Category Archives: Martial arts

Selfless: Mettle Maker #239

Robert  “Bobby” Mitchell — November 21, 1934 ~ July 8, 2008

My Dad had this saying, and it went like this.

“Sometimes your head leads your feet.  Sometimes your feet lead your head.  Doesn’t matter much as long as you keep heading in the right direction.”

~Bobby Mitchell

What does that mean?  Sometimes you’re going the right way in life but you start to second guess what you’re up to.  Maybe it’s difficult and you want to give up.  So you start rationalizing why you should stop.  That’s your feet leading your head.  Stop thinking and keep walking.

Other times you know what you need to do — maybe even what you must do — but you just can’t seem to get your act together.  That’s your head leading your feet.  Don’t stop trying with all your might, just keep thinking right and and let your feet catch up.

If you asked him, Pop would have told you he was a Presbyterian.  But really he was a sort of redneck Christo-Zen master, a homespun samurai.  Compare his axiom to this quote from Hagakure: The Way of the Samurai:

“People think that they can clear up profound matters if they consider them deeply, but they exercise perverse thoughts and come to no good because they do their reflecting with only self-interest at the center…In confronting a matter, however, if at first you leave it alone, fix the four vows in your heart, exclude self-interest, and make an effort, you will not go far from your mark. Because we do most things relying only on our own sagacity we become self-interested, turn our backs on reason, and things do not turn out well.”  ~Yamamoto Tsuenetomo

Pop also had another saying.

“Everything always turns out for the best.”

~Bobby Mitchell

As a teenager I remember responding once, “That’s ridiculous!  Things go horribly wrong all the time!”  He replied, “I didn’t say things turn out for the best for you or even on your time line.  They always turn out for the best for somebody somewhere.”

If that’s not a Zen master I don’t know what is.  Of course, he would have said that it was about accepting God’s plan.  But frankly, I’m not seeing much difference.

Selfless: Mettle Maker #239

  • 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.
  • 5 rounds on the heavy bag. Around here (per the S.A.F.E. M.P. protocol) we never just wail on a bag.  Set timer for 5 x 3:00/1:00.  First four rounds for speed, aiming for constant contact.  Rounds 1 and 2: Outside range hands — Jab, Cross, Bolo punch, etc.  Round 3: Inside range  — Elbows, Knees, Steam Donkeys, Crams, etc. Round 4:  Outside kicks — Roundhouse, Side, Piston, etc. Round 5: All-in for power — work all ranges and aim for maximum punishment.
  • 10 minutes of “life in the balance” fitness.  Set timer for 10:00 and cycle through the following: 1 Rope Ascent, 1 Crow Sit (until you tip over), 1 Wall Walk, 1 HSPU.  Modify/Adapt/Overcome.  If you can’t climb a rope, hang it next to a wall or tree and use your feet, or just hold on until you gas. No rope?  Use a pole or Pull-up bar.  If you can’t do a Crow Sit, put your forehead on a yoga block.  If you can’t do a Wall Walk, do an Incline Plank.  If you can’t do HSPUs, do a Pike Push-up.  No excuses.  Get there.
  • Do you know what this is?  If not, you’re missing a valuable survival skill.  Turn to page 31 in The Wildwood Workbook or ask me in the comments and I’ll tell you what it is.
  • Empty your cup to fill your cup. This month’s symbol is the Chalice, which is often associated with the Holy Grail. In Arthurian legend, Sir Galahad is warned that he may lose himself by taking up the quest.  He replies, “If I lose myself I save myself!”  The chalice symbol embodies the universal medicine of self-sacrifice and the relinquishing of ego. The more we exalt ourselves the farther the grail cup recedes; the more we humble ourselves the faster it returns to us. If we lose ourselves like Galahad then perhaps there is hope that we can save ourselves.   This is why we must relinquish our own wants and needs before we can accept the communion wine (“Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”).  This operation is depicted on the XVIIth key, The Star.  Meditate on this pouring out and pouring in.  Last week I suggested that you can’t say “Yes” with all your heart without first learning how to to say “No.”  This week I’m telling you that you have to be empty before you can be full.
  • If it ain’t in the training journal it didn’t happen.  Do the work, the external and internal, and write about what you did and thought in your journal.  Introspection, self-examination and measurement are the key to progress.


