Commentary on “No Touch Knock Outs”

I came across this article and wanted to comment on it. In order to show that I am not editing the article in order to make it easier to make my point, you may see it for yourself at http://kicksboxes.blogspot.com/2008/01/clearing-air-on-dillman-thomas.html This version was copy and pasted on February 6, 2008 at 1:32 PM, and discrepancies would be due to later editing on the part of the author and not me. My comments will be inserted in red.  

Friday, January 25, 2008CLEARING THE AIR ON DILLMAN & THOMAS

Char-la-tan (n.) a person who pretends to be an expert in something or to have more skill that is really the case; quack; fake. That’s how Websters defines the word charlatan, but many martial artists on websites and forums like Bullshido.com or FightingArts.com would like to define it as ‘George Dillman,’ or as my instructor, ‘Chris Thomas.’ Although I do not post or even read anything from the sites listed above, I would most definitely include a picture of George Dillman beside any definition of charlatan. I will own up to the fact that I have never heard of Thomas. The people on these sites liken Dillman and Thomas to greedy, snake-oil salesmen who prey upon gullible students by pretending to have impossible skills. They accuse them of misleading the public with fantastic demonstrations of ‘chi’ power that are really nothing more than a pretentious charade; a hoax elegantly designed to fool a naïve public. I believe in calling it what it is, and this is a pretty accurate definition of what the above listed “master” does to the general public.What annoys these critics is the fact that Dillman and Thomas both maintain that it is possible to train yourself to use a mystical, life-force energy, commonly known as chi to injure, knock-out, or even kill an opponent. Of course they do! How else would they get idiots to part with their money? Certainly no one would drop money for a seminar where the “master” openly states that his is a skill that no one may acquire no matter how much they train and practice! One of the parts of the deception is a convincing statement that “you too can have this godlike power!”

Neither Dillman nor Thomas invented the concept of chi; True; neither Dillman nor Thomas invented the concept of chi, but that is beside the point.
the idea that the body is somehow nourished by channels of invisible energy, which has been with us, in one way or another, for thousands of years. Chi energy is the basis for acupuncture and shiatsu massage treatments. Energetic pathways flowing through the body is also a common concept in Yoga. An understanding of health that does not solely rely upon physical phenomena has always been common throughout much of the world. Only in the modern West is such medicine called “Alternative.” The length of time that an idea has existed does not make it true. For centuries it was believed that the sun revolved around the earth. Furthermore, the notion of chi energy is nothing new to the martial arts. Systems like tai chi, kung fu (kung fu is not a system, but an umbrella term applied by westerners to any Chinese martial art), and aikido, as well as many others, are heavily based on energetic understanding. Many famous Okinawan karate instructors were known to have studied from a pressure point text known as the Bubishi. No one has claimed that the idea of Qi energy is new. Again, this is a classic straw man argument. Saying that other systems use pressure points has nothing whatsoever to do with the topic at hand – that there are people who use fake mystical garbage to get gullible people to part with their cash.So if this knowledge of chi energy is so common, why are the critics so wound up against Dillman’s pressure point method? The full list is rather long, so I will simply insert the reasons as we get to them.Well, when Dillman first learned how pressure points could be used to disrupt an opponent’s internal energy system, he had to hit those points rather hard. There really wasn’t any surprise there… you hit someone hard, and they fall down; big deal. Actually, it is a big deal. It is because of the people who forever want an easy way out that people such as Dillman are able to make money with their nonsense.However as he began to practice and teach ways that pressure points could be used in fighting, he slowly found that he didn’t need to hit as hard anymore. Dillman, and his students, learned that they could actually send their own chi into another person with an even stronger effect than if they had actually hit them. LET THE B.S. BEGIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Eventually, some people where able to perform knock-outs while hardly even touching their training partners. This is pure nonsense. They were able to knock people out by striking areas such as the arms, legs, or body, that wouldn’t normally be thought to have anything to do with loosing consciousness. If you strike any part of the body in a manner which causes the brain stem to kink, then there will be a resulting knock out. However, the strike will need to be of considerable power to kink the brain stem. None of this no-touch knock out will happen. Still, the knock-outs were often successful.

By then, a fair number of critics already began to wail that such demonstrations were impossible. There was no way that a man could be knocked out by simply being struck on the arm. It was ridiculous to think that someone would slowly go unconscious while being lightly touched on the forehead and at the back of the neck. It had to be fake. It is fake.

