How Mario Napoli Beat Chen Village Taiji

Excerpted from Mario Napoli’s interview at Taiji Forum.

I was in a no man’s land concerning this art. I just could not get it! I was lost, demoralized and had [already] quit Tai Chi Chuan [once]. I only went back to it because I heard how good [Stanley Israel] was… so I figured I’d give Tai Chi Chuan one last try.

We hit it off instantly. After just touching him, I knew he was the one who was going to teach me. He made it sound, look and feel so easy. It was very refreshing and I felt as if I understood everything he said explained and showed! He made it fun for me to go to class. The work was hard, but I took to it like fish to water.

“Just push!”

We had many debates and Stan would always say to me, “Why are you so confused?”

It began after a pushing [hands] lesson when he said to me “Mario, just push.” and I would say, “What do you mean, just push? I mean I can push this way or that way…” Then he would repeat “Just push,” and I would again say, “But I may just end up shoving! Shoving is wrong, right?”

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From Homeless to World Champion: The Story of Kickboxer Marco Sies

The Master Method

Excerpted from The Master Method: Four Steps to Success, Prosperity and Inner Peace by Master Marco Sies

Growing up, I experienced difficulties and personal conflict that I’ve worked very hard to overcome. Some of these struggles stemmed from negative influences and people who told me I wasn’t good enough…I was inferior…I wasn’t smart…I was too poor, too small, too unattractive to make anything of myself. I was told so many negative things so often, I actually spent many years believing these things were true.

Very small for my age, I was a dark-skinned boy living n a not-yet diversified [Chilean] population where light skin was admired and favored. At school, little girls told me I was ugly, and the boys bullied me relentlessly. I remember being thrown headfirst into a trashcan, and the humiliation of a group of boys whipping me with their neckties and making me run like a horse while they laughed. Continue reading From Homeless to World Champion: The Story of Kickboxer Marco Sies

The Origin of Phoenix Jones, Seattle’s Real-Life Superhero

By day, he is a professional mixed martial arts fighter, with multiple black belts and a winning record. By night, he is Seattle’s own neighborhood crime fighter, operating under the costumed alias Phoenix Jones.

Phoenix recently shared his origin story, methods and motivations Continue reading The Origin of Phoenix Jones, Seattle’s Real-Life Superhero

Seattle MMA “Superhero” Fights Street Crime

First reported by KOMO News:

Phoenix Jones is a superhero.

He has a day job but wears a costume underneath his street clothes in case he encounters crime. He carries a “net gun” and has a sidekick named Buster Doe.

But this isn’t the plot from a Hollywood movie. There are no special effects. This is real-life and Phoenix patrols Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood every week- stopping fights, feeding the homeless and helping folks who have run out of gas.

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James Arthur Ray: Downfall of a “Spiritual Warrior”

March 2009

Times have been tough for Matthew Smith. A self-proclaimed “Star Wars” fanatic from Clifton, N.J., Mr. Smith, 38, was laid off from his job as a retail manager five months ago and has been living on unemployment ever since. His dream of starting his own business fizzled along with his marriage — one was directly tied to the other, he says. And his efforts to find a new job have so far been futile.

“My life has not been working,” he said, as he stood inside a huge ballroom at the Westin Hotel on Saturday along with 500 other people, many of them also unemployed and looking for something better.

But this was not a job fair. They were here to see a motivational speaker and self-help guru, and paying a hefty price to do so: $1,297 for a high-decibel, two-day seminar. In this case, the speaker was James Arthur Ray, one of the emerging names in the $11 billion self-improvement industry, and the event was called the Harmonic Wealth Weekend.

Continue reading James Arthur Ray: Downfall of a “Spiritual Warrior”

How to Win at Kickboxing (The Wrong Way)

By Tim Ferriss, no-holds-barred cage fighter, kick-boxer-pusher, and the author of the bestselling book The 4-Hour Workweek

In 1999, sometime after quitting my second unfulfilling job and eating peanut-butter sandwiches for comfort, I won the gold medal at the Chinese Kickboxing National Championships.

The 4-Hour Workweek

It wasn’t because I was good at punching and kicking. God forbid. Continue reading How to Win at Kickboxing (The Wrong Way)

Combat Judo in the Cobra-Kai

From the 2008 reptile documentary Life in Cold Blood:

Cobras grapple not only with their prey, but with one another, in dispute over mates and territory. This is one of the most formidable: the King Cobra, highly venomous, and about four meters (fourteen feet) long. Disputes between rival male King Cobras are potentially very dangerous indeed, for this species specializes in eating other kinds of snakes. So they observe strict rules in their fights, which prohibit the use of their lethal bite.

Slowed down, it’s a performance full of grace, as each contestant strives not to kill his opponent, but simply to slam him to the ground.

Continue reading Combat Judo in the Cobra-Kai

The True Costs of Winning a Million Dollar Skeptic Challenge

By unwitting guest contributor Dean Radin, PhD…

How to Summon a Supernatural Dimwit

Let’s say we want to win a million dollar prize for rigorously demonstrating something psychic in a scientifically acceptable way.

