Excerpted from The Master Method: Four Steps to Success, Prosperity and Inner Peace by Master Marco Sies
Growing up, I experienced difficulties and personal conflict that I’ve worked very hard to overcome. Some of these struggles stemmed from negative influences and people who told me I wasn’t good enough…I was inferior…I wasn’t smart…I was too poor, too small, too unattractive to make anything of myself. I was told so many negative things so often, I actually spent many years believing these things were true.
Very small for my age, I was a dark-skinned boy living n a not-yet diversified [Chilean] population where light skin was admired and favored. At school, little girls told me I was ugly, and the boys bullied me relentlessly. I remember being thrown headfirst into a trashcan, and the humiliation of a group of boys whipping me with their neckties and making me run like a horse while they laughed. Continue reading From Homeless to World Champion: The Story of Kickboxer Marco Sies
This I Believe is an international project engaging people in writing and sharing essays that describe their core values. More than 90,000 of these essays, written by people from all walks of life, are archived on their website.
Naturally, some essayists shared their beliefs on, and experience with martial arts. Here are a few of their stories.
Life Is A Spiritual Struggle
by Joseph Laycock (Brighton, Massachusetts)
Over the din of boxing gloves pounding against leather bags, I struggle to hear this Brazilian explain yet another way to choke someone unconscious. This is a martial arts gym. Most of the regulars are amateur fighters with dreams of going professional. When they’re not here, some of them work as firefighters or bouncers. I’m definitely the only schoolteacher in the room.
My students take interest in my training. Sometimes I’ll enter the classroom with bruises or a slight limp from the gym. In world history, I’ll discuss the cultural significance of the fighting styles I study. In Thai kickboxing, the eight striking weapons — fists, shins, elbows and knees — represent the eight-fold path of the Buddha. Brazilian jujitsu has more improvisation than Japanese martial arts, which reflects different cultural attitudes towards tradition.
Every class asks me the same questions, “Have you ever beat anyone up?” And, “Why are you a teacher instead of a professional fighter?” When I tell them the truth — that I have never been in a fight and have no aspirations to go professional — I get a range of reactions from disappointment to accusations of cowardice.
“So why do you do it,” they always ask.
I believe that life is a spiritual struggle. My battle is not against another fighter but against the unjust and apathetic system that is attacking my students… [continued]
Continue reading “This I Believe” On Martial Arts
John Arthur “Jack” Johnson was the first black heavyweight champion, but also paved the road for future athletes in the ways of trash talking, flashy bling and openly banging white women in an era when that could get you lynched. The man was everything Muhammad Ali would be…except he was doing it at the turn of the century. Continue reading Jack Johnson: Boxer, Bullfighter, Badass
There was once a monk who carried a mirror where ever he went. A priest noticed this behavior one day, and thought to himself, “This monk is so vain and shallow. He shouldn’t concern himself with his external appearance–it is the inside, not the outside that really matters. I’ll teach that monk a lesson today.”
The priest approached the monk and asked, “Why do you always carry that mirror?” Continue reading About A Clever Priest and A Shallow Monk
The following short story was excerpted from Rolling Thunder: A Personal Exploration into the Secret Healing Powers of an American Indian Medicine Man. In this section, Doug Boyd sits by the campfire with Rolling Thunder, sharing stories he heard from other spiritual teachers.
On the train to Brindavan a Swami sits beside a common man who asks him if indeed he has attained self-mastery, as the name “Swami” implies.
“I have,” says the Swami.
“And have you mastered anger?”
“You mean you can control your anger?”
“And you do not feel anger?”
“I do not.”
“Is this the truth, Swami?”
After a silence the man asks again, “Do you really feel that you have controlled your anger?”
“I have, as I told you,” the Swami answers.
“Then do you mean to say, you never feel anger, even–“
“You are going on and on–what do you want?” the Swami shouts. Continue reading The Snake and the Angry Swami: A Cautionary Tale
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. Continue reading The Lighter Side of Kundalini
Two different perspectives on the same event, inspired by John Zimmer’s post on Kung Fu and self-defense…
Adira walked down the street, wearing a comfortable summer ensemble: tank-top, shorts, and flip-flops. Twenty yards ahead, she spotted two idle and suspicious men sitting quietly. To a Krav Maga expert of her status, they were no concern. She casually walked past them.