But the final straw came when Dillman eventually claimed that it was possible to perform knock-outs without even touching a person. By properly focusing your chi energy, he held, you could cause a person standing at the other side of a large room, to pass out. Both he and his students demonstrated these types of no-touch knockouts many times. But the fact remains that these “demonstrations” were performed on their own people. Any time they have tried to demonstrate on an unwilling participant, the “no-touch knock out” has failed, because it is garbage.

Recently, Dillman’s extravagant claims caught the attention of National Geographic, which wanted to do a documentary on his method. During the interview, one of Dillman’s top instructors, Leon Jay (Son of the famous ju jitsu expert, Wally Jay) agreed to attempt a no-touch knockout with a skeptical and disinclined chemist as a subject.

The knock-out, as you will see in the following video clip, was not successful.

  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JM_qg5d1YGI

Dillman’s critics went wild. What a hustler, a fake, a phony. How could ANYONE believe that swindler?
What terrible men Dillman and Thomas must be to deceive all those poor martial artists? How could they be so greedy… so arrogant? Such charlatans. Well put! If you watch this video, or any of the other dozens available on the net, you will see that the skill does not exist. And the explanations as to why it doesn’t work on the people who do not believe are even more preposterous than the initial claims of a no-touch knock out. Dillman himself states in the video presented that the guy who was not knocked out didn’t believe in the no-touch knock out, and implied that that was part of the reason it didn’t work. So one would then be safe from the no touch knock out artist by simply not believing in his skills! And the follow up reasons were even more asinine. Positioning of tongue or toes?! Give me a break. This type of idiocy makes me tired.

All of which brings me to the topic of today’s myth. I’m not going to cover whether or not no-touch knockouts are possible, They are not possible, so there is no “whether or not” to discuss. nor am I going to talk about whether or not ‘chi energy’ exists. (Although I promise to get to those topics in good time.) I am sure there are many who cannot wait!

Instead, where I need to begin is with the myth that George Dillman, with the help of Chris Thomas, have somehow schemed to trick others into believing in the concept of ‘chi energy’ either as a way to make enormous amounts of money or to somehow artificially inflate their reputations as martial artists. It is not a scheme to trick other into believing in the concept of QI energy, it is an attempt to make people believe that there is a method whereby one may knock out an adversary without touching them.

Where is the U.S. military in all of this? Why do we still send our soldiers out to die when we could use a collective Qi blast to annihilate our enemies from a safe distance without even touching them? 

It doesn’t really bother me, one way or another, whether people accept pressure point fighting, also known as kyoshu jitsu, as an art. (It seems to work well for me and that’s enough.) Off topic, yet again! Pressure point fighting is not the same as no touch knock outs! The two are completely different. Any person with a body knows that there are points that can produce great pain when pressure is applied! However, before I can have an honest conversation about pressure point theory, I need to clear the air of some of the accusations floating around against its sponsors.

First, is the charge that people like Dillman or Thomas only promote pressure point theory as some sort of scheme to get rich. Again, the problem REAL martial artists have with Dillman and his sort is not in the pressure point “theory”, it is the no touch Qi knock outs.

In addition to seminars which take place across the country and all over the world, there is also a successful series of books and dozens of instructional videos. George Dillman has also owned the former training camp of boxing legend Muhammad Ali, where he instructed at special weekend getaways. Certainly, the critics argue, Dillman and his crew are making tons of money off of their illusion.

While it’s true that Dillman holds more seminars than any other instructor on the martial arts circuit; selling books and videos along the way, he isn’t exactly a multimillionaire. Having or not having money does not make a fraudulent art less fraudulent.

Teaching on the road isn’t easy. There’s transportation, food, and lodging costs; not to mention book publishing, video production, and advertising expenses. Often people see the turnout at a seminar and assume that lots of money is being made, when really the net profit can be quite meager. I would not feel sorry for anyone not getting rich from lying to the public.

Although he might make a couple thousand dollars at a really good seminar, (which is pretty good money for 4-8 hours of work) you also have to factor in all the organization, planning, and travel time. Suddenly, it all doesn’t seem quite so profitable. I am guessing this is supposed to legitimize the fraud? Aside from the fact that planning and travel time are free.

And while I can only guess at Dillman’s profits, I can tell you for certain that his co-author, Chris Thomas, lives a very middle class lifestyle. During the day, he works as the pastor of a small church in Wisconsin, occasionally teaching seminars when he can.

