It has been a bit of time since my last post. In the time since, I have been flooded (well…not really flooded) with emails that contained questions, criticisms, and comments. I have decided to answer some of them here, as this is as good a format as any. So, let us begin…
You have gone on and on about lineage, and how you feel it doesn’t matter in the modern martial arts. To me, these seems to be the battle cry of one with a weak, or unknown lineage. How can you answer this? Isn’t this more like you just attacking people who have what you do not? Are you not simply trying to tear down those who went to the considerable time and expense of traveling to, and training under those well known and well respected masters? Or do you have something to hide?
True enough, I do talk down the importance of lineage and rarely if ever going into any detail on my own. And the fact is that if you have the time, money, and inclination to travel to and train with “well known and well respected masters”, more power to you! I honestly hope that in doing so you find what you are looking for. I really wish everyone could find what they are looking for and the world would probably be a much more peaceful place if things were so.
I do not begrudge anyone who trains under the well known martial arts instructors (although if we are honest, most of the well known instructors do little to none of their own teaching…not trying to burst your bubbles, but facts are facts). What I stand against is the people who try to use the name of the person they trained under as a sort of badge of authenticity. Within several styles, one can obtain a certificate to teach the style through doing nothing more than paying a small fortune and spending a week to ten days at the “master’s” school. This is a common practice in many martial arts styles. And the people that do this will show their certificate and proudly talk about their lineage. If you actually meet with, train with frequently, and follow the the teachings of the well known instructor, then you trained under him or her. If you attend a seminar here and there and collect certificates, then their name belongs no where on your lineage.
I also do not discuss lineage because it really doesn’t matter. If you are a terrible martial artist, it does not matter who you trained under. If you are great, it still doesn’t matter who you trained under.
In conversations with martial artists, the best tend to be those who always want to get better, and they rarely, if ever discuss who they have trained with, as it is of lesser importance to them than what they can still learn. What you know should always be more important than who you know and who told you what you know.
And sorry if it is a disappointment, but I have nothing to hide. my lineage is legitimate, although you will need to go back two generations to find a pretty familiar name. That is, unless you ran is some pretty specific circles in Denver in the 70s or Austin in the 80s. If you are ever nearby, and you really want to know, stop by and ask all of the detailed questions you want. You are sure, however, to be disappointed if you are looking for drama.
Now we move on to this little gem;
If you, sir, had ever felt the very real power of Qi, you would be a believer. I have felt it, and can only say that your campaign against it is ludicrous. I don’t see how any real Chinese martial artist could ever take you seriously enough to bother, but I must say that you are either completely uneducated, or an outright buffoon.”
Well, where do I start with this one?
A buffoon I may be. I do love to make people laugh, and even if it means that they are laughing at me, it makes no difference.
I would ask you to go over to the about page…read it just one teeny tiny little time.
Did you see the line where I tell you not to take me too seriously? I thought not. Go back and check it again.
Yup, it is there after all.
Now, for the record, I don’t tell you to not take me seriously because I just write and publish things to get a reaction, along the lines of, “any publicity is good publicity.” When I say this, I am saying one thing, if you are offended and I mean seriously offended by anything I write, you are taking things far too seriously, and you need to chill out.
More often than not, I sit in front of my computer, and the words flow through my brain and I type them. No muss, no fuss. Much as this post is going. The series on self-defense, that was researched, and outlined, and then written. This, I am responding to emails. This is easy. My rants against all of the nonsense surrounding Qi power, those were off the top of my head. I don’t need to sit and think through an argument against something so stupid as Qi power, it falls all apart on its own when anyone is willing to shine some light on it.
Why are there so few, then, who shine light on it? Glad you asked! There are few who bother because there is no money in it. It really is that simple!
If you really want to make an interesting argument, attack my points instead of attacking me. I would be more than happy to publicly debate you on the subject of Qi power, but you will first need to show that you know how to argue.
We move on to this now:
I have been trying to convince some of my martial arts friends that what you say is true, and the qi is not real, and they just make fun of me for it. You are my hero! How can I convince them that they are mislead?”
I am really not a hero. I am sure if you take the time, you can find someone closer to home who would be a better hero for you.
To your question, I learned the hard way that you have to let your friends believe what they want. If you are constantly trying to convert them to your way of thinking, you will lose those friends. If you just be yourself, educate yourself on what your views are and why you think these are the truth, and then only bring it up in conversation when someone else turns the subject into this field of thought, you will find yourself to be much happier for it. It is a waste of your time and energy to try to convince others of what you see. They see things as they wish, just as you do. Would you be offended if they constantly tried to convince you that your views are incorrect? Of course you would! Well, they are the same way. Just as no argument is going to convince a muslim to become Catholic, no argument, no matter how fact based and well founded is ever going to convince a qi believer to become a qi non-believer. This is a point of view they will need to adopt for themselves. The biggest thing is to understand that you have no real need to convince anyone of anything. When I write these articles, I am not trying to convince, I am trying to speak to like minded individuals. Sharing is more fun and trying to win converts. I’ve done both, so you can trust me on this one.
What are your thoughts on the importance of visualization in the martial arts?”
Without trying to sound all mystical and stupid, visualization is a training tool I use every single day, without fail. Visualization is the first step toward success. And the funny thing is, it is not nearly so mystical as it seems. Visualization has more to do with training the puppy brain, or monkey brain that it has to do with anything spiritual or mystical.
There are others who have spoken in depth and great detail on the triune brain. We all have three levels of brain function. I like the terms used by MacYoung and Montaigue. The lizard brain is in charge of the very base instincts. Look at a lizard, all they know is eat, sleep, poo. The next level is what Montaigue referred to as the puppy brain, and MacYoung calls the Monkey brain (taking into consideration evolutionary sciences, monkey is the more appropriate term, but I work mostly with kids and they do laugh a lot when I tell them they have a puppy brain…). The highest level is the human brain.
When we train visualization, we are not creating our own reality, we are training our puppy brain. The lizard brain cannot be taught anything, it is pure instinct, and the human brain will shut down in a crisis,but the puppy brain, it can learn a few tricks. And when we are willing to put in the time and effort, we can teach the puppy brain some pretty remarkable things. The easiest way that I know of to teach the puppy brain anything is to use visualization and as close as possible to the real things simulation physical training.
I also feel that visualization is where most people who are getting a lot out of their training of forms is the defining difference. Toa one; the people I have known who were unable to gain any substantial benefits from training forms all had poor visualization skills. If your instructor, school or style places a heavy emphasis on forms practice, over other methods, learn and use visualization, and you will be much better off for it.
There we have our first session of the mailbag, and no one was even eaten!!