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Iain Abernethy
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Awesome Martial Journeys Episode

This podcast is AWESOME! Love it! Love it! Love it! Great information delivered in a hugely entertaining way! Everyone needs to listen to this. Some great myth-busting! Martial arts need more of this!:

http://www.martialjourneysofmadison.com/episode-13-whats-the-deal-with-energy/

I enjoy this podcast a lot and this episode is superb!

All the best,

Iain

PS I had a good giggle when punches were “explained” through the actions of the Taekwondo fairies!

Tau
Tau's picture

Microscopic Taekwondo fairies :-)

Anf
Anf's picture

In defence of 'chi', it is a very convenient label. I see nothing wrong with people believing in it at whatever level suits them.

Consider this. One of my non-martial artist friends once came to watch a grading. At the end of the grading, the last step was a board breaking test. My friend asked afterwards why I had approached the board holders, bowed, dropped into a fighting stance then just did nothing for a few seconds. I was just stood there, focusing on the target, visualising a line of fire that went right through the target to a point several inches behind it, held that new target in my mind, visualised the insignificance of the board that was being held in the way, then focused all my energy into the ball of my foot before letting it go off like a rocket.

Of course none of that is magic (or all of it is, science is just the study of the mechanics of magic :) All that happened in reality is some bloke took a moment to ensure his foot would go through a board at the weakest point in said board, and strongest alignment foot parts. It was just physics. But in explaining how to do that to someone who is really not that interested in the real answer to the question they asked, it's easier to just say something like, I channelled my chi :)

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Tau wrote:
Microscopic Taekwondo fairies :-)

I know! I loved that bit too :-)

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Anf wrote:
I see nothing wrong with people believing in it at whatever level suits them.

I have a major issue with it. If people are not very careful, using the term “chi” propagates nonsense, can be used to intentionally and unintentionally mislead, and it can be massively damaging to both the practise and perception of the martial arts in general.

Anf wrote:
All that happened in reality is some bloke took a moment to ensure his foot would go through a board at the weakest point in said board, and strongest alignment foot parts. It was just physics.

It was physics, so we should call in physics and explain it as physics. That’s the truth. No mystical force called “chi” was used, so we should not imply it was by using the terminology associated with it.

Anf wrote:
But in explaining how to do that to someone who is really not that interested in the real answer to the question they asked, it's easier to just say something like, I channelled my chi :)

If they are not interested in a real answer, we don’t help the situation by giving them a false one.

I’m OK with using “chi” as a joke if others are in on the joke though. I’ve a few martial tricks like that where it can leave the recipient a little confused as to what happened, and I’m OK with smiling and saying it was my “chi”.

When a stage magician does a trick, they leave us baffled and amazed, but they don’t claim they really have magic powers. If they did, then that’s dishonest. The example of James Hydrick comes to mind. He claimed he could move objects using chi and his mind, and he gave some impressive demonstrations of this … and then failed on national TV when James Randi (stage magician) knew how the trick was done (https://youtu.be/uq5MtA33OHk?t=237). He would also get his students to lie down on the floor and try to move the punch bags with their minds using methods he had taught them. They were amazed when the bags swung … later revealed to the effect of the midday sun heating the tin roof and it expanding. As the roof moved, the bags hanging from it moved a little too. They never did try it at night :-)

So, I’m OK with a martial trick – explained and understood as a trick to all – done purely for entertainment claiming “chi” in the same way a stage magician claims “magic”. However, any inference that chi is truly in play is both dishonest and harmful to the martial arts.

As an aside, I was once contacted by a TV company wanting to make a show on “martial miracles”. They had found writing of mine on this very forum on things like “iron shirt” and allegedly making bells ring with kiai etc and they wanted to know if I’d like to contribute. I said that I would providing the show’s aim was to debunk and that I was permitted to explain that such claims are nonsense. They said it sounded like I was not right for the show :-)

All the best,

Iain

Anf
Anf's picture
Iain Abernethy wrote:

Anf wrote:
I see nothing wrong with people believing in it at whatever level suits them.

I have a major issue with it. If people are not very careful, using the term “chi” propagates nonsense, can be used to intentionally and unintentionally mislead, and it can be massively damaging to both the practise and perception of the martial arts in general.

But why should we care?

The facts are readily available. If a person has a genuine interest, it won't take them long to find out. If they don't have a genuine interest then it really doesn't matter.

A wise person (a rather geeky colleague with no interest in martial arts) that martial artists must be thick skinned, because they dress in pyjamas, then play at being samurai warriors in the local community hall. This amused me greatly. He is right. That's exactly what we do. Although perhaps not exactly. Depending on style it may not be technically samurai we're playing at, at the pyjamas might be more of a dressing gown or maybe skin tight lycra, again depending on style, but in essence he is right.

So if the genuinely interested will seek the answers, and the disinterested won't believe the answers they get anyway, what harm does it do to give a tongue in cheek answer to the odd daft question?

PASmith
PASmith's picture

But why should we care?

Personally I think there's enough nonsense in the world without my adding to it. Nonsense is something we should seek to minimise because the truth matters (to me at least).

I have no problem with mentioning chi as a culturally contextual and pre-scientific term for certain things or ideas in martial arts but will always qualify with a better and more scientific explanation.