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« Skeptics' Circle #56 The RantsWe'd Rather Wait for Lemon-Soaked Napkins »

Beating a Kiai Master About the Head and Neck With the Foot of Reality
2007.03.28 (Wed) 18:18

Since we've been busy with computer crashes, work, and children (real ones in addition to those of our commenters who just act like they're children), we thought we'd at least put something up, and this entry in James Randi's most recent SWIFT newsletter, in which Dave Marini provides a link to an incredible video of a "Kiai Master" on YouTube, fits the bill quite nicely. For those of you who were unaware of this whole Kiai martial arts thing, it is, in short, no-contact martial arts in which the fighting is, er...done with the mind. Fighting with your mind, apparently, involves a lot of waving your hands around (um...why is that exactly? If you're really good at it, couldn't you just lounge about and think your opponents down?). So there's no actual physical contact. At all. And people fall down, and jump back, and wince and flinch and thrash about, just as if they had actually been hit. It's all very entertaining in a silly, delusional sort of way. In all honesty, we used to do the same exact thing with groups of friends...during recess in grade school. It was rather fun, really, and we were cooperative and honest combatants who were all very good about falling down when we'd been "nailed." But, of course, we didn't pretend that it was anything more than pretend.

But then this one particular Kiai Master Yanagiryuken got cocky, started really believing his own special brand of bullshit, and issued a challenge to actual martial artists. He offered $5000 to any Mixed Martial Arts fighter who could beat him. Here's the video of his "training" and of the actual, er, "fight" (in the same sense that blasting a hamster with a shotgun is a "fight").

In a way, we have to respect Master Yanagiryuken for at least having the courage of his convictions. We've met lots of people who claim that their silly beliefs are every bit as real and effective as this guy claims his beliefs are, but when push comes to shove, they are almost never willing to put their money or even just their claims (let alone their body) on the line to prove their point. Hell, we can't count the number of times we've challenged "true believers" to close their eyes and just count on their faith when crossing a busy street. If any of them have taken us up on this offer, we haven't heard about it on the five o'clock news. But this Yanagiryuken guy stuck to his beliefs, and rode them all the way...to the hospital, we presume.

We realize that some people will watch this video and find it sad. We agree — it is sad, despite the fact that it's also funny as hell. It's almost heroically tragic, in a way, to see master Yanagiryuken's powerful faith in his capabilities suddenly crunch (audibly, even) under the weight of that most solid of world views — reality. After what must have been years of having students dutifully hurl themselves to the floor to appease the Master's delusions (watch those guys fly during the first part of the video — some of us have a bit of stage combat experience, and the students' performance is not very difficult at all), Yanagiryuken comes on quite confidently for the first round of the fight, takes one mighty Kiai swipe at the air...and suddenly seems to notice that it didn't do a damn thing to his opponent. Really — watch his next "attack," a halfhearted attempt at best, suggesting that in the heat of the moment, Yanagiryuken got splashed in the face with ice cold reality and isn't so sure it'll work. Then, of course, he gets his ass handed to him (including what sounds and looks like it might be a possible nose-breaking). In the "second round" of the fight, the Master doesn't even seem to try very hard, putting up a feeble "defensive" posture, then strangely (and almost casually) extending a hand with which his opponent yanks him down to once again handily kick his ass (again with some nasty and apparently authentic audio).

Now don't get us wrong — we're sure that within minutes of the fight (perhaps even before handing over the $5000), Master Yanagiryuken managed to collect himself, gird his irrational faith, and come up with some "explanation" for why his powers didn't work this time. But it's simply astounding to watch his resolve falter during the fight (and upon receiving his injuries); we only wish the video had better resolution, so we could make out the expression on his face that we're pretty sure we know is there.

So there's a lesson to be learned here (a lesson that we're sure Master Yanagiryuken didn't learn, as he's no doubt still busy deluding himself and reassuring his fans that his Kiai just had an "off day"). In simplistic Zen/Dao/fortune-cookie terms, this lesson might best be phrased as: "Bullshit tested is bullshit confirmed." Maybe — some day — more people will learn this lesson, and think more carefully about the absurd claims they're willing to unequivocally offer. Or maybe they'll just have to get their faces kicked in on a voluntary basis...and then hand over a $5000 bullshitting fine.

