Steven Seagal Redeems Himself As Cock Puncher

Steven Seagal as Cock Puncher

Where did Steven Seagal go wrong? His early movies—Hard to Kill, Out for Justice, Under Siege—reinvigorated the action genre, with their breathtaking displays of no-holds-barred Aikido.

His next two-dozen films weren’t so well received, or so I hear. I didn’t watch them myself.

It wasn’t the thin plots or dull acting that eventually turned me off Steven Seagal’s work; it was his characters, or rather his character. Continue reading Steven Seagal Redeems Himself As Cock Puncher

So You Think You Can Dance?

In 2006, I saw a few episodes of MTV’s reality TV show Final Fu. At the time, I thought the performers displayed physical competence, but not greatness, and I found the level of demonstration and competition disappointing. Head judge Ernie Reyes Jr. praised his players’ abilities to throw a variety of high kicks.

When I subsequently watched auditions for Fox’s televised dance competition, So You Think You Can Dance, I was both delighted and appalled by the disparity in standards. Somehow, I had expected martial austerities to result in a deeper achievement, when compared to the frivolous motivations of dance. Continue reading So You Think You Can Dance?

Why You Should Never Turn Your Back on a Predator

From the March-April 2008 issue of Desi Life:

Gitanjali Kolanad: A Force of Nature

Force of Nature: Graceful yet powerful, Kalaripayat is inspired by a wilder world

Some scholars estimate that Kalari (also written as Kalari Payatte or Kalarippayattu) dates to 12th-century India. According to one legend, Kalari is the world’s first martial art.

Gita Kolanad is 54, but she looks, and moves as though she were at least a decade younger. Born in Kerala, she moved to Winnipeg at age 6. She used to do yoga, but says she found it boring and took up Kalari in her 30s to keep in shape for dance.

“Kalari is a real holistic system. It’s not just the martial art, but the healing aspect and the focus aspect,” Kolanad says. “When you get into the weapons, it’s a constant lesson in focus. When you lose your focus, you immediately get hit. I know that yoga has this aspect of meditation, but you don’t get any feedback on whether you’re doing your meditation right. Here you’re constantly getting feedback,” Kolanad says. “That’s why I love Kalari and I think it’s poised to be bigger than it is right now.”

At the highest stages of Kalari practice, it is said “the body becomes all eyes.” Masters become totally aware of everything around them. Kolanad doubts she will get to that point, but says that’s not a concern: “I enjoy every aspect of it.”

Continue reading Why You Should Never Turn Your Back on a Predator

Cure Your Sore Lower Back with Tai Chi Ruler

Vertebral column

Although Tai Chi is an effective treatment for stiffness and lower back pain, the complexity of its forms discourages some from learning the practice.

Fortunately for back pain sufferers, not all Tai Chi forms are long and elaborate. While some traditional forms contain more than one hundred movements, others contain less than a dozen. The short forms are easier to learn and faster to complete, but no less beneficial to the practitioner’s health.

Among the short forms, Tai Chi Ruler is the easiest to learn. The ruler, or chih, is a simple wooden dowel, approximately one inch thick and one foot long. Fundamental ruler practices consist of a single movement, repeated a few dozen or few hundred times.

Many of the Tai Chi Ruler movements do not actually require a ruler, and can be performed just as well without it. Here I will describe one such exercise, which is suitable for any age and fitness level. Continue reading Cure Your Sore Lower Back with Tai Chi Ruler

Drunken Boxing With The Stars

On the unusual Chinese style of kung fu known as Zui Quan, or drunken boxing, Bruce Kumar Frantzis writes:

Eight Drunken Immortals [style] stresses several unusual martial qualities. It embodies more joint- and body-folding techniques than any other external or internal/external martial art. It imparts the ability to fold the body like a rag doll, thus enabling the practitioner to both block and attack from quite unpredictable angles with every part of the body, including the buttocks and back. The extreme body folding skill of the Drunken boxers makes it virtually impossible to apply joint locks on them.

Eight Drunken Immortals is neither a “this or that” style, and equally uses punches, hand and finger strikes, and a large assortment of usual and unusual kicks from odd angles, joint-locks, all kinds of throws, both upright and crouching, and extensive use of the legs while on the ground.

The precise control of their own and their opponent’s space enables Drunken boxers to create optical illusions and use deception to great advantage. Another weight displacement focus is the ability to make any point on the body, say an elbow tip, head, tantien, or knee become the center of balance and movement, and then to rapidly change at will from any of multiple balance points to another. Such maneuvering allows Drunken boxers to appear totally unbalanced when in fact their balance is perfect. Thus, multiple traps are set for an unsuspecting opponent.

