Through training in the martial arts, we begin to pay more attention to aspects of experience that might have seemed peripheral, if not hard to believe before. We begin to start noticing and giving more credence to experiences such as meeting someone for the first time and instantly liking them or disliking them without knowing anything about them. We like their vibes, we can tell if someone is staring at us and when we look up (what makes you look?) we feel we know what they are feeling or that something is going to happen, the phone rings and we know who it is before we answer it. As we allow ourselves to develop new sensitivities, we begin to view the world quite differently.
Training in Psychic Energy
Vladimir Vasiliev is a Master in The System [Systema] and he has an outstanding command of its use. Though he is so humble, I’m sure he would be the first to deny it! What I will relay now is on his personal account of the Psychic Training he received while he was with the Special Operations unit in Spetsnaz. In his own words:
The goal of the training was to make you multi-functional. You were to be able to work effectively in any kind of situation and never fear it. Perhaps more importantly, you were expected to learn how to be creative and act spontaneously. Divergent thinking, being able to come up with unconventional and unusual responses and decisions in different situations was an absolute necessity. You had to be totally adaptable to survive in the unit.
The key to this adaptability was the Psychic Training you received. You were expected to go well beyond the mere physical and psychological mastery to a point where intuition and that sixth sense, that we all have but seldom use, became a part of your daily life.
Awareness, or tapping into your sixth sense, was a focus for many of the exercises. Training classes could run for five hours and in some, you’d be blindfolded for the entire time. You’d have to follow what was going on, do your exercises and come to an understanding of the principles the instructor was teaching without the use of sight.
While sparring, the instructor would also walk around the class looking for trainees who weren’t paying attention to the total environment they were working in. If he thought you weren’t aware of his presence, he’d hit you with a stick over the head, this taught the trainee very quickly to be aware of where everyone was at all times.
At other times, we were brought up into pitch-black rooms and had to guess how many people were in it, if any. We’d also be blindfolded and have to identify colors just by touching colored blocks of paper. Again, awareness was to extend far beyond the normal five senses into the area of the psychic.
Some instructors who were skilled at passing psychic energy would take a few glasses of water and charge them with energy. This was a charge grounded in a psychic form of energy. It was much like touch healing. They’d concentrate on the water and send energy into it through their fingers without touching it. The trainee would then have to come into the room and tell the instructor which classes had been charged with the energy. The purpose behind this exercise was to teach the trainee how, on a mission, to tell if their drink was poisoned. Poison has a much stronger energy than regular water and that energy is discernible to those who have learned to access and use their psychic abilities.
The position of refinement of consciousness in the theory and practice of martial arts is utterly critical. It pervades the fundamentals of training in martial arts as well as the most advanced contents of their highest level. This is the technical and theoretical core and quintessence of martial arts.
To abandon this is tantamount to throwing away the living soul and fundamental work of the techniques and theories of martial arts, leaving only low level “external exercises” with their peculiarities of outward form…
Consciousness as we use it here does not mean consciousness in the ordinary sense, abstract logical thought, or abstract ideation; neither is it formal thinking in the ordinary sense…it is always a result of combined refinement of body and mind.
Master Shi Ming, from Bill Moyers’ Healing and the Mind
Shi Ming’s demonstration, and similar performances by other Taiji masters always draw criticism from the incredulous.
The most common objection is at the appearance of cooperation between teacher and student: the disciples appear to be throwing themselves. In many cases, that is exactly what they are doing. This fact alone does not, however, prove that the master is a fake. [Read more →]
After reviewing the training methods of Qi Dao, Kumar Frantzis suggested that such material would be more precisely labeled as shen gong, or spiritual cultivation, rather than as qi gong (energy cultivation). While I cannot disagree with his observation, it seems to me that most English-speaking qigong enthusiasts are in fact seeking self-realization, harmony and peace of mind—not merely a vehicle for increased physical vitality—so some imprecision can be forgiven here.
Qi Dao: The Art of Being in the Flow is (to my knowledge) the first English book on the obscure Tibetan art of Shamanic Qigong, or trul khor. Written by Lama Somananda Tantrapa, an ordained Buddhist monk and longtime martial artist, Being in the Flow introduces the basics of this unique brand of Tibetan Yoga. [Read more →]
Steven Seagal reaches new heights of self-parody, in this scene from his latest movie Shadow Man:
Steven Seagal: So the idea of dim mak, or any kind of internal technique, is not to hurt others but to help others. Dim mak can be used to heal people, it can be used to kill people. This is the nature of chi. Chi can be used in striking for just external, or internal. If you go to the internal organs you’ll do great damage; external, you can just move them a little. [Applies ji posture to send Student 1 reeling backwards.] Or, you can go internal. [Strikes watermelon held by Student 2, ruining lunchtime for everyone.]
In his final years, the founder of Aikido was seen to demonstrate many skills that defy the layman’s understanding of physics. Ueshiba sensei reportedly used sen sen no sen and psychic powers to disrupt his opponent’s attacks, threw attackers without touching them, or simply disappeared and reappeared in a safer location.
O-Sensei’s disciples and descendants are unable to repeat his incredible demonstrations. Instead, modern Aikido dojos will introduce ki (life energy) principles to their students with the help of a crude parlor trick: orenaite, or the “unbendable arm”. [Read more →]
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.” [Read more →]
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. [Read more →]
Bad answers to martial training queries are inconvenient, but ultimately innocuous. If every theory and technique is tested, as common sense requires, then false information will eventually be recognized and discarded.
Bad questions are more dangerous. A bad question is one with a useless answer: there is no benefit to answering it correctly. People who ask too many bad questions find themselves hamstrung, and unable to deepen their understanding. These questions are a defense mechanism of the ego, breeding complacency and conceit.
Are references to Chinese life science—qigong and TCM, specifically—a necessary component of Chinese martial arts instruction? This subject resurfaces every few months on Internet kung fu forums. Most recently, Joanna Zorya of the Martial Tai Chi Associationarguesagainst the practice. She invokes the names of famous instructors—Tim Cartmell, Chen Zhenglei, and Hong Junsheng, to name a few—in support of her claim that talk of qi is superfluous at best, and outright deceptive at worst. [Read more →]
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. [Read more →]