Category Archives: Martial arts

Staying Alive: Fighting Fitness, P.A.D.E. and the Gospel of Matthew

Made a video this morning that lays out a very strenuous 25-minute fighting fitness routine and also explores the overlap between self-defense and conduct, martial arts and morality.

No Reins: Martial Arts Training Involution #213

chariot tarot

As I mentioned at the beginning of the month, the Chariot Tarot card symbolizes the successes that come to a person who is in a proper relationship with Being.  This is the individual who spends a great deal of time in what modern people call a “flow state” but what I would call “being in Christ.”

The chariot is drawn by two sphinxes, and there are no reins.  So how does the charioteer steer the chariot?  How does he direct himself to his destination?  By being aware and engaged, he gets where he wants to go because he goes were he wants to get.  It is allowed to happen.

bridger

As Hatmaker pointed out on his blog this week, the greatest frontiersmen could hear a mouse pissing on cotton, and they gave the impression they could see the invisible and predict the future.  That’s because they were paying attention — not in a forced and tension-filled way but in a relaxed, fearless and fully engaged manner.  They were in the flow.

Consider this 17th century Masonic poem by Scot Henry Adamson:

For what we presage is not in grosse,
For we brethren of the Rosie Crosse;
We have the Mason Word and second sight,
Things for to come we can foretell aright.

Some say that Adamson is implying that Masons have psychic abilities.  I don’t think so.

I think what he’s saying is that when you have integrity — when thoughts, desires, actions and beliefs are unified such that you live “in the flow” or “in Christ” — then you are oriented to such a degree that your spiritual and physical compasses are superimposed and things happen for you as if by magic.

No Reins: Martial Arts Training Involution #213

  • Warm-up thoroughly for at at least 8 minutes. Do 2-3 minutes each of (a) jumping rope (b) light calisthenics and (c) shadowboxing, forms, or light heavy bag work, or 8 minutes of MBF.
  • How many hours have you spent “in the flow” this week?  When you’re in the flow, walking with Christ, or whatever you prefer to call it, you are relaxed, happy, productive and engaged — without effort, tension, or self-consciousness.  If the answer is less than an hour per day on average I suggest journaling daily.  Analyze your entries.  Figure out what gets you into that space and what pushes you out.  Set some benchmarks.  The more time you spend there the better.
  • 20 minutes of forms.  Cabal Fangers, run through the Fool’s Journey, the Star of Ishtar and the Black Dragon three times each, then shadowbox until you get your 20.  Rough ‘n’ Tumblers, get out your tomahawk and run through some basic combinations paying special attention to foot position, following steps, off hand, etc.  If your martial art doesn’t have forms, shadowbox.
  • Have you done two constitutionals this week?  If not, complete this month’s constitutional.  Pikes (25), Push-ups, uneven (25), Jump Squats (100), Reverse Bridges (25), Curb Touches (100), Ploughs (25), Burpees (25).
  • Contemplation.  After you’ve cooled down for about 3 minutes, set a timer for 10 minutes. Full instructions in the video below.  When the timer beeps, record what you did and what you experienced in your training journal.  If you don’t take bearings and spot landmarks, you might get lost.


TWO MARTIAL ARTS DISTANCE LEARNING PROGRAMS ARE AVAILABLE.  Cabal Fang is a martial arts for personal development and is 100% free and operated through my non-profit.  Bobcat Frontier Martial Arts, my for-profit martial art project, is Frontier Rough ‘n’ Tumble — an American martial art that encompasses the fighting arts, survival skills, lifeways and ethos of the colonial and indigenous peoples of North American during the frontier period (1607 – 1912).  Click either photo to get started today!

Practical Contemplation

Contemplation, meditation and prayer are the three cornerstones of religious experience and they are practical, evolutionary adaptations utilized by conscious, self-aware, social creatures such as humans.


If you liked this post you’d love my Frontier Rough ‘n’ Tumble program!  Frontier Rough ‘n’ Tumble is an American martial art that encompasses the fighting arts, survival skills, lifeways and ethos of the colonial and indigenous peoples of North American during the frontier period (from the founding of Jamestown in 1607 through 1912 — the year the U.S. admitted Arizona as the 48th state).  Click the photo to get started.  Free hat and t-shirt with sign-up!

