Category Archives: Mysticism

A Clue to What’s Coming…

Changing are coming folks. Been telling you for several weeks that you should “watch this space!” and get ready. What’s the big announcement?

Well, there’s a clue at the bottom of the page.

What does it mean?

Stay tuned!

What’s this? A buffalo check bandana, that’s what!

Realignment: Mettle Maker #268

Changing are coming folks — I told you last week, “watch this space!” When Mettle Maker #271 drops on Sat. 8/7 the non-profit’s new brand name will drop, and under it will absorb all my projects (Cabal Fang, St. Barachiel’s, Bobcat, and this blog).

Why this realignment?

Because it makes practical sense to improve efficiency and focus. Each of these projects has had low to moderate success.

The plan is to forge four dull knives into one sharp sword.

But mainly because, as deacon in pursuit of holy orders, I believe that every human activity can be an attempt to usher light into the world, and I should be striving to align my every thought, desire, action and belief with that possibility.

I believe this is the way to do that.

Stay tuned…

Realignment: Mettle Maker #268

  1. Warm-up before training.  To avoid injuries, warm-up thoroughly for at at least 8 minutes before you train. Do about 4 minutes each of (a) jogging, jumping rope, or similar activity, and (b) light calisthenics.  Martial artists should do 8 minutes of MBF.  
  2. Self-Defense: Practice your slips The best way to practice not getting hit in the face is to let people try and hit you in the face.  It’s called “sparring.”  The problem?  Repeated blows to the head lead to poor long-term physical and mental health outcomes.  To the rescue: the humble pool noodle!  See video at bottom of page.  
  3. Fitness: Back Squats, Rope Climbs, #30 Ruck.  Last week we did heavy Back Squats followed by a set of weighted chins and a short, fast run.  Make sure that your training has a periodic element.  This week, let’s do 2 x 10 at 66% 1RM of Back Squats + a third set to failure (more reps less weight), followed by four rope climbs (more reps less weight), and a moderate ruck, say #20 – #40 depending on your size (more weight, less intensity).  Hate to sound like a broken record, but LPs without periodicity = injures.  Switch things up! 
  4. Bushcraft: Don’t be afraid of redundancy.  One of the things I always make sure I have plenty of are first aid kits.  I have a complete med kit (the kind with quick-clot, sutures, etc.) in the bug-out bag, traditional first-aid kits in the utility room, one in each vehicle and in the bug-out trailer (read more about that here), and mini-first aid kit (with needle and thread added) in my shoulder bag and in my desk at work.  You never know when disaster is going to strike.  Or when a paper cut is going to need a bandage, or when a crashing headache is going to demand ibuprofen.  Whatever you think you need in an emergency, make sure you have more than one.  Seriously.
  5. Spirit:  Spiritual but not religious?  I’m not buying it.  Spiritual strength, like physical strength, is built through work.  When you train martial arts, always remember to work on “S.A.F.E. M.P.”©  which is speed, accuracy, form, endurance, mobility, and power.  When you train spiritually, work on your thoughts, desires, actions and beliefs using the four spiritual practices: sacred reading, prayer, meditation, and contemplation.  If you’re not doing those four things you’re not “spiritual.”  You’re just lazy.    

 

COUNTDOWN! Mettle Maker #267

Heads up folks — watch this space! When Mettle Maker #271 drops on Sat. 8/7 it will reveal the new brand name for Cabal Fang Temple, Inc.! Once my friends, fellow board-members, and I decide and make the switch, the dominoes start to fall:

  • The new brand’s martial arts track will absorb all of the material from Bobcat Martial Arts, which will be shut down.
  • All of my classes and projects will roll up under the new brand, including St. Barachiel’s of Richmond.
  • There will be four learning tracks — self-defense, fitness, bushcraft, and online church.
  • Everything I do and teach will be supporting the non-profit under it’s new brand.
  • Mitch’s General Store will have a fire sale and be closed down.
  • And finally, my Patreon will be closed and donors redirected to the non-profit.

Onward and upward!