— • —
[  Filed under: % Bullshit  ]

Comments (42)

TimmyAnn, 2007.03.28 (Wed) 18:35 [Link] »

Unbelievable! This guy essentially paid someone $5000 to kick his ass and make him look like the idiot he is. Who did he think he was Darth Vader? Did he think he could use the force?

Infophile, 2007.03.28 (Wed) 21:05 [Link] »

You see, this is why we need to get more woos to buy into Retrophrenology (molding the head to alter personality traits): Making woos pay you to beat them silly is hilarious.

Jason Spicer, 2007.03.29 (Thu) 01:26 [Link] »

The video is very sad. I feel sorry for the challenger, who must have realized toward the end that he was just kicking the crap out of a delusional guy. Notice the way he sprinted over to assist Kiai-guy after being declared the winner. I'm guessing the $5,000 wasn't much of a salve to his conscience.

Kevin R, 2007.03.29 (Thu) 03:28 [Link] »

No no no. See, the challenger was using
The Secret to define his reality of winning, so the Kiai master's claims haven't actually been disproven.

Akusai, 2007.03.29 (Thu) 03:54 [Link] »

Does that mean that it's the Kiai master's own fault that he lost?

Yeah, I can definitely see that.

Ryan, 2007.03.29 (Thu) 17:09 [Link] »

I will glady kick the shit out of anyone, and I'm currently running a special:

Come get your ass kicked by Rockstar Ryan! You may have heard of those other guys' offers:


Even $5000?

Not at Rockstar's Ass-Kicking Emporium! We'll kick your ass while you test you magic for the low, low price of $50!

Seriously, I did feel bad for this guy...for about 2 seconds. I hope it made him question his woo-woo.

beepbeepitsme, 2007.03.30 (Fri) 05:36 [Link] »

This is off topic but just a reminder if you are going to participate. There is going to be a Blogathon - Blog Against Theocracy
Just post something related to, and in support of, the separation of church and state each of these three days. ( April 6th through the 8th. )
For details see:
Blog with the best. Blog Against Theocracy.

beepbeepitsme, 2007.03.30 (Fri) 05:41 [Link] »

That video was pretty sad. The poor old bugger obviously had delusions of grandeur.

Lauren, 2007.03.30 (Fri) 07:57 [Link] »

I don't understand was the challanger not supposed to physically hit him? I mean I read that it was an "all in the mind" fight but if the master was truly as good as he said couldn't he have "kicked his ass" anyway? This just seems really stupid to me... But the video was funny. It's amazing the type of shit people get sucked into believing.

Bronze Dog, 2007.03.30 (Fri) 10:48 [Link] »

One of the Yellow Bamboo people, who use similar woo, claim that there has to be a genuine desire on the attacker's part for it to work, hence merely rushing him without intention of hitting doesn't really count or something like that.

My dad saw something similar to this involving some guy standing while the woo of the moment tried to knock him down with kamehameha waves. The rationalization for the failure: Allegedly, the not-knocked down and very real martial artist "knew" he had to raise one big toe and lower the other, and reverse them between energy blasts.

Rockstar Ryan, 2007.03.30 (Fri) 11:57 [Link] »

some guy standing while the woo of the moment tried to knock him down with kamehameha waves.

Perhaps his power level was sufficiently high enough to deflect the blast. He may have had Saiya-jin blood, after all.

Lauren, 2007.03.30 (Fri) 13:18 [Link] »

Now you have completely lost me...

Bronze Dog, 2007.03.30 (Fri) 15:57 [Link] »

If you're referring to the anime references:

The kamehameha wave is the name of Goku's signature energy blast in the various Dragon Ball series...es. Involves holding a ball of energy at his hips and thrusting his hands forward at the last -haaaaaaaaaaaaa!

Goku is also a saiya-jin/saiyan/whichever pronunciation you prefer.

Dragon Ball is one of the most vastly overrated anime series out there. I only watched it for the trainwreck value.

Tom Foss, 2007.03.30 (Fri) 18:44 [Link] »

Agreed on that last part, BD. Although DBZ is a perfect example of time dilation in action. Not only did they manage to tell thirty seconds worth of story (Namek is exploding! ZOMGORZZZ!!) over the course of five episodes (which just happened to be the week I decided 'hey, I'll see what all the hype is about'), but every moment watching it felt like an eternity.

