Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Shy Amir On Xingyi Short Staff

Our friend in Israel, Shy Amir sent us this nice video of him performing a Hsing-I (Xingyi) short staff form. I love the production quality, and it is a beautiful form.
It may be of interest to the Aikido guys out there for comparison to the Aikido Jo staff. Thanks Shy!
And remember; if other martial artists out there have any nice training pics or videos, drop them by dojorat@gmail.com and we'll see if we can post them. Introduce yourself to fellow Dojo Rats all over the world!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Continuing Education Of The Dojo Rats

San Ti Posture

As if we didn't have enough on our plate...
Sometimes you say "oooh, that looks good. I'll have five scoops"!
In reality, you could only handle three scoops.
Across the board, the guys in our little Dojo have been past hard Karate stylists. Backgrounds include Tae Kwon Do, Kenpo, Kajukenbo, Jujitsu, Goju-Shorei and a little Boxing, Judo and Aikido thrown in.
About 1996 or so, some of us started practicing Tai Chi Chuan with one of our instructors, closely followed with an intro to Bagua. As time marched on, several of us sought out further instruction in those "internal" arts, resulting in our long-time friendship with Tai Chi Chuan instructor Michael Gilman, and our new friendship with instructors Jake Burroughs, Mike Martello and Tim Cartmell.
Something was lacking in our old hard-style arts: perhaps it was the health aspects and the Mystique of Chi Gong and Acupressure meridian theory. Or possibly the meditative side of the internal arts, or the use of "whole body power". Internal arts hooked us, and I haven't seen anybody practice a hard-style form for years.
Which brings us to the five big scoops I tried to put on our plate.
I have felt for a while that if I was going to have a more complete understanding of the Chinese Internal arts, I needed to explore Xingyi. I had one Xingyi linking form that had been taught to me by a Karate instructor. That form, "Walk the Tiger", came from a Wado-Ryu teacher in Taiwan named Watanabe. It's lineage is of unknown origin, and the guy who taught me years ago could not provide much information about it.
"The thing I need to do", think'eth The Rat, "is learn the basic Five-Element forms", which are the basis for nearly every Xingyi system. So I grabbed Zac, our youngest Black Belt and we cruised down to Seattle to visit Jake Burroughs for what became a four-hour class. Now, while these forms are very linear in appearance and are straight-foward and direct, I was decieved by their inherent complexity (Que Jake Burroughs Cheshire Cat smile). Five Elements, Five scoops on the plate. No problem. Whoah... I think I'm getting kinda full here.
Jake patiently walked us through the first three forms: Pi Chuan (splitting fist, metal), Beng Chuan (crushing fist, wood) and Zhuan Chuan (Drilling fist, water). Normally, you could spend weeks just training in one of those forms, with the subtleties and wide range of applications. At three forms, we were pretty much maxed out, and we still will need much correction and application instruction. But, the exploration of these forms does indeed help me to view the complexity of internal arts, even those with outwardly simple postures - and that's exactly what I was looking for.
It's going to take repeated visits to train with Jake to gain deeper understanding of Xingyi, an art that looks simple but is so, so much more. If we can get a handle on this art, we will have the linear, whole-body striking of Xingyi, the spiral movement and grappling of Bagua, and the softness of Tai Chi Chuan which incorporates all these qualities.
So for now, I'm going to have to put those other two scoops, the "pounding fist" and the "crossing fist" back on Jake Burroughs' generous serving plate. They'll be there when we're ready, after we work on the first three.
If you would like to see information on Xingyi and the other martial arts Jake Burroughs teaches, take a look here at the website for "Three Harmonies Martial Arts Center".

