From Homeless to World Champion: The Story of Kickboxer Marco Sies

The Master Method

Excerpted from The Master Method: Four Steps to Success, Prosperity and Inner Peace by Master Marco Sies

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. Continue reading From Homeless to World Champion: The Story of Kickboxer Marco Sies

“This I Believe” On Martial Arts

This I Believe

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]

Continue reading “This I Believe” On Martial Arts

Wang Zongyue’s Taiji Boxing Trademark

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 Continue reading Wang Zongyue’s Taiji Boxing Trademark

Jack Johnson: Boxer, Bullfighter, Badass

John Arthur “Jack” Johnson was the first black heavyweight champion, but also paved the road for future athletes in the ways of trash talking, flashy bling and openly banging white women in an era when that could get you lynched. The man was everything Muhammad Ali would be…except he was doing it at the turn of the century. Continue reading Jack Johnson: Boxer, Bullfighter, Badass

About A Clever Priest and A Shallow Monk

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.” Continue reading About A Clever Priest and A Shallow Monk

The Snake and the Angry Swami: A Cautionary Tale

Rolling Thunder

The following short story was excerpted from Rolling Thunder: A Personal Exploration into the Secret Healing Powers of an American Indian Medicine Man. In this section, Doug Boyd sits by the campfire with Rolling Thunder, sharing stories he heard from other spiritual teachers.

On the train to Brindavan a Swami sits beside a common man who asks him if indeed he has attained self-mastery, as the name “Swami” implies.
“I have,” says the Swami.
“And have you mastered anger?”
“I have.”
“You mean you can control your anger?”
“I can.”
“And you do not feel anger?”
“I do not.”
“Is this the truth, Swami?”
“It is.”

After a silence the man asks again, “Do you really feel that you have controlled your anger?”
“I have, as I told you,” the Swami answers.
“Then do you mean to say, you never feel anger, even–”
“You are going on and on–what do you want?” the Swami shouts.
Continue reading The Snake and the Angry Swami: A Cautionary Tale

The Lighter Side of Kundalini

Glass elevator

John Chang was a practical joker. I had been on an elevator with him one evening along with twenty other people. The elevator was a glass-walled unit that ferried people up and down the floors of a shopping mall; there was a steel railing all around that people rested their backs on. We were going out to eat that evening at a local restaurant on the top floor of the mall.

Suddenly a burst of current pulsed through the steel backstop. Women screamed and everyone pulled away, suspecting a short circuit. John pulled away too, as I had, but I needed only one look at the barely suppressed grin on his face to realize what had really happened: He had sent a pulse of bio-energy through the railing!

Serious training in meditation, qigong, or kundalini yoga is long, hard, often boring, and sometimes downright bitter. Yet when a student reports their discovery of an exciting fringe benefit, such as heightened or extrasensory perception, certain other members of the community are quick to scold them.

“Pay no attention to such things,” the lecturer instructs. “They will only distract you from the ultimate goal of cosmic union.” Well, maybe so, and maybe not, but in the meantime, I think it is important to keep one’s sense of humor intact. Continue reading The Lighter Side of Kundalini

This is Krav Maga, Not Self-Defense

Two perspectives inspired by John Zimmer’s post on Kung Fu and self-defense…

One
Adira walked down the street, wearing a comfortable summer ensemble: tank-top, shorts, and flip-flops. Twenty yards ahead, she spotted two idle and suspicious men sitting quietly. To a Krav Maga expert of her status, they were no concern. She casually walked past them.

Suddenly, the nearest man lunged forward. Continue reading This is Krav Maga, Not Self-Defense

New War of the Worlds: Science and Religion

Kang and Kodos

My fellow aliens,

I am writing to you on a most joyous occasion. This evening, we will commence our second invasion of planet Earth. Soon, we shall realize our long-awaited objective: to oppress, exploit, and enslave the human race.

Even in this late hour, there are some who persist in questioning our motivations, and doubting our chances of success. To be clear, we undertake this action in preemptive self-defense, and failure is therefore not an option. Our intelligence suggests that if we do not strike now, the humans may one day rise to challenge us. For the sake of our slimy children…we simply cannot take that risk.

It is true that our previous Earth invasion was not a complete success. Our flying saucers needlessly alarmed the local populace, and our death rays were ineffective against the filthy Earth bacteria. In the years since that unfortunate event, our finest military analysts have carefully drafted a new strategy, one that is certain to prevail. Continue reading New War of the Worlds: Science and Religion

The Shaolin Temple Definition of Courage

From American Shaolin, a autobiographical tale of Matthew Polly’s intensive training at the modern Shaolin Temple:

American Shaolin

With most TV programming so dull, the boys at Shaolin were kungfu movie freaks, constantly visiting Shaolin’s multiplex to watch the latest blood-spattered Hong Kong releases on VHS. Wanting to undermine the assumption that laowai (non-Chinese outsiders) suck at martial arts, I brought VHS copies of Steven Seagal’s Above the Law, David Carradine’s Kung Fu, and Jean-Claude Van Damme’s Lionheart back to Shaolin after winter vacation.

The monks were used to highly fictionalized portrayals of the Shaolin temple, so they weren’t bothered by the fantasy version of Shaolin in David Carrdine’s Kung Fu. They were, however, shocked by the casting of David Carradine.

“The actor is a laowai,” I said. “He’s pretending to be half-Chinese.”

“That explains why his kungfu is so terrible,” Little Tiger said, as he ducked to the back row to avoid another cuff from monk Deqing.

David Carradine

For the rest of the movie I ignored the slights about Carradine’s kungfu skills, which were admittedly poor. (To be fair, however, he did capture that California New Age, faux-Zen blankness perfectly.) I was waiting for that climactic moment that nearly every American male who was alive in the early 1970s remembers: the scene where Carradine lifts a burning chalice to pass the final Shaolin test, permanently branding a dragon one one forearm and a tiger on the other. I hadn’t seen or heard anything like this legend since my arrival, but I had to know.

“Is the story true?” I asked. “Did that used to be the final test for Shaolin monks?”

Continue reading The Shaolin Temple Definition of Courage