New Age Magic?

In any internal martial arts (IMA), we’ve all been told stories of masters having the ability to mysteriously uproot an opponent with little to no movement. We’ve even heard stories of qi projection and being able to knock down distant opponents. It’s easy to be a skeptic and consider it all fake until we’ve had the chance to experience such phenomenon.

I must admit, I’ve only truly felt this type of thing maybe once or twice. In a 12 animals of Liu He Ba Fa workshop with Wai Lun Choi, we were learning the applications for the dragon form.  He spoke about the sinking energy and how we must use our mind to sink the energy down. In addition, he emphasized the importance of protecting our breathing. If something can affect or impact our breathing, then we are ‘dead’. He was a way with mortal terms 🙂

Anyhoo, as we were working with partners on applying the application, he went around and demonstrated on some folks. I was one of the lucky folks who had the opportunity to attack him. I came in with a punch, then all of a sudden, I was heading towards the ground face first. It felt as if my forward momentum had been interrupted and redirected directly downwards. The crazy thing is I did not FEEL anything.

So, how did he do it? What’s his secret? I don’t really know, but I do know that during the workshop he heavily emphasized the notion of practicing slowly, calmly with full intention of the mind. He emphasized that we should practice at a level 2 on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the most tension. He emphasized zhan zhuang and that we should do it to calm our mind. He emphasized the importance of breathing and noted that if someone can interrupt your breath, they got you.

In a subsequent class, I was working on this application with a partner. To try and make the application work, I was biomechanically trying to coordinate my arms with a sinking. While it did work a bit, I never quite got the same effect. Then I tried something different while maintaining the same physical structure. This time, instead of trying to pull my opponent down, I just thought about my own energy sinking. My opponent punched, immediately after making contact, I thought about my energy sinking down, and the opponent followed. We both looked at each other bright eyed and amazed.

Is this the paradigm shift that ZenMindSword is referring to?

To understand this type of uprooting method, one needs a paradigm shift otherwise it will sound like new age hocus pocus or even plain nonsense to cheat the gullible.

Over the weekend, I watched Superman Returns.  In it, Lex Luthor notes, in referencing Kryptonian technology, “that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” (as quoted from Arthur C. Clarke’s Three Laws of Prediction).  Is it all just a bunch of new age magic?


About wujimon

taiji, meditation and health
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15 Responses to New Age Magic?

  1. taijiquestion says:

    Hi Wujimon, your experiment sounds interesting. It’s funny, isn’t this what we’re told to do – use mind to direct qi? Not that I have any proven abilities to do so – but I’m playing around with the Mind thing. And breath is always mentioned as crucial in this type of approach. Sounds like Master Wai put you on the right track! That’s cool that you got some training in Dragon. From what I can see, that style or school of kungfu has a notable overlap with taiji methods…

    My feeling about the Mind side of taiji – well, gotta admit that I always felt a part of me disbelieving these stories, and then I would have to shy away from the whole topic because if you think it’s just make-believe and yet these aspects keep popping up all over the paradigm, then it eventually comes down to do I really believe in taijiquan, so to speak. But lately I’ve felt a wall coming down in my own mind, regarding belief. I’m starting that think that if you do believe these things are real, and have a certain amount of good physical(?) methods to back them up, then you can start to learn how to do it. Sounds obvious maybe but I wanted to share my experience with you.

  2. wujimon says:

    Hey TJQ:
    Note, the dragon form is one of the 12 animals of liuhebafa, so I’m not sure if it’s the same dragon style kungfu you’re referring to.

    I wouldn’t say the key is in believing they are real, but in keeping an open mind. Once we make up our minds about something, other doors close. For me, I think about the possibility 🙂

  3. hakchigi says:

    Thanks for sharing that… it’s an inspiring reminder. I’m not learning taichi in the class at the moment, so I’m trying to focus on more zhan zhuang.

