I have traveled literally all over the world over the last several years, and it has been a great privilege for me to do so. The reason for my travels have been seminars, but regardless of where I am I always start them the same way. I explain that my main message that I am most interested in sharing and communicating effectively with people is the message of Aliveness.
Occasionally I am asked why I bother, why not just teach some functional fighting skills and leave it at that? Why explain the process? Why discuss the differences? In short, why is Aliveness the main message?
And my answer to that can be summed up in four words: It is SO healthy!
When our intentions regarding the activity we are engaging in are clear, honest and open, then that “thing” (activity or event) becomes incredibly healthy.
It is about Authenticity.
In other words, if someone says “I do Tai Chi because I find it a relaxing form of moving meditation,” I say, rock on! In fact, I might even join them.
However, if someone says “No need for doctors — Tai Chi will cure your cancer,” then I may need to question that. And that questioning is also incredibly healthy. Likewise, if they say “Tai Chi will serve as a wonderful form of self defense,” then I will also want to question that. Both those claims, “cures cancer” and “good for self defense”, are verifiable within objective reality. And as such, if we are really interested in Truth with the capitol T, then not only should we question those statements, I believe we have an obligation to do so.
I think that is common sense. When we don’t question such statements within ourselves, and accept them solely at face value, then we find ourselves lost, deceived and often hurt.
Granted, one of those things (cures cancer) may be far more serious then the other. But both are equally irresponsible, and I never claimed to have the most “serious” job, just a blessed one.
So let me be clear about what I mean when I say “question”.
We come to the question of speaking publicly on it. And to be clear, I don’t advocate that for everyone. In fact, the only thing I believe matters is that we are honest within our own self about our own intentions, and that we remain skeptical and question all forms and statements of authority for ourselves.
Whether or not someone then goes out and speaks to others about their findings is an individual thing. I can only say I am really, really grateful that some people do.
I think of the Amazing Randi, who has been debunking charlatans like Uri Geller for well over 30 years. His writings had a great impact on me when I was a teenager. I remember watching Uri Geller on television and feeling like something was just not “right”. And his book helped validate my own critical thinking on the matter.
And Lord knows that if this world could use a little more of something, then “critical thinking” would rank VERY high on that list. Just under Love and Compassion, in my opinion.
I felt much the same about martial arts as I think Randi and many others felt about the scams of Uri Geller. I felt like I had been deceived, whether intentionally or through ignorance. But deceived either way. And that is never a good way to feel. And it can, and does, happen to us all. Uri Geller deceived a large pool of highly educated scientists at the Stanford Research Institute using what amounted to poor magic tricks, just as thousands of people have been deceived by fraudulent martial arts, only to find out later that what they where being taught might in reality get them hurt, especially if they believed it worked! (Witness the first few UFC’s for an example).
Did they want to believe, or were they just naive?
I have a good friend who recently sat in on an interview with a major martial arts figure. This man being interviewed is known as one of the leading authorities in “pressure points” which he claims are hidden within “katas”. When asked why we don’t see this amazing pressure point knockouts in full contact sports, he said “they have been banned”. When pressed as to why that would stop a grappler from striking a point on the body which was legal within most sports, he said “Well, you have to hit three points almost at the same time, and it depends on what time of day it is!” I am paraphrasing from memory, but I promise the exact quotes would be equally absurd. He then explained how these points are different on men and woman, and which order they need to be struck. My friend then asked, “What if the guy you are fighting was gay? Would you use the male points or the female points?” And this person sat very still for a moment, and then he said “Use the female points.”
Sadly, he was deadly serious.
This man then went on to explain how you can knock someone down using just a sound, which he began to make. My friend emulated the sound, and then asked, “If I was in that corner of the room making this sound, and someone else was in the other corner making this sound, would you consider it a mass attack?” After some thought the man answered, “Yes”.
And no, I am not kidding.
So I still see Aliveness as the core message.
When Aliveness is compromised on, the entire structure falls apart. This happens because Authenticity is lost. And the results are not healthy.
But when Aliveness is maintained, then everything else seems to come right in the end. And once the proper methods for drilling and coaching are added in, the sky is really the limit in terms of potential.
So having stated that, I will start with a basic Aliveness Q&A. These answers have been gathered over many years and all these questions have been asked many hundreds of times. This section details the answers we have given time and time again.