Category Archives: Mysticism

Dollar Short: Martial Arts T.I. #220

My apologies for the tardiness of the weekly T.I.  I got a little tied up, what with everything going on in these here parts, including but not limited to my adult son living with me for the last couple of months on account of his COVID-related visa struggles and blah blah blah (those of you who have my cell or email, reach out and I’ll share the boring details).

Anyway, without further ado, I present…

Dollar Short: Martial Arts Training Involution #220

  • 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.
  • Complete this month’s constitutional. Walking Push-ups (25), Wall Touches (100), Monkey Rolls (25), Crunch’n’Punch (25), Lunges (100), Jumping Jacks (100), Steam Engines (25).  Get it done in under 16:40 and you have us beat (so far).
  • Sacred reading.  This month’s symbol is the Book.  Spend 15 minutes reading something of a spiritual, or at least philosophical, nature — the Holy Bible, the Tao Te Ching, the Meditations, whatever suits your fancy.  Make sure you record in your journal any and all realizations and reflections come to you as you read.


TWO MARTIAL ARTS DISTANCE LEARNING PROGRAMS ARE AVAILABLE. 100% free and operated through my non-profit, Cabal Fang is a martial arts for personal development, self-defense and fitness. If 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) — is more to your liking, check out Bobcat Frontier Martial Arts, my for-profit martial art project. Click either photo to get started today!

Slack nor Howl: Martial Arts T.I. #219

“Slacker” was a term for citizens who were uninvolved in the war effort during World War I, and a “calamity howler” was a fear-mongerer.  When the Spanish flu hit in 1918,

“the term slacker took on the added meaning of one who went out in public while ill, coughed and sneezed openly and in the presence of others, and generally disregarded the prudent recommendations of city authorities. The calamity howler became one who spread unfounded rumors of hundreds of influenza deaths in one day and vituperated health officials’ inability to minimize the spread of the contagion.”¹

Here are some of the things people did to keep society moving during the Spanish Flu epidemic when schools, churches, offices and civic centers were closed:

  • Kids were encouraged to do use their knitting, crocheting, sewing, wood-shop and arts and crafts skills to make new or repair damaged hats, gloves, and toys for the needy.
  • Churches teamed with Boy Scout Clubs to deliver stay-at-home Sunday school lessons to the homes of parishioners.
  • High School students were expected to be prepared for exams when they returned to school.  Teachers were available to assist struggling students by phone.
  • Outdoor schools, opened to fight tuberculosis, continued to operate throughout the early 20th century.  Kids didn’t just make do with outdoor schools, they excelled. Evidence suggests that students actually learn better outdoors than they do within.²

We are martial artists.  We should neither slack nor howl, but get our butts in gear.

Slack nor Howl: Martial Arts Training Involution #219

  • 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.
  • Crack yourself a sack.  Get a floor bag (a heavy bag with chains taped).  Make one if necessary.  Set timer for 10 mins.  Scissor lock the bag from the bottom and squeeze as hard as you can.  Straighten your trunk while you hit the top of his “head” with hammer fists.  When your legs gas, swap top/bottom foot position.  If you can’t make the whole 10 minutes, alternate Smearing Push-ups on the bag and Hatmaker’s Kansas Burpees until the timer beeps.
  • Get your crack out of the sack.  Run 1 mile as fast as you can.
  • Sack up and crack right back.  Whatever pressures are putting the squeeze on you —  social, work, health, financial, etc. — there is always something you can do.  Restriction breeds creativity, not freedom.  Get paper and pen and set a timer for three minutes.  Don’t analyze and think deeply — you’ll do that later — just throw out ideas!  Write down as many things as you can that might help your current situation.  When the timer beeps, calmly review and analyze the list.  Pick the three best ideas.  Put them on your to-do list, set completion dates on your calendar, and so on.  Taking action — any kind of action — is better than laying there and letting life, your opponent, or your assailant, crush the life out of you.

¹ How Did LA Cope With The Influenza Pandemic Of 1918?

