Pharyngula

Fist vs. Chi — who will win?

This is an amusing (but somewhat violent) movie that is an apt metaphor for the strengths of science. It starts with a Kiai Master, one of those woo-woo martial artists who claims to have the power of knocking his opponents flat with his mystical chi—and it’s awfully funny how all these martial arts students come running up and do pratfalls when he waves his hands at them. Then, in a fit of hubris, derangement, or just plain stupidity, he challenges someone to come against him with ‘mere’ natural, physical combat skills. The results are predictable and a little bit cringe-inducing.

The woo sure looks impressive when it’s performed with a mob willing to play along, but it only takes a few seconds for reality to flatten “let’s pretend”. Keep that in mind, creationists: it’s easy to find obliging crowds in your churches, but the rest of the world isn’t going to play the game with you. When the United States deludes itself into thinking creationism is legitimate, we’re setting ourselves up for another nation to knock us down with a single punch of solid science.

Comments

  1. #1 Bronze Dog
    April 17, 2007

    Yeah. I saw that at the 2% Company.

    Too bad Creationists don’t curl up into balls of crying after we verbally kick their faces in with replicable, verifiable studies. They declare victory.

  2. #2 maditude
    April 17, 2007

    > The woo sure looks impressive…

    Impressively silly! Couldn’t agree more with your conclusion, tho.

  3. #3 rainbows4dinosaurs
    April 17, 2007

    Ha – this is very interesting to me since my crossover into full-blown atheism occurred immediately after attending a qi gong class.

    The truth is that most martial arts are pretty much cults themselves, and they can be especially dangerous cults as they tend to leave people with a false sense of security that inspires them to take unnecessary risks. Thank goodness for MMA. It may be hard to watch for some folks, but it’s as close to a scientific approach to hand-to-hand combat as we’re likely to get.

  4. #4 Shem
    April 17, 2007

    Yes, Iron Fist would totally beat Shang-Chi.

  5. #5 jan andrea
    April 17, 2007

    Is it just me, or do you get the impression that he really thought he was invincible, and when the other guy started wailing on him, it was just too much for him?

  6. #6 j.t.delaney
    April 17, 2007

    I knew chi was a joke… but talk about a punchline!

    (I kill myself)

  7. #7 DaveX
    April 17, 2007

    Reminds me of the time Jim slapped Duane in the face on “The Office,” while Duane was busy bragging about how he could easily defeat any frontal attack with his kung-fu skills. This is the real life equivalent, and very nearly as humorous.

  8. #8 Rey Fox
    April 17, 2007

    Fist: It Works, Bitches.

  9. #9 rainbows4dinosaurs
    April 17, 2007

    jan andrea asked:

    Is it just me, or do you get the impression that he really thought he was invincible, and when the other guy started wailing on him, it was just too much for him?

    In my experience, most martial arts ‘masters’ are extremely self deluded. They also hide behind the cloak of ‘tradition’ and ‘style’ so as to avoid testing their methods against anyone except their (very accommodating) disciples. It’s that classic psychology of voluntary isolation that one finds in any successful religion.

    This guy probably did a little bit of soul searching immediately after this bout. But after years and years of dedication and practice in what Bruce Lee called ‘organized despair’, chances are that he’s managed to invent some mysterious explanation for his defeat and is right back to teaching dojo full of dupes these silly magic tricks

  10. #10 Rich
    April 17, 2007

    “I knew chi was a joke… but talk about a punchline!

    (I kill myself)”

    Than waz zen, this is tao.

    PS KRISTINE IS A WITCH.

  11. #11 Chet
    April 17, 2007

    I knew chi was a joke..

    As an “energy force” that surrounds us and flows through us and can be used to heal disease, etc, I agree; but to describe a certain kind of mental state that combines concentration with awareness of your surroundings and your own body, I think the concept is useful. It’s too bad that they’re conflated.

  12. #12 todd.
    April 17, 2007

    I’m with Jan in comment #5. The guy seems to be legitimately confused that the chi has abandoned him, and you almost feel sorry for him.

    Of course, you also feel a little sorry for the other guy, who seems more than a little conflicted about having to beat up a man who’s not defending himself in any meaningful way.

  13. #13 BlueIndependent
    April 17, 2007

    Ya, the practitioners of the deeper mystical elements of the eastern arts tend to put a lot of stock in stuff that western culture would otherwise call magic. Being able to completely control somone else’s physical person (or a group as this supposed master is demonstrating) from several feet away by simply waving your hands is as bogus as X-ray glasses for undressing women without their knowledge.

    I’ve never taken any martial art class. The closest I’ve gotten is yoga, which is great, and a touch of Qi Gong, which didn’t feel as disciplined or structured as Yoga to me. I’m a fan of MMA generally. I can be a bit of a sight sometimes, but usually very little blood is spilled, and it tends to be a lot of wrestling/grappling really, for those that generally abhor more pugilistic exercises.

    But PZ is right: as long as science is steeped in facts, study, experimentation and self-criticism, creationism will always lose, as indeed it should. And I do think the self-discipline aspect of martial arts is something very lacking now in America. People treat the very idea of self-reflection and criticism as if it’s a frontal assault on liberty and the country’s social fiber itself. Hubris is about as deadly a sin, on a social scale, as you can get.

