The Comforts of Mindless Consistency

Recounted by psychologist Robert Cialdini:

One night at an introductory lecture given by the Transcendental Meditation (TM) program, I witnessed a nice illustration of how people will hide inside the walls of consistency to protect themselves from the troublesome consequences of thought.

The Science of Meditation

The lecture itself was presided over by two earnest young men and was designed to recruit new members into the program. The program claimed it could teach a unique brand of meditation that would allow us to achieve all manner of desirable things, ranging from simple inner peace to the more spectacular abilities—to fly and pass through walls—at the program’s advanced (and more expensive) stages.

I had decided to attend the meeting to observe the kind of compliance tactics used in recruitment lectures of this sort, and had brought along an interested friend, a university professor whose areas of specialization were statistics and symbolic logic. As the meeting progressed and the lecturers explained the theory behind TM, I noticed my logician friend become increasingly restless.

Looking more and more pained and shifting about constantly in his seat, he was finally unable to resist. When the leaders called for questions at the completion of the lecture, he raised his hand and gently but surely demolished the presentation we had just heard. In less than two minutes, he pointed out precisely where and why the lecturers’ complex argument was contradictory, illogical, and unsupportable. Continue reading The Comforts of Mindless Consistency

A Skeptical Look at Pennsylvania


A depiction of Pennsylvania-land,
artist unknown

The first time I heard the outrageous claims about a magical land in the Far East, I dismissed them as the ranting of a deranged lunatic. As a learned man of science, I am not so easily swayed by such fanciful tales.

Unfortunately, these stories of a mythical state known as “Pennsylvania” have gained some traction amongst the more impressionable segments of the public. On behalf of all rational men and women, I have chosen now to speak out against this absurdity, lest it acquire through unchallenged repetition some facade of legitimacy. Continue reading A Skeptical Look at Pennsylvania

Is This The End of Mixed Martial Arts?

In the past few years, mixed martial arts has enjoyed remarkable commercial success. Some fans imagine that its popularity is a result of its vast technical superiority over traditional martial arts styles. But neither MMA techniques nor training methods are particularly innovative; much of what you see in the competition ring was pioneered decades or even centuries ago.

The recent success of the MMA product is best explained with a sociological model, not a technical one; and this model predicts an inevitable fall from grace. MMA will decay, like every style before it, into a traditional martial art. Continue reading Is This The End of Mixed Martial Arts?

Bullying and Harassment Prevention Tips

Two weeks ago, I asked Martial Development readers to share their bullying and harassment stories. Here are the responses:

Of Brick Walls and Petty Tyrants by Karen Shanley
How I helped my daughter deal with a difficult teacher.

How to Deal with an Office Bully by The Career Counselor
…I really need to keep this job but I’m dreading going to work everyday because she is so mean. What should I do? Continue reading Bullying and Harassment Prevention Tips

Conceal Your Secret Karate Identity

Do not reveal your true nature
A genuine man does not reveal his true nature.

When the karateka receives his first belt promotion, he rushes out to tell everyone.
After he receives his shodan certificate, he exits discreetly through the back door.

This saying reflects the humility of a mature, well-trained Karate expert. More importantly, it contains practical advice for martial artists of all stripes: let your skills remain secret; revealing them indiscriminately can only bring trouble. Continue reading Conceal Your Secret Karate Identity

You’ll Always Have The Sensei You Deserve

In How To Choose a Bad Martial Arts Instructor, I provided a quick and easy guide to finding an inappropriate school. John W. McKenna’s recent call for thoughts on leadership reminded me to follow up on that guide, with more helpful advice.

John asked, does most leadership suck? My answer: none of your business. You don’t need to follow every leader; one qualified sensei is enough. A more useful question is, how do you find that sensei? Continue reading You’ll Always Have The Sensei You Deserve

Raving Lunatics of the Twenty-First Century

Based Upon a True Story
Imagine yourself walking through a busy outdoor mall, surrounded by hundreds of shoppers and tourists. Casually perusing the fresh produce and handicrafts, you are suddenly confronted with a disturbing spectacle.


(Photo Credit: Gina Fish)

An unkempt, fifty-something man stands alone in the middle of the boardwalk, carrying on a loud and emotional conversation with nobody in particular. Interspersing pointless vignettes on politics, culture and yesterday’s supper with violent and unpredictable gestures, he manages to draw the attention of a small crowd. They watch and listen from a safe distance. Continue reading Raving Lunatics of the Twenty-First Century

Wushu and the Second Cultural Revolution

In 1966, the Chinese government began a violent purge of traditional culture. Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong called for the abolishment of all things old, and enlisted a youth militia to perform the destruction. Local police were forbidden to interfere.

Mao’s regime criminalized the practice of traditional wushu. Threatened by harassment, imprisonment or torture at the hands of the Red Guard, some martial arts experts went underground. Other unfortunate practitioners were “re-educated” to death.

The first Cultural Revolution has ended, but wushu now faces a new peril. This second revolution transcends national boundaries, and there is little hope of escaping its reach. Continue reading Wushu and the Second Cultural Revolution

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