Students: Burn The Ships, Not Your Contracts

A contractual relationship with your martial arts school could end miserably; former classmates and I know this from experience.  Despite this experience, I believe that the potential benefits of a contract to the student outweigh the risks. 

Before I explain the benefit, let me tell you the tale of an Aikido dojo gone sour. Continue reading Students: Burn The Ships, Not Your Contracts

Can Qigong Soothe These Savage Beasts?

When alleged masters of kiai-jutsu and no-touch throws use their own students for demonstrations, skeptics cry foul.  If such incredible skills truly exist, the skeptics contend, they should enable the master to stop a skilled and determined attacker whom he has never met; otherwise, it’s obviously just bullshido.

Bob Sapp
K-1 Fighter Bob “The Beast” Sapp

These skeptics are serving up a false dilemma, lightly seasoned with argumentum ad baculum.  Under their revised laws of physics, the forces of this universe are neatly split into two categories: those which can floor Bob Sapp, and those which simply do not exist.  Fortunately, there is a middle ground where useful and interesting experiments can be performed. Continue reading Can Qigong Soothe These Savage Beasts?

Lightworking Lessons From the Hubble Telescope

Supernova LMC N 63A

In the ancient spiritual text Bhagavad-Gita, Krishna defined two paths to the highest realization of human potential. For those inclined towards introspection and contemplation, Krishna recommended the path of transcendent wisdom, or Jnana Yoga. For more active and extroverted people, he suggested the path of selfless service, or Karma Yoga.

Blogger Steve Pavlina discussed these paths in his recent article Are You a Lightworker or a Darkworker? After insisting that mastery requires a polarizing commitment to one path—and one alone—Steve denigrated the path of self-knowledge:

If you polarize as a lightworker, you are dedicating your life to serving the greater good. If you polarize as a darkworker, you are dedicating your life to serving yourself. To use a Star Wars analogy, it is similar to deciding whether or not to become a Jedi or a Sith.

For a darkworker the level of unconditional love is directed inwardly as love of self. It’s like a highly concentrated form of arrogance. It may not be expressed outwardly in the form of a smug attitude, but inwardly the person comes to embrace the idea that s/he is the most important person on earth and should act accordingly. Honoring this perspective can actually lead to a state of peace that is virtually the opposite of humility.

While some might label the darkworker path as evil path, I dislike using words like good or evil to describe these paths. They’re really two different sides of the same coin.

Are the paths of lightworking and darkworking truly exclusive? To understand the flaw in this theory, let’s examine a tool that is literally dedicated to gathering cosmic light: the Hubble Space Telescope. Continue reading Lightworking Lessons From the Hubble Telescope

Wuji Zhuang: The Self-Knowledge Stance

Wuji zhuang is the weakest stance in Chinese martial arts. Standing straight and still with their arms down at their sides, the practitioner of the wuji stance is in no position to deliver an attack, or to defend against one. They are sitting ducks, utterly unable to resist force from any of the four directions. So why is wuji zhuang so esteemed among high hands, and considered an important part of training in taijiquan, yiquan, and other arts?

The practice of wuji zhuang, or standing meditation, releases the hidden power of self-knowledge. Continue reading Wuji Zhuang: The Self-Knowledge Stance

The Legend of Bagua Chang

Separating martial fact from fiction is a perilous task.  If you are too credulous, you may be tricked into joining a fraudulent kung fu cult.  On the other hand, if you are too skeptical, you will cut yourself off from real high-level skills.  “Common sense” is an unreliable guide, because it is grounded in your own limited experience, and odds are you’ve never met a legitimate master.

For this and other reasons, I do not use my website to mock other martial arts and artists.  Sometimes, though, I hear a story so fantastical that I just cannot resist the urge to share it.  Continue reading The Legend of Bagua Chang