Antlers: Martial Arts Training Involution #212

stag deer antlers

In Cabal Fang martial arts, the stag is the symbol of athanor, the fourth of our five ranks (roughly equivalent to the red or brown belt in eastern martial arts).  In my Frontier Rough ‘n’ Tumble program, which incorporates indigenous skills and folkways, the stag is a subject of study and inspiration also.

Cabal Fang’s June symbol is the Cross, and there is a very deep connection between the stag and the cross which I discuss in the next issue of the SHIFT newsletter which came out today — and there will be an even deeper dive available to Patreon supporters.

Anyway, unlike horns which are akin to fingernails, antlers are actually bones.  They are an outgrowth of the skull which are shed and regrown every year.   You don’t have bony antlers.  But you do have a bony skull with a sizable brain inside it, which means you can learn two lessons from the stag’s inspiration — one about fighting and the other about spirit.

Antlers: Martial Arts Training Involution #212

  1. Fighting lesson from the stag: When stags fight, the contest is almost always won by the stag who stays the lowest and locks in his antlers.
  2. Spiritual lesson from the stag: You cannot run down a stag in the forest.  The only way to get him is to lie in wait, and the way to do that is to sit perfectly still — to be relaxed but aware, focused but not tense, without fidgeting, wiggling or scratching.  Sounds a lot like meditation, doesn’t it?

And now for the T.I.

  • Warm-up thoroughly for at at least 8 minutes. Do 2-3 minutes each of (a) jumping rope (b) light calisthenics and (c) shadowboxing, forms, or light heavy bag work, or 8 minutes of MBF.
  • 3 rounds of level mirroring drills. Set timer for 3 x 3:00/1:00.  Round 1: Square off with your partner, both of you in fighting stance, 6′ apart.  At any moment either partner fakes a takedown, ankle pick, or other level change.  Other partner follows suit, trying to keep head lower. Round 2: If social distancing due to COVID-19,  do another round like the last except this time add in sprawls — go all the way down to the floor.  If you have a training partner in your household, get into clinch position and practice level mirroring there.  Round 3: If social distancing, do another round like the last except add in lateral movement.  If you have a safe training partner, practice getting your head in the pocket.  See video below.
  • Have you done two constitutionals this week?  If not, complete this month’s constitutional.  Pikes (25), Push-ups, uneven (25), Jump Squats (100), Reverse Bridges (25), Curb Touches (100), Ploughs (25), Burpees (25).
  • Meditation.  After you’ve cooled down for about 3 minutes, set a timer for 10 minutes. Assume your posture of choice and regulate your breathing to insure a slow and consistent rhythm that completely fills and empties your lungs without bearing down on your breath. Eyes open, think about the stag and his antlers, but not in words.  Picture the stag in your mind’s eye.  Allow yourself to think in emotions and pictures only.  This pushes your thinking beyond the intellectual, past words and out into experience.  Do not fidget, wiggle or scratch.
  • When the timer beeps, record what you did and what you experienced in your training journal.  If you don’t measure performance, how do you know if you’re improving or not? Only that which is measured improves.


If you liked this post you’d love my Frontier Rough ‘n’ Tumble program!  What is Frontier Rough ‘n’ Tumble or “FRT?”  FRT is an American martial art that encompasses the fighting arts, survival skills, lifeways and ethos of the colonial and indigenous peoples of North American during the frontier period (from the founding of Jamestown in 1607 through 1912 — the year the U.S. admitted Arizona as the 48th state).  Click the photo to get started.  Free hat and t-shirt with sign-up!

June 2020 Backpacking Adventure Video

This past weekend I went on an amazing backpacking trip with my youngest daughter and her fiance, one of her friends, my son, and my brother-in-law.

We hiked the Cold Mountain and Pleasant Mountain trails in the George Washington National Forest. Highly recommended — many scenic overlooks, beautiful trails, plenty of backcountry dispersed camping sites, ample water sources (don’t forget your water purification equipment!).

One of the best hikes I’ve ever done. I just wish I was a better photographer. Because the full moon on Saturday night was out of this world.

Victory Flow: Martial Arts Training Involution #211

Victory is attained through flow not by force.

