This month’s Cabal Fang focuses are Self-Defense vs. Weapons — with a touch of offense as well — and “The Quill” (journaling). Try to make some kind of journal entry every single day this month, even if it’s only one sentence.
Journals and Logs: Training Involution #139
- Complete this month’s log constitutional. No partner? No log? No problem! Use a dumbbell instead of a log (I chose a #30). Do not put the dumbbell down unless you’re doing an exercise that requires you to do so. Rack the dumbbell two-handed and perform Log Press (25 full), Log Squats (25), Log Hops (25 full ), Log Sit-Ups (25), Log Lunges (50), Log A-Lifts (25) and Log Curb Touches (100). See video below.
- Choose your weapon and start attacking. Choose the blunt weapon of your choice — wooden knife, walking stick, tactical pen, whatever you prefer — and set a timer for 10 mins. See how many attacks you can launch before the timer beeps. Switch hands every hundred strikes or so. I chose walking stick and completed 920 strikes.
- Star of Ishtar form 25 times. If you don’t know the form get the Cabal Fang Study Course and read up.
We haven’t picked our new physical and spiritual focuses yet this month, so this week’s involution is a flat-out physical challenge from my upcoming Bobcat Frontier Martial Arts program. It incorporates a delightful little piece of work called the John Henry — named after the hero of American folklore.
John Henry: Training Involution #138
- Warm up for at least 8 minutes. Do some Half Squats, Push-ups on knees, Shadowboxing, jump rope, arm swings, etc.
- Heavy Bag Tabata for speed. 16 rounds x :20/:10 (8 mins total). As many strikes as you can for 20 seconds, rest 10 seconds, repeat. “As many strikes as you can” means literally that. It doesn’t mean “as many as you prefer” or “as is convenient” or “as many as it takes to get sweaty.” We are not working out. We are training.
- John Henry. A Slam and Squat Half Pyramid. Get yourself a tire and either a sledge hammer, mallet, or mace ball.* Start timer for 15 mins and start climbing the odd numbers only. Hit the tire with your tool one time, then rest it on your shoulder and do one Squat. Then do 3 Strikes and 3 Squats, 5 Strikes and 5 Squats, then 7 of each, etc. Go as fast as you can. Stop when you get to 25 of each or the timer stops, whichever comes first. Take as few 12-count breaks as you need to keep from throwing up. If you finish all the sets up to 25 of each, that’s 169 of each. I got there there in 13:40. And just remember that in the folktale John Henry beats the steam drill but dies. Please be careful and don’t do that.
* If you don’t have hammer, mallet or mace, just do Tire Slams. Facing the edge not the hole, pick up the tire with one hand on each side. Lift and sling it over your head so that it touches the nape of your neck; then bring it forward and slam the tread onto the ground in front of you.
From Christmas Eve through New Years Day I don’t do much training. Just my forms (Star of Ishtar, Fool’s Journey and my old Korean Karate forms) and my health maintenance stuff (grip health, therapy rollers and bands, etc.).
You don’t have to take the holidays off like me. Push through if you want. But I highly recommend you take at least two weeks off training per year — preferably in two, one-week chunks. I usually take off 12/24 – 1/1 and then a second week in the late summer for my annual beach trip to OBX.
But, whether you’re on a break this week or not, you should take some time to complete a Year-End Review.
If you don’t review your year, how are you going to do better in the next?
I just finished my new Action Plan for 2019 — you can look at it here. What I do is print this thing out once per month and paste it into my training journal. Any unrealized goals from the prior month get moved the new sheet, and all month long I put the hash marks in the “( )” slots to keep track of how I’m doing on the daily/weekly/monthly tasks. Here’s a pretty thorough rundown of my organizational method over on my Patreon page.
Year-End Review: Training Involution #137
Most people set New Year’s resolutions that are largely arbitrary and then fail to establish any performance metrics. Don’t do that. Set meaningful goals with valuable payoffs and then monitor your performance to insure progress.
- Get out your training log and spend some time reviewing your entries. You do keep a training journal, right? Training journals are not optional in Cabal Fang martial arts. Look, we don’t have very many rules, but keeping a training journal is one of them. So if you aren’t journaling, go get a spiral note book or something and start writing stuff down so you can do a year-end review next December.