Friday, March 27, 2009

When Your "Art" Goes Very Wrong

Capoeira Demo Goes Very Wrong - Watch more Funny Videos

What if the Tae Kwon Do guy gets his kicking leg trapped and is swept?
What if the Grappler is beat senseless before he can take the fight to the ground?
What if the Tai Chi guy is too "Soft"?
--Here we have two skilled Capoeria players who get into a scrap during an event. At first, they both display kicking ability that rivals any good Karateka, but something goes wrong. They get pissed, they get into it, and one guy tackles the other and dumps him on his head. There were no attempts at technique here, just raw schoolyard wrestling.
Everyone knows that when fights escalate, they move towards the clinch. If you are a kicker, you'd better maintain your kicking range. Same with a striker. I suggest that it is very hard to stay at kicking range only. That's why they are constantly breaking up clinches in sparring matches. Now, I think it may be more practical for a good Boxer to maintain his range, his body being in a more compact and protected stance. The Grappler will risk taking a punch to get in close range. Or he may let the fight come to him, luring the other fighter in.
Every art has it's strength and weakness. Flashy technique is no substitute for conditioning, intent, and a mixed toolbox of techniques for different ranges.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Review: "The Wellspring" - Students Of Chi; Get This Book!

"Every human being can draw in the course of his education from the inexaustable wellspring of the divine in man's nature".
I Ching - #48, Ching / The Well
The last class I had with my Tai Chi Chuan instructor, Michael Gilman, he handed me this book as I was leaving. "The Wellspring" he said, was the best book on the science of Chi that he has read.
I had just finished "Chi Gong" by Dong and Esser, and provided THIS REVIEW. Dong and Esser go a long way to explaining the science behind Chi, but "Wellspring" answers the rest of the questions I had. Without a doubt, this book has a sensible approach firmly rooted in scientific studies. Of course, there is no way I can solve the mystery of Chi in a few paragraphs here, but this is a piece of the puzzle that "The Wellspring" presents:
The "enteric nervous system" is basicly everything from your tongue to your anus, all your guts and bowels. According to Christopher Dow in "The Wellspring", there are more nerves in your gut than there are in your brain. The brain also releases serotonin, a chemical substance that is a neurotransmitter, but the intestines release even more than the brain. Dow carefully walks us through fetal development demonstrating the direction of energy flow up the spine, and down the front of the body via the conception channel, gut, or "enteric system". Scientific studies have shown that the bowels, when completely isolated from the brain, will still perform peristaltic action - the undulation of the gut that moves food through. This may be the link to serotonin in the intestines, and the gut almost behaving as a "second brain". Starting to get the connection? The point below our belly-button, the Dantien, is the center of the gut, with more nerves and serotonin than the brain. Dow goes on to explain both bioelectricity and electromagnetism within the body, both which account for the meridian systems in Chinese medicine.
While giving complex explanations of these functions, "The Wellspring" is not "over the top" in science. it is very readable, with humorous stories illustrating the concepts to be explained. A smooth transition is presented between scientific studies and the actual types of breathing, visualization and postures of Yogic Chi practice.
Moreover, author Christopher Dow is a martial artist, a long time practitioner of Tai Chi Chuan. The second half of the book relates to Chi in the martial arts. Even more directly, the difference between localized Chi in the muscular contractions of hard-style arts vs. the whole-body Chi of internal martial arts.
"The Wellspring" describes Chi in a way that even skeptics may have to re-think. If you practice Chi Gong, Yoga, or Martial Arts, this book will help you understand the how and why of Chi. If you are going to pick one book to help you understand the concept of Chi in the human body, this is it!
"The Wellspring", by Christopher Dow is available through Phosphene Publishing company at this link.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Finding The Balence

