Tag Archives: involution

Khufu Point: Martial Arts Training Involution #183

The pyramids of Giza in Egypt

It is Mettlecraft Month at Cabal Fang!  Last year we all faced “Self-Destruct Sequence.”  It was amazing — read about it here.  This year we’re going after the cord and rule program goal of 100 Bodybuilders in under 20 minutes which we’ll take a run at on Tues., 11/26 (the last meeting of Nov.).  Those who’ve already succeeded are aiming for new PRs.  

The way to work your way up 100 Bodybuilders is to use what I call MBF — “martial base fitness” (more details will be in my forthcoming book “Martial Grit” but in the meantime read last week’s T.I.).  One of the secrets of MBF is frequent, low-intensity sets.  

Pyramids are great low-to-medium impact training routines because they have a quasi-warm-up and quasi-cool-down built right in.  And there’s a psychological component too — almost like climbing a real hill or flight of stairs.

Why “Khufu Point?”  Because the Great Pyramid of Giza is also known as the Pyramid of Khufu and it has a point at the top — as well some really cool symbolism — and there’s also a “point” to this involution…

Khufu Point: Martial Arts Training Involution #183

  • Warm-up thoroughly.  Jog, jump rope, lightly shadowbox, etc. for a total of at least 8 minutes.
  • Run to the pyramid.  Complete a 1 kilometer run as fast as you can.  My PR is 4:40.
  • Bodybuilder pyramid. Complete a full pyramid  of Bodybuilders, Jackknifes, and  Steam Engines– that’s 1 of each, 2 each, 3 each, up to your peak and then back down.  Beginners peak at 5, intermediate 6, advanced 7 or more.  Take as few 12-count breaks as you need to finish.
  • Combo Pyramids.  Bounce on your toes in your fighting stance.  Shoot forward and throw 1 punch, then leap back.  Bounce for a few beats, then leap in and throw a 1-2 combo, and leap back.  Bounce for a few beats, then leap in and throw a 1-2-3. Continue up to 5 then back down to 1.  Take a short break, maybe 30 seconds, switch stance to other foot forward and repeat.  Beginners complete 2 sets each side, intermediates 4 sets/side, advanced folks 6 sets/side.  If you have a heavy bag, use it — otherwise punch the air, just make sure you imagine an actual opponent in your mind’s eye while you work!
  • Cool down for 3 minutes.  Walk around your training space and get your heart under 100 bpm.
  • Pyramid reflection.  Set a timer for 10:00 and assume your meditative posture of choice.  Regulate your breathing.  Spend ten minutes reviewing your training recently.  Evaluate emotionally and visually.  Visualize your training in your mind’s eye, thinking in images instead of words or numbers.  Have you been forging your mettle?  Are you “climbing the pyramid” in your training?  Are you ready for the 100 Bodybuilder challenge?

If you enjoyed his training involution you’d probably enjoy my books.  Why not check one out?

Bodybuilders: Martial Arts Training Involution #182

It is Mettlecraft Month at Cabal Fang.  What does that mean?  Well, during Mettlecraft Month we make it a point to ask just a little more of ourselves than normal — we test, and build, our mettle.  For more on the topic of Mettlecraft read this.

This month we’re all going to go after the cord and rule program goal of 100 Bodybuilders in under 20 minutes.  Those of us who have already succeeded are going to aim for new PRs.  We’ll make a pass at it on Tuesday night 11/26 (our last meeting of the month).

Work your way up 100 Bodybuilders using what I call MBF — “martial base fitness” (more details will be in my forthcoming book “Martial Grit”).  Build a base level with the Bodybuilders (or any other exercise) by doing let’s say 10 or 20% of the goal per day — however many you can do without being sore.  After a week or two at this level, without soreness, take a run at 50% of the goal to see how you’re doing.  If your run at 50% works out well, without much soreness, up your daily count to 25% of the goal.  If you do poorly, add a second session at 10% of the goal — that would be 20% early in your day and another 10% later on.  You still shouldn’t be sore.  The goal isn’t to crush yourself — it’s to establish a base.

Here’s a fun way to incorporate your 20% base into a nice martial training session.