Suddenly, the nearest man lunged forward. Continue reading This is Krav Maga, Not Self-Defense
My fellow aliens,
I am writing to you on a most joyous occasion. This evening, we will commence our second invasion of planet Earth. Soon, we shall realize our long-awaited objective: to oppress, exploit, and enslave the human race.
Even in this late hour, there are some who persist in questioning our motivations, and doubting our chances of success. To be clear, we undertake this action in preemptive self-defense, and failure is therefore not an option. Our intelligence suggests that if we do not strike now, the humans may one day rise to challenge us. For the sake of our slimy children…we simply cannot take that risk.
It is true that our previous Earth invasion was not a complete success. Our flying saucers needlessly alarmed the local populace, and our death rays were ineffective against the filthy Earth bacteria. In the years since that unfortunate event, our finest military analysts have carefully drafted a new strategy, one that is certain to prevail. Continue reading New War of the Worlds: Science and Religion
From American Shaolin, a autobiographical tale of Matthew Polly’s intensive training at the modern Shaolin Temple:
With most TV programming so dull, the boys at Shaolin were kungfu movie freaks, constantly visiting Shaolin’s multiplex to watch the latest blood-spattered Hong Kong releases on VHS. Wanting to undermine the assumption that laowai (non-Chinese outsiders) suck at martial arts, I brought VHS copies of Steven Seagal’s Above the Law, David Carradine’s Kung Fu, and Jean-Claude Van Damme’s Lionheart back to Shaolin after winter vacation.
The monks were used to highly fictionalized portrayals of the Shaolin temple, so they weren’t bothered by the fantasy version of Shaolin in David Carrdine’s Kung Fu. They were, however, shocked by the casting of David Carradine.
“The actor is a laowai,” I said. “He’s pretending to be half-Chinese.”
“That explains why his kungfu is so terrible,” Little Tiger said, as he ducked to the back row to avoid another cuff from monk Deqing.
For the rest of the movie I ignored the slights about Carradine’s kungfu skills, which were admittedly poor. (To be fair, however, he did capture that California New Age, faux-Zen blankness perfectly.) I was waiting for that climactic moment that nearly every American male who was alive in the early 1970s remembers: the scene where Carradine lifts a burning chalice to pass the final Shaolin test, permanently branding a dragon one one forearm and a tiger on the other. I hadn’t seen or heard anything like this legend since my arrival, but I had to know.
“Is the story true?” I asked. “Did that used to be the final test for Shaolin monks?”
Continue reading The Shaolin Temple Definition of Courage
Excerpted from Breathing Spaces: Qigong, Psychiatry, and Healing in China by Nancy N. Chen
Qigong in the Scientific Community
Qigong began to be actively debated within the [Chinese] scientific community during the 1980s, when scientists, especially physicians, sought to legitimate the phenomenon of qi. While popular publications focused on practice or gave life histories of particular masters, the discussions of qigong among scientists addressed questions of how to measure the force field of qi energy. Qi as a material phenomenon had to be quantified. This interest paralleled attention to the phenomenon of teyigongneng, or special psychic abilities.
…The doors of scientific research opened when Qian Xuesen, the prominent founder of China’s space research, declared that teyigongneng merited serious study. In his account of this movement, Paul Dong, a US-based qigong master, described how young children in China were tested for their abilities to “hear” characters being written and to perform psychokinesis (the power to move objects with their minds); there were reports of pills disappearing from bottles only to materialize outside their containers.
Scientific experiments also commenced during this period, as many researchers believed that special abilities could be enhanced with qigong. Over a dozen scientific journals and publications, among them, Zhiran Zazhi (Nature magazine) and Dongfang Qigong (Eastern qigong), began to discuss human potential and somatic science. Continue reading Scientist, Master, or Deviant? Three Perspectives on Qigong