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.

Unfortunately, this is a textbook example of a bad question. The obvious answer is no, qigong and TCM are not required, but the implication of the question is false. By reframing this question, with the aim of self-improvement rather than self-satisfaction, we arrive at a more practical answer.

How could qigong and TCM awareness improve my practice of martial art? These disciplines all operate in the same domain—the human mind and body—and the knowledge and skills cultivated in one discipline are therefore highly relevant to the others. This is not an abstract theoretical point (cf. “the hidden correspondences between boxing, baseball and Christianity”); it can specifically observed in the practices of each discipline. For example:

Medical application Attribute Martial application
Massage therapy (tui na) Strength Grappling, wrestling (shuai jiao)
Pulse reading Sensitivity Listening and sticking techniques
Chiropractic (die da) Skeletal anatomy knowledge Joint locks (chin na)
Acupuncture, acupressure Circulatory anatomy knowledge Point striking (dim mak)

Throughout Chinese history, men such as Wong Fei Hung leveraged these correspondences to become both respected fighters and medical doctors.

Of course, America’s modern medical landscape is far different than that of 19th century China. For today’s average martial art instructor to open a self-certified medical clinic would be irresponsible, and probably also violate several laws. Fortunately, Chinese medicine is not just for fixing other people; it can also be used to protect and improve your own health.

In pursuit of peak performance, martial artists place a greater strain on their bodies than most people. A smart practitioner will do everything they can to avoid inflicting chronic damage on their own body. Dit da jow, a topical liniment for healing training injuries, is just one example of the benefits that medical knowledge offers to martial artists.

In contrast to the well-known link between pugilism and Parkinson’s disease, the dangers of intensive and incorrect internal martial arts training have scarcely been investigated in the West. To be forewarned is to be forearmed. An ounce of preventative insight provided by TCM may be worth a pound of medication and treatment.

Internal Strength and Other Dangerous Assumptions

Accepting the value of evidence-based TCM and qigong does not require the rejection of sports medicine or alternative approaches. Why would anyone argue against its utility?

There are many widespread misconceptions about chi in the martial arts community. Classical teachings on the correct use of chi are usually correlated with postural adjustments, and this has led some clever practitioners to conclude that chi is good posture. Such “practical explanations” are an appealing alternative to the traditional use of the term, which was anything but precise.

Accepting qigong, while simultaneously insisting that qi is merely a synonym for skeletal alignment, would result in an unpleasant cognitive dissonance. So purveyors of Internal Strength, Combat Taiji and other “demystifications” have little alternative but to reject Eastern medicine—a system in which qi plays a central role, and is decidedly not mere alignment or coordination. It is a futile attempt at saving face and avoiding the embarassment of an inevitable public rebuke.

Will medical knowledge make you a more complete martial artist? That is a bad question. Instead, ask yourself, how can it make you a better person?

83 comments on “What Every Martial Artist Should Know About Chi and TCM”

  1. Excellent! Your linking of the medical application, attribute and martial application is right on.

    Unfortunately, those with too practical an outlook will be missing this training and the results it can bring. Too bad.

  2. “It is a futile attempt at saving face and avoiding the embarassment of an inevitable public rebuke.”

    It has nothing to do with saving face and everything to do with liberating people from pseudoscientific world views and potentially damaging (& distracting) practices. As has been pointed out to me, my rejection of qi puts me in a tiny minority within the world of Tai Chi.

    Given that I have studied Chinese philosophical concepts such as taiji, wuxing and bagua in some detail and been trained fairly extensively in qigong / neigong and authorised to teach it, it would be far easier for me just teach it along with every other teacher, in spite of the fact that I don’t believe in qi. I would have far less hassles and criticisms from people if I did, and almost certainly a lot more students. I know for a fact that teachers who will teach qigong and Tai Chi purely as a form of “qigong” to martially-disinterested people make a lot more money and enjoy a lot more adulation than I do.

    As I have explained before, I do teach practices similar to neigong, but these carry an entirely physical and martial rationale.

    By rejecting the existence of qi, I’m sticking my neck out to try to challenge something I genuinely see as a spiritually dangerous paradigm and a potentially hazardous metaphysical mystification.

    The fact that I have chosen to do this has frequently caused scorn and criticism, sometimes from people who had previously thought my material to be very good. Trust me – if I was just concerned with my reputation, I would never have started my “100% Qi-Free” campagn, I’d have kept my position on the Executive Committee of the Tai Chi Union for Great Britain, and reaped the benefits.

  3. I don’t think that rejecting the existence of an invisible force really qualifies as “sticking your neck out”. It is a savvy marketing strategy, no matter how pure your motivations.

    In the broad cultural domain, qi is axiomatic, and to “reject” it is as every bit as disingenuous as the claim that “Evolution is a theory, not a fact”.

    Fortunately, you are not obliged to reconcile your personal views on Tai Chi with TCM standards. Or with esoteric Tao school, or a dozen other methods. It is easier to ignore them all. Such is the pleasure of the frog in the well?

  4. Chris said:
    “I don’t think that rejecting the existence of an invisible force really qualifies as “sticking your neck out”. It is a savvy marketing strategy, no matter how pure your motivations.”

    But by rejecting qi, and by insisting that all my students practice Taiji as a hands-on martial art rather than for any other purpose, I have lost hundreds of potential customers and caused myself no end of grief and argument – on the internet, face to face and on the phone. Out in the real world of West Yorkshire, England, every single student has to be convinced that Tai Chi is a martial art rather than a form of energetic healing, spiritual relaxation and path to enlightenment. I have to recruit from policemen, security guards and other regular folk that are prepared to hit each other and throw each other around – it isn’t always easy convincing them that Taiji is for them – even when I’ve just shown them a few techniques. The moment they hear the words “Tai Chi” they lose interest.

    Most Tai Chi teachers recruit students from people who are drawn to Tai Chi and they are last people we want to recruit from. Meanwhile the “qi-believer” teachers charge a whole lot more than I do for their pseudo-philosophical energetic twaddle.

    I’ve been teaching for over 5 years now and it has taken this long to start doing better than just break even. I teach full time – the day to day students that I rely on don’t generally care one way or the other about qi, so if I didn’t reject the concept of qi, my classes would be much fuller. We’d also get a lot less hands-on martial practice done.

    This isn’t just speculation on my part – I have lost hundreds of potential students that were looking for magical powers and a new religion. Even some who were looking for martial arts have left over my stance on qi. Here in England, most white people are secular rather than religious, so they have a religious vaccuum to fill. I’d say 95% + of British Tai Chi seekers are looking for a religion rather than a martial art. Qi sells big time.

  5. Joanna,

    Your niche may be small in West Yorkshire, but not on the Internet, where you could easily develop a profitable cult following (pun intended).

    You write about two categories of instructor, the believers and the realists, but conveniently leave out the third. Just as you’ve declined to address the main point of this article.

  6. I can accept that there may also exist a number of semi-realistic semi-believers who are yet to commit themselves one way or the other.

    Regarding your original question, “can TCM make you a better person?” I suppose so, if it works. But I wouldn’t be happy about healing people at the expense of animals – that is my personal perspective as strong believer in animals rights.

    Can the concept of qi and its cultivation make you a better person? No – I would say the opposite.

  7. The third category consists of masters who make extraordinary claims, then proceed to demonstrate them.

    Thermal cameras and LEDs do not register fantastical concepts, they reflect reality.

  8. Oh – great TV. Have you ever seen Uri Geller? Or James Randi?

    Your film clips just show absolute nonsense and trickery. People go to great lengths to make people believe they have amazing powers, but they never do have really under laboratory testing, otherwise the whole world would know about it.

    I’ve managed to replicate some iron shirt style tricks and misleading fajin demos myself with a handful of students, solely in the interests of research (there was no deception at any stage I hasten to add – everyone knew they were involved in myth-debunking from the very start), but I don’t know how all these tricks are done – not even the magic circle knows every trick. Luckily Sima Nan does what he can to dispel such myths, as he was taught many of the tricks himself. His efforts have earned him a broken spine, courtesy of the charlatan heavy mob.

    “In daring to speak the truth about qigong, Sima Nan has been kicked, beaten, detained, tortured, ridiculed and accused of betraying his culture. He has suffered two crushed vertebrae, a crushed trachea and other injuries at the hands of those who were unhappy with Sima Nan’s questioning the validity of qigong and the claims of various qigong masters.” http://www.csicop.org/sb/9903/sima-nan.html

    With the animals lying down, maybe they detected an increase in humidity and felt that it was about to rain, so they lay down to keep a patch of ground dry to sleep on (as cows do). Careful timing (and access to a barometer) could have let the magicians stall the camera crew until the right moment. Maybe they used ultrasound, who knows? Someone will know how it is done.

    But I think it would be completely unethical to use animals in this way, even if it were possible, which raises a secondary issue.

    From “The Trouble with Qi” http://www.martialtaichi.co.uk/articles/trouble_with_qi.php

    3) Is it morally or spiritually acceptable to use qi?

    This is an issue where surely there is no room to sit on the fence. However, many people do just that, without really thinking through the issue of whether or not they have a consistent religious or spiritual justification for what they are doing. In 21st century culture, people’s souls are up for grabs, whether you are into Qigong, Reiki, Yoga, Crystal Healing, Tantra, Tenaga Dalam, Chanelling, Wicca or whatever. Some people will dabble freely in anything and everything, without any concern other than “Does this feel good to me?” “Does this feel right for me?” This is in spite of the fact that we are specifically warned against consorting with supernatural or occult forces in several major world faiths, including Sikhism, Christianity and Islam.

    There is plenty of further reading at the foot of the article. You should be aware that even if qi powers were found to have any validity at all, it would not necessarily make it OK. Not all that is possible is desirable – just look at the wholesale and indiscriminate destruction caused by nuclear missiles.