Bodybuilders: Martial Arts Training Involution #182

  • Bodybuilder HIIT.  After a full 8:00 warm-up, set a timer for  10 x 1:00 rounds (10 minutes total).  Square off against your heavy bag and get after it will malice for the full minute.  When the timer beeps, knock out as many Bodybuilders as you can for the minute (most folks get between 5 and 7).  When you gas out, take a 12-count break before you start your Bodybuilders. This should put your total Bodybuilder count somewhere around 20% – 30 % of this month’s 100-count goal.
  • Reflection.  Set a timer for 10:00 and assume your meditative posture of choice.  Regulate your breathing.  Spend ten minutes reviewing your training — not verbally but emotionally and visually.  Look at your training in your mind’s eye.  Don’t think in words but in images.  Have you been forging your mettle?  Are you ready for the 100 Bodybuilder challenge?

If you enjoyed his training involution you’d probably enjoy my books.  Why not check one out?

Ice and Fire: Martial Arts Training Involution #181

Rountree’s “The Powhatan Indians of Virginia” contains a wealth of information and is surprisingly fun to read for a scholarly work of its kind.

My frontier lifeways research continues to pay dividends for both the Bobcat Frontier Rough ‘n’ Tumble program and for Cabal Fang martial arts.

A Powhatan warrior, I’ve discovered, was expected to be silent and taciturn when beaten for a criminal offense and, if tortured, his only outcry should be insults directed at his captors.

The Powhatan began at a very early age to inure themselves to discomfort.  In Rountree’s The Powhatan Indians of Virginia, I read that they took  daily, early morning baths in the nearest natural body of water, regardless of the season — men, women and children alike.  They told the English that they did it for two reasons – both to keep them clean and to harden them to the cold.

More indigenous training methods will appear in future Bobcat training modules — but some of them are so brutal that they will have to be modified, adapted, or even replaced with alternative analogs to make them compatible with modern sensibilities.

Stoicism — indifference to pain and discomfort — is an often-neglected martial skill.  It’s difficult to train safely and there’s a fine line between pain tolerance training and masochism or torture. Traditional martial artists use body toughening techniques like shin rolling, makiwara and wooden dummy training to instill pain tolerance. This is why in Cabal Fang we stress the importance of the forging post.

All of this leads us nicely to ice method of pain tolerance training — the “ice” in this week’s “Ice and Fire” training involution.

Ice and Fire: Martial Arts Training Involution #181

  • Ice.  Half fill a large pitcher with water and ice.  Set timer for 3 mins and plunge your open hand into it to test pain tolerance.  Do not squirm, make faces, or utter a sound.  If you can’t go the full 3 mins, practice daily until you can. Note: As shown in Mythbusters episode #142, holding a hand in ice water for ≤ 3 minutes is safe for people with no precluding health issues.
  • Fire.  Complete the following martial calisthenics: 50 Lunges (Drop Duck-under-style), 50 Reverses (Back Bridge to roll over), 25 Sit-out Push-ups, 25 Bear Walks (5 yards each), 50 Shots, 50 Sprawls, and 50 Sit-ups (from Bottom Scissors while thigh-squeezing a floor bag).  Beginners, do half.
  • Extra credit.  3 minute cold bath or shower.  Set timer and get in.  Do not squirm, make faces, or utter a sound. Tip: Meditate, contemplate, pray, or do what I do to pass the time: recite wisdom literature in your head.  My favorites are Matthew 6: 1-4, Philippians 4:4-9, The Lord’s Prayer, and the Emerald Tablet.

If you enjoyed his training involution you’d probably enjoy my books.  Why not check one out?

Update — Safari: Martial Arts Training Involution #180

My little suburban safari did not go as planned.  But that was the point — to go outside my comfort zone, to stretch my limitations, and to face the unexpected, the unknown, and the unplanned for.

The first thing that threw me for a loop was that, immediately after the first big turn, Hungary Creek transformed into a reedy, rivuleted flood plain covered in chest-high grass.  I had never previously navigated terrain like that, and it was more than a little nerve-racking.  That was a very, very long stretch for sure.  But I learned a little about nerve, and how to pick your way, and foot placement.  Proud to say I didn’t even once get myself sunk below the shoe tops.

Once I was back to woods and thickets I was alright.  It was easy walking for the most part, although circuitous because of fences and property lines.  Eventually however the creek ran through a narrow culvert.  When I emerged onto the road I found myself smack-dab in the middle of the Hoehns Lake gated community, surrounded by “No Trespassing” signs.  The creek was running straight down the middle, and they would’ve called the cops for sure if I had stuck to course.  Didn’t have much choice besides high-tailing it down the private road to the main road.

Of course, along the way I got barked at by several dogs and challenged by a frowning resident, but they weren’t anything I couldn’t handle with a few apologies, some raised hands, and some smiles.

