Raving Lunatics of the Twenty-First Century

Based Upon a True Story
Imagine yourself walking through a busy outdoor mall, surrounded by hundreds of shoppers and tourists. Casually perusing the fresh produce and handicrafts, you are suddenly confronted with a disturbing spectacle.

(Photo Credit: Gina Fish)

An unkempt, fifty-something man stands alone in the middle of the boardwalk, carrying on a loud and emotional conversation with nobody in particular. Interspersing pointless vignettes on politics, culture and yesterday’s supper with violent and unpredictable gestures, he manages to draw the attention of a small crowd. They watch and listen from a safe distance. Continue reading Raving Lunatics of the Twenty-First Century

Do You Have a Question About Martial Arts?

Over the past few months, I have written dozens of articles on the connections between martial arts, self-improvement and personal growth. Thus far, I’ve barely scratched the surface of this rich and fascinating subject.

What would you like to learn about martial arts? What issues should be explored in greater detail on this blog? I would like every reader (especially you RSS subscribers) to submit one question, which may become the topic of a future article. No question is too basic, too stupid or too strange. Anonymous submissions are OK, as are multiple questions.

Please send your question(s) via the contact form.  (I will be unable to reply directly to every message.)  Thank you for your participation.

A Classic Taoist Tale of Swordplay

Duke Wen of Zhao was so fond of dueling that he kept three thousand swordplayers at his residence. Day and night, they competed against another to entertain the duke. Though more than a hundred were killed every year, the duke’s fondness for swordplay never faded. Three years went by and as the state of Zhao declined, other states plotted to attack it.

Li, the crown prince, was greatly worried. He consulted his officials, promising, “Whoever can persuade the duke to give up swordplay will be rewarded with one thousand pieces of gold.” The officials all agreed, “Only Zhuangzi can accomplish the mission.” Continue reading A Classic Taoist Tale of Swordplay

Do You Have a Comprehensive Testing Plan?

Human brain
(Credit: Patrick J. Lynch)

As a professional software developer, I often ponder the similarities and correspondences between programming and martial arts. A style of martial arts is ultimately just an algorithm—executed in wetware rather than with integrated computer circuits—and there are many interesting correlations to be found between these two outwardly distinct disciplines.

Within both fields, the need for testing is widely acknowledged. Continue reading Do You Have a Comprehensive Testing Plan?

Replace Your Traditions With Best Practices

Best practices are those methods and techniques that deliver a desired outcome as quickly, cheaply and reliably as possible. Every field of human endeavor, from mundane household tasks to sophisticated technological processes, has its own set of best practices.

Best practices are the accumulated wisdom of years, decades or even centuries of human experience. Often the result of pain and suffering, these prescriptions tend to follow a simple and practical formula: do this to avoid that.

Doctors wash their hands after examining a patient, to prevent the spread of disease. Runners tie their shoelaces, to avoid tripping and falling on their face. Employers check references before extending a job offer. These best practices remind us how to approach a particular task, and why we should favor one tactic to another.

What then are traditions? Continue reading Replace Your Traditions With Best Practices

Human Weapon: Reviews And Video Highlights

Each episode of HUMAN WEAPON charts an expedition through foreign continents, famous cities, exotic villages, back alleys and lush landscapes with hosts Jason Chambers – mixed-martial-artist and professional fighter – and Bill Duff – former professional football player and wrestler, who learn how each individual location gave birth to its distinct style of combat and study their form of martial art.

This TV series is currently airing on the History Channel. Here are some highlight clips from each episode… Continue reading Human Weapon: Reviews And Video Highlights

Four Paradoxes of Standing Meditation

Wang Xiangzhai
Wang Xiangzhai
standing meditation

In 1939, Wang Xiangzhai issued a public challenge through a Beijing newspaper. His objective: to test and prove the new martial arts training system of Yiquan, a system that placed standing meditation (zhan zhuang) at its core.

Expert fighters from across China, Japan and even Europe traveled to answer Wang’s challenge. None could beat him or his senior students. His standing meditation training produced superior results in a shorter time period, when compared to methods used in boxing, Judo, and other styles of Kung Fu.

Considering the proven value of standing meditation, surprisingly few people undertake the practice today. Why is this? As Wang himself noted, the exercise is plagued by logical contradictions. Continue reading Four Paradoxes of Standing Meditation