Four Paradoxes of Standing Meditation

Wang Xiangzhai
Wang Xiangzhai
practices
standing meditation

In 1939, Wang Xiangzhai issued a public challenge through a Beijing newspaper. His objective: to test and prove the new martial arts training system of Yiquan, a system that placed standing meditation (zhan zhuang) at its core.

Expert fighters from across China, Japan and even Europe traveled to answer Wang’s challenge. None could beat him or his senior students. His standing meditation training produced superior results in a shorter time period, when compared to methods used in boxing, Judo, and other styles of Kung Fu.

Considering the proven value of standing meditation, surprisingly few people undertake the practice today. Why is this? As Wang himself noted, the exercise is plagued by logical contradictions. Continue reading Four Paradoxes of Standing Meditation

What Every Martial Artist Should Know About Chi and TCM

Bad answers to martial training queries are inconvenient, but ultimately innocuous. If every theory and technique is tested, as common sense requires, then false information will eventually be recognized and discarded.

Bad questions are more dangerous. A bad question is one with a useless answer: there is no benefit to answering it correctly. People who ask too many bad questions find themselves hamstrung, and unable to deepen their understanding. These questions are a defense mechanism of the ego, breeding complacency and conceit.

Are references to Chinese life science—qigong and TCM, specifically—a necessary component of Chinese martial arts instruction? This subject resurfaces every few months on Internet kung fu forums. Most recently, Joanna Zorya of the Martial Tai Chi Association argues against the practice. She invokes the names of famous instructors—Tim Cartmell, Chen Zhenglei, and Hong Junsheng, to name a few—in support of her claim that talk of qi is superfluous at best, and outright deceptive at worst. Continue reading What Every Martial Artist Should Know About Chi and TCM

Three Benefits From Lifting Your Bai Hui Point

Taiji master Yang Cheng-Fu said that, without lifting your Bai Hui point, even 30 years of practice would be a waste of time. Why is this particular point so important to martial artists, and to everyone else?

The Bai Hui point, which sits on the crown of the head, is known by many different names. In acupuncture, it is identified as Du Mai 20 (百会), the point where the body’s Yang energy naturally converges. In kundalini, tantra and other Indian yogas, this point is named the Sahasrara (crown) chakra. In many esoteric traditions, Bai Hui is regarded as the gate between Man and Heaven.

Bai Hui diagram
Bai Hui is not in the middle of the head, but near the twirl of the hair.

If your Taiji practice is in line with the instructions of the old masters, then you are probably already familiar with the benefits of lifting the Bai Hui point. If, on the other hand, you do not currently practice Taiji, zhan zhuang or any other meditative discipline, here is a sampling of the benefits you can expect—benefits which exceed mere self-defense. Continue reading Three Benefits From Lifting Your Bai Hui Point

Think, Grow Rich, or Die Trying: The Bruce Lee Story

As a fan of Bruce Lee, you probably already know about his extensive library. Bruce’s collection reportedly spanned more than 2000 books on philosophy and martial arts. (In fact, much of the material in his “signature work”, the Tao of Jeet Kune Do—compiled and published posthumously from his notes—was copied from these primary sources.)

Bruce Lee was influenced by D.T. Suzuki, J. Krishnamurti, and many other teachers, but perhaps no author left a greater impression on him than Napoleon Hill. Continue reading Think, Grow Rich, or Die Trying: The Bruce Lee Story

Breaking The Drama Triangle

The drama triangle is a model of dysfunctional social interaction, created by psychotherapist Stephen Karpman. Each point on the triangle represents a common and ineffective response to conflict, one more likely to prolong disharmony than to end it.

The Drama Triangle
The Drama Triangle

Participants in a drama triangle create misery for themselves and others. By applying the physical principles of martial arts to the psychological realm, you can transform this lose-lose situation and create a more positive outcome for everyone. Continue reading Breaking The Drama Triangle

The Top 4,465 Things In The Known Universe

Another Group Writing Project

My previous post, Jackie Chan’s Greatest Fight Scenes, was one of the 893 entries in Darren Rowse’s Top 5 Writing Project. Since I benefited from incoming traffic as a contestant, it seems only fair that I pass on some link love.

Here a few contest entries related to the topic of this website, martial arts for personal development: Continue reading The Top 4,465 Things In The Known Universe

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. Continue reading Can Qigong Soothe These Savage Beasts?

The Final Qigong Demonstration of John Chang

Since writing Teachings of an Authentic Taoist Immortal a few weeks ago, I’ve discovered some newer video footage of the Indonesian acupuncturist and qigong master known as John Chang. Continue reading The Final Qigong Demonstration of John Chang

Conflict Resolution: A Casualty of Non-Violent Martial Arts

Symbol of Mars
Shield and spear

To the ancient Romans, the concept of a non-violent martial art would be nonsensical. Their literal definition of martial was “belonging to Mars”, the god of war. Modern usage of the term martial arts, however, is hardly related to military strategy and tactics.

Today, most popular martial arts are practiced without arms. Considering this shift in focus, from immediate and practical skills to more abstract and long-term benefits, it is reasonable to ask whether violent destructive potential is still necessary at all.

Is a non-violent martial art worthy of study? Continue reading Conflict Resolution: A Casualty of Non-Violent Martial Arts

Teachings of an Authentic Taoist Immortal

There is a man in Indonesia who is a master of the ancient Chinese science of neikung, or “internal power.” His name is John Chang, and he is my teacher. Mr. Chang was first presented to the world in the award-winning documentary series Ring of Fire, filmed by the brothers Lorne and Lawrence Blair; his privacy was protected by the rather ignominious pseudonym Dynamo Jack. Continue reading Teachings of an Authentic Taoist Immortal