    In the UK next week, politicians are going to vote on whether or not it is acceptable to make “hybrid embryos” by injecting human DNA into animal embryos. These will be experimented on and then murdered rather than being allowed to go full term. This is an absolute abomination and a total disregard for the sanctitiy of life (both human and animal). In the Bible we are commanded “not to mix species.” Who could have forseen that the process of breeding mules (an unnatural pairing for human convenience) would eventually lead to hybrid embryos? Only God.

    If qi powers such as those demonstrated were real, they would be tantamount to sorcery, and we have been warned very strongly against that too.

    Returning to the animal demonstration – I am technically a Reiki master (I’ve stopped doing it though) and have done a little buqi, back in the days when I considered such things acceptable. I have experienced some supposedly energetic interractions with animals that seemed quite amazing.

    But perhaps the results were more of a reflection of the animals’ greater sensitivity to pheremones and other postural and expression indicators. Maybe if you sit at a tank in a Marine Life Centre and exude nothing but love for a wounded turtle (rescued from a fishing net) it shouldn’t come as a surprise when the turtle swims up to you and sits with you for 20 minutes looking happy and sleepy. I’ve experienced similar things with dogs. I guess we all want to be loved.

    But is it really magic or did it only feel magical? Since I quit doing Reiki and stuff like it, I’ve had just as many (actually way more) amazing prolonged encounters with animals. I’ve sat and watched woodmice, voles, weasels, fox-cubs, deer, young birds and all kinds of creatures that would have every reason to be frightened by my human presesnce. Seems like the Reiki was a non-essential part. The danger would have been if I had become convinced that it was all down to the Reiki. Then, had an animal run away or it hadn’t seemed to work, I would have agonised over what I had done differently and the trap of superstition would have started to take hold. Who knows – I might have got into trying to enhance my “Reiki powers” with energised crystals, until that stopped working and I moved on to the next thing. It is a slippery slope of self deception and superstition. We need to find rational explanations rather than indulging the hucksters and being drawn in.


  9. Your film clips just show absolute nonsense and trickery. People go to great lengths to make people believe they have amazing powers, but they never do have really under laboratory testing, otherwise the whole world would know about it.

    The effects of qi emission have in fact been laboratory tested, and the results published. Did you even bother to look? Or are you waiting for the whole world to do your homework?

    With the animals lying down, maybe they detected an increase in humidity and felt that it was about to rain, so they lay down to keep a patch of ground dry to sleep on (as cows do). Careful timing (and access to a barometer) could have let the magicians stall the camera crew until the right moment. Maybe they used ultrasound, who knows?

    The animals know, but sadly, they won’t talk.

    Some people will dabble freely in anything and everything, without any concern other than “Does this feel good to me?” “Does this feel right for me?” This is in spite of the fact that we are specifically warned against consorting with supernatural or occult forces in several major world faiths, including Sikhism, Christianity and Islam.

    You are right. They warn against using those skills which, as you repeatedly insist, do not actually exist. And I wonder how these same faiths would address this?

    Martial Tai Chi is Tai Chi that is practiced for the sole purpose of developing fighting skills.

    Joanna: all your base are belong to us 😀

  10. Chris said: “You are right. They warn against using those skills which, as you repeatedly insist, do not actually exist. And I wonder how these same faiths would address this?”

    That’s an easy one. Such powers are delusional and belief in them infects people minds. You could see monotheism and its struggles as a forerunner of atheism – trying to stamp out superstition and charlatanism – things that hold peoples minds in a prison of ghosts and demons. The stance the monotheistic faiths takes is that it is wrong to even want to do tricks like that and wrong to try to develop superhuman, supernatural powers. It is wrong to convince people that you could curse them as the fear this may generate in them is the curse itself, unless they know that you cannot have any power over them. They need to have faith that only God has god-like powers.

  11. For the sake of your innocent readers, I’ll answer the question myself. No major religion supports your stated goal to isolate spiritual teachings, from martial arts or anything else. To suggest that Jesus or Mohammed sanction the precepts of Martial Tai Chi would be blasphemous, hypocritical and absurd.

    “Please, God, wait outside; we are fighting in here between 7:30 and 9pm.” 🙂

  12. You misread my post, or are pretending to have done so – qi believers often do this – their arguments are frequently slippery and erratic.

    You need to study Judaic theology and history, which is the bedrock of Christianity and Islam. (Judaism for Dummies by Rabbit Ted Falcon; The Religion of Israel by Yehezkel Kaufmann; Jesus Before Christianity by Albert Nolan…) These faiths have also informed the Guru Nanak when he launched the Sikh religion. You should check a book called “Sikhism – A Comparitive Study if its Theology and Mysticism.” by Daljeet Singh.

    All of these faiths set out to liberate peoples minds from superstition, sorcery, polytheism and their associated charaltan practices.

  13. I ask whether thermal cameras can be trusted, and you segue into world religions and animal rights.

    When I point out that Qigong has already been tested in the lab, you change the subject again to God.

    And when I observe that your practice is in fact incompatible with Christianity and Islam, you introduce Judaism to the discussion–but yet again avoid responding specifically to my point.

    Which of us is slippery and erratic? You are not giving your readers enough credit.

    I’ll make my last point crystal clear, to prevent any further misunderstanding. Here is a quote from your website:

    The Martial Tai Chi Association (MTA) requires all of its Instructors to:
    1) Only ever teach Tai Chi with the purpose of developing fighting skills, without any exceptions.
    2) Never teach Tai Chi for any of the following (false) purposes – relaxation, therapy, healing, meditation or spirituality.

    For a person of faith, there are no circumstances under which spirituality is a “false purpose”. No, it is to be observed 24 hours a day, and without exception for Tai Chi training.

    This is the context in which your repeated invocations of monotheism are hypocritical. Only a fair-weather Jew, Muslim or Christian would accept them.

    Doctors are ethically bound in a similar way, by the Hippocratic Oath. They are obliged to consider the impact of their actions and advice on a patient’s health. The fact that you are not a doctor, and your students technically not patients, would not excuse a reckless disregard for their physical and mental well-being–a disregard implied by your list of false purposes.

    Change the subject again, if you must, but please bear this in mind:

    The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

    – Benjamin Franklin

  14. I cant believe what I am reading! I have always believed that to learn Tai Chi correctly you had to learn it in the context it was intended to be. [A martial art] Different people have different interpretations of what that is exactly. If you learn it as a martial art, the health, meditation, and other benefits manifest within us through our practice. On the other hand, to deny chi, is to deny the classics. Call it whatever you want, but its not Tai Chi! When you understand that the mind leads and the body follows, you begin to understand how chi functions in your movements. I use Tai Chi in competition on a fencing strip by remembering the classics even though I am usually not performing the movements in the form. [there are striking similarities] but, being able to differentiate between yin and yang, and use, “mind intent” will give any martial artist an edge. This discussion of animal rights, religion, blah , blah, blah, is entertaining but where is the point? Tim Carmel is a great author, and a decent martial artist, but very few of us have all the answers!

  15. Well as it is getting so tedious, I’ll keep it quick 🙂

    Judaism is very relevant to Christianity because Jesus was a Jew – the precedents for his teachings are within Judaism and must be understood in that cultural context, hence the inclusion of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) within the Christian Bible. Judaic and Christian history and belief are also relevant to Islam.

    Tai Chi is not in and of itself a form of spirituality, hence the phrase “Never teach Tai Chi for any of the following (false) purposes – relaxation, therapy, healing, meditation or spirituality.” Tai Chi is a martial art. That is not to say that Christians, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs and Atheists alike cannot practice it. But the way we do Tai Chi, there are no practices that would be forbidden by observing members of those faiths, or that would be incompatible with atheism.

    And religion remains relevant while people worship qi and attempt to deceive people with fake magical powers.

  16. it’s a nice fantasy; the problem is that there are many tremendous fighters who never studied healing, and many “healers” with the manual skills comparable to TCM who have never studied fighting (e.g. – osteopathy, especially how it is practiced outside of the US, relies on sensitivity skills similar to pulse reading, and employs techniques that are essentially the same as tuina and jing gwat; they may help each other in some individual cases, but frankly one is not needed at all to become high level in either – the “marriage” of fighting and TCM from the fighter side is probably due to 2 things: need for fighters to know dit da for practical purposes, and the desire to foster social acceptance: tradidionally the “fighter’ class in Chinese society was looked on as little better than common thugs, so also beng a doctor helped to raise one’s level of prestige

    as for qi, it is essentially a metaphorical construct that was derived based on the observation of the net effect of functional interrelationships within the body and the environment around it; qi is not a discreet “thing” that can be measured such as light, heat, electricity, magnetism, radiation, gravity, etc., although all of the quantifiable forces are part of the function of the human organism within the universe, and therefore contribute to the overall state of one’s health in various way; TCM’s use of qi is useful because it has predictive value, in terms of diagnosis and prognosis, but itis a model that is limited to macro-observation; because it is a very well designed model, it still has relevance to working with non-life threatening, chronic systemic issues (e.g. – fibromyalgia, osteo-arthritis), or helpful improving the overall level of function for someone with more serious issues;

    in terms of martial use, good qi means having strength, coordination, balance, endurance, sensitivity, timing, etc.; it’s not some mystical force that you push people around with 9tha’s called entrainment); if you have good connection to the ground via the connective tissue system, you enable a more efficient vertical movement of ground reaction force, which coupled with an efficient neuromuscular system (e.g. – agonist / antagonist balance) gives one the ability to effectively push / grapple / strike;

  17. I just wanted to alert you to the fact that Scott Phillips over on his “Weakness with a Twist” blog has edited one of my posts on the thread “A Parade in India 15 Miles Long” adding a paragraph of his own and thereby completely changing the spirit of what I was saying. He also edited out a comment by another person along with my reply to it. I thought you’d be interested in case he did it to anyone who reads this blog. Of all the sneaky, dishonourable tricks I’ve come across on forums and blogs, this was the lowest.