- Take as much time with your review as you feel is sufficient, necessary and/or available. Might be fifteen minutes or three hours — whatever is necessary and sufficient to make sensible conclusions and set meaningful goals.
- What did you well in 2018? What did you do poorly?
- What are you going to do better in 2019?
- How are you going to do better in 2019?
- What are your performance metrics going to be?
If you’re going to make 2019 your best year ever, the future is now.
Cabal Fang Temple here in Richmond VA volunteered to assist Food Not Bombs feed the homeless last Sunday. Afterwards we washed dishes. We were too INVOLVED to take pictures of ourselves, and besides, we didn’t want to brag. Here’s a shot of the spread.
The other day I posted a video about how restriction breeds creativity while freedom breeds laziness. Don’t believe me? Read the post and watch the video because this week’s involution is based on that premise.
Restricted: Training Involution #136
- Warm-up completely for at least 8:00.
- Tuck your dominant arm in your belt and do some martial fitness. Set timer for 8:00. Do as many sets of 4 of each exercise as you can before the timer beeps: Jump Squats, Sit-outs, Shrimps, Push-ups (on knees if you can’t do one-arms).
- Liberate your arm to go to the Heavy bag. 3 x 3:00/1:00 max power shots only. When I say max power, I mean Serena-Williams-from-back-court-for-match-point-with-a-grunt-level power. First round, hands only. Second round, legs only. Final round, all in. Count your strikes in the final round. Write it in your training journal. Beat it next time.
- Do your Constitutional. Cabal Fang is the only martial art that has a base level fitness requirement. Twice weekly constitutionals are required. Details below. Don’t have a tire? Get one or sub a #20 sandbag and modify — modify, adapt, overcome!
- What have you done for Spirit Month? Last week I suggested that you volunteer, help out a sick or elderly neighbor or relative, help a friend, etc. Did you do that? If so, you’re off this week on the spiritual portion. If not, restrict yourself somehow until you decide on something and put it on your calendar. Sleep without a pillow, give up soft drinks, beer, TV, your favorite food, etc. Out of ideas? The restriction should help, but ask your deity, higher power or better self for insight. Be still and ask how you can be of service. Listen carefully — something will pop into your head that’s decent and true. Do that.
December 2018 Constitutional
Tire Sit-ups (25)
Tire Lunges (25)
Tire Passes (25 full — 50 Tire Slams if you’re going solo)
Tire Squats (50)
Tire Burpees (25)
Tire V-ups (25)
Tire Jackknife Push-ups (25)
Why are our weekly training assignments called involutions? What does involution even mean?
- The act of fully taking part in an activity or task (q.v. involved)
- The inner path of a spiritual aspirant toward self-realization.
- The process by which the Divine manifests the cosmos.
This is what separates Cabal Fang from MMA, combat sports, and defensive tactics. Sure, we borrow from all of those. But we are involved in the process such that it becomes a spiritual endeavor.
We should always be asking questions like, “How is this martial activity making me a better person?” or “How can this technique activity be fully contextualized?” Instead of just learning the HOW of our techniques, we should be exploring the WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE and WHY of them.
Involved: Training Involution #135
Our martial focus this month is Spirit — which means putting your spirit in action! — and our internal focus is prayer. So…
- Get involved. If you are in the Richmond, Virginia area, join Cabal Fang Temple as we feed the homeless tomorrow at Food not Bombs. We’ll be meeting at RVA Createspace, 607 Wickham St, Richmond, Virginia 23222 at 3:30 PM to help haul, serve and clean up.
- Not in Richmond? Do something else. Don’t just donate money. Actually do something. Volunteer somewhere. Do a chore or cook a meal for a sick or elderly neighbor or relative. Ask someone you know if they need a hand with something.
- Don’t know what to do? If you’re atheist, ask your better self, otherwise ask your deity or higher power for insight. This is called prayer. Be still and ask to know how you can be of service. Listen carefully — something will pop into your head that’s decent, true and kind. Do that.
- Complete this month’s constitutional. If you don’t have a tire, use a #20 sandbag instead. Or help clean up the planet by finding one of the tens of thousands of tires that are tossed into streams, left in medians and thrown into the woods every year.
- Subscribe to the new Cabal Fang YouTube channel.
