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  1. xingyifa is offline

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    Posted On:
    6/15/2005 2:04am


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    Hell yeah! Hell no!

    Ironshirt

    Hey all
    We've all seen the flashy shaolin documentaries on television where "authentic shaolin monks" bend bars of steel and sharpened spears with their throats. We've seen deadly kung fu masters break huge stacks of bricks with their incredible iron palm and most of us have even seen the occasional karateka take kicks to the groin. I think there's even an Ashida Kim book on the subject.

    Firstly, I wanted to get everyone's opinion about the pros and cons of such "ironbody" type training. Do you think it works? Do you think that a modern method is more practical, and specifically how so? Also, with regard to the whole "mystical chi" stuff that lies behind all this, what do you see as a scientific explanation for someone bending a sharpened spear against a soft tissue part of the body or taking a kick to the groin (painlessly?) etc...

    I realize that this could probably have been posted on the physical training forum but I would rather draw more attention to the bullshido aspect of such practices. However, I'd still be interested to hear what people think is effective with regard to toughening and conditioning in their own training.
    metta
  2. feedback is offline
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    Posted On:
    6/15/2005 2:07am

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     Style: Muay Thai

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    Well, when I meet somebody whose body I can't break, I'll take up their training.
    Tough is not how you act, tough is how you train.
  3. katana is offline

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    Posted On:
    6/15/2005 2:23am

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    Quote Originally Posted by xingyifa
    Firstly, I wanted to get everyone's opinion about the pros and cons of such "ironbody" type training. Do you think it works?
    No, it's just parlor tricks.

    Do you think that a modern method is more practical, and specifically how so? Also, with regard to the whole "mystical chi" stuff that lies behind all this, what do you see as a scientific explanation for someone bending a sharpened spear against a soft tissue part of the body or taking a kick to the groin (painlessly?) etc...
    They may not be bending the spear the way you think. We did some of these tricks in training at a school I attended in the past. The spear trick is done in many ways. The way I learned it is to make sure you have a good long staff/spear/whatever that is flexible. You can place the "point" of the spear on the soft tissue just above your sternum. Just before you bend the spear you tighten your neck muscles and lean forward to get the bend going. You can also use your hand on the spear tip (supposedly to "steady" it) to get the bend going down too. At this point the tip is not really on your throat any more as the flex in the pole has placed most of the pressure on your chest (the spear is curving towards you and the bend is going down your chest). You can then walk forward and your chest is doing the bending but people are still looking at your throat thinking that's what's doing it.

    I'm sure there are other tricks to it, but that's how I learned it. You'll notice that none of these spear demonstrations ever use a short stick because it's not flexible enough.

    Now for how to get kicked in the balls.

    You need to learn how to stand with your legs apart and right before the impact you roll your hips up and forward lifting your balls out of the way. If the person kicking you is using their instep (and your partner should be told to use their instep) they will hit the crotch area between your butt and testicles. It stings, but not as bad as a full on groin shot. If you watch videos of people gettiing kicked in the balls and go frame by frame you can almost always see them tweak their hips up and forward before impact.

    I realize that this could probably have been posted on the physical training forum but I would rather draw more attention to the bullshido aspect of such practices. However, I'd still be interested to hear what people think is effective with regard to toughening and conditioning in their own training.
    metta
    Dr. Hatsumi, grandmaster of the Bujinkan system, has an entire chapter in his book Essence of Ninjutsu describing many other martial arts tricks and how to do them. I have found references in other books as well but don't recall the titles off-hand. Basically you shouldn't be impressed with magic tricks unless you are at a magic show. Martial arts should be about fighting and not performing feats that the actor almost certainly knows are bogus when trying to impress people.

