Category Archives: Martial arts

Martial Base Fitness Experiment

The Goal: Functional Strength With Less Wear and Tear

This is a great goal for everyone, but it’s especially important as we age and recovery times lengthen.  The older I get the hard it becomes to maintain my ability to perform certain martial/wrestling strength movements without staying sore and crippled half the time.  So I’m experimenting with what I’m calling “MBF” which stands for “Martial Base Fitness.”

Which Got Me Thinking

I watched a few of Pavel’s Strongfirst videos (this is not an endorsement and I haven’t read his books) and they reminded me that I have had success in the past with something very similar to his “greasing the groove” philosophy.  I always called it “greasing the gears.” So I came up with this new program.

The Idea

The idea (as I intro’d in Training Involution #124is that frequent low-rep, low-intensity sets will get you stronger and keep you healthier than infrequent, high-intensity sets. Or as my son once told me, “Just because you’re not doing white-out calisthenics doesn’t mean you aren’t training.”

Example:

  • 3×5 sets 2 days/week at 95% load = 3 x 5 x 2 x .95 = 28.5 reps
  • 3×5 sets  5 days/week at 76% load =  3 x 5 x 5 x .75 = 57 reps
  • Double the reps means you get functionally stronger with less risk

Program Outline

Four or five days a week I’m rolling 4 dice to arrive at a list of 4 exercises (see photo right).  Then I set a timer for 8 minutes and do low-intensity sets of no more than 6 reps each until the timer beeps.

Here’s a breakdown of what’s on the dice:

Dice 1 – Upper Body Dice 2 – Lower Body Dice 3 – Core Dice 4 – Whole Body
Push-ups Ankle Picks Shrimps Splays
Pull-ups Shots Jackknifes Reverses
Handstand Push-ups Jump Squats Crunch’n’punches Bear Walks²
Divebombers Squats Back Bridge¹ Bodybuilders
Sit-out Push-ups Duckunders Forward Bridge¹ Get-ups
Hop/Clap Push-ups Mountain Climbers Pikes w/ Triangles Sit-outs

Today I did 4 sets of Ankle Picks, Forward Bridge¹, Sit-outs, and Push-ups (only 3 sets of Push-ups because the timer beeped). 

I will post results in a couple of months

If you are doing anything similar and/or if you have relevant past experience, please comment below.


¹ When I do Bridges, I do them one of two ways: either with weight or with rocking — gently! — forward and back 6 times, left and right 6 times.  I never rock with added weight when doing MBFD because they would violate the low-intensity focus of this routine.

² When I do Bear Walks, I do 6 laps of the CF Temple space, approximately 18 feet per lap, about 100′ total.

Stand Tall: Training Involution #130

The Magician — he is acting out the Hermetic axiom “As above, so below”

This month our martial focus is Mettlecraft and our internal, symbolic focus is the Staff.

Mettlecraft month means we’re all digging deeper.  Those of us who haven’t licked Self-Destruct Sequence in under 40 mins quite yet are working our way up to it.  For the Staff, we’re finishing every club meeting with the Caduceus Ritual (see Chapter 19 of Cabal Fang: Complete Martial Arts Study Course).

The Caduceus Ritual aligns your spine — physically, intellectually and spiritually.

  • Physically, you stand straight, breath deeply, and vocalize certain tones.   This slows heart rate, lowers blood pressure, and so on.
  • Intellectually and mythologically you see yourself as a conduit through and between the energies above (sky) and below (earth).
  • Spiritually you allow yourself to fully experience the ritual absorb its significance.

Let’s go put all of this together.

Stand Tall: Training Involution #130

  • Did you finish Self-Destruct Sequence in under 40 minutes last week?  For instructions click here.   If so, do half of the reps as a recovery this week, and think about beating your record next week.
  • Did you get through at least half of the reps?  If so, do 2/3 of the reps this week.
  • Did you get less than half of the reps?  No problem, just try to do more reps this week than last.
  • Did you fail to even try?  There are no excuses in Cabal Fang.  Work around handicaps and limitations.  Modify or substitute exercises as needed.  If you’re wheelchair-bound, equate 12 exercises as closely as you can to the 12 in Self-Destruct Sequence and go.
  • Embody the Caduceus Ritual for the rest of the coming week.  Practice standing tall.  Hold your spine upright, keep your shoulders back, and look people in the eye when you talk to them.  Log your performance in your training journal.