I have recently experianced an issue in the one class I teach to the general public, Yang-style Tai Chi Chuan. Readers to this Blog might already know my friends and I have a Mon-Weds workout that is "closed door". It's strictly for guys that are already established martial artists, there's some rough stuff, solid training reinforcing our boxing, push hands, chin na locking-- it's drill, drill drill. This is usually followed by a few cool ones.
Several years ago, I decided to add a Thursday class just to play around with Tai Chi Chuan. People in our small community had expressed interest in some kind of martial training, but we are very selective as to who we allow into our regular club practice. So the Thursday Tai Chi Chuan class seemed to fit well; teach the Yang-style long form, and give me some other bodies to push hands with. The class would also serve as a "farm club" to see if there were any likely candidates to allow into our Mon-Weds practice.
Things were ticking along very well for quite some time. But this week, a student sent me a note saying that she was going to drop out of the class, essentially because our practice was too "hard". This person, a spiritual woman about sixty, had been with the class for a year. She had practiced with another school in the past, and had done some San-shou (two person form) and push hands. By all standards, she was an excellent student and will be missed by us all.
Now here's the twist; Her note said that she was dissapointed that I never allowed her to come to the Mon-Weds club practice. Now, on one hand, she thought the very mellow push hands and occasional application or drill in the Thursday class was too "Hard". Yet she had wanted to be admitted into a real rough class, something she clearly was not suited for.
As expected, I'm sad for the loss of this student. Her comments made me reflect deeply on my methods and expectations in teaching a class with such a wide range of ages and abilities. It also reminds me that Tai Chi Chuan is so many different things to many different people.
What this has also done is reaffirm my conviction to teach Tai Chi Chuan as a MARTIAL ART, with plans to introduce Xing-yi and Bagua at some later date. If anything, I may have failed to clearly state my intentions as to where the training in that class is headed, with ages and abilities of each student considered. For the most part, all the other students are having a blast, performing at whatever level they feel comfortable. For those with no interest in Martial Tai Chi Chuan, I will recommend the Chi Gong class that is taught at the senior center in town.
One of Bruce Lee's first students, James Demile, said that Bruce was selfish in his teaching. Lee used his students to experiment and make him a better martial artist. To a certain extent, I am in agreement with that concept. Those of us that take the time to teach are rewarded with valuable lessons ourselves.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Bruce Lee's Seattle History

Here's a great little snip of a Bruce Lee documentary with a focus on the early days in Seattle. It takes a few seconds to get rolling, but is well worth viewing. The narrator is James DeMile, one of Bruces first students along with Jessie Glover who is still a Seattle-area resident. DeMile went on to write the famous booklet on the "One Inch Punch", which I have buried in my collection somewhere. He also trained Ron Ogi, whose seminars provided our Dojo with valuable training drills. Ogi now owns some of the original training dummies that Bruce Lee used, and were passed down by DeMile. These dummies are mounted on walls in his house, and all have different functions. Some have re-breakable arms, others slinky-like arms, and all are said to be articulated and move in various ways.
This video is a nice little bit of Seattle history, and lends insight into how Lee developed his fighting style.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Back To Kenpo

Yes Folks, yet another Drinking Dojo Production demonstrating devestating destruction deriving from deeply ingrained motions drawing on deceptivly simple techniques of Kenpo Karate.
Here our fellow Dojo Rat shows how a few simple motions can be used against very different types of attacks. These techniques go back to the Kenpo origins of our little Dojo.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Chuck Norris Advocates Secession

I have been waiting a long time to rip Chuck Norris a new asshole, I'm sure this will piss many people off, but here it is:
Un-American hero wanna-be Chump Norris appears to be advocating armed revolution against the United States of America.
Forget about the amateurs in The Weather Underground, The Earth Liberation Front, or the SLA that kidnapped Patty Hurst. This is "Missing In Action" #16. Armed with a leathal combination of Karate, Hollywood stunts and the Bible, Chump has swung into action by first proposing that the Bible be introduced as a teaching tool in public schools. . Don't believe me? Take a look at the video in the highlighted link. This was my original Beef with Chump, while wrapping himself in his bullet-ridden flag he has forgotten that this country was founded on Secular principles. As author Bruce Wilson writes:
"The centrality of Christianity as a driving force in American history can hardly be disputed, but there's another story to be told because America was founded as a secular, not a Christian, nation. Secular government was a radical, uniquely American innovation that some believe enabled the United States to prosper free from the sort of gruesome internecine religious warfare, in which some combatants literally "pulled guts out for God", that wracked post-Reformation Europe".