  14. #14 Martin Christensen
    April 17, 2007

    What’s sad is that the woos are probably just going to say that the other guy’s chi was that much stronger, and nothing is going to convince them otherwise.

    Martin

  15. #15 Matt the heathen
    April 17, 2007

    Can commenters be banned for really, really bad jokes?

    I’m looking at j.t.delaney and Rich…

  16. #16 K. Signal Eingang
    April 17, 2007

    I have *always* wanted to do that.

  17. #17 Liane
    April 17, 2007

    Ha! excellent video. Unfortunately I suspect this sort of thing won’t persuade the woo types. I can hear them now: “Well that’s just because this particular guy is a fake! That doesn’t mean all of them are fake! Why, this guy I saw the other day on TV [blah blah blah] …”

  18. #18 Rich
    April 17, 2007

    Oh right, Matt the heathen. There goes my Molly. AGAIN.
    What a mean thing to say. The sort of a thing a WITCH might say.

    RISE UP WITH ME ANGRY VILLAGERS AND CAST Matt the heathen INTO THE VOLCANO. LIGHT HORS D’OEUVRES TO FOLLOW.

  19. #19 daenku32
    April 17, 2007

    At least the WWE “wrestlers” are big and intimidating. This guy just got the Chi’t kicked out of him.

  20. #20 One Eyed Jack
    April 17, 2007

    Speaking from experience (10 years in martial arts, 7 of those teaching) I can assure you that Chi, Ki, or whatever you choose to call it is a big pile of crap.

    Having said that, many martial artists believe in it. There are entire martial arts designed around it. In every instance where I have seen it “demonstrated” it was obvious to a critical observer that the instructor’s students were playing along either conciously or subconciously. When confronted with a subject, like myself, who did not play along, the instructor was quick to point out that there is a small percentage of people that for one reason or another cannot be affected. Horse hockey!

    I’ll take a martial arts designed around simple physics, leverage, balance, and striking points any day.

    OEJ

  21. #21 eewolf
    April 17, 2007

    note in kiai master’s diary dated that night:

    rule #1: sell the woo. don’t believe the woo.

  22. #22 randy
    April 17, 2007

    any body have proof this is for real?

  23. #23 quick
    April 17, 2007

    Martial arts are sports, plain and simple. With practice and talent you can become very good at a sport, but that wont turn you into some kind of wizard, or even a particularly good general fighter.

  24. #24 dr. dave
    April 17, 2007

    I’d like to see this guy do toe-to-toe with James Randi. Ultimate Old Guy Smackdown.

  25. #25 Roy
    April 17, 2007

    Laila Ali could knock him into the middle of next week.

    Back when I was a steelworker with gorilla muscles, a 120-pound scrawny friend, Lee, who was learning Okinawan karate had felt the structured training a poor substitute for real life, so I sparred with him, trying to crush him, smash him, flatten him — anything. I came close to hurting him a few times, but he kept improving while I was improving.

    Since he wasn’t a student of the dojo off-campus, he wasn’t allowed to train there. The master heard of Lee and invited him to watch his class. Lee offered to fight the master. In a few short seconds, the master was knocked out with a broken nose.

    Lee never got invited back.

  26. #26 tsg
    April 17, 2007

    note in kiai master’s diary dated that night:

    rule #1: sell the woo. don’t believe the woo.

    Rule #2: If the woo doesn’t work, stay down.

  27. #27 MartinC
    April 17, 2007

    Next bout, Deepak Chopra vs Bob Sapp

  28. #28 Saint Gasoline
    April 17, 2007

    MartinC, it would be hard to sanction that fight. Deepak Chopra versus Bob Sapp would be one of the dirtiest fights ever! One of them is a dishonorable scientist who argues against legimitate theories, and the other is a dishonorable fighter who savagely beats people even after the guy is clearly knocked out. Tough to say which dirty fighter would win!

  29. #29 BlueIndependent
    April 17, 2007

    LOL MartinC. That would be a very fast fight. Exchange Sapp for either Emelianenko brother and it goes from fast to fast and bloody.

  30. #30 j.t.delaney
    April 17, 2007

    It just goes to show that old cliche is true: never bring Chi to a fistfight.

  31. #31 Saint Gasoline
    April 17, 2007

    I posted a similar story on my own blog not too long ago, comparing this sort of martial arts woo to faith healing and speaking in tongues.

    Anyway, here’s my conclusion, based upon the video of this fight:

    This video captures the poverty of faith better than anything, in my eyes. Here we have a man who thinks he can effortlessly knock down his opponents with some sort of mystical energy, but as soon as he takes on a real fighter who isn’t susceptible to his brand of “combat” hypnosis, his faith becomes his downfall. After getting punched in the jaw the first time, the man stops and holds his hand to his jaw in disbelief. His blank eyes look cold and dumb as he stands there, mouth agape. But he ignores the evidence of his aching jaw and continues the fight, finding renewed faith from somewhere within his gut. Moments later, as he crumples to the floor after a savage beating, one can almost sense that this is a symbolic defeat of superstition, and for once we can see faith personified, not obscured with emotion and hope, lying broken and bloody on the floor.

