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.
by Rick Bauer
Over the last twenty years, a considerable amount of interest has been generated concerning the use of acupoints and pressure points in the martial arts. These include material on medical uses of acupoints (also referred to in certain Western publications as “pressure points” or “vital points”), as well as their use in fighting techniques. The commercially available products include seminars, books, videotape and magazine articles; much of it coming from Europe, Asia, North America and Australia.
Documentation suggests the martial uses of acupoints were first discovered about fourteen hundred years ago in feudal China… These techniques have been incorporated into several Asian martial arts systems.
The term “acupoint” refers to specific spots along the body, all of which are highly reactive to stimuli. These are the same points used by acupuncturists for treating ailments and promoting health. In all, there are 361 classic acupoints sprinkled across the human anatomy. The martial use of acupoints, however, refers to controlled strikes to these same anatomical locations. When executed correctly, acupoint strikes can elicit an array of physiological effects, dependent on the angle, direction, and force of the strike, as well as the specific point(s) used.
The term “pressure point” or “vital point,” as used in the West, is slightly broader (conceptually). In addition to the classical acupoint centers, the Western conceptual view of a pressure point or vital point may also include sensitive anatomical regions of the body, which are unrelated to acupoint centers, but have useful martial applications (such as certain joint-lock release centers).
Acupoint striking techniques where originally developed in the Orient.
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.
The old Kung Fu master touched his assailant, with no apparent effect. Days later, the assailant died a sudden and mysterious death. He was a victim of the legendary dim mak, the touch of death.
Dim mak is a popular discussion topic among martial arts enthusiasts. Some instructors claim to have the skill, or believe that it was used to kill Bruce Lee. Others insist that dim mak instructors are frauds and the skill itself is a complete fantasy. Is there any evidence to support the existence of dim mak? Could it possibly work?