To lead a group you must be in dialogue with its members.  To win a fight you must work with your adversary’s openings.  To physically train your body for fitness, you have work with your body or you will destroy it.

Forcing people destroys teams and groups.  Forcing a given strategy onto set of conditions loses matches, fights and battles.  Forcing your body leads to injury.  And please tell me how it’s at all possible to force a relationship with your higher power?

The monthly focus and symbol are both related flow, which is the conversation and interplay between contrasting elements — you and your higher power, you and your martial opponent, the present state and the goal, etc.  Common symbols for this are pictured on the right.

Clockwise from the upper left: The Chariot Tarot card depicts a chariot drawn by two sphinxes, one light and the other dark.  The rider is being drawn along by the flow.  The stag, a crepuscular animal active only at dawn and dusk, is awash in the conversation between light and dark.  The Luminaries are the two heavenly bodies, one to light the day and the other to light the night.  Boaz and Jachin are the pillars of Solomon’s Temple, Boaz often depicted as black and Jachin as white, evoking ideas similar to the divine twins astride horses — one dark the other light — and  to the taijitu or “yin-yang” symbol — the unity of opposing forces.

The cross, this month’s symbol, is also about flow.  There are four ways of approaching biblical interpretation (allegorical, moral, anagogical and literal) and they are collectively known as the quadriga — a chariot drawn by four horses — a call-back to the symbols pictured above.  The cross, which is after all compass and the “X” that marks the spot, warns you that if you fail to acknowledge the flow you will surely lose your way.

Victory Flow: Martial arts Training Involution #211

  • Warm-up thoroughly for at at least 8 minutes. Do 2-3 minutes each of (a) jumping rope (b) light calisthenics and (c) shadowboxing, forms, or light heavy bag work, or 8 minutes of MBF.
  • At least 11 minutes of flow drills. Get our your grappling dummy or floor bag and set a timer for at least 3 x 3:00/1:00.  Put in at least 3 rounds on flow drills.  Start with a chain of two moves.  Add one or two moves per round, slowly building up your flow drill from the bottom.  Don’t force.  Let the drill modify itself as you go.  See what “flows” and what doesn’t.
  • Complete this month’s constitutional.  Pikes (25), Push-ups, uneven (25), Jump Squats (100), Reverse Bridges (25), Curb Touches (100), Ploughs(25), Burpees (25).
  • Contemplation.  Contemplation is about being in, and a part of, flow.  Dump out your intellectual mind for a few minutes, become empty of words, and marinate in the flow.  After you’ve cooled down for about 3 minutes, set a timer for 10 minutes. Assume your posture of choice and regulate your breathing to insure a slow and consistent rhythm that completely fills and empties your lungs without bearing down on your breath. Eyes open, gently allow your mind to empty and calm itself. Don’t make war with thoughts, just let them pass by, dissipating like ripples on the surface of a pond.
  • Record what you did and what you experienced in your training journal.  If you don’t measure performance, how do you know if you’re improving or not? Only that which is measured improves.


My new ebook “Martial Grit: Real Fighting Fitness (On a Budget)” releases July 1st.  Pre-order now at Barnes & Noble, iTunes or Smashwords.  Honed by 30 years teaching martial arts in inner city programs and in public parks for a non-profit, this is as real as it gets. 3 keys to proper mindset. Accelerate your training with the “S.A.F.E. M.P.” protocol. Dozens of drills and exercises using heavy bags, floor bags, dummies, slip balls, chains, weights, tires, sledges, pipes, mallets, etc. And DIY instructions for making your own gear for pennies.  

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Martial Video: Reverse, Smear, Hammer, Exit

It’s Wednesday, and you know what that means — martial arts video time.  Since this month’s martial focus is counters, triggers and flow drills, I present for your enjoyment and edification a delightful little flow drill to help you habituate a simple escape from Top Saddle position.

Training techniques in isolation will only get you so far.  Flow drills are where it’s at. You have to train the way people move and act in the world.  A fight is a dialogue, a call and response, a question and answer, and there is a flow.  Also included at the end of the video are a few quick words about this month’s symbol — the Cross — which just so happens to embody the concept of flow.