Grunt! Shout! Talk about fighting! Repeat!

Rockstar Ryan, 2007.03.30 (Fri) 19:24 [Link] »

BD and Tom:

I hate you both now.

Just kidding. I had to import the series from Japan to get rid of the Hanna Barbera aspect. Then it was a lot better.

Akusai, 2007.03.30 (Fri) 21:12 [Link] »
Then it was a lot better.
Yeah, but only in the way that a single piece of shit is better than two pieces of shit that are on fire.

In addition to time dilation, that show is also a great example of power level addiction, where the ridiculous plot is so wrapped up in how powerful the characters are that they have to keep coming up with more and more and more ridiculous ways to give everyone MORE POWER!

It also lends itself to neo-Nazi conspiracy theories: the weakest form of a Saiyan is his normal black-haired, black-eyed form. When he powers up to Super Saiyan, his eyes turn blue and his hair turns blond and he gets an exponential power boost. Coincidence? I think not.

Arren Frank, 2007.03.30 (Fri) 22:54 [Link] »

Nazi DBZ? Truly, a marriage of evil.....

Bronze Dog, 2007.03.30 (Fri) 23:29 [Link] »

Well, that ends up putting a strange edge on it.

Though it's kind of killed by that SS4 level, where they turn red and furry.

If you think Z's a trainwreck, just look at GT. It was painful to watch, and yet more painful to peel my eyes off the screen. Irritainment at its finest.

Akusai, 2007.03.31 (Sat) 00:37 [Link] »

Well, given that GT was produced completely independently from Akira Toriyama simply to capitalize on the success of the DBZ anime, it can be argued that SS4 is irrelevant. It doesn't represent Toriyama's own Neo-Nazi sympathies because Toriyama didn't have any creative control over it.

And don't even get me started on He-Man.

TimmyAnn, 2007.03.31 (Sat) 01:40 [Link] »

It's too bad that whoever posted it on YouTube didn't give a better explanation. A lot of the comments show that people don't get it. They think the younger guy is some kind of jerk who challenged the older guy in front of his students or something. Plus, they feel bad for the older guy because he didn't even manage to hit the younger guy once. I have posted an explanation a couple of times already, but they keep getting pushed off the page by all the comments from people who don't get it. Of course, people don't bother to read before posting their comments, anyway, as we all know.

Tom Foss, 2007.03.31 (Sat) 06:32 [Link] »
And don't even get me started on He-Man.
Now now, while He-Man turned from a vaguely effeminate aristocrat into a furry underwear-clad blond barbarian, it's not as though he kept that whole "Nazi poster boy" thing going on. When he ran around in his man-panties, he sported the best tan this side of George Hamilton, and looked vaguely Latino or Southeast Asian.

Now, that says very little about the homoerotic overtones of the whole thing, of which there are many.

Akusai, 2007.03.31 (Sat) 08:43 [Link] »

I think you're forgetting the blond Prince Valiant hair and the Nazi cross displayed prominently on the center of his chestplate. I'd say that, apart from the tan, he was quite an Aryan Nation kind of guy. Tall, strong, Nordic...And his sister, She-Ra? Same thing.

Tom Foss, 2007.03.31 (Sat) 10:31 [Link] »
the Nazi cross displayed prominently on the center of his chestplate
Celtic cross, actually. If anything, He-Man was Druish :).

Akusai, 2007.03.31 (Sat) 15:41 [Link] »

Funny. He doesn't look Druish.

Jason Spicer, 2007.03.31 (Sat) 23:15 [Link] »

Hey, don't dis He-Man. I actually voted for Sen. Slade Gorton once because he looked like Skeletor. Of course, I voted with irony. I'm guessing most people didn't. Too bad voting doesn't project much nuance.

Eve, 2007.04.04 (Wed) 16:07 [Link] »

I'm still puzzled by TV's He-Man; it was pretty different from the dolls - excuse me, action figures - my cousin (male) collected. What was that all about?

I've never watched any DBZ...