  32. #32 Chris
    April 17, 2007

    I studied judo for a bit in my youth, and was fortunate enough to have an instructor who was ruthlessly practical. He made sure we understood that it is a big step from knowing a technique well enough for practice to knowing it well enough for competition to knowing it well enough for real life. If a technique wasn’t useful in a real life situation, there was no point in putting in the effort to learn it at all. And if you hadn’t practiced a technique in competition, particularly with opponents of higher rank, you would be a fool to even try it in real life. I’ve been fortunate enough not to have to test my limited skills in a life or death situation, but his approach served me well in the schoolyard.
    Later, in college, a friend invited me to a martial arts school that emphasized a “no-confrontational” teaching method. They only practiced techniques — no competition of any kind. My first question was, how do they know whether what they are teaching works? As the instructor was showing me each technique, I could tell even from my limited competition experience that he was leaving himself vulnerable. It was hard to resist the temptation to throw him. I did throw my friend, though.

  33. #33 Spaulding
    April 17, 2007

    Same fight, better camera angle:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jf3Gc2a0_8&NR=1

  34. #34 Adrian Burd
    April 17, 2007

    Hmmm…I would not describe anything seen in this video as a “martial art” except maybe
    the actions of the contender. As One Eyed Jack says, proper martial arts are based upon sound principles of physics and biology. This video bears as much resemblence to martial arts as faith healing does to modern medicine.

  35. #35 B. Dewhirst
    April 17, 2007

    Chi, as an artistic metaphor for very good kinesthetics developed over many years of empirical testing (beating the pants off of people, generation after generation) probably exists. There are certainly some 90 year old asian men who are better at making folk yelp with pain than when they were 60 years old.

    Not magic… nerves, joints, tendons, and years and years of practice.

    Unfortunately, if you spend 60 years learning and practicing martial arts as a full-time job, you don’t have much time left over to pursue a parallel degree in human physiology. If these are natural but complex physiological phenomena, as I believe to be the case, simply having the old man punch a sandbag isn’t the point.

    The above video demonstrates the importance of empirical testing to know whether someone has ‘got it’ or is faking it.

  36. #36 Boosterz
    April 17, 2007

    any body have proof this is for real?

    The blood in the second video looks pretty real.

  37. #37 Woodwose
    April 17, 2007

    I used to teach and train at a do jang that was populated with bouncers who got as much practice off the training floor as on. The head man’s main thrust for fighting was hit’em before they expect it, hit’em hard and fast, train so you can hit harder and faster, and ignore the hurting bits until you win.

    As far as breaking stuff, his instructions were equally direct – only break things that aren’t as strong as the public thinks, make it look harder than it is, and break the props where they almost are ready to break on their own.

    The “master” in the video probably needs to learn almost all of these little tricks.

  38. #38 Justin
    April 17, 2007

    Materialism vs. Supernaturalism!

  39. #39 valhar2000
    April 17, 2007

    Judging from what I have read about martial arts over the years, Dewhirts is right. There are some people who know very well how to inflict a lot of damage with very little effort, and those who can put on a good show but nothing more.

    Really, the only way to tell is to fight other people. That is why Masters in China and Japan used to fight each other so much; that was how the prospective students knew who was best.

  40. #40 woo woo fighter
    April 17, 2007

    At my workplace, which mostly caters to japanese businesspeople, we get some frequent guests like this. We get several times this group, whose leader practices ki “healing”. I have seen his stuff and it is so funny, but people, mostly Japanese, (but also americans), do attend (and pay) for his stuff. Needless to say they are, um, less risible than I am.

    He also sells some kind of “holy water” with the power to heal. He sells it by the gallon, apparently. Doesn’t even have the delicacy of the catholic to treat it as holy and put it in perfume bottles or something like that. At our front desk, he sometimes leaves a reused big drinking-water bottle full of it, and I feel so tempted to mess with it just because. (But OF COURSE I’ve never done it and never would, on the principles of just not touching other people’s belongings.)

    And we also get other kinds of businesspeople from Japan or working in Japanese businesses, like these titanium patches. I didn’t know that even here in the USA they have major spokespeople as Martina Hingis, it seems (from their website). Even Randi took them on briefly.

    Stuff like this has prompted me to ponder how in the absence of religion (which the majority of Japanese “suffer” from), people will still have a strong tendency to superstition. You won’t believe (OK, maybe you will) how much other kind of superstitions that even to us in the west seem silly they have. I got to say, though, it seems silly to us because mostly we learn about it when we are adults. But it is as silly for them to believe in astrology (or indeed Christianity) if they find out about it in their (educated) adulthood.

  41. #41 Chuck
    April 17, 2007

    Having been a student and practitioner of classical Japanese martial arts (sword, stick and jujutsu) for more than 30 years I could relate my share of ki- chi- or qi-masters (mostly Westerners, but, sadly a few Asians) claiming extraordinary powers.

    Fact is, most folks who tout chi or ki powers have no clue what they’re talking about, don’t speak the language, have little or no concept of the culture and are generally trying to live out a fantasy life that has no link to the reality of classical budo.

    The word ‘ki’ isn’t a word, it’s a word-part. It is a common term in Japanese that is normally found only in compounds that refer to health, comfort, breath and other ordinary states and conditions.

    It has naught all to do with magic.

    Sadly, lots of folks want to believe that there is something more. Fact is, good classical budo is about timing, balance, spacing, connection and perserverance. Not about fantasy and self-delusion.

