The Magician — he is acting out the Hermetic axiom “As above, so below”
This month our martial focus is Mettlecraft and our internal, symbolic focus is the Staff.
Mettlecraft month means we’re all digging deeper. Those of us who haven’t licked Self-Destruct Sequence in under 40 mins quite yet are working our way up to it. For the Staff, we’re finishing every club meeting with the Caduceus Ritual (see Chapter 19 of Cabal Fang: Complete Martial Arts Study Course).
The Caduceus Ritual aligns your spine — physically, intellectually and spiritually.
- Physically, you stand straight, breath deeply, and vocalize certain tones. This slows heart rate, lowers blood pressure, and so on.
- Intellectually and mythologically you see yourself as a conduit through and between the energies above (sky) and below (earth).
- Spiritually you allow yourself to fully experience the ritual absorb its significance.
Let’s go put all of this together.
Stand Tall: Training Involution #130
- Did you finish Self-Destruct Sequence in under 40 minutes last week? For instructions click here. If so, do half of the reps as a recovery this week, and think about beating your record next week.
- Did you get through at least half of the reps? If so, do 2/3 of the reps this week.
- Did you get less than half of the reps? No problem, just try to do more reps this week than last.
- Did you fail to even try? There are no excuses in Cabal Fang. Work around handicaps and limitations. Modify or substitute exercises as needed. If you’re wheelchair-bound, equate 12 exercises as closely as you can to the 12 in Self-Destruct Sequence and go.
- Embody the Caduceus Ritual for the rest of the coming week. Practice standing tall. Hold your spine upright, keep your shoulders back, and look people in the eye when you talk to them. Log your performance in your training journal.
Don’t tell me what you can’t do. I only want to hear about what you can do.
Me and my son Robert just after finishing Self-Destruct Sequence in 30:58.
Thursday night was the first new month under the new Cord and Rule program. We reviewed our journals to demonstrate we’d done our homework and stamped up our rules accordingly. The thud of the hammer and the visible mark on the brass to signify your work feels fantastic.
November is Mettlecraft Month. Time to dig deeper.
There were lots of people out sick and otherwise tied up, so it was just my son and I at the meeting. After we stamped up our rules, we decided to step up on account of it being Mettlecraft Month and earn a big fat “Z” by completing Self-Destruct Sequence in under 40 minutes. We did, in a blistering 30:58 (my son was done about 30 seconds faster than that — Daddy was bringing up the rear). We almost beat my personal record from two years ago.
Members of the Richmond group — Leo, Scott, Sydney — and those of you playing the home game — Arman, James — your assignment is to get this thing done before the month is out. I know you can do it.
If you think you can safely finish the whole thing in under 40 minutes with no practice, by all means, give it a go. But I know at least one person — a fitness freak and former competitive bodybuilder — who had to struggle for over a month, finally getting it done after many failed attempts. My advice is work your way up to it for a few weeks and then take your shot. Self-Destruct Sequence is no joke!
Week 1 Run-up to Self-Destruct Sequence: Training Involution #129
- Warm up for at least 8 minutes. Hop from foot to foot, trot, skip and jog, and rotate all joints, and do the Fools Journey form for about 5 mins. Then spend 3 mins doing a few reps of each exercise (see below for exercise list and instructional video).
- Complete SSM-1 of each exercise in Self-Destruct Sequence. SSM stands for “single set max.” So “SSM-1” means you do as many of each exercise as you can but you stop on the rep just before you think you’ll probably fail.
- Shadowbox 10 mins for form. Don’t go all out, just relax, let if flow, and work on your form.
- Cool down for 3 min.
- Complete the Caduceus Ritual. See Chapter 19 of the Cabal Fang Study Guide for instructions.
- Record what you did in your training journal. If it ain’t in the journal, it didn’t happen. “That which is measured improves,” as the saying goes.
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)
??? DID YOU KNOW ??? that Self-Destruct Sequence comes from my book The Calisthenics Codex and that, if you finish any workout from the book you can get into the Calisthenics Codex Hall of Fame?
This workout appears in my Top 10 calisthenics ebook — click here to download!
Karen and me on vaction a couple of years ago. Ain’t she pretty?
My beautiful wife Karen had ankle surgery yesterday, so today’s involution is a little late, and frankly, I didn’t have time to do something amazing and lay it all out for you.
So I’m doing what I usually do on occasions like this — I’m flashing us back 12 months.
Flashback: Training Involution #128
Open your training journal to exactly one year ago. If you didn’t train that day, turn back to the next one. Do that. Only better. If you ran 2 miles in 20 minutes, run 2 miles in less than 20 minutes. If you boxed 3 rounds, box 4. Find a metric and do better.
