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Dragon*Con: Martial Arts Mysticism & James Randi

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    Dragon*Con: Martial Arts Mysticism & James Randi

    Just a quick post about my experience with Dragon*Con this past weekend. In my 13 years of attending I had yet to attend any panels by the Skeptics track, but I felt I had to go to the "Martial Arts Mysticism" panel as an avid Bullshido reader/part time poster. Just as a primer, the Skeptics track holds panels relating to science, rational thinking, and general skepticism, and they provide a nice balance to a lot of the people who advocate psychic and paranormal phenomena in other tracks.

    The panel was held by John Clements, director of ARMA, and as seen on his page http://thearma.org/Director.htm, owner of some incredible pants. His thesis was that pretty much anything amazing that Eastern Martial Arts attribute to chi/ki can be accomplished through principles found in Renaissance martial arts such as leverage, sensitivity, and attitude. He did some demonstrations showing his ease in controlling an opponent's blade, resistance to force applied by an opponent in locked blades, etc., and then went into the physics of how it all worked. He went pretty in depth into the different concepts of Renaissance martial arts and how they were all based around science, a western invention, where as the Asian arts developed around metaphysical or religious ideas. Overall, a very cool presentation.

    There was a brief Q&A section with a couple of hecklers who disagreed with his stance, but they never really went anywhere. John was fairly generous towards them, just stating that in his experience the chi stuff was crap. The highlight was when James Randi, also a guest on the skeptic track, got in the Q&A line so that he could tell an anecdote:

    He was in Thailand a long time ago, before he really spent any time focusing on martial arts frauds, and saw a demo by a Thai chi master. He was on one side of an opaque cloth and his students on the other. He did some arm waving and the students, who could not see their master, flew as if knocked over. Randi, being the super stud that he is, asked if he could try, and wanted to see the master do it once up close. He stood on the same side as the master while the master "warmed up". James had noticed that whenever a student was hit by the chi blast the master let out a low grunt. During the warm up Randi immitated the grunt, and low and behold the student on the other side flew across the room.

    Anyway, it was good to see some martial arts show up on the skepticism track. It has really busted my balls to see Dragon*Con continue to host Sabutai Musashi (search this site), noted white boy with a Japanese name and supernatural powers, and see people continue to buy into his crap to the point where they have given him a second demo panel and follow-up interview panels. I would pay good money to see a James Randi/Adam Savage (also a Skeptics guest) dojo storm one of his demos.

    That is all.

    #2
    I am so mad at myself right now. I've never been to DragonCon but getting a ride there and crashing at a room would be no problem. I have like 30 friends who go to it every year and I will make sure to join if the skeptics panel is held again.

    Comment


      #3
      Oh, mother fucker, I wish I had been there too. Coulda got into a knock down with the hecklers
      Monkey Ninjas! Attack!

      Comment


        #4
        I am surprised that the hero of the story happens to be ARMA. well done.

        Comment


          #5
          Yeah, me too. I realllly don't like the claims he makes on his web page.
          Monkey Ninjas! Attack!

          Comment


            #6
            I've never had any doubt in my mind JC is a brilliant and knowledgable swordsman, but he does come across as abit "holier-than-thou sometimes".

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by Chimaira View Post
              He went pretty in depth into the different concepts of Renaissance martial arts and how they were all based around science, a western invention, where as the Asian arts developed around metaphysical or religious ideas.
              LOL. The Liechtenauer's Unarmored Combat manual that the ARMA hosts on its website comes from a book that besides WMA related material contains astrological texts, alchemical recipes and magical formulas. All based around science- yeah rigth.

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by keyoz View Post
                LOL. The Liechtenauer's Unarmored Combat manual that the ARMA hosts on its website comes from a book that besides WMA related material contains astrological texts
                one of the roots of all science actually

                alchemical recipes
                chemistry of the day
                and magical formulas
                ... usually magical formulas were alchemical in nature.
                . All based around science- yeah rigth.
                No modern science was based around their early efforts to document and understand the world ...