My new ebook “Martial Grit: Real Fighting Fitness (On a Budget)” releases July 1st.  Pre-order now at Barnes & Noble, iTunes or Smashwords.  Honed by 30 years teaching martial arts in inner city programs and in public parks for a non-profit, this is as real as it gets. 3 keys to proper mindset. Accelerate your training with the “S.A.F.E. M.P.” protocol. Dozens of drills and exercises using heavy bags, floor bags, dummies, slip balls, chains, weights, tires, sledges, pipes, mallets, etc. And DIY instructions for making your own gear for pennies.  

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Volition Magician: Martial Arts Training Involution #210

symbol

The Magician from my Hoi Polloi Tarot Deck — the one I’ve been working with since the 1970s

Today’s the fifth and final T.I. of the month centering around the Cabal Fang symbol the Chalice and the martial focus Striking.  May’s a long month which allows us five weeks to get into the weeds of this unique internal and external work combination.

The Chalice symbol has many associations, but the one most central is inherence.  The Chalice is about what you let into yourself, what you choose to allow to indwell in you.  Although the most obvious symbol on the Magician card is the infinity symbol, the largest one is The Chalice.

The Magician understands the concept of inherence like no other, and so should the martial artist.  Why?  Because 99% of magic is brute force.   My late friend Woody Landersone of the greatest close-up magicians in the world — once shared with me a wondrous secret.

Most magic tricks are based on the fact that the magician can do things that you assume cannot be done. 

Woody Landers

Woody could cut a deck of cards to the precise number desired.  I never saw him miss.  He would a few cards off the top of the deck and hand them to me.  “There’s seventeen. Count ’em.”  And there were seventeen.  And let me tell you, if you called Woody at 10 PM on a weeknight or at 2 PM on weekend, you were going to hear cards shuffling at some point during that call, guaranteed.  And he could memorize lists of numbers, names, etc. like nobody’s business.  He practiced that constantly.  Do you see the implication?

Woody could fan out a stack of cards, quickly memorize them, and then cut to any card he pleased after they were flipped.

And that is the level of mastery you need to have as a martial artist if you’re going to able to work your brand of magic — overcoming opponents larger, stronger, and faster than you, avoiding unseen dangers, and so forth.

Hocus-pocus isn’t real.  Real magic happens when you allow something to fully become a part of you.

What are you putting into yourself in terms of nourishment — intellectual nourishment (what we read, watch, and concentrate upon), literal nourishment (things we eat and drink), physical nourishment (the things we do and participate in), and spiritual nourishment (things we believe in and worship, Holy Communion, the Eucharist, etc.).

What are you focusing on?  What is your Holy Grail?  What are you allowing to colonize you? 

Volition Magician: Martial arts Training Involution #210

  • Warm-up thoroughly for at at least 8 minutes. Do 2-3 minutes each of (a) jumping rope (b) light calisthenics and (c) shadowboxing, forms, or light heavy bag work, or 8 minutes of MBF.
  • 15 minutes of punching half-pyramids for speed.  My old friend Woody understood the magic of repetition and so should you.  Get in front of your heavy bag and throw a half-pyramid of Left Jabs to  4 — that’s 1, then 2, then 3, and 4.  Do that five time — each set in the most rapid succession as possible without sacrificing form.  Switch stance and do it again with Right Jab.  That’s 100 Jabs total.  Now do Left Cross and Right Cross for a total of 100 Crosses.  Go back to the beginning and repeat until the timer beeps.
  • Contemplation.  Before you can fill yourself up with something great you must first dump yourself out and become empty.  Cool down for about 3 minutes, then set a timer for 10 minutes. Assume your posture of choice and regulate your breathing to insure a slow and consistent rhythm that completely fills and empties your lungs without bearing down on your breath. Eyes open. Gently allow your mind to empty and calm itself. Don’t make war with thoughts, just let them pass by, dissipating like ripples on the surface of a pond.
  • Record what you did and what you experienced in your training journal.  If you don’t measure performance, how do you know if you’re improving or not? Only that which is measured improves.