COUNTDOWN! Mettle Maker #267

  1. Warm-up before training.  To avoid injuries, warm-up thoroughly for at at least 8 minutes before you train. Do about 4 minutes each of (a) jogging, jumping rope, or similar activity, and (b) light calisthenics.  Martial artists should do 8 minutes of MBF.  
  2. Self-Defense: Practice your chokes Chokes cut even the largest aggressors down to size. You and your partner put on your paintin’ clothes in case something gets ripped and spend 10 minutes practicing your garment chokes.  If you don’t have a partner, put a shirt on your grappling dummy and go to town.  If you don’t have a partner or training dummy, that calls into question whether you’re a martial artist or not.  The chokes I’m most partial to are: Old #7, Bracing Choke, Loop Choke, X Choke, Jersey Choke, Guillotine Choke, Double Lapel Choke, and Ezekiel Choke.  What are your favorites?  For extra credit, practice using material from the environment as subs for the shirt itself, things such as drapes, sheets, towels, sleeves, etc.  Be careful with your partner and apply chokes with care — they are for real.
  3. Fitness: Back Squats, Chins, Half Mile run.  Back Squats: 2 x 5 at 50% of 1RM, followed by 2 x 1 of 1RM.  Chin-ups: 4 sets to failure.  If you can do more than 5 at one go, add weight such that no set exceeds a rep count of 5.  Run: Cover 1/2 mile as fast as you can. 
  4. Bushcraft: Identify this plant.  If you gather some of this and add it to your salad, or toss some of them into a pot of greens, it might be your last meal.  Answer at the bottom of the page.
  5. Spirit: Learn the difference between icons, idols and symbols.  Confusion on this score causes argument, lack of discernment, and failure to avoid the suffering associated with idolatry.  An idol is that which points to a finite object or idea and is treated as if God.  An icon is that which points to God and is treated as if finite.  A symbol is a finite representation of an idea, concept or quality.  “Symbol” is an umbrella term encompassing icons, idols, and any shorthand representation of something larger.  Stars of David, peace signs, swastikas and the little trashcan on your laptop representing the recycle bin are all symbols.  A symbol can stand for something positive, negative, or neutral.  To a non-believer, a crucifix is just a symbol.  To a believer, it is an icon — as long as it points to God and is treated like a mere object.  A crucifix becomes an idol when its owner points it away from God to his or her own desires, treats the object like a magic charm to get what he or she wants, etc.  An American flag or a poster of a hammer and sickle is just a symbol.  But either becomes an idol if we treat it as if it is God.  Many people, atheists, agnostics and religious alike, decry idols and idolatry, not realizing that they are treating pastors, politicians, nations, science, and other finite objects or ideas as if they are God.  We know where idolatry leads — to extremism, totalitarianism, anarchy, disorder, and the bad old days of the ancient past.  Learn these distinctions.  Hunt down the little idolatries in your life and banish them.  You’ll be happier and more fulfilled, I guarantee. 

SYMBOL, ICON or IDOL?


The plant pictured above is Common Nightshade, a.k.a. Solanum nigrum Dangerous — do not eat!

Homily for Sunday 6/27/21: Christ Compresses Time Into the Now (Mark 5:21-43)


If you enjoyed this content, please consider supporting my work by buying one of my ebooks, shopping at Mitch’s General Store, or supporting me on Patreon.

New Direction: Mettle Maker #266

Last week I suggested that you could use self-criticism as a power source. Once we self-analyze and see our faults, we have to admit we messed up. Depending on what kind of faults we uncovered, we’ll have to face the fact that we wasted time, energy, money or effort, that we hurt, damaged, offended, betrayed, etc.

When you change your perspective, you change how you think, act, feel and believe. You become a new person.

It hurts to let our old selves die so that the new self can emerge. What does that mean exactly?

  • Changing how your think will change the media you consume, your topics of conversation, your interests, the clubs you participate in, friends who choose to hang out with, and so forth.
  • Changing how you act affects how you behave, speak, and even look — how you dress, how you cut your hair, whether or not you get tattoos, all of that.
  • Changing how you feel and believe changes your motivations, your career choices, your goals, aspirations, and so forth.

Letting go of old friends, old clothes, old habits, and especially old misguided dreams has a powerful sting.

But there is incredible, transformative power in taking a new direction. Especially if our new direction is inspired by, and draws upon, the the only infinite power source: God.

