Friday, April 27, 2007

Internal Energy- Is It Real?

Dr. Kanzawa puts animals to sleep

Here is a Japanese TV show where a Dr. Kanzawa, who is a QiGong master, allegedly puts animals to sleep. Now, it looks pretty convincing, but it's possible that it is staged. I thought this fit pretty well with the last post on Internal energy, and I'll cut-and -paste my post on the controversy of "no touch knockouts" on to this also; hope people don't mind a rehash of this subject.
*** Also, the Dojo Rats are planning an off-island adventure this weekend to train in Sun-style Bagua with Jake Burroughs and Tim Cartmel. Cartmel is a well-known Internal martial artist and author of "Effortless Combat Throws" and several other books. We will provide updates if we survive the seminar...***

-- From January; "No Touch Knockouts"
There is probably no technique more controversial in the martial arts as the phenomenon of the "no-touch knockout".
For years I have seen video and actual demonstrations of pressure-point knockouts, mostly performed by George Dillman and his students of Ryukyu Kenpo. While the theory for these light-touch knockouts has a foundation in the Chinese five-element science and meridian pathways of the body, there are also explanations by western medicine. There are obvious "release points" on the body, as when the doctor hits below your knee with the rubber hammer and your leg moves. So there is no suprise that when you jerk a persons body one way, even with a minor strike, and slap a point on the head, driving it the other way, something's gonna' give. Bruce Everett Miller describes in his book "The Complete Book of Light Force Knockouts", how even a subtle movement of the brain rebounding from one side of the skull pan to the other will cause a knockout. There are also techniques that can send overload signals to the brain, which shuts down as a matter of self-protection. This is also done when an internal organ is affected with a sharp impact, which may be a light-touch if directed expertly. The blood is forced out of the organ and the nervous system senses a sharp rise in blood pressure. The strike is withdrawn, and blood rushes back to the organ causing a drop in pressure. This mixed signal again shuts down the brain, causing a knockout. Don't try this stuff at home, kids. Despite mystical explanations, much of this can be understood.
No-touch knockouts are a whole different thing. They occur without any contact at all, and I have witnessed several great examples. I have also seen some miserable failures.
No-touch ko's border on shamanic mysticism, hypnosis and sometimes hoax. I myself have dabbled with pendulums and dowsing rods, and can find buried electrical and water lines. I have no doubt that we are capeable of sensing things that are not otherwise evident to our eyes, ears or cognitive thinking. Likewise, humans have been involved in inducing trances since the dawn of time. This was brought to the west in the early 1800's by Franz Anton Mesmer, hence the term "Mesmerism". Mesmer practiced his art as a healing mechanism, but I have seen old drawings depicting him performing "no-touch ko's". Many of us have also seen evangelical preachers get a crowd wound-up and someone will pass out, "touched by the hand of god". Whatever...
The point is, despite some attempts I have witnessed that have failed, something is going on. I spoke with Jack Hogan (pictured above) after a seminar several years ago. He had demonstrated the ko pictured above, and detailed an experiment by George Dillman that he had recently witnessed. Dillman and his students hooked people up to medical equipment such as ekg's. Blood pressure, heart rate and other body functions were measured. Serious, serious effects were regestered, and the most severe were due to no-touch ko's. Dan McCusky told me That the wife of one practitioner complained that her husband pissed blood after every no-touch ko that he performed - on other people! The inference is that this practice has an effect on the person performing the knockout, and of course the kidneys are the root of certain energies in Chinese theory.
There is another interesting book on this subject; "The Men Who Stare At Goats" by Jon Ronson. In it, Ronson details how the U.S. military has experimented in this technology. I have also read accounts about the Russians getting really deep into this stuff. You can bet there are things going on out there in the field of psychic warfare that we have absolutely no idea about.
Like anything, if you believe in something, that is your reality. Can non-believers remain unaffected by induced psychic trauma? Perhaps.
But who really knows what is guiding the whirlwind of events that shape and form our lives, in a world where quantum physics is proving that everything is indeed...connected.
***(EDIT): Note how in the drawing of Anton Mesmer he is using a cat stance, that is only the toes of one foot touching. This is the same type of energetic manipulation Dillman uses. In Dillman's case he drops into the cat or alternates lifting his toes with the foot flat and moving to the cat.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

What Is Internal Energy?

Kirlian Photography Of Energy In The Hand

From the comments in a previous post:
ta2urnfs said...
Just wondering, where does the internal energy come from?