TWO MARTIAL ARTS DISTANCE LEARNING PROGRAMS AVAILABLE. 100% free and operated through my non-profit, Cabal Fang is martial arts for personal development, self-defense and fitness. Bobcat Frontier Martial Arts is just $19.99/month and that’s your choice if you’re interested in Frontier Rough ‘n’ Tumble — the fighting arts, survival skills, lifeways and ethos of the colonial and indigenous peoples of North American during the frontier period (1607 – 1912). What are you waiting for — enroll today!

Science and Christianity Hand in Hand

A humble Friar named Roger Bacon pioneered the scientific method, a Belgian priest named Father George Lemaître was the originator of the Big Bang Theory, and Father Gregor Mendel was the world’s first geneticist.

Religions are not superstitions — they are social technologies

About 40,000 years ago there were only about 2,000 breeding Homo Sapiens left.  Humanity was on the verge of annihilation.  In order to survive, humans starting perfecting ritual systems to ensure cooperation, prevent infighting, and thwart extinction.  These ritual systems evolved into religions.   For more on this topic start by reading Supernatural Selection by Matt Rossano.

The religion that changed the the world most dramatically —  in ways that have never been equaled — is Christianity.  Christianity invented some of the most incredible social technologies ever devised, such as organized charity,  women’s rights, orphanages, universal human rights, higher education, libraries, and more.  Read Dominion by Tom Holland for more details.

Christianity is not at odds with science

BioLogos was founded by one of the top biologists in the world, Francis Collins. He led the Human Genome Project and now directs the National Institutes of Health. In 2006, he wrote the best-selling book The Language of God in which he tells the story of his journey from atheism to Christian belief, showing that science is not in conflict with the Bible, but actually enhances faith.

For more info on this topic

Read my post Mythbusting Anti-Christianity or watch my Christianity for Doubters video series:

 

Book Review: “Talks to Teachers on Psychology” by William James

An esteemed and pragmatic colleague sent me a copy of William JamesTalks to Teachers on Psychology.  As you can see by the grainy picture on the right, this First Rate Publishers edition is strangely and inexplicably titled incorrectly as Talks to Teachers on Philosophy which isn’t  at all ‘first rate.’  But it is for two entirely different reasons that I recommend those wishing to read this book purchase another edition, those being (a) it lacks page numbers and (b) the type is extremely small.

Upon receiving the book I was perplexed.  Why would my associate want me to read this 100+ year-old psychology book?  Was there some nudge-nudge-wink message here?  This and other questions assailed me.  But the gift-giver being the sort of fellow who shoots straight both literally and figuratively, I quickly saw that this was simply a sincere gift of something he deemed valuable and important.  So I rolled up my sleeves and dug in. 

The volume is thin.  Expecting not much to chew on, I figured I’d read it across one or two nights and send a quick note of thank you.  But but O, happy surprise!  I reached into the sack for a puppy and found a python.  It is a thin book — true enough — but thin, not like boarding house soup, but thin like a fang.  It bites to bone and holds fast.

This little bugger took me two weeks to dissect.  As you can see by the photo above, I put ten tabs in the book to mark key points to return to later.  There’s no magic to that number, it just worked out that way.  Here they are in brief:

  1. Focus on gaining the student’s attention.  Make a lasting impression that is lifelong.  Above all, create a “devouring curiosity” in the student.
  2. Engage student’s senses with material objects, or at least with stories of action, rather than with abstract ideas.  Be excellent and imitable.  Pull students forward by inspiring students to emulate you.  Pushing doesn’t work.
  3. When students “back” (like a horse before a hurdle) or get stuck (either outwardly with attitude or inwardly with self-frustration) move on.   Let them forget the sticky spot.  Then make a circuitous approach later using a slightly different approach so that they don’t recognize the spot.  Often they’ll leap right over without incident.
  4. Help them build good habits.  Habits are far more powerful than most people believe.
  5. Make substitutions for negative ideas, perspectives and thoughts.  Phrase things as “dos” not “don’ts.” Accentuate the positive (see #2 above).
  6. Feelings and actions are behaviorally linked.  To some extent we are afraid because we flee and sad because we cry.  To modify behavior, act how you wish to feel.  “Action seems to follow feeling,” James says, “but really action and feeling go together; and by regulating the action, which is under the more direct control of the will, we can indirectly regulate the feeling, which is not.”  Brilliant.
  7. Relaxation reduces wasted energy and prevents moods, nervous breakdowns, melancholy and more.  Harmony, dignity, ease and calm are the key to excellence and happiness.  This speaks directly to revelations I’ve had recently through the Going Powhatan project.
  8. In a related vein, there is a lengthy quotation from a book called The Practice of the Presence of God, the Best Ruler of a Holy Life by Brother Lawrence that also relates to the idea of grace as both a physical and mental state.
  9. Another lengthy quote attributed to one Josiah Royce from his book The Religious Aspect of Philosophy.  Brilliant.
  10. A long section at virtually the end of the book about the tendency of people to polarize that was incredibly insightful and completely relevant to the political environment in the U.S. in the world today.  It could’ve been written this week.  This bit is scintillating as a star ruby.

I’m not ashamed to admit that James was a big hole in my knowledge of philosophy, and happy to report that it is far from plugged but at least somewhat patched.  I have added The Varieties of Religious Experience to my reading queue as well.

A truly estimable book.  Highly recommended, especially to educators, parents, pastors, managers and leaders of all stripes.


If you liked this post…

There’s a good chance you’d love my e-book The Wildwood Workbook: Nature Appreciation and SurvivalClick here to download it in any format.  35 exercises guaranteed to deepen your relationship with nature and get your heart and mind engaged like never before.  120 pages.

Want to study Frontier Rough ‘n’ Tumble martial arts?  Click here to enroll in the Bobcat Frontier Martial Arts distance learning program for just $19,99/month — all learning materials, testing and certificates included (and a free hat and t-shirt when you sign up too).

Going Powhatan #3: Training the Hunter

Last year I wrote a post about the formidable faculties of the cricket frog in which I made the connection between predator-prey behaviors and the birth of meditation and contemplation.  Since that time I’ve started to make even more connections.  I’m actually beginning to think that religion has its origin in hunting behaviors — the foremost reason being that there seems to be an obvious connection between religious rituals and ideas and appreciation for the sacrifice the animal is making so that we can live.

Bobcats are cool.

A house cat is either cruel or not conscious in the way that a human being is conscious.  Felines play with their food while it is still alive.  People — at least those commonly thought to be healthy and well-adjusted —  treat living food animals with decency and respect, butcher them humanely, and make gestures of respect before partaking of them in the form of a meal.  I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

I’ve ordered a copy of Matt Rossano’s highly regarded book Supernatural Selection: How Religion Evolved and I’m hoping it will more deeply inform my thinking on this topic.  I’ve read some of his articles online and he seems like a someone who’d be fun to talk to.  Perhaps I can rope him into an interview at some point.  Here are some of Rossano’s really interesting pieces:

Did Meditating Make us Human?
The Christian Revolution
Are Infinities More Scientific than God?

But I digress.  As part of my Going Powhatan project I’ve learned a couple of very interesting things about how Virginia Algonquian adults trained their young boys to hunt.

Powhatan matriarchs didn’t let their male children eat breakfast unless they were able to hit a moving target with an arrow. According to the sources referenced by Rountree, mom would toss up a chunk of moss and sonny boy had better pierce it or else walk around with a growling belly until the next meal. The specifics are lacking. We have no idea at what age this practice began or ended, how many tries were allowed, and so on.

We might logically assume that it came to an end when the boys were old enough to hunt with their fathers, uncles, older brothers and neighbors. Hunting trips could last for days, and it seems unlikely that a boy could be expected to go without food for several days.  Then again there is the complex, terrifying and virtually incomprehensible manhood ritual known as the huskanow in which boys were, according to some accounts, caged, starved, and exposed for extended periods.  I’m setting that aside for now.  Baby steps as the saying goes.