² Schools Beat Earlier Plagues with Outdoor Classes.  We Should Too.



TWO MARTIAL ARTS DISTANCE LEARNING PROGRAMS ARE AVAILABLE. 100% free and operated through my non-profit, Cabal Fang is a martial arts for personal development, self-defense and fitness. If 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) — is more to your liking, check out Bobcat Frontier Martial Arts, my for-profit martial art project. Click either photo to get started today!

Dismantling Gnosticism

In this video I dismantle Stephan A. Hoeller’s Gnosticism: New Light on the Ancient Tradition of Inner Knowing.

Stickin’ and Movin’: Martial Arts T.I. #218

This month’s martial focus is sparring.  All month long we’re providing solo drills to keep you sparring-fit during the pandemic.  Week one, a striking drill.  Week 2, a grappling drill.  Week 3, a wrestling fitness drill.  Week 4, a weapon drill and a two-part movement drill.

First, don’t forget that there’s only 1 week left for followers, friends and family to get my newest book for half price.  The  50% off pre-sale ends on 8/1/20.  Click here to get it before the price doubles.

Stickin’ and Movin’: Martial Arts Training Involution #218

  • 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.
  • Stickin’ drill.  What is your everyday carry weapon of choice?  Pepper spray?  Kubotan keychain? Folding knife? Walking stick?  Banana?  Take a dull version of your weapon of choice and go after your heavy bag for 3 x 3:00/1:00.  Get as close as you can to the same size and weight as the actual weapon and practice with both hands so that your practice will directly translate in a life or death fight.  Here are some photos of my training weapons.

    training weapons

    Training weapons — stand-ins for tomahawk, navaja, Bowie, etc.

  • Movin’ drill.  Could you quietly navigate your home or apartment in the dark if you had to evade an intruder?  Could you avoid all of the creaky doors, squeaking boards and popping stairs?  How about your yard?  Could you make it off your property in the dark in any direction without making noise, stepping in a divot, or tripping over a root?  Start practicing today.  See video below for tips.
  • Practice the Rule of Five. This month’s symbol is the Pentangle or 5-pointed star ★ (more about its symbolism here).  After you’ve cooled down for 3 minutes, spend some time organizing your life by the Rule of Five.  Divide a sheet of paper into two columns. Then cut the right column into four equal parts so that your paper is divided into five sections.   Label the left column “Misc.” and the four sections on the right side, “Today,” “This Week,” “This Weekend,” and “This Month.”  List all goals and to-do items under “Misc.”  Then move three things into each of the blocks on the right, crossing them off the left as you go.  When you’re done you’ll have three things to do today, three this week, three this weekend, three this month, and a slew of things on the left that are on deck.  Work and maintain a list like this and it’ll change your life.  For more on this program see The Hourglass Way: Transform in 12 weeks with Cabal Fang.


TWO MARTIAL ARTS DISTANCE LEARNING PROGRAMS ARE AVAILABLE. 100% free and operated through my non-profit, Cabal Fang is a martial arts for personal development, self-defense and fitness. If 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) — is more to your liking, check out Bobcat Frontier Martial Arts, my for-profit martial art project. Click either photo to get started today!

Shove and Yank: Martial Arts T.I. #216

This month’s martial focus is sparring.  All month long we’ll be giving you solo drills you can use to stay sparring-fit (not everyone has sparring partners living in their households like I do).  Last week we did some striking stuff.  Today we’re going to do some grappling work.

Not a lot of preamble today guys — I need to wrap up the manuscript for Martial Grit and submit it to the publisher today because release date is Aug. 1st.

