my e-book The Calisthenics Codex. Select a rep count for the four exercises — Sprints (12′ out and back = 1), Split Jump Squats (jump, switch, jump = 1), Get-ups and Knuckle Push-ups.  I started with 5.
  3. Complete as many circuits as you can at your selected rep count in 12:00 minutes.
  4. Immediately start doing kicks.  Do as many kicks as you can with good form in 8:00 minutes.
  5.  Add rep counts together for your total score.
  6. Example: You pick a rep count of 5 — 20 reps per circuit.  You complete 8 full circuits plus 4 Sprints before the timer beeps.  That’s 164 reps.  Then you do 180 kicks.  Your total score is 344.

December 1 and final results

Beautiful full moon of 12/1

Thanksgiving always throws a wrench in Mettlecraft month and thwarts last minute attempts to beat scores.  But this year, on top of that, Morgan hurt her wrist.  She had to take time off, get a brace, etc.  So we extended the month to 12/1 and took another run at it.  Jack had to work late and couldn’t make it, so it was Daddy Daughter Night.

Special kudos to Morgan for adding almost a hundred points to her previous score — and for beating my calisthenics count! — all while wearing a wrist brace.  She put up a very impressive score of 484!

I knew there was no way I was going to catch James, but I wanted to beat everyone’s kick number and break 400.  But alas, it was not to be.  I only got 365 and came in a measly 3 points behind Jack — beaten by a nose!

Great job everyone, and thanks a million for taking this ridiculous journey with me.  Everyone who took the trip goes in the Calisthenics Codex Hall of Fame!

Here’s the final tally:

James Williams — 228 + 398 = 626
Jack Bloor — 278 + 266 = 544 
Mitch Mitchell — 176 + 365 = 541
Morgan Mitchell — 189 + 295 = 484

November 30 Results

James Williams — 228 + 398 = 626.  Apparently James was bitten by a radioactive spider, because he wrecked the challenge with a mindboggling score.  James takes the cake — and the plate, the silverware, the tablecloth…

November 24 Results

Mitch Mitchell — 176 + 303 = 479

November 23 Results

James Williams — 203 + 331 = 534

November 19 Results

I tried to get 50 of each exercise in order to break 200 total reps during the Very Bad Karma phase.  Didn’t make it.  Here’s the video.

November 17 Results

Mitch Mitchell — 150+ 250 = 400
Morgan Mitchell — 150+ 240 = 390
Jack Bloor — 278 + 266 = 544 

November 16 Results

James Williams —  203 + 264 = 467

November 12 results

Mitch Mitchell — 176+ 263= 439

November 10 results

Everybody’s numbers came up this week!

Mitch Mitchell — 175+ 218 = 393
Morgan Mitchell — 162 + 236= 398
Jack Bloor — 240 + 259 = 499

November 3 Results

Mitch Mitchell — 136 + 242 = 378
Morgan Mitchell — 160 + 200 = 360
Jack Bloor — 205 + 280 = 485  Way to go Jack!

Now get moving!

17 responses to “Mettlecraft Month 2020 is Here!

  1. James A. Williams

    Great challenge and an inspiring start on the part of everyone there! Count me in . . . I’ll keep you posted.

    -James in the StL

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  5. Hi Mitch and company,

    I hope all are well, and congrats on great numbers all around! I did my first pass at this year’s Mettlecraft Challenge this morning, so a late start but I plan to get after it hard over the next couple of weeks. It was a blast (in an agonizing sort of way)! No video this time around, but here are the details . . .

    Start time: 10:15a.m. CST; Weather: 52F and sunny (perfect in other words)

    Sprint/Jumping split squat/Get-up/Knuckle push-ups @ 5 reps each per set
    Total: 10 complete sets + 3 sprints = 203

    Kicks (snap, side, knees, “jab”, etc., though nothing above about waist high)
    Total: 264
    Grand total: 467

    Notes: So, this was tough, tougher than I maybe anticipated. Took me a couple of minutes to really get into a rythym for the calisthenics portion and I’m certain I need to clean up my form on the get-ups.

