Can Qigong Soothe These Savage Beasts?

When alleged masters of kiai-jutsu and no-touch throws use their own students for demonstrations, skeptics cry foul.  If such incredible skills truly exist, the skeptics contend, they should enable the master to stop a skilled and determined attacker whom he has never met; otherwise, it’s obviously just bullshido.

Bob Sapp
K-1 Fighter Bob “The Beast” Sapp

These skeptics are serving up a false dilemma, lightly seasoned with argumentum ad baculum.  Under their revised laws of physics, the forces of this universe are neatly split into two categories: those which can floor Bob Sapp, and those which simply do not exist.  Fortunately, there is a middle ground where useful and interesting experiments can be performed.

Under one theory, these students are influenced not by chi, but by a subconscious desire to please their chosen guru.  To test this theory, we could use subjects without any such agenda; the ideal subjects would have no predisposition towards the master or his skills, either for or against.  Furthermore, they would be invulnerable to hypnosis and other psychological tricks.  By Occam’s razor, we could then assume that the subjects’ reactions to the master’s chi projection attempts were authentic.

Actually, such experiments have already been conducted, to varying degrees of formality.  One of the most entertaining demonstrations I’ve seen was performed for the Japanese TV show Amazing Animals.  Dr. Kanzawa, a Japanese kikou (qigong) expert, visited a local zoo and…well, see for yourself.

Amazing Animals visits West Side Park
Featuring a no-touch knockout (on a kangaroo rat)

Can one of our Japanese-fluent readers provide a translation of the dialogue?


  1. That guy is cool… That looks convincing, some sort of “telepathic suggestion” would describe it… Im sure its probably one of the easier abilities that come with qigong development.

  2. But what good is developing this as a martial skill if it’s no good in an actual fight? Having seen mental faculties beyond the scope of modern understanding at work and in person, I very much believe that qi and ki are labels for *something,* but I definitely wouldn’t want to spend time training it if it’s not going to be useful when someone is aiming to harm me.

  3. Training in empty-handed martial arts for self-defense purposes is a colossal waste of time: any serious person will use a weapon (cf. Virginia Tech massacre). If this is the standard by which we judge utility, can anything be considered useless?

    The ability to cast a sleeping spell on a kangaroo rat seems downright practical by comparison. After it falls asleep, you can pick it up and hurl it into the eyes of your enemy.

  4. Well, in terms of self-defense, either they will be using a weapon or they won’t be. Where I live (and I’m assuming in other places as well), most muggings occur completely unarmed, so training empty handed is certainly not a waste of time. Even if they are armed, there are self-defense techniques for those as well; krav maga is almost completely formulated around defensive strategies for those exact kind of circumstances. I’m going to assume the second part was a joke, so I hope you can see my point about the utility (or lack thereof) of certain kinds of martial arts training. Sure, it makes a good parlor trick, but I wouldn’t go around saying that it’s useful in any martial arts respect.

  5. Thomas, are we not constantly at war with our bodies (I bet u put time at the gym in) what about the (metaphorically explosive) ‘fights’ ‘firings’ inside our body that decide health/life/death. The complete warrior has total mastery of pyschophysiological (see PNI wiki) tools; or techniques. Thomas you may win the battles but will you win the war?

    *** I read that the chi magician will ‘will’ the animal only to docile ‘sleep’ state because if the master were to put the animal in a DOA state he/she would also DOA… die?

  6. Thomas, if you are concerned about being mugged, then why aren’t you armed?

  7. I love weird Japanese shows! The qigong aside, it’s just fun to watch the craziness.

    As for the qigong itself, I’m not one to completely discount or support it – I find this video interesting and worthy of consideration. However, I will say – I don’t see anything here that would prove no touch knockout techniques.

    Is the master soothing these animals with his calm mind and spirit? Potentially. He’s not knocking anything out though.

    Furthermore, we don’t really know the time of day or condition of these animals. We must consider the possibility that the demo was arranged at a very well established sleep time in the zoo (especially for the deer).

    Ultimately, if it doesn’t work on a resistant opponent, be it Bob Sapp or Glass Joe from Mike Tyson’s Punch Out, it’s not viable in combat sense.

  8. Chris: perhaps because in some countries, being armed is a criminal act that will land you in prison.

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