My new ebook “Martial Grit: Real Fighting Fitness (On a Budget)” releases July 1st.  Pre-order now at Barnes & Noble, iTunes or Smashwords.  Honed by 30 years teaching martial arts in inner city programs and in public parks for a non-profit, this is as real as it gets. 3 keys to proper mindset. Accelerate your training with the “S.A.F.E. M.P.” protocol. Dozens of drills and exercises using heavy bags, floor bags, dummies, slip balls, chains, weights, tires, sledges, pipes, mallets, etc. And DIY instructions for making your own gear for pennies.  

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SHIFT Issue #3

Subscribers just received Issue #3 of my new SHIFT newsletter. IN THIS ISSUE…Video: The Internal Union of the Warrior-Poet, Eating Isn’t Just About Food, a recipe, and the always-useful Super-Stumper question! Click here to read and subscribe.

Have Mercy: Martial Arts Training Involution #209

Today’s the fourth T.I. of the month centering around the Cabal Fang symbol the Chalice and the martial focus Striking.  May’s a long month which allows us five weeks to get into the weeds of this unique internal and external work combination.

You know, I spend a ton of time making sure that everything I create — products, posts, newsletters, books — all harmonizes and co-inheres with what I’m working on at home and at the martial arts club.

 

dice

A mix’n’match of FRT dice and Scufflin’ Dice

How do you make sure that everything you do — home, work, school, play, church,  etc. — harmonizes and co-inheres?  Journaling, in the form of an integrated diary and training log, is sufficient for most people, and will probably work for you too unless you’re a creator.  If you are a creator like me and you’d like little a peak behind the curtain — a look at how I create, organize and harmonize all of this material — dodge over to Patreon and for just $1/month you can get behind-the-scenes access.

The martial portion of this week’s T.I. is a grappling-striking mix’n’match created using FRT Dice and Scufflin’ Dice.  I just grabbed a couple of each and gave them a toss to create a session that would force me to practice integrating my striking and grappling skills.

Have Mercy: Martial arts Training Involution #209

  • Warm-up thoroughly for at at least 8 minutes. Do 2-3 minutes each of (a) jumping rope (b) light calisthenics and (c) shadowboxing, forms, or light heavy bag work, or 8 minutes of MBF.
  • Mix’n’match pyramid of 5 exercises to 5 reps for power.  A pyramid to 5 reps is 1,2,3,4,5,4,3,2,1 (25 reps total of each exercise).  The five exercises are Bearhug Carry (1 orbit of your training area = 1 rep),  Shots (classic wrestling style), Shovels (sledgehammer, 1/side), Bodybuilders (10-count Navy Seal style) and Heavy Bag Combos (5 combos = 1 rep).  Power is a work/time/distance equation (lots of detail on this inMartial Grit, see below) so everything in this pyramid should be done with full forcemax-power-squeezing of heaviest manageable sand or heavy bag based on size/fitness level, explosive sledge digs, max-power heavy bag striking etc.  Only have one heavy bag and using it for the carries?  Just put on the floor and practice your down strikes from Top Saddle.
  • Mercy meditation.  Cool down for 3 minutes, then set a timer for about 10 minutes and assume your meditative posture of choice.  Regulate your breathing to a slow and steady rhythm.  The Chalice symbol embodies the concept of reception.  It is about receiving, accepting, and allowing.  Keep your eyes open as you think about something you’ve been unable to forgive, allow or accept — something you know you should let go in yourself or in someone else.  See if you can envision a way to be merciful.  It’s very important not to think in words during meditations like this.  Think in images and feelings only.  Let them appear like gauzy dream superimpositions on your visual field.  If the word-monkey starts chattering just ignore him and he’ll quiet down soon enough.  When the timer beeps, record your thoughts and experiences in your training journal.

My new ebook “Martial Grit: Real Fighting Fitness (On a Budget)” releases July 1st.  Pre-order now at Barnes & Noble, iTunes or Smashwords.  Honed by 30 years teaching martial arts in inner city programs and in public parks for a non-profit, this is as real as it gets. 3 keys to proper mindset. Accelerate your training with the “S.A.F.E. M.P.” protocol. Dozens of drills and exercises using heavy bags, floor bags, dummies, slip balls, chains, weights, tires, sledges, pipes, mallets, etc. And DIY instructions for making your own gear for pennies.  

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