Real Deal Basics: Cabal Fang Martial Arts Training Involution #156

This week’s T.I. marks the third anniversary of the weekly program — the sixth anniversary counting the original protocol.  Sometimes, when I go on vacation like last week, I re-post previous T.I.s. But mostly you get something fresh every week. 

Being fresh ain’t easy, because martial arts aren’t as much about exploring new territory as they are about knowing the road map of fighting like the back of your hand.  Self-defense requires fight-specific strength and complete, automatic command of the basics.

That’s why I often re-combine essential ingredients to give freshness to the essentials — kind of the way Taco Bell creates new products from the same basic meat, cheese, sauce and tortillas.  Those of you have been doing C.F.T.I.s for a few years will recognize some familiar ingredients in #156 for sure.

Real Deal Basics: Cabal Fang Martial Arts Training Involution #156

  • Ideally you will have two heavy bags –one hanging/standing and  one for the floor.  Substitute a large gym bag full of gear for the floor bag or make one.
  • Warm up for a full eight minutes by doing multiple mini-sets at 50% effort.
  • Set timer for 5 x 3:00 (beginners 5 x 1:00, intermediate 5 x 2:00).  Rounds go as follows: HB Shrimps, HB Bridges and Reverses, Punches, Kicks, and Clinch Work.  Take as few 12-count breaks as needed to finish standing up.  See video below for details.
  • Perform the Salutations of Sun and Moon per the Cabal Fang Study Guide.  Our internal focus this month is The Luminaries and our external focus is Evasion.  More on evasion next week.

21st Wedding Anniversary Trip to DC

Me and my honey at the top of the famous steps from Friedkin’s 1973 masterpiece “The Exorcist”

Every year the little lady and I celebrate our anniversary by getting away for a few days.  Last year we went to Oz.  This year we decided to be a little more tame.  We went to DC.

Have we been there a gazillion times?  Sure.  Without the kids and/or grandkids?  Never.

Here are the highlights of our four-day trip in no particular order.  Pics and details below.

  • We had dinner at St. Anselm in Union Market.  Best steak I ever ate — full stop.  Named after St. Anselm of Canterbury.
  • We went to Sunday worship services at the National Cathedral.  Breathtaking!  Episcopal service was lovely and everyone was welcoming.  Parking is free on Sundays.
  • I went for a 3.5 mile walk/run from the hotel down to the Washington Monument, the WWII Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial.  Ran down with the phone stowed away so I could experience everything fully, then got out the phone and took pics on the job/walk back.
  • Toured the National Archive — saw the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights.  If you don’t get chills your American is broke.
  • Had lunch at 2 Sisters Deli.   A Chinese family culturally appropriating traditional NY-style Jewish deli sandwiches — fast, cheap and A+.  I love America.
  • Toured the Smithsonian Air & Space museum.  I was a model rocket nerd as a kid (Richmond Vikings NAR #25374) and I am a lifelong Trekkie.   We saw the original Starship Enterprise and lots of cool rockets — including the Aerobee and the WAC Corporal (all three of which I’ve modeled in scale but never seen up close).
  • Had Ben & Jerry’s ice cream down at the wharf.
  • Drove Embassy Row at night looking at the buildings all lit up.
  • Shopped our brains out at Potomac Mills.
  • Ate breakfast at Firehook Bakery.  Coffee, bagels and baked goods that were dead bang on the bulls-eye.
  • On the way home we stopped at Squash-a-Penny Junction in Doswell.   Really interesting and quirky general store converted into an antique joint that’s so packed you can barely walk through it sideways.  Limited hours.
  • Didn’t have time to get down to Souk on Capitol Hill.  Too bad — I love everything about this place.  There’s always next time.

More Truth: Cabal Fang Training Involution #155

As you’re reading this my wife and I are on our annual wedding anniversary getaway.  So I’m going to re-post a slight reworking of T.I. #50 — of one of my favorites from 2 years back.  Let me know what you think in the comments.  Enjoy!


A couple of years ago I posted a video analysis of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty.  One of the things I mentioned was the nature and symbolism of Prince Philip’s Sword of Truth and Shield of Virtue.