One of the best candidates at present is the ganzfeld telepathy experiment…

A session typically takes about an hour for the two participants. For the investigator it takes another hour to prepare and to close down the session…

First, we do a power analysis to determine how many repeated sessions we have to run. Let’s say for a million dollars we are required to achieve results associated with odds against chance of a million to one. That seems like a reasonable criterion for success…

We’ll design an experiment that is run in three phases, where each phase has the same parameters: p(chance) = 0.25, p(hypothesis) = 0.32, alpha = 0.003, power = 0.99. This means that if we assume that telepathy gives us a hit rate of 32%, then if we run this experiment we’ll have a 99% chance of getting a final p-value of 0.003 or better, i.e. good evidence for telepathy.

The power analysis tells us that we need to run N = 1,147 trials to achieve this result. So now we will run this same experiment two more times, get a result each time at least as good as p = 0.003, and then the combined p-value over all three phases will be one in a million or better, or odds against chance of at least a million to one.

This requires that we run a total of 1147 x 3 = 3441 sessions.

Continue reading The True Costs of Winning a Million Dollar Skeptic Challenge

Science and the Problem with Chi

Chi Gong: The Ancient Chinese Way to Health by Paul Dong and Aristide Esser

Chi theory is an ontology, in which it is pointless to declare one’s belief or disbelief prior to understanding. In this excerpt from Chi Gong: The Ancient Chinese Way to Health, author Bruce Holbrook addresses the root of the controversy, which is neither logic or science, but cultural impedance.

The concept of chi is confusing to Western readers, not because it is a difficult one, but because our own culture stands in the way.

Occidental civilization is based on certain religious and philosophical premises which invite false translation of chi and related concepts. For example, our philosophy forces a choice between two fundamental levels of reality, which in the Chinese worldview are but a single one. That historically recent epistemological expression of our civilization, science, forcefully fights against comprehension of a single reality. Through out this section, therefore, “science” and related terms such as “physical,” are used within quotation marks when they refer to Western concepts. This may promote correction of the false, but very widespread, ethnocentric assumption that Western science is the only form of science.

Our “science” is firmly based on inanimate models and data-recording devices, whereas chi (in the central sense of this book) is intimately related to distinctively animate phenomena and cultivated human sensing. An additional problem is that Western science–especially “medical science”–has become dogmatic, so that it rejects any logical conclusion which lies outside its paradigm. The prevailing attitude is: If we can’t deal with it on our terms, it does not exist, because only our terms are valid. Cultural anthropologists call such systematic ignorance “ethnocentrism”–being confined, unaware of the confinement, by one’s own culture.

Western scientists can describe in unparalleled detail a decline in metabolic energy and regenerative capacity, but as soon as they state or suggest that these are the causes of natural dying, they are refusing to answer the question at hand: How does a human die of natural causes?

Given such widespread ethnocentrism, it is only natural therefore that Western thinking beyond the scope of “science” has surrounded chi with a mystical aura, while “scientific thinking” has reduced and deformed the concept into something manageable on its own terms. Such terms are untrue to the original concept and reality of chi. Beyond that there is a natural difficulty with distinctions among different kinds of chi. This can give rise to the impression that Chinese thinkers indulged in unnecessary conceptual multiplication to compensate for their own weaknesses in natural scientific understanding. Nothing could be further from the truth. Continue reading Science and the Problem with Chi

“This I Believe” On Martial Arts

This I Believe

This I Believe is an international project engaging people in writing and sharing essays that describe their core values. More than 90,000 of these essays, written by people from all walks of life, are archived on their website.

Naturally, some essayists shared their beliefs on, and experience with martial arts. Here are a few of their stories.

Life Is A Spiritual Struggle
by Joseph Laycock (Brighton, Massachusetts)

Over the din of boxing gloves pounding against leather bags, I struggle to hear this Brazilian explain yet another way to choke someone unconscious. This is a martial arts gym. Most of the regulars are amateur fighters with dreams of going professional. When they’re not here, some of them work as firefighters or bouncers. I’m definitely the only schoolteacher in the room.

My students take interest in my training. Sometimes I’ll enter the classroom with bruises or a slight limp from the gym. In world history, I’ll discuss the cultural significance of the fighting styles I study. In Thai kickboxing, the eight striking weapons — fists, shins, elbows and knees — represent the eight-fold path of the Buddha. Brazilian jujitsu has more improvisation than Japanese martial arts, which reflects different cultural attitudes towards tradition.

Every class asks me the same questions, “Have you ever beat anyone up?” And, “Why are you a teacher instead of a professional fighter?” When I tell them the truth — that I have never been in a fight and have no aspirations to go professional — I get a range of reactions from disappointment to accusations of cowardice.

“So why do you do it,” they always ask.

I believe that life is a spiritual struggle. My battle is not against another fighter but against the unjust and apathetic system that is attacking my students… [continued]

Continue reading “This I Believe” On Martial Arts