I’m keeping it simple.  If I “miss” my morning martial arts practice, I don’t eat breakfast.

Next Time: Going to the Library

———————-

Project Bibliography

Adkins, Elaine and Ray. Chickahominy Indians – Eastern Division: A Brief Ethnohistory.  Philadelphia: Xlibris, 2007.

Gooley, Tristan. How to Read Nature: Awaken Your Senses to the Outdoors You’ve Never Noticed. New York: The Experiment, 2017.

Hertz, Eleanor West.  The Chickahominy Indians of Virginia Yesterday and Today. Muskogee: Indian University Press, 1992.

Mitchell, Robert. The Wildwood Workbook: Nature Appreciation and Survival.  Richmond: Lulu Press, 2019.

Rogers, Robert. Journals of Robert Rogers of the Rangers: The Exploits of Rogers & the Rangers from 1755-1761 in the French & Indian War in His Own Words.  Leonaur, 2005.

Rossano, Matt J. “Did Meditating Make us Human?”  In Cambridge Archaeological Journal vol. 17 no. 1 (January 2007)  47–58.

Rountree, Helen C. The Powhatan Indians of Virginia: Their Traditional Culture. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1989.

Siebert, Frank T. “Resurrecting Virginia Algonquian from the Dead: The Reconstituted and Historical Phonology of Powhatan” in Studies in Southeastern Indian Languages. Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 1975.

 

 


If you liked this post…

There’s a good chance you’d love my e-book The Wildwood Workbook: Nature Appreciation and SurvivalClick here to download it in any format.  35 exercises guaranteed to deepen your relationship with nature and get your heart and mind engaged like never before.  120 pages.

Want to study Frontier Rough ‘n’ Tumble martial arts?  Click here to enroll in the Bobcat Frontier Martial Arts distance learning program for just $19,99/month — all learning materials, testing and certificates included (and a free hat and t-shirt when you sign up too).

Fast and Dicey: Mettle Maker #238

DID YOU KNOW…

  •  …that every mettle maker is an actual training session I completed during the preceding week (or when I’m on vacation a re-post from yesteryear).
  • …that the weekly mettle maker, although supporting both of my martial arts programs, revolves around the two monthly focal points of Cabal Fang?
  • …that every mettle maker contains four segments — martial, fitness, survival, and spiritual?
  • …that I don’t sell ads, I’m not a content engine trolling for eyeballs, and you are not the product?  If you like what you’re reading, buy my books or enroll in my programs. ‘Nuff said.
  • That  people who engage with the content by doing some of the work and/or posting in the comments have been known to get discount coupons for books and merch from Mitch’s General Store?

Fast and Dicey: Mettle Maker #238

  • 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.
  • 10 minutes of command and mastery with your weapon of choice.  Select a dull practice weapon (wooden knife,  tactical pen, stick, gun, cane, stick, whatever floats your boat) and set a timer for 8:00.  Repeat the following until the timer beeps: Slip Ball or Air Strikes x 1o, Push-ups x 5,  Reverses x 5 (if you can’t do your wrestling moves with your weapon in hand you have a problem), Standing Broad Jumps x 5.  This drill was created with Command and Mastery Dice ©.  Click here to get a set.
  • 10 minutes of frontier fitness.  Get yourself a sledgehammer and a sandbag and set a timer for 10:00.  Climb a half-pyramid until the timer beeps of Shovels, Loads, Shoulder Rolls, and Air Strikes x 4 (Palms, Steam Donkeys, Caulks, etc.).  This drill was created with Frontier Rough ‘n’ Tumble Fitness Dice ©.  Click here to get a set.
  • Bug-out heavy.  Don’t assume you can quickly get out of trouble carrying a load.  Slip on a backpack of at least #25 and hike for at least 20 mins.  Do that weekly and work your way up to 1+ hours with #40+ so that, if you ever have to get out of Dodge you can do so.  And, as an added bonus, it’ll make long hikes with light and medium packs really fun and easy when you go on adventures!   See video below of my last adventure with my daughter Morgan and her fiancé Jack — it’s hilarious!
  • Empty your cup.  The idea is an ancient one.  If you fast from food and improve your ability to control what you allow into your mouth, you will also control what you allow into your mind, heart, and spirit — and you might even be able to fill the empty space thus created with spiritual food and drink.  This is why fasting is so prevalent in all traditional religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, and orthodox forms of Christianity.  Assuming you have no precluding health conditions of course, try skipping one, two or even three meals (silly rabbit — breakfast actually means “to break your fast” after a whole day of not eating).  Consider a permanent change, like one of the traditional fasting forms (such as abstaining from meat on Fridays) or giving up something that you enjoy but you know isn’t good for you — like soda, alcohol, candy, or tobacco.  Some folks think that you can’t say “Yes” with all your heart without first learning how to to say “No.”
  • If it ain’t in the training journal it didn’t happen.  Do the work, the external and internal, and write about what you did and thought in your journal.  Introspection, self-examination and measurement are the key to progress.

