Tag Archives: heavy bag

Discern: Mettle Maker #240

DISCERN (Dis*cern”, v. i.) 1. To see or understand the difference; to make distinction; as, to discern between good and evil, truth and falsehood.

Embedded in the phrase “pay attention” is the idea that the truth is something you purchase with your powers of focus.  It is no coincidence that wisdom is associated with vision and attention.

A friend said I looked like a silly turtle man in my last movement drill video.  I laughed and replied, “I know, it’s hilarious. But did you try it though? Crawling low and slow is way more strenuous than you might expect. Same is true of IMT runs and runs with objects in hand (like weapons). Martial movements are very different than everyday movements and sports movements!”

A soccer kick is not roundhouse, and a punch you throw in aerobics class is not a strike, and so on.

The modern mind seems to be increasingly unable to discern with the power of the ancients.  My current working theory is that this is caused by “duality creep” — the human tendency to separate body from soul, natural from supernatural, and metaphorical from material.  You don’t have to chase the Mad Hatter down the MOQ rabbit hole in order to begin collapsing your duality. Just realize that nondual thinking leads to higher quality discernment.

Remember that shoulds and oughts are not the same thing as iss and ares.

Discern: Mettle Maker #240

  • 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.
  • 5 rounds on the heavy bag with a slip stick. Around here (per the S.A.F.E. M.P. protocol) we never just wail on a bag.  Put a slip stick on your bag,  set timer for 5 x 3:00/1:00. Turn down the power and work on form.  Martial artists work a heavy bag far differently than fitness trainers do.  See video on right for instructions on making your own slip stick if needed. 
  • 10 minutes of situational fitness.  Do whatever fitness drill you want to do — calisthenics, a run, pick whatever you want — just do it impaired, distracted, or stressed.  Put in earbuds and play annoying music, tuck one hand in your belt as if it’s injured, etc.  Pain and strain change the game.  Here’s a video of us changing the game at the club last week.
  • Go outside and sketch something.  So what if you’re not an artist?  Get a paper and pencil or pen and sketch something.  This will focus your attention like nobody’s business.  Relax and get into it.  If you’d like to hone your outdoor skills, start keeping a sketch book.  Once you’ve sketched a plant you cannot identify and then looked it up in a book, you’ll never forget it.  For more on this, see Chapter 18 in The Wildwood Workbook.
  • Nondual thinking changes how you see the world.  Yesterday was Christmas, one of the most important holidays of the year for most of planet earth.  Christmas is a celebration of the ultimate collapse of duality by means of the Incarnation — when God becomes man so that man might become god through grace.  Meditate on the below quote from a blog post by Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick.

“Athanasius the Great…was the hero of the First Ecumenical Council in 325, having been the one whose theological expressions won the day, sifting out falsehood from the truth and resulting in the first version of the Creed we recite in every Divine Liturgy. Yet for all that, he was actually only a deacon at that first great council, not even allowed a vote in the proceedings. He was there only as an assistant to his bishop, St. Alexander of Alexandria. He eventually succeeded St. Alexander on his throne, and as the Pope of Alexandria, in 367 he wrote one of the letters that came to be famous in Church history as the first known listing of the canonical New Testament books.

But Athanasius showed remarkable wisdom even when he was young. His most well-known work, On the Incarnation, may have been written when he was as young as 23. And it is on this work that I would like us to rest for a few moments today, particularly on its most famous sentence.

In the fifty-fourth chapter of On the Incarnation, St. Athanasius wrote a sentence that has echoed down through the centuries even into our own time as a brilliant summary of the Gospel. He wrote this: “God became man so that man might become god” (54:3).

This doctrine is called theosis.”

~Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick, Ancient Faith Ministries



TWO MARTIAL ARTS DISTANCE LEARNING PROGRAMS AVAILABLE. 100% free and operated through my non-profit, Cabal Fang is martial arts for personal development, self-defense and fitness. Bobcat Frontier Martial Arts is just $19.99/month and that’s your choice if you’re interested in 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). What are you waiting for — enroll today!

Selfless: Mettle Maker #239

Robert  “Bobby” Mitchell — November 21, 1934 ~ July 8, 2008

My Dad had this saying, and it went like this.

“Sometimes your head leads your feet.  Sometimes your feet lead your head.  Doesn’t matter much as long as you keep heading in the right direction.”

~Bobby Mitchell

What does that mean?  Sometimes you’re going the right way in life but you start to second guess what you’re up to.  Maybe it’s difficult and you want to give up.  So you start rationalizing why you should stop.  That’s your feet leading your head.  Stop thinking and keep walking.

Other times you know what you need to do — maybe even what you must do — but you just can’t seem to get your act together.  That’s your head leading your feet.  Don’t stop trying with all your might, just keep thinking right and and let your feet catch up.

If you asked him, Pop would have told you he was a Presbyterian.  But really he was a sort of redneck Christo-Zen master, a homespun samurai.  Compare his axiom to this quote from Hagakure: The Way of the Samurai:

“People think that they can clear up profound matters if they consider them deeply, but they exercise perverse thoughts and come to no good because they do their reflecting with only self-interest at the center…In confronting a matter, however, if at first you leave it alone, fix the four vows in your heart, exclude self-interest, and make an effort, you will not go far from your mark. Because we do most things relying only on our own sagacity we become self-interested, turn our backs on reason, and things do not turn out well.”  ~Yamamoto Tsuenetomo

Pop also had another saying.

