- The inaugural Crossing The Pond Martial Expo was held last weekend in West Seattle. This seminar brought together six well-known and highly skilled instructors of martial arts and self-defense from across the United States and United Kingdom.
- Over the weekend, two one-hour workshops were held by instructors Al Peasland, Nicholas Yang, Kris Wilder, Rory Miller, Marc “Animal” MacYoung, and Iain “Tuna Fish Pizza” Abernethy.
- Approximately thirty-five people were in attendance. Among the students, at least one third appeared to be black belts and/or instructors themselves.
- Participants were open-minded, polite, and patient–especially with this author, who hadn’t done any Karate training since elementary school. Egoism, inappropriate competition, and input from self-declared “assistant instructors” was minimal. This is a credit to the affable seminar host, Kris Wilder, and the other teachers as well, who together set the right tone for the event.
In his new book, The Intuitive Warrior: Lessons from a Navy Seal on Unleashing Your Hidden Potential, author and retired Navy SEAL Michael Jaco describes how he channeled the challenges he faced in military training and combat toward aligning his body and mind. With the two working in unison, Jaco remained calm and positive in extremely stressful situations. When he retired, Jaco then used these techniques as a civilian to enrich his everyday life.
Through personal accounts of real experiences, Jaco explains how the challenging situations he endured as a member of one of the most elite Special Forces units in the United States taught him to control his emotions and tap into his intuition. Using these capabilities, he enhanced both his mental and physical strength. In The Intuitive Warrior, Jaco says that anybody can develop the perception and awareness skills that he learned and employ them to achieve a more fulfilling life, whether seeking to improve job performance, personal relationships or physical shape.
Michael Jaco answers a few questions for Martial Development readers in this exclusive interview…
BLACK BELT – That uniform accessory most coveted by students of martial arts, who, upon receiving it, pretend it never held any interest at all.
PRACTICE – To endlessly repeat the same sequence of movements, always hoping for different results. (See also: INSANITY.)
KATA – An awful form of dance, often assumed to divulge some hidden meaning after sufficient PRACTICE.
Manjusri, destroyer of illusion
“Tell me, Subhuti,” Buddha inquired, “Can an arhat think to himself: ‘I have attained the realization of an arhat’?”
Subhuti, his disciple, replied, “Of course not. With such a thought, he would be grasping to the illusory notions of an ego, a personality, and an individual self. Any so-called arhat who holds these notions is a fake.”
The meaning of “investing in loss”, as originally recommended by the late Tai Chi master Cheng Man-Ching, was to neutralize a superior force through the practice of non-contention:
Now when I say, “Learn to invest in loss,” who is willing to do this? To invest in loss is to permit others to use force to attack while you don’t use even the slightest force to defend yourself. On the contrary, you lead an opponent’s force away so that it is useless.
Against genuinely applied force, the method is so difficult to apply that it usually fails; thus, it is called a loss. After becoming familiar with every misapplication of wuwei, the non-contention principle, one can eventually start using it correctly and effectively; thus, it is called an investment.
Investing in loss can be a tiresome and disheartening method, but it is a reliable one. Sadly, the term is often misapplied as a catch-all justification for fruitless endeavors. Not every loss qualifies as an investment.
After reviewing the training methods of Qi Dao, Kumar Frantzis suggested that such material would be more precisely labeled as shen gong, or spiritual cultivation, rather than as qi gong (energy cultivation). While I cannot disagree with his observation, it seems to me that most English-speaking qigong enthusiasts are in fact seeking self-realization, harmony and peace of mind—not merely a vehicle for increased physical vitality—so some imprecision can be forgiven here.
Qi Dao: The Art of Being in the Flow is (to my knowledge) the first English book on the obscure Tibetan art of Shamanic Qigong, or trul khor. Written by Lama Somananda Tantrapa, an ordained Buddhist monk and longtime martial artist, Being in the Flow introduces the basics of this unique brand of Tibetan Yoga.
As I explained in Defining The Internal Martial Arts, there is no consistent definition of what constitutes a neijia style. In fact, you might be a neijia artist yourself, and not even realize it! Here are a few of the classic warning signs.
If you are constantly looking inward, yet still cannot stand the sight of blood,
you might be a neijia artist.
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.
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.
Steve Pavlina is a professional speaker and writer, and one of the inspirations for this blog. Much of his personal development advice is smart—by which I mean to say that I agree with it. His theories on the nature of reality, however, are inaccurate and misleading.
For centuries, dedicated martial artists have worked to shed the layers of egoistic and social insulation that prevent a direct experience of reality. Some have risked their lives in empirical testing, to verify and refine the martial path to enlightenment. What can the discipline of martial arts teach us about subjective reality?