 



TWO MARTIAL ARTS DISTANCE LEARNING PROGRAMS AVAILABLE. 100% free and operated through my non-profit, Cabal Fang is martial arts for personal development, self-defense and fitness. Bobcat Frontier Martial Arts is just $19.99/month and that’s your choice if you’re interested in Frontier Rough ‘n’ Tumble — the fighting arts, survival skills, lifeways and ethos of the colonial and indigenous peoples of North American during the frontier period (1607 – 1912). What are you waiting for — enroll today!

Cup of Silence: Mettle Maker #237

Thanks to everyone who participated in Mettlecraft Month 2020.  Recap here.  Boy am I blessed to with a great bunch of crazy friends!

The December focuses for Cabal Fang are Situational Training and the Chalice.

The monthly constitutional will be a pyramid generated randomly at each meeting using PTDICE, and we’ll be performing it at the beginning of each meeting rather than at the end.  Get yourself a set of PTDICE at Mitch’s General Store  and create your constitutionals on the fly, or just pick one of our historical constitutionals from the list and do it it pyramid-style.

Why are we doing this?

  • It’s cold outside and we meet at the park.  Pyramids contain a built-in warm-up.  We can put them at the beginning of each training session to get moving quickly without increasing injury risk.
  • Last month was killer.  Pyramids are less strenuous that the conventional flat-out protocol,  This month we need to dial it back.

Engage

If you’re new in these parts, you should know that people who engage with the content by doing some of the work and/or posting in the comments have been known to get discount coupons for books and merch from Mitch’s General Store

Cup of Silence: Mettle Maker #237

  • Warm-up thoroughly for at at least 8 minutes (or skip the warm-up and do the first half of the following pyramid with low intensity).  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.
  • 16 minute pyramid.  Set a timer for 8:00.  Complete one of each exercise, then 2 of each, 3, 4, etc. until the timer beeps.  When it does, finish the set, then start counting down. You should finish about the same time the beeper sounds the second time.  Total reps will equal the square of the peak, so if you do 1,2,3,4,5,4,3,2,1 you did 25 reps of each exercise, if you peak at 6 it’ll total 36, etc.  This week’s exercises: Zombie Squats, Narrow Push-ups, Bicycles, Get-ups, Lunges, Diamond Push-ups, Back-ups.
  • Situational Drill #9 from the Cabal Fang Study Course.  Do whatever you want to do – work the heavy bag, practice flow drills, submission chains or forms, etc. but with the addition of a distracting element.  Turn on a strobe light.  Crank up the music.  Dump the contents of your gym bag — gloves, mitts, sticks, padded weapons, etc. — on the training surface to make movement difficult.  The chance of you having to defend yourself from friends while in the gym is small.  Think about it.
  • How’s your stealth fitness?  Watch video below.  Don’t assume you have ability to silently escape a dangerous situation, either on foot or crawling.  You’d be surprised how strenuous it is — how much strength and flexibility it takes — to crawl silently.   Set a timer for 3:00 and crawl as quietly as you can.  Don’t wuss out and do it on carpet either.  Go outside and do it on leaves and grass.  Every crunch will make you go more slowly and increase the difficulty.  For extra credit, do another round crawling on your back using feet, shoulders and buttocks.
  • Meditation on the Chalice.  Set a timer for 10:00 and assume your meditation posture of choice.  Regulate your breathing to a slow and steady rhythm, and do not count, fidget, wiggle, or scratch.  I advocate box breathing: about four seconds to fill the lungs, hold with airway open about four seconds, exhale in about four seconds, hesitate with empty lungs and airways open for about four seconds.  Again, do not count.    Visualize a chalice in your mind’s eye, or set up a photo or quick sketch of the symbol if desired.  Step into the idea of the chalice and fully experience it.  Let the experience unfold…let a story play out in which you and the chalice are involved.  If you’re not a meditator, or if you want extra credit, read Sir Galahad by Tennyson.
  • If it ain’t in the training journal it didn’t happen.  Do the work, the external and internal, and write about what you did and thought in your journal.  Introspection, self-examination and measurement are the key to progress.



