My America and WOOTW #63

Here in the good ol’ USA we just celebrated July 4th, Independence Day.

Despite all the nastiness and acrimony of the recent presidential election, despite all the political rhetoric and the vitriolic spew surrounding Trump, I find myself feeling more and more patriotic these days.

The reason I feel more patriotic and optimistic about America than ever starts with the knowledge that Donald Trump is not us and Hillary Clinton is not us.  Neither was Obama, Bush or Clinton before that.  Trump, who campaigned and won as an outsider, has filled his cabinet with old guard Republicans, senators and rich elites.  Obama won on a platform or change, but largely did the same thing — he appointed the same old neoliberals and bankers.  Bush lied to us and go us into perpetual war.  Bill Clinton?  As Jordan Chariton said, he talked like a populist too.  But when it came down to it,

Clinton, NOT Reagan, deregulated the Telecom Industry. Clinton, NOT Reagan, repealed Glass-Steagall, the cornerstone of banking regulation for 60 years. Clinton, NOT Reagan, deregulated credit-default swamps [sic]—which was the gasoline that lit the financial crash fire. Clinton, NOT Reagan, loosened banking rules that forced them to make loans to low income neighborhoods.  And it was Clinton, NOT Reagan, who signed NAFTA, which was the largest nail in the American middle class’ coffin, with the TPP potentially being the final one.

These presidents we elect are all out for #1.  Their loyalty to big business and big banking is baked in from the start because it takes half a billion dollars to get elected.

“But Mitch,” you may ask, “that’s pretty cynical.  How could that possibly make you even more patriotic than ever?!?!”

Isn’t it clear?  Look –even Mike Rowe, that bastion of the right-wing middle-America, gets it.  As he said on his blog,

These two candidates were the choices we gave ourselves, and each came with a heaping helping of vulgarity and impropriety. Yeah, it was dirty job for sure, but the winner was NOT decided by a racist and craven nation – it was decided by millions of disgusted Americans desperate for real change.

I’m more patriotic than ever because I know that we are better than these candidates or any of the candidates who came before them.

Americans are just trying to make sense of a changing world, trying not to fall to their doom in the ever-widening culture gap.  As we fight for our lives and livelihoods, we do what people always do.  We grasp at straws (like nostalgic slogans, antiquated economic ideas, fantasy jobs, and unsustainable minimum wage proposals) and play the blame game, putting everyone but ourselves in the cross hairs (like Mexicans, cops, politicians, scientists, evangelicals, you name it).

Sooner or later we’re going to realize that we are the solution.

George Washington didn’t free us from English tyranny.  American citizens made their own uniforms and did it with their own guns. Abe Lincoln made some amazing speeches.  But when slaves needed emancipating, we rolled up our sleeves, created an underground railroad, and started saving people one at a time while the government dragged its feet and got us involved in a bloody war.  FDR didn’t defeat Hitler and empty the concentration camps, our soldiers did.  Obama didn’t nail Bin Laden, our Navy Seals did.  LBJ didn’t prevent unfair voting practices by passing the Civil Rights Act, American activists and the cops who backed them up did.

Americans did all those things.

Governments and their presidents almost always come last, long after ordinary people have blazed a trail.  Americans are strong.  They are kind.  And they are the most giving people in the world.  So yeah, I’m pretty darned patriotic this year.

And now for the workout of the Week.

Cabal Fang Workout of the Week #63

  1. STRIKING FROM UNCONVENTIONAL POSITIONS.  Set timer for 2:00 minute intervals.  Strike heavy bag as you drop to one knee, then two knees.  Put one foot on the floor, and then stand up.  Keep striking the entire time.  As the Little Dragon said, “Hit while you move, move while you hit.”  When the timer beeps, get on the floor and practice kicking the bag from every angle, with your weight on left hip, on right hip, on your back, on your butt with hands on the floor, back kick on hands and knees, etc.  Next interval, lie down next to a floor bag — don’t mount it, you’ve practiced that plenty! —  and hit it with hammer fists, palm heels, punches, etc.  Hop to the other side and keep going.  When the timer beeps, stand up and run through it twice more.  That’s a total of 18 minutes — 9 intervals of 2:00 minutes each.  Take as few 12-count (or 7-breath) breaks as you need to finish.  If that’s confusing, there’s a video below.
  2. EXERCISING GUMPTION. After you’ve cooled down, set a timer for 10 minutes and assume your meditative position of choice.  Regulate your breathing and think back to the last time you waited for someone else to solve a problem that you could’ve addressed yourself.  This could be something as simple as not picking up some litter sitting next to your car in the parking lot or cleaning up the messy break room at your job.  Or it could be something as big as letting a teacher or principal deal with your kid’s decaying attitude or not voting in the last election.  Explore that failure and ask yourself some questions, like ‘How would things be different if you had taken responsibility?’  Record your thoughts and insights in your training log or journal.