                LOL

                * edit *

                oh and the pdf you linked only contains the pertinent WMA materials.
                I don't mean to sound bitter, cold, or cruel, but I am, so that's how it comes out.
                BILL HICKS,
                1961-1994

                "Never believe that anti-Semites are completely unaware of the absurdity of their replies. They know that their remarks are frivolous, open to challenge. But they are amusing themselves, for it is their adversary who is obliged to use words responsibly, since he believes in words. The anti-Semites have the right to play. They even like to play with discourse for, by giving ridiculous reasons, they discredit the seriousness of their interlocutors. They delight in acting in bad faith, since they seek not to persuade by sound argument but to intimidate and disconcert. If you press them too closely, they will abruptly fall silent, loftily indicating by some phrase that the time for argument is past."
                ---Jean-Paul Sartre

                Comment


                  #9
                  These guys are frauds, their forged german texts from 1389 clearly lack modern scientific research!

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by keyoz View Post
                    LOL. The Liechtenauer's Unarmored Combat manual that the ARMA hosts on its website comes from a book that besides WMA related material contains astrological texts, alchemical recipes and magical formulas. All based around science- yeah rigth.
                    I should hope that empirical thought today would be different than that of hundreds of years ago.

                    Hey guys, Western medicine is based on the science of the four humors, which may have been lifted by Galen from an aryuvedic source. What a bunch of crap!

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Evolution of thought and science brought about by increasing literacy and an ever growing foundation of collected data ?

                      HORSE SHIT!
                      I don't mean to sound bitter, cold, or cruel, but I am, so that's how it comes out.
                      BILL HICKS,
                      1961-1994

                      "Never believe that anti-Semites are completely unaware of the absurdity of their replies. They know that their remarks are frivolous, open to challenge. But they are amusing themselves, for it is their adversary who is obliged to use words responsibly, since he believes in words. The anti-Semites have the right to play. They even like to play with discourse for, by giving ridiculous reasons, they discredit the seriousness of their interlocutors. They delight in acting in bad faith, since they seek not to persuade by sound argument but to intimidate and disconcert. If you press them too closely, they will abruptly fall silent, loftily indicating by some phrase that the time for argument is past."
                      ---Jean-Paul Sartre

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by Chimaira View Post

                        The panel was held by John Clements, director of ARMA, and as seen on his page http://thearma.org/Director.htm, owner of some incredible pants. His thesis was that pretty much anything amazing that Eastern Martial Arts attribute to chi/ki can be accomplished through principles found in Renaissance martial arts such as leverage, sensitivity, and attitude. He did some demonstrations showing his ease in controlling an opponent's blade, resistance to force applied by an opponent in locked blades, etc., and then went into the physics of how it all worked. He went pretty in depth into the different concepts of Renaissance martial arts and how they were all based around science, a western invention, where as the Asian arts developed around metaphysical or religious ideas. Overall, a very cool presentation.
                        Back in 1898, Bartitsu founder E.W. Barton-Wright produced an article called "How to Pose as a Strongman" which exposed the tricks of leverage and psychology used by entertainers to create the illusion of superhuman strength. It's a bit ironic that these tricks were revealed back in the 19th century but are still being displayed as demonstrations of internal power.

                        Check out the Bullshido.net Western Martial Arts Forum for all things Western, martial and arty.

                        Bartitsu: the Gentlemanly Art of Self Defence (est. 1899)

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by JKDChick View Post
                          Yeah, me too. I realllly don't like the claims he makes on his web page.
                          Clements' efforts to counter the "OMG Asia is all mystical and stuff!!!!" BS go way too far in the "West is best" direction.
                          Check out the Bullshido.net Western Martial Arts Forum for all things Western, martial and arty.

                          Bartitsu: the Gentlemanly Art of Self Defence (est. 1899)

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by DdlR View Post
                            Clements' efforts to counter the "OMG Asia is all mystical and stuff!!!!" BS go way too far in the "West is best" direction.
                            He actually addressed this. His reasoning was that because the pendulum has swung so far in favor of the Asian arts he knowingly is overzealous in an attempt to balance it out.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by DdlR View Post
                              Back in 1898, Bartitsu founder E.W. Barton-Wright produced an article called "How to Pose as a Strongman" which exposed the tricks of leverage and psychology used by entertainers to create the illusion of superhuman strength. It's a bit ironic that these tricks were revealed back in the 19th century but are still being displayed as demonstrations of internal power.

                              AWESOME I found the article: http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?s...19&u=1&num=59#

                              I hope that link lasts.

                              Comment

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