Back on the main road I skirted the private property, regained the creek on the other side, and continued my adventure.  Eventually though I ran into an 8′ high chain link fence with barbed wire ontop — another community — Laurel Lakes this time.  See selfie at right.  It’s the only one I took during the trip, because that unfortunately the end.

I had covered roughly 5 miles at that point.  So I ambled over to Laurel Park, sat down in the shade of mighty pine, had a snack, and took a catnap.  Then I hiked the 3 miles home.

What did I learn this trip?

  • Don’t panic in high grass and start hurrying to get out — you might step in a hole and find yourself with a twisted ankle while up to your neck in mud.  Pick your way with your feet cock-eyed so you press the grass down ahead of you.  You can see where you’re headed quite a bit better,  you make a kind of mat that keeps your feet from sinking into the goop, and it gives the snakes more time to flee ahead of you.
  • As I’m getting older I have to slow down.  I am no longer as sure-footed as a billy goat.  If I was to stumble and jam my leg into a tangle of logs and flood debris, I’d spiral break a leg.
  • No matter how light you’re traveling, throw in a pair of dry socks.  I was lucky my feet didn’t get soaked.  If they had, I would’ve been miserable.
  • Old-fashioned blanket-covered canteens are twice as good as the modern kind.  They ride better and bounce less.  My 2-liter, pill-shaped canteen was more comfy that a 1-liter bullet-styled one.
  • Hemp-cotton blends dry almost as fast at poly-cotton blends.  My hemp-blend shirt kept me cool and dry.

Although I didn’t successfully walk the whole creek, it was still and fun and educational day!

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Original Post from 10/26/19

At the time this post is scheduled to publish, I will be exploring the entire 6 mile length of Hungary Creek.  I’m only familiar with about a third of it, so this is going to be fun.

This suburban waterway runs through the  powerline easements of my neighborhood, between parks and housing developments, and winds its way in and out of dense thickets.

I’m calling it an suburban safari.

Once upon a time a safari was understood to be a trip to Africa to hunt large game.  Technically though, safari is a Swahili word that means “journey”  and that’s mostly what it means these days — a journey through unfamiliar territory.

Your assignment this week is to go on a safari.  Like me, you don’t need to go very far to find unexplored territory.

safari: Martial Arts Training Involution #180

Take a hike, go for a paddle or mountain bike ride, etc.  Carefully select an activity that will be challenging based on your experience level.   Beginners, seek the advice and help of friends and loved ones who know your skills and read my book The Wildwood Workbook: Nature Appreciation and Survival.  

At a bare minimum, tell at least two people where you’re going, take a fully stocked possibles bag, a fully charged cell phone, and plenty of water.  

If your situation won’t allow you to wander far from home, go out to your back yard or patio and climb a pyramid or ziggurat.   Now there’s an adventure of a slightly different kind!


If you enjoyed his training involution you’d probably enjoy my books.  Why not check one out?

Excuses Excuses: Martial Arts Training Involution #177

This laser-focused workbook could change your life.

What’s the difference between a reason and an excuse?  An excuse is a failure.  A reason is a delay.

You are either going to reach your ultimate  goal or not.  If you don’t reach the goal, your “reason” is an excuse.  But if you reach the goal, your excuses are valid reasons for being delayed.

This week’s T.I. is an excerpt from my most recent book The Hourglass Way: Transform in 12 Weeks with Cabal Fang.  Get it on Kindle, as a paperback, Nook book, or in any ebook format via Smashwords.

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WHAT TO DO IF YOU KEEP MESSING UP

Things happen. People and situations are not perfect or ideal. You are going to have bad days, bad weeks, maybe even a bad month or year. So what do you do if you wake up one day and realize you haven’t touched this workbook for a while – a few days, weeks or even months? Well, did you read the section above or not?

If you mess up on the program, all you have to do is get up, dust yourself off, and get back to work. Cabal Fang will change your life – but only if you stay with it. If you only missed a few days, you can pick up right where you left off. If you fall out of the program for a couple weeks, back up a week and resume. If you drop out for a month or more, it’s probably best if you start over.

Have you ever heard the expression, “I don’t know where you’re going but you can’t stay here.”? You picked up this workbook because you know you need to work on yourself. Obviously you don’t want to stay where you are. Well, the only way to get to a better place is to move and keep moving.

Listen to the lies you are thinking:

* “I don’t have time to do this program properly right now.”  Nonsense. People make time for the things that are important to them. Take a little time away from TV, social media, web surfing, napping, snacking, partying, video games, etc. etc.

* “This is a great program but I can’t do it justice.” You know how you do justice to a great program? By not quitting it.