--But wait, there's more.
Things have gotton bad for assholes of wealth and privilege. We had eight teeth-grindingly long years of Fascism, with the treasonous outing of CIA agents, lying the country into an illegal war, the illegal wiretapping of U.S. citizens, and this weeks revelation that Dick Cheney ran an executive assassination ring out of the office of the Vice President. Bombing and torturing civilian populations in other countries was just fine for tough guys like Walker, Texas Treasonist. But for people like Chump Norris and serial propagandist Rush Limbaugh, their worst nightmare has come true. A Brilliant young black man, a Constitutional expert trained at Harvard Law has shown the country and the entire world that America has regained it's collective senses. Obama's reuniting of the American spirit will not set well with the thieving reich-wing that has pretty much had their way since Reagan.
Yes, things are so bad that Chump has volunteered to be "President of Texas". According to THIS article, The working model for Chumps plan is the fight to the death at the Alamo. Remember folks, this involved a lot of guns and bayonets. Chucklehead proposes that Tex-ass be the first of the formerly United States to secede from the Union. Undoubtadly, the Palinistas in Alaska will follow next, as Sarah Palin's husband was an active member of the Alaska secessionist movement who's founder blew himself up with a bomb. According to cow-pie Chuck's article, there are "thousands of cells" waiting to swing into action, with the battle cry of "remember the Alamo" definately not refering to dog food.
Let's take a look at the definition of sedition, from wikipedia:
"Sedition is a term of law which refers to covert conduct, such as speech and organization, that is deemed by the legal authority as tending toward insurrection against the established order. Sedition often includes subversion of a constitution and incitement of discontent (or resistance) to lawful authority. Sedition may include any commotion, though not aimed at direct and open violence against the laws. Seditious words in writing are seditious libel. A seditionist is one who engages in or promotes the interests of sedition".
"Put simply, sedition is the stirring up of rebellion against the government in power. Treason is the violation of allegiance to one's sovereign or state and has to do with giving aid to enemies or levying war. Sedition is more about encouraging the people to rebel, where treason is actually betraying the country".
--By the above standard, Chump is clearly a seditionist, and a potential Traitor if he is indeed advocating armed revolution.
America has always flirted with Fascism. The term Fascism was coined by Italian dictator Mussolini who also called it "Corporatism". After the first Great Depression, a group of industrialists, allegedly including Prescott Bush, hatched a failed attempt to overthrow the Government and President Roosevelt.
Now, after nearly ten years of Republican rule that has left the country in economic chaos and the scorn of the world, there appears to be another plot in the works to further destabilize over 200 years of unified American Democracy. It's leader is Chuck Norris, his finger on the trigger, and his underground "cells" goose-stepping into the past.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Master Tae Hong Choi Has Passed Away

My Tae Kwon Do instructor, Master Tae Hong Choi has passed away. I spent years with this man, who provided me with the strong martial foundation I have tried to carry with me for life. There are many, many stories I have about training, working, and yes, even drinking with Mr. Choi. But now is the time to reflect on the strong organization Mr. Choi built and the comradery of his many, many students.
From Oregon Live:

Portland-area tae kwon do grandmaster pioneered sport in U.S. Tae Hong Choi, who established schools and taught thousands of students, dies at 73
Grandmaster - Tae Hong Choi, who ran schools in the Portland area, dies at 73
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
The Oregonian Staff
For years, Gordon Graaff had been sparring with -- and losing to -- his internationally heralded tae kwon do instructor, Tae Hong Choi.
Finally, Graaff thought he was about to topple the master, he recalled, thinking back to the episode some 20 years ago. "I was feeling pretty cocky. . . . I'm 25 or something, I'm young and strong, and he's got to be like 45 and an old man."
Next thing he knew, Graaff was flat on his back.
"(Choi) pumped me on the chest with his fist, and he just goes 'heh heh heh heh,' " Graaff said. Choi had a good sense of humor, he said, but the master still earned respect.