TWO MARTIAL ARTS DISTANCE LEARNING PROGRAMS AVAILABLE. 100% free and operated through my non-profit, Cabal Fang is martial arts for personal development, self-defense and fitness. Bobcat Frontier Martial Arts is just $19.99/month and that’s your choice if you’re interested in Frontier Rough ‘n’ Tumble — the fighting arts, survival skills, lifeways and ethos of the colonial and indigenous peoples of North American during the frontier period (1607 – 1912). What are you waiting for — enroll today!

General Update: Mettlecraft, Vagabond Playlist, Temple Remodel, the Receipt Story, etc.

Lot’s going on in these parts.  Video below.


If you liked this post you’d probably like my e-books.  Click here to download them in any format from Smashwords or purchase them wherever fine e-books are sold!

montage

Rigor Fortis: Mettle Maker #236

The title of this week’s mettle maker is a play on the term  rigor mortis which literally means “stiffness of death” and refers to the tendency of corpses to become rigid for a fixed period of time after death.

Rigor fortis means “stiffness of strength.”  Strength is mostly about suppleness, elasticity, and explosiveness.  But sometimes it also about setting your face like flint.

Third Annual November Mettlecraft Challenge is in full swing.

November is Mettlecraft Month at Cabal Fang.  Click here to participate if you dare!  Here’s what we did in 2018 and 2019.  

Engage!

If you’re new in these parts, you should know that people who engage with the content by doing some of the work and/or posting in the comments have been known to get discount coupons for books and merch from Mitch’s General Store

Rigor Fortis: Mettle Maker #236

  • 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 MBFIf you really want to crush this month’s mettlecraft challenge, do MBF every day and incorporate at least 2 of its exercises in each session.  Frequent low-intensity work between high-intensity work will shoot you forward like a slingshot.
  • How’s your pain tolerance?  Half fill a large pitcher with water and ice.  Set timer for 3 mins and plunge your open hand and lower arm into it to test your pain tolerance.  Do not squirm, make faces, or utter a sound.  If you can’t go the full 3 mins, practice daily until you can. Note: As shown in Mythbusters episode #142, holding a hand in ice water for ≤ 3 minutes is safe for people with no precluding health issues.
  • palm strike dummyFive rounds of practical, solo grappling action.  You’re doing intense fitness work on account of Mettlecraft Month, so take it down a notch and work the dummy.  If you don’t have a dummy, make one (instructions in my e-book Martial Grit).  Hang up your dummy and set timer for 5 x 3:00 (beginners add breaks if needed). Rounds as follows:  1) Grinding and Gouging 2) Striking 3) Choking, Holding and Locking 4) Throwing 5) Yanking.  See video below for details.
  • weather scoutingHow’s your weather wisdom?  Do you know which tidbits of old-timey weather wisdom are reliable and which are merely myths?  Is a read sky at night really a sailor’s delight?  Do trees really show the undersides of their leaves before a storm?  Click the picture to enlarge and expand this excerpt from Robert Baden-Powell’s Scouting For Boys  (7th Edition, 1915).  Which of these are reliable and which are not?  Answers next week.
  • Can you set your face like flint?  Has there been a time when you were beset by accusers, defamers, and smearers, by the cruel and the vindictive?  If not, then you will at some point.  Often this will happen when you are genuinely at fault to some extent.  Blood gets in the water and the sharks descend.  Mistakes are the best teachers and we all make them.  But don’t let yourself be broken by those who heap on a level of derision out of proportion to your error.  Accept your mistake.  Repent, do penance, and take action to correct and prevent a recurrence.  Set your face like flint.  Look them in the eye, not with anger, defensiveness, or denial but with calmness and courage.  Meditate on a time when this happened and evaluate how you’d behave if happened again.  If this has never happened to you, meditate on this and be prepared.  We moderns have lost sight of the important of this type of practice.  The ancients would have called it stoicism, controlling the passions, and so on.
  • If it ain’t in the training journal it didn’t happen.  Do the work, the external and internal, and write about what you did and thought in your journal.  Introspection, self-examination and measurement are the key to progress.



