“The martial plan” (No-touch attacks)

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The martial arts are a system of combat practices used for battle, competition, and fitness. The field is populated mostly by legitimate practitioners who instill their students with skill and confidence. However, martial arts’ ancient Asian roots and reverence for the past leaves it especially vulnerable to less scrupulous individuals, who claim to be passing on secret knowledge. They are willing, for a price, to pass on this blessed truth, continuing an exclusive line purportedly thousands of years old.

This truth includes the ability to kill or render an attacker unconscious without touching them, or perhaps touching them lightly. Fortunately, the ability to kill opponents with these tactics has never been demonstrated. But the ability to debilitate them has been alleged to work on many occasions. However, this almost always involves attacks from the students on the trainer. They charge him, only to be rebuffed by a swipe or jab in the air, which causes the victim to hurtle backward through the gym. It’s pretty much like “Carrie” without the pigs’ blood.

These demonstrations invariably fail when tested by a skeptic. Alternative martial artist Harry Cameron refused to try his invisible touch on Chicago TV news reporter Danielle Serino, saying he might unintentionally harm her since she lacked any martial arts experience. Sernio had anticipated this justification, so she brought along experienced jiu jitsu athletes, who withstood Cameron’s nonexistent blows. Cameron’s ad hoc rationale for this was that, as veteran martial artists, the jiu jitsu fighters had learned to “translate the energy.” So the technique he is selling is too dangerous to use on non-marital artists and won’t work on those who practice the arts.

In Japan, a Kiai master named Ryukerin also experienced a public failing of his technique, this time with a bloody twist. While Cameron only attempted to fell a noncombatant, Ryukerin claimed his technique would work during a fight, and he offered $5000 to any modern Mixed Martial Arts athlete who could beat him. One fighter accepted the challenge and turned Ryukein into five and half feet of welts and bruises.

There are places on the human body that are vulnerable to injury and pain, and legitimate martial artists utilize attacks of these pressure points. But their bogus counterparts claim the ability to launch a disabling attack by manipulating qi. These alternative marital artists borrow that concept, and the accompanying notion of meridians, from alternative medicine. They claim their no-touch attacks disrupt the victim’s life force. However, qi has no discernible properties and those who claim they can detect it are unable to do so under controlled conditions. Qi has never been shown to exist, much less be available for manipulation in order to bag a judo trophy.

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