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Cabal Fang: Complete Martial Arts Study Course from Querent to Elder Paperback – January 9, 2017
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Paperback, January 9, 2017
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About the Author
Robert Mitchell Jr. is a writer, martial arts expert and mystic from Richmond, VA. A self-described "religionaut" in early adulthood, he has been a practicing Presbyterian, Mormon, Zen Buddhist, Taoist, Shamanist and Wiccan -- happily settling down at last into Christian Hermeticism. A martial artist for over thirty years, he is the founder and first elder of Cabal Fang, an initiatory martial art marrying practical self-defense techniques with the wonders of the Western Mystery Tradition. In 2011 he was awarded the rank of Master by the Combat Martial Arts Practitioners Association. He and his wife Karen are the proud parents of four children and four grandchildren. His mission is to save the world.
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In any case, I can’t quite recall the web thread, but I first came across Cabal Fang via a post of an interview with Hatmaker and thought that it would be worth checking out. (Hatmaker is an absolute master of Western unarmed martial arts—wrestling, dirty boxing, etc.—and I figured any art that references his work is probably on the right track.) I’ve been enrolled in the Cabal Fang remote learning course since May of 2016 and hope eventually to begin an order (or club) in St. Louis where I live. I’ve encountered some of the material contained in Cabal Fang: Complete Martial Arts Study Course from Querent to Elder via correspondence with the author but much of it is new to me.
First, I don’t think I can overstate how unique and ambitious are Cabal Fang and this book. The author and his colleagues have done nothing less than create a new martial art out of two distinctive traditions: Western “hermetic” philosophy and combat/self-defense systems (wrestling, boxing, etc.). The knowledge contained here clearly reflects knowledge accumulated in intensive, extended, and deeply thoughtful study and practice of the martial arts. The advice for avoiding physical confrontation, violent attack, etc. is spot on, as are the descriptions of effective, practical techniques should one need to defend oneself. One cannot learn a martial art from simply reading a book, of course, but one can access a framework for structuring one’s ongoing training, whether in a group or on one's own (or a combination of both). The Cabal Fang manual excels in this regard.
The “spiritual” instruction presented her is equally substantial. Just as the book contains a plethora of physical drills to develop martial arts-oriented physical fitness, it contains numerous exercises to promote spiritual growth and a more expansive understanding of both reality and one’s place in it. These exercises draw on mostly Western esoteric traditions—as noted above, Hermeticism but alchemy and others as well—with which I had very limited familiarity before beginning in Cabal Fang. While sometimes initially puzzling, these exercises have, for me, become the foundation of an evolving spiritual practice that was entirely lacking from my previous training.
Throughout this book is infused with martial arts in the fullest sense: skill acquired by experience or study . . . but also the conscious use of creative imagination. For this reason, if I could have only one book for guiding me along my own martial arts path, this would be it, hands down. I look forward to returning to it again and again in the months, years, and hopefully decades ahead.