    And the MMA folks who tout THEIR system as the new best thing are also missing lots of points. MMA is now new, it’s not all that innovative and it’s not the end-all of MA training.

    It IS good training, it demands fitness and timing and good form (and yes, MMA must have form of it will simply be ‘wrassling’).

    And I do pay attention, MMA’ers. I’m involved in the modern military combatives movement and have been involved in police apprehension tactics in recent years.

    Even though I can and do train with MMA’ers on occasion, I prefer the classical budo, because I’ve been a fighter, and a Soldier and have survived both.

    And the classical budo offer me options to deal with those internal demons that MMA seems to want to promote …

    YMMV of course.

  42. #42 Krystalline Apostate
    April 17, 2007

    Cool video.
    If I’d known there was 5000$ wager on it, I’d have taken that doofus on myself.
    As this is 1 of my favorite topics, I spoke up about it here.
    The sad fact is, that out here in the US (as well as other places), it’s mostly a marketing strategy. People want to be told they’re doing it ‘wonderfully’, they want all sorts of props just for existing & doing, & having been exposed to a bunch of Hollyweird trash (MA practitioners are somehow more ‘magical’, from Norris to DragonBall Z), they get these ridiculous expectations.
    2 or 3 classes & a belt do NOT a martial artist make.
    I do Tai Chi, but I’ve sparred w/’hard’ stylists in the past (they’re usually VERY surprised) – it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work.
    rainbow:

    In my experience, most martial arts ‘masters’ are extremely self deluded.

    There’s an inherent problem w/the mindset. Asians usually defer w/respect to a ‘master’, thereby giving false input to the instructor. I’ve heard about a fellow student, who went up to an alleged ‘master’, & told him the only reason he kept winning, was that the students were letting him. An argument ensued, & it was put to the test.
    Sure enough. Instructor got bounced.
    I went to a TCC camp, & while all the other students were doing this ‘bah-bomp!’ crap w/their feet when the instructor when pushed out, I refuse to do this. The guy’s for real (BTW), but he was very surprised that I wouldn’t go flying, or do the ‘bah-bomp!’ crap.
    The extra mystical noise is marketing mostly.
    Which is why I don’t get many students. Homey don’t play that.

  43. #43 dave
    April 17, 2007

    He got his butt wooped ’cause his chi woo was godless and heathen. Chuck Norris’ omnipotent biblical chi would, of course, have prevailed.

  44. #44 shiva
    April 17, 2007

    The video is amusing. Contrary to popular thinking the “eastern martial arts” are based not on woo but on the sound principles statics and dynamics. Weapons training is an integral part of all traditional forms. In the kalari payattu of Southern India, students learn to use many types of weapons, short sticks (otta), the long staff, the pike, daggers, knuckle dusters, whips, the many tailed flail (urumi), the club and the mace, and swords and shields. The classic training regimen begins with a tough physical conditioning program that lasts at least 3 years followed by training with a progression of weapons starting with the sticks, all the way on to the urumi, swords and pikes. And remember India had the best steel for centuries till about 500 years ago (http://materials.iisc.ernet.in/~wootz/heritage/WOOTZ.htm),so all this talk of thrashing people through ‘remote control’ is nonsense. Unarmed combat is the last thing to be taught and only to the best students. These were the ones who got to protect the high and mighty and would have to be good at quick reaction defence and close quarters combat. And since killing an assassin would not help in uncovering the conspiracy, bodyguaards would have to be able to disarm the assassin and immobilise him/her immediately and get them to ‘talk/sing’. The traditional Japanese approach to martial arts too runs on similar lines. And probably is the same anywehre else in the world. People, their despots, and their enemies are pretty much the same the world over right? The samurai was trained to fight with weapons on the battlefield and unarmed in his master’s castle (where weapons were as a rule forbidden). And in the confined spaces of the castle, the samurai would have to be able to quickly disarm and immobilize the assailant (who obviously carried his own weapons). So samurai too would cheat, carrying knuckle dusters, billy clubs, fans with steel spikes, metal hair pins etc., Judo and aikido are recently developed forms based on older traditions. Of the two judo has a lot more showmanship and aikido practitioners would tell you that there is no time in the real world for all those spectacular throws and pins. Karate came to the Japanese mainland from Okinawa and to there from China. Earlier known as TaoDe or Todejutsu (Tao fighting) it departs considerably from the Japanese unarmed fighting methods, which eschew blocks and strikes. Simple. Carry arms if you are in a dangerous place. If you are unarmed and an armed person attacks you, grab what you can and fight back – don’t try to be heroic! The Japanese unarmed combat methods are to be used to for defence in some very specific situations and never for attack! Real dirty fighting doesn’t have all those spectacular high and flying kicks. And this sort of talk about ki or chi to the Japanese or Chinese would make them titter. Gibberish!

