Without Writing

The art of writing without writing… about fighting.

Tag Archives: Aikido

Empty Force and Empty Promises

Another exposé of no-touch knockout bullcrap has been doing the rounds. In this one, a wonderful group of skeptics attended an “open seminar” by a Finnish pseudo-martial artist named Jukka Lampila.

Those courageous skeptical fool-smokers really did a number on him, specifically by asking a set of very basic questions, by not flinging themselves in the direction of his pats, wafts, prods and pokes and generally not being willing accomplices to his cultish buffoonery.

I could spend the entirety of this post taunting his poor, misguided followers that leap into the air and fling themselves on the floor at the slightest provocation, and metaphorically shaking my head in disbelief that he’s probably still teaching the same nonsense back home, even after this very public experience. But this would not be the best use of anyone’s time, and I’ve already done it so often in the past relating to similar incidents, that it would be redundant.

Instead I’d like to take the opportunity to address two points. Read more of this post

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Learned, but not taught

The difficulty of teaching ANY movement cannot be overstated.

I have discussed in a previous article how easy it is for those of us who are familiar with the motion of two bodies- one applying a throw and one attempting to resist the throw- to tell when a move will work on a technical level (a wrestling throw, for instance) and when it will not work on a technical level (e.g: an Aikido “throw”).

This kind of physical intellect, an awareness of how the human body really works in combat, cannot be taught. It must be developed by each fighter himself/herself, through many hours of actual practice.

Equally however, it could be said that many moves themselves, such as throws, cannot be “taught” in any normal sense of the word. Read more of this post

The Perniciousness of Mimicry

This is not a bee.

In an old blog entry on the subject of Steven “Runs Like a Girl” Seagal, the martial teacher and commentator Steve Morris noted that the secret to the success of liars like Seagal is that they are able to convince people of their ability, despite the fact that they lack ability. He stated:

“their greatest talent does not lie in what they get paid for doing, but in their ability to get people to believe that what they do is for real and what they say is true.”

This is the art of the mimic. In nature, a mimic is something which has- through the process of natural selection- evolved over countless generations an uncanny similarity to another thing, be that thing an inanimate object, a part of a plant, or another animal. This similarity offers protection from predators… Or disguises the mimic’s dangerousness, depending on the type of camouflage employed. Read more of this post

Steven Seagal… The Man Who Should Fail

This man’s face is too small and vicious for his head

Steven Seagal is one of the great martial arts success stories of the past few decades. Here is a man who studied an- at the time- obscure martial art, became a high-ranking instructor in that art, moved to Hollywood, was discovered, became a star and has since made close to forty movies. He is the star of his own reality TV show, has released two albums of his own music, and is a prominent religious, political and animal rights activist.

Oh wait. I forgot to mention: He’s a fantasist, a bully and a terrible, terrible martial artist. He’s a man who should have failed in life, if anyone should. He simply does not deserve the fame, fortune and public platform that he currently has. He should fail. If there were any justice in the world… he would.

Now, what I just said is in fact self-evident (anyone who has seen Seagal perform… or in fact speak should realise the truth of this) but in the climate in which we find ourselves, where  the prevailing “wisdom” is that Seagal is a “martial arts master” and spiritual guru, my claim qualifies as an extraordinary claim. And as such, it requires very detailed evidence to support it. Well, never let it be said that I do not shoulder my responsibilities: Read more of this post

Skillfulness and Unskillfulness

Buddhism has long been associated with the Chinese martial arts. There is an old legend (often wheeled out erroneously as a fact) that some of the first organised forms of Chinese martial arts were born when a buddhist bodhisattva (a person who has totally dedicated themselves towards seeking enlightenment and liberation) from India came to China and taught the monks of a temple called Shao Lin (Mountain-forest) the rudiments of buddhist breathing meditation.

This prototype “Chi Gung” or “Energy work” became the basis of the increasingly demanding physical workouts for the monks, which (so the legend says) evolved into martial forms of Shaolin Gung Fu, which then evolved into various southern and northern styles of Gung Fu, and were re-worked and exported to other nations such as Indonesia, the Phillipines and Japan. Read more of this post

Boundaries… and Honesty

This post will discuss personal boundaries, self-worth and the importance of honesty in both areas.

The great martial artist and martial philosopher Bruce Lee was fond of saying that martial arts are all about “expressing yourself honestly”, and also “not lying to oneself”. And he was right on the money.  The discipline of being honest with oneself and honest to others is key in the proper application of martial arts in all potential settings. Read more of this post

Chi… Can Surprise

And now, dear readers, we come to a topic of discussion which- while uncontentious in scientific circles- is still a hot potato amongst people at large. I refer to the question of “Chi”, the chinese word meaning “vital energy” (the Japanese word is “Ki”), though in early Chinese writings it translated directly as “breath”. (Note the similarity to “Spiritus”, a latin word technically meaning “breath”, but which is in Catholic services commonly used to refer to “spirit” or “ghost”.)

For me, the genesis and nature of this concept is fairly obvious and immediately apparent: In ancient times, the mechanisms by which life processes are generated was unclear. Ancient peoples only had vague folk-sciences to explain why breathing air keeps one alive, why eating food keeps one alive, and why diseases occur. The concept of “the soul” was created in order to try to explain each person’s individual character, memories and apparent continuity of personality. Read more of this post

Not the Face!

A colleague of mine has for some time been considering training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Knowing this (and angling for a blog topic), I recently asked him what- as a newcomer to the martial arts- was the most important question regarding the training he wanted an answer to.

“Will I get hurt?” was his instantaneous response.

This is a much deeper question than its brevity suggests, and a full answer is going to take a good amount of text: Read more of this post

Definition of the term “Martial Art”

A contentious issue indeed is the issue of how to actually define what is, and what is not, a martial art. However, it’s an important issue to address, if one is intending to write reams of guff about martial arts.

Let’s be clear on several points:

1. The term “martial art” is a European term, deriving from Latin roots. It refers to the “arts of Mars”, that is, the arts of war or battle. (Mars being the Roman equivalent of the Greek god of war, Ares.)

2. In the age in which the term was coined, the word “art” did not necessarily mean an “artistic display” in the way we most commonly understand the term today. It did not (and does not) necessarily refer to abstract aesthetic art, but instead to “skill” or “method which has been learned”. In other words, dance is the art of the dancer, and fighting is the art of the fighter. Cooking is the art of the cook. Read more of this post