Category Archives: Mysticism

Stand Tall: Training Involution #130

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s go put all of this together.

Stand Tall: Training Involution #130

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cord and Rule Month 1 and Training Involution #129

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

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

November is Mettlecraft Month.  Time to dig deeper.

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

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

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

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

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

 Self-Destruct Sequence

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


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

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

 

 

 

 

 

Flashback: Training Involution #128

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

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

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

Flashback: Training Involution #128

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

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

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

Four Stress-Fighting Tactics Used by Martial Artists

Four Stress-Fighting Tactics Used by Martial Artists

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

 

Dark Forest: Training Involution #127

Sir Gawain as illustrated by Frederic Lawrence in “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” (1912)

“Gawain, the nephew of King Arthur, rose and suggested a vow. ‘I propose,’ he said, ‘that we all now set forth in quest to behold that Grail unveiled.’ And so it was that they agreed. There then comes a line that, when I read it, burned itself into my mind. ‘They thought it would be a disgrace to go forth in a group. Each entered the forest at the point that he himself had chosen, where it was darkest, and there was no way or path.’ No way or path! Because where there is a way or path, it is someone else’s path. And that is what marks the Western spirit distinctly from We the Eastern.”

― Joseph Campbell, Thou Art That, Transforming Religious Metaphor (The book Campbell is referring to is the 13th century work “Queste del Saint Graal.”)


The insight of the 13th-century author who so inspired Campbell is amazing.

Then as now, our quest is to find our way in the world — to explore the dark and fearful places we instinctively fear to go.

Sir Gawain’s shield bears the five-pointed star, a symbol of truth and revelation.  The truth lies in the darkness of the unknown forest. Pursuing the truth requires bravery and the willingness to accept the truth once you find it.

Here’s some truth for you regarding my rule progress under the new program.  This month I’m working on getting my “B” (daily contemplation), “Q” (daily journal entries) and “O” (a three-mile tire run in under 40 minutes).  So far I haven’t missed any journal entries or contemplation days, and I’ve carried that insufferable tire through 6 runs, one that was 2 miles, but I still haven’t hit the 3-miles-in-40-minutes mark yet.

Where are you in the program?  Which marks are you going to earn this month?  You must enter the forest where it is the darkest, thickest, and most tangled.

Dark Forest: Training Involution #127

  1. 4 x 4 all-in conditioner.  4 sets of each: 4 Handstand Push-ups (substitute Jackknife Push-ups if needed), 4 Wrestling Shots each side (4 with left foot lead, 4 with right foot lead), 4 Back Bridges (the heaviest bag you can manage — I used a #80), and 4 max power combos vs. heavy bag (min 8 strikes per combo).
  2. Explore the Dark Forest.  Pick one of the 39 achievement marks and get started.  Many of them require consistent actions over the course of an entire month, but some of them you might be able to achieve right now!  And if you don’t have a ruler because you’re not a member of the Richmond temple or you aren’t enrolled in the Cabal Fang Hermit Path Distance Learning Program — what are you waiting for?  It’s free — shoot me an email and let’s go!

The UFC is Not Martial Arts

I stopped watching combat sports in 2016 because I didn’t want to support head trauma, bad behavior, and pointless violence.  My final pay-for-view was UFC 199.  And, since I don’t watch the news any more, I didn’t hear about the catastrophe that was UFC 229 until a full week after it happened.†

When I did hear about it, I didn’t comment.  In my mind, it was a perfect example of why I stopped watching.  So why comment?

But yesterday my friend Leo suggested that the UFC is not martial arts at all.  And he sent me a link to a video by Shane Fazen from the FightTips YouTube channel, and here it is:

At the risk of offending his clientele, Shane makes several great points, the most important of which is that…

The UFC is not martial arts.

Bravo Leo and Shane.  I agree.

I started Cabal Fang martial arts back in 2009 as a reaction to what I saw (and continue to see) happening in martial arts.  UFC demonstrated that certain traditional martial arts techniques did not perform as advertised.  It turned out that the “karate chop” wasn’t lethal, “chi power” didn’t work, board-smashing skills weren’t applicable in the ring, fitness was a more important than anyone thought, and that a one-dimensional martial artist who could strike but not wrestle or vice versa couldn’t win matches.

These were great lessons.  But people were forgetting the most important one.

It doesn’t matter if you win or lose.  It’s how you play the game.

We teach our kids this wisdom (or we should), and then we proceed to give our money and attention to trash-talking miscreants who are the antithesis of the ideal.

Traditional martial arts were slow to adapt.  Convinced that traditional martial arts don’t work, students began leaving Karate schools to sign up for BJJ or MMA “mixed martial arts” programs — both of which are devoid of all spiritual and/or character development.

This is why I developed Cabal Fang — a new and yet traditional martial art that incorporates the discoveries outlined above as well as the perennial spiritual wisdom of our ancestors.  Just because you cannot tap a guy out with meditation techniques or win a championship belt on good behavior doesn’t mean these things don’t have value.

Martial arts are not about what works in the ring — they are about works in life.

I felt then, and feel even more strongly now, that a martial art without a spiritual center is like a loaded gun in the hands of person with no gun safety education.   Should you show a person how to choke the life out of someone without teaching them the who, what, when, where and why — without teaching the value of a life?

If you do not elevate fighting to an art form you do not have a martial art.  You just have a fight.

A martial art without a spiritual center is not a martial art — It is a combat sport.

Do combat sports have value?  Can we learn anything from them?  Should they exist?  That’s a different conversation we can certainly have.

I’ve been in Shootfighting, BJJ and Savate programs, I’m currently an apprentice coach under Mark Hatmaker, the other day I posted a tribute to the great kickboxer Benny Urquidez, etc. etc.  Clearly I think there’s some value in combat sports.  But I also wish I hadn’t been concussed so many times, I worry about the fighters, and Benny is a very spiritual guy and a traditional martial artist.  Nuance is important.  But let’s not be led astray by nuance and miss the point.

Let’s stop using the terms “MMA” and “mixed martial arts”  which are very misleading.

Combat sports are not martial arts.

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† Fun fact: I rely almost entirely on the Sunday Edition of the Richmond Times Dispatch for my news.  That, and whatever filters down to me through friends and the 15 minutes per day I devote to social media.  You would not believe how much happier and productive I am since I stopped watching TV news.

New Cabal Fang Cord and Rule Program is Live

After some preliminary teasing and a lot of work, the new Cabal Fang Martial Arts Cord and Rule program is official.  In a nutshell, every month we’ll be stamping each member’s rule with certain marks to indicate achievements in terms of attendance, fitness and rank.  Rulers will be handed out at Thursday night’s session.

Here is a link to the full program handout that explains the symbolism and outlines the process, and below are the pictures of the first set of rulers sitting on the temple’s anvil.  The holes in the end are so that we can attach the cord — we also tie knots in a personal cord in order to keep track of certain other milestones.

This process fits in nicely with something that in Cabal Fang we call “mettlecraft.”

\Met”tle*craft\, n.  mettle [E. metal, used in a tropical sense in allusion to the temper of the metal of a sword blade; substance or quality of temperament; spirit, esp. as regards honor, courage, fortitude, ardor, etc.; See {Metal}.] + -craft [AS. cr[ae]ft strength, skill, art, cunning; akin to OS., G., Sw., & Dan. kraft strength, D. kracht, Icel. kraptr; perh. originally, a drawing together, stretching, from the root of E. cramp.] 1. The art, skill and cultivation of physical endurance, unflagging determination and resolute strength of mind, body and spirit.

This is the next step in the evolution of Cabal Fang.  Onward and upward!