  45. #45 Eristalis
    April 17, 2007

    Let’s all keep our feet on the ground here. Martial arts (which were not “arts” then) started off as a very real-life need for monks and other non-Knights to defend themselves. No woo involved. They did need to bring concentration and utter precision to great heights though, if they wanted to be effective at all against stronger opponents. So the history of Martial Arts and its connection with mental focus should not be tossed away that easily as “woo and mumbo jumbo”. Unfortunately, because of the amounts of money and status that can be gained by selling the aforementioned woo and mumbo jumbo, the fakes are giving the original craft a bad name. This “kiai master” and his whole concept for that matter, is obviously purest nonsense. I am certainly not in favour of the “let’s see if that wussy Aikido master type can win in a freefight ring” discussions we are now hearing all the time. We don’t need to show off the practical warfare qualities of traditional martial arts nowadays, whereas we can enjoy and enrich our mental focusing possibilities by practicing them without hanky panky involved. No need for derision, no need for misplaced worship either. So could we just be respectful towards history and tradition, leave the silly abusers and “woo masters” for what they are, and move on, without being unnecessarily rude to martial arts in general?

  46. #46 rainbows4dinosaurs
    April 17, 2007

    Chuck said:

    And the MMA folks who tout THEIR system as the new best thing are also missing lots of points. MMA is now new, it’s not all that innovative and it’s not the end-all of MA training.

    My experience with MMA has been that they are not interested in a ‘system’ – they are only interested in what works and that’s it. If a particular ‘classical’ jui-jitsu technique can be made to work in a live situation then it will be adopted. If the competition later discovers an effective countermeasure then the classical technique will ether be modified or discarded. It’s not any specific assemblage of techniques that make MMA superior to ‘classical’ styles, it’s the skeptical approach to training.

    And I do pay attention, MMA’ers. I’m involved in the modern military combatives movement and have been involved in police apprehension tactics in recent years.
    Even though I can and do train with MMA’ers on occasion, I prefer the classical budo, because I’ve been a fighter, and a Soldier and have survived both.

    That’s awesome.

    And the classical budo offer me options to deal with those internal demons that MMA seems to want to promote …

    Funny, because I’ve had the opposite experience. Seems like every ‘dojo’ or ‘dojang’ I trained at had a significant share of macho types, and the forced pecking orders sure didn’t help promote humility (granted these were American gyms – perhaps it’s different in Japan.) But training live BJJ and MMA will make a guy’s ego disappear real quick, and most pro fighters are the nicest people you’ll ever meet (despite all the silly trash-talking on UFC.)

    To each his own I guess.

  47. #47 Tyler DiPietro
    April 17, 2007

    There is an MMA academy not far from where I live. One of my friends is an avid martial arts practitioner and convinced me to take some classes in Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I didn’t stick with it (I generally dislike sports), but it taught me a bit about fighting technique that I found fascinating for a while.

    What was interesting is that my friend started out practicing To Shin Do, which from what I understand is an offshoot of Ninpo. I apparently had a lot of woo associated with it, and my friend’s disillusionment with it was a big part of his eventual deconversion to atheism.

  48. #48 GP
    April 17, 2007

    I practiced Aikido for some time (no dojo where I live now), and depending on who is teaching you can get a lot of woo tossed in (not as much in the mainline branch I was studying).

    However, they do usually get into the “knock someone over without touching them” idea at some point. This has always had a logical base for me – something like this:

    1. Attacker throws a punch at you.
    2. You move out of the way, just enough to slip the punch.
    3. Stick your arm out as the attacker comes past.
    4. The attacker sees your arm, and tries to compensate by moving slightly.
    5. You follow the attacker’s movement, keeping them off balance until they fall over.

    So, you’ve thrown the person without touching them – but it’s physics, not woo; and if they don’t happen to compensate for your movements, you smack them across the neck/mouth with your arm. :)

    Of course, this doesn’t tend to work at long distances, unlike the gentleman in the video…

  49. #49 Scott Simmons
    April 17, 2007

    From: Master Chung
    To: All students
    Subject: VERY IMPORTANT!!

    New fight is scheduled for after I am released from hospital. Next person who forgets to check battery charge in hidden Taser before match will join me in emergency room next time. Not joking.

  50. #50 BlueIndependent
    April 17, 2007

    Where the heck did this “woo” word come from? I’ve never heard of this before until this thread, let alone its use to describe false martial powers. Is this a buzzword by MA practitioners to describe such things?

  51. #51 argystokes
    April 17, 2007

    BlueIndy, you’ll find extensive discussion of woo here:
    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2006/08/reader_mailbag_what_is_woo_1.php

  52. #52 mike fox
    April 17, 2007

    No fair! You hit me! …none of the other guys hit me…

  53. #53 Science Avenger
    April 17, 2007

    Rainbows4dinosaurs said: It’s not any specific assemblage of techniques that make MMA superior to ‘classical’ styles, it’s the skeptical approach to training.

    Speaking as a big MMA fan, let’s be really careful here. MMA, brutal though it can be, is a sport, with rules, actually a lot of them compared to a bar fight, and this matters. BJJ may be a must in MMA, but in real life, grappling on the ground is the last place you want to be because:

    1) You don’t know what’s down there, or what landing on it will do to you.

    2) His friends might feel inclined to kick you.

    3) Many weapons are deadly at close range. Think broken bottles.

    It is also no small coincidence that many of the MMA rules restrict what can be done to a fighter on the ground, such as no kicking to the head, no stomping, and no elbowing to the head. Talk to any bouncer, they want to keep their feet at all costs.

    Also, it bears noting that the most effective technique against expert fighters is not going to necessarily be the most effective technique against an average person. Many of the shots professional fighters absorb throughout a fight would KO most of the people reading this.