* “I don’t have the __________ (focus, strength, willpower, determination, etc.)”  Of course you don’t.  You know you don’t.  I know you don’t. That’s why you’re in the program you chucklehead. Just do the best you can.

Bottom line? Doing the program half-assed is better than not doing it all. Nothing’s stopping you from doing it over again later! In Cabal Fang, we don’t judge. But neither do we whine, complain, or make excuses – and especially we don’t quit. We modify, adapt and overcome.

Enough talk. Let’s get started.

Excuses Excuses: Martial Arts Training Involution #177

Last week we took it easy.   But not this week.

  • 20 minutes on the heavy bag. Warm up for 8 minutes while you decide if you want to work on speed, accuracy, form, endurance, mobility, or power (“SAFE MP”).  Don’t just wail away on the bag without any purpose.  Adjust round length to suit your goals (shorter when working on S or P, longer for E), add tape targets to the bag for A, etc.  For more ideas read this.
  • 20 minute Half Pyramid.  Then set a timer for 20 mins and climb as high as you can before it beeps — 1 of each, 2 of each, 3, 4, 5, etc. of the following: Sit-Out Push-ups, Shrimps, Drop Duck-Unders, Bear Walks (5 yards), Jump Squats, Bodybuilders, Jackknifes.  Don’t know an exercise?  Read this.
  • Complete a nice long sit.  Animals and humans, both predators and prey, have been doing it since the dawn of life on Earth.  Contemplation (a.k.a “passive meditation”) is baked into your DNA.  If you want to explore how your mind works, learn patience and self-control, slash your body’s production of cortisol and other stress hormones, relax more deeply than you thought possible, and strengthen your relationship with the divine, this is the thing for you.  Set a timer.  Beginners 10 mins., intermediates 30 mins., advanced folks 1 hour.  Assume your meditative posture of choice.  Narrow your eyes somewhat to minimize blinking.  Do not fidget, wiggle, or scratch.  Breathe in a slow, steady rhythm.  Don’t get up until the timer beeps.
  • Record everything you did and learned in your training journal.  If it’ ain’t in the journal, it didn’t happen.

DID YOU KNOW…that I have an awesome shop where you can buy all kinds of cool stuff, like martial arts training materials, bespoke books, artwork, and so on?  Check it out!

Creature Teacher: Martial Arts Training Involution #176

Continuing the theme this month, this week’s T.I. is an excerpt from a forthcoming module of my Frontier Rough & Tumble martial arts program on animal teachers.


We learned from Frog that there is a great lesson in sitting still, and we received the gift of contemplation which literally means to watch something — from the Latin  contemplārī meaning “to observe.”

From Dog we learned that there is great utility — and an evolutionary imperative — for not just hiding our suffering but learning to be happy and loving even when we are suffering.

From Hawk we learned that the ability to assume the thousand-foot view, and to keep our eye on the grand scheme, is essential to success.

And from the cave paintings of our ancestors we learned that what is truly unique to the human animal is our ability to visualize and to mythologize — to examine past failures, pre-test schemes and plans, and rehearse our strategies in the flesh-and-blood virtual reality environment of the brain.

From these four animal teachers we can distill four powerful tactics for fighting stress that you can use every day — not just during a self-defense situation, but at work, at home, or any time.  The problem is that when you’re stressed your tendency is going to be toward panic.  So you’ll need to practice this sequence often enough that it becomes second nature.

When you find yourself extremely stressed:

  1. Be like Dog.  Pretend to be perfectly calm and relaxed even when your thoughts are in disarray.  In the same way that water assumes the shape of the vessel in which it is placed, your mind will begin to conform to the attitude of your body if you buy it some time.
  2. Be like Hawk.  Breathe, soar, and gain some distance.  Take slow, deep breaths making sure that your airways remain open at all times.  Make a conscious effort to hesitate for a few beats between inhaling and exhaling phases, but never hold or clamp down on your breath.
  3. Be like your ancestors and go to the cave — the cave of your mind.  Regain your comfort zone by calling up a mental picture of either of a familiar and related training simulation or of an actual previous success during similar circumstances.  You’ve been here before and you’re going to be fine.
  4. Be like Frog.  Go on auto-pilot.  Just be in the present moment.