Most of the performances you will see at tournaments, in video games and movies are only theatrical imitations of genuine Zui Quan—but that is no reason not to enjoy them! Here are a few of my favorite drunken boxing movie scenes: Continue reading Drunken Boxing With The Stars

Vladimir Vasiliev, Russia’s Mind Warrior

Excerpted from Vladimir Vasiliev: Russia’s Mind Warrior is Set to Hit the U.K. by Trevor Robinson

Through training in the martial arts, we begin to pay more attention to aspects of experience that might have seemed peripheral, if not hard to believe before. We begin to start noticing and giving more credence to experiences such as meeting someone for the first time and instantly liking them or disliking them without knowing anything about them. We like their vibes, we can tell if someone is staring at us and when we look up (what makes you look?) we feel we know what they are feeling or that something is going to happen, the phone rings and we know who it is before we answer it. As we allow ourselves to develop new sensitivities, we begin to view the world quite differently.

Training in Psychic Energy

Vladimir Vasiliev is a Master in The System [Systema] and he has an outstanding command of its use. Though he is so humble, I’m sure he would be the first to deny it! What I will relay now is on his personal account of the Psychic Training he received while he was with the Special Operations unit in Spetsnaz. In his own words:

The goal of the training was to make you multi-functional. You were to be able to work effectively in any kind of situation and never fear it. Perhaps more importantly, you were expected to learn how to be creative and act spontaneously. Divergent thinking, being able to come up with unconventional and unusual responses and decisions in different situations was an absolute necessity. You had to be totally adaptable to survive in the unit.

The key to this adaptability was the Psychic Training you received. You were expected to go well beyond the mere physical and psychological mastery to a point where intuition and that sixth sense, that we all have but seldom use, became a part of your daily life.

Awareness, or tapping into your sixth sense, was a focus for many of the exercises. Training classes could run for five hours and in some, you’d be blindfolded for the entire time. You’d have to follow what was going on, do your exercises and come to an understanding of the principles the instructor was teaching without the use of sight.

While sparring, the instructor would also walk around the class looking for trainees who weren’t paying attention to the total environment they were working in. If he thought you weren’t aware of his presence, he’d hit you with a stick over the head, this taught the trainee very quickly to be aware of where everyone was at all times.

At other times, we were brought up into pitch-black rooms and had to guess how many people were in it, if any. We’d also be blindfolded and have to identify colors just by touching colored blocks of paper. Again, awareness was to extend far beyond the normal five senses into the area of the psychic.

Some instructors who were skilled at passing psychic energy would take a few glasses of water and charge them with energy. This was a charge grounded in a psychic form of energy. It was much like touch healing. They’d concentrate on the water and send energy into it through their fingers without touching it. The trainee would then have to come into the room and tell the instructor which classes had been charged with the energy. The purpose behind this exercise was to teach the trainee how, on a mission, to tell if their drink was poisoned. Poison has a much stronger energy than regular water and that energy is discernible to those who have learned to access and use their psychic abilities.

Continue reading Vladimir Vasiliev, Russia’s Mind Warrior

Precognition and Psychic Martial Arts: A Scientific Perspective

Recognizing the tremendous importance of timing, Japanese martial artists classify their responses into three types:

  • Go no sen refers to a late reaction, initiated after the attacker’s movement has begun. Late reactions are unreliable, relying on extraordinary motor speed for their successful application.
  • Sen no sen describes a response launched roughly in time with its attack. While obviously superior to go no sen, some practitioners consider this an intermediate level of skill.
  • The ultimate timing, sen-sen no sen, responds to an attack that has yet to be launched, one that has only just formed within the opponent’s mind. An expert in sen-sen no sen might use this timing to guide his assailant into a futile and vulnerable position, or launch a preemptive strike.

Martial legends aside, how does science explain this seemingly paranormal ability? Is it possible that high-level martial artists have used precognition and other psychic abilities to enhance their effectiveness? Or are they all just very quick? Continue reading Precognition and Psychic Martial Arts: A Scientific Perspective

Bollywood Martial Arts Movies – Then and Now

Shilpa Shetty
Shilpa Shetty
Black belt karateka and Bollywood star

Karate (1983)
Starring: Mithun Chakraborty and Yogita Bali
IMDB reviews say: “An abomination to Indian movies and martial arts…pure garbage…watch this movie only if you are considering killing yourself.”

Karate

Continue reading Bollywood Martial Arts Movies – Then and Now

The Best Martial Arts Movies of 2007

Edison Chen in Dog Bite Dog

Dog Bite Dog [Amazon.com] [Netflix] [IMDB]
After a Cambodian child slave turned assassin completes his assignment, he in turn becomes the target of a vengeful Hong Kong cop. There are no heroic figures in Dog Bite Dog, and no glorification of violence. This stunningly brutal film illustrates an unfortunate truth: the fight isn’t over until everyone is satisfied, and nobody is content with a loss. Continue reading The Best Martial Arts Movies of 2007

Qi Dao – Tibetan Shamanic Qigong: Book Review

Tsa lung trul khor

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 - Tibetan Shamanic Qigong

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. Continue reading Qi Dao – Tibetan Shamanic Qigong: Book Review