Tag Archives: stag

Antlers: Martial Arts Training Involution #212

stag deer antlers

In Cabal Fang martial arts, the stag is the symbol of athanor, the fourth of our five ranks (roughly equivalent to the red or brown belt in eastern martial arts).  In my Frontier Rough ‘n’ Tumble program, which incorporates indigenous skills and folkways, the stag is a subject of study and inspiration also.

Cabal Fang’s June symbol is the Cross, and there is a very deep connection between the stag and the cross which I discuss in the next issue of the SHIFT newsletter which came out today — and there will be an even deeper dive available to Patreon supporters.

Anyway, unlike horns which are akin to fingernails, antlers are actually bones.  They are an outgrowth of the skull which are shed and regrown every year.   You don’t have bony antlers.  But you do have a bony skull with a sizable brain inside it, which means you can learn two lessons from the stag’s inspiration — one about fighting and the other about spirit.

Antlers: Martial Arts Training Involution #212

  1. Fighting lesson from the stag: When stags fight, the contest is almost always won by the stag who stays the lowest and locks in his antlers.
  2. Spiritual lesson from the stag: You cannot run down a stag in the forest.  The only way to get him is to lie in wait, and the way to do that is to sit perfectly still — to be relaxed but aware, focused but not tense, without fidgeting, wiggling or scratching.  Sounds a lot like meditation, doesn’t it?

And now for the T.I.

  • 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.
  • 3 rounds of level mirroring drills. Set timer for 3 x 3:00/1:00.  Round 1: Square off with your partner, both of you in fighting stance, 6′ apart.  At any moment either partner fakes a takedown, ankle pick, or other level change.  Other partner follows suit, trying to keep head lower. Round 2: If social distancing due to COVID-19,  do another round like the last except this time add in sprawls — go all the way down to the floor.  If you have a training partner in your household, get into clinch position and practice level mirroring there.  Round 3: If social distancing, do another round like the last except add in lateral movement.  If you have a safe training partner, practice getting your head in the pocket.  See video below.
  • Have you done two constitutionals this week?  If not, complete this month’s constitutional.  Pikes (25), Push-ups, uneven (25), Jump Squats (100), Reverse Bridges (25), Curb Touches (100), Ploughs (25), Burpees (25).
  • Meditation.  After you’ve cooled down for about 3 minutes, set a timer for 10 minutes. Assume your posture of choice and regulate your breathing to insure a slow and consistent rhythm that completely fills and empties your lungs without bearing down on your breath. Eyes open, think about the stag and his antlers, but not in words.  Picture the stag in your mind’s eye.  Allow yourself to think in emotions and pictures only.  This pushes your thinking beyond the intellectual, past words and out into experience.  Do not fidget, wiggle or scratch.
  • When the timer beeps, record what you did and what you experienced in your training journal.  If you don’t measure performance, how do you know if you’re improving or not? Only that which is measured improves.


If you liked this post you’d love my Frontier Rough ‘n’ Tumble program!  What is Frontier Rough ‘n’ Tumble or “FRT?”  FRT is an American martial art that encompasses the fighting arts, survival skills, lifeways and ethos of the colonial and indigenous peoples of North American during the frontier period (from the founding of Jamestown in 1607 through 1912 — the year the U.S. admitted Arizona as the 48th state).  Click the photo to get started.  Free hat and t-shirt with sign-up!