I’m intimately aware of this because I recently took a hard look at my life, my projects, my hobbies and my goals to insure that all of them are drawing their power from God rather than from what I want, need and desire. Toward that end, you are going to see some changes.

  • Cabal Fang and the non-profit Cabal Fang Temple, Inc. will get a new name and a new logo (with the help of my friends and the cooperation of the board).
  • All of my classes and projects be be rebranded and will roll up under that rubric — self-defense, ecumenical church, bushcraft, and fitness — and they will all be operated through the non-profit.
  • Bobcat Martial Arts will be folded in to the new rebranded Cabal Fang.
  • St. Barachiel’s of Richmond Christian Meet-up will be rolled up under the non-profit’s brand.
  • Mitch’s General Store will have a fire sale and be closed down.
  • And finally, once the new brand has been created, my Patreon will be closed and donors redirected to the non-profit.

Onward and upward!

tree sweetgum

New Direction: Mettle Maker #266

  1. Warm-up before training.  To avoid injuries, warm-up thoroughly for at at least 8 minutes before you train. Do about 4 minutes each of (a) jogging, jumping rope, or similar activity, and (b) light calisthenics.  Martial artists should do 8 minutes of MBF.  
  2. Self-Defense: Select a weapon type you are not accustomed to — or even a household object! — and complete as many strikes as you can in four minutes.  Eye protection required, and warm up for four minutes first so that you can learn the basic mechanics of the object before going full speed.  Beginners, do air strikes with a wooden/rubber tool.  Intermediates, use a dull, mock weapon and strike a heavy bag, pell or forging post.  In real life you may need a force multiplier, and you can’t be assured it will be something familiar, symmetrical or easily wielded.  Get there.
  3. Fitness: Bear Hug Carry followed by a 3-mile run.  Select a sandbag of appropriate weight based on your fitness level.  Advanced folks should be able to carry their body weight, beginners should be able to handle about 1/3, intermediate folks somewhere in the middle.  Walk off 25 yards/meters, rest 2 minutes, walk off another 25 yards, rest 2 minutes, then walk as many 25 yard/meter laps as you can until you can carry it no more.  Rest 2 minutes and then cover 3 miles as fast you can, even if that means you have to break stride and walk some of it. 
  4. Bushcraft: Spend a day being a raccoon.  Do not attempt this challenge if you have a health problem such as diabetes, low blood sugar, etc.  For one whole day, consume only what you can scavenge for free.  Tell nobody what you’re doing, do not beg your friends or coworkers, and keep it a secret even from your family members.  Eat only the cold pizza or stale doughnuts that somebody left on the conference room table, the free hot-chocolate or instant soup from the break room or concession stand, the wild edibles you can gather in your neighborhood, the free samples they’re handing out at the big box store, and so on.  You might have to go hungry a little.  Don’t worry, it won’t kill you and you might learn something.   Want more exercises like this is one?  It’s from my book The Wildwood Workbook.  Gitcha some.  
  5. Spirit: Cultivate some patience and discipline by sitting still for 20 minutes. Set a timer for 20 minutes and assume your posture of choice — cross-legged, in a chair, leaning against a tree, in lotus position, on a prayer stool, etc.  Calm your breathing to a slow and steady rhythm, and do not fidget, wiggle or scratch.  Keep your eyes open, think about absolutely nothing, and sit absolutely still.  Your mind will wander.  Don’t make war with yourself, just calmly let thoughts wither on the vine so that you can get back to “zero.”  Write down what you learned about your patience level and ability to be calm in your training journal.

 

Homily for Sunday 6/20/21: The Sea as a Metaphor for the Individual (Mark 4:35-41)

Owing to Father’s Day activities and church obligations, I wasn’t able to broadcast Holy Communion today.  But I did make a quick video of the homily that I’ll be giving later tonight for my seminary service.


If you enjoyed this content, please consider supporting my work by buying one of my ebooks, shopping at Mitch’s General Store, or supporting me on Patreon.

Critical: Mettle Maker #265

tree sweetgum

As a manager at my day job, I have a rule that I got from Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, which is that 4-out-of-5 interactions should be positive. That way people are excited to hear from you, receptive to what you have to say, and primed to become friends, associates, customers, and team members.