  18. Joanna,
    even I can understand and accept your aversion on qi (I observe and feel it subjectivly, don’t talk so much about it, never concentrate on it), I really feel sorry for all your hardship teaching the way you do. Shouldn’t it be fun also to instruct such a nice art? Even I teach for more than 20 years, on and off, never professionally, it always has been a pleasure. Otherwise, I wouldn’t do it! Did you do something wrong to make you feel so miserable?

  19. Hi taiwandeutscher,
    The only thing that makes me miserable is the behaviour and attitudes of many people who practice Tai Chi & qigong. In other arts I have practiced, there has always been a fun-loving sense of cameraderie and honour. Practicing Tai Chi as a purely martial discipline, the way we practice (100% Qi-free) we have a lot of fun – our classes are very warm, friendly and dynamic.

  20. Joanna,

    Keep up the good work!
    Taijiquan. used by ruffians and village people to where it is now “New Age Babble” for those eeking enlightment and spirituality is a sign! Of what, I shall not say but we must meet up one day and tell arse kicking stories and share the real essence of taijiquan!
    I have been pilloried so many time for my stance on taijiquan with all the qi mierda and good feeling that I am glad people get what they are looking for! C’est la vie!

    je suis d’accord avec tois!
    yaz

  21. It sounds like your only calling those question that are asking about the validity of chi, bad questions. Are you not?

  22. Is Qi real? That I consider the textbook example of a bad question, because its direct answer is hardly actionable. Yet it draws some interesting responses from both sides, so it is a good starting point for discussion.

    How is Qi real? is not satisfied by a simple yes or no answer. It presumably relates to specific, repeatable phenomena; it is data-driven. Unfortunately, it also puts me (as site administrator) in the position of asking those readers with no data to keep their mouths shut and keyboards quiet.

    Joanna, for example, calls herself a Reiki master, and characterizes qi as a concept, which does not exist. Maybe you don’t need any data to validate or disprove a concept? Come to think of it, do concepts themselves exist? I’ve never seen the proof, so I remain skeptical. 😉

  23. Wow. I fell into a trap…a fascinating back-and-forth that kept me reading.

    I’m in a bind. I don’t believe. And I spend time eradicating beliefs: all of them. Believing is so unnecessary (is that a belief? Damn it!)

    The conflict of believing in God and not believing in Qi (or the other way) is a rousing, complex deception. An experience of one or the other can happen, but the words themselves lead us on a mysterious tour through imagined meanings.

    I’m a fan Joanna: of your explanations and of Taiji for fighting. I use fighting to gain relaxation and health and healing. My position begins the same: I seek to revive the greatest, extreme boxing ever! But that creates energetic healing.

    (I know…I’m real late here…but I had a good time.) Thanks for keeping comments open.

  24. Steven,
    You are right. Disbelief is a belief; one with dangerous consequences–the believers further believe they are operating rationally. At root, this is more an emotional problem than an intellectual one.

    One of my favorite quotes from Ordosclan, when he was asked a similar question:
    “I don’t harbor beliefs; I perform acts.”

    P.S. I like Joanna too. She’s got moxie!

  25. Chris wrote:
    “Joanna, for example, calls herself a Reiki master”
    I just wanted to clear this up. For the record, I was given a series of Reiki attunements and coaching up to Master level in return for some illustration work I did for a “Reiki Master”. I gave it a fair crack of the whip at a time when I was trying very hard to keep an open mind on or even actively believe in such things. It is partly through exposure to Reiki and so-called qi-healing that I became a skeptic. I do not do Reiki – I think it is a load of BS, just like qi.

  26. Thank you for the clarification, Joanna. What did her coaching consist of?

  27. Hi Chris,
    All sorts of stuff – symbols, mudras, supposedly therapeutic hand waving, alleged energetic unblocking, attunements… I learned it from a guy, incidentally…

  28. Yeah, actually my experiences with Reiki practitioners have been negative too. It seems like they all call themselves Masters, and that they are more interested in “attunements”, “empowerings” and “transmissions” than in self-cultivation. This I found disagreeable and contrary to my martial arts background.

    But I see no reason to presume that ki, qi and prana are all the same thing. Reiki, Qigong and Pranayama are clearly different, in their methods, goals, audiences and results.

  29. Hi Chris – so do you see qi, ki, prana and reiki as all existing side by side or are they culturally different explanations for similar concepts? What do you see as the differences between them? Can you accept that they all seem to elevate breathing and / or other natural bodily mechanisms to encompass some kind of spiritual component?

    Finally, do you think such concepts are TRUE in any kind of actual sense?

    Regards,
    Joanna

  30. Do they exist “side by side”? Yes–but that metaphor is less than ideal, as it reflects the assumption of a material model. Like it or not, these are properties of functional models. If we are honestly investigating whether qi is real or not, then we cannot begin by redefining the meanings of words.

    Based on the literature, it might seem as if these practices (or at least some of them) subliminate matter into spirit. Actually, I do not think that is the case. More precisely, they are (initially) repurposing energy and spirit that would otherwise be governing the transmutation of matter.

    As for whether such concepts are true…I’ll defer my response until I have time to answer comprehensively.

  31. Please would it be possible for you to explain what these phrases mean: “subliminate matter into spirit” and “repurposing energy and spirit that would otherwise be governing the transmutation of matter”

    Thanks,
    Joanna

  32. Nowhere in the classics does it mention meridian theory, but it mentions qi. This is because qi is a word that means energy, not the mumbo jumbo BS that attracts wanna-be jedi knights, but real honest to god energy.

    The placebo effect is very strong but just because a teacher can manipulate your qi doesn’t mean it would work on an outsider, as a matter of demonstrable fact in most cases it doesn’t work at all on outsiders or there is a physical component using real qi, physical energy.

    There is a clear benefit to qi circulation practice like small and large circuit methods, however this benefit is arguably mental and the sensations are psychosomatic.

  33. Hi Josh,
    Would you mind explaining to me what you think the benefits of “qi circulation practice like small and large circuit methods” are?

    Thanks,
    Joanna

  34. Please would it be possible for you to explain what these phrases mean: “subliminate matter into spirit” and “repurposing energy and spirit that would otherwise be governing the transmutation of matter”

    Oops, I misspelled sublimate. With respect to this particular comment, you may assume that: Spirit = Reality – (Matter + Energy). One example of transmutation would be the transition of grass into cow, into hamburger, into human muscle.

  35. Thanks Chris though I must say I’m still a bit confused. You seem to be saying that practices such as qigong (and perhaps Reiki, ki cultivation and pranayama – correct me if you’re not including those things) direct or rather “repurpose” (redirect?) “energy” into spirit (which you define as the non-material and non-energetic component of “reality” – this is actually no small or insignificant claim, but I’ll stay on topic…) and that both energy and spirit are ordinarily concerned with governing transmutation of matter into other forms of matter, but that they can be redirected to convert matter into spirit. Is this what you are saying? How does it work and what evidence is there that this is what is taking place? Could you tell me where the idea comes from? Would I find it in a medical textbook?

    Regards,
    Joanna

  36. Joanna,
    First of all, my definition of Spirit, for the limited purposes of this discussion, is not a claim of any type. It is a definition. You can use Information instead if you prefer, which may clarify things somewhat. DNA for example, can be represented as Information, and can also be represented as Matter (obviously) or Energy (at the very least, to the degree matter and energy are equivalent). But truthfully, DNA is none of these things; it is nothing other than what it is.

    Respectfully, I will not supply proof for what is axiomatic.

    Now, you may already be familiar with the popular conceptions or descriptions of the jing-qi-shen progression, from your study of Chinese martial gongfu. (If not, please look it up as a prerequisite for any further discussion.) What I was trying to say above, is that such descriptions of esoterica are confusing enough in their original cultural context (and especially when repeated and distorted by those without a practical understanding); change the context and you only add additional confusion, e.g. if people start looking for proof in the form of particles (or materials or stasis in general) when they should be looking for effects (or relationships).

    (Technically, these silly folks won’t even look for particles, but wait for someone else to do the work, and assert that in the meantime “there is no proof…”, all to satisfy their immature emotional needs.)

    I said before that Qigong, Reiki, and Pranayama are not equivalents. I can’t really say what you might find in a medical textbook.

  37. Hi Chris,
    Firstly allow me to point out that your tone has taken a change for the worst – you are now employing an arrogant and rather smug attitude accompanied by use of esoteric jargon, which I see as a little overly defensive and quite in keeping with the demeanour so often generated by esoteric so-called “self development” methods.

    That aside, it is highly problematic for you to claim that your definition of spirit is axiomatic – this presupposes we (and perhaps everyone else) agree/s on the relevant axiom and we evidently do not. Further, I’m sure many people – be they Catholic, Muslim, Sikh, Jewish or whatever might well also disagree with your definition of spirit.

    The evidence I required was not for your definition of spirit but for your claim that that spirit and energy could be employed for the transmutation of matter into spirit. Definitions aside, that is a big claim and such claims certainly require some kind of evidence if they are to be accepted. For the record, yes, of course I have come across the theory of jing and qi and shen and all that stuff, but I don’t believe it – and as I see it, I have no reason to do so. I have no more reason to believe that stuff than a Chinese person learning Western Boxing has reason to believe in Jesus just because it is culturally normal (at least historically) for his Western boxing coach. I’m sure you would not expect this Chinese student of Western boxing to automatically convert to Christianity. You see, without evidence, statements pertaining to jing and qi and shen are highly problematic, particularly when your audience does not believe in qi and may well not believe in spirit either. Alternatively, your audience might not agree with your definition of what spirit is or whether or how it can be used.

    I know you said before that “Qigong, Reiki, and Pranayama are not equivalents.” but I asked you to explain in what ways you see them as being different. Is that too much to ask? I’m asking because I genuinely want to know your thoughts.

  38. Firstly allow me to point out that your tone has taken a change for the worst – you are now employing an arrogant and rather smug attitude accompanied by use of esoteric jargon, which I see as a little overly defensive and quite in keeping with the demeanour so often generated by esoteric so-called “self development” methods.

