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. [Read more →]
In New York Magazine, Kyle Buchanan laments the decline of the modern action movie:
…Actors often brag about how much Krav Maga or karate or capoeira they had to learn for their roles, but to judge from the onscreen world of modern action movies, that kind of skill set is hardly rare: A built-in understanding of martial arts is instilled in everyone, be they hero, villain, or mere henchman. (Fortunately, heroes always get to fight off bad guys who somehow know the exact same form of martial arts they do.) Too often, it seems like movies grind to a halt for obligatory hand-to-hand combat with low stakes and little invention, as though the screenwriter typed, “A fight breaks out,” and the director left it up to the second unit and fight coordinator to fill three minutes.
With little in the way of stakes, a sameness in presentation, and no blood or bruises, martial arts have turned action scenes into dance scenes…Gone are the days when a fight might involve a gun, a makeshift weapon, or a hit that actually hurts.
Mr. Buchanan misremembers the history of violence in cinema. [Read more →]
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. [Read more →]
Everyone in less than ten words please try to explain why you practice the martial arts. I think I can show how we are all trying to do the same thing our perspectives and personal agendas just make us word it differently. Please just humor me i consider myself a scientist and could use as many perspectives as possible.
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]
All characters and events in this post–even those based on real people–are entirely fictional. The following page contains coarse language and reasoning and due to its content, it should not be read by anyone.
Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve been trolled! Hoaxed! Buffaloed and bewildered!
It doesn’t happen often these days. I’ve been discussing martial arts on the Internet since before Web 1.0. I’ve seen most of the pranks, and yes, pulled a few myself.
What is the best style of martial arts for fit, beautiful women with large breasts? Please let me know, so I can sign up for it. Serious replies only.
So when someone dangles a truly ridiculous assertion in front of my nose, I usually have the good sense to ignore it these days.Usually. But a few days ago, one fairly experienced martial artist and provocateur knocked me for a loop.
We were chatting about the relevance of Taijiquan and push hands to combat. I said that I considered it inappropriate to keep one’s arms below the chest for the duration of push hands practice, regardless of whether one is interested in the martial applications of the art. It wasn’t intended as a criticism, really–just a quick observation in the midst of a wide-ranging discussion. But he eventually replied,
All this about arm position and circling is irrelevant, because in Push Hands, as long as you can touch your partner anywhere on their body, you can pop ‘em (as long as they have just a bit more unconscious tension than you do). That’s it. Doesn’t much matter where you touch them as deep unconscious tension (unlike superficial and/or conscious tension) is not localized it is a diffuse property–like a dye that is wicked through a material rather than a local stain. So, hands up or down shouldn’t matter much in the deep sense except that by the standards of physicalized Push Hands which the Guest seems to advocate it should simply make it that much easier to pop me up and out.
In retrospect, I should have addressed the issue in terms a software engineer can understand [Read more →]
There was once a monk who carried a mirror where ever he went. A priest noticed this behavior one day, and thought to himself, “This monk is so vain and shallow, carrying that mirror around. He shouldn’t concern himself with his external appearance–it is the inside, not the outside that really matters. I’ll teach that monk a lesson today.” [Read more →]