Do the 4-out-of-5-thing with yourself. Make notes in your training journal to reflect your successes and PRs. Note your milestones, goals achieved, and all of that. But you had better be critical as well.

There’s real power in realizing that you really aren’t all that amazing.

In my work as Christian apologist, seminarian, and deacon — and just in everyday life — I’ve noticed that many people who are critical of Christianity are folks who want to create a safety bubble of like-minded people around themselves in which nobody is threatened or criticized. All criticism is directed outward at the “other.” And when they criticize Christianity, I hear them say that Christianity creates a false sense of sin and guilt and then provides a make-believe solution in the form of forgiveness, salvation, and redemption.

I know this because I said those things myself after I lost my faith. Thank God I got it back. But I quickly noticed that there are a lot of complacent Christians create their little safety bubbles too. In their bubbles, everyone is Christian (perhaps even of their own denomination) and everyone outside it is the evil “other.”

To hell with safety bubbles.

If you’re sufficiently self-critical — if you’re doing the work of being the best person you can possibly be — then you are staring into the darkness of yourself and seeing some ugly things. You should feel the need to repent, to be washed clean, absolved, forgiven, saved and redeemed. And from time to time, you should need a life-line to prevent descent into self-loathing. I pray for the peace of non-Christians doing the work, because I’m not sure how that’s done.

But if you’re okay with who you are, and if everyone in your circle is also okay as they are, then sin, repentance, absolution and all of that either looks really stupid (atheists) or already handled (complacent Christians). Not much is getting done on the self-improvement horizon.

Believe or don’t believe in the reality of Christ. I hope you will. But either way, be critical of yourself and see past bubbles.

Critical: Mettle Maker #265

  1. Warm-up before training.  To avoid injuries, warm-up thoroughly for at at least 8 minutes before you train. Do 2-3 minutes each of (a) jumping rope or footwork (b) light calisthenics and (c) shadowboxing, forms, light heavy bag work, or 8 minutes of MBF.  
  2. Can you manage your body weight or not? 4 sets of Chin-ups, Front Lunge (martial artists do them DDU-style), Bear Walks (5 yards), and Shoulder Rolls.  If this is your your MBF for today, do 4 reps/set slowly with perfect form.  If more intensity is needed or desired based on your training cycle and approach, increase the reps/set.  Don’t know what some these abbreviations?  Ask in the comments or schedule a call.
  3. Can you hit stuff or not?  Set timer for 3 x 3:00/1:00.  Round 1: Lead hand straight Palm Strike once, Reverse Punch; lead hand straight Palm Strike twice, Reverse Punch; lead hand straight Palm Strike three times, Reverse Punch.  Repeat. Whenever you gas, change stance.  Round 2:  Same as first round, except alternate straight and hooking lead hand Palm Strikes.  Round 3: all Palm strikes, alternating lead and reverse hand, in ascending count sets — 1 strike, skip a beat; 2 strikes, beat, 3 strikes, beat; then 4.  
  4. “Aggumplish” something you’ve been “slothilizing.”¹  You can’t run a marathon without practice or deadlift twice your bodyweight without ever having picked up something heavy.  But if you’ve been practicing a long time toward a goal that has been just out of reach, it might be time to push through and just get it done.  This week I ripped off the bandaid on two scores — I played my first guitar solo and finally got my rope climbed.  See video below for details.
  5. Look at yourself for 10 minutes. This month’s spiritual symbol is the Candle and the associated activity is meditation.  Last week we used sound as a meditative tool.  This week we’re using a visual technique instead of an auditory one.  Set a timer for 10 minutes.  Assume your meditative posture of choice, calm your breathing to a slow and steady rhythm, and do not fidget, wiggle or scratch (meditation is a mental exercise, but it’s also about developing control over your instincts and reflexes).  Keeping your eyes open, imagine a translucent screen in front of you, and on that screen is a movie of your life.  It’s playing backwards starting right now.  Watch that movie unfold.  Do not think in words — only images.  Just like a real movie at the theater, it will skip certain chunks of time, but that’s okay.  Keep going back, back, back.  You might get back to last week, last month, college or pre-school.  That’s okay, everybody’s different.  When the timer beeps, analyze what you saw.  What did you like?  What did you not like?  Write down what you want to change in your training journal.