    That aside, it is highly problematic for you to claim that your definition of spirit is axiomatic – this presupposes we (and perhaps everyone else) agree/s on the relevant axiom and we evidently do not. Further, I’m sure many people – be they Catholic, Muslim, Sikh, Jewish or whatever might well also disagree with your definition of spirit.

    Your assessment of my attitude is not required at this time.

    For the third time: I defined Spirit within the context of my own comments only. So whether that definition is in accord with other religious traditions is really irrelevant. You asked for a clarification and I supplied it. All definitions are axiomatic within their own context.

    If you want to widen the scope of inquiry, that’s fine. Bill Bodri has written books on the common elements of various world religions, and their relationship to neidan. I’m sure he’ll be happy to sell you a copy or two, just please don’t ask me to retype their contents here for your pleasure.

    The evidence I required was not for your definition of spirit but for your claim that that spirit and energy could be employed for the transmutation of matter into spirit. Definitions aside, that is a big claim and such claims certainly require some kind of evidence if they are to be accepted. For the record, yes, of course I have come across the theory of jing and qi and shen and all that stuff, but I don’t believe it – and as I see it, I have no reason to do so.

    You misread my comment.

    “…Based on the literature, it might seem as if these practices (or at least some of them) subliminate sublimate matter into spirit. Actually, I do not think that is the case…

    Whatever claims I make here are not to be accepted. They are to be independently investigated.

    There is no indisputable proof that the IEEE exists, only hearsay, but if you choose to believe in it, then I recommend you read IEEE 1016, learn to appreciate the difference between a decomposition and a design view, and how the “proof” or “disproof” for one affects the other.

    When we use models, it is because they are useful. Utility may be a form of truth, or not, but it doesn’t matter whether they are true in any other respect. That is beside the point–as is belief.

    I know you said before that “Qigong, Reiki, and Pranayama are not equivalents.” but I asked you to explain in what ways you see them as being different. Is that too much to ask? I’m asking because I genuinely want to know your thoughts.

    It would be easier to start with their similarities. They are all concerned with unseen forces. Done.

    If you read a modern history of Qigong, you’ll find that “Qigong” itself sprung into existence only a few decades ago, born of a need for categorization, arguably as a means to exert social control. Prior to that, there were dozens or hundreds of distinct practices; and yes, they had some overlap, but it was not considered terribly significant. (Soccer players and tennis players both run around their fields of play, does that make them similar sports?) Point being, it is hard enough to discuss Qigong alone in a categorical way (unless one knows nothing about it).

    Differences would include the relative importance placed on posture, mudra, mantra, active control of the breath and other circulations versus observation, solo versus paired practice, moving versus still methods, et cetera.

    Furthermore, if your practice is geared towards healing others (for example), your attention will obviously be shaped by that desire, as will your results. For this last point I will not provide evidence, but from your own experience with wushu taolu you should know it to be true. Results of practice are not governed solely by the outward appearance of the method.

  39. Hello again Chris,

    You said:
    “For the third time: I defined Spirit within the context of my own comments only. So whether that definition is in accord with other religious traditions is really irrelevant. You asked for a clarification and I supplied it. All definitions are axiomatic within their own context.”

    How useful is it I wonder to only be prepared to discuss concepts with others in such a hermetically sealed manner? I think this is known as having everything on one’s own terms, but no matter. Actually you’ve evaded many of my questions. Your statement “All definitions are axiomatic within their own context” is rather like my saying that that which fails to deliver is never merely in the eye of the beholder. The point of an axiom is that you must agree on it in order to have a dialogue of the kind you sem to want – one that does not question whether the claims you and all the other “internalists” make are actually true in a real sense. Talking of axioms, I do not accept at all your statement “When we use models, it is because they are useful. Utility may be a form of truth, or not, but it doesn’t matter whether they are true in any other respect. That is beside the point–as is belief.” I happen to believe, as you no doubt know, that there is such a thing as truth and fact and yes these things matter a great deal. The world is not just our little intellectual playground – it existed before we arrived here and to a very major extent we are bound to play by its rules. My leg is a leg and will function as a leg however much I try to will it to become something else. Just as I do have legs, I do not have dantians or chakras or meridians or whatever else people wish to invent in order to try to understand how bodies work. On this we’re unlikely to agree, I suspect, but I’d have to point out that there is a great deal of evidence for the existence of legs and precious little for the existence of dantians. You are correct that soccer and tennis are not identical, but they do still use physical bodies which work much the same for both.

    Now follow this dialogue:
    You said “Qigong, Reiki, and Pranayama are not equivalents.” Previously you’d said “I see no reason to presume that ki, qi and prana are all the same thing. Reiki, Qigong and Pranayama are clearly different, in their methods, goals, audiences and results.”

    To which I asked you to explain what you thought the differences were to which you replied “It would be easier to start with their similarities. They are all concerned with unseen forces. Done.”

    Now sorry to point this out, but you haven’t explained the differences so the matter is not done. You’ve merely done a u-turn and seem now to be saying that really they are very much the same, after all.

    As for “You misread my comment.
    “…Based on the literature, it might seem as if these practices (or at least some of them) subliminate sublimate matter into spirit. Actually, I do not think that is the case…”

    No – I didn’t misread your comment. I pointed out that you stated that you thought that such practices, rather than sublimating matter into spirit, “repurposed energy and spirit that would otherwise be governing the transmutation of matter” … oh I’ll just quote what I said in post 37 and be done: “You seem to be saying that practices such as qigong (and perhaps Reiki, ki cultivation and pranayama – correct me if you’re not including those things) direct or rather “repurpose” (redirect?) “energy” into spirit (which you define as the non-material and non-energetic component of “reality” – this is actually no small or insignificant claim, but I’ll stay on topic…) and that both energy and spirit are ordinarily concerned with governing transmutation of matter into other forms of matter, but that they can be redirected to convert matter into spirit. Is this what you are saying?”

    So – what do you see as the purpose of “repurposing” energy and spirit? What are they “repurposed” to do? You referred to “the jing – qi – shen progression” which might seem to imply that you think that it is possible to create spirit. If you do not think this is the case, could you explain what you think does happen?

    Rather than taking such a pompous attitude, why not just explain what you mean? You take part in dialogues with other people on forums and blogs about this stuff, yet you seem to find the process tiring and you can’t be bothered with such lowly things as clear explanations. I know I’m not the only one who is struggling to understand what you are saying.

  40. I think the main reason my discussions with CMA practitioners often turn a little sour is because of an essential difference in attitude to the student-teacher relationship. I see the teacher’s role as being to teach – it is his or her responsibility to convey information clearly and to work hard to do so, being patient with those who struggle to understand.

    Many CMA practitioners seem to prefer the idea that the onus is on the student to learn, however reticent, enigmatic, evasive, whimsical or inconsistent the teacher is. The student will be expected to hang around and copy the teacher and deduce rather than having things clearly explained. The student will be made to feel a fool if he or she does not understand something in such a climate.

    This situation is exacerbated by the unfortunate mystical associations with so much of this material: one is seriously expected to intuit data rather than be taught it. Sadly, the outcome of this approach is that a great many practitioners, students and teachers alike, become very haughty in their attitude to others, taking on the air of “huh – I had to work this out for myself so so should you”. The only thing they ever seem to manage to cultivate in their bid for self-cultivation is their ego. But far worse than that is the fact that there are as many interpretations of the material as their are interpreters. Inconsistency is utterly rampant – this is one reason that so many people cannot even agree on what qi is, never mind what it is possible to do with it. It’s funny how we don’t have such problems with algebra.

    You yourself appear to take an unorthodox stance inasmuch as you say you don’t accept the idea that so-called “energetic” practices “sublimate matter into spirit.” You used the term “Actually, I do not think that is the case.” in reference to that concept. You then stated immediately afterwards that “MORE PRECISELY, they are (initially) repurposing energy and spirit that would otherwise be governing the transmutation of matter.” So is the (orthodox?) interpretation of “sublimating matter into spirit” INCORRECT or merely not as precise as your definition, inferring that it isn’t wrong, just not as right as you? Your use of the term “initially” in brackets compounds this lack of clarity as it suggests that the situation changes over time, perhaps in such a way that although matter is not initially sublimated into spirit, it does become so at some later time. Is this what you are saying? If it is, I think I can be forgiven for not deducing your meaning accurately from your post as it was not stated clearly. To be frank it came across to me that you are hedging your bets, rather like someone saying “oh, the Emperor’s new clothes were a beautiful lavish green velvet with red and gold trim, though some seemed to pick up on the vibrant blueness of the attire, whilst others found them to be decidedly yellow in tint. Of course, only a fool would not recognise what colour they were and to ask at all is simply a bad question”.

    Some clear answers would be genuinely appreciated, Chris.

    Thanks a lot,
    Joanna

  41. Look Joanna, text without context is pretext. In the field of information security, a surreptitious change in context (such as you have repeatedly tried to insert here) is recognized as an attack, on a process or its data. Whereas in a normal discussion, it is simply disingenuous. But let’s just assume it was an accident on your part, and that your continued digressions are entirely innocent.

    If you want to discuss Spirit with respect to mainstream religion, instead of, or in addition to its definition in relation to Chinese “internal alchemy”, so be it–but kindly stop changing the premises upon which conclusions would be set.

    Models have explanatory and predictive value. Predictive value is not the same property as truth. In this respect, the “truth content” of a model is not important, only the accuracy and precision of its product are important.

    I am telling you that jing-qi-shen is a model. You do not seem to understand what I am saying, and yet you keep arguing about it. This is a waste of your time and mine. This point is key to understanding everything I have recently written here, so there is no use in continually changing the subject, asserting your tangential beliefs, or trying to move on prematurely.

    When I say that Qigong, Reiki, and Pranayama are all concerned with unseen forces–done–that is to dismiss their similarities. Magnetism is an unseen force, radio waves are invisible, and that does not mean a radio is basically the same thing as a magnet. (Again, this is a statement within a context, so do not try to apply it universally; that would be irrational and illogical.)