Well, I don't know if I can adequately answer this question, but here are some thoughts: For thousands of years The Chinese and other cultures have believed in pathways of energy in the body that are not specificlly associated with blood flow or nerve impulses. In Yoga this is represented in the "Chakras", in Chi-Kung (Qigong) it is found in meridians associated with the organs and structure of the body. There is "pre-natal chi", which one is born with, and "post-natal chi which we can gain or loose. It is believed that through certain techniques, this mysterious energy can be cultivated and improved for health and strength.
This is obviously a controversial subject, and is constantly debated. Let's look at how western science tries to examine this subject:
From Wikipedia-
"Bioelectromagnetism (sometimes equated with bioelectricity) refers to the electrical, magnetic or electromagnetic fields produced by living cells, tissues or organisms. Examples include the cell potential of cell membranes and the electric currents that flow in nerves and muscles, as a result of action potentials."
..."Biological cells use bioelectricity to store metabolic energy, to do work or trigger internal changes, and to signal one another. Bioelectromagnetism is the electric current produced by action potentials along with the magnetic fields they generate through the phenomenon of electromagnetism."..."Bioelectromagnetism is an aspect of all living things, including all plants and animals. Bioenergetics is the study of energy relationships of living organisms. Biodynamics deals with the energy utilization and the activities of organisms. Some animals have acute bioelectric sensors, and others, such as migratory birds, are believed to navigate in part by orienting with respect to the Earth's magnetic field. Also, sharks are more sensitive to local interaction in electromagnetic fields than most humans. Other animals, such as the electric eel, are able to generate large electric fields outside their bodies."
(D.R.); The way I see it, our bodies are nothing short of huge electro-chemical batteries. What happens sometimes when you have a thought that makes you worry? That electrical impulse sends a message to glands and organs that make your stomache seem upset (electro-chemical interaction). Likewise, when you get scared or suprised, your breathing becomes short and rapid.
So the idea is, through meditative and posture techniques you can have more control over how your battery charges and discharges. For instance, if your attitude (electrical impulse) makes your breath short and rapid (chemical) then by controlling your breathing you calm the mind.
Chinese texts also state the obvious that the food you eat and the air you breathe affect postnatal chi also. This is one reason people like to practice chi kung in forests, where the air is clean.
I have also written in the Dojo Rat archives about the subject of light touch and no-touch knockouts, one of the most controversial aspects of this subject in the martial arts (see "No Touch Knockouts?" Jan 4 2007)
In summary; the Internal Martial Arts practice chi cultivation through deep Psychophysical (mind-body) integration, as opposed to the detachment of Trancendental meditation. This is generally different from the hard or external arts that use more muscular strength in the limbs of the body and less core or whole-body action. All martial arts that I know of practice some type of meditation or energy cultivation however.
As far as how I precieve chi energy, the only thing I can say is after a session of calm, focused internal training such as Tai Chi Chuan, Bagua or Chi Kung, I often feel warmth in my palms, and an occasional "shiver" up my spine. Colors are more vivid and the senses more alert. It's like a tune-up on your car. I have also experimented with dowsing rods to find buried water and electric lines, which I believe is somehow related.
I encourage any other thoughts or suggestions from readers...

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Gladiators Were Fat Vegetarians

I Hope They At Least Got Some Wine-- (D.R.)

Roman gladiators were overweight vegetarians and not the muscle-bound men protrayed by actors like Russell Crowe, anthropologists say.

Austrian scientists analysed the skeletons of two different types of gladiators, the myrmillos and retiariae, found at the ancient site of Ephesus, near Selsuk in Turkey.

"Tests performed on bits of bone taken from the skeletons of some 70 gladiators buried at Ephesus seem to prove that they ate mainly barley, beans and dried fruit," said Dr Karl Grossschmidt, who took part in the study by the Austrian Archaeological Institute
"This diet, which has been mentioned in the oral history, is rather sad but it gave the gladiators a lot of strength even if it made them fat," said Grossschmidt who is a member of the University of Vienna's Institute of Histology and Embryology.

The Austrian palaeoanthropologists relied on a method known as elementary microanalysis that allows scientists to determine what a human being ate during his or her lifetime.

With the help of a sonar, they could establish the chemical concentrations inside cells in the bone samples taken from the skeletons at Ephesus.

From this, they could deduce how much meat, fish, grains and fruit made up the diet of the Roman fighting machines.

A balanced diet of meat and vegetables leaves equal amounts of zinc and strontium in the cells, while a mainly vegetarian diet would leave high levels of strontium and little zinc, Grossschmidt said.

Fabian Kanz, from the university's department of analytical chemistry, said the gladiators' bone density gave us clues to how they lived.

"The bone density here was higher than usual, as is the case with modern athletes," he said.

This line of testing allowed the scientists to debunk another myth, that gladiators wore strappy Sparticus sandals in the arena.

"The bone density is particularly high in samples taken from the feet, which would suggest that the gladiators fought with their bare feet in sand," Kanz said.

He believed that because some gladiators fought with little more than their bare hands, they could have "cultivated layers of fat to protect their vital organs from the cutting blows of their opponents".

