Portland and Thresholds

Portland and Thresholds

I recently had a breakthrough in teaching. I started thinking in terms of thresholds. I'll get back to that, but first let me remind readers that I'm teaching in Portland this weekend! 

I'm also doing a little book signing at Portland Shaolin Friday evening, where I am planning to spill some of the hot stuff from my next book which is all about Tai Chi. I discovered a play that features Zhang Sanfeng fighting 24 palace guards, and it dates to the Sixteenth Century, it is the oldest reference to Tai Chi ever discovered other than General Qi Jiguang. And I also dive into Qi Jiguang's participation in a Zhang Sanfeng cult. Yes, I'm doing this! Will you be there?

Read More

Is Surgery Better than Qigong? Ask Claudé Levi-Strauss

Is Surgery Better than Qigong? Ask Claudé Levi-Strauss

We have tested the idea that what a patient believes is the cause of placebo, and belief isn't the cause. Placebo's work on small children and animals, do they really think they are convincing animals to "believe?" But people who are embedded in Protestant Scientistic culture just can't hear that. It is a good example of cognitive dissonance. 

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/surgery-is-one-hell-of-a-placebo/

 

Read More

Did Self-Defense Inspire Women's Equality?

The notion of sovereignty is and always has been related to an entities ability to defend itself. To be sovereign one must have the capacity to set boundaries. The idea of individual sovereignty is no different. It is no coincidence that the notion of women's rights came about in the same decade (1850) as the Colt 45 revolver.  Yes, there have alway been women who were good with weapons, but the Colt 45 was the first mass produced weapon that was easy for anyone to carry and deploy. 

The video below of Dr Emelyne Godfrey on Suffragette jujitsu explores how notions of crime and punishment were changing in the 1800s and led to an interest in unarmed combat. Perhaps, as a society becomes wealthier it sees property crimes as less immoral, and crimes of assault as more immoral. Life had to become less "cheap" for people to want self-defense without weapons. Very interesting subject, much to think about. Check it out! 

Dr Emelyne Godfrey presenting on the jujitsu of nineteenth and early twentieth century Suffragettes in the UK at the Martial Arts Studies Research Network event in Bath, UK, on 3rd May 2017

A Citation and a Review

A Citation and a Review

Paul Bowman's latest paper on embodiment has a citation, and a wonderful footnote at the end, for my book Possible Origins. It's called, "Embodiment as Embodiment of." I suspect readers will need an Academia.edu account to access it. Accounts are free, it's a great service. And I really appreciate the citations because that's how I will get my book into libraries. That and Journal reviews of course.

Chris Pierce wrote a review of how fun it is to collaborate with me. Check it out. I'm always looking for collaborators. Collaborating is difficult, but with the right person/people it is very rewarding. Reach out if you want to work on something amazing.

Read More

Methods are Overrated

Methods are Overrated

As my readers may know, I spent 9 years living as an urban hermit while I was studying Religious Daoism with Liu Ming. The practice itself included a large number of different methods. Just on the surface, I constructed an elevated quiet room dedicated to solo meditation and tea ceremony which was painted with faux gold leaf, it had sliding shoji doors and fitted tatami mats. Some of the methods included a great deal of reading and reciting, following a complex calendar, building and rebuilding a community center several times using fengshui, diagnostic cooking with Chinese herbs and other diet-regulatory practices, ritual bathing for purification; not to mention my daily qigong, daoyin, gongfu, neijia, practices as well as music, teaching, and an unbelievable amount of free time.

Read More

The Artifact of Not Stepping

The Artifact of Not Stepping

Warning: This post is a bit gruesome.

The emphasis on "applications" in martial arts training has long seemed contrived to me. When you are training more than five hours a day, every day, as I did in my early twenties, you quickly learn that techniques are as common as blades of grass and not very important to the overall skill set.  But also that some techniques are simpler and more important than others.

Read More

Martial Arts Anthropology

Martial Arts Anthropology

Douglas Farrer sent me this, nice to see martial arts getting its due:

Dear friends, co-authors, and colleagues,

The panel 'Anthropology, martial arts and the State' was accepted today for a major forthcoming conference AAS/ASA/ASAANZ 2017, SHIFTING STATES, Adelaide 11-14 Dec. For details see: http://shiftingstates.info/theme

This is a significant moment in martial arts studies as it demonstrates international academic interest in the investigation of martial arts as a scholarly discourse. I hope to see you there!! Any volunteers for papers, or to act as discussant, please contact me.

Read More

Puppets and Internal Martial Arts

Puppets and Internal Martial Arts

I just want to get this idea in print, maybe get some feedback on it.

I have been saying for less than a year that perhaps translating Neijia as "internal school" is limiting. Perhaps it should be translated "inward school." That would make Waijia the "outward school." Why? because I think once we truly discard the idea of cultivating power, or storing up power, the idea of using outward moving force seems unnecessary. Outward moving force, by definition, breaks whole body unity. Basically I'm talking about the habit of pushing. By pushing I mean specifically having a hand on the opponent and a foot on the ground and using force to increase the distance between the foot and the hand. 

Read More

In the News

Teaching huajin (continuous changing power) in Israel.

Teaching huajin (continuous changing power) in Israel.

Facebook and Twitter are better mediums for posting news articles. But occasionally I have a few articles that go together and could benefit from a little commentary.

The most interesting is this one on Lao She, a fiction writer from the 1920s-30s. I came across it because I was looking for his writings on martial arts in the aftermath of the Boxer Rebellion. Like so many Chinese intellectuals and performers he was tortured to death. Just a note for careful readers, anytime they say he was tortured and then committed suicide, that is just a creepy attempt to make "the event" sound tragic instead of the perpetrators sounding evil. 

Here is a review of Ian Johnson's book about religious renewal in China. It includes a history of Christianity in China and a lot of first-person accounts of what it is like to be religious in China. 

And then there is this weird one. Actually it is weird because it isn't weird. A Lesbian Daoist's Daughter makes a Film. As Laozi asks, "How long has it been since normal seemed normal."

Daoist Music

Daoist Music

The gongs and the wind instruments all vibrate. A particular property of high pitched vibrations is that they can be aimed around a space, they move and bounce especially if the musicians are moving them intentionally. That is a huge part of Daoist music, and a property which I never noticed listening to recordings. The first part of the concert was a procession that twisted around campus and the second part was in a room that held about 100 people. This music is spatial, it interacts with the space. It also has some strange properties live that I never noticed in recordings. The faster pieces kept putting me in a hypnotic state, I kept falling asleep. At the same time they were frenetic. The rhythms are not dance music as far as I know, but if you were to try and move to this music you would be shaking, jumping and flailing, it is a bit like punk rock. It reminded me of

Read More