    You wouldn’t expect to learn martial arts from a book, would you? And you recognize that most introductory texts sacrifice important details for the sake of clarity, don’t you? So why should you expect this topic to be any easier?

    Complaining about the structure of my prior comments is in extremely poor taste. I am not your qigong teacher. I am not being paid for this discussion. And you, not I, are forcing a complex presentation of the complex issues involved. I am only replying to you.

    I will not participate in any more meta-conversation. If you have a specific point or question (that you have not already raised), go ahead. Otherwise, if you want a broad survey of the topic, read a book.

  42. Fair enough Chris, I’ll leave it there then. If I may just very quickly address your specific questions which are separate from the main topic.

    You said:
    “You wouldn’t expect to learn martial arts from a book, would you? And you recognize that most introductory texts sacrifice important details for the sake of clarity, don’t you? So why should you expect this topic to be any easier?”

    I think it is indeed possible to learn a great deal from a well written and illustrated martial arts book. I certainly don’t accept that introductory sacrifice must invariably sacrifice important details – they certainly shouldn’t. Omission of important details is not the same thing as clarity. When I teach, my students know that many of the rules they start with are not absolutely always going to be hard fast rules – they know that a degree of flexibility and judgement can come in, once basic skills have been learned, but I explain thoroughly the importance of teaching your body to abide by the rules to retrain it and gain full control over it. I give students enough respect to let them know what we are doing and why, how things might change later and why it is important to do things the way I ask right now. I do not consider this approach beyond the scope of a book.

    Anyway, nice talking to you – at least some of it was 🙂
    Take care,
    Joanna

  43. oops – little typo I didn’t spot whilst editing the post before posting…

    “I certainly don’t accept that introductory sacrifice must invariably sacrifice important details – they certainly shouldn’t.”

    should of course read “I certainly don’t accept that introductory TEXTS must invariably sacrifice important details – they certainly shouldn’t.”

    sorry ’bout that 🙂

  44. Hey Joana, or however the hell your name’s spelled, i’m too lazy to scroll up to look up your name. YOU SUCK. Period! I don’t need to explain about my experience or anything about the true essence of Tai Chi if one doesn’t wish to come to great masters’ classes with an empty cup to fill and just refuse to learn. I’ve seen your raggedy ass forms and applications and silk reeling with no real essence. If you were to just make those kind of unnatural totally and horribly improvised applications to Tai Chi forms, you might as well just learn Tae Kwon Do or Jujitsu or something else.

    Know what I think? You either really sucked at coming to classes with an empty cup and your former teacher told you off for not having an open mind. Or I read on your website about how you went through a traumatically violent experience, and your former teacher thought you were too angry to learn the true martial applications. Either ways you suck.

    You know what I’d like to see? I’d like to see you attending a seminar held by Chen Xiaowang or Chen Zhenglei. Man those people will make you fly across the room believe me, i’m 6′ 4” and two hundred pounds and Chen Xiaowang just did something and next thing i knew i was all the way across the room lying flat on my back.

    Well anyways, you suck, you don’t know jack shit about what you’re doing, and us who know the true essence don’t have to explain anything to anyone who doesn’t want to listen. So keep your incorrect way of practicing. We don’t need to tell you the correct ways without even getting paid. I won’t check back because i don’t have to hear you yapping again and again about how everything’s fake and asians are trying to take advantage of white people. I read enough of that on your webpage

    Anyways, you suck, and have a nice day.

    -Han-

  45. The defensiveness I see from Chris and other Chi-Believers is typical of the old-school kool-aid drinkers that spent years learning to stand and absorb the universe’s energy or whatnot instead of learning to fight. They are scared to death they have wasted their time on faddish new-age pablum, and their lack of fight experience and realistic training mean they are more likely than other martial artists that actually fight, to have an emotional need to believe that their lack of relevant experience will not hamper them if they get in a scrap, as they have special Jedi powers that will offset their lack of actual martial skill and fighting experience. It explains their smugness, lack of intellectual honesty, unwillingness to ever,ever actually fight, compete, or roll with anyone ever, and generally just come off as another insecure silk-pajama douchebag of the variety that have given the Chinese arts such a bad name for years. What was sad to watch above was that not only did Johanna politely decimate your weak, faith-based arguments, but it’s pretty clear she could kick the shit out of you as well.

  46. To Joanna:
    In your website, you mentioned that you studied so many types of martial arts in Asia since 1996, especially CMA and from Taiwanese masters. That would translate roughly to equivalent of 14 years of training. Unfortunately, you provided no information on who these masters are. I’m just curious on your lineage. Taiwanese masters such as Wang Shu Jin and Hung I Hsiang were staunch believers of Qi. To have studied under the disciple of these masters (which I assume you did) is a great privilege but they would have not taken lightly about your disapproving thoughts of the existence of qi. Judging the amount of time you have spent learning all these arts, all you have learnt are just the basic understanding of the arts. If you so dare, please revisit your masters and challenge them your with your theory. You need to demonstrate that all these years of learning and combining the various arts (in amusement putting a copyright TM on Martial XingYi, Martial Taiji etc etc) to your ‘previous’ masters that you can defeat them in a polemics debate.
    I highly doubt that you spend a good amount of time with any of these masters to go deep into understanding the arts and your knowledge is just superficial. You also said you studied silat, which is martial art originated from Malaysia / Indonesia. Can I assume that you have studied the local language fluently in order to fully grasp the teachings? In silat, the word ‘tenaga dalam’ is wrong. What you did is just a translation of “internal energy”. Rather, silat masters use the concept of ‘ilmu batin’ to improve their fighting capabilities. In our current generation, we still have reputable Gatekeepers of Chen and Wu style taiji who remains steadfast of their beliefs in qi. Do yourself a favour… find them and challenge them with your beliefs.

  47. I have studied movement arts for more than ten years.

    Initially, I rejected Chi as a force that existed outside of the imagination, and instead used it as a visualization for organizing, improving and strengthening my movements.

    As a result, I have become a better aging-athlete (especially in regards to bicycling) and, in sparring with younger, stronger men, I can often frustrate them with little effort (frustrate does not mean defeat).

    However, in the past year, I have received extensive Traditional Chinese Medicine treatment for a serious condition, and this experience has led me to perceive that Chi exists and operates on several levels not previously appreciated by me, ranging from the psychology of intent to the physics of sub-atomic particles.

  48. Chi: n. the internl awareness of muscular microtension, posture, blood flow joint fluid distribution and electrical flow of the nervous system and galvanic skin response.

    defne it like that and it makes perfect sense. it does not have to be mystical, it does not have to be ‘spiritual’. it can simply be a word to describe a subconcious awareness of the bodies minute sensations and balances. there is no reason to think someone observant would not take into account their opponents ‘chi’ to the point they can percieve and respond to a targets microtension, blood flow, breathe rate and cycle and their shifing posture to strike or use the targets own srength against them

    You dont need to ‘belivieve’ in anything to utilize chi.

  49. It amuses me how some people are prepared to be so outspoken in total ignorance of the facts. The politeness quotient of the comments is revealingly low. Joanna is from a very rough, tough social background and has saved lives, including mine. She has also taught police personnel and been employed by councils and the police to deliver self defence courses for vulnerable community groups, and I know from feedback from participants and her students that when push has come to shove the lessons that Joanna has taught them have proved effective in real life. She is a real expert at all aspects of self defence and is probably the fiercest, as well as (when necessary) the coldest and most efficient fighter I’ve ever seen (and I‘m talking real life here, not sporting contests). You probably won’t get the privilege of meeting or training with Joanna, but take it from someone who does, you lot wouldn’t be as gobby and disrespectful if you did.

  50. well, it would seem that an attempt to reconcille two points of view with basic anatomical understanding will not stand as the last word, someone had to run in, filled with negativety, and sacrifice themselves on the altar of their master’s reputation. As a Wave Man, I really dont get that.

    I dont knopw about rough backgrounds, I lived on the street a long time, or tough training, Ive had my ass kicked a few times and was lucky to wak away from them. I have walked through blizzards and deserts alike, lived on the beach for months and hiking through mountains. In all of this, I have tried to remember basic stretches and defensive motions, a few punches and kicks. I dont know if you count that as training in rough conditions or not.

    what I do see, is people rushing to close a door out of fear, instead of keeping a spirit of discovery and wonder about what they can learn. I find this sad, and somehow an example of martial arts today, and even culture. Instead of saying, what can I learn from this, everyone is fighting over their point of view.

    If you view chi as a mental construct, and only focus on the rigid physical forms, you will gain strong physical prowess and muscle control. If you focus on chi energy as its own thing, you will gain a great understanding of your electrical flow, your nervous system, your galvanic skin response.

    Master them both and you have control of both Yin and Yang.

  51. The martial application of Chi flows out of Chinese Medicine.

    An understanding of Chinese Medicine does not come easily to the Western Mind.

    The Western Mind, typically, creates a Western construct of Chinese Medicine within the context of Western Rationalism, and, like a scarecrow made to represent a real man, the Western facsimile of Chinese Medicine does not stand up to any of the tests that Western Rationalism would expect a real man to pass.

    The Western Mind does not test Chinese Medicine, but, rather, the Western Mind tests the scarecrow facsimile of the real thing…a scarecrow of the Western Mind’s own making.

    In the case of Chi, the Western Mind swims in a transparent sea, and, because the Western Mind cannot see the water in which it swims, the Western tends to deny the existence of the ocean.

    Chi itself corresponds to a very subtle and, in Western terms, “weak” force; somewhat akin to the weakest of the four nuclear forces as understood by Western Newtonian physics.

    However, in the Chinese Medicine model, Chi does not correspond to a “force” at all, but, rather, something even more insubstantial, subtle, and “soft” than the word “force” or “energy” would imply.

    For me, the concept of “death touch” based on chi, grates on the mind, like fingernails on a blackboard.

    That said, my Chinese Medicine Massage Therapist, who came to Chinese Medicine through Chinese Martial Arts, can, with the intent of her touch, make a person feel very healthy or very sick.