And oh, yeah, the video rocked! I love love love watching wackadools "outing" themselves!

Tom Foss, 2007.04.04 (Wed) 16:36 [Link] »
I'm still puzzled by TV's He-Man; it was pretty different from the dolls - excuse me, action figures - my cousin (male) collected. What was that all about?
There were a number of reasons, some due to the marketability of the original barbarian storyline, but mostly it was because the basic plot associated with the early figures (and told in the early comics and minicomics) was almost identical to the plot of Filmation's previous animated success, "Blackstar." So they commissioned a new series bible and revamped the concept.

Eve, 2007.04.20 (Fri) 14:41 [Link] »

^ "'Oh, I see!' said the blind man." Thanks!

TimmyAnn, 2007.04.20 (Fri) 18:09 [Link] »

I see said the blind man as he picked up his hammer and saw! (Sorry, my mother used to say that when I was little and it lingers!)

data, 2007.04.27 (Fri) 17:09 [Link] »

You know....it leaves me to wonder what's wrong with the fighters who were trying to hit him at the beginning of the video. Were they kicking their own asses. That's fucked up.

TimmyAnn, 2007.04.27 (Fri) 23:46 [Link] »

They weren't trying to hit him. They were all his students and believers in his bullshit non-contact method. They were throwing their thoughts at him like he was at them. Did you actually read the article before you watched the video?

Jeff from the Two Percent Company, 2007.04.27 (Fri) 23:56 [Link] »

'Sokay, TimmyAnn, I think data gets it — he/she (no offense, data, I don't want to make any assumptions) was just voicing the same exasperated head-shake at these idiots that the rest of us are sharing.

Or maybe I'm giving data the benefit of the doubt just because I'm in too good a mood from getting a night off from the usual hectic schedule and going to a freaking movie for once — though I'm sure nobody's noticed that we've been busy as fuck around here lately...right? As a note, we're hoping to get some stuff up soon — no promises, but we're tossing around ideas, and if we can get simultaneous breaks from work shit and family shit and life shit, we may actually write something.

TimmyAnn, 2007.04.28 (Sat) 01:34 [Link] »

I didn't mean it to come out sounding as hostile as it apparently does, I was genuinely asking if Data had read the article, since it didn't seem to me as if (s)he understood that they weren't trying to hit him. If it seemed snippy it was the result of a combination of it being hard to convey tone in this medium and the fact that I read a lot of the comments on YouTube (some of them DEFINITELY don't get it), and may have replied a bit more harshly than I meant to due to left over frustration from that experience.

data, 2007.04.28 (Sat) 09:28 [Link] »

"And people fall down, and jump back, and wince and flinch and thrash about, just as if they had actually been hit."
"After what must have been years of having students dutifully hurl themselves to the floor to appease the Master's delusions"

Okay...I read my post and I wasn't actually clear...so I'll attempt to be clear.Sorry TimmyAnn.
It was proven that the "master " could not deflect being hit by the guy who took the challange. Knowing that and looking back at the beginning where the guys are flying all over I have to conclude they were only pretending to be deflected, there-by kicking their own asses. And I wonder why they allowed their "master" to become so deluded. I should have said, "they were kicking their own asses" instead of "were they" I hope that's clear this time , if not forget it, I'm a bone head.. LOL
I is a she.

TimmyAnn, 2007.04.28 (Sat) 14:15 [Link] »

No need for you to apologize. I am sorry I jumped on you (although as I said, I didn't mean it as harshly as it sounded) it's just that when I read "the fighters who were trying to hit him at the beginning of the video", I thought you either hadn't read the article or had missed the point.

IYce, 2007.05.31 (Thu) 12:54 [Link] »