    EDIT: This page has some descriptions of many common tricks:

    http://tkdtutor.com/04Students/Knowledge/WhatsTruth.htm
    Last edited by katana; 6/15/2005 2:29am at .
  4. Astrosmurf is offline
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    Posted On:
    6/15/2005 2:25am

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    Most of those tricks depend as much on the guy striking/pushing etc as on the guy recieving. The spear to the throat must be set at a specific spot on the throat and pushed in the correct way into the throat. If they pull up a person from the audience and give him a spear and say: "Push it into the throat anyway you like!" then I will be impressed (if he isn't a plant).

    When I was a physics student one of the post-graduates did alot of tricks and explained them with physics. One I remember was him on a bed of nails with a concrete block on his chest. A friend of mine then whacked the concrete with a sledge-hammer. None of them had any martial arts/qigong training whatsoever.
  5. Mr. Mantis is offline
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    Posted On:
    6/15/2005 8:28am

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     Style: Kung Fu

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Quote Originally Posted by xingyifa
    Firstly, I wanted to get everyone's opinion about the pros and cons of such "ironbody" type training. Do you think it works? Do you think that a modern method is more practical, and specifically how so?
    Yes it does work. But martial arts was not originally intended to be a bunch of cheap parlor tricks. Also, you can't rely on just the conditioning (though it is important) to pull you through a confrontation. You have to learn how to fight as well.

    Some "iron body" type programs have techniques in them that are applicable to fighting. Conditioning in this way may have an advantage over other conditioning exercises that do not employ any martial techniques at all. These programs are superior to any modern day body weight exercises to will be familiar with for the martial artist.

    As far as chi goes, it really doesn't matter if you think it exists or not. You can chalk up the sensations to anything you wish and it makes no difference. One thing I have found, using an EEG attached to a person while doing one of these exercises, while in a resting or meditative posture between the active sets, the EEG read brain waves that are found in rest. So this rest, which doesn't feel like rest, is intregueing and a good thing to have in an exercise program.
    “We are surrounded by warships and don’t have time to talk. Please pray for us.” — One Somali Pirate.
  6. jackal is offline

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    Posted On:
    6/16/2005 2:57am


     Style: hung gar - self taught

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Just because some people don't do the authentic tricks doesnt mean they can't be done, and i am fairly sure that these kind of tricks are not the first to be cheaply imitated.

    And if you're gonna try to pull the 'i know better then you do argument', why then would buddhist monks invent such tricks? Does it aid their training? Nope. Is it part of buddhism? Nope. Please enlighten me if i am wrong
  7. katana is offline

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    Posted On:
    6/16/2005 3:31am

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    Quote Originally Posted by jackal
    Just because some people don't do the authentic tricks doesnt mean they can't be done, and i am fairly sure that these kind of tricks are not the first to be cheaply imitated.
    I can't prove a negative. All I can do is present a more reasonable explanation of what might be occurring. You basically have two choices:

    1) You can accept the simpler answer that they are tricking you
    2) You can accept the complicated answer that there is a super-natural ability involved

    This line of reasoning is commonly referred to as Occam's Razor. Basically when you have two answers that explain the data equally well, choose the simpler (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occam's_razor).

    Yeah it doesn't always work, but for martial arts claims in particular it's usually spot on. Take it as you will. *shrug*

    And if you're gonna try to pull the 'i know better then you do argument', why then would buddhist monks invent such tricks? Does it aid their training? Nope. Is it part of buddhism? Nope. Please enlighten me if i am wrong
    They may not have known it was a trick. I'm certain the people who first walked across a bed of hot coals didn't know what the thermal properties of wood ash were and how blood circulation in your foot removes the heat build-up. These are principles of modern science and probably not considered centuries ago. All they knew is they could walk across certain types of embers and not get burned after doing ceremony/training XYZ so it must be working.

    Then there are those who do know it was a trick but wanted to impress people. There is the possibility that your buddhist monks are (gasp) lying. They are human after all and humans do all kinds of wacky stuff to justify things to themselves or others. Of related note, Reginald Scot wrote the book The Discoverie of Witchcraft in 1584 exposing the methods of "Witches." He did this because of the practice at the time of hanging people who did tricks that people did not understand. He felt it was better to expose the tricks then to let people hang or burn. I don't think "buddhist monk" tricks are much beyond this level of sophistication.