My New Every Day Carry (“EDC”) and WOOTW #62

Marble’s safety pliers. This was your granddad’s multi-tool.

Recently I’ve had several meaningful conversations with friends and acquaintances inside and outside the martial arts regarding the subject of “EDC” or “every day carry” — referring to pocket knives, pistols or what-have-you.  I used to carry a tactical folder with assisted open by S.O.G.

But I read a couple of articles about how carrying a weapon increases stress hormone production and I watched the episode of Through the Wormhole called “Is Gun Crime a Virus?” and I started wondering.  If I didn’t have a weapon on me, might I be more relaxed and more likely to use my head and avoid trouble?  I started thinking.

And then I listened to an episode of the AOM podcast with Lenore Skenazy, the author of Free-Range Kids: How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry) She talked about how the world is lots safer than we all think it is, which made me go looking for data.  And I found said data on  which is the coolest website ever.  Did you know that minimum wage in the U.S. puts you in the top 10% of wage earners worldwide, and a salary of $50,000 puts you in the top 1%?

Anyway, what I found out was, that the homicide rate in the U.S. is about what it was in 1965 and that, generally speaking, the world is safer than it’s ever been.  I kind of already knew this.  But apparently you have realize things over and over again in order to permanently realize them. 

In the end I decided that what was good enough for Grandpa is good enough for me. He didn’t need to carry a pistol or a folding pocket sword and neither do I.

So here’s my new “EDC.”

Marble’s safety pliers, unfolded this time. Pliers, Phillips head screwdriver, knife blade, file/screwdriver combo

If you want one you can get it from Old ’97 Knives in Danville, VA.  The owner’s name is coincidentally Ronald Mitchell (no direct relation I’m aware of).   When I ordered mine I had ’em in two days.

Moving on…

If I’m going to make Cabal Fang the best martial art it can be, then I need to become the best Robert Mitchell I can be.  So, in addition to being enrolled in online seminary to improve my spiritual education, I’m also pursuing my continuing martial education by becoming an Apprentice Coach under Mark Hatmaker — gentleman, scholar, martial artist, coach, and mud runner extraordinaire.  The Cabal Fang Workout of the Week is one of Mark’s.

Cabal Fang Workout of the Week #62


• Push-Ups 30

• Squats 75

• 3-minutes of hard shots on the heavy bag as if your life depends on it

• Sit-Ups 30

Beginners do 1 set, intermediates 2 sets, advanced players do 3 sets, and complete nutcases do 4 sets.  I finished 4 sets in 39:01.

Karate College 2017 Recap

It would take 50,000 words to give a thorough rundown of this 3-day event, which really wouldn’t be practical without pictures — pictures I  did’t take very many of because I wanted to stay focused and in the moment.  But here are the highlights.

But first, let start by saying that Karate College is the #1 adult martial arts summer camp in the nation. A couple of dozen of the best instructors in the world teach for 2 1/2 days in the beautiful Radford Recreation Center.

Radford Rec Center stock photo

The camp costs just $219.00, and affordable, spartan lodging in the Radford University dorms is available for an additional  $36/night, making Karate College a real steal.  I stayed in Norwood Hall.  Here are some shots.

Don’t forget to bring a blanket, your toiletries, and an extra towel.  You get issued one towel, one washcloth, and no toiletries are provided.  But he, it’s clean and cool.  What do you expect for less than half the price of the Super 8 down the street?

I spent 2 hours with the still-amazing-at-age-72 Bill Wallace learning Kickboxing.  Bill, you’re a goofball and real hoot.

Yours truly with the incredible Bill Wallace. I’m the goofball on the right. He’s the goofball on the left.

Another hour with John Miller doing Combat Sambo. Excellent stuff. If you see him, ask him about “beach pose 1” and “beach pose 2.”  John is a likable,  funny guy with a nice big Buddha belly.  My impression is that you do not want to mess with this Yogi’s picnic basket.  In fact, you should probably not comment on his belly.  I was too busy sweating to take pictures. What does that tell you?