Kevin R, awhile ago I saw this guy on a Discovery show- I believe it was one of their sceptic shows. I apologise for not being able to provide a proper reference, at this point all the top google and yahoo hits relate to this video and I'm too lazy to dig through 1,820 hits. Anyway, his top American franchisee/student confirmed, whilst trying to prove it, that this system only works on the students and those who really, really, really, absolutely believe. This large white mammal offered to demonstrate his touchless knockout punch on the interviewer (a slight man who looked like he'd be all of 90 pounds soaking wet). The interviewer accepted, and stood there looking bemused as the big guy attempted to use his jedi powers. After repeated failures, the jedi went on to offer up a plethora of reasons why the technique wouldn't work- the subject crossed his toes, the subject had his tongue in just the right position, the jedi had his tongue in the wrong position, the subject wasn't receptive to the energy, etc...
That last one just confirms that his brand of 'Daitouryu-aikido' is truely a faith based system, and like all faith based system has it's own list of reasonable (for the beliver) excuses to turn to in times of failure. Unfortunately those excuses, whilst all well and good for explaining (to very young children) why shitty things happen to good people for no apparent reason, has no place in a martial art that the naive may come to rely on in self defense. But Yanagiryuken is not alone, there are plenty of other martial artists out there making money off those deluded fools who by into that "secret teachings passed on from master to disciple" crap. Western Shaolin Kung-fu and Ninjitsu spring to mind, with regard to this metaphysical tripe. It's really just another spin on the whole pyschic/medium gravy train.
Whilst one does have to give Yanagiryuken some grudging respect for actually putting his beliefs to test in an uncontrolled, public manner, I personally have more respect for his opponent for having the moral fibre to show some concern and compassion towards the shattered fool.

Bronze Dog, 2007.06.01 (Fri) 10:25 [Link] »

I think my dad saw that show you're describing, IYce. One wonders how everyday people wind up with active defenses against a technique that only exists in anime and wire-fu movies.

IYce, 2007.06.01 (Fri) 10:41 [Link] »

Well, as my experiences in the world of martial arts has taught me, unless the master works a regular job, he's got to find a way to put food on his table.
And as we all know getting people to buy into your belief system, is one damn fine way of turning a profit. Which is way you must pay for your grading and advancement. And that's why the master usually only demonstrates his techniques on his students.
Next time you watch a martial arts demonstration take note that all the master's 'really advanced and dangerous techniques' are done using his most trusted and indoctrinated senior students.
Why? Well it's all carefully choreographed smoke and mirrors.
The novice who's only been a student for a short period of time is more dangerous wielding a sword against the master, than the unarmed master is to him, simply because he hasn't recieved the hundreds of hours worth of rehearsing those carefully executed moves that will make the master seem invicible.

SpnKick540, 2008.01.30 (Wed) 11:06 [Link] »

I know I'm coming in really late on this discussion, but I had to point out something about the DBZ/Nazi conspiracy (which made me burst into laughter in the middle of work. Thanks alot!!)
Okay here comes the geek points for the day:
1.) Goku stated at one point that the optimal form for saiyans is there normal form (black hair and black eyes) because Super Saiyan drains a lot more power very quickly. In other words, it has low stamina. (reference the episode during Vegeta and Trunks' battle w/ Cell while Goku and Gohan are in the Room of Spirit and Time.
2.) When Saiyans go Super Saiyan 1 or 2, their eyes actually turn green, not blue. When they go Super Saiyan 3 (only Goku has) their eyes turn to a black pupil with a blue iris.

But just so this little post has a little relevance to the Kiai Master, I'll add my insignificant 2 cents.

This Master and his students seem to be an example of the already existing phenomenon of the No-touch/One-touch knockout technique. Psychologically, it's suggested that the mind is expecting to be knocked out and truly believes it. Therefore it creates the sensations of impact or even loss of consciousness. This could explain why the students feel the effects, but everybody else (skeptic or not) is unaffected. So does it work? Technically, yes. But as others have stated already, it only works on the students/believers...as long as their right big toe isn't up.

John, 2009.03.18 (Wed) 22:36 [Link] »

...as long as their right big toe isn't up.

Hahahaha! So... it works!! :D

Burt, 2009.09.03 (Thu) 11:50 [Link] »

I'm not buying that this is a real video. If it is, where is there any other reference Kiai as a martial arts form? Where are the schools that so many students apparently flock to?

If it is real, did the MMA dude really have to smack him down like that? Why not just slap his bald head a couple of times and leave it at that?

Worldlywill, 2011.07.24 (Sun) 18:26 [Link] »

has anyone seen this one yet?http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jE4FcwFZGVI
This guy really believes he's shooting energy from his hands too, despite explanation. I'd love to see someone in his area put his tricks through some unbiased tests

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