The Lighter Side of Kundalini

Glass elevator

John Chang was a practical joker. I had been on an elevator with him one evening along with twenty other people. The elevator was a glass-walled unit that ferried people up and down the floors of a shopping mall; there was a steel railing all around that people rested their backs on. We were going out to eat that evening at a local restaurant on the top floor of the mall.

Suddenly a burst of current pulsed through the steel backstop. Women screamed and everyone pulled away, suspecting a short circuit. John pulled away too, as I had, but I needed only one look at the barely suppressed grin on his face to realize what had really happened: He had sent a pulse of bio-energy through the railing!

Serious training in meditation, qigong, or kundalini yoga is long, hard, often boring, and sometimes downright bitter. Yet when a student reports their discovery of an exciting fringe benefit, such as heightened or extrasensory perception, certain other members of the community are quick to scold them.

“Pay no attention to such things,” the lecturer instructs. “They will only distract you from the ultimate goal of cosmic union.” Well, maybe so, and maybe not, but in the meantime, I think it is important to keep one’s sense of humor intact.

“In the old days,” Rolling Thunder said, “things happened all the time that would be pretty strange to see today. Our grandfathers used to tell of big gatherings–council meetings and festivals–when they were kids when chiefs and medicine men would get together and play around a bit. Of course, I’ve always said the powers are not to be misused–they’re not for personal use or for show–but long ago when there wasn’t the competition and confusion that there is today, the old chiefs and medicine men used to have a little fun just among themselves.

“Some old chief, for example, might take a stick or something and throw it over in a bush and then he’d bet the others that they weren’t sharp enough to see which bush it had landed in. Of course someone would go look and it would be gone, or way over in some other bush. He’d keep throwing things into the bushes and one one would find them. He’d be moving them, see?

And then some old medicine man would come up and play dumb. He’d say he figured he had pretty sharp eyes, and the chief would throw a stone way off in some bush. It would land somewhere in the distance and right away he’d move it from that spot. The old man would run out there while all the others laughed; but the old man would be moving the stone as he ran, right back to where it landed. Then he’d come back with the stone and all the sticks and everything that had been thrown into the bushes, exclaiming they’d all landed in the same spot, and everyone would roll with laughter. Of course it was all a game they were putting on, kind of like keeping in shape.”

Now I open the floor to you. Please share your favorite practical jokes, related or unrelated to kundalini or martial arts.


  1. One of my students actually ended up being what we considered masterful at this sort of funny application of aiki principles. For instance…

    if you were walking beside him, talking and not paying much attention to where you were going, he could adjust his body position and spacing relative to you until he would run you into a wall or tree without touching you.

    He also had this fabulous potato chip trick, he would hold an open bag of potato chips and offer one to someone, then when they put their hand in the bag and grabbed a chip, he’d start moving with them so they couldn’t get their hand back. It ended up like randori with the person feeling dumb because they couldn’t grt their hand back and he wouldn’t let them push back hard enough to crush the chips in the bag. the victim usually ended up contorted in weird postures and falling down.

  2. My teacher would tell stories surrounding his teacher. When he first met his teacher he was first told what one can do at different levels of chi-kung skill like telekinesis. With that the teacher waved his hand and the tassels on the ceiling started to move as if a draft air hit them, no doors or windows were open. The teacher continued to talk as if it were nothing, my teacher of course was shocked.

    Some senior students of this same teacher played a joke on a new young guy. They tied thread to a cotton ball and made believe they were levitating it. They told the new guy who was very gung ho that you just needed to practice to make the ball float. My teacher says the young guy came back and shocked everyone when one day low and behold he could do it.

    Another student was having a birthday. The teacher was present as well as friends. As he was about to blow out his birthday cake candles, his friends jokingly asked him to use his chi. Jokingly he gestured as if he was sending chi out his hands. The candles went out like magic. Everyone was of course shocked silent accept the teacher who proudly said, “that’s my student”!

  3. Nice. I once met a shaman who, due to his special skills, was always beset by spirits asking him for favors (kinda like the movie “Ghost Town”). One day he decided to have a little fun, and asked one of them to help him cheat at a ping-pong game. I guess whenever his opponent tried to return the ball, the ghost would nudge it off the table.

    And yet people say this stuff isn’t practical? 😀

  4. When my sifu decided he wanted a new set of posts for his bagua form practice (which are just thick, pressure treated logs), he casually just did the form with a bit of discharge, breaking them all in half when each was arrived at in the form. Several of the students in the school were there to witness this feat, which he just waved aside as if it were nothing. This is just one of many incredible things he can do after a lifetime of neigong work.

  5. In my youth when I did not believe that energy could actually be harnessed we had a visitor in my Shotokan Dojo.
    A guess he was a friend of my sensei.
    Well we were challenged to try and hit the guy.
    And of course we failed but the thing was he never touched us directly.
    He usually just evaded our attacks but when he parried or blocked it was like this inches wide separation between his body and ours.

    That pretty much overcame my disbelief.

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