A gladiator's life
In ancient Rome, the classical battle of gladiators usually pitted a myrmillo armed with a sword, a helmet and a round shield, against the lightly armed retiarius who carried only a net and a dagger, or a samnite who wore a visor and a leather sheath protecting his right arm.

They were mostly slaves who volunteered to fight because sometimes the victor would be freed as a reward, or poor Romans who fought for pay.

The Austrian scientists are still carrying out further tests, but if their initial findings are confirmed it would change the glamorous image of the men immortalised in Spartacus, the 1960 movie starring a young Kirk Douglas, and the more recent Gladiator with Crowe in the main role.

"It seems that the gladiators tried to put on some weight before their battles," Kanz said.

"But this does not mean that they did not work hard to lose it again once they stepped out of the ring," he added.

The archeological site of Ephesus is one of the most important in Turkey.

The Greeks founded the city but it was the Romans who made it the capital of their Asian province and turned it into one of the wealthiest cities of their empire.
--Robert Koch Agence France-Presse 5 April 2004

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Cultural Exchange- 3,4,5


Part 4

Part 5

Buckle your seatbelts everybody, I think I hit on a streak of very well produced documentaries on various martial arts.
Part three has some very, very nice Bagua and each episode shows excellent form and application of internal martial arts.
Please view part 1 and 2 in the pervious post first...

Friday, April 20, 2007

Cultural Exchange

Part 1

Part 2

Boy am I gonna' be late for work...

I've been reading posts from our friends over at Formosa Neijia, some guys that are living and training in Taiwan. It has been very interesting reading about life and martial arts in the heart of traditional Asian fighting systems. Among other things they have discussed range from racism against whites or mixed race couples and children, racism against qualified black business applicants in Taiwanese companies, the current state of martial training in Taiwan as well as mundane but everyday things like choice of cola's and soft drinks available. Please check out their link on the right side of this blog...Formosa Neijia--
With this in mind, I found this great BBC documentary on martial arts in Taiwan. Here are the first two segments, I will post the second two tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Sudden, Unexpected Violence

Early yesterday morning I had a bad dream before I woke up. I dreamed I was in a building with military guys and we were pinned down by sniper fire. I awoke unsettled and made tea and turned on the news: Over twenty shot dead at Virginia Tech. I kid you not, it took a while for the parallel to sink in. Don't know what to think, perhaps there is a collective conscious that we tap into at times.
Nearly every violent event I have been in has been sudden and unexpected. One day when I was about eighteen, I picked up some beer (of course I was underage) and auto parts and was headed up to our car club to tinker with my '70 Cuda. I rounded a corner and a big Lincoln was stopped in the road. I honked. I looked at traffic that prevented me from going around. I honked again. Boom-- both doors flew open and a huge Samoan looking guy and his equally scary girlfriend came rushing up to my window screaming at me. I reached over and grabbed a big wrench I had in the car and got it ready in case they reached in. The woman yelled "he's got a knife!" and the guy went to his trunk and pulled out a huge bumper jack and swung it towards my car. I jammed it in reverse and burned it backward, pulled into traffic and zoomed around him. As I passed, he smashed out the passenger window. All I wanted to do that day was work on my car and have a few beers. Now I found myself on the sidewalk with a huge guy wielding a bumper jack coming towards me, and I got ready to fight. In an instant a cop pulled up and seperated us. The cops believed my story, clearly saw the evidence but I was out a window and they didn't even try to arrest him. Sudden, unexpected violence.
The other day one of my friends looked down. I asked what was up and he told me about his friends in Seattle. They (three friends) had gone for a late night hamburger and were in a drive through. The guys behind in the next car kept messing with them in some way. The driver of my friends car got out and a hassle insued. Everybody was out of both cars and the friends got the worst of it. One was stabbed. The other was hit with a hammer. The third wanted to settle it until the other guys chambered a handgun. End of fight, trip to the hospital next. Sudden, unexpected violence.
Now I've been in my share of fights, some of which I probably started. But that is very different from these other types of violent encounters, where weapons are involved and people really, really get hurt.
While most of us who train in martial arts have an edge in a scenario like this, there are times when we must swallow our pride and simply walk away. However, when our back is up against the wall and there is no other way out, we gotta' turn on the predator, the wolf, or tiger, and fight like hell.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Flexibility And Stretching Ideas

Well, old age creeps up on the Rats every year. Four of us are looking down the road to 50 years-old pretty soon, and I know my flexibility is slowly starting to get worse. I think the reason I am getting so hooked on Bagua is that the twisting and turning motions stimulate my back, hips and spine in ways that other arts or exercises don't. After doing a good session of Bagua it almost makes you feel high. I believe this is caused by the manipulation of the spine and results in some kind of release to the central nervous system. Or maybe we could call it Chi.
I felt somthing similar after my first trip to a chiropractor about ten years ago. While he was working on me I thought the results would be minimal, because I was involved in deep stretching in Karate. Boy was I wrong. The next morning I walked around in a buzz like I had just come down off an acid trip. People told me that was toxins in my body that were broken free and working their way out.
Bagua brings on a similar stimulation and release, and If I can keep moving in my older years like I still can today, I will be pleased. That is clearly one beauty of the internal arts, the low-impact individual practice does no harm on the body and greatly strengthens it.
Here's Mike Martello again, this time with some very nice stretching movements and some fighting application-- enjoy...

