“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. And if you think I missed any important questions, or would like to provide your own analysis of the survey results, leave a comment below.

Survey is now closed, thank you to the 256 respondents. Final results are below…

1. What is the sum of 2+2?
 1% say… 22
96% say… 4
 1% say… 700 billion
2. Do you believe in chi?
15% say… Yes, I have seen and felt it.
43% say… Yes, I have felt it.
21% say… Yes, though I have neither seen nor felt it.
19% say… No.
3. What is your gender?
 4% say… Female
95% say… Male
4. Have you practiced chi kung?
21% say… Yes, over 300 hours.
26% say… Yes, under 300 hours.
41% say… No, but I have read about it.
10% say… No, because chi does not exist.
5. Do you trust the mainstream media?
 3% say… I trust them to do the right thing.
 8% say… I trust their good intentions.
58% say… I trust them to serve their own interests.
29% say… Not at all.
6. Do you believe in electricity?
70% say… Yes, I have seen and felt it.
21% say… Yes, I have felt it.
 6% say… Yes, though I have neither seen nor felt it.
 1% say… No.
7. Do you believe that electricity can kill a human being?
 3% say… Yes, it killed me personally.
95% say… Yes, I’ve heard stories about it.
 1% say… No, that is a myth.
8. Do you believe in the dim mak death touch?
50% say… Yes.
49% say… No.
9. Where have you studied electricity?
15% say… I hold a college degree in electrical engineering, or a related discipline.
38% say… I have taken some classes on the subject.
 6% say… I have worked as an electrician.
39% say… I have no formal training or significant work experience on the subject.
10. What is the boiling point of pure water?
57% say… 100 degrees Celsius.
 1% say… 0 degrees Celsius.
41% say… It depends.
11. When confronted with the unknown, how do you most typically respond?
 2% say… Follow the crowd.
69% say… Investigate.
26% say… Trust your gut.
 1% say… Run in circles, scream and shout.
12. Is it possible to move objects without touching them?
69% say… Yes.
30% say… No.
13. How long have you practiced martial arts?
34% say… More than 10 years.
12% say… Between 6 and 10 years.
10% say… Between 3 and 5 years.
17% say… Between 1 and 3 years.
24% say… Less than one year, or not at all.
14. Is gravitational force composed of particles or waves?
 4% say… Particles.
16% say… Waves.
26% say… Both.
31% say… Neither.
21% say… I don’t know, and I don’t care.
15. How often do you attend church?
16% say… Weekly.
 5% say… Monthly.
12% say… Yearly.
64% say… Never.
16. Who is vulnerable to the effects of gravity?
92% say… Every person on planet Earth.
 2% say… Only true believers and gullible morons.
 1% say… Gravity does not exist.
 3% say… I don’t know.
17. On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your own physical attractiveness?
11% say… Between 9 and 10.
43% say… Between 7 and 8.
37% say… Between 5 and 6.
 5% say… Between 3 and 4.
 1% say… Between 1 and 2.
18. Do you ever use survey results to guide your beliefs or decisions?
 1% say… Always.
 1% say… Frequently.
19% say… Sometimes.
36% say… Rarely.
40% say… Never.


  1. Chris –

    I doubt we’ll ever agree on this particular topic unless one of us has an epiphany moment.

    Regardless, I do look forward to your post. You consistently make me think and occasionally make me laugh. Two things I greatly respect!

    On that note I shall submit this link for your thoughtful consideration.



  2. Amazing to see that over 50% of the respondents (out of 8 so far) have more than 10 years of martial arts experience.

    Interesting survey.


  3. I’ve seen and felt things, and had things done to me that I would not have thought possible. At the same time, physicists describe four known forces in the universe: electromagnetism, gravity, and strong and weak nuclear forces. I don’t think there’s a fifth one called “chi” that they’ve overlooked. However, sufficiently advanced technique is indistinguishable from magic.

    Mostly, my attempts to break something down into stuff that I do understand is met with hostility by the people doing it. They experience my skepticism as rejection. That’s not what it is to me, so I mostly keep my opinions and analysis to myself. Mostly the beliefs that people have correspond to behavior that I endorse, so why try to take away the beliefs?

    My sensei and friend and long-time teacher says that his credo is “Never subtract, only add”.

  4. Bob,
    Well, I had my epiphany five years ago, so it must be your turn!

    In days past, I have played the forum troll, the rational skeptic, the reality-based martial artist, and assorted other roles–and I’ve smartened up alot since then. Is smartened a word? Anyway, I’ll read your link.

    Yes, I draw an experienced, intelligent, and presumably well-dressed audience.

    Sure, neither “Chi is real” nor “chi is fake” is a particularly profound or useful statement. Yet, I think we ought to start at the beginning.

    Unfortunately, the poll widget I selected does not allow for any correlation of the answers. Apparently, there are good polling tools, and there are free tools; I went with the free tool this time. (If anyone has a paid PollDaddy account, and is willing to repost this survey there, please let me know.)

    And before I forget…I would like all female respondents who rate themselves a 10 to please introduce themselves!

  5. humans are made up of energy why not be able to control and use it the whole universe is made up of energy particles chi may just be electricity going through the body or heat or both what the Chinese called chi we may call electricity i do believe in it but i do not believe in the myths around it no touch knock outs do not exist chi may be a strong force but being able to move things without touching them or knocking someone out without touching them is pure myth i think half the stuff around chi is lies while the rest has truth in it people have being able to endure extreme amounts of physical pain saying it is chi or energy that i will believe

  6. No touch knock ours are real in the sense that hypnotism and delusion are real. That’s all they are. Con artists making an extra buck by pretending to have supernatural powers. If you think any different, and you’re over the age of 12, seriously, evolution should have taken you out by now.

  7. Do educate us Jeff. What were your answers to the survey questions? And what do you suppose is the average age of the participants? How old are you?

  8. IMO i believe that there is a unseen force that can affect us in many ways. I once sprained my ankle during training and my sensei brought me to a hall where many people practice tai chi in the morning. So after a brief introduction my sensei passed me onto the master. He told me to lie down and started rubbing his hand.. then he place it on my ankle.

    The thing is initially there was nothing unusual about anything, then his hand started to warm up and then it became so hot that it was unbearable.. he told me to just sit still and it will be over soon.. so i endured and endured till it was over. I was like touching a frying pan when it is on the flame. My ankle of coz did not instantly heal, but however i was able to walk around much quicker than in the past when i sprained my ankle. Im a clumsy fellow.

    So my point is that there is some unseen force that experts or masters can control. It usually take a long time to learn and discipline is the key. i doubt that any city slicks can control these so called energy to the extend of taking a person out. It might be possible but not without some seeeeriouuuuuuus traning.

  9. I have seen enough evidence myself to be convinced of the existence of the “empty force”. What fascinates me as a scientist myself is that this concept may well be impenetrable to the scientific method as it now stands. Although I am not adept in Buddhism, I do think that the buddhist philosophical appraoch is probably able to encompass this concept effectively – indeed this appears to be from where it has arisen. Therefore, the empty force may well represent conspicuous example of a phenomenom that highlights the short commings of the western philosophical approach and should be of great interest to us all.

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