The Devil’s Dictionary of Martial Arts

The Devil's Dictionary

BLACK BELT – That uniform accessory most coveted by students of martial arts, who, upon receiving it, pretend it never held any interest at all.

PRACTICE – To endlessly repeat the same sequence of movements, always hoping for different results. (See also: INSANITY.)

KATA – An awful form of dance, often assumed to divulge some hidden meaning after sufficient PRACTICE.

KI – An invisible, inexplicable force that somehow renders TRADITIONAL martial artists superior to other sportsmen.

CHI – An alternate spelling of KI. (Note: CHI has been disproven by SCIENCE.)

REALITY – A large arena crowded with villains who operate unarmed and alone, thereby leaving themselves susceptible to techniques of SELF-DEFENSE.

SELF-DEFENSE – An elaborate system of strikes and holds, sometimes offered as a substitute for common sense and basic social skills.

DOJO – A small or unpopular MCDOJO.

MCDOJO – A DOJO more popular and successful than one’s own.

EGO – 1) A primary cause of disagreement with superficial Eastern-tinged philosophies. 2) An impediment to RESPECT.

EVIDENCE – The outcome of a single televised martial sporting event.

SCIENCE – 1) An analysis of accumulated EVIDENCE. 2) A consensus view on some aspect of martial arts, unencumbered by any relevant experience.

DRILLS – Also known as KATA.

RESPECT – Obedience; fealty.

TRADITION – The explanation for a technique that has no other reasonable explanation.

MIXED MARTIAL ARTS – 1) A modern form of martial arts, carefully designed such that benefits accrue to fight promoters and other businessmen rather than to the practitioners themselves. 2) A style for which no TRADITIONS have yet been developed.

WARRIOR – A person who goes to war; sometimes confused with a martial artist.

WARRIOR-SCHOLAR – A martial artist who recites dubious and inconsequential tales of martial arts history to disinterested persons.


NUNCHAKU – An ancient farming implement; adapted and sent to Japanese martial artists by residents of 19th century Okinawa, to encourage suicide by massive head trauma.

Please submit your dictionary entries below.


  1. Gi – the traditional training uniform in Japanese martial arts; modern use mimics NASCAR uniforms and it is thought that the obscene colors and numerous patches may a cause sensory overload in your opponent, thereby rendering them defenseless.

  2. Weakness: The highest level of martial arts.

    Skill: A substitute for talent.

    Fight to the Death: 1)The only way to know for sure whether or not you have been wasting your time. 2) A proposal offered to two belligerents to determine if they are serious or just monkeying around.

  3. Traditional teaching: any old claptrap that sounds wise because its mystical

    Traditional Japanese training: see “old style training”

    Old style training: the training we used to do (please select) ten/twenty/years ago/when we were your age and it was much harder than the training you do today so we must have been better than you/superior to you

  4. Tao: Collection of incomprehensible one-liners

    Enlightenment: The skill of uttering incomprehensible one-liners and explaining them even more vague.

  5. Really? The idea of chi is stupid? That’s curious to me, because I’ve spent the past couple of months getting more serious in practicing exercises to build up my chi. I’ve become more proficient at generating chi-balls (yeah yeah, yuk it up *rolls eyes*). One fun thing I’ve learned to do is build up a small one, aim it at the back of an unsuspecting person’s head and flicking it (like a spitwad *lol*) and watching them react *lol*. Turning around to see who hit them, then seeing their confused reaction. Trying to figure out if they really were hit with something or were just imagining things *lol*. If you progress far enough in your training, you’ll start to feel almost as if the energy you’re building up is tangible. Like if you bring your hands closer together, you’ll feel resistance somewhat like you would a physical object. I’m approaching this point now…and NO, I’m NOT “on” ANYTHING, ok?…

  6. As an experiment I had my daughter hold her hands apart and see if she could feel the resistance. She moved her hands around for a moment and said “yeah”

    She is an 11 year old non-martial artist.
    I asked my wife next, she replied without hesitation that not only could she, she used to spend time playing with the feeling of an energy ball between her hands. She is not a martial artist and has done no qi development exercises.