    If you want to feel healthy, pay her for her time as a therapist; and, if you want to feel sick, pick a fight with her.

  52. Ken, mostly agreeing here.
    But please note: It is the modern Chinese representative of Trad. Chin. Medicine who tries to valididate his instringent system by means of western dialectic Marxist theory.
    The urge for recognition by western science brings only a loss of originality and a gain of ridicule.

  53. So let’s get this straight. Once upon a time there was a scarecrow and he went swimming in a transparent sea (like there’s some other kind?). Anyway, he wasn’t a real scarecrow, but a validated “instringent” (sic.) Marxist dialectic facsimilie and a ridiculous one at that.

    OK – I think I’m with you so far.

    His therapist had the power to make people very sick or very well by use of soft, subtle non-forces, when she wasn’t beating people up.

    There’s a message in here somewhere – I just know it – real wisdom can be so elusive…

    Going back to our scarecrow, he didn’t have a rigid physical form, but a nervous, galvanic Marxist skin, especially now he’d been softened up by swimming in the validated astringent sea…

    so… what you guys are saying is…

    that if I want to hit someone, I should first have a bath, using a reputable skin conditioner, right?

    I’m not sure “internal” people can even remember how to talk normally about normal things. No, I’m not being culturally imperialistic – the language of the Western “internal” brigade is no authentic language I recognise, but the fadish lingo of a modern cult.

    “Instringent” isn’t even a word.

  54. What you don’t know, cannot exist, we’ve heard that by now!
    Back to the jibengong in Latein or even real fighting wouldn’t hurt!

  55. The term “scarecrow” refers to a fallacy of logic.

    I think Joanna already knows that, but I’ll explain it for her anyway, as if she doesn’t.

    A person making a scarecrow argument doesn’t attack the real argument of her adversary, but, instead, creates a weaker argument that resembles her adversary’s real argument, and then defeats the pretend argument.

    Along those lines, a person making a scarecrow argument does not confront her real adversary at all, but, rather, a scarecrow of her making; and then she says, “look, I defeated you.”

    In the case of Western Rationalism, the collective persona of Western Rationalism protects its investment in its own world view by creating scarecrow versions of the philosophies of other cultures.

    Unknown to Joanna, her sarcasm and disrespect come across as a defense of insecurity and self-doubt.

    She can’t see the water even though she lives in it, and, in my opinion, it angers her that anyone would purport to see, taste, feel, use and benefit from the water.

    How much easier to mock a scarecrow of one’s own making than to face the truth.

  56. Well, soggy scarecrows are pretty easy to knock down…

    Seriously though, I might have known I couldn’t even be sarcastic without being subjected to grandiose language and pompous over-analysis. Funnily enough, I don’t feel remotely defensive or angry – just amused. I was aware when I started speaking out about such things that my credibility might be questioned simply by virtue of the fact that I was not prepared to go on perpetuating the same myth everyone else was investing so much time in. I made my mind up not to care about that and say what needed saying, regardless of the fact that I really didn’t want to say anything and even and especially when it would dent my credibility, because so few people are prepared to thoroughly question the methodology. The fact that there are so many different (and ever changing) variations and slants on the “internal” myth reveal that everyone is trying to reconcile something irreconcilable. I’ve had TCM treatments for long periods of time in the form of herbal medicines, acupuncture and tui na and can’t say it is has been any less effective than the medicines I’ve received from my regular Western GP. But that isn’t the point – what matters is its relevance to combat and it doesn’t have any.

    A statement such as “If you focus on chi energy as its own thing, you will gain a great understanding of your electrical flow, your nervous system, your galvanic skin response. Master them both and you have control of both Yin and Yang.” is meaningless and cannot be of any use to a fighter.

    A statement such as “The martial application of Chi flows out of Chinese Medicine.” is more of the same – it is big talk – colourful words. It is vague and sweeping enough to sound profound, providing you don’t question it. But what does it actually mean if you pick it apart word by word?

    The statement “An understanding of Chinese Medicine does not come easily to the Western Mind.” is pompous, fatalistic, and untrue. It implies that so-called “Eastern minds” are united in their acceptance of Chinese Medicine, when in reality there are many different traditional systems and rationales across India and the Far East with varying degrees of agreement, disagreement and compatibility with each other and the various different methodologies found within Western medical models – again there isn’t a single voice here.

    Like I say, soggy scarecrows are pretty easy to knock down. You don’t actually need to create straw man arguments to see through the internal mythology – all you need to do is to ask of each declaration “OK, what did that statement actually mean?”

    In reality that is only the beginning. When you’ve finished questioning the methodology and myth behind certain held beliefs, you also have to ask yourself questions such as “OK – for real street survival, how useful is push hands training really, when compared to kickboxing training? How useful is form repetition to me compared to improving my cardiovascular fitness?” I’m not saying that the former things are necessarily less useful in any absolute sense, but a fighter needs to weigh up how they are going to best use their training time. You can’t find answers unless you ask questions. When lives are or may become endangered, you need to be pragmatic and prudent with your time. My first rule for any statement is to question “how will this help me hit harder?” Yes, obviously some issues might go a little deeper and need a bit more thought, but it is a good starting point.

  57. Small further clarification. Please note again the statement: “If you focus on chi energy as its own thing, you will gain a great understanding of your electrical flow, your nervous system, your galvanic skin response. Master them both and you have control of both Yin and Yang.”

    Pull it apart – both what? Chi, electrical flow, nervous system and galvanic skin response adds up to 4. If I manage to make a guess it what is meant (and with little thanks to the speaker), what does mastery of such mechanisms mean and can they really be achieved? Can I really be said to “Master” my nervous system? Can I really affect the conductivity of my skin? How will such mastery, if possible, give me control of both Yin and Yang and in what context? Moon is Yin to the Yang of the Sun – will I gain control of the Sun and Moon? Talk sense, man. Seriously, I can’t be held responsible for not understanding such babble.

  58. Joanna understands, of course, that SHE has created the “soggy scarecrow.”

    We have several understandings of Chi in this thread, almost none of them in agreement, and all of them (including my own), to varying degrees, wide of the mark.

    The phrase “Western Mind” refers to a cultural paradigm, a world view, a “Weltanschauung.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_view

    Joanna makes an inference to Eastern Minds (a scarecrow) and attributes it to me as an implication made by me.

    Chi corresponds, for the most part, and according to my incomplete understanding, to a field, such as an electro-magnetic field (an analogy), and not to a flow.

    What we call “flow” really refers to patterns and structures within the field: the eye or the mind follows the pattern and infers flow or movement.

    I made the connection between Chi and Chinese Medicine and Chi and Martial Arts because Joanna and I can easily, and with practicality, experience positive effects from Chinese Medicine.

    I invite Joanna to vacation here in Bend, Oregon (a destination resort) and I will connect her with practitioners here in the area.

    She can experience Chi as demonstrated by a person who can use the principles inherent in an understanding of Chi either for healing or as a martial tool (same thing).

    As for hitting hard, hardness has nothing to do with it.

    My Judo instructor of 12 years can render an opposing player temporarily functionally unconscious with a modest pressure to the neck.

    Some of the response to the touch involves the disturbance of a nerve ganglion; some of it involves a blood flow disturbance; and, some of it involves Chi (these systems “layer” on each other and interact with each other).

    As my teacher has said to me, “as long as you have strength you will use strength, and you will not grow in understanding.”

    We discuss subtle and complex concepts here.

    To speak of them in simple language requires more advanced understanding than I possess.

  59. Hi Ken,
    Thank you genuinely for your invite – I don’t have any immediate plans to visit the US, but it would be good to connect with you and your training friends if I do so in the future.

    I’m sorry but while the situation remains whereby there are “several understandings of Chi in this thread, almost none of them in agreement, and all of them (including my own), to varying degrees, wide of the mark.” I shall have to remain very sceptical about the existing methodology. I have to invite you to question whether another model might be more useful than the vague, imprecise and evidently controversial model currently in use.

    As for your Judo teacher’s pressure point magic, I will again have to remain sceptical as I haven’t yet seen any work of that sort that works reliably on all opponents and as such it is useless in self defence situations, where I would need techniques that are as close to 100% reliable as possible. I can’t afford to prioritise some idealised identity investment as “a practitioner of more subtle and advanced methods” when others lives are at stake. Hitting hard works. By all means evade and neutralise – certainly don’t employ hard blocking or brute force – but then it is usually appropriate to strike to incapacitate your foe. We do locks and stuff too, but we know 80% of fights consist of strikes (and, increasingly, armed equivalents such as knife thrusts) and we’re fine with that.

    As for your statement “As my teacher has said to me, “as long as you have strength you will use strength, and you will not grow in understanding. We discuss subtle and complex concepts here. To speak of them in simple language requires more advanced understanding than I possess.”

    I urge you to liberate yourself from all that hype – I was subjected to the crap too, remember, I just didn’t buy it and found myself doing just as well and even better than my classmates, to the extent that on several occasions I was asked by students to teach them because they understood it when I explained it and showed it to them in a way they couldn’t when our mutual teachers tried. When I defeated a room full of instructors including the one holding the seminar my time with that lineage came to an end.

    The statement “as long as you have strength you will use strength” is evidently untrue otherwise no one strong would ever get good at yielding arts and they do get good at them. You just need to be discerning. One of my teachers was against our using heavy bags because he thought we would invariably use brute strength and he was simply wrong. I knew what was required and how to discern it from what was not. Long hours of bag training paid off greatly.

    Statements such as “To speak of them in simple language requires more advanced understanding than I possess.” are just hyperbole. Do yourself a favour and start trying to understand things in simple, mundane terms so that you might be able to explain things in simple, mundane terms too. Sure it would be easier to cling to your identity as a lowly student of esoteric arts: no one will expect much from you but mystical psychobabble, especially if you perpetuate the myth that an art that takes a lifetime to master is somehow better than something you can defend your family within a few months. But if you want to learn how to fight, get tough with these ideas.