During his fight with Maleficent in her dragon form, Prince Philip loses the Shield of Virtue because that’s what we all do.  We’re human.  We mess up, we make mistakes, we do things that we know are not in keeping with our own moral and ethical codes.  But as long as we hold tight to truth the way that Prince Philip does in the movie, we can slay any dragon and ultimately regain our virtue.  Because making a commitment to speak the truth is more than just a speech modifier.  If you do things you’re ashamed of you’ll have to lie about what you did.  So telling the truth is a behavior modifier too.

Truth may be the highest ideal known to man.  That’s why it figures so prominently in the initiations of Cabal Fang.  Individuals and cultures that do not revere truth may reap short-term rewards of one kind or another but eventually they will completely lose their virtue and have no way to regain it — and some dragon or other will eat them up in their bankruptcy.

Hold tight to truth my friends, and aim your compass toward it like it’s true north.  You’ll screw up because we all do.  But at least you’ll be able to get back on course!

More Truth: Cabal Fang Training INvolution #155

  • 10 minutes of slipping and bobbing.  Set a timer for 10 minutes and practice your slips and bobs, preferably with a slip ball.  Beginners use this intro video.  Advanced folks, run this slip ball impairment drill.
  • Heavy bag 4 x 2:oo/:30.  Go after a heavy bag with maximum ill intent, just make sure that between each combination you (a) complete at least 2 slips or bobs, and (b) you circle the bag rather than standing stock-still.  Hit while you move and move while you hit.
  • Meditation on Truth.  Look into your past starting with most recent history and find a time when you were less than truthful.  Now set a timer for 10 minutes and assume your chosen meditative posture.  Untangle that lie through meditation.  Use your imagination to step into the scene.  Relive the incident.  See if you can come to understand why you weren’t truthful, what you should have done, and what you think you might do the next time you’re in a similar situation.  Record your thoughts and realizations in your training journal.

Big News + IMT: Cabal Fang Training Involution #154

Cabal Fang attends Karate College 2019

For the first time ever, CF will be going to Karate College as a group.  Register here, send me an email, and roll with us!  Camp costs $219 and dorm rooms are only about $35/night.  Karate College is the best martial arts camp in the country, and it’s three days of non-stop action!

Cabal Fang Helps Revive Community Park

This is where we train. May not look like much, but it’s been the home of CF for ten years, and we love it.

The defunct civic association that owns the park where we train here at CF HQ is coming back to life and Cabal Fang is going to be a part of the plan.  The first official meeting of the new association will be on May 20th, 2019.  Yours truly will be at that meeting to volunteer for a seat on the board.  For the last ten years we’ve been the only folks who cared enough to haul off trash, cut grass, and deter vandals.  Our energy will continue to flow and evolve in concert with this new initiative.

Planning Begins for Cabal Fang 10th Anniversary Event

Try a 3-mile run with an auto tire sometime — what fun!

October will mark the official 10th Anniversary of Cabal Fang.  If memory serves me, we started meeting in April of 2009.  But the first monthly constitutional we have on record is from October, and you know the rule: “If it ain’t in the training log, it didn’t happen.”  We’re still spit-balling, but the idea that has come up several times in the past is some kind of tire run that will be open to the public.  Watch this space for details.

Now for the T.I.

IMT: Cabal Fang Training Involution #154

IMT stands for “Individual Movement Technique.”  In a nutshell, moving target acquisition takes 3 to 5 seconds.  To avoid getting shot, pop up, sprint as fast as you can for 3 to 5 seconds, then hit the dirt.  Wash, rinse, repeat.  This one comes straight from the mind of Mark HatmakerClick here for instructions.

Here’s a selfie from the knees down after finishing my half-mile Commanche-styled IMT mud run in a pathetic 15:20. A three-legged pregnant yak could’ve done it faster. But it was fun, and at least I wasn’t sitting home eating potato chips.

Happy Easter One and All

Katabasis: Cabal Fang Martial Arts Training Involution #153

katabasis /kətă’bəsis/, IPA(key): /kəˈtæbəsɪs/ n. (plural katabases) From Ancient Greek κατάβασις (katábasis), from verb καταβαίνω (katabaínō), from κατά (katá, “downwards”) + βαίνω (baínō, “go”).

