Unbendable Arm

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Unbendable Arm

I was explaining acupuncture, or the ideas of Chi (Ki) and some easter medicine in the following ways.

  • Being a martial arts instructor, I can demonstrate Chi (or Ki).
  • Being a westerner, I'm skeptical of their explanation for HOW it works, but I can prove THAT it works.
  • The fact that the mystical explanation isn't completely correct doesn't change the effectiveness of the solution.

In traditional eastern medicine, if you break down the meridians and pressure points there isn't some of the systems and organs, at least not in the way ancient people explained it. But their model still is based on thousands of years of trial and error, and we know is that it works. So they may have made up reasons why/how it works, but It doesn't matter if that is right or wrong, the model is just to help teach it. What maters is if you can use that model to get results beyond just the placebo effect. For what it's worth, Western medicine can't explain why it works either, but they can observe the effects.

Ignoring the effects because you don't like the explanation, doesn't prove you're logical or scientific, it just proves that you're close minded.

First hand proof

What I use to demonstrate Chi (internal energy) is called "the unbendable arm".

First without Chi:

  1. Stand upright
  2. Extend your dominant arm out, palm up (but in a fist).
  3. Have your partner put the back of your fist on top of their shoulder, and they can rest both hands at the crook of your elbow.
  4. Tense every muscle in your arm (bicep, tricep, fist, clinch as hard as you can), and say "go".
  5. With their strength, they try to pull down (gradually), and you try to keep every muscle in your arm tense.

If you're both doing it right, they will be able to bend your arm.

Next with Chi:

  1. Stand upright.
  2. Extend your dominant arm out (on their shoulder), fingers extended, hand vertical (palm to the side), close your eyes and relax.
  3. Imagine you see energy flowing through the earth and up your body and out through your fingers.
  4. Say, "go".
  5. Stay relaxed (only resist whatever force they're pressing on you). And as they push down, imagine your arm is steel rod extending in the distance, or a hose with energy flowing from the earth out through it. Imagine they can not bend or budge it.

If you're both doing it right, try as they might, they'll be unable to bend your arm. (Or at least it'll be MUCH harder).

That is the power of Chi.

What happened?

The Eastern answer is Chi. And that's how Martial Arts describe it. You tapped into internal energy and the force of nature around you, and you were stronger than before.

The Western answer is you used body mechanics, and visualization. By relaxing your arm, and turning your hand, you allowed both the bicep and tricep to work together to resist the person more effectively. Before, when you were tense, your bicep (flexor) was fighting your tricep (extensor), and that made you weaker, despite how tense you were. Technique (and relaxation) made you stronger. You went with nature, and not against.

More than that, do not discount visualization. Athletes know that brain (and mind over matter), and visualization works amazingly well. Visualization is part of technique. Belief is a powerful thing.

It doesn't matter if you believe in Chi or not. We just proved it though demonstration.

Whether you think it's some magical force, or simple tricks of mechanics, it existed, and it made a difference.

How far can these powers extend? I don't know. I know I could break about 7 bricks using more advanced variations. I could even break the bottom or middle brick in a stack without breaking the others (through channeling that force). When I broken my arm, I just set it myself. And I kicked a heavy bag so hard, that I snapped the supporting chain it was hanging from (to the shock of the witnesses). I don't believe any of it was magic myself, but it was far beyond what others thought possible.

As Arthur C Clark wrote, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Well, to the untrained, any sufficiently advanced technique, training and timing can be combined to be indistinguishable from magic as well.


These articles came from a book (student guide) I wrote on Martial Arts in the 1980's.