  60. What a thoughtful response from Joanna.

    Thanks.

    Up until about a year ago I did not believe in Chi as something that existed outside of the human mind.

    I used Chi as an organizational device, and it worked for me.

    However, with exposure to Chinese Medicine, a new perception and understanding blossomed (and quite unexpectedly).

    For me, I had to come to this new understanding experientially and not rationally.

    We all learn in different ways.

    As for my Judo teacher’s “pressure point magic,” I think can communicate it to Joanna, to the degree that she might realize she already knows about it.

    Please make reference to the left side of your own body, and not the right.

    This only works, or works best on the left side.

    Find your larynx, or voice box.

    Find the sternocleidomastoid (SCM) muscle that runs from behind your left ear to the front center of your neck and looks like it attaches to the center end of your collar bone (it doesn’t attach there).

    Probe with the middle and index fingers of your left hand, between your larynx and your SCM.

    You will find a spot (a vertical band of bundled tissue) more sensitive than the surrounding tissues.

    This spot, just below the first major branching of the carotid artery, represents a bundled passage of the carotid artery, the jugular vein, the vagus nerve, and a crossing of various other nerves.

    Stimulation of this point, meaning, a poke with about 16 pounds of force, will hyper-stimulate portions of the sympathetic nervous system that control blood pressure, pulse rate, and strength of heart contraction.

    Please allow me to just cut and paste here.

    =====

    “A vasovagal episode or vasovagal response or vasovagal attack[1] (also called neurocardiogenic syncope) is a malaise mediated by the vagus nerve. When it leads to syncope or “fainting”, it is called a vasovagal syncope, which is the most common type of fainting.

    There are a number of different syncope syndromes which all fall under the umbrella of vasovagal syncope. The common element among these conditions is the central mechanism leading to loss of consciousness. The differences among them are in the factors that trigger this mechanism.

    When sufferers pass out, they fall down (unless this is impeded); and when in this position, effective blood flow to the brain is immediately restored, allowing the person to wake up. Short of fainting a person may experience an almost undescribable weak and tired feeling resulting from a lack of oxygen to the brain due to a sudden drop in blood pressure. Tabor’s describes this as the “feeling of impending death” caused by expansion of the aorta, drawing blood from the head and upper body.

    Typical triggers for vasovagal episodes include:[2]

    …Pressing upon certain places on the throat, sinuses, and eyes, also known as vagal reflex stimulation”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vasovagal_syncope

    =====

    “Parasympathetic innervation of the heart is controlled by the vagus nerve. Specifically, the vagus nerve acts to lower the heart rate. The right vagus innervates the sinoatrial node. Parasympathetic hyperstimulation predisposes those affected to bradyarrhythmias. The left vagus when hyperstimulated predisposes the heart to atrioventricular (AV) blocks.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vagus_nerve#Physical_and_emotional_effects

    =====

    It gets more complicated than this, though, because stimulation of this same area of the throat and neck also excites the adrenal medulla, co-located with the adrenal glands on the kidneys.

    =====

    “In mammals, the adrenal glands … are chiefly responsible for releasing hormones in conjunction with stress …”

    “The adrenal medulla consists of irregularly shaped cells grouped around blood vessels. These cells are intimately connected with the sympathetic division of the autonomic nervous system (ANS)”

    “Because the ANS exerts direct control over the chromaffin cells the hormone release can occur rather quickly. In response to stressors such as exercise or imminent danger, medullary cells release catecholamines into the blood in a 17:3 ratio of adrenaline to noradrenaline.[1]

    “Notable effects of adrenaline and noradrenaline include increased heart rate and blood pressure, blood vessel constriction in the skin and gastrointestinal tract, blood vessel dilation in skeletal muscles, bronchiole dilation, and decreased metabolism, all of which are characteristic of the fight-or-flight response. Release of catecholamines is stimulated by nerve impulses, and receptors for catecholamines are widely distributed throughout the body.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adrenal_medulla

    =====

    This brings us to the lymph system:

    “Lymph from the entire body except for the right upper quadrant drains into the thoracic duct which drains into the left internal jugular vein.”

    I can’t find a reference in a reasonable amount of time, but, part of the body’s regulation of blood pressure comes from the interface of the lymph system and the blood system at the juncture of the lymph system and the blood system.

    A disturbance in the flow of the jugular vein will confuse the body’s comparison of lymph pressure to blood pressure.

    In fact, the disturbance to blood flow at the confluence of the jugular vein and the carotid artery, whether interpreted as a spike or a dip, has significant impact on upflow and downflow measurements of blood pressure.

    Further, the hyper-stimulation of the vagus nerve at this point decreases the force of heart contractions and reduces heart rhythm.

    This same hyper-stimulation of the vagus nerve causes the adrenal medulla to release agents that instantly dilate the blood vessels of the muscles and additionally cause blood to flow from all other systems into the muscle system.

    Add to this the confusion caused at the measured comparison point between the jugular vein and the lymph system, and the body experiences a dramatic drop in blood pressure known to cause instant feinting.

    The literature says a proper poke at the subject point in the neck will cause unconsciousness, or functional unconsciousness, in two to three seconds.

    In my experience, this functional unconsciousness takes no more than two seconds to occur, and lasts from two to five seconds.

    How would Chi play a role in this?

    My youngest son, like my father, has an extraordinary talent for combatives.

    If he doesn’t go to jail, first, he’ll probably win a State wrestling championship next year on raw talent alone.

    He also excels in the various schools of ju jitsu.

    When he doesn’t think about it, he can easily find the various so-called pressure points on the body.

    If he thinks about it at all, he can’t find them for love or money.

    My instruction to him in this regard has focused on the “not-thinking” aspect of it.

    A difficult concept to teach verbally, since verbalization requires rationalization, and rationalization obscures “seeing” the points.

    The solar plexus provides an excellent example of a”point” one can tap without thinking about it, but which one can can NOT reliably tap if he or she thinks about it.

    My son regularly practices finding the solar plexus on friends (requires good friends).

    A casual light touch in the right spot, with the right intent, will have a noticeable effect, which confirms that one has in fact touched the solar plexus with proper intent and vector.

    My son practices [i]NOT[/i] locating the point, but, rather, [i]NOT-THINKING[/i] about the point.

    Qi, or Chi, as it relates to intuition, guides the hand to the proper point.

    Thinking about the location only obscures the intuition of Qi.

    From my early thirties to my late forties I managed to cultivate uncommon physical strength.

    I could not help but use my strength to overcome the inadequacies of my technique or understanding.

    My oldest son has similar strength.

    He has a black belt in judo and has fought and won in MMA cage-type fights.

    That said, those who know him well describe him as having no talent.

    My youngest son, the talented one, came into this world with several birth defects that restricted his strength for many years.

    People who spar with him say he should come with a warning sign.

    His teacher uses him, a skinny 16 year-old, to “adjust” the attitudes of new adult students from other schools.

    My own real growth in understanding did not begin until age and injury started taking my strength away from me.

    Target, vector and intent matter far more than strength.

    Strength only compensates for a lack of understanding, and, ironically, interferes with the awakening of understanding.

    Think Rapier vs Sledge Hammer.

    And please consider thinking of Qi as a field in which an organizational structure exists (as a standing wave exists in water; Qi corresponds to the water and the standing wave corresponds to the meridian map and the so-called “energy” that “flows” according to the map), rather than as something that flows within that structure.

    I’ve spent too much time on this.

    Thank you for your courtesy and respect.

    I hope this conversation continues so that I can continue to learn.

  61. Regarding “simple, mundane terms:” I majored in history.

    My historiography instructor (how to read and write history) told me that I did not really understand an idea until I could put it in simple terms that another human being could understand.

    I don’t understand Qi well enough to speak of it in simple terms, and so I express my incomplete understanding as well as I can, in complex terms.

    The more complex the terms, the less the speaker understands the subject.

    I confess.

    As for fighting, that has come to me since early childhood as naturally as breathing.

    Up until my mid-twenties, in the Marine Corps, I had a statistically-improbable number of fights.

    I thought these fights “happened” to me.

    Despite my father’s counseling on the subject, I didn’t realize I precipitated these fights myself.

    At my father’s funeral, several of my father’s friends told me that my father had the same issue during the same period in his life.

    Fish swim, birds fly, and, at that time in my life, I fought.

    I began studying various marital arts NOT to learn to learn how to fight, but, rather, to learn why I fought.

    I have to say, though, that even as late as my mid-thirties, my natural ability and inclination to fighting save my bacon on at least one occasion.

    Even today, at age 64, I comfortably know I have little concern about physical attack by other men, as long as I can avoid falling into the trap of male contest.

    Ah, male contest: therein lies the rub.

    VERY few men can distinguish between self-defense, combat and male contest.

    When one succumbs to male contest, he throws the dice.

  62. Ken – I’m genuinely reassured to discover that you are an ex-marine. I know a number of ex- UK marines and can only assume that you are more than capable of walking the walk, from your training.

    I too have had “a statistically-improbable number of fights”, especially for a woman – I think that over 200, some of which involved weapons and full blown attempts at murder is plenty enough. I think I can empathise with your desire to learn how not to fight. When I took up martial arts, I already knew that I knew how to up the stakes beyond a level that most people were prepared to go. My ferocity had stood me in good stead – it was a hard loss to be prepared to try to curb it. I knew ferocity worked, but I wanted to become an expert at fine tuning reasonable force. I wanted to know how to deal more subtly with someone who I didn’t need or want to completely destroy. I think Bob Orlando, also an ex- US marine makes an excellent point when he states that a warrior may choose pacifism whilst others are condemned to it. And in reality it is a spectrum – the more of an expert one becomes at all things combative, the more one can tailor one’s violence as appropriate to the situation.

    I wish you well.