    So, as a former wrestler, I love watching my brethren dominate MMA. Just don’t kid yourself into thinking that represents what you should do in a real life fight. The karate guys are probably better off.

  54. #54 Ryan Vilim
    April 17, 2007

    Haha, this one is also pretty hilarious

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-x4iJM2aU4

    The skeptic volunteers to be knocked out remotely by the “chi” guy, it fails miserably and the explanation is

    “uhhhh, well he isn’t a believer, he might have had his tongue in the wrong position, also if you push a toe up/down it screws everything up”

  55. #55 Johnny Vector
    April 17, 2007

    Hey, am I the only one who was impressed with the first part of the video? Well, not all of it, but that last guy, who was weaving around for 10-20 seconds, and finally did a nice forward flip? Not as good as the “hit with a pool cue” backflip in the “Train Job” episode of Firefly, but really, not bad! These guys would make good stuntmen.

    What? We were supposed to think that was real?

    Oh.

    That’s very different. (you know the rest)

  56. #56 rainbows4dinosaurs
    April 17, 2007

    Science Avenger said:

    MMA, brutal though it can be, is a sport, with rules, actually a lot of them compared to a bar fight, and this matters.

    Yes, sport MMA as we know it today has rules, and that’s a good thing considering the original events were almost banned in this country.

    BJJ may be a must in MMA, but in real life, grappling on the ground is the last place you want to be because:
    1) You don’t know what’s down there, or what landing on it will do to you.
    2) His friends might feel inclined to kick you.
    3) Many weapons are deadly at close range. Think broken bottles.

    I would say the a real fight is the last place you want to be because:
    1) You are probably going to get hurt.
    2) If you win you’ll probably go to jail (no matter who started it).
    3) The other guy might have a gun, and no move on earth is faster than a bullet.
    And really, bar fights? Broken bottles? Try hanging out with a different crowd if those are indeed your concerns.

    It is also no small coincidence that many of the MMA rules restrict what can be done to a fighter on the ground, such as no kicking to the head, no stomping, and no elbowing to the head.

    All of which were allowed in the early days (which means just a few years ago) and is still allowed in Brazilian Vale Tudo. MMA competition is still a million times more realistic than dancing a kata everyday or a Shotokan non-contact sparing match. The only way to learn how to fight is to fight – to practice against a resisting opponent. Ask any boxer, judo player, BJJ player, MMA fighter, bar bouncer, solder, or what have you.

    So, as a former wrestler, I love watching my brethren dominate MMA. Just don’t kid yourself into thinking that represents what you should do in a real life fight. The karate guys are probably better off.

    Funny you should say that. I once got my ass kicked by a wrestler while I was still into karate. ;)

  57. #57 Patness
    April 17, 2007

    [quote]Yes, sport MMA as we know it today has rules, and that’s a good thing considering the original events were almost banned in this country.[/quote]

    Political tangent – blame John McCain for that one. They almost died out after being banned in like, 37 states. It was Dana White’s work that led the UFC, for instance, to grounding in Nevada where they spread around again a few years ago.

    [quote]All of which were allowed in the early days (which means just a few years ago)[/quote] But I remember UFC in the mid-90′s – that’s a decade ago. Back then, IIRC, the rules were no biting, no outside weapons, and no grabbing the cage. Eye gouging was removed, and shots to the nuts were removed as well (I watched one match where someone was sacked into submission). Eventually the traditional uniforms went away, etc. etc.

    To the thread in general, still, don’t bring the knife-edge of a hand to a gunfight. Martial arts through the media often forgets that there is a time and place for CQC, and that time and place appears rarely. Most fights have weapons, and consequences for all parties.

  58. #58 BlueIndependent
    April 18, 2007

    I remember back in the early-mid 90s when UFC was trying to make the rounds. They tried doing an even in my hometown, and a local Chrsitian man who was an MA practitioner of some stripe, was advocating for them to be able to do the event. The stigma UFC had at the time – indeed up until about 5 years ago – was that it was a total bones-breaking blood-letting potential dismembering gore fest. In hindsight, having seen a few of the really old UFC events on video, it was more circus than anything.

    And that’s why it’s 100x better now than it ever used to be. They dropped the WWF-style schtick and logo, and got serious. The rule changes also helped, though some think it’s got too many rules now that other international venues like Pride (now part of UFC) doesn’t have.

    Watching the video of this supposed Ki Master again, the obvious question for me is this: So he’s doing some martial art form of sign language that’s apparently tossing his budding students about with ease; what is happening to the students? Do they feel pain as they flail about? Are they momentarily stunned? Bewildered? Do they lose control of their limbs and balance? I don’t hear any grunting or groaning, nor do I see the holding of limbs that would signify some kind of pain. The whole thing just looks like a rehearsal for a fight scene for a movie, with special effects to be composited in for this “master’s” movements.

    How people like this guy fool people into thinking he actually has some intangible skill that can be honed is a head-scratcher. Though, one would think it takes the same sort of world-blindering and Oz curtaining that Christian parents do by sending their 5-year olds to Jesus Camp to be “saved”. The one upshot of the martial arts strain of this crap is the fact that the false martial master is far more likely to get the punch in the face he deserves.