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

New Feature: Cute Hippie Chick Of The Month

Ah yes, spring is here and, well... time for a new feature.
Lively discussion in a previous post has reminded me that while winter brought cold mornings and a foot of snow on the outhouse, warm weather brings out the beautiful girls. With that in mind Dojo Rat will begin a new feature: "Cute Hippie Chick Of The Month"
No offense to hippies, cute people or wives intended...

Sunday, April 8, 2007

South Bronx Bagua

Here's another video from the brothers over at "Black Taoist" and their student Lance "Hispanic Palm" from an apartment deep in the South Bronx.
While these guys may at times lack polished perfection, they more than make up for it in street practicality. The internal arts are often esoteric, with instructors coaxing students into "feeling the attacker's energy" and such. What it often boils down to is, in western terms, "muscle memory".
As I've suggested before, I am dissapointed with students (and their instructors) that are competent at doing their forms but have no clue how to apply those skills demonstrated in the forms. One high level Tai Chi instructor I know has told myself and other students that; (A)"just do it for many years and you will understand it, and (B) you have to be Chinese to understand it". Another told me "There is no application, it's all circles".
Screw that. I realize that the western mind has an overuse of mechanistic analysis, but that's how we "Get'er done". When a student sees application for an obscure technique in a form it re-wires that same technique through the brain in a seperate path to the same end goal. When the end goal is viewed in different ways we all have a deeper understanding of what we are trying to accomplish.
With that in mind, aside from my regular Monday-Wednesday workouts with the Dojo Rats, I've been teaching a beginning Yang-style Tai Chi Chuan class on Thursday nights for over a year now. Several of the students (of which there are usually six to eight) have had previous but limited Tai Chi practice. The rest are middle aged adults with no training. The group is diverse and new people drop in all the time, so I have to balence the training so nobody feels left behind. Most of the group has a good handle on the long form now, and as things have progressed I have brought the partner training up to 50% of class time now. For instance, I've been starting each class with the long form, for the calming meditative qualities. Then we go into form correction and problems people are having. The last half of class is push hands. Now they are familiar with the basic rooting and yielding drills and have moved on to the Yang-style push hands pattern. Like a lightbulb going off in their heads, they now see how ward-off,push, press, rollback, rooting and yielding from the form really work.
Last class I took it further and demonstrated some joint-locking techniques that can be integrated with push hands training, but they're not quite ready for it yet.
The point is, they now have a much better understanding of their form since they have viewed applications, which gives them incentive to go further.
That's why I love the guys at Black Taoist; they try to get down to what will work on the street...

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Compare And Contrast:

1986 Chengdu Leitai Fights

Typical American Streetfighters

If people will forgive the repost of the second fight (from "Bareknuckle Boxing" see archives), I thought this might be a good comparison.
The 1986 Chengdu Leitai fights were described as the first sanctioned Chinese martial fights since 1949. The fighting style appears to be Hsing-I, and generally sucks pretty bad. This is the kind of scene that really gives a bad image to traditional martial arts and opens the door for criticism by the MMA crowd.
Moreover, The Chinese fighters in this video would be clearly outmatched by either of the undiciplined streetfighters in video #2.
To be fair, there were video's of other fighters at the Chinese tournament, some with better skills, but not by much. Admitedly, the Chinese fight is a regulated tournament fight while the second fight is unregulated, but as far as technique that shouldn't matter.
The general feel I get is that western boxing has got pretty damned good hand techniques. I know that for myself, boxing drills greatly improved my Karate sparring. The only thing I would worry about is injuring a hand, as many boxers do without hand wraps. Generally, one can hit a lot harder than the structure of the hand is designed to take-- which may be a good argument for open hand striking.
And lastly, it is true that most of us practice martial arts for the art, or health and often fighting skills are only one piece of the puzzle, but none-the-less an important one...

Sunday, April 1, 2007

April Fools

OK, I had to roll this clip for April Fools Day. I ripped it off from Tim (Cartmell's) discussion group, where it was introduced as a new form of "Drunken Master Boxing". It's really good, hope you all enjoy...
--P.S. -- The Boxer's name is Emmanuel Augustus