Don’t  tell me what you can’t do.  I only want to hear about what you can do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cord and Rule Month 1 and Training Involution #129

Me and my son Robert just after finishing Self-Destruct Sequence in 30:58.

Thursday night was the first new month under the new Cord and Rule program.  We reviewed our journals to demonstrate we’d done our homework and stamped up our rules accordingly.  The thud of the hammer and the visible mark on the brass to signify your work feels fantastic.

November is Mettlecraft Month.  Time to dig deeper.

There were lots of people out sick and otherwise tied up, so it was just my son and I at the meeting.  After we stamped up our rules, we decided to step up on account of it being Mettlecraft Month and earn a big fat “Z” by completing Self-Destruct Sequence in under 40 minutes.  We did, in a blistering 30:58 (my son was done about 30 seconds faster than that — Daddy was bringing up the rear).  We almost beat my personal record from two years ago.

Members of the Richmond group — Leo, Scott, Sydney — and those of you playing the home game — Arman, James — your assignment is to get this thing done before the month is out.  I know you can do it. 

If you think you can safely finish the whole thing in under 40 minutes with no practice, by all means, give it a go.  But I know at least one person — a fitness freak and former competitive bodybuilder — who had to struggle for over a month, finally getting it done after many failed attempts.  My advice is work your way up to it for a few weeks and then take your shot.  Self-Destruct Sequence is no joke!

Week 1 Run-up to Self-Destruct Sequence: Training Involution #129

  • Warm up for at least 8 minutes.  Hop from foot to foot, trot, skip and jog, and rotate all joints, and do the Fools Journey form for about 5 mins.  Then spend 3 mins doing a few reps of each exercise (see below for exercise list and instructional video).
  • Complete SSM-1 of each exercise in Self-Destruct Sequence.  SSM stands for “single set max.” So “SSM-1” means you do as many of each exercise as you can but you stop on the rep just before you think you’ll probably fail.
  • Shadowbox 10 mins for form.  Don’t go all out, just relax, let if flow, and work on your form.
  • Cool down for 3 min. 
  • Complete the Caduceus Ritual.  See Chapter 19 of the Cabal Fang Study Guide for instructions.
  • Record what you did in your training journal.  If it ain’t in the journal, it didn’t happen.  “That which is measured improves,” as the saying goes.

 Self-Destruct Sequence

Zombie Squats (50)
Push-ups, diamond (25)
Jump Squats (100)
10-Count Bodybuilders (25)
Pikes/Leg Triangles (25)
Jump Squats, split (50)
Push-ups, Sit-out (25)
Bicycles (50 each side)
Burpees (25)
Twisters (25 each side)
Wall Touches (100)
Push-ups, hopping/clapping (25)


??? DID YOU KNOW ???  that Self-Destruct Sequence comes from my book The Calisthenics Codex and that, if you finish any workout from the book you can get into the Calisthenics Codex Hall of Fame?

This workout appears in my Top 10 calisthenics ebook — click here to download!

 

 

 

 

 

Flashback: Training Involution #128

Karen and me on vaction a couple of years ago. Ain’t she pretty?

My beautiful wife Karen had ankle surgery yesterday, so today’s involution is a little late, and frankly, I didn’t have time to do something amazing and lay it all out for you.

So I’m doing what I usually do on occasions like this — I’m flashing us back 12 months.

Flashback: Training Involution #128

Open your training journal to exactly one year ago.  If you didn’t train that day, turn back to the next one.  Do that.  Only better.  If you ran 2 miles in 20 minutes, run 2 miles in less than 20 minutes.  If you boxed 3 rounds, box 4.  Find a metric and do better.

If you haven’t been keeping a journal for a year, do my training session for 10/27/17 as follows:

  • Warm up for a full 8 minutes.
  • Squats, Bench Press, and Weighted Back Bridges.  Complete a 2 x 10 with 50% of your 1 RM, and then 3 x 5 with your working weight.  If you’re not experienced at lifting weights, or if lifting’s not your thing, substitute body-weight Squats, Push-ups, and unweighted Back Bridges.  Do two warm-up sets, each about half as many your single-set max, and a final set to failure.  One minute rest between each set.  Rest a couple of minutes.  Then…
  • Run 2 miles as fast as you can.  When you’re done, walk that off for at least three minutes to cool down. Then…
  • Complete the Cabal Fang temple rites.  Don’t know what they are?  They’re in the book, so go read up.  No time for that?  Assume your posture of choice, regulate your breathing, and practice contemplation or meditation for at least 10 minutes.

