Category Archives: Martial arts

Get Real: Training Involution 106

Late to the party?  This month’s focuses are Wrestling and The Hourglass.

Get Real: Training Involution #106

  • Wrestling Conditioner #4.  Set timer for 10 mins.  Shin Ride your heavy bag and strike x10, mount and strike x10, roll to bottom position and up-strike x10, then bridge, knee boost, or hip escape from under the bag, and repeat as many times as you can before the timer beeps.  Strike full power and take as few 12-count breaks as possible in order to finish.
  • Jump rope for 10 mins, as fast as you are able.  Take as few 12-count breaks as possible in order to finish.
  • Have you memorized the Emerald Tablet yet?  Yes?  Good job!  No?  This is Cabal Fang, it’s only 250 words, and its required.  “Chop-chop — I’m waiting,” I say.  “But why?” you reply.  Because The Emerald Tablet is a 1,000+ year-old piece of wisdom literature that describes “reality” as a conversation between consciousnesses — and so does this 20-minute TED talk by Donald Hoffman, which tackles the idea that consciousness is prime, not matter.

The IIFYM Experiment: Meal Calculator and First Week Results

Over the last six months I upped my calories in order to add some muscle and I let myself get heavier than I’ve been in 20 years — 162 lbs.  Now it’s time to get back into my regular pants (and my swimsuit).

For about 10 years I’ve been either low carb, slow carb or paleo (with a Saturday free-for-all cheat day).  Normally I would just drop my carbs to <20/day and add some HIIT workouts to the mix.  But after listening to The Art of Manliness podcast #401 I decided to try eating a balanced diet per IIFYM (“If it fits your macros”).  FYI, macros refers to macro-nutrients — protein, carbs and fat.  Supposedly this way of eating helps you cut fat while retaining muscle mass.

After one week on the plan I’ve noticed the following:

  • I’m less hungry.  Contrary to the popular wisdom, this meal plan satisfies me more than the low-carb one.
  • I have more energy before, during and after training sessions.
  • I’m losing fat without sacrificing muscle and without adding extra training.  Basically the same regimen, maybe a jot less because I’m no longer running 4 or 5 days/week to get ready for that mud run.
  • The math on this is impossible (chart below).  Nobody can add 3.2 lbs of muscle in one week, so clearly my single-point body fat calipers are only approximate.  Still, I think it’s safe to say that most of my weight loss was in fat.  Here are the digits:
    Date Body
    Fat %
    Muscle Weight (lbs) Fat Weight (lbs) Total Body Weight (lbs)
    5/10/2018 22.80% 123.1 36.4 159.5
    5/17/2018 26.00% 119.9 42.1 162
    Change: -3.2% 3.2 -5.7 -2.5

Most people use My Fitness Pal to track their macros, but I don’t have the time or patience to enter food minutia into a an app.

If you want try my method, use this IIFYM Daily Meal Plan Creator Spreadsheet that I made to print out a few meal plans (it contains the entire 2016 USDA macro nutrient database).  Then just cycle through the various daily plans as needed.

Pro tip:Cook all breakfasts and lunches on Sundays and eat the same thing every day for those two meals — that way the only thing you have to think about are dinner and snacks.  

Here’s what I looked like back in 2014 when my wife took pictures for the Calisthenics Codex book – pretty much just thin and nondescript at 11% body fat.  Four years and plenty of weightlifting later, I’m going spend 90 days getting lean and see how I look and where I end up this time.


Lift Three Times and Call Me in the Morning

I started lifting weights with sincerity two years ago.  Since then I have noted significantly enhanced martial arts performance, reduced lower back pain, and improved functional strength.

After listening to Dan John on the Art of Manliness Podcast I added the Bear Hug Carry to my regimen.  Here’s me walking off 110 lbs using a Size L Ironmind sandbag.   I had worked my way up to 140 lbs using a heavy bag strapped with weight plates, but that started to feel unsafe.  So  I bought the bag, de-loaded 25% and restarted the progression (details below) because the new set-up requires me to squat really low and that really changes the game.

So, what’s my prescription?  Add Bear Hug Carry to your training regimen.  Start light and work your way up the way I did.

