Do you know how martial artists spell irony? R-B-S-D.
RBSD, or reality-based self-defense, is a blanket term for martial arts training that purports to focus on practical applications. In truth, however, these applications—gross motor skills such as the straight punch and Thai-style knee strike—can only be deemed “practical” within a fiat-based reality.
Reality as measured by the CDC is strikingly different. Among the leading causes of death in 2005, assault ranks in 15th place—behind heart disease, diabetes, and a host of other illnesses. In the USA, death by suicide is 50% more common than homicide. Statistically speaking, influenza is far deadlier than any fatigue-clad RBSD play-warrior, or the threats they would prepare you to face.
Despite the indisputable fact that sickness is the greatest danger to the average person, martial arts for health have somehow earned a bad reputation.
This is a distillation of previous published interviews with Master Wang.
Having traveled across China, I know that Taijiquan has the most practitioners of any martial art. Upon hearing that this boxing method was handed down from Zhang Sanfeng, I despised him for a long time.
Taijiquan is far from the art of actual combat; they have nothing in common with each other.
Later on, I read the collected edition of Zhang Sanfeng’s teachings, and realized that he had progressed deeply into the great Tao—and I came to believe that Taiji was not handed down from him at all! Actually, it doesn’t matter; even if one is a descendant of Sanfeng, he is not worthy to talk about this method without first gaining its essence.
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.
Mastery is efficiency. A master of their art simultaneously exerts less effort, and achieves greater results than others. Wouldn’t it would be wonderful if attaining mastery was as easy as defining it?
It is that easy, and that difficult.