1. A journey downwards: a journey downhill, a decrease of winds, a military retreat, a trip to the underworld; a trip from the interior of a country to the coast.

For most of the world, today is a dark day.  For some it is the last dark day before the light returns tomorrow.  For others the darkness won’t lift until next weekend.  Today is a good day to think about katabasis — the idea of what it means to go dark.

Since our focuses this month are Basic Self-Defense and The Book (the Book of Hermes, a.k.a. the Book of Hermes-Thoth, a.k.a. the Tarot) we will explore the concept of katabasis with our bodies and with our meditations rather than with our intellects.

Katabasis: Cabal Fang Martial Arts Training Involution #153

This week’s T.I. is a session that my son and I did together the other night, just the two of us.  It’s not easy, so buckle up, hold on tight, and don’t forget: modify, adapt, overcome.

  • Warm up thoroughly (at least 8:00).
  • Sparring. Spar all-in for 30 minutes.  Adjust round length to suit your fitness level.  If you are going it solo, do Wrestling Conditioner #2 (see below if you don’t want to get out the Cabal Fang Study Guide).
  • Constitutional.  Jump Squats (100), Lunges (100), Crunches (100), Bear Walk (100 yds), Get-ups (25), Mountain Climbers (100), Sprints (50 x 12′).
  • Meditation.  Lay out the spread of cards below, print out the picture, or set up your tablet/laptop.  Set a timer for 5 to 10 minutes.  Look at the pictures.  What story does this little “chapter” of the Tarot “book” relate?  Don’t think in words — look at the pictures as if they are selected photos from a children’s book.  What are the intervening pictures that complete the story?  What comes after?
  • Record what you learned in your training journal.  If it ain’t in the journal it didn’t happen.

Wrestling Conditioner #2: Set timer for 10 mins. Top Saddle a.k.a Mount your heavy bag and strike it 10 times as hard as you can. Drop, lock, and roll so that bag is on top of you. Knee boost or Reverse the bag as hard as you can back to Top Saddle.  Strike 10 times as hard as you can. Drop, lock, and roll so that bag is on top of you. Bridge the bag and roll it off to regain Top Saddle.  Repeat until timer beeps.

Point Zero: The Navel of the Modern World Has Burned

la cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris

This week there was a fire at the cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris.  I hope I speak for the entire world when I say that any damage to this treasure is a devastating  loss to all of human culture.

Notre-Dame means “Our Lady.”  It’s a Catholic cathedral dedicated to the Holy Virgin.  Before construction began in 1163 there had been at least four different churches on the site.  Before those four churches, there was a Gallo-Roman temple.  And before that, some believe, there was pagan goddess temple on the site.  There’s no proof of that.  But what we do know for sure that, for some time following the French Revolution, Notre-Dame was renamed the Temple of Reason and the Goddess of Liberty replaced the Holy Virgin on some of the altars.

Fifty meters in front of the cathedral you will find le Point Zero des Routes de France. When a French city’s distance from the capital is measured, it is from this point that the measurement is taken.  Notre-Dame is the center of Paris and, from the Middle Ages through the Enlightenment, Paris was the center of Western culture — the home of the greatest academics, the greatest universities, the greatest libraries, the greatest museums, the greatest fashion, the greatest food, and more.

With all this in mind, is it a coincidence that le Point Zero is an 8-pointed star — the Star of Isthar?  Is it a coincidence that this cathedral would be so central to Western culture, given that it is the Holy Virgin who gives birth to the babe who changes the world forever?  Is it a coincidence that the famed North Rose Window of Notre-Dame depicts the Holy Virgin and Christ child at the center —  surrounded by 88 circled images?  No, it is not a coincidence at all. 

Because Notre-Dame de Paris is the navel of the world.  Surely we must grieve for her, pray for her, support her,  and see her restored and preserved forever.

The Famed North Rose Window of Notre-Dame de Paris. At the center are Mary and the Christ child. Surrounding them are 88 circles. Image not in the public domain. Shared via Wikipedia.

Le Point Zéro des routes de France

Star of Ishtar

XVII The Star from the famed Tarot de Marseilles, one of the oldest fully preserved Tarot decks, and certainly the one most often copied. Note that there are eight, eight-pointed stars and that 17 reduces to 8 (1+7=8)