The guy below is Josh Bishop.   He has a black belt in TKD and has many years of experience other arts.  Oh yeah, and I almost forgot: a BJJ brown belt under Renzo Gracie affiliate Team Mannon in Roanoke.  He broke apart the scarf hold for an hour, showing two solid defenses that I aim to try out next time we grapple at the club. Josh is what I like to call ‘the real deal.’  Check out the wicked gi his girlfriend bought for him.  He’s not actually Superman, just close.

Me and Josh Bishop, a brown belt under Renzo Gracie affiliate Team Mannon in Roanoke.

Right upper sleeve of Josh’s gi.

When I commented on the coolness of his gi, Josh said, “check out the inside!”

There were 21 instructors at Karate College.  I only worked out with about 15 of them, and I’m only blogging the ones who really impressed me.  The next one who did that was Hapkido Grand Master Scott Yates.

Hapkido Grand Master Scott Yates. He’s the one smack dab in the middle of the picture.

I’m not easily impressed by Aikido/Hapkido-related practitioners and styles because they often involve lower contact, reduced intensity, and preconceived notions that inhibit realism.  GM Yates started the seminar by having a BJJ blue belt put him in a full force clinch from which he escaped with relative ease.  He and his guys are different because they train with heavier sincerity and contact.  They pull off fancy wristlocks because they don’t train with compliant partners and they’re willing to modify and explore techiques.  He taught me a Z-lock that I think a 98-pound weakling could use against a linebacker.

I saved the best for last.  I spent four hours with gentleman and scholar Mark Hatmaker, “the coach,” a.k.a “the walking encyclopedia of wrestling holds,” or as I like to call him “The Computer Wore Wrestling Shoes.”  When Hatmaker puts hands on you, even though it’s gently just to illustrate, or if you hold some pads for him to strike, it’s not the same as what you’re probably used to.  Train with him.  You’ll be glad you did.

Two of those four hours were spent in the first unveiling of Mark’s Frontier Martial Arts material.  That seminar included thumping, caulking (“corking”), cupping and a nice little re-work of the classic Duck-under with a nasty finish.  Did you know that Mark taught himself the Comanche language so that he could interact with the folks who have the information he needs for the program?

Anyway, here are the photos of me and Mark and the certificate I earned from him.  I think we’ll close with that.

Want to see pictures from Karate Colleges past?  Give me lots of shares and likes and I’ll go scan my scrapbooks for you…

Me and Coach Hatmaker, certified bad-ass (him, not me)

The back of the t-shirt I got from Hatmaker. Now all I have to do is fill the shirt up with something.

The apprentice Coach Certificate I earned from Mark Hatmaker.



Updates: Travel, 501(c)3 Status, WOOTW, etc.

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Temple Fund Recycling Efforts

See slideshow above.  I’ve been accumulating aluminum and other recyclables to benefit the Cabal Fang Temple Fund.  This past Saturday I took the first batch up to C&C Cullet on Route 1.  Four bags of aluminum cans, two auto batteries and 80 pounds of scrap metal earned us $50.00 to add to the Cabal Fang Temple Fund.

What’s the Cabal Fang Temple Fund?  It’s the fund to build or buy dedicated space for training and other activities.  Current balance $388.00.

More to come!

Travel Postpones Next Workout of the Week

From Thursday through Saturday this week I’ll be in Radford, VA for Karate College 2017.  Workout of the Week #62 will be delayed until July 1st.  Can you make it a week without it?  Sure you can.

501(c)3 Tax Exempt Status

A couple of months back I mailed the IRS our 501(c)3 paperwork for Cabal Fang Temple, Inc.   What was their reply?  A letter stating that they will give their ruling in no more than 180 days.  Um, okay.

So, changing the subject…

My Vacation Pictures

Speaking of travel, a couple of weekends back the wife and I took a little trip out the western part of Virginia.  We stayed at Hotel Strasburg which was was fun, but to be honest, I really can’t recommend it.  It’s a 100+ year-old building packed with antiques and it could be the ultimate in “shabby-chic.”  Problem is, it really needs some TLC and a deep cleaning.

But the we stomped around town, went to Luray one day, spent hours in the Strasburg Emporium and the Strasburg Museum, spent a day driving around on Skyline Drive, and generally had a blast.

If you’re that area, by all means stop at E. Pearls.  What an amazing shop!  I was so wrapped up in the place and talking with the shop owner that I forgot to take pictures.   He sells art and terrariums, that’s it.  Somehow he makes those things fit together, and its fun and charming and different and really cool.

And of course we sent to Family Drive-In Theatre and Cooter’s Dukes of Hazzard Museum.  How could we skip those?

See you when I get back from Karate College!