  63. Hello again Ken,
    Thank you for posting such a detailed response in your comment #65 – this has taken a while to come up on my computer, luckily I read the thread back.
    Rather than going in to heaps of detail regarding lymphatics etc. (this is an area I know a fair bit about, though my general biology knowledge has some major gaps) I’d have to say again that I’m just not convinced that such study is a good use of training time. These skills always seem to be unreliable and I would not assume it is necessarily always down to the practitioner’s skill. As I’ve said, I’ve never encountered anyone who can reliably utilise pressure points and all sorts of excuses are made for when it doesn’t work out. I suppose, rather like the weather, the human body is a very complex organism and perhaps we will never (or not in the near future) be able to understand all the interactions that take place well enough to be able to interfere with them in a consistent manner.

    Perhaps I should elaborate a little with an example that is close to home. I have a fairly complex autoimmune disorder that makes my lymphatics go haywire sometimes and this can manifest in so many ways, but the underlying cause is genetic and hinges largely around protein intolerance – specifically an inability to process amino acids. The upshot is that my body is frequently starving and craves foods it can’t digest properly which triggers a hypersensitive immune response to the protein molecules as they pass through my stomach lining and go out into my blood stream. Part of the chain reaction causes excess stomach mucus which then interferes with digestion and compounds the problem. I’m sure you won’t be shocked to discover that the approach my Western doctors have taken has focussed on the sticking plaster approach – control of various symptoms in the chain, but invariably a price is paid for interfering with the process as the body learns to adapt. One ends up taking a heap of toxic medicines, none of which work any more and the problem only worsens. Far better to take a more TCM approach, start with the stomach and try to get to the root of the problem, but taking an entirely TCM approach doesn’t work either. One needs to understand the problem in terms of amino acids, not qi. For me there is probably more hope in the labs investigating zonulin production and lysinuric protein intolerance than anywhere else.

    Anyway, so the upshot is that looking below the surface may be required in more ways than one. Pressure points may on the face of it seem to offer something profound and exciting, just as the approach of TCM to my malady seems refreshingly sensible, but ultimately one has to ask whether or not the methodology can actually deliver the goods and if the technology is not yet sufficient to guarantee results, we may need to spend our time more usefully rather than shooting for the golden goose. “All that glitters” and all that…

  64. As one of Joanna’s students, and having prodded and poked around my neck trying to find the correct point that Ken mentions, I find Joanna’s approach of a simple windpipe crush far more reliable and it doesn’t require any great strength. I can do it consistently and effectively on guys who weigh a third again as much as me.

    Joanna has had real life male opponents on the ground gurgling pleas for mercy within 3 seconds, having turned thoroughly purple! Why go for hidden targets when there are so many effective targets that you can easily see? Such as the eyes? Windpipe / Sternal notch? Is it because one can get away with targets such as the solar plexus or the above mentioned neck strike in competition? Because in a real self defence situation the eyes are a far easier target to strike reliably than the solar plexus. If the opponent wants to see you, there is only so much they can shield their eyes. The eye has the advantage of potentially being a very serious or very trivial target. A short, sharp surface impact strike to the eye will quickly cause swelling, impeded vision and all the disadvantages that brings. A penetrating strike can be considerably more serious. Similarly, a sudden, shallow strike to the windpipe might stop an opponent in their tracks due to a coughing fit. Whereas squeezing the area could result in unconsciousness or worse. Noses and ears can be damaged easily causing alot of pain, but no serious injury. Needless to say, there are other easily accessible targets elsewhere on the body, such as gonads, kidneys, glands, muscles and fingers. Fingers can be easily broken – it doesn’t need to get any more subtle than that.

    I imagine your son would have far less trouble with hitting these targets than the solar plexus. And on that subject, I still don’t see what Chi has to do with finding the right spot. I can always get the sternal notch, but that is due to practice not Chi. Trial and error leading to trial and success, not Chi or intuition. Skill developed through practice. “Repetition makes familiar” as the Chinese say. Or “practice makes perfect”.

  65. What a total embarrassment to realize the degree to which I have wasted my time and sincerity.

  66. Sorry this is false. Qi (Chi) has a few meanings, in it’s broadest sense, Qi = smallest unit of being (matter), or currently, the atom (although it has been proven for many many years that energy is also a form of matter much smaller than an atom).

    Qi in the body is then broken up into 3 different forms, Jing, Qi, and Shen. Jing refers to once’s essence, the most Yin part of your being, Shen refers to your mind or spirit, the most Yang part of your being. Qi is sort of like a middle ground.

    Blood and Qi move together, and in various martial arts, when blocking strikes, the blocker will counter strike a point on the distal upper limbs in order to create vulnerability at the source of the channel, this is why the oh so popularized but not very well understood “death touch” is actually more than 1 point on the body.

    In most East Asian countries, education for the traditional medicines are extensive from 4 – 8 years of full time studies (as well as a handful of schools in the US).

    Find an acupuncturist who finished education either in Asia or in a dedicated school for Oriental Medicine or TCM or KCM and any one of them will be able to explain to you these things.

    Also, stating that “not taking a totally TCM approach” is because your problem has nothing to do with Qi shows that you not only have no formal training in TCM but that you did not conduct simple basic research. If Qi = matter, what it is meant when problems are based on Qi is stating a working definition for Qi rather than a literal answer for what causes problems. To give a cliff notes version, there are a large variety of problems that have been catagorized into various catagories such as “heat, damp, cold, wind, dry” “excess” (excess means external pathogenic factor, such as a virus or bacteria), and “deficiency” (deficiency means your body is too weak to defend against the outside world, such as people with immune issues, starving, exhausted, stressed etc. etc.).

    It takes 4 years of full time learning at a Masters level program to begin to get into all the intricacy of TCM, a martial artist with 10 – 20 years of focusing purely on mechanical and physical application and theory has no place to make such ridiculous statements such as Qi has nothing to do with martial arts.

    Might as well give a surgeon advice on how to do surgery due to the fact that you know how to use various slicing weapons too right?

    I’m sure if you continue on your path in martial arts, you will eventually meet someone who can bend a spear with their windpipe… you know the one that you could so easily break with your hands, next time punch the end of a sharp spear and understand that mechanics without substance has very real limitations (but really, don’t try that without at least another 20 years of training).

    At least a couple masters on the WuDang mountain state not to focus on Qi, but the implications of their statement are so incomprehensibly opposite to what you are saying.

  67. I have stated this repeatedly in other posts. Collagen, dna, the water in your body is a liquid crystal. Most of the body is a liquid crystal. A liquid crystal means that is it flexable or squishy in our case, but has mechanical and energic properties of a crystal.
    Wikipedia- “Most contemporary electronic displays use liquid crystals. Lyotropic liquid-crystalline phases are abundant in living systems. For example, many proteins and cell membranes are liquid crystals.”
    If you know how a liquid crystal displays works then you know partly how internal martial arts work. liquid crystals in an LCD display does coiling/twisted movement as part of its function like internal martial arts silk reeling. Crystals in the display would also extend like an internal martial artist if not sandwiched between two pieces of glass (so there is internal pushing pressure in the screen). Biology does not teach the fundamental fact of proteins being liquid crystal which can then explain a lot of chinese medicince. Practice holding the immortal post energy exercise (holding your crystal body in an energized/extended/twisted state) daily for a couple months and you will feel why posture is important. Crystals have a particlar structure and optimum alignment for energy transfer. Its frustrating cause redumentary science has been already been done and should be going forward yet we still debate. 99% of people don’t have the discipline to practice enough to feel what chi-kung is doing to the body, they will blame the teacher or say its not real and not want to admit they don’t have enough discipline. Daily practice is required by most for significant results. Daily practice is not to be very good (like some other skill or strength training) but just to get significant results, making it very difficult. 99% probably will dismiss what I have presented or be unable to understand. Reference Dr Mae Won Ho, Robert O Becker.

  68. You say, “qi believers” LOL. Qi is not a belief, it is reality. I don’t believe that qi is real, I KNOW qi is very real, because I have felt it, and it’s power. belief has a connotation of doubt and I don’t believe, I KNOW. trust me it is real, people I know with an abundance of qi can produce more power and speed than anyone I know who practices only the physical aspects. of course the amount masters over the years has been diminishing, which is a shame because this means that people now will never know the full benefits of the martial arts and will never know just how high a level some people can get. you don’t really see these master is because it is not the true way, and they don’t want people who just want power, only people who have been training for MANY years and have demonstrated their good/moral character will be allowed to do high level qi training because in the wrong hands it is VERY dangerous. Things like the “dim mak” are kept secret for a reason, and it should be kept secret forever because it is not something that should ever be done and only those worthy will learn, hence the reason why you don’t see such training often, especially in the west where martial arts is more often seen as just a sport, not a combat system and a way of life. sure there are the phonies out there, but making generalizations from the actions of a few people should not be reflected upon the whole community. it would be like looking at a bunch of white belts fight and assume that martial arts is bullshit because of how unskilled they are, doing so is ignorant. you can deny qi, but everything involves qi. every time you make a thought saying how qi is not real or type on your computer, you are using qi. qi training is not like working-out where u lift for 3 months and get jacked, it takes years/decades of DEDICATED AND CONSTANT practice, you also have to have the right mindset to. if you set out to fail, you will fail.

  69. You bring religion into this logical discussion simply about the existence or non existence of a vibrational energy akin to the likes of those spoken about by prominent quantum physicist? To deny that human consciousness affects reality is completely moronic and to say that the existence of chi is impossible is equally moronic…. Not saying there aren’t bulshit artists but completely denying the fact that theres a possibility that there are things many dont know about this world is just so so so so so arrogant and stupid… so stupid. The epitomy of moronic. Ignorant with a capital I.

  70. Joanna, thank you for your comments. I’ve studied martial arts for over twenty years. I haven’t had much experience studying internal arts, but I do have a lot of experience with people attempting to use them to substitute for genuine spirituality-trading a Universal Teacher with more vague, less demanding way to somehow become “enlightened”. I know this comment has come quite a time after the discussion, but I appreciate that you stood and said what you take to be obviously true, even if it was unpopular.

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