    Also modern magicians do much more impressive feats. David Copperfield made the Statue of Liberty vanish on live TV. Penn and Teller will shoot a gun at each other and catch a bullet in the mouth that was signed by an audience member before being shot. Houdini routinely escaped from shackles, straight jackets, submerged crates, and ropes. These are certainly much more impressive than walking on coals, bending spears with your throat, getting kicked in the balls, etc. that you see these chi masters doing. So do you believe for a second that these magicians have special powers too like the chi masters?

    Also it's not that I know better than anyone. I simply know of two very simple ways to do the exact same thing many people claim are supernatural feats. So either I'm tricking myself and I really do have these powers which is why I can do these things, or these tricks can be done without supernatural powers and as a viewer you need to be aware of the fact that you are possibly being tricked. You can believe what you want.

    P.S. Welcome to Bullshido

    EDIT: Here are two entire books about martial arts magic tricks. Created by Wing Tsun grandmaster Leung Ting no less:

    Skills of the Vagabonds (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg...books&n=507846)
    Behind The Incredibles-Skills of the Vagabonds Part Two (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg...=UTF8&v=glance)

    Description (emphasis added):

    Just one craft can make you a great master. By reading this book, you will find out the truth behind bending metal spoons and forks with Chi, lying on a bed of knives, smashing bricks with an iron head, resisting strangulation with an iron neck, bending iron rods with an iron throat, Chi-kung that makes the body steam and invulnerability to swords and spears, etc. You will also be fascinated by the healing power of Chi-Kung, the air palm that snuffs out candles, Chi-Kung turning wine to water, the human electric conductor, body levitation Chi-Kung and teleportation. Dr Leung Ting reveals the astonishing and amusing truth behind the incredible feats with clear and simple explanations in his own unique style. Fully illustrated, color photos of amazing chi-kung shows.
    Last edited by katana; 6/16/2005 4:03am at .
  8. Astrosmurf is offline
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    Posted On:
    6/16/2005 4:11am

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     Style: Wing Chun

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    This line of reasoning is commonly referred to as Occam's Razor. Basically when you have two answers that explain the data equally well, choose the simpler (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occam's_razor).
    Another good discussion about the famous razor can be found at:

    http://www.galilean-library.org/or.html
  9. xingyifa is offline

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    Posted On:
    6/16/2005 10:51am


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    Wow, great replies everyone. I really like that TKD link, and I'll see if I can get the school library to order those books. (ya never know, I might decide to cross over to the lucrative Mcdojo side of the force someday....jk)

    Also, with regard to the philosophical argument of believing in miracles (chi explained or otherwise), I like Hume's take which basically says : in order for a miracle to be truly and logically believable, it would have to be more UNBELIEVABLE for the miracle to NOT have occured than otherwise. Granted, this was more of an argument against christianity but I like Hume's style.

    Basically, as far as I can see, the only body conditioning that makes sense is the toughening of striking points and a sharp aerobic/anaerobic regimen that focuses on endurance and recovery time/capillary sheet transfer. Perhaps some work with a medicine ball? Would everyone generally agree that anything else is probably indicative of bullshido?
    metta
  10. Mr. Mantis is offline
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    Posted On:
    6/16/2005 11:03am

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     Style: Kung Fu

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    Quote Originally Posted by xingyifa
    Basically, as far as I can see, the only body conditioning that makes sense is the toughening of striking points and a sharp aerobic/anaerobic regimen that focuses on endurance and recovery time/capillary sheet transfer. Perhaps some work with a medicine ball? Would everyone generally agree that anything else is probably indicative of bullshido?
    metta
    I obviously do not agree.
    “We are surrounded by warships and don’t have time to talk. Please pray for us.” — One Somali Pirate.
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