If you haven’t been keeping a journal for a year, do my training session for 10/27/17 as follows:
- Warm up for a full 8 minutes.
- Squats, Bench Press, and Weighted Back Bridges. Complete a 2 x 10 with 50% of your 1 RM, and then 3 x 5 with your working weight. If you’re not experienced at lifting weights, or if lifting’s not your thing, substitute body-weight Squats, Push-ups, and unweighted Back Bridges. Do two warm-up sets, each about half as many your single-set max, and a final set to failure. One minute rest between each set. Rest a couple of minutes. Then…
- Run 2 miles as fast as you can. When you’re done, walk that off for at least three minutes to cool down. Then…
- Complete the Cabal Fang temple rites. Don’t know what they are? They’re in the book, so go read up. No time for that? Assume your posture of choice, regulate your breathing, and practice contemplation or meditation for at least 10 minutes.
Sir Gawain as illustrated by Frederic Lawrence in “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” (1912)
“Gawain, the nephew of King Arthur, rose and suggested a vow. ‘I propose,’ he said, ‘that we all now set forth in quest to behold that Grail unveiled.’ And so it was that they agreed. There then comes a line that, when I read it, burned itself into my mind. ‘They thought it would be a disgrace to go forth in a group. Each entered the forest at the point that he himself had chosen, where it was darkest, and there was no way or path.’ No way or path! Because where there is a way or path, it is someone else’s path. And that is what marks the Western spirit distinctly from We the Eastern.”
― Joseph Campbell, Thou Art That, Transforming Religious Metaphor (The book Campbell is referring to is the 13th century work “Queste del Saint Graal.”)
The insight of the 13th-century author who so inspired Campbell is amazing.
Then as now, our quest is to find our way in the world — to explore the dark and fearful places we instinctively fear to go.
Sir Gawain’s shield bears the five-pointed star, a symbol of truth and revelation. The truth lies in the darkness of the unknown forest. Pursuing the truth requires bravery and the willingness to accept the truth once you find it.
Here’s some truth for you regarding my rule progress under the new program. This month I’m working on getting my “B” (daily contemplation), “Q” (daily journal entries) and “O” (a three-mile tire run in under 40 minutes). So far I haven’t missed any journal entries or contemplation days, and I’ve carried that insufferable tire through 6 runs, one that was 2 miles, but I still haven’t hit the 3-miles-in-40-minutes mark yet.
Where are you in the program? Which marks are you going to earn this month? You must enter the forest where it is the darkest, thickest, and most tangled.
Dark Forest: Training Involution #127
- 4 x 4 all-in conditioner. 4 sets of each: 4 Handstand Push-ups (substitute Jackknife Push-ups if needed), 4 Wrestling Shots each side (4 with left foot lead, 4 with right foot lead), 4 Back Bridges (the heaviest bag you can manage — I used a #80), and 4 max power combos vs. heavy bag (min 8 strikes per combo).
- Explore the Dark Forest. Pick one of the 39 achievement marks and get started. Many of them require consistent actions over the course of an entire month, but some of them you might be able to achieve right now! And if you don’t have a ruler because you’re not a member of the Richmond temple or you aren’t enrolled in the Cabal Fang Hermit Path Distance Learning Program — what are you waiting for? It’s free — shoot me an email and let’s go!
I am camping with the family this weekend. So, in lieu of the weekly Training Involution, I present the following missive a day early. Enjoy! ~Mitch
A Tribute to Benny “The Jet” Urquidez
When I mention Benny “The Jet” Urquidez I usually get a blank stare. Those who do know who Benny is are movie fans. They remember him as the bad guy from Grosse Point Blank or Wheels on Meals. It stupefies me that any martial artist could be unaware of who this man is, kind of like when I’m talking to someone about history and they don’t know who Hannibal was (that would be Barca, not Lecter).
Before there was MMA or UFC, before K1 or PRIDE, this guy had more black belts than most people have slacks. Judo, Karate, Jiujitsu, Taekwondo, the list goes on. And on. And on. He has nine black belts.
Here’s a clip of the Jet showing off his Judo skills. Watch as his opponent spits out his mouthpiece and wallows around like a worm in hot ashes. As it happens, that whole wallowing around thing, that was a fairly common occurrence among his opponents, a common denominator of sorts.
Back in the 70s I used to turn on the TV and watch him knock guys out. I do not mean that metaphorically. In any given match there was in fact a 90% chance he was going win by knocking out his opponent. He earned six championship belts in five different weight classes, and his record was 63-2, 57 by K.O. (and the two losses are contested).
if you found yourself in the opposite corner from the Jet, you might as take a couple of Lunesta and lay down on the canvas. You were going to end up there eventually, so why not save yourself the pain and EMBARRASSMENT and just go to sleep peacefully?