Creature Teacher: Martial Arts Training Involution #176

These weekly T.I.s can be very physically demanding —  especially if you’re doing them on the weekend in addition to another training program.  This week we’re going to take it a little break and do some head work.  Practice the above drill.  Run through all the steps one by one.  Then make a note in your planner, or set a reminder on your phone, to run through them every day for the next week or so until you have them memorized.  Then take a nice long sit, at least ten minutes.  Try to practice your contemplation for double your usual daily length (but not more than an hour).  Daily internal work — contemplation, meditation and prayer — are essential to the health of the human body, mind and spirit.  If you’re not doing daily internal work there’s no way you’re maximizing your health and potential.  So get started!


DID YOU KNOW…that I have an awesome shop where you can buy all kinds of cool stuff, like martial arts training materials, bespoke books, artwork, and so on?  Check it out!

Throwing Hands: Martial Arts Training Involution #175

Giant hand sculpture outside Squash-a-Penny

Since I’m camping this weekend, this week’s T.I. comes out a day early.  It flows out of last week’s theme about dogs and ties into the monthly internal focus at Cabal Fang which is the Hand of Mysteries.  The details following are an excerpt from a forthcoming module of my Frontier Rough & Tumble martial arts program. on animal teachers.

Throwing Hands: Martial Arts Training Involution #175

  • No talking, groaning,  grunting or complaining for the duration of the training session.  Let your hands do the talking.
  • Put your hands on the enemy.  Complete 100 Duck-Unders with the best form you can manage.  If you don’t have a partner, just do them shadow-style.  This is not a lunge.  Keep your spine perpendicular to the ground, head up, and pull hard on the rear hand.  Check your form here.
  • Throw some hands.  Heavy bag form drill.  Set a round timer for 3 rounds of 3:00/1:00.  Get after that bag with perfect form — practice your falling step, make sure your hips are fully involved, strike using the “right” part of your hands (based on your personal thoughts and/or martial style) and so on.  Count the strikes that you think are are not up to your usual snuff.  When all three rounds are over, do that number of Push-ups and write it down in your training journal.  Come back in a few days and beat your number.
  • Speak to the hand.  Not literally, figuratively.  Are you at least as evolved as a cave painter was 15,000 years ago?  Set a timer for  15 minutes and think about it.  What are your goals and aspirations?  What do you feel about  so strongly that would brave a dark cave with only a torch just to paint it on a wall?  Have you put in place an organizational method that insures you are setting goals and aiming at them?  Do you keep a journal?
  • Journal.  And, as always, record your performance, thoughts and realizations in your training journal when you’re done.

Of Hounds and Hands

The words hound and hand likely have the same origin in the Proto-Germanic word handuz.  What does handuz mean?  Well, as with most of these proto-lingual words, which are mostly interpolations and guesses, linguists aren’t exactly sure.  The best guess is to reach for” or possibly “to obtain.”  I’d add “to grasp” to that list. 

Think about it.  That’s what hands and dogs do, right?  Grab and hold?  I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that both seem awfully close to the word “hunt” which means to grab a-hold of something to eat.  Makes sense, doesn’t it, when you consider that hunting dogs are very important whenever and wherever you have to hunt in order to get fed?

Now let’s look at it another way.  One of the oldest symbols known to mankind is the hand outline.  It is very common, found across the globe in cave art created by prehistoric hunters.

Look at the example on the right from the Cave of Hands in Argentina.  These hands were made using a form of prehistoric air-brushing.  The painters placed their hands on the cave walls and used hollow bones to blow colored liquids onto the surface so that a negative would be left when the hand was removed.   

The Latin aspiro means “a puff of air.”  An aspiration is an expulsion of air following a choke.  But an aspiration is also a hope, dream or goal which one seeks to obtain, grasp or take hold of — something you hope a favorable wind will blow upon.  Is there a connection here?

So you see, the cave painting above literally screams aspiration.   There is even a target on the far left toward which everything in the entire painting is headed, as if toward some grand intersection.

The artists could have held an animal carcass or bone against the wall and created a negative in the same way the hands were created.  Or the hands could have been sketched to match the style of the animals.  But neither is the case.  The animals and geometric shapes are sketched and the hands are traced with realism.  So why is one sketched and the other rendered using the prehistoric equivalent of a photocopy?

Because the animals are symbolic.  They are the dream, the aspiration, the hope.  But the hands are real.

The animals in the painting are virtually identical.   Because you see, it doesn’t matter what the specific animal is.   Each animal in the picture is at once any animal and every animal.

The painting proclaims that if the human mind can conceive it and believe it, the human hand can achieve it.


DID YOU KNOW…that I have an awesome shop where you can buy all kinds of cool stuff, like martial arts training materials, bespoke books, artwork, and so on?  Check it out!