    So next I had my 9 year old boy that is like me try it, I said “can you feel it?” he replied without hesitation: “not really… but sort of”
    Then I asked my 7 year old boy to do it. He said he “kind of” felt it.

    To take something like this feeling and then convert it into a statement of fact is absurd. To say that one has reached a level that pretty much any man child or woman is at, who has not done any martial arts training, is highly amusing to me.

    Chi work like feeling a ball of energy between your hands has no place in real martial arts of a serious nature. Leave it for the would be jedi knights who are convinced of their power but who cannot use it in a martial manner.

    As LRon was told by Bob, People may be pink but their money is green. There will always be a market for BS in martial arts, religion and politics.

  7. Josh, the only place to start is at the beginning. With respect to martial applications, I remind you that that leading chi to the hands is more-or-less synonymous with leading blood to the hands, which changes the character of one’s punch somewhat, and of one’s palm and finger strikes even more so.

    Perhaps more importantly, an acknowledged ability to move chi and blood around one’s own body at will, pulls other interesting skills out of the realm of impossibility, and into the theoretical or practical realms.

  8. I understand.

    It is practice for Yi, which leads Chi, which is intent/energy/awe.

    I am not sure chi can be developed, so much as recognized. That it takes time to learn, because it is so obvious that it is hidden.

    Science=a method dealing in probabilities, never absolutes, so nothing is ever proven according to science, just given the most probable explaination possible according to a test of a hypothesis or theory: via falsification.

    Ergo chi is not in the domain of science to affirm nor deny, much as nucleotides once were. Before the 1950’s nobody had any idea what genes were or how they worked. There was great debate over the existence of heritable traits and religious communities touted the very idea as satanic. The scientific community was also highly divided about the assertion that such traits existed. And yet a day came when the evidence, which had previously eluded us, became apparent and we could assert that genes existed. One day chi may undergo a similar transformation in terms of our understanding. Or it may not.

    I do not know if chi is real. But I abhor the mentality that seeks to obtain chi or develop it so as to have power over people, be it directly or through showing off.

  9. People are heavily conditioned to believe that one form of power is appropriate for subjects, another is appropriate for rulers, and that everyone should “know their place.” But the truth is, all power is power over others. That fact is not good or bad, it just is. Knowledge is power, as is the power to impress others by showing off.

    Nevertheless Josh, if you abhor the desire to dominate others, then I would think the exoteric “practical” applications of martial arts should interest you least, leaving the self-cultivation (e.g. qigong) perspective to interest you more.

    For every wannabe Jedi warrior that wishes they could “chi” someone to death, there must be a least one hundred who would rather shoot, stab, or pummel in the traditional manner. Who is more likely to succeed, and who is the greater worry?

    As to whether chi can be developed, or only recognized, there is a simple experiment to resolve it. First build the sensitivity, then adjust one’s behavior and environment to test whether the level can be increased and decreased. This experiment is ten thousand years old and the results are in, but that is no reason not to run it one more time. 🙂

  10. I respectful disagree with the conclusions of your last post, while I have no wish to convince you of other conclusions, including my own.

    Might one divide the self cultivation from the martial content? I do not know but my instinct warns me that they are inseparable.

  11. They are separable. Martial arts includes qigong, but those who study qigong in isolation are not very good fighters. This I know from experience. 😀

  12. Again I respectfully disagree, but shall offer my explaination:

    To cultivate ones life must entail the ability to protect ones life. Qi-gong is what it is, but it is not self cultivation. Martial skill is what it is, but is not self cultivation. One can develop qi and develop martial skill and still not cultivate or refine ones being.

    For my interest to cultivate self requires self protection, but one can protect self without cultivating it. Many people do.

    I suppose that this means I should offer a definition of self cultivation. I offer that this is no more and no less than the refinement of ones character; which is composed of mind, body and action. Moreover this entails a self control that is about true power and it has nothing to do with power over others, which is an illusion that many people waste their lives chasing.

    One thing I correlate with refined character: letting go of self importance.

  13. Character is a form of power, and power is power over others. This is why Laozi recommended keeping even your virtue a secret: so that nobody tries to use your power to further their own ends, carelessly damaging you in the process.

  14. Obviously, you know absolutely nothing about martial arts…take a few classes if you can hang and see if you can learn something.

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