TWO MARTIAL ARTS DISTANCE LEARNING PROGRAMS AVAILABLE. 100% free and operated through my non-profit, Cabal Fang is martial arts for personal development, self-defense and fitness. Bobcat Frontier Martial Arts is just $19.99/month and that’s your choice if you’re interested in Frontier Rough ‘n’ Tumble — the fighting arts, survival skills, lifeways and ethos of the colonial and indigenous peoples of North American during the frontier period (1607 – 1912). What are you waiting for — enroll today!

Going Powhatan #2: Bathing Cold

Rountree’s “The Powhatan Indians of Virginia”

The first book I read about the natives of Virginia was Helen C. Rountree’s The Powhatan Indians of Virginia: Their Traditional Culture.   It’s the most referenced book on the subject written to date, and Rountree is the foremost living expert on Virginia’s natives.  You can take issue with some aspect of Rountree’s work if you like, but you cannot sidestep her.  Read and contend with Rountree or you don’t know squat.

And the first thing I learned from Rountree about the Powhatan that deeply impressed me was the bit about the cold baths. According to her historical references, the Powhatan were as clean as people living in huts could be, mainly because each morning they all migrated down to the local water source to bathe – regardless of the weather. She also said that, to harden them to the cold, babies were bathed as well.

Allow me to insert a paragraph break so you can let that sink in a second.

Cold baths are no laughing matter. I had previously done cold baths indoors as part of various training regimens I’ve tried over the years. Let’s just say that the subject comes up in martial arts circles. Armed forces from the Spartains of Ancient Greece to the Seals at Naval Base Coronado attest to the power of cold water to awaken the warrior within. But outdoors? I started this program in an October considerably warmed by climate change. Even so, bathing cold outdoors in the winter seemed a little nutty. And yet there was a resonance I couldn’t deny, a strange synchronicity I couldn’t ignore.

The original Cabal Fang Temple before the new paint job in 2019

In my suburban yard I have a 9’ by 14’ shed that is finished like a tiny house with insulation and heat that we’ve been calling “the temple” since moving to the property 20 years ago. We started calling it “The Cabal Fang Temple” when I founded Cabal Fang martial arts in 2009, a name we borrowed when we founded our the 501 (c)(3) non-profit Cabal Fang Temple, Inc. Cabal Fang is Hermetic martial arts (for more information please visit www.cabalfang.com) and, on the surface of it at least, has very little if anything to do with primitive skills, my love for Frontier Rough ‘n’ Tumble martial arts, or the “Going Powhatan” project at all.  Although, due to lack of money, Cabal Fang has always been taught on the grass at local parks 12 months a year, so there’s that little bit of overlap in terms of “outdoorsiness” I suppose. But there was also a strange coincidence.  At the time I was reading Rountree’s book, I was struggling with what to do about remodeling the temple. The plan was to transform it from a hybrid space into a proper chapel, to make it a purely spiritual building and move my martial arts training to a new building to be constructed elsewhere on the property.