¹ Remember sniglets, created by Rich Hall?  Hilarious stuff.  What’s a sniglet?  “A word that doesn’t appear in the dictionary but should.”  Aggumplish is a mix of gumption and accomplish.  If you can’t figure out slothilize I can’t help you.



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!

The Power to Climb a Rope

I’ve always wanted to be able to climb a rope.  Today I did it for the first time.  Let me tell you about the mindset you need to get this — and other hard things — done and dusted.


 


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!

Live Holy Communion Sunday 6/13/21 at 9:30 AM

I’ll be attempting my first live Holy Communion on Sunday at 9:30 AM.  Watch and enjoy or prepare bread and wine and join in as appropriate.

Holy Communion is a sacred ritual.  Persons not baptized in the Christian faith should not partake of Holy Communion. If you are a sacramental Christian, please observe the guidance of your bishop as to whether or not, or in what manner, you should participate. Other baptized Christians should observe the guidance of their pastor.

holy communion live stream


If you enjoyed this content, please consider supporting my work by buying one of my ebooks, shopping at Mitch’s General Store, or supporting me on Patreon.

Sing Your Song: Mettle Maker #264

Opening liturgical prayers -Hymns img_5321 (1)

Pastor Cynthia Jackson of the Church of the Evangel (L) and her deacon (R) singing at the Feast of St. Andrew ordinations of Bishop Erik, Bishop Angela, Bishop Linda, and little old me to the role of deacon.

Sing Your Song: Mettle Maker #264

  • Hum your solfège before you break out into song.  To avoid injuries, warm-up thoroughly for at at least 8 minutes before you train. Do 2-3 minutes each of (a) jumping rope or footwork (b) light calisthenics and (c) shadowboxing, forms, light heavy bag work, or 8 minutes of MBF.  
  • Wreck your rhythm.  Disrupt your form by picking up an awkward object, like a hiking stick or water bottle, and go for a run.  It’s amazing how a little thing can make such a big difference in terms of cadence and therefore, energy demand.  Try it!
  • When it comes to your favorite weapon, change your tune.  With weapon in hand, can you safely run and perform key maneuvers like shoulder roll, side deadfall, forward dive, baseball slide, etc.?  If not, you should probably pause working on your fancy techniques and interpretive dance moves and start figuring it out.  If you can’t move with your knife, stick, tomahawk, gun, or what-have-you without killing yourself, that’s an issue.  Put in 10 minutes of movement practice with a dull/dummy version of your weapon.  Count the number of faults — times you touch yourself with the business end or point the weapon at yourself.  When your 10 minutes are up, perform 50 Push-ups for each fault.  For more help and guidance, sign up for the Bobcat Frontier Martial Arts Program.
  • Learn a bird song.  This is a Great Crested Flycatcher (Myiarchus crinitus) that I identified using the Cornel Ornithology Lab’s free Birdnet app.  The single “weep” call at dawn or twilight is indicative of a calm area free of aggression by other birds or predators.  Learning bird calls brings your landscape alive.  Get there. 
  • Sing a new psalm.  This month’s spiritual symbol is the Candle.  The wick runs through a candle the same way your spine runs through your body, and the flame at the top of the candle is analogous to enlightenment.  Try lighting your fire with meditative singing.  Chant or sing a piece of beloved scripture and see what happens to your head.  If you’re new to this, you’ll likely feel a little peculiar.  But if you stick with daily practice, in a few short weeks you will likely come to appreciate its affects.  I’ve pasted the words to one of my favorites below, as well as an audio recording.  A sung hymn, psalm or other “mantra” easily triggers a positively altered mental state.  Get there.  

Psalm 24, Responsorial Form

R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
The LORD’s are the earth and its fullness;
the world and those who dwell in it.
For he founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers.
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
Who can ascend the mountain of the LORD?
or who may stand in his holy place?
One whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean,
who desires not what is vain.
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
He shall receive a blessing from the LORD,
a reward from God his savior.
Such is the race that seeks him,
that seeks the face of the God of Jacob.
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.



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!