 

Shove and Yank: Martial Arts Training Involution #216

  • 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.
  • Three rounds of grappling dummy clinch punishment.  Set a timer for 3 x 3:00/1:00 and get your floor bag or grappling dummy (or just stuff a big gym bag with soft equipment and linens. Round 1, put it up against a wall and shove, grind, push, cram, gouge, knee and elbow.  Round 2, body lock your dummy and squeeze the life out of it with a good palm-to-palm grip and proper forearm cutting.  Round 3, back to the wall.  Advanced players skip the round breaks and press on.
  • Yanking practice.  Put a rope on your floor bag or grappling dummy and spend a few minutes warming up.  Reeling the bag towards you across the mat/floor, lightly pull and yank, etc.  When you’re ready to go, set timer for 30 second intervals and practice yanking that bag with maximum aggression.  Alternate 30 seconds of action and 30 seconds of rest.  Imagine this is your opponent’s arm and really go to town.  5 to 8 minutes of that should be more than enough.  Video below.
  • Pentangle meditation. This month’s symbol is the pentangle or 5-pointed star ★.  In addition to symbolizing the five wounds of Christ, it symbolizes the knight in action, the unification of all five senses (sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch) and all five faculties (faith, effort, mindfulness, concentration, and wisdom).  After you’ve cooled down for 3 minutes, set a timer for 10 minutes. Assume posture of choice and regulate breathing to a slow and steady rhythm. Keep your eyes open and do not fidget, wiggle or scratch. Visualize a five-pointed star.  Do not think about it in words — just experience the symbol as it is in a state of calm and relaxed awareness. When the timer beeps, record what you did and what you experienced in your training journal. 



TWO MARTIAL ARTS DISTANCE LEARNING PROGRAMS ARE AVAILABLE. 100% free and operated through my non-profit, Cabal Fang is a martial arts for personal development, self-defense and fitness. If 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) — is more to your liking, check out Bobcat Frontier Martial Arts, my for-profit martial art project. Click either photo to get started today!

Yanking Your Chain

I am going to yank your chain…

And as a true Christian Hermetic, I’m going to yank it in four ways — literally, allegorically, morally and mystically.

Literally…

Yanking is a martial arts tactic too often neglected.  Pretty or flashy? Not even a little.  Elegant?  Only in it’s efficiency.  Brutally effective?  Heck yes.  Intro video below.

Allegorically…

Nobody likes being pushed and yet, in martial arts as well as in life, pushing is the norm.  Parents push kids, spouses push spouses, bosses push employees, and so on.  Pulling, on the other hand, often works better if you have the patience.

Extend your hand and people will usually take it.  Give it a gentle pull and they will walk with you.  Wait for an employee to step up and then pull them into a project and you will get far better results than if you pushed.  Create an opportunity vacuum and pull collaborators into the open space.

In martial arts, if you are patient, wait for your opponent to push and then give a yank.  Then watch what happens.

Morally…

Moralizing — a.k.a. “finger-wagging” — is as old as time.  Interestingly, despite the fact that it doesn’t work,  everybody hates it, and God said not to do it, holier-than-thou behavior is never out of style.

Here’s the thing: people are really smart, and they copy other people who are smart, successful and worthy of admiration.  The best way to get people to clean up their behavior is to shut your mouth and focus on cleaning up your own.  Pull other people in the right direction, like moons pulled into a planet’s orbit by gravity.  Everybody will be happier including you.

and Mystically

Something that pulls without touching is called alluring which has the same root as lure.  A lure is of course a thing used to get a fish on the line so that you can pull it in.  So, to pull you into the project that my son and I started this past weekend I’m just going to allure you with a photo set and minimal words.  How’s that for yanking your chain?

[Today is the 12th anniversary of my father’s passing and during the project I was conscious that the date was approaching.  He was on my mind.  And I thought that if he was around, he would’ve really appreciated the mysterious thing that we’re creating.  So I made sure to use my father’s tools so that he could be in the project with us.  Rest easy Pop, thanks for the help!]

 

 

 

 



TWO MARTIAL ARTS DISTANCE LEARNING PROGRAMS ARE AVAILABLE. 100% free and operated through my non-profit, Cabal Fang is a martial arts for personal development, self-defense and fitness. If 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) — is more to your liking, check out Bobcat Frontier Martial Arts, my for-profit martial art project. Click either photo to get started today!