The stumbling block was money. I didn’t have the funds to construct a new building. And yet I was feeling the call to move forward in a powerful way. And so, when I read about the Powhatans’ daily bathing in cold streams, I had my answer: suck it up and train outdoors. What was the big deal? That’s how we train in the Cabal Fang club. At the park there’s a picnic shelter for refuge from rain, sleet and snow, and I have covered patio here at the house. The whole problem was in my head. Cabal Fang is always practiced outdoors. Why would Cabal Fang ever need an indoor training space? And why should a Frontier Rough ‘n’ Tumble martial arts instructor and primitive skills expert like me ever whine about the loss of indoor training space? But this is how human beings can be. We fear change, we miss the obvious, and we like our lives soft and cushy.

Powhatan bath

My “Going Powhatan” wash basin

I immediately went out and bought one of those heavy-duty resin storage sheds for a couple of hundred bucks and moved all the martial arts gear out of the temple so I could start the renovation. My next purchase was a one-gallon galvanized pan which I put that on my patio table, and next to it a watering can. Every morning about 6 AM, before I start my martial arts training, I pour a little water into that pan, strip to the waist, and wash up.

Next Time: Training the Hunter


If you liked this post…

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Steam Power: Mettle Maker #235

Third Annual November Mettlecraft Challenge is in full swing.

November is Mettlecraft Month at Cabal Fang.  Click here to participate if you dare!  Here’s what we did in 2018 and 2019.  

Engage!

If you’re new in these parts, you should know that people who engage with the content by doing some of the work and/or posting in the comments have been known to get discount coupons for books and merch from Mitch’s General Store

Steam Power: Mettle Maker #235

  • 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 MBFIf you really want to crush this month’s mettlecraft challenge, do MBF every day and incorporate at least 2 of its exercises in each session.  Frequent low-intensity work between high-intensity work will shoot you forward like a slingshot.
  • Could you climb a rope to save your bacon?  Stuntmen on TV make it look it look easy.  It ain’t. Hang one up and give it a go.  Start by trying to ascend a rope attached to a tree trunk or wall so that you can use your feet to walk up.  When that’s easy, move the rope away from the surface and work on climbing it without feet.
  • 4 rounds of wrestling flow.  You’re doing intense fitness work on account of Mettlecraft Month, so take it down a notch and work the dummy.  If you don’t have a dummy, make one (instructions in my e-book Martial Grit).  Building combos is part of the learning process.  But if you’re stuck try this 8 count sequence.
  • Can you estimate the height of obstacles, trees, etc.?  What if you have to to figure out where a cut tree will fall, or estimate the amount of rope you’ll need to lower down to your friends after ascending an obstacle?  “To find the height of an object, such as a tree (AX), or a house, pace a distance of, say, eight yards away from it, and there at B plant a stick, say, six feet high ; then pace on until you arrive at a point where the top of the stick comes in line C with the top of the tree then the whole distance AC from the foot is to AX, the height of the tree, the same as the distance BC, from the stick, is to the height of the stick; that is if the whole distance AC is thirty-three feet, and the distance BC from the stick is nine (the stick being six feet high), the tree is twenty-two feet high.”  Click the picture to enlarge and expand this excerpt from Robert Baden-Powell’s Scouting For Boys  (7th Edition, 1915).  Over 100 years old and still relevant.
  • Use steam power.  Think of yourself like a kettle or, better yet, like a boiler used to power a machine by steam.  The more you yakkety-yak about what you’re going to do, the more steam escapes.  It drains energy from the system.  Shut your yap and act.  Retain the the steam inside and keep the pressure on.  See the video below.
  • If it ain’t in the training journal it didn’t happen.  Do the work, the external and internal, and write about what you did and thought in your journal.  Introspection, self-examination and measurement are the key to progress.



TWO MARTIAL ARTS DISTANCE LEARNING PROGRAMS AVAILABLE. 100% free and operated through my non-profit, Cabal Fang is martial arts for personal development, self-defense and fitness. Bobcat Frontier Martial Arts is just $19.99/month and that’s your choice if you’re interested in Frontier Rough ‘n’ Tumble — the fighting arts, survival skills, lifeways and ethos of the colonial and indigenous peoples of North American during the frontier period (1607 – 1912). What are you waiting for — enroll today!