  4. I’m a skateboarder. I grew up making split second “decisions” at high speed on car-infested steep San Francisco hills. Everyone knows that if you think about how your feet are going to land when you catch a football while flying through the air you’re going to fall on your face. Jingshen, the operative mechanism of Taijiquan, is always on. You feel the space around you your shen is at play in it. With out this we would be stumbling and crashing all the time. It’s not magic, it’s normal. If fact, I like to think, it’s just a little below average. “Weakness with a Twist” (blog)

  5. wujimon says:

    Awesome to here you’re focusing on zhan zhuang. Personally, I’m a strong advocate of this practice and find it crucial to one’s development!

    You bring up a very interesting point about not ‘thinking’ too much. Reminds me a lot of the sequence in “The Last Samurai” where he’s sparring and the guy says ‘too many mind’.

    Great blog and content!

  6. faik says:

    Well, you said that you could do almost the same as this master. I believe that your action was “expected” both from you and your partner. Those predetermined patterns are very easy to see and feel inside of ones body if there’s a scenario of some application where you and your opponent knows what is next.

    Focusing on your mind in a real combat or competition will slow you down and your reactions (i.e you get punched if you wait and feel what’s happening there).

  7. chessman71 says:

    I agree with faik to a large extent. These types of movements give the illusion of progress if people become fascinated with this stuff. And most do. Unfortunately, they really aren’t very useful.

    There are other ways to use the same yi (intent) components in combat but the applications are different. Problem is, if someone is in love with doing this stuff, then they likely won’t want to study the other way of using the yi because it doesn’t feel as “nice.”

  8. wujimon says:

    Not really the *same* as the master. If I stated that, I am very disillusioned. When Choi did it to me, I literally did not feel much physical from him at all, just something making me go down.

    One thing about Choi is that he is quite graphic with his explanations. Anyone who’s been around him knows he a no-nonsense-let’s-see-what-you-can-do kinda guy. When he talks about apps, he’ll often say “you kill him here!” or “you qinna him there!”

    Ultimately, I think the middle path is the best approach. A combination of both is what tends to work for me. That is, physically sound structure combined with projection of intention.

  9. chessman71 says:

    Choi is known for his FIGHTING background. So if you’re with him again, then I’m not worried about you.

  10. faik says:

    What is projection of intention? I don’t think that I understand that. What do you project when you “intent” to do a movement (punch, kick, throw or jump)?

  11. wujimon says:

    You’re absolutely right. Choi is known for his fighting ability and producing fighters. However, he does have a good mix of material ranging from the application to the mental training.

    Wrong choice of words on my part. What I mean by ‘project of intention’ is similar to the idea of doing a punch in xingyi. I imagine punching through the opponent striking a target a couple of feet behind. Another example, in a simple ward off in taiji, I picture an energy field expanding beyond the physical confines of my body. Sounds a bit hokey, but it works for me.

  12. chessman71 says:

    “Choi is known for his fighting ability and producing fighters. However, he does have a good mix of material ranging from the application to the mental training.”

    And THAT’S exactly as it should be: proven fighting ability and a record of producing fighters. That’s a guarantee of quality right there. The mental components of training should naturally be there, mixed into that kind of context.

    Good for you.

  13. dot says:


    I was wondering if Master Choi is currently giving seminars/classes? I’ve checked his website, but it doesn’t seem to get updated that often.

    I’ve also been trying to find accredited Liu Ho Pa Fa teachers who learned under Master Choi, but haven’t had any luck. Thanks for any help.

  14. wujimon says:

    Hi dot.
    As far as I know, Master Choi is no longer publicly teaching. However, from time to time, he’ll give small group/private workshops to only former students. In other words, he is no longer accepting new students.

    There are some who have learned LHBF from master Choi, but they are spread wide and far. You can find a couple of Choi’s student teaching his curriculum in MN at Twin Cities Tai Chi Chuan Studio.

    Other than that, it’ll be strictly word of mouth to find instructors. I’ll email you privately off-site for location information to see if I can assist.

  15. Jay DiMaggio says:

    Hellow all,
    I’m a student of Choi’s. I’ve been picking it up and puting it down for thirty years. I still visit Master Choi occasionally in Chicag. I live in San Francisco now. If there are any interested persons out there who would like to exchange information you are welcome to contact me.
    Jay DiMaggio

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