Senate Proposes “Health Tax” on Fittest Americans

In a revamped health care system envisioned by senators, people would be required to carry health insurance just like motorists must get auto coverage now. The government would provide subsidies for the poor and many middle-class families, but those who still refuse to sign up would face fines of more than $1,000.

The details were unveiled Thursday July 2, in a health care overhaul bill supported by key Senate Democrats looking to fulfill President Barack Obama’s top domestic priority.

Called “shared responsibility payments,” the fines would offset at least half the cost of basic medical coverage, according to the legislation. The goal is to nudge people to sign up for coverage when they are healthy, not wait until they get sick.
[continued at The Seattle Times]

If you were given a choice, would you vote for or against this proposal? Why?

These Tough Guys Did Martial Arts…For Health

Do you know how martial artists spell irony? R-B-S-D.

RBSD, or reality-based self-defense, is a blanket term for martial arts training that purports to focus on practical applications. In truth, however, these applications—gross motor skills such as the straight punch and Thai-style knee strike—can only be deemed “practical” within a fiat-based reality.

Reality as measured by the CDC is strikingly different. Among the leading causes of death in 2005, assault ranks in 15th place—behind heart disease, diabetes, and a host of other illnesses. In the USA, death by suicide is 50% more common than homicide. Statistically speaking, influenza is far deadlier than any fatigue-clad RBSD play-warrior, or the threats they would prepare you to face.

Despite the indisputable fact that sickness is the greatest danger to the average person, martial arts for health have somehow earned a bad reputation. Continue reading These Tough Guys Did Martial Arts…For Health

When and Why to Quit Kata Practice

For how long should we continue to practice our kata? Many senseis would simply answer: forever. Personally, I do not have forever to spare. Neither do you, I’d guess.

What do you have? A long list of responsibilities and interests, including but certainly not limited to karate (or other martial arts). You have a desire to maximize the benefits of your practice, while minimizing the costs. And you want to know when, if ever, you should quit your kata.

Simply put, you can justifiably quit when the costs of practice exceed the benefits. Here are a few of the potential, proposed and actual benefits of kata training.

Benefits of Kata Practice

Kata as a Memory Aid
The most frequently cited justification of kata is as a mnemonic device. The kata serves as a living dictionary of fighting techniques and sequences. Continue reading When and Why to Quit Kata Practice

Five Personal Protection Facts They Don’t Want You to Know

Imi Lichtenfeld
Imi Lichtenfeld
Founder of Krav Maga
  • In reality, there is no worst-case “real world” scenario to train against; there are only circumstances. By applying the same techniques in every unique situation, you will create more problems then you solve.
  • Want to live a long and healthy life? Eat your veggies, exercise regularly, drink in moderation and avoid smoking altogether. These habits are more important than anything you will learn in a personal protection workshop.
  • A calm mind and steady heart are required to apply martial arts training under duress. These traits can be demonstrated, but they cannot be taught.
  • The level of expertise required to stop a sneak attack is much higher than the level required to launch one. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a sneak defense.
  • Self-defense skills can only help you in the present. They cannot change the past.

An Antidote for Martial Arts Poison

Patrick Parker (of Mississippi’s Mokuren Dojo) asked for comments on the article, Martial Arts Poison. Unlike author Kim Soo, I am not a 10th-dan black belt and do joo nim (founder) of my own Karate style. Nevertheless, I venture to offer my own perspective on the topics he addresses.

How do martial arts build character?

Many people believe martial arts training is helpful in building one’s character. This is especially important for growing boys and girls — to build their characters, and give them self-defense skills for life. Parents often want to send their children to martial arts schools, for they have heard of the benefits of traditional training.

But all too often, the negative consequences of poor martial arts teaching appear, and very quickly — injuries in the dojang; development of radical, trouble-making attitudes; declining grades; fighting; discipline problems in school. When children turn out to be aggressive, parents regret sending them to the dojang. But the problem is not martial arts, but poor instruction and improper values (such as emphasizing competition and fighting).