Choi, a grandmaster in tae kwon do, winner of multiple martial arts titles and a teacher of thousands of students, died Sunday at Providence Portland Medical Center. He was 73.

The eventual Korean national champion was initially shooed away by the martial artists he watched as a young boy delivering newspapers in Korea, according to a 2004video by NW Documentary that featured Choi and other Northwest Koreans.
After seven days of his pestering, the men seemed to relent -- but put him to work instead. After 20 days, they rewarded his work ethic and started teaching him. He earned his black belt after two years. He soon started winning titles and eventually earned a ninth-degree black belt, the sport's highest designation.
While in the Korean army, he fought in the Vietnam War and taught hand-to-hand combat skills to Korean and U.S. special forces. That got him his next job of instructing hand-to-hand combat for top-level U.S. security agents, his family said, and he moved to Washington, D.C., in 1971. He brought his family over to Oregon where a distant cousin lived, said his second son, Sung Choi.
After rejoining his family in 1972, Choi started teaching tae kwon do at the YMCA and later opened a studio in Northeast Portland.
He also helped establish tae kwon do nationally, serving in the sport's governing body in the United States.
Choi so impressed one young student, Leon Preston, that he decided to study under Choi, even though it meant making frequent trips down to Portland from his Seattle home.
"He represented what a true martial artist is," said Preston, who now is a master instructor himself and was a tae kwon do referee in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. "His teachings included self-discipline, a broader worldview of how we fit into society, and . . . dedicating yourself to making a change for the betterment of the community."
Choi eventually opened two more schools for students in Beaverton and North Portland, his son said, and at times, let students slide on tuition.
Choi's honors included traveling to Seoul with one of his students who competed in the 1988 Olympic Games; recognition from the Korean Minister of Culture; and a 2007 lifetime achievement award from the United States Taekwondo Grandmasters Society.
"Mr. Choi was one of the pioneers for tae kwon do in this country," said Joon Pyo Choi, co-chairman of USA Taekwondo's martial arts commission. "When the word 'tae kwon do' didn't even exist in this country, he was already teaching."
Survivors include his wife, Man Soon Choi of Portland; daughters, Ilsun Kim and Minsun Min, both of Seattle; sons, Hung Choi of Beaverton and Sung Choi of New York City; and five grandchildren.
Services will be held 3 p.m. Thursday in the Korean Mission Church, 9100 S.W. Wilshire St., Portland. Burial will follow in Skyline Memorial Gardens, 4101 N.W. Skyline Blvd., Portland.
Helen Jung: 503-294-7621;helenjung@ news.oregonian.com

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Great Comments In Chi Discussion

I am constantly amazed at the depth of thought and knowledge in our global community of Dojo Rats out there. In our Past discussion of Chi HERE and HERE, we had many great comments, but this one from "Glairy" was too good to leave buried in the comment section:
glairy said...
DR- What people experience and feel is always theirs, no argument there. And the blog rocks!
I think our discussion revolves around definitions. A sound definition of chi is I think the single biggest problem to discussing chi.
"Anywhere there is movement and energy there is an expression of chi." Energy is the ability to do work (potential energy). Movement IS work (kinetic energy). Are we using different words for the same thing?
So to those here discussing, is it correct to say that for some, energy equates to chi and for others, energy equates to the ability to do work?
Is it correct to say that for some, the shape of DNA is a manifestation of chi, and for others, the shape of DNA is the result of covalent bonds, bond lengths, angles, etc., steric interactions and electrostatic forces?
It seems that we have a debate over semantics, not over the fact that something is happening or that something exists.
The distinct advantage the more specific and exacting definitions (the "sciencey words" ;-) ) have is that one can communicate concepts concretely. The things mentioned can be measured, categorized, compared. I do this for a living, and went to school way too long to understand how to. But that is also a distinct disadvantage- I can see how that approach, if applied wrongly, can suck the very life out of life. I have felt that, and have questioned things.
I do science for a living, and I also teach tai chi. Some people find these two things almost mutually exclusive. I feel that analysis of what I do only enhances it.
So, is it semantics, or is something else being debated?
March 10, 2009 11:27:00 AM PDT