Happy 4th — it’s Sling Shot: Martial Arts T.I. #215

Happy Independence Day!

This month’s martial focus is Sparring and the spiritual symbol is the Pentangle. In the age of COVID, what do you do to in place of sparring and/or to stay fit for sparring?  Well read on…

Oops, I almost forgot to give you this month’s constitutional.  Breathe deep, you’re going to need it:

Get-ups (25)
Prison Push-ups (25)
Sprints (25)
Neck Crunches (25)
Russian Squats (50)
Down-ups (25)
Sit-out Push-ups (25)

And now for…

Sling Shot: Martial Arts Training Involution #215

  • 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.
  • Wrestling Conditioner — impaired.  To simulate having to fight injured, put your dominant arm in a sling, tuck it into your belt, cram it in your pocket, etc. and go it with one hand.  Throw your floor bag in the center of your training area and set timer for 4 x 2:00.  Round 1, circle the bag with good form.  Round 2, take Top Saddle and strike the bag with your good arm. Round 3, Roll to Bottom Scissors and squeeze as hard as you can.  When you gas out, swap feet. Round 4, let the bag rest on your your face and chest and strike as hard as you can with hooks, palms, etc.
  • Take your best shot.  7 rounds of “COVID Sparring.”  See video below.
  • Contemplation. After you’ve cooled down for 3 minutes, set a timer for 10 minutes. Assume posture of choice and regulate breathing to a slow and steady rhythm. Keep your eyes open and do not fidget, wiggle or scratch. Allow your thoughts to dissipate like ripples on a pond and your mind to approach a state of calm and relaxed awareness. 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. 100% free and operated through my non-profit, Cabal Fang is a martial arts for personal development, self-defense and fitness. If 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) — is more to your liking, check out Bobcat Frontier Martial Arts, my for-profit martial art project. Click either photo to get started today!

Black Belts, Ranks and Achievements

Last week Mark Hatmaker tackled another one of my goofy questions and then wrote a blog post around his answer.  In it he called me “Affiliate Coach Mitch Mitchell.”  After a week I’ve finally untangled how that makes me feel.

My black and yellow belts, both sacred for different reasons. Ask me in person some time and I’ll explain.

I got my TKD black belt in 1989.  Three years earlier I’d been 80 lbs overweight and unable to do a single Push-up.  When I tied the belt on I was 155 and I could do fifty Push-ups.  But more importantly, instead of blaming the world for my failures I was looking in the mirror.  That was a turning point.

In 2011, after years teaching at the YMCA and Recs and Parks, I earned the rank of master from CMAPA.   That was a milestone too.

But I set out to earn those those belts and certificates.  The tangible reward wasn’t the goal, but it was certainly an expected part of the process.  Money changed hands.  Boxes were checked.  Expectations were met on both sides.

But with Hatmaker it was different.  Sure,  he’s been calling me “coach” for some time.  Last year he gave me the thumbs up to start my Bobcat Martial Arts project built around his Rough ‘n’ Tumble program.  But something clicked when he typed out “Affiliate Coach” in that blog post last week.

I dawned on me that I had earned the respect of someone I admire, and it had happened organically.  No written requirements, no expectations.  It just happened.  A seventeen year process that started with his godforsaken Gladiator Conditioning Program back in ’03 passed like weeks.  And despite the sweat, pain and difficulty, everything involving Hatmaker has been at once extremely hard and somehow effortless. 

And that makes being called “Affiliate Coach” more special than any belt or certificate.  Thanks Mark, for things that can’t be put into words. 

Me (R) and Hatmaker (L) at Karate College 2004

 

 

 

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New Metrics: Friends, Adventures, Flow and More

After reading about circling in Mark Hatmaker’s¹ Weekly Newsletter — it’s the the natural tendency of human beings to walk in circles — it occurred to me that I’ve been “circling” in terms of my personal goals and creative projects.  So I added some new metrics to my productivity tracker.