    For the kicks portion I’m happy to report that I managed to get in a good variety (it was pretty tempting to just do knees at one point to conserve energy) but I started by doing, say, twenty reps of one technique then switching to another. Pacing myself, so to speak. I stopped doing that maybe three minutes in and then did each technique basically to exhaustion before switching. This approach seemed more in keeping both with the challenge and a central principle of sport fighting and self-defense: If it’s working, keep doing it!

    Thanks for putting this together! I’ll keep you posted as I do further attempts . . .



    • Excellent score James, especially for a first shot
      ! Yes, it is far more challenging than it seems on the surface…I noticed that it’s bumping up against my weight training pretty hard, so much so that I’ve had to back off the weights a little bit this month or else fall too far behind you guys! I’ve tried 5, 6 and 4 reps per exercise and my best results were with 4 reps. When I did 6, I was so gassed my kicks suffered (I too wanted to slack off and throw lazy knees!). I do my kicks in combos until things get tight (I like [Stamp, RH, Back kick], [Lead Snap, Lead Crescent, Rear RH], and from the Frontier Rough ‘n’ Tumble arsenal [Bark, Hop Bark, RH]) and then throw singles until I loosen up, then do more combos. If you do the MBF method from “Martial Grit” I bet you can beat Jack’s score! That’s what I’m doing 🙂

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  7. Hi Mitch and friends,
    Great numbers! Here’s the update for my second attempt at this year’s Mettlecraft Challenge (undertaken this morning at about the same time as last week, though it was a bit chillier).

    Calisthenics sequence @ 4 reps per exercise:
    12 complete sets + 11 = 203
    Kicks = 331
    Grand total = 334

    Notes: So, obviously I did the exact same number of calisthenic reps as previously, but I cleaned up my form on the get-ups, so I’m counting this as an improvement! 🙂 I’m going to stick with the 4-rep format for future attempts with the aim of bumping this number up.

    I went out fast with the kicks this time around–no pacing!–and while I did briefly pause a few times over the course of the eight minutes, it paid off.

    One week to go . . . Will anyone break the 600 barrier? Let’s hope so!


    James in St. Louis

  8. Whoops . . . That grand total should read “534”.



  9. Ha! I’m feeling very mortal today, painfully so in fact! Even after a 45 minute massage stick and foam roller session my legs are so sore climbing the stairs feels like ascending the final stretch of Everest. But it’s not called Mettlecraft for nothing!

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  11. Congrats all around and thanks for another fun, ingenious challenge! Here are a couple secrets: I kept all my kicks low–nothing above, say, mid-thigh/crotch (ahem)–and, unlike my first two attempts, I stayed pretty much stationary with a very minimal “trigger step” to maximize efficiency. Oh, and I’ve been training this past year in a pair of old-school army boots. They’re super-tough and will last at least as long as I do with proper care . . . and they’re heavy as heck. This time I wore very lightweight running sneakers, and it made a tremendous difference.

    Can’t wait to see what’s on the agenda for next year’s challenge (though also looking forward to a relatively low-key December). 🙂



  12. Robert Mitchell

    And thanks to you for participating and posting and sharing! You are a stalwart sir, and a leader among leaders — around here we have no chair-bound clods focusing on tongue-crunches, thumb-presses, and butt-flatteners.

    You’re a brick.

    Boots, by the way, were my exercise wear of choice as well for many years. But alas, I was forced into sneakers 24-7 after foot and ankle problems caused by my zero-drop-footwear debacle. I blogged about that quite a bit. Don’t try that voodoo. It’s bone-crushingly dumb. It turns out that people invented shoes with heels to solve problems — go figure.

    I kept my kicks evenly split between low, medium and high. I know — and teach! — all of the common wisdom about kicking low for self-defense. But I also know the devastating power of a stiff kick to the head. And, since I started in Korean Karate in ’86, I maintained my accuracy and flex even after moving to western martial arts, combatives, and Frontier Rough ‘n’ Tumble (I also practice my Korean Karate forms every day. What can I say? I’m a complicated man). It’s not necessary to kick high for self-self defense, and I don’t advocate folks go on a quest for the perfect roundhouse to the head (q.v. Peter Aerts) but “smoke ’em if you got ’em.”

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