(D.R.) Wow...
Well, as far as potential energy as opposed to kinetic energy and their relation to Chi, I would guess both exibit Chi.
As the classics say Yi (intent, potential energy) leads the Chi to the resulting Jing (movement, power, kinetic energy).
So, the origin must be in potential energy, but manifests itself through the entire process.
Bless my DNA, I may be talking myself into a circular argument. Any help from the Peanut Gallery would be appreciated, and thanks Glairy, for the thoughtful comments!

One last thought, from "Chi Gong" by Dong and Esser:
"As Xu Hong-zhang and Zhao Yong-jie from the Institute of High Energy Physics in Beijing put it:
"The Chi is considered today somewhat like radiation in modern physics, but there is a difference in that the Chi concept emphasizes not only an energy aspect, but also an information aspect. Thus it is empaisized that Chi makes it possible for seperated bodies to transmit information as well as energy to one another."

Monday, March 9, 2009

"Neural Buddhists" and Huxley Revisited

Since there was a snowstorm this morning, I took the day off from orchard work and read and cut firewood at home. While tripping the light fantastic of the interwebs, I found this article that fascinated me, particularly because of our last posts on the nature of Chi. From "The Chronicle Of Higher Education", "Brave New Worldview":
"David Brooks, a conservative columnist for The New York Times, wrote an essay called "The Neural Buddhists." In it he called arguments defending the existence of God against atheists like Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins easy, and predicted that the real challenge would "come from people who feel the existence of the sacred, but who think that particular religions are just cultural artifacts built on top of universal human traits." He continued: "In unexpected ways, science and mysticism are joining hands and reinforcing each other. That's bound to lead to new movements that emphasize self-transcendence but put little stock in divine law or revelation."
The phrase "neural Buddhists" calls up the ways in which the conclusions of modern neuroscience and a collection of ancient meditation practices developed in Asia have come to similar experiential and empirical conclusions about a number of things, including the ultimate nonexistence of the individual self or surface social ego. Such ideas, of course, are part of a much broader interest in "mysticism" and "spirituality," themselves, perhaps ironically, markers of that quintessentially modern and eminently democratic turn to the individual as the most reliable source of religious authority and insight.
(D.R.)-- From here the article goes into a parallel track of the writing of Aldous Huxley and the cultural revolution of the 1960's, self-enlightenment and human potential.
So relax, leave that crappy work day behind you, grab your favorite intoxicating substance and delve into the possibilities that lie before us...
Bio of the author:
Jeffrey J. Kripal is professor and chair of religious studies at Rice University and author, most recently, of Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion (University of Chicago Press, 2007).