New Productivity Metrics

  1. Number of books read.  This one’s pretty simple.  I read a fair amount for seminary, but I don’t read near enough and I haven’t been working on my reading speed which is lackadaisical.
  2. Number of Holy Communions attended or performed.  Once a month or so I celebrate the Eucharist with the seminary and I perform Holy Communion at home most Sundays.  That’s not enough.
  3. Number of new friends.  I love meeting new people but somehow this always gets put behind work, study, etc.  This includes both online and IRL.
  4. Number of adventures.  I spend far too much time pounding the beaten track.  I need to get out there and explore!
  5. Number of days spent living in the Kingdom of God (Luke 1720-21).  I too often let myself get tangled up, stressed out, and turned around.  I need to breathe more, relax, and walk with God.  Some folks would call this being “in the flow,” being “mindful” or “in the zone,” or perhaps sati or a Zen state.  Call it what you want, but that’s where I need to be more often.

Further to #4, Number of Adventures I went shooting for the first time in 20 years.  Took my son with me, and boy was it fun!  I’ll be doing more of this — I’m way better with hands, feet, knife and tomahawk than with gun, and that’s unacceptable for a rough ‘n’ tumbler!


¹ I’m an Affiliate Coach of Mark Hatmaker’s Rough ‘n’ Tumble martial arts program.  Rough ‘n’ Tumble is a martial art incorporating the fighting arts, survival skills, lifeways and ethos of the colonial and indigenous peoples of North American during the frontier period (1607 – 1912).  Click the photo to get started learning Frontier Rough ‘n’ Tumble today!

Tetragram: Martial Arts Training Involution #214

chariot tarot

Last week we saw that the Chariot Tarot card encapsulates our June focuses (counters, triggers and flow drills on the martial side and the spiritual symbol the Cross) because it depicts what’s possible if you are maximally engaged (in the flow) and maximally integral (living out the Cross). In other words, you are unified in thoughts, desires, actions and beliefs.

But the Chariot also symbolizes the quadrigathe four ways of interpreting scripture which are named after the Roman quadrida, a chariot drawn by four horses. Those four ways are literally, allegorically, morally and mystically. Four perspectives are necessary in order to see the big picture (that’s why there are four Gospels).

It’s all about the fours. The Egyptian Hieratic number four is jifdáw, which literally means “rectangle.” The canopy of the chariot is a rectangle with four posts, the charioteer’s chest is adorned with a square, and the entire artistic layout is in squares and rectangles that mirror the four-letter name of God (the Tetragrammaton, YHWH). The charioteer is oriented by a 4-pointed internal compass (the Cross) and he’s in “the zone.”

All of this is embedded in the Hermetic Quaternary — to Know, to Will, to Dare, to Keep Silent — the Hermetic “compass” that is equated with the Christian cross.

The Hermetic Quaternary is encoded in esoteric Christianity and right there in the scripture — in both the Old Testament and in the Gospels as spoken by Christ. Read more about this in the next issue of SHIFT which comes out tomorrow (subscribe here).
Tetragram: Martial Arts Training Involution #214

  • 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.
  • Complete “Staying Alive.” In self-defense you can’t internalize a action/reaction flow chart — you have to prepare to fight tired and from any position and learn to fight in the flow. Set timer for 5 x 4:00/1:00. First round, run away from your training area. Second round, run back. Third round, shadowbox. Fourth round, grapple your floor bag. Round five, wrestle your floor bag. Beginners, take as many 12-count breaks as you need to finish. Advanced players, work through the rest breaks. See video below.
  • Contemplation. After you’ve cooled down for 3 minutes, set a timer for 10 minutes. Assume posture of choice and regulate breathing to a slow and steady rhythm. Keep your eyes open and do not fidget, wiggle or scratch. Allow your thoughts to dissipate like ripples on a pond and your mind to approach a state of calm and relaxed awareness. 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. 100% free and operated through my non-profit, Cabal Fang is a martial arts for personal development, self-defense and fitness. If 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) — is more to your liking, check out Bobcat Frontier Martial Arts, my for-profit martial art project. Click either photo to get started today!