I have two more pieces of James Randi memorabilia for you to paste in your Skeptic Skrap Book.
First is a spattering of remarks he has made about the martial arts.
Whenever a far-away or long-dead culture can be invoked, a mystery or an entire mystical philosophy can be generated...Second is a video where Randi talks about his history of debunking pseudoscience and the paranormal, including his investigations into alleged psychic Uri Geller and faith healer Reverend Peter Popoff. Spoon and key bending, reading hidden drawings and psychic surgery explained.
The martial arts have long been a favorite arena for promoting nonsense. There are some schools that depend on their "mysteries" to survive, much to the dismay of the genuine teachers who put their hearts into the task of instructing students what really works — and how it works — only to be eclipsed by the bamboozlers who are selling costumes, chants, stunts, and theories, but no real facts...
Finally, and this involves martial arts: he went into methods to defend oneself against an attacker. I must confess I wish to rely on methods that do not depend on the time of day, on whether or not the attacker is a "non-responder," or is a skeptic, or is relaxed, et cetera.
The proclaimed "lineages" in martial arts, particularly the esoteric menagerie of "kung-fus" based on animals that never existed, can make particle physics appear straightforward. That's the point: anyone can claim whatever lofty expertise and instruction from tongue-twisting oriental masters they wish, in one great appeal to ignorance and authority. "You never heard of Grand Master Poo?!!! Well, clearly you do not deserve to even question my greatness . . . blah . . . blah."
If these debates had remained in the realm of "weekend warriors" who enjoy dressing up in snazzy uniforms with multicolored belts while addressing one another by various titles, it would remain merely an embarassing joke. However, people do think they can apply such flim-flam in real situations. Faith healing is funny until one realizes that victims become hurt. Students who practice these "techniques" in the "real world" can, and do, get hurt.
It has come to my attention that a proponent of the pressure-point-knock-out sells a video on knife defenses. Try to imagine, for a moment, an attacker armed with a knife coming at you with every intention of committing malice aforethought. You will now lightly touch a combination of points on his body to knock him out.... I've been informed that it works very well on student-attackers who have learned how to react....