So, parents may think the dojang is a source of such troubles, but the children still are drawn to martial arts training because of consistent exposure to movies and TV—that constant advertising for martial arts schools. Parents may not think martial arts training is good for children, yet the children still nurture powerful and glamorous images
they are getting through the media. This can also set the stage for discord and strife in the home and family.

I am among those who believe martial arts practice has character building potential—a potential that many students and teachers never realize. Therefore, when a Karate dojang (dojo) claims their lessons will build character, I expect to hear some illuminating details.

Why do so many schools tout character, without defining what they mean by the term? Continue reading An Antidote for Martial Arts Poison

Master Wang Says: “Taijiquan Sucks”

This is a distillation of previous published interviews with Master Wang.

Having traveled across China, I know that Taijiquan has the most practitioners of any martial art. Upon hearing that this boxing method was handed down from Zhang Sanfeng, I despised him for a long time.

Taijiquan is far from the art of actual combat; they have nothing in common with each other.

Later on, I read the collected edition of Zhang Sanfeng’s teachings, and realized that he had progressed deeply into the great Tao—and I came to believe that Taiji was not handed down from him at all! Actually, it doesn’t matter; even if one is a descendant of Sanfeng, he is not worthy to talk about this method without first gaining its essence. Continue reading Master Wang Says: “Taijiquan Sucks”

Two Recession-Proof Investment Picks for 2008-2010

Dow Jones Index, January 2008

My Fellow Investors,

These are perilous times, for even the best of us.

A few short months ago, the market analysts were telling us this would never happen…that the fallout from the banking industry’s irresponsible lending practices would be confined mainly to the housing sector, and our broader economy would continue its gentle ascent.

Folks, the hot-air balloon ride is over. Today, we find ourselves unwilling passengers on an economic Hindenburg. The markets are dropping fast. Typically reserved pundits are openly using the R-word—recession—and a few have even mentioned the D-word! Continue reading Two Recession-Proof Investment Picks for 2008-2010

Energy Medicine Becomes Front-Page News

Last year, I predicted that Qi Gong and energy medicine therapies would become big business over the next decade, possibly eclipsing both Yoga and the UFC combined.  I also predicted an increase in qigong fraud, where inadequately trained therapists operate expensive, ineffectual energy devices on desperate patients.

Sorry to say, I was right. Continue reading Energy Medicine Becomes Front-Page News

Li Ching-Yuen, The Amazing 250 Year-Old Man

When the Chinese herbalist Li Ching-Yuen died in 1933, newspapers around the world reported the news of his passing. According to his own testimony, he was 197 years old.

An investigation, however, suggested Li had forgotten his actual birthday. Official government records recorded the birth year as 1677, making him 256. Here is a copy of the obituary as printed in the New York Times on May 6, 1933:

LI CHING-YUN DEAD; GAVE HIS AGE AS 197.

“Keep a Quiet Heart, Sit Like a Tortoise, Sleep Like a Dog,” His Advice for a Long Life.

Li Ching-Yuen
Li Ching-Yuen

Inquiry Put Age At 256.

Reported to have buried 23 wives and had 180 descendents – sold herbs for first 100 years.

Peiping, May 5 – Li Ching-Yun, a resident of Kaihsien, in the Province of Szechwan, who contended that he was one of the world’s oldest men and said he was born in 1736 – which would make him 197 years old – died today.

A Chinese dispatch from Chungking telling of Mr. Li’s death said he attributed his longevity to peace of mind and that it was his belief every one could live at least a century by attaining inward calm. Continue reading Li Ching-Yuen, The Amazing 250 Year-Old Man

Four Paradoxes of Standing Meditation

Wang Xiangzhai
Wang Xiangzhai
practices
standing meditation

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. Continue reading Four Paradoxes of Standing Meditation