The Bar and Grill: Cabal Fang Workout of the Week #61

This week includes a modified version a workout shared by the wrestling encyclopedia himself Mark Hatmaker.  Mark is a gentleman and a scholar, and I will be training with him next week at Karate College 2017.  Can’t wait!

Cabal Fang Workout of the Week  #61: DOWN AT THE BAR AND GRILL

  • Get yourself a bar.  Whatever you have available will work fine — an empty weight bar or a weighted workout bar is best, but a wrecking bar is fine (even two dumbbells if you have to, just go lighter than you think you should at first blush).  I used a #20 digging bar.    Whatever you pick up, do not put down for the length of the workout.  Do 25 Military Presses, 18 Walking lunges (bar at waist or chin, your call), 25  Knuckle Push-ups (squeeze that bar!), and 18 more Walking Lunges.  Do that 3 more times.  That’ll be 4 sets total, a grand total of 100 presses, 144 Walking Lunges, and 100 Knuckle Push-ups.  Take as few 12-count breaks as you need to finish.
  • Now grill yourself.  Not literally of course, but figuratively.  Think of a time when said or did something that makes you feel ashamed.  Analyze it completely, get down to the who-what-when-where-and-why of it.  No excuse-making.  Be honest with yourself.  What can you learn from this dissection?  Have you atoned?  If not, should you?  Did others forgive you, or have they held grudges?  Were you ever punished?  Were the consequences just?  How do you think others who make similar mistakes deserve to be treated?

Temple Fund, 501(c)3 Update, etc.

A truckload of recycling on its way to recycling

Temple Fund Recycling Efforts

I’ve been accumulating aluminum and other recyclables to cash in to benefit the Cabal Fang Temple Fund.  This past Saturday I took the first batch up to C&C Cullet on Route 1.  Four bags of aluminum cans, two auto batteries and 80 pounds of scrap metal earned us $50.00 to add to the Cabal Fang Temple Fund.

What’s the Cabal Fang Temple Fund?  It’s the fund to build or buy dedicated space for training and other activities.

That truckload of stuff earned us $50 toward the Temple Fund

Tax Exempt Status

After over a month of waiting, last week we received a letter from the IRS stating that they have received our application and that they are committed to responding in no more than 180 days.  I guess that means we’ll hear something by Christmas.

Bear in mind though, most organizations don’t get approved without being required to supply additional information, which could take an additional 180 days to review.  So we could still be a year away from being a bona fide 501(c)3 tax exempt corporation.

A little frustrating, but  hey — if it was easy, anybody could do it!

How Are You Going to Build a Temple?

We are going to build our temple with sheer determination, with or without donations, with or without tax exemption.  If necessary we’ll build it out of scrap metal, one redeemed aluminum can at a time, with sweat and effort and perseverance.


Putting Out and WOOTW #60

This is a quote from “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” by Robert Pirsig. The older I get the more sense this book makes. Haven’t read it? Do it.

Big Black a.k.a. Christopher Boykin — who just passed away last month of a heart attack at age 45 — had this catchphrase that I like.  It’s simply “Do work.”  And what that basically means is that you need to buckle down and put in some effort to be excellent.

“Do work” is a modern, slang, short-hand version of a very large and complex idea that’s explored, and think ultimately proven to be true, in the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.  That idea is that the quest for quality is what gives birth to all great philosophies and religions, and that it has incredible power to transform individuals and cultures.

The short version goes like this: When people pay attention and strive for excellence they are on the right track.  But when they don’t pay attention and they don’t care about what they’re doing things go wrong.  That’s oversimplified by about six bushes and a peck, and there’s much more there of value that you’ll get if you read the danged book.

But in the meantume, just try it.  Pay attention, take responsibility, focus on quality and “do work.”  Everything that the pursuit of quality touches is made brighter.

And now for the Cabal Fang Workout of the Week.

Cabal Fang Workout of the Week #60

  • Boxing HIIT for Accuracy: Setup a slip ball and a heavy bag so that you can switch between the two.  Set timer for 1:00 rounds and complete 20 of them, alternating between ball and bag.   On the heavy bag rounds, focus on hitting precise targets on the bag.  Put a few “Xs” on the bag with medical tape if your bag doesn’t have dots or targets.  On the slip ball rounds, focus on executing perfect and crisp pops and slips.  Muddy movements are easy for opponents to read!  When done, cool down by walking it off for 3 minutes.
  • Writing exercise.  Get out your training journal and write 100 words minimum about quality.  What does quality mean to you? Have there been times in your life when you have and have not done quality work?  Compare, contrast and explore.