  59. #59 hipparchia
    April 18, 2007

    Well, once as a junior aikido student, I managed to topple a guy without touching him. Only he attacked real good, fast and without thinking. The combination of an arm threatening to slap his face, a shout and my general horrible look of disheveled hair and wide eyes when in combat mode did the trick.

  60. #60 Randy
    April 18, 2007

    The only way to learn how to fight is to fight – to practice against a resisting opponent. Ask any… solder, or what have you.

    Well, of course, when using an electrical soldering gun, resistance is key. But how do you explain combustion-based soldering then?

    *ducks*

  61. #61 guthrie
    April 18, 2007

    Talking about traditional wrestling and suchlike, I started historical fencing a few years ago. That is, European fencing based upon historical combat manuals, from the 13th to the 19th centuries. WE have manuals with illustrations showing how to fight unarmed, single handed sword, longsword, rapier, dagger, lance, shield, poleaxe, sword and shield, etc, for all these periods.

    The better medieval manuals are rooted in an understanding of the basics of wrestling which should be familiar to anyone doing modern wrestling. From the basics of wrestling, you can move onto fighting someone with a dagger. Relatedly, use of swords requires some comprehension of body mechanics, distance, control of breathing, and so on.

    Needless to say, many of these manuals are very to the point, as in stab your opponent in the face, or smash your tankard into his face. They are also quite simple, and moreover, the techniques will work without too much hassle, which is exactly what you want in a real fight.
    Unlike the more complex stuff that gets taught to people who then think they know lots of cool stuff but forget about the basics.

  62. #62 BadAunt
    April 18, 2007

    Ha!

    This makes me think of an American friend here (in Japan) a long time ago who ended up marrying the Chinese Tai Chi teacher whom her Japanese Tai Chi group invited to Japan to teach their group. (And I’m SURE you are clever enough to unravel that sentence.) He is an expert – the kind of person who since he was a teenager has been getting up at 5 to practice every morning, and incorporated anything useful he found into his practice – a totally practical person, not at all into theory unless it’s something he can use. While he was here, he was amazed and disgusted at the number of ‘woo’ experts in Japan, and at how people were so willing to be ripped off.

    The two of them went to the dojo of one guy who claimed to be able to kill without touching, and who advertised as doing exactly the same sort of thing as the guy in the video does. My friend’s husband watched a session with the ‘master’s’ students flying all over the place, was gobsmacked at the silliness of it all, and afterwards, being a practical person, asked the guy to please try to kill him.

    “I’m strong,” he said. “I don’t mind. If you can kill me, just do it. I’m giving you permission.”

    The ‘master’ refused, saying it was unethical. No amount of persuasion would sway him. So my friend’s husband suggested that he demonstrate instead on one of the goldfish in the bowl in the reception room. Again the ethical considerations became paramount. Even goldfish have rights, apparently. I can’t remember how he got out of even a non-lethal bout, but he wasn’t even willing to try that. (With the goldfish OR with my friend’s husband.) Apparently you had to pay and join the group to be honoured with a demonstration of his fabulous skills. (A bit like Jesus refusing to do miracles on demand, I suppose.)

    That wasn’t the only incident, either. My friend’s husband ended up disillusioned by the fakery that has taken over the Japanese martial arts scene.

    But he was the real thing. He was China’s national champion several times in his younger days. An unassuming sort of bloke, he didn’t talk about it, he just did it, because that’s what he does. He loves his sport, and it’s a lifestyle for him. (Although I should add that his wife told me that by an extraordinary (he claimed) coincidence, he stopped competing in the national championships the exact same year they banned alcohol. I can tell you, having spent a couple of weeks with them shortly after they got married, that that coincidence was TRULY extraordinary.)

    But he could do some stuff I found miraculous at the same time as it was (mostly, but not all) easily explicable by the fact that he trained daily, without fail. One was his claim of having total muscle control. (Not a specific Tai Chi thing, I think.) You could put three fingers close together anywhere on his body, and he would ask you to choose one finger, and he would make the bit of muscle under that finger go hard while under the other two stayed soft. It was the sort of trick you had to persuade him to do (he got bored with doing tricks) but it was worth it to see the other person’s jaw drop as one finger suddenly met resistance.

    I asked him once what this was good for, and he said, “Nothing. It’s just good training.” If I could have done that at 20 I would have been impressed with myself and wanted to show EVERYBODY. He was over 60 at the time I saw – and felt – this particular trick.

    (And yes, I squealed. You would have, too, or at least dropped your jaw. It’s a VERY surprising sensation, and in a quiet way far more impressive than the flying across the room thing, because it can’t be faked.)

    On my way to work on Thursdays and Fridays I pass a billboard at one of the train stations that has a drawing of a ‘master’ causing one of his students to fly across the room without touching him. It always makes me smile and think of my friend’s husband. It’s a fading billboard, though. I guess the guy’s not selling enough woo to get it repainted.

  63. #63 B. Dewhirst
    April 18, 2007

    BadAunt’s account above is the sort of thing, the sort of person, I was referring to above.

  64. #64 rainbows4dinosaurs
    April 18, 2007

    Well, of course, when using an electrical soldering gun, resistance is key. But how do you explain combustion-based soldering then?
    *ducks*

    Hahaha… whoops!

