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It’s Not Magic

I once took a self-defense course with Tony Blauer. Coach Blauer is a Subject Matter Expert (SME) in the domain of unarmed combat. He’s worked with professional fighters and members of highly selective Special Operations units; people for whom violence is inherent in their occupation. However, Coach also works with ordinary folks who are looking to have the ability to avoid, defuse, or defend themselves against violence should they be confronted with it.

At the core of Tony’s system is the idea that there is no mysticism involved in human performance. As I recall – and I may be paraquoting here – his comment was “Anyone who talks about focusing their chi is full of shit; it’s about body mechanics and repetition.” I love this.

I’ve been the student of people who cloaked their methods in unquantifiable language; of teachers who used pseudophilosophical musings and aloofness to give the impression that their system couldn’t simply be taught it had to be channeled. Over the years I’ve come to see teachers with that attitude as either 1. Charlatans selling snake oil or 2. Uncertain as to how they do what they do, and as a result use the smoke and mirrors of mysticism to pretend that it’s the learner who is unprepared or not open to the teaching.

I’ve been guy number 2 at times. I think we all most of us have. We have skills or understanding that come implicitly and we aren’t quite sure how to explain it, because we don’t really know ourselves how the system works. When people ask us “How do you… ?” rather than say “I have no idea, I just do,” we make up some kind of explanation. However, I’ve worked to get myself away from that sort of status based protectionism, away from the fear of saying, “Yeah, I’m not sure I can explain this.” My approach now is to say “This seems to work for me but I can’t fully explain it to you yet.” It’s honest. It’s transparent. It’s hard to say.

I have come to love transparency in teaching and learning. The “magicians” Penn and Teller are masters at this. It is common for them to perform a trick that blows the audience away and then tell them how it’s done. They will show how it works, because once the audience sees how it works the skill and intention involved to execute the trick becomes even MORE exciting to see.1Watch the embedded video below[/note}

There is nothing mystical in this project. It is the result of years of research and experimentation. MOST of my methods and philosophical positions can be illustrated relatively simply (though fully understanding them will take some work and reflection). I will distinguish the methods I can break down for you from the ones that I still understand more implicitly. I won’t be telling you to focus your Chi.

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