Martial Development

Martial arts for personal development

From Chi Kung Skeptic to Iron Shirt Master in 28 Days


Qigong and Energy Arts Forum welcomes any submissions related to chi, ki, prana, orgone, et cetera. For this edition, I would also like to extend a special invitation to skeptics, rationalists and disbelievers.

Do you know why chi kung doesn’t exist? Can you prove it is scientifically impossible? Have you personally encountered any frauds, mountebanks or charlatans? Educate us.

Iron Shirt
Iron Shirt

Provide your best evidence, clearest arguments and most entertaining stories. One participant will be randomly selected to win a prize from the new Martial Development Shop. The winner may choose one of the following:

  • A “No Punching Allowed” button
  • A Martial Development T-shirt
  • An “Empty your cup” coffee mug

(The heavy-duty “Iron Shirt” is not among the contest prizes, but you may buy one at a very reasonable price.)

To participate, write a new and on-topic entry on your blog or website, and send me your link with a 1-2 sentence article summary by January 25, 2008. Or if you have an opinion to share, but not enough to fill a blog post, just leave a comment below.

Let a hundred flowers bloom!

UPDATE: Submissions will be accepted until February 2. (Sorry, but these late submissions will not be eligible for the prize.)

Categories: Qigong

10 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Laurel // Dec 29, 2007

    This is not new, but a collection of existing blog entries for aikido classes I’ve attended in which the topic “what is ki” was addressed. I’m not sure how much sense the content makes to anyone who has not practiced Shinshin Toitsu Aikido, but I think it gives a feel of how we talk about “ki”.

  • 2 Thomas // Dec 30, 2007

    Like with any religion, belief system, or mysticism, it is absolutely impossible to disprove qi gong. What matters is what works and what doesn’t, and this changes from case to case. You said yourself that “real” qi is getting people to throw themselves. As we’ve seen, this is impossible with skeptics and some kiai masters (Dilman and the old man who fought the MMA fighter come to mind). There is a constant flux in the definition of what qi really is, and what it really does. Even if one person is consistent, if they “fail” a test, believers will say that the test wasn’t set up properly, or that the participant wasn’t a good candidate for demonstration.

    Qi, ki, and spiritual energy all represent a non-falsifiable rhetorical system. Worse (for the purposes of a systematic evaluation of its validity), there is no consistent community and centralization to obtain quality control for their demonstrations and activities. Physical sciences, literature, music, and other fields have peer-reviewed journals, meetings, symposiums, and other large discussions to give reputation and credibility to those in the field. People in those fields that fail to live up to those standards rarely get press or publishing (like the Christian “geologist” who used to give tours of the Grand Canyon to explain how it was caused by Noah’s Flood). And while those big get-togethers aren’t perfectly objective and wholesome, it does a lot for gaining consistent results and unifying what works and what doesn’t.

    Furthermore, the esoteric nature of the “energy arts” prevents evaluative analysis of its validity. Even those as willing and gracious as John Chang are often called back to hiding and seclusion. How can a thorough evaluation take place if so much is supposed to be kept secret and shrouded in mystery? No one bothers hiding true scientific advancement (with the exception of military technology, which I personally believe to be a poor application of science) or artistic expression. Rather, it is the openness of communication that allows for progress and development, and ultimately it is supposed to be for the benefit of all mankind. If the benefits of qi gong really are as great as they say, why wouldn’t masters want to publicize more, communicate more, become more mainstream? What is to be gained from secrecy? This seclusion is (in my honest opinion), the foremost reason that energy arts will never be disproven or proven. Those who wish to learn about the art must become part of the art, and those that don’t believe will be left behind.

  • 3 John Rocheleau - Artist // Dec 30, 2007

    To try to prove the existence and power of internal energy is pointless. It is possible to demonstrate the power, but impossible to bring people who are not deeply involved, into any understanding of it.

    To arrive at a deep level of immersion and control of internal energy, requires moving beyond cognitive processes and techniques, into a powerful realm of experiential understanding and alchemy. The rewards of this practice are far beyond the immediately demonstrable. The real demonstration and proof is offered in daily interaction with people, and in a person’s life. The traditional secrecy is there for a good reason. There is power in silence.

    The best demonstrations are offered in a gentle fashion — not to shock or lay claim to mysterious achievement — but to encourage and intrigue people to expand their awareness and enrich their lives. All the rest will follow if the person is willing and able. It is often necessary to present the deeper levels in an indirect manner to avoid the reasoning mind (and ego) from taking hold of it and blocking experiential understanding and ability. Proving and demonstrating have no place in this.

    The public face of Chi Gung and other energy practices should be whatever level is positive and accessible to the public mind. Though there is a value to a shock strategy where you demonstrate the seeming impossible, it is only in exceptional circumstances for the right people at the right time.

    Thanks for the ear 🙂


  • 4 Chris // Dec 30, 2007

    You said yourself that “real” qi is getting people to throw themselves.

    I said real Taiji skills look fake. Yi, qi and Taiji are not synonyms!

  • 5 Joseph // Jan 1, 2008

    People are made of energy right all cells have energy in them right so why should’nt it be possible to use that energy.

  • 6 Alvin Harrigan // Feb 13, 2008

    Chi is a very multidimensional , holographic thing, It exist in many forms, one being karmic. If it is not in a person karma to be bless with seeing it demonstrated than it just wont happen.

    Some people can get pretty creeped out if it is shown in the wrong context. I try to feel people out first. As far as chi not existing, well lets just say most health insurance careers accept acupuncture therapy based on extensive research and studies proving it works but none have proven how it works or even that the meridians exist. That has not hurt the acupuncture business at all.
    Gravity exist but it is the only force is not fully understood or can be proven to exist with hard science. We know it exist by what it does. The same is true with chi, prana orgone etc. It is not easy to grasp or contain for the many. They don’t call it sutle energy for nothing. 🙂

    Love and Light
    “Chi Power to the People”

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