Derren Brown Investigates The Bronnikov Method

A Martial Development Meta-Investigation

I can see inside Vyacheslav Bronnikov’s head.

Not because I possess the disputed X-ray vision skills–though if I did, I would probably keep quiet about it. No, I’m just saying that I may understand what Bronnikov was thinking when he did what he did.

I should back up, and tell the tale from the start. Derren Brown is a renowned ‘psychological illusionist,’ a performer who combines magic, suggestion, psychology, misdirection and showmanship in order to seemingly predict and control human behavior. Imagine a younger, more talented, and more personable version of James Randi…

For the past ten years Derren has created TV and stage performances that have stunned audiences, debunked the paranormal and encouraged many to improve and enhance their own mental abilities. His first show appeared in 2000, Derren Brown: Mind Control, and followed with Trick of the Mind, Trick or Treat and a series of Specials including the controversial Russian Roulette and the hugely popular Events.

In the second episode of his latest television series, Darren Brown Investigates…, the illusionist set out to test The Bronnikov Method of human potential development. Created by Vyacheslav M. Bronnikov, this system–based in ancient Tibetan Yoga–promises to awaken dormant human skills and abilities, among them the ability to see while blindfolded, or indeed with no eyes at all.

Derren traveled to a Bronnikov seminar in Belgium, accompanied a woman who has been legally blind for more than a decade. As for what happened next… Continue reading Derren Brown Investigates The Bronnikov Method

Qigong 102: Secrets of Meditation and Emotional Balance

Introduction

  • Qigong (chi gong) is most often understood as a set of active exercises, guiding qi (chi) energy around the body through intention, movement, and sound. It is less well known that Qigong incorporates rigorous courses of standing and seated meditation. These active and passive, external and internal modalities are mutually supportive.
  • One of the first goals of Qigong meditation is to reach a deep level of quietude within the mind and body. Sustained quiet allows a student to perceive increasingly subtle objects and movements inside their body.
  • In a quiet meditative state, relationships and correspondences that were previously hidden or overlooked, become clear and credible. In other words, meditation allows for biofeedback training without the need for electronic biofeedback instrumentation.

Continue reading Qigong 102: Secrets of Meditation and Emotional Balance

Why Natural Breathing is Smart Breathing

When I hear a professional martial arts instructor advising their students to be more natural, I cannot help but feel contempt. Could any help be less helpful?

What is the most natural method for safely evading a knife thrust, while simultaneously positioning oneself for an effortless disarm and throw? How does one naturally reverse a guillotine choke? People who know the answer to these questions don’t need an instructor or a class; for the rest of us, more detailed guidance is appropriate.

With that said, I am a strong advocate of “natural breathing” for martial applications, in contrast to the more exotic approaches advanced in some dojos. Continue reading Why Natural Breathing is Smart Breathing

Derren Brown Proves No-Touch Knockdowns are Real, and Fake

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? Continue reading Derren Brown Proves No-Touch Knockdowns are Real, and Fake

Why Are Female Martial Arts Masters So Rare?

Are female martial arts masters as rare as they seem? Or are their numbers proportionate to those of female students? I don’t know the answer, but if I had to guess, here are some of the factors I would consider.

The Strength-Sensitivity Paradox

Paraphrasing Mark Twain, a martial art is something that everyone wants to know, but nobody wants to learn. The learning is arduous, occasionally painful and frequently embarrassing.

Having reached the limit of their endurance, students are sometimes tempted to abandon the principal objective, and start playing to win instead of investing in loss. Practically speaking, this means using strength and speed to “fill in the gaps”, or compensate for inferior technique. Continue reading Why Are Female Martial Arts Masters So Rare?

Warning: You Might Be a Neijia Martial Artist

As I explained in Defining The Internal Martial Arts, there is no consistent definition of what constitutes a neijia style. In fact, you might be a neijia artist yourself, and not even realize it! Here are a few of the classic warning signs.

If you are constantly looking inward, yet still cannot stand the sight of blood,
you might be a neijia artist. Continue reading Warning: You Might Be a Neijia Martial Artist

What Every Martial Artist Should Know About Chi and TCM

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 Association argues against 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. Continue reading What Every Martial Artist Should Know About Chi and TCM