Wally Jay and Small-Circle Jujitsu

I've written before about how the stand-up grappling of Small-Circle Jujitsu have brought a huge array of techniques to the rough stuff in our little Dojo.
Our training partner (we'll call him "Brown Dragon") was fortunate to have studied at length with both founder Wally Jay and his son and inheritor of the system, Leon Jay. Small dijit manipulation is one thing that is not allowed in MMA and BJJ, probably because it is so easy to induce permanent damage to the hands with the types of finger and wristlocks involved. As you can see, or perhaps you have experianced the amount of pain involved with these locking techniques. The idea, of course is not to break the joint, but to demand pain compliance. This kind of pain sends involuntary messages to our nervous system that cause knees to buckle, or raise us up to awkward positions as the body tries to move away from the pain.
Obviously, this system is useful for Bouncers, Police officers, and others that can not strike and hit their charges. It must also be realized that the idea is not to hold onto a lock forever, it is a matter of using it to gain compliance or set up a strike to take the guy out in his moment of vulnerability. The Ryukyu Kenpo guys have a saying; lock to strike, strike to lock. The combination is very effective.
Also in this video is a young Ron Ogi. I have had the pleasure of having Ron Ogi demonstrate the one-inch punch on me while I held a phone book to my chest, and I can tell you he is very powerful. My training partner and I traveled to several seminars with Leon Jay (pictured at right of Blog) and Ron Ogi. These guys have a pretty potent combination of Locking, classical Gung-fu infighting, and pressure point manipulation. The flow drills were heavily influenced by Professor Remy Presas of FMA fame. This was at a time when Ron Ogi was a student of Professor Wally Jay, who traveled to many Dojo's across the country with Presas and George Dillman. It must have been quite a show with "the big three" all together at one seminar.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Can This Explain Chi?

DNA Helix

There is a raging debate between Science Geeks about an article on DNA research at THIS LINK.
Here is the summary of a post loosely based on the scientific review:

"DNA has been found to have a bizarre ability to put itself together, even at a distance, when according to known science it shouldn't be able to. Explanation: None, at least not yet.
Scientists are reporting evidence that contrary to our current beliefs about what is possible, intact double-stranded DNA has the “amazing” ability to recognize similarities in other DNA strands from a distance. Somehow they are able to identify one another, and the tiny bits of genetic material tend to congregate with similar DNA. The recognition of similar sequences in DNA’s chemical subunits, occurs in a way unrecognized by science. There is no known reason why the DNA is able to combine the way it does, and from a current theoretical standpoint this feat should be chemically impossible.
Even so, the research published in ACS’ Journal of Physical Chemistry B, shows very clearly that homology recognition between sequences of several hundred nucleotides occurs without physical contact or presence of proteins. Double helixes of DNA can recognize matching molecules from a distance and then gather together, all seemingly without help from any other molecules or chemical signals".

(D.R.) -Without reading the scientific article itself (I could not find link to original) I had to rely on the many comments submitted by said Science Geeks. While liberty was taken by the writer of the post, the outcome of the experiment seem to ring true according to those who read the report. This phenomonen may be the result of hydrogen bonding or some other such mechanism other than "Telepathy, or God", but this study is curious in that it could be the tip of the iceberg in Chi research.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Review: "Chi Gong" By Paul Dong and A. Esser