To be clear, I’m not a weightlifter,  power lifter, or bodybuilder.  I’m just a martial arts instructor in his mid-fifties who’s looking to stay strong as long as possible.  I’ve got grand-kids I want to be able to spar with someday (assuming they want to do martial arts of course).  

I’m not trying to give my life over to weights — martial arts are my primary focus!  So I just train three days per week for about half an hour.  Here are my current lifts and PRs:

Mon/Fri Dumbbell Bench Press (60@ hand) Yoke Squat (175 lbs) Bear Hug Carry (140 lbs)
Wed Handstand Push-ups (6 reps) Sandbag Get-ups (just started) Back Bridge (110 lbs)

I use a slightly modified version of the Greyskull LP program, which means all lifts work as follows:

  •  2 warm-up sets — 2 x 10 at 50% of your current weight.
  • 3 working sets — 2 x 5 at 100% of the current weight.  Third set, as many reps as you can.
  • Never push to failure — stop at the rep before failure when you say to yourself “I’m probably not going to make the next rep with good form.”
  • Rest 1 minute between sets.
  • Add or reduce weight each and every training session.
  • If last session you got 5 to 9 reps on the third working set, add 2.5 lbs to an upper body lift or 5 lbs to a lower/whole body lift.
  • If you did less than 5 reps on the third working set, de-load 10% next session.
  • If you got 10 or more reps on your third working set, double the standard increase.

If you’re a martial artist training with weights, please share your thoughts and insights in the comments — thanks!


Thanks, Funds, Cheers, Pics and Training Involution #105

Regular followers know that my son and I did the Rugged Maniac on May 5th and collected money for the Cabal Fang Temple Fund.  Here are some pics from the event.

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Thanks to everyone for buying t-shirts, contributing to my Patreon account, sponsoring the Rugged Maniac event, sharing links, commenting on my posts, liking my videos and generally being supportive.  Every little bit helps.

Basically everything goes into the Temple Fund so that we can save up enough money to buy a building.  We really want some permanent digs so that Cabal Fang can expand its seminar and class offerings and endure into perpetuity.¹  

Thanks to you, the Cabal Fang Temple Fund stands at a whopping $1,333.78.

Here’s a screen shot of the new bank account I set up for the temple fund — we’ve got thirteen hundred bucks — woot-woot!

But enough about boring financial stuff — time for the T.I. of the week!

One Trick Pony: Training Involution #105

Our focuses this month are Wrestling and The Hourglass.

  • Bad Karma calisthenics session.  Set timer for 12 minutes.  Finish as many sets as you can in 12 minutes of 8 each: Back Neck Bridges, Get-ups, Squats, and Sit-out Push-ups (a.k.a. “Barrel Roll Push-ups”).  Like this workout?  You’ll love my book The Calisthenics Codex (5 stars on Goodreads and in the Top 10 calisthenics books at Barnes & Noble).
  • One trick pony a weak spot.  What’s the weakest part of your Wrestling game?  Is your Sit-out washed up?  Is your Shrimp dead in the water?  Is your scrambling game hard-boiled, or is it not what it’s cracked up to be?  Whatever your weakest move is, set a timer for 10 to 20 minutes and do nothing but that one move for the entire duration.  Eleanor Roosevelt famously said, “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
  • Start memorizing the Emerald Tablet.  The Emerald Tablet just may be the world’s first piece of interfaith literature — revered by the wise and educated of every nation across the ancient world from its first appearance in 8th century Persia to the desk of Isaac Newton all the way down to today.  Do yourself a favor and memorize it (it’s required of all Cabal Fang distance learning students by the way).  Full text below.  If you memorize this bit of wisdom literature I promise you that it will pay dividends as long as you live.

The Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus

True it is, without falsehood, certain and most true. That which is above is like that which is below, and that which is below is like that which is above, to accomplish the miracles of one thing. 

And as all things were by contemplation of one, so all things arose from this one thing by a single act of adaptation. 

The father thereof is the Sun, its mother the Moon.

The wind carried it in its womb, the earth is the nurse thereof.

It is the father of all works of wonder throughout the whole world.

The power thereof is perfect.

