In the proceeding video, mentalist Darren Brown knocks a martial artist down from behind.
That proves his skill is real.
On the other hand, Darren Brown did not touch him.
That proves his skill is fake.
As for Darren Brown’s explanation, “It’s all in your mind,” that proves…what?
Darren performed this “mind punch” in a carefully controlled and scripted environment.
That proves the punch is fake.
Such no-touch demonstrations have been repeated dozens if not thousands of times, by other people (e.g. Shi Ming), in other arenas.
That proves “empty force” is real.
Nobody has employed this supposed ability in the UFC. That proves…what?
Psychic ability, or “psi”, has been tested to rigorous standards in the laboratory, and confirmed.
That proves it is real.
Noted scientists dispute the test results.
That proves it is fake.
The US and Russian militaries have conducted serious inquiries on these skills. That proves…what?
Common sense to the rescue
I could go on, but you get my point: such debates shed more heat than light. So I choose to hijack my own discussion thread here, and focus instead on a reasonable, pragmatic, common-sense response.
As martial artists, we should seek a harmonious yin/yang balance of skills, and avoid harmful extremes. Whether or not no-touch force really exists, current evidence suggests that we should not concern ourselves with its use. Cultivating too much sensitivity would leave us in a weakened state, unable to resist conventional threats. For optimum results, external and internal cultivation must be matched.
From my reading, that fairly represents the consensus view of the online martial arts community. It is practical, and theoretically sound.
Now, let me explain why it is complete and utter hogwash.
Questions and answers
Force contains information, and the transmission of force is a form of communication. Every transmission requires two parties, a sender and a receiver. The ability of the receiver to detect and interpret communication is sensitivity.
The question is, How much sensitivity is too much? At what point does this asset become a liability?
The correct answer is: never. If you have sensitivity than you can use—more information than you are profitably able to act upon—then you simply do not use it. The data, perceived instantaneously, does not slow you down. The information does not make you weak; no, an absence of strength does that!
The proof of our martial perfection
Suppose we are only half as sensitive as we ought to be, given the demands of our activity. Suppose that we miss half of the subtle cues that would allow us to avoid injury, and minimize our own expenditure of force.
Why not just declare sensitivity to be yin, or “internal”! Thusly, we could prove that our middling performance is yin/yang balanced, and internally/externally harmonized.
Or maybe, in our shortsighted and tautological defense of clumsiness, we would only prove ourselves too clever by half. That’s the real deal.