Long before the invention of the blog, and even before the creation of the World Wide Web, there was Usenet. The world’s first electronic social network was established in 1980, and martial artists have been arguing there ever since.
Back in the late 1990s, I started reading the rec.martial-arts newsgroup as most people do, with posts sorted by discussion topic. I soon discovered that, since 90% of the replies on any given topic were rubbish, it made more sense to sort by author instead. Although I abandoned rec-martial arts years ago, due to its low-signal-to-noise ratio, I can still remember the names of some of my favorite writers. At the top of that list, I place the mysterious Ordosclan, also known as Turiyan Gold.
I don’t know Ordosclan’s real name, or his training history. I don’t know how many of his posts were written under the influence of anti-psychotic medication, as his critics claimed. Perhaps not enough of them.
Ordosclan’s martial arts commentaries were sagacious and entertaining, sometimes cryptic and unfortunately brusque. In honor of Black Belt Mama’s Admired Martial Artists Month, I’d like to highlight a few:
Why punch from the hip?
In boxing, the boxer keeps his hands up on either side of his face for protection. Punches are thrown from this position. One hand goes out, the other stays by the face for protection.
Why does karate require that you throw a punch from the hip? What is gained by this?
The point of pulling the fists back is to open the chest. Doing so during stance changes makes it harder to use the arms for balance. It’s not for punching. Punches done from the hip are just a training exercise. The Japanese simply copied basic Shaolin from the Chinese. Some teachers try and read ridiculous theories into why something is the way it is: “It’s for qi,” “it’s for jing,” “It trains you to monkey elbow a guy that puts you in a bear hug from behind”, etc.
If you start taking things out of MA that are not combat-relevant, you’re left with punches and kicks, knees and headbutts. The simple answer is: it’s not martially oriented. Its just a myth that Shaolin monks are/were “fighting” monks. That’s nonsense. And everyone knows it.
Philosophers and scientists have long been interested in how the mind processes the inevitability of death, both cognitively and emotionally. One would expect, for example, that reminders of our mortality—say the sudden death of a loved one—would throw us into a state of disabling fear of the unknown. But that doesn’t happen. If the prospect of death is so incomprehensible, why are we not trembling in a constant state of terror over this fact?
Psychologists have some ideas about how we cope with existential dread. One emerging idea—”terror management theory“—holds that the brain is hard-wired to keep us from being paralyzed by fear. According to this theory, the brain allows us to think about dying, even to change the way we live our lives, but not cower in the corner, paralyzed by fear. The automatic, unconscious part of our brain in effect protects the conscious mind.
But how does this work?
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 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.
Excerpted from the book Tao and Longevity by Nan Huaijin
Does the spirit actually leave the body during the transformation of chi into shen?
…There are many [Taoist] descriptions of being pregnant for ten months, suckling the baby for three years, and facing the wall for nine years that have led some people to believe that successful meditation must involve astral projection. The supposition is that the spirit or divine self has a fetal body of its own which ultimately shoots out of the top of the head and ascends into heaven itself. To believe that this is the way of transforming chi into shen is a serious mistake.
According to the Tan Tao school, yang shen (or positive spirit) and yin shen (or negative spirit) may both account for the projection of the spirit from out of the body.
The True Story of Sadhu Haridas, a 19th Century Yogi Phenomenon
Originally published in the London Telegraph, August 22, 1880
We are not told whether the Seven Sleepers who retired to a cave in Ephesus during the reign of the Christian-killing Emperor Decius, and only woke up 155 years afterward, when Theodosins II was on the throne, made any special preparation, but probably they did not. Perhaps it was not necessary. Those were stirring times for members of the new faith, and they had little opportunity to grow obese.
But, as a rule, to fast successfully it is said to be necessary for a man to abstain beforehand, and reduce himself more carefully to the required condition by a long course of preparation. Pre-eminent at this art of suspending animation—for an art it becomes—are the Easterns, and most wonderful stories are told of the natives of India, which, whether they powers are due to narcotics or any other process, seem to open up—if true—a wide field of medical study.
