The Demon Plankton possesses Spongebob Squarepants — a common cartoon trope
Betrayed by a loved one? Had a friend turn out to be a stranger? Regretted something you did and wondered why you did it? Faced down an addiction? Clawed your way out of a bad relationship?
Then you know that demons are “real.” No, they can’t pass the Amazing Randy sniff test. But if you conceive of them as harmful patterns of behavior that repeat across time, they are 100% real.
Belphegor a.k.a. Ba’al Peor from Numbers 25:1–15
Demons don’t take over the way Plankton takes the controls from Spongebob. You have to “invite them in.” In the movies, you must buy the cursed book, say the forbidden words, or move into the evil house. In real life you have to try that cocaine, visit that strip club, or gamble with your rent money. That’s how the “demon” gets a foothold and you introduce the possibility of ending up addicted, sexually obsessed, or homeless.
Maybe believing that “demons” can “possess you” if you “let them in” is a useful fiction that prevents negative behavior patterns — you know, kind of like other useful fictions, such as “porcupines can shoot their quills” and “all guns are loaded.” Behaving as if porcupines can shoot their quills and treating all guns as if loaded effectively help prevent pain and suffering.
But surely demons don’t have agency. Or do they? Does the rabies virus have agency? Viruses aren’t conscious. And yet rabies makes the infected want to bite, which is the primary means of transmission. Sure seems like rabies has agency. Mammon, demon of riches, seems to manifest whenever people obsess about wealth. Is the demon Mammon a conscious entity repeatedly leading people astray?
I don’t know what demons are, nor do I understand their agency. All I know is that they are “real” enough to be harmful and scary. And real enough to be exorcised.
Demon Slayer: Training Involution #141
What does it take to kill a demon? Cold? Fire? Enchanted weapons? Exorcism?
- Freeze. For a 200 count (about 3 minutes), hold a pose taking as few 12-count breaks as you must. Beginners, hold a Horse Stance. Intermediate, Plank. Advanced, dead-arm hangs from a Pull-up bar or Crow-stands.
- Burn. Complete 200 reps of an exercise. Beginners, Bicycles or Crunches. Intermediate, Push-ups on knees or Steam Engines. Advanced, Down-ups or Kettlebell Swings.
- Slice. Complete 200 strikes per hand with your practice weapon of choice. Tactical pen or kubotan keychain, walking stick or cane, rattan stick, wooden knife, tomahawk, nunchaku or what-have-you.
- Exorcise. Set timer for 15 minutes. Assume meditative posture of choice. Whisper a 10-to-14-word prayer — aloud as you inhale, silently as you hesitate with lungs full, again aloud as you exhale, and once more silently as you hesitate with lungs empty. Repeat until timer beeps — roughly 200 recitations. This will force you into box breathing and facilitate a deeply meditative state. Your prayer can be religious or secular, general or specific. Even atheists can pray — pray to Light or Truth. “O Light, drive away all darkness and show me the way I pray thee.” I used the Prayer of the Heart: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.”
It’s okay not to be perfect.
I was meeting with the other members of the Cabal Fang Temple’s board of directors the other night, and the past suddenly rushed in on me. I remembered what it was like, way back in 1986, when I first stepped into a martial arts studio: I was 80 lbs overweight, had never done much of anything athletic, and I had the work ethic of a wet square of toilet paper. Training two hours per week was almost too much for me back then. But I didn’t quit.
So what I’m saying is, don’t think you have to be perfect. Just do your best, maintain incremental improvement, and don’t quit. If you mess up, don’t beat yourself up so much that you give up — just keep going and do better next time.
Full disclosure: In last week’s T.I. I said, “If you’re not doing two constitutionals per week you’re not doing Cabal Fang — the world’s only martial art with a minimum fitness requirement.” And yet last weekend I got sick and ended up only doing one constitutional this week — and I’m the chucklehead who founded this crazy martial art.
Lapses and Slips: Training Involution #140
This month’s focus is Self-Defense vs. Weapons. What if you get cut? Can you move with one limb incapacitated? If you have to use a weapon to defend yourself, can you move around and fight without dropping it?
- 10 minutes on a slip ball. If you’re bored, try the drill outlined in the video below.
- Armed self-defense gauntlet. Set a timer for 2:00 rounds and pick up a wooden practice weapon — stick, knife, doesn’t matter. Complete a round each of of strikes vs. Heavy bag, Get-ups, Sit-ups w/ Strike, Sprints w/ strike, and then do it again (16 mins total). Drop your weapon penalty = 50 Push-ups.
- Get it? “Lapses and slips”? The training session has slips and “lapses “– an obsolete word for intervals and the origin of the word “laps.”
- Have you done two constitutionals this week? If not, here you go.
- Record everything in your training journal.
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.