Congolese Wrestling : Catch Fétiche

This is a terrific article about wrestling in the Congo that makes you want more and more. (hat tip to Theo)


It is from Vice Magazine.

A local fighter lays "dead" after his opponent tears out his guts and eats them. At a Catch Fetiche match, its sometimes hard to figure out what's real and what's part of the show. Jackson Fager for VICE News.

I googled Catch Fétiche which is what it is called. Lot’s of great stuff, check it out.

Catch Fétiche - loosely translated, "voodoo wrestling" - is a uniquely Congolese fighting style: a combination of traditional African wrestling moves, old religious practices, and one man's obsession with Hulk Hogan.

I could probably write a wild commentary on this if I wasn’t hours away from putting up the pre-orders for my book, with the ToTaL bOOk LaUnCH happening on MAY 12th, which is the angry baby god Nezha’s birthday.

In the meantime, read this book!

Lotus Elixir Body


It is not quite finished but I have been working on the text for the back cover of my book, thoughts?

The Immortal and the Angry Baby…

General Qi Jiguang was coughing up blood, near death in a field hospital, when he received a visit from the Sage Lin Zhao’en. Lin performed a martial exorcism (with talismans and explosions) enshrining the vengeful ghosts (of pirates) who blamed General Qi for their deaths—Lin also taught Qi the first stage of the Golden Elixir of Immortality. General Qi was completely healed, beginning a twenty year relationship between the General and the Sage. Lin claimed to have learned the Golden Elixir during night time visits by the Immortal Zhang Sanfeng. The Immortal was a fantastic theatrical character who could defeat 24 palace guards with 32 moves while snoring like an earthquake and smelling of booze and vomit. These are (nearly) the same 32 moves General Qi wrote about, which later became known as Tai Chi!


Cutting off his flesh and returning it to his mother, then giving his bones to his father, the dragon-killer Nezha was done. Or so it seemed for several months until his secret father Taiyi gave him a new body made of the Golden Elixir and lotus flowers—making him not only invincible, but also the greatest fighter in all of China. Worshipped by caravan guards and rebels, Nezha was also the nick name for the city of Beijing, Nezha City. Once the most important hero-god in Chinese culture—in 1899 thousands of Boxer Rebels possessed by Nezha failed to protect the capital! Afterwards, Nezha followers became the targets of intense ridicule. Martial artists who practiced the dance of Nezha, had to create a new history to hide it, and they called it Baguazhang, a “pure” martial art.

The reason you never heard these histories….is a reason so dark few have dared to speak about it, until now…


Scott Park Phillips has a reputation for making his students stronger, smarter, richer, funnier and better looking. He lives in Colorado, where he mixes martial arts with improvisational theater, dance ethnology, and Daoist studies. He is also the author of Possible Origins: A Cultural History of Chinese Martial Arts, Theater, and Religion (2016).

Daoist Studies Conference 2019 Los Angeles

Here is the description of the workshop I’m teaching in Los Angeles.

Re-Enchanting Internal Martial Arts

(June 20th-23rd)

In this lecture-demo-participatory-happening we will sample Baguazhang 八卦掌 as theater, where the lotus elixir 蓮煉丹 is the source of extraordinary martial prowess.

Through Baguazhang we will meet the child god Nezha 哪吒 and walk through mud, create a lotus body flowering out to infinity, and practice nixing 逆行—walking backwards inside of walking forwards. This anti-journey is reverse shamanism. Once outside of time 先天 (xiantian) we will fight dragons, cut away our flesh, return our bones, and meet Taiyi 太乙, Nezha’s spirit-father.

Together we will re-enchant the physical with the imaginal. This delightful, belly laugh-inducing practice is serious. To become a Zhenren 真人 (Perfect Person) one must walk a reverse path! Wind-fire wheels provided.

Scott Park Phillips is the author of Possible Origins, A Cultural History of Chinese Martial Arts, Theater and Religion (2016), and the forthcoming Tai Chi, Baguazhang, & the Golden Elixir, Internal Martial Arts Before the Boxer Uprising (2019). He lives in Colorado, where he teaches martial arts with improvisational theater, dance ethnology, and Daoist studies to children and adults.

Aikido the Art of World Domination

My friend Graham Barlow, who lives in the ancient Roman resort town of Bath, has a wonderful podcast interview about the Origins of Aikido. It is a highly recommended walk on dark side.

This is an interview with Damon Smith. By the end, he argues that Aikido is in separable from the religion of Oomoto Kyo. If you want to read about my adventures in Japan with the Oomoto religion, read my book, Possible Origins, A Cultural History of Chinese Martial Arts, Theater and Religion. The part on Oomoto is in the introduction, where I discuss Japanese Tea Ceremony as a way to experience what a religion based in performing rituals is like.

Read Impro

Every so often I remind people to read Impro, by Keith Johnstone. it is one of the best books ever written. It is about the theater, but it is so transgressive for theater people that they often don’t know what to do with it. However, nearly everyone else who reads it—priests, martial artists, security guards, dentists, navy seals, stay at home moms—they all find it liberating and inspiring. There is a good chance you will too.