There are no BMWs or Mercedes Benz in his driveway and contrary to the fantasies of his critics, he doesn’t live in a sprawling mansion either. His home is small, cozy, and fairly unremarkable among the other houses in his blue-collar neighborhood.

Occasionally, Chris Thomas will meet a martial artist at a seminar or somewhere and invite them to train with a group at his home, or in the dojo of a friend. I was one of the lucky ones who have been invited to train with him.

In regards to his concern for money, I can tell you that Thomas has never charged any of us for the classes that he taught at his home. (However, we do occasionally ‘pay’ him with gifts of doughnuts and Mountain Dew.)

So while they have been successful at building a large following of students, neither Dillman, nor Thomas seem unduly motivated by the pursuit of financial gain. (And even if they were; Why mess up their growing enterprise with fantastic claims of touchless knockouts?) This is precisely where there following comes from! People love to believe there are super powers out there. When I was a young and aspiring martial artist, I was under the impression that such powers existed, and that if only I would train hard enough, under the right people, such power could be mine as well! But, as I found out quickly, such powers do not exist. To anyone about to give money to someone who may be teaching this nonsense, remember what they taught you in fifth grade science about the scientific method; it has to be 1. observable, 2. explainable, 3. testable and 4. repeatable. And the repeatable cannot be explained away with the “Dillman has performed it on thousands of his mindless followers” line.

So maybe it isn’t the money. Of course it’s the money.  Maybe they made up a far-fetched scam as a way to boost their on egos. I am sure this would factor in somewhere. Perhaps what they really want is the admiration and devotion and money from thousands of martial arts students. Some people do rather crazy things just to feel important. Just look at Dillman!

Now, while we can’t actually see into the minds of Dillman or Thomas, nor can we be certain of their motivations; We can observe their actions Which speak volumes and the way they behave around their students.

We have to ask:

– Do they shamelessly attempt to pass themselves off as all-knowing authorities? No, they attempt to pass themselves off as possessors of secret knowledge and superhuman abilities.   
– Are they arrogantly flattered by all the attention they receive? It is obvious that Dillman loves the attention, but everyone loves attention. This is still beside the point.

– Do they become secretive and aloof when asked questions? Nope, they start spouting BS.

If so, that would indicate that they may have concocted a hoax simply to attract the amazement of others. No, they have concocted a hoax to attract the money of others. It could be that Dillman and Thomas so longed for the admiration and money of others, that they would create an elaborate scheme in order to fool the public into believing that they were the keepers of miraculous abilities. That is it in a nutshell.
My own observations as a student show, however, that this is not the case. I will be sure to properly weigh your opinion. While many martial art instructors try to establish themselves as somehow superior to their students, maintaining an arrogant manner, dwelling exclusively on their so-called accomplishments, and smugly proclaiming their method is best; I have noticed that Dillman and Thomas take another approach.While Thomas is careful to argue the validity of his methods, he does so without insulting or attacking the opinions of others. Which is usually the accusation applied to anyone who publicly disagrees with them. He has always pointed out that his techniques might not work the same for everyone. But do the techniques work ON everyone? If I have a choice between learning a choke which will work on everyone, or a no touch Qi blast which will work on the people who believe in such nonsense, I will spend my money learning the choke! If, as a student, one of his techniques does not work for me, I am free to change it. Change it to a groin kick.

Before training with Thomas, I had been heavily indoctrinated into the traditional martial way of subordinating yourself to your instructors. I only referred to my instructors as Sir, Sensi, or Master. I NEVER interrupted, questioned, or criticized my instructors, and always followed their directions.

In college, I even belonged to a tae kwon do club that actually engaged in the hazing of it’s kyu ranked members, yet I never thought to question the abusive activities because I thought I was following a ‘tradition.’

Training with Chris Thomas, on the other hand, is very informal. In class, all students refer to him by his first name. (Something that took me a long time to get used to.)

Questions are not only welcome, but expected. In fact, instruction is often interrupted by someone who becomes so excited by a new idea or technique that they can’t wait to share.

Our class regularly splits off into small groups of students discussing different concepts or techniques. At times, it can become rather chaotic, but Chris doesn’t seem to mind. What’s important is that we are all learning.

This isn’t the kind of place an overbearing, or controlling instructor would feel comfortable teaching. It certainly isn’t for someone who hopes to gain a bunch of followers with tricky deceptions.

