Is This the Right Time to Hit a Woman?

Last Monday, police officer Ian Walsh observed a group of women jaywalking near MLK Way in central Seattle. He directed the women to his squad car, presumably to warn or cite them for breaking the law. They refused to cooperate.

One of the women, Marilyn Ellen Levias, decided to walk away instead. As Officer Walsh grabbed her, and the pair struggled, a crowd gathered to watch. Levias’ companion, Angel Rosenthal, shoved Walsh so that Levias could escape.

Officer Walsh responded by punching Miss Rosenthal in the face. Continue reading Is This the Right Time to Hit a Woman?

Martial Arts Charity Drive 2009

Our recent and spirited discussion of “McDojos” and mob justice was recently picked up at another forum. Apparently, the forum administrator is upset that I turned off comments on the original post, because he didn’t get an opportunity to express his dissenting viewpoint. In the interests of fairness and education, I will summarize his rebuttal here. Continue reading Martial Arts Charity Drive 2009

Another Boring Example of Nonviolent Self-Defense

Yes, I was practicing martial arts in public, but I wasn’t looking for trouble. I wasn’t looking for attention, just wanted to enjoy a beautiful fall afternoon at the park.

I was only twenty minutes into an outdoor routine (that is, an indoor routine stripped of any provocative elements) when I heard a group of teenage boys approaching behind me. I continued to mind my own business, but they were not content with theirs.

Did they taunt me with the standard Bruce Lee kung fu yelps? Well, of course they did; and I ignored it, just as I have ignored it three dozen times before. But unlike three dozen times before, this group did not have a few laughs and keep walking.

They dared each other to throw a rock at me, and that I could not ignore. Continue reading Another Boring Example of Nonviolent Self-Defense

On McDojos and Mob Justice

Sean Treanor’s article on the Bullshido phenomenon raises some important questions…

Martial arts practice in America is entirely unregulated. There is no central body that issues standards, no set of accepted practices, no communication between different styles. State and local governments have nothing to say about who is and isn’t a martial artist. After all, consumers are free to make their own decisions.

Unfortunately, it can be very hard to tell the difference between fantasy and reality when studying an ancient, esoteric and exotic discipline. Not many people have any idea what martial arts training should consist of. There is almost no agreement within the martial arts establishment over what is effective training and what is not.

Investigation is expensive and the market is too small to attract much media attention, aside from cinematic mythmaking. The mainstream martial arts magazines have never made investigative journalism part of their repertoire. George Dillman, the mental KO king was Black Belt Magazine’s instructor of the year in 1997. There is simply no money in exposing these martial arts entrepreneurs. Some people, however, are willing to do it for free.

Continue reading On McDojos and Mob Justice

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

In the proceeding video, mentalist Darren Brown knocks a martial artist down from behind.
That proves his skill is real.
On the other hand, Darren Brown did not touch him.
That proves his skill is fake.
As for Darren Brown’s explanation, “It’s all in your mind,” that proves…what? Continue reading Derren Brown Proves No-Touch Knockdowns are Real, and Fake

Skepticism in Theory and Practice: A CSI Case Study

After reading my previous articles on Mesmerism, James Randi’s Million Dollar Challenge and related subjects, some visitors have expressed skepticism over my meta-skepticism. Why am I so skeptical of skeptics?

Actually, I do respect philosophical skepticism, the frequently claimed pedigree of modern scientific skeptics.

Philosophical skepticism is both a philosophical school of thought and a method that crosses disciplines and cultures. Many skeptics critically examine the meaning systems of their times, and this examination often results in a position of ambiguity or doubt. [It] is an old movement with many variations, and contrasts with the view that at least one thing is certain. Indeed, for Hellenistic philosophers, claiming that at least one thing is certain makes one an [irrational] dogmatist. ~Wikipedia

Spray cheez

The relationship between philosophical and popular (“scientific”) skepticism is roughly analogous to the relationship between Cheese and Cheez. Continue reading Skepticism in Theory and Practice: A CSI Case Study

“Empty Force” and No-Touch Knockouts Real? Take Our Survey

Many martial arts bloggers (Striking Thoughts, Mokuren Dojo and Dojo Rat to name a few) have published their opinions on the veracity of chi projection, empty force (ling kong jing) and no-touch knockouts. Naturally, I have a few opinions of my own–but I do not intend to share them here and now. No, my purpose today is a humble and scientific one: to gather data.

The plural of anecdote is data, right? So, please take this multiple choice poll. Continue reading “Empty Force” and No-Touch Knockouts Real? Take Our Survey

In Defense of the Dojo Kun

In thousands of halls across our great nation, an archaic manuscript hangs on the wall. Written many decades ago, in a time and place quite foreign to our own, this inscrutable document anchors us to a primitive culture that we would do well to forget. I submit to you that it holds no value to us today; as rational men and women, we should put our sentiments aside and discard this anachronism immediately. Our traditions must not be allowed to stand in the way of progress.

What makes this document so odious? Simply put, it is subjective. Instead of identifying specific behaviors for its reader to follow, it describes general principles and leaves each reader to interpret them as they see fit. These statements are so vague and meaningless that they could conceivably be used to justify anything.

Who decides what this document really means? Continue reading In Defense of the Dojo Kun

Gentle, Sweet and Mild? You Still Need a Martial Art

Outside the school gym, two men sat idly on a bench, waiting for Tai Chi class to begin. “If anyone were to attack me,” the first student offered, “I would simply run away, living to fight another day.”

A faint smile crossed his companion’s face, as both continued to enjoy the summer sunset. Allowing a respectful pause, the second man finally replied: “And how fast can you run?”

While it is true that a fight requires two consenting parties, a brutal beating does not. There are times when strategic retreat is not an option. We all know that martial arts experience is valuable in such times, for everyone.

But did you know that martial arts training offers special benefits for the kind and gentle? Continue reading Gentle, Sweet and Mild? You Still Need a Martial Art

The Worst Karate Move I Ever Learned (and How to Fix It)

Two underappreciated facts about self-defense:

  1. The time for avoidance is before the fight starts. Once it has started, you should abandon any notions of yielding or appeasement, and focus on not losing the fight. To honor this distinction, you must be able to recognize the seeds of violence before they sprout.
  2. Statistically speaking, your probable attacker does not care about you. It’s nothing personal, really. If someone else had walked into the wrong place at the wrong time, they would have been assaulted instead.

No martial arts training should be required to appreciate these points, which can be derived from basic human empathy. The worst Karate move I ever learned, however, flagrantly disregards both of them. Before examining that inferior technique—and a superior alternative—let’s briefly consider the context in which it is taught. Continue reading The Worst Karate Move I Ever Learned (and How to Fix It)