Here’s a highlight reel below. Thank me now.
Study this guy. Look at his combos, his body mechanics, his power, his conditioning, and his precision which are all as close to perfect as you’re going to find. Be like that if you can.
Sir Gawain with his shield bearing the pentangle or pentagram as illustrated by yours truly in “Cabal Fang: Complete Martial Arts Study Course from Querent to Elder”
I founded Cabal Fang martial arts, I wrote the curriculum, and I’ve met every requirement hundreds of times. But hat doesn’t mean I’m any better than anybody else. That’s why I’m starting over.
We just announced our revised Cabal Fang martial arts rank advancement and achievement tracking method called the Cord and Rule, which serves a purpose simiar to the colored belt ranking systems pioneered by Jigoro Kano.¹ I could justify marking up my rule completely full and tying on my completed cord.
But I’m not. I’m untying all the knots in my cord and I’m starting with a blank ruler as if I was a new student. Leaders lead from the front.
Square 1: Training Involution #125
- 100 Get-ups. Beginners, get it done in under 15 mins. Intermediates, 10 mins. Advanced, finish in 8 mins or less.
- 1 mile tire run. Pick up an auto tire, put it over your shoulder like a courier bag, and run one mile. No tire? Use a backpack with water bottles. Switch shoulders often. Gloves and a sweatshirt advised. Beginners use smaller tires and take your time. Tire sizes are complex. Roughly speaking, the bigger the final two digits in the tire size (the diameter of the hole in inches) the heavier the tire. A 14″ tire averages about 15 pounds, a 15″ about 20 lbs., a 16″ about 22 lbs and a 17″ tire can weigh up to 35 lbs. I used a 16″ (a 205/65R16) and finished in a rather middling 14:32.
- Cool down by walking it off for 3 minutes. Then stretch out.
- Re-read Chapter 18: The Pentagram in the Cabal Fang Study Guide. “Gawain was faithful in five and five-fold, for pure was he as gold, void of all villainy and endowed with all virtues. Therefore he bare the pentangle on shield and surcoat as truest of heroes and gentlest of knights.” From the 14th-century masterpiece Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
¹ One of the things that makes Cabal Fang unique is that we have initiations known as trials, and they are inspired by the Western Mystery Tradition. I don’t think Jigoro Kano ever did anything quite like what we’re doing, but I do think it’s interesting that used similar language when he received his first real martial arts rank:
“I told Mr. Iikubo [Kano’s teacher] about this, explaining that the throw should be applied after one has broken the opponent’s posture. Then he said to me: “This is right. I am afraid I have nothing more to teach you.” Soon afterward, I was initiated in the mystery of Kito-ryu jujitsu and received all his books and manuscripts of the school.” ~Jigoro Kano, Founder of Judo (full quote here)
I am in physical therapy — again — this time for biceps tendinitis. This caused me to do some word problems.
Jill always trains close to max intensity. This causes soreness, which limits training to 2 days/week, and increases injury risk. She spends 10 weeks per year too hurt to train at all. Total training sessions per year: 84.
Jack moderates his intensity. He ups the intensity once a month or so and saves maximum effort for a few special events per year. Reduced soreness means he can train 3 days/week. Reduced injury risk means he spends only 4 weeks per year hurt. Total yearly training sessions: 144– 71% more than Jill.
Jack is a better martial artist than Jill because he trains 71% more.
He also suffers less pain and his long term health is better too.
I am Jack’s complete lack of surprise.
There’s a time for pushing envelopes and testing limits. But, more often than not, we need to be in the flow. What is “the flow?”
When you are in the flow, you are not self-conscious and nothing is forced. Time flies. when you look back later, it feels like fun instead of work.
Let’s get into the flow.
The Flow: Training Involution #124
- Create a flow drill and work it for at least 30 minutes, preferably an hour. Ideally your flow drill will have give-and-take (or if solo, anticipated defenses). And, in a perfect world, it will have at least 8 beats or moves. Videos of two flow drills below.
- If you don’t have a partner, don’t sweat it. You can work with noodles, make a wrestling dummy, practice your Double Wristlock using a sledgehammer, work on your katas, or just shadowbox. No excuses. Get in the flow!
- Meditate on the caduceus. The caduceus, or the Staff of Hermes, is an ancient symbol of the flow — the give and take between opposing forces that gives rise to equilibrium, understanding and transcendence. Assume your meditative posture of choice, picture the symbol in your mind, and step into the symbol for at least 10 minutes.