Four Stress-Fighting Tactics Used by Martial Artists

Four Stress-Fighting Tactics Used by Martial Artists

  1. Pretend to be calm and relaxed even when your thoughts are in disarray. In the same way that water assumes the shape of its cup, your mind will soon conform to the attitude of your body.
  2. Clear your mind by breathing slowly and deeply. Be sure to hesitate for a few heartbeats between inhaling and exhaling, always with airways open — never clamp down on your breath.
  3. Trust your training and experience. Regain your comfort zone by taking a moment to call up a mental picture of a previous success during similar circumstances, either live or during training.
  4. Then go on auto-pilot. Think only about the present moment.

 

7 Ingredient Slow Cooker Pozole (with 5 min prep!)

I forgot to take a picture of the dish. I was too busy eating it all GONE. Oops. This image courtesy of Wikipedia.

I’m always looking for easy to cook meals, especially ones with very few ingredients. I like things simple and graceful.

Yesterday I concocted a recipe for pozole by taking a longer recipe and condensing the ingredients. For example, instead of starting with raw tomatoes and adding spices, I just substituted fire-roasted canned tomatoes.

Yes, I know this is Americanized and that your Mexican grandma would smack me in the head for this. It ain’t authentic. But it must be good because my wife — a.k.a. “the picky eater” — actually had seconds!

7 Ingredient Pozole

  • Cubed boneless pork , 1-1/2 lbs (something with a little fat is better than super lean meat — I used pork chops because they were on sale)
  • One coarsely chopped medium yellow onion.
  • A can of whole yellow hominy (juice and all)
  • A can of fire roasted tomatoes (juice and all)
  • Chicken broth, 2 cups (I used water and 2 bullion cubes)
  • Cumin, 1/2 to 1 tsp (to taste)
  • Chili sauce, 1/4 to 1/2 cup (to taste — I used Heinz brand).

Cut up the pork and onions and throw them in the slow cooker. Open cans and dump them in. Add broth and seasoning. Stir it up. Cook on lowest setting about 8 hours. Serve with sliced radishes and a spoon of coleslaw in the center of the bowl and with crisped tortilla chips, sour cream, and salsa on the side.

My Great Grandfather Adam Naf, 16th Century Hero and Swordsman

 

First, let me say thanks to a blog follower named Tim who asked me some questions about the Naff family and, as a result, I ended up re-reading my mother‘s genealogy book entitled, A Genealogy of the Ancestors and Descendants of Jacob Naff Sr. and Marvin Edward Naff of Virginia by Betty Naff Mitchell,

It turns out that my great grandfather Adam Näf fought in the battle of Kappel with great distinction.  Here’s the story, courtesy of the Janet and Robert Wolfe Genealogy page:

“The Forest troops were pressed back but about five in the evening the tide of battle turned…the standard bearer  [John Schweizer] refused to give way. The battle became very fierce around the standard bearer but he would not yield ground…He was forced into the stream and the weight of his armor bore him down and he was drowned. Kleinsbaus Kambli rescued the banner. As he seized the banner he was rushed by a number of the enemy. He cried out, “Is there no honorable Zuricher here to save his army’s banner?”  Adam Näf of Vollenweid responded to the cry. Adam was an axguard who under Hans Huber of Tufenbach had come to defend Zürich. His father and two brothers were also in the battle as well as two sons. Adam Näf attacked with his broad sword and cut off the head of the man who had seized the banner. Kambli was again able to hold the banner high and retreat in an orderly fashion. In the retreat there were 512 soldiers left behind including Adam’s father, Hans, and his two brothers… On November 15-16, ambassadors from both sides met to arrange terms of a peace and on the 20th the treaty was ratified.”

Betty Mitchell — August 2nd 1937 ~ January 13th 2016

Näfenhaus still stands, now the property of the the Naefenstiftung, a charitable organization that helps poor members of the Naff family and arranges holiday celebrations at the house.

Thanks Mom, for writing your incredible book book for me and the family.  I’m so proud of you and of my heritage.