Once of the Indian stories, not easily accessible, but of considerable interest on account of the known veracity of the witnesses, will probably be read with interest at the present time, and is inserted here.
Every person’s body has an aura (light). All living things have auras. Even nonliving things have auras. Physicists refer to the aura as a field, a space which contains active magnetic or electrical lines. The aura of the human body is the qi field of the body. Some individuals are born with the ability to see auras. Others are able to see auras with qigong training, as well as after a session of meditation. With the ability to see human auras, it is possible to understand the workings in the human body. Depending on the colors and the intensity of the aura around the individual, the condition of the individual can be deciphered.
With the ability to see auras, one can also decipher the depth of another person’s energy cultivation. The aura of Laozi was described as purple. The auras of Sakyamuni Buddha and Avalokiteshvara (Guan Yin) were described as a ring with multiple radiating colors. Drawings of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary also showed auras. Indian yogis, Chinese Daoist and Buddhist cultivators all have large beautiful auras.
Excerpted from Learn How to Meditate by William Bodri
Everyone is looking for a way to still their thoughts, shed their worries, and attain mental peace. That is the purpose of meditation…
There are all sorts of meditations in the world that can help you learn how to cultivate a peaceful mind… They work using different principles of mental pacification, but they all involve teaching you how to detach from the thoughts and impulses in your head (and in your body) that normally bother you, distract you and impel you…
Confucius was actually one of the people who taught the steps of this process in the most detail. He said the first thing to cultivate, when dealing with every facet of life–and not just spiritual or character development–was mental “awareness…”
First you have awareness, then stopping, and then stillness which is almost, but not quite complete. If you keep cultivating this stillness through meditation, it will expand so that you achieve the fourth step of the path, which is a state of true peacefulness…
That’s a state that Eastern sages call “samadhi.”
Mi-mno, mi-bsam, mi-dpyad-ching,
In 1939, Wang Xiangzhai issued a public challenge through a Beijing newspaper. His objective: to test and prove the new martial arts training system of Yiquan, a system that placed standing meditation (zhan zhuang) at its core.
Expert fighters from across China, Japan and even Europe traveled to answer Wang’s challenge. None could beat him or his senior students. His standing meditation training produced superior results in a shorter time period, when compared to methods used in boxing, Judo, and other styles of Kung Fu.
Considering the proven value of standing meditation, surprisingly few people undertake the practice today. Why is this? As Wang himself noted, the exercise is plagued by logical contradictions.
In the ancient spiritual text Bhagavad-Gita, Krishna defined two paths to the highest realization of human potential. For those inclined towards introspection and contemplation, Krishna recommended the path of transcendent wisdom, or Jnana Yoga. For more active and extroverted people, he suggested the path of selfless service, or Karma Yoga.
Blogger Steve Pavlina discussed these paths in his recent article Are You a Lightworker or a Darkworker? After insisting that mastery requires a polarizing commitment to one path—and one alone—Steve denigrated the path of self-knowledge:
If you polarize as a lightworker, you are dedicating your life to serving the greater good. If you polarize as a darkworker, you are dedicating your life to serving yourself. To use a Star Wars analogy, it is similar to deciding whether or not to become a Jedi or a Sith.
For a darkworker the level of unconditional love is directed inwardly as love of self. It’s like a highly concentrated form of arrogance. It may not be expressed outwardly in the form of a smug attitude, but inwardly the person comes to embrace the idea that s/he is the most important person on earth and should act accordingly. Honoring this perspective can actually lead to a state of peace that is virtually the opposite of humility.
While some might label the darkworker path as evil path, I dislike using words like good or evil to describe these paths. They’re really two different sides of the same coin.
Are the paths of lightworking and darkworking truly exclusive? To understand the flaw in this theory, let’s examine a tool that is literally dedicated to gathering cosmic light: the Hubble Space Telescope.