The Cabal Fang external focus of the month is Spirit and the internal focus is the Rose (prayer). How in the world, you may wonder, can an external focus be Spirit? By putting your insides on the outside — by putting your spirit into action. Here’s an excerpt from the Cabal Fang Study Course:
In Mettlecraft month you harden that which is soft; in Spirit Month you temper that which is hard so that it becomes flexible. As the old sage Lao Tzu said, strength and hardness are associated with death, while softness and flexibility are associated with life. Aspire to maturity and strength without being jaded and inflexible, to being childlike and full of life without being naïve and helpless.
Spirit month means that you show your spirit in action. The month the group here in Richmond is collecting food and money to feed the homeless. We’ll be delivering what we’ve collected to the local chapter of Food not Bombs next Sunday 12/16, and then we’ll be hanging out to physically prep and cleanup a meal.
What are you going to do this month?
Action Figure: Training Involution #134
- 30 minutes of action. Warm up thoroughly. Then set a repeating timer for 10 minutes. For the first 10 minutes, complete as many sets as you can of 4 Jackknife Push-ups (HSPUs if you’re advanced), 4 Sit-outs, 4 Jump Squats, and 4 Wrestling Shots. For the next 10 minutes, go at your heavy bag, punching and kicking with constant contact. Then, for the final 10 minutes, go for a run. Advanced players, add a weighted vest (I used a #5). Constitutional trial rules apply for the entire half hour: take as few 12-count breaks as possible — push!
- Pray for 10 minutes. Even atheists can pray, because “to pray” simply means “to ask.” Assume your posture of choice, regulate your breathing, and spend 10 minutes in prayer. Ask your god or higher power what you could do, personally, this month, to physically put your spirit into action for the benefit of your family or community. If you’re an atheist, pray to Truth and try to tap into your subconscious. When you’re done, formulate a plan. Actually set a date for whatever you decide upon doing.
“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye. shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh. findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” ~Matthew 7:7–8
The calisthenics nightmare that is Self-Destruct Sequence is a great way to find out if you scare easy. But we stared it down. And guess what we found out?
We are capable of more than we ever thought possible.
Everybody got it done under the 40 minute time limit. Scott thought I was crazy — but he finished it twice. Three of us set personal records (James 22:55, Robert 24:38 and me 24:45). Arman set the new Cabal Fang organization record (21:15). Two people who aren’t even in the organization were inspired to take a shot at it! One was legendary martial arts coach Mark Hatmaker (who holds the all-time record by the way at 21:05).
tHE HARDER YOU WORK, THE BRIGHTER YOU SHINE.
And now for the Cabal Fang training involution of the week.
Training Involution of the Week #133
- If you only took one nibble of Self-Destruct Sequence this month, go take another bite and see how it tastes the second time around. Instructions below if you need reminding. Make sure you warm up thoroughly before you start!
- If you took two or more stabs at Self-Destruct Sequence this month, then you deserve some rest. Spend 20 minutes on form and technique. If you’re solo, spend 10 minutes on forms and 10 more on the heavy bag at 2/3 power making sure everything looks just so. If you have a partner, spend 20 minutes at half power working on Flow Drill #1.: A: Cram w/ Decolage Right to L Roundhouse Kick. B: Fade away overhook kick catch, block down foot, spiral takedown to Hanging Achilles Lock. A: Roll out. B: Follow, step over to Half Crab.
- Walking meditation. Go for a walk, at least 30 minutes. Think about what you learned from Self-Destruct Sequence this month. Now you know you’re capable of more than you thought possible. How can you apply that to other dimensions of your life? Are you capable of more intellectually? Emotionally? Spiritually? Come out of your walk with a new stretch goal. Maybe you want to read more books or take more classes, save more money, spend more time with your kids, or to finally learn to play to guitar. Cabal Fang is full context martial arts. The lessons of martial arts are no good if you don’t apply them across all four dimensions.
In case you’re late to the party, here’s the challenge: Get this done in under 40 minutes.
Zombie Squats (50)
Push-ups, diamond (25)
Jump Squats (100)
10-Count Bodybuilders (25)
Pikes/Leg Triangles (25)
Jump Squats, split (50)
Push-ups, Sit-out (25)
Bicycles (50 each side)
Twisters (25 each side)
Wall Touches (100)
Push-ups, hopping/clapping (25)