If it be cast on to earth, it will separate the element of earth from that of fire, the subtle from the gross.

With great sagacity it doth ascend gently from earth to heaven.

Again it doth descend to earth, and uniteth in itself the force from things superior and things inferior.

Thus thou wilt possess the glory of the brightness of the whole world, and all obscurity will fly far from thee.

This thing is the strong fortitude of all strength, for it overcometh every subtle thing and doth penetrate every solid substance.

Thus was this world created. Hence will there be marvelous adaptations achieved, of which the manner is this.

For this reason I am called Hermes Trismegistus, because I hold three parts of the wisdom of the whole world.

That which I had to say about the operation of Sol is completed.

(Steele and Singer translation, 1927)

¹ Full disclosure: I don’t take a salary from Cabal Fang Temple, Inc. and I rarely pay myself back for the stuff I buy for the organization.  And since I never have enough deductions to itemize my taxes, I never get the charitable deduction either.  That needs to change though, so  going forward I’m going to start categorizing those expenses as loans so that when and if Cabal Fang Temple Inc. starts bringing in any money I can repay myself.  Patreon support goes go into my pocket of course, but it never offsets what I spend on Cabal Fang.  

Audentes Fortuna Juvat

Today I not-so-humbly present a couple of more milestones on Cabal Fang’s road from obscure martial art to infinity and beyond!


We got our business account set up at the bank, with a checking account, a savings account, and the whole ball of wax.  Our business debit card came in the mail on Saturday.  Pretty cool huh?  It felt so official this morning, going through the ATM on the way to work to deposit a Smashwords royalty check for $89 (sales of the Cabal Fang Study Guide) and the $60 we earned by running in the Rugged Maniac this past weekend.

Speaking of which, Rugged Maniac times and photos aren’t available yet, but I’ll be posting them as soon as they’re up, as well as a full recap.  In the meantime, here’s a selfie of me and my son after the race.  Let me just say two things about my son’s performance.  First, his hair remained Johnny-Bravo-perfect throughout the entire race.  And second, he smoked the Warped Wall — all the way up with no assistance.  I’m not sure which one impressed me the most!

More to come…



Circuit Breaker: Training Involution #104

A friend of my daughter Amber took this photo for me. Pretty cool huh?

If you’re reading this on release day — May 5th, 2018 —  my son and I are on the way to Virginia Motor Sports Park in Petersburg, Virginia to run in the Rugged Maniac obstacle course to benefit the Cabal Fang Temple (click here to donate $10.00 to sponsor us).

The race is approximately 3 miles/5K and 25 obstacles.  Sounds fun, right?

Unfortunately it’s too late to run with us.  But if you’d like to “play the home game” let me introduce you to…


Circuit Breaker: Training Involution #104

Simulated 5K obstacle run.  CR45P.  Ideal when done at an outdoor gym or fitness trail.   Set timer for 9 x 3:00/2:00 (45 mins total).  For 3:00 interval, run fastest manageable pace without breaking stride.  For first half of  the 2:00 interval perform as many Chin-ups (Clap Push-ups or Push-ups if there’s no equipment) as you can, Squats for the second half.  Repeat 8 more times.  When you gas —  unless you’re Captain America you will — just jump up to the bar and do negative Chins (or Push-ups on knees). 

If you’re kinda big for your britches, Circuit Breaker will stretch to fit you just fine, assuming of course you don’t lollygag and that you are training (not “working out”).   Look at your watch and manage your time so you don’t rest and/or waste time switching between exercises.  No rest — just adjust your pace so that you work as hard as you can for the whole 45 mins.


How to Be a Good Kidnap Victim by Mark Hatmaker — Indigenous Ability

This one courtesy of Coach Hatmaker’s Indigenous Ability blog.  Click through to read the whole piece, it’s outstanding!

George “Machine Gun” Kelly, was a Depression-era gangster with one of the most colorful names going. Let’s face it, it beats the hell out of Baby Face or Pretty Boy, or Creepy. Despite the formidable name Kelly was a little less deadly than the moniker belies, associates in Alcatraz where he spent 21-years of his…

via How to Be a Good Kidnap Victim by Mark Hatmaker — Indigenous Ability