When asked, Thomas told me that he learned much of his teaching style from Dillman. “George is the first person I ever saw bring people up to help teach a seminar,” he told me. “Where else have you ever seen ‘the master’ give other people the opportunity to demonstrate a technique – and not just the high-ranking Black belts, but anybody?”

If Dillman and Thomas have somehow made up the whole no-touch knockout thing only to impress others with their incredible abilities, then they really should stop sharing all of their notoriety with everyone. It ruins the effect. It ruins nothing! This is another side  point which has nothing whatsoever to do with the issue you profess to speak about!

Also, most phony martial art teachers refuse to teach others any of their ‘secret techniques.’ They always claim that “it’s too dangerous for other people to know” or that it “takes years of study to learn… I’ll teach you when you ready.”

Dillman and Thomas, however do not conceal any of their knowledge. As soon as they learn or figure out something, they can’t wait to share it with the rest of the martial arts community. For a fee!

This in fact, may be why the National Geographic documentary was such a failure – the no-touch techniques were simply unrefined and not ready for demonstration. In his zeal to show what he was working on, Dillman was caught unprepared. Excuses again! It would be soooooo refreshing to have one of these pseudo masters step up when caught and say, “Yeah, I’m sorry. It was all just a joke that got out of hand…”

So, if Dillman and Thomas have not invented the concept of no-touch knockouts to swindle enormous amounts of money, nor to artificially inflate their own sense of self-worth; then why would they try to establish such a bizarre notion like no-touch knockouts? This is funny to me; the way you move on now asking this question as if your point is proven beyond a doubt.

The reason, like it or not, is because they believe in what they are doing. Who was it who said, “It’s not a lie, if you believe it.”?

They may be wrong, they may be misguided, they could even be delusional; but they honestly believe in what they are teaching.

It’s very easy to be skeptical about pressure point theory again it isn’t the pressure point theory at issue here; especially when someone claims that they can knock others unconscious without even touching them. In fact, we should be skeptical about those kinds of claims.

However, when we don’t understand or doubt something, we have a tendency to become suspicious of the people making the claims and assume some hidden motive behind their actions.

It’s too easy to dismiss pressure point theory simply by attacking the intentions of Dillman and Thomas. Whatever their reasons for pursuing this method of martial arts, we owe it to ourselves to accept or reject the theory based on our own observations rather than the supposed motivations of it’s promoters. True, reject the no touch knock out because it is a fantasy.

Only then can we honestly discuss and try to understand these strange ideas. Only then can we be certain that the things we choose to believe truly have merit. The truth is easy to ascertain.

In closing, I hope that I’ve demonstrated on this blog that I’m a pretty ‘normal’ person. I get up every morning, go to work, and try to take care of my family. I pay bills, watch television, and worry about things like the economy, terrorism, or lead paint in toys – just like most everyone else.

I also practice the martial art of Kyushu jitsu.

I do so because I believe that it’s an effective method of self-defense and because I like the way pressure point theory enhances my understanding of the techniques that I’ve been taught. The theory helps to explain many of the movements found in my forms, while also providing options that can be used to face larger or stronger opponents. It improves my ability to perform joint locks and increases the effectiveness of my strikes.

As I study this art, I have created many of my own opinions. (Expressing them is probably one of the primary reasons for writing this blog.)

I do not necessarily agree with everything Dillman or Thomas teach; nor do I have to. My instructor has given me permission to think for myself. Did you really NEED permission to think for yourself?

I can understand why so many people are cynical regarding this art, (Hell, I’m not even sure how much of this stuff I believe!) and always welcome respectful skepticism.

Through open discussion, trial, and error, I believe that we can discover the methods of self-protection that work best for each of us. Our movements become more efficient, our techniques more effective, and our reactions effortless, as we progress from the backdrop of mere punches and kicks into the realm of martial art.

I hope you’ll join me again soon as we continue to explore some of the concepts of not only Kyushu jitsu, but also the martial arts in general.

Thank you for your time and keep training,

Respectfully,

Rick

While it has been fun, I have to repeat that this type of nonsense makes me tired. I work very hard for every bit of skill I have learned, as have countless other martial artists. But people want so bad to believe in this type of absurdity that they go to a charlatan rather than an authentic instructor. It really makes me sad. I am proud to have students who want to learn the real thing, but the fact that people misrepresent what the martial arts really are and use the gullibility of the masses to pass on this nonsense makes me sick. I have waited my whole life to see super powers…still waiting.  

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