  65. #65 spartanrider
    April 18, 2007

    Benny Hinn could have knocked either one of them down.Hell I seen him knock over Evander Holyfield.You got to have the right god on your side.

  66. #66 Krystalline Apostate
    April 18, 2007

    Ryan:
    Hey, thanks for that Dillman video.
    So he’s doing the ‘chi-from-a-distance’ crap now.
    He’s famous for claiming he can knock anyone out w/hitting specific points which, if you watch any of the videos, he (& his students) tap a few points, & ALWAYS chops the carotid artery.
    Doesn’t work if they don’t believe?
    I’ll be happy to get on the mat w/any of THOSE woosters.

  67. #67 paragwinn
    April 18, 2007

    I couldnt help but think about faith-healing while watching the videos. When will Benny Hinn throw out a challenge to anyone to blunt his faith-healing “skills”?

  68. #68 rainbows4dinosaurs
    April 18, 2007

    Ha – yeah, years ago when I was living in a smelly TKD dojang with no heat (what was I thinking?) I had this roommate who swore by Dillman’s pressure point videos and seminars. This same roommate also believed that the dojang was haunted by ancient spirits who were teaching him magic Reiki spells that enabled him to cure AIDS. :p

    Seriously.

  69. #69 ordinarygirl
    April 18, 2007

    I felt bad for the guy until my husband pointed out that he’s taking money from people proclaiming that his woo is real. Then laughing at him didn’t feel so bad.

  70. #70 Mike
    April 18, 2007

    I just wonder how this guy conducts his training sessions? Does he teach them how to do front flips before showing them his awesome WoOOoo powers??
    Seriously.. this idiot deserved to have his ass kicked. He took something that appears mystical & magical to the outside observer (I’ve had the distraction technique GP described above used on me, and it does work) and convinced himself it WAS magic.
    I wonder if there is video out there of someone infiltrating a Benny Hinn healing, and not playing along?

  71. #71 Bacopa
    April 19, 2007

    The US Army has been very much into this ‘killing with ki” idea from time to time. Read _The Men Who Stare at Goats_ by Jon Ronson. The author interviews a man who says he killed a goat at Ft Bragg in the ’80s just by looking at it.

    Ronson must be one of the greatest interviwers of all time. He is truly sympathetic to all the woo believers he interviews, and almost nevr renders any judgement of his own. He is just really generous with the rope. And if you give ‘em enough rope…

  72. #72 Chris
    April 19, 2007

    This was examined on the Science channel I believed along with the belief in flying (people hopped around on matresses thinking that showed them hovering in the air), coal walking, and skin piercings done for ritualist purposes. They had the same result when someone was brought in from outside the little circle of trust nothing happened. Except the guy didn’t get pummeled by fists of fury for trying to use his chi.

  73. #73 OMG
    April 19, 2007

    Woo = Believers in the Church of Global Warming

    Fists = Real Science

  74. #74 David Marjanovi?
    April 20, 2007

    Egnorance (correct spelling) = OMG

  75. #75 David Marjanovi?
    April 20, 2007

    Egnorance (correct spelling) = OMG

  76. #76 muhr
    April 20, 2007

    “Political tangent – blame John McCain for that one. They almost died out after being banned in like, 37 states. It was Dana White’s work that led the UFC, for instance, to grounding in Nevada where they spread around again a few years ago.”

    I’m no fan of McCain, but without his intervention, MMA in the USA would have never reached it’s current heights. Granted, he was and is no fan of MMA, but in effect he forced the UFC to work with state athletic commissions.

  77. #77 Matt
    April 20, 2007

    Presumably, it’s all the same thing as this:

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=-DylNVUN_3I

    (hint: it’s Derren Brown ;p)

  78. #78 garth
    April 30, 2007

    the only good thing ki ever did was give me a high-ass scoring word in scrabble

  79. #79 Jinsihou
    May 2, 2007

    The blogger mistakes chi for religious belief quite frequently. I was actually kind of upset about the abuse it portrayed, not only of a master, but of the ethos of respect for a master. The western mind is set on violence as a means, and this is one such example.

    A true student would never assault a master, or take the dare, and this guy–the student in the video you reference–seems to me just an outcropping of western thoughts for violence as a first tool, rather than a last resort, and zero respect for art form or tradition.

    Then, I envisioned the possibility of that masters students being upset enough to band together and…..;-)

    I was touched by the blatant ignorance of the challenger to the form, and noted that he certainly felt the lesson inside himself after wreaking such havoc on an old man. It is quite amazing to see the ‘victor’ feeling remorse–the true lesson, and even better to watch his instant conversion, becoming remorseful when he realizes he just beat an old man.

    That was the real lesson, which orientalising westerners frequently miss about eastern people and practices–such a surface understanding of what is really going on here, and a terrible perpetuation of demeaning stereotypes of asian people.As far as you have come with race stereotypes and the perpetuation of racism, you have further to go than China to heal your violent natures.

  80. #80 ToCool35
    October 14, 2007

    How do you make the jump from an oldman getting beaten up to creationism?. Are all atheist morons like you? I mean wow, great argument there pal, anyways you included about as much science towards your view as atheist do when explaining the big bang or evolution. Anyone reading this should do there own research and make there own conclussions. Great Video though!Kiai Blast can ya feel me!

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