Tag Archives: harrowing of hell

Hell Fire: Martial Arts Training Involution #203

Harrowing of Hell — Fresco, by Fra Angelico, c. 1430s

Yesterday was Good Friday and tomorrow is Easter, the days we commemorate Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection respectively.  That makes today Holy Saturday, the day we reflect on Jesus lying in his tomb — the day many Christians contemplate the Harrowing of Hell.

“Harrow” is a very old word that means comb or rake.  In the old days a giant square device with teeth was dragged across the fields behind a plow horse to break up the larger clods of dirt, smooth out the earth, and pull out weeds.  Nowadays that task is done by a disc harrows.  This prepares the soil for planting so that seeds can sprout and grow.

A fire in my back deck chimenea

The idea of the Harrowing of Hell is that, after the rock was rolled over the door to his tomb, Jesus descended into Hell.  After having spent his life ministering to the living, Jesus then spent his death ministering to the dead and sharing their experience.  Just like an agricultural harrow prepares the soil for its spring reemergence, Jesus prepares the dead for their ultimate resurrection.

The night of Holy Saturday is also called the Easter Vigil — when bonfires are made from which to relight the sacred candles which yesterday were dark, when new catechumens (adult converts) are baptized into the faith, and so on.

Hell Fire: Martial Arts Training Involution #203

  • Warm-up thoroughly for at at least 8 minutes. I generally do 8 minutes of MBF or either 2-3 minutes each of (a) jumping rope (b) light calisthenics and (c) shadowboxing, forms, or light heavy bag work.
  • Try to set a PR (personal record) at one of your martial metrics. I hope you have some!  How many minutes can you go all out on a heavy bag without taking any breaks?  How fast  can you complete 250 kicks vs. air?  How about 150 max power kicks vs. heavy bag?  How many times can you hit your pell with a tomahawk in 4 minutes?
  • Complete this month’s constitutional.  In Cabal Fang we create a new constitutional every month and we complete it twice a week.  This month’s is sandbags.  Video below.
  • Harrowing meditation.  Wait until after sundown and make a fire in your fireplace, in a fire bowl on your back deck, in the chimenea on your patio, or in the burn barrel in the alley if the fire codes allow.  In the Middle Ages, Easter — tomorrow — would have been New Year’s Day.  Consider that the greatest of us brave the darkest places to help the those who are lost and in danger.  Think about the fact that it is the sacrifice of self that leads to rebirth.  Before you go to bed, write a few words your journal about how this speaks to you as a martial artist.  Cool down for about 3 minutes, then set a timer for 10 minutes.  

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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.