“Everything always turns out for the best.”

~Bobby Mitchell

As a teenager I remember responding once, “That’s ridiculous!  Things go horribly wrong all the time!”  He replied, “I didn’t say things turn out for the best for you or even on your time line.  They always turn out for the best for somebody somewhere.”

If that’s not a Zen master I don’t know what is.  Of course, he would have said that it was about accepting God’s plan.  But frankly, I’m not seeing much difference.

Selfless: Mettle Maker #239

  • 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.
  • 5 rounds on the heavy bag. Around here (per the S.A.F.E. M.P. protocol) we never just wail on a bag.  Set timer for 5 x 3:00/1:00.  First four rounds for speed, aiming for constant contact.  Rounds 1 and 2: Outside range hands — Jab, Cross, Bolo punch, etc.  Round 3: Inside range  — Elbows, Knees, Steam Donkeys, Crams, etc. Round 4:  Outside kicks — Roundhouse, Side, Piston, etc. Round 5: All-in for power — work all ranges and aim for maximum punishment.
  • 10 minutes of “life in the balance” fitness.  Set timer for 10:00 and cycle through the following: 1 Rope Ascent, 1 Crow Sit (until you tip over), 1 Wall Walk, 1 HSPU.  Modify/Adapt/Overcome.  If you can’t climb a rope, hang it next to a wall or tree and use your feet, or just hold on until you gas. No rope?  Use a pole or Pull-up bar.  If you can’t do a Crow Sit, put your forehead on a yoga block.  If you can’t do a Wall Walk, do an Incline Plank.  If you can’t do HSPUs, do a Pike Push-up.  No excuses.  Get there.
  • Do you know what this is?  If not, you’re missing a valuable survival skill.  Turn to page 31 in The Wildwood Workbook or ask me in the comments and I’ll tell you what it is.
  • Empty your cup to fill your cup. This month’s symbol is the Chalice, which is often associated with the Holy Grail. In Arthurian legend, Sir Galahad is warned that he may lose himself by taking up the quest.  He replies, “If I lose myself I save myself!”  The chalice symbol embodies the universal medicine of self-sacrifice and the relinquishing of ego. The more we exalt ourselves the farther the grail cup recedes; the more we humble ourselves the faster it returns to us. If we lose ourselves like Galahad then perhaps there is hope that we can save ourselves.   This is why we must relinquish our own wants and needs before we can accept the communion wine (“Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”).  This operation is depicted on the XVIIth key, The Star.  Meditate on this pouring out and pouring in.  Last week I suggested that you can’t say “Yes” with all your heart without first learning how to to say “No.”  This week I’m telling you that you have to be empty before you can be full.
  • If it ain’t in the training journal it didn’t happen.  Do the work, the external and internal, and write about what you did and thought in your journal.  Introspection, self-examination and measurement are the key to progress.


TWO MARTIAL ARTS DISTANCE LEARNING PROGRAMS AVAILABLE. 100% free and operated through my non-profit, Cabal Fang is martial arts for personal development, self-defense and fitness. Bobcat Frontier Martial Arts is just $19.99/month and that’s your choice if you’re interested in 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). What are you waiting for — enroll today!

How NOT to Use a Heavy Bag

What should you avoid when working your heavy bag?  What should you always do?  What is the best way to make sure that you address all 6 aspects of your body mechanics — regardless of the specific martial arts training tool you’re using?  Watch the video.  And if you want to learn more, click here and for just $9./99 purchase the Safe Martial Practice program –abbreviated “S.A.F.E.  M.P.


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Psst…I have shop where I sell martial arts programs and stuff.  But if  you’re broke, I also run a non-profit martial arts project called
Cabal Fang where you can train at home 100% free.

“The Prisoner” Heavy Bag Conditioner (Video!)

Today’s Cabal Fang WOD is a lovely little heavy bag conditioner I’m going to call “The Prisoner.”

Set timer for 1:00 repeating intervals. If your bag isn’t marked with specific targets, do so before you begin. Punch the bag for 1 min with maximum focus and ill will, counting all misses. Then do as many Prison Push-ups as you can in 1 min. Then kick the bag for 1 min with extreme stank, counting all misses, followed by as many Prison Get-ups as you can for 1 min. Rest 1 min. Repeat 3 more sets for a total of 20 minutes. And then finally, complete 1 Prison Push-up for every missed punch or kick. Advanced variant: add a weighted vest (I used a #8).

Just in case you don’t know the exercises, here’s a quick video of the two “Prisoner” Calisthenics mentioned above.

Making Your Own Heavy Bag

If you have a heavy canvas sea bag, one of the military-style kind, you can make your own heavy bag in just a few minutes.

Put a heavy-duty, contractor grade trash bag inside your canvas bag and roll down the top so that you can pack it tightly from the bottom up (see photo gallery below).  Fill it with folded linens (sheets, not towels), packing tightly as you go.  Slowly unroll as you fill.  It’s very important that your linens are folded, not just crumpled and crammed.  The less air the greater the weight!

When it’s full, tie off the plastic bag and link the top.  If you use linens, your bag should work out to be in the 40 – 50 pound range — lighter than a traditional bag but okay in a pinch.

Why make your own bag?  In my case, since our club meets outdoors, I didn’t want to get any of my good bags wet on rainy days.  So I put this one together.  If it gets wet, all I need to do is wash and dry the outer bag and repack.