This review has been a long time coming, because I wanted to read this book carefully and understand the concepts and various investigations explored by the authors.
In this book, Paul Dong and Aristide Esser have come the closest to explaining the phenomenon of "Chi" that I have read yet. As Martial Artists, we are all familiar with the notion of "chi". However, not suprisingly the mysterious concept is avoided or even mocked by some, especially reality-based and fight-sport practitioners. Coincedently, those practitioners tend to be young, in very good condition and without concern for integrating meditative health practice into the fight-sport they participate in.
With this in mind, Dong and Esser explore the roots of Chi Gong (Chi enhancement) from ancient shamanism and the early theories of Chinese medicine. I found it very interesting that they fault the rise of Communism for supression of aspects of this study. For instance, for political reasons Chi research was rolled into Psychic (ESP) research. While this marginalized aspects of Chi research, it increased the pool of researchers in general. The authors do not shy away from discussion of "Empty force" (aka no-touch knockouts etc.) and openly suggest that nearly anyone that practices Chi Gong regularly will increase their psychic ability.
The good thing about this book is that it's focus is on the science of Chi research, and not heavy on the multitude of postures and training methods available. The authors present just a few simple techniques, such as the "standing stake/pole" practice, some visualization, but it is not overloaded with postures.
Instead, this book offers comparitive Chinese and western studies, including those reviewed by skeptical researchers. Modern testing equipment has been used to record the bioenergetic forces in the human body, such as infrared radiation, electromagnetic and static discharges, etc.
Yet there are certain things that remain unexplained. For instance, if Chi healing is psychosomatic or self induced, why does it also work on animals, which have no such human thinking process?
Dong and Esser go into detail about healing success with Chi Gong. They do admit there may be an element of self-hypnosis involved, but none-the-less, measurable changes in body chemistry (endocrine system, blood oxygen levels etc.) are apparent.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this study is the finding that transmission of Chi may involve "transfer of information", which may explain claims of enhanced psychic ability. A study of Chi by the Chinese Academy of Sciences concluded with this:
"It appears to us that qi (chi) is a much more complicated matter than we originally supposed it to be. Qi is probably a complicated organic combination of substance, energy and message. At present, substance, energy and message are studied seperately in science. Scientists are very unfamiliar both in theory and in experiments with what conditions will occur when these three produce effects at the same time".
And this from another group of researchers:
"We believe it is possible to conclude from all these findings that chi as a substance/force/messenger could well be hypothesized to exert it's function via the autonomous nervous system and the release of neuropeptides, following the meridian system or the previously mentioned psychosomatic network".
For skeptics, Dong and Esser's "Chi Gong" will provide food for thought with explanations in western medical terms. For those who already subscribe to the concept of Chi and Chi Gong healing, this book will offer clear and uplifting examples of how one's health, mental state and life in general can be improved by the practice of Chi Gong.
This book, and hundreds of other martial art-related titles can be found at this link for BLUE SNAKE BOOKS.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Job Advice From Jim Rogers

Fast Food Drive-up Window, 1938 Arkansas-Style

Job advice from Legendary investor Jim Rogers, CNBC article:

"Wall Street and the City of London are going to be "disastrous" for years, like in the 1950s and 1960s, and in 30 years, finance will "dry up and wither away" as we are entering a "long period of hard times," he said.
"Power is shifting now from the money shifters, the guys who trade paper and money, to people who produce real goods. What you should do is become a farmer, or start a farming network," Rogers said.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Check Out Jake Burroughs New Blog And Website

Jake Burroughs, Second From Right

Hey! My buddy Jake Burroughs has finally got a new website up, with lots of great information on Chinese Martial Arts and some great photos also. Jake has worked tirelessly to bring world-class master instructors in Mantis, Xing Yi and Bagua, along with top-level Brazilian Jujitsu instructors to the Seattle area. The link for the new "Three Harmonies Martial Arts Center" can be found at THIS LINK.
Also, take a spin over to Jake's new Blog "The Ground Never Misses", which profiles guest instructors and seminars. Also included this month are video links and analysis of grappling tournaments in which Jake and Brian Johnson of NW Jiu Jitsu Academy competed in. Lots more good stuff at "The Ground Never Misses"!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

March: Complaints about "Cute Hippie Chick Of The Month", And A New Record!

Well, I guess it was bound to happen... I recieved a complaint about "Cute Hippie Chick Of The Month".
Fellow Dojo Rat Kostas in Athens, Greece writes:
"one comment/suggestion - something more tasty for the "Hippie Chick of the Month", next time, please. Preferably with long legs...preferably human, female, etc, etc"...
- Kostas Tountas
Athens, Greece

Hmmm... could he possibly be refering to this?

Or This?

So for Kostas, we will return to a more conventional "Cute Hippie Chick Of The Month", with this feature, entitled "Smells Like Fish"

Dojo Rat has officially gone over 100,000 hits! Looks like 100,048 and counting!

Many Thanks to Kostas and Jose', who both sent me an incredible collection of instructional videos. I now have hundreds of video hours of the best masters in the world, in a variety of arts. Thanks guys!