The Benefits of Yoga

Yoga is an ancient vedic science of consciousness aimed at training the human body, mind and spirit for a state of perfect spiritual insight and emotional tranquility. The yogic discipline is composed of various exercises practiced and refined for millennia by Indian maharishis and yogis including breath control, meditation, stretching, seated postures, standing postures, and isometric locks. The benefits of regular yoga practice are wide and varied: it relieves stress, general body aches, pains, anxiety and depression, increases stamina, lung capacity, core strength, mindfulness, mental clarity and focus, improves posture, poise and patience, promotes longevity and cellular regeneration, boosts energy levels, elevates moods, releases happiness endorphins, improves digestion, assimilation, and elimination, aids in deeper sleep and elicits the relaxation response.

The Most Important Thing in Your Life

What is the #1 most important key factor to achieving and maintaining optimum health, energy, longevity, vitality, and wellness? Is it genetics, diet, exercise, hydration, sleep, mindset, environment? Certainly all of these factors are very important, but in fact they are all secondary to something most doctors and lay-people alike completely overlook. Think about this: what is the most important thing in your life? It’s so important that you do it all day every day and all night every night. You are even doing it unconsciously right now while reading this. It’s something so crucial to your health, longevity and wellness that ceasing for even a few minutes results in certain death! The one and only undeniable answer is Breathing. To breathe is to live and without breath there can be no life. All life, plant and animal, from birth to death, completely depends upon the air for health, well-being and continued existence. From microscopic mitochondria to macroscopic lungs, every living cell breathes and depends on the air’s life-giving properties for sustenance.

Breathing may be considered the most important of all of the functions of the body, for, indeed, all the other functions depend upon it. Man may exist some time without eating; a shorter time without drinking; but without breathing his existence may be measured by a few minutes. And not only is Man dependent upon Breath for life, but he is largely dependent upon correct habits of breathing for continued vitality and freedom from disease. An intelligent control of our breathing power will lengthen our days upon the earth by giving us increased vitality and powers of resistance, and, on the other hand, unintelligent and careless breathing will tend to shorten our days, by decreasing our vitality and laying us open to disease.” -Yogi Ramacharaka, “The Science of Breath” (6)

Pranayama is the ancient vedic science of breathing practiced and perfected over several thousand years by Indian yogis. Shaolin martial monks and Taoists evolved and perform a similar discipline known as Qigong (Chi Kung). For the past several years I have been diligently learning, practicing, and teaching Pranayama / Qigong and I can say from daily personal experience that this kind of internal exercise is by far the most important, over-looked and under-appreciated, energizing, invigorating, strengthening, purifying, balancing, meditative, relaxing, revitalizing, immunity-boosting and longevity-promoting activity possible.

Breathing and related exercises are one hundred times more effective as medical therapy than any drug. This knowledge is indispensable to man, and every physician should study it thoroughly.” -Taoist Shen Chia-shu

Everyone instinctively knows that breathing is absolutely unarguably the most important thing in their life, but how many treat it as such? How much attention do you give to your breathing? Have you ever learned or practiced methods of proper and effective breathing? Most people walk around on half-power their whole lives, chronically starved for oxygen, wide open to disease, shallow staccato chest-breathing their way to early graves.

Man has contracted improper methods and attitudes of walking, standing and sitting, which have robbed him of his birthright of natural and correct breathing. He has paid a high price for civilization. The savage, today, breathes naturally, unless he has been contaminated by the habits of civilized man. The percentage of civilized men who breathe correctly is quite small, and the result is shown in contracted chests, stooping shoulders, and the terrible increase in diseases of the respiratory organs. Eminent authorities have stated that one generation of correct breathers would regenerate the race, and disease would be so rare as to be looked upon as a curiosity. Whether looked at from the standpoint of the Oriental or Occidental, the connection between correct breathing and health is readily seen and explained. The Occidental teachings show that the physical health depends very materially upon correct breathing. The Oriental teachers not only admit that their Occidental brothers are right, but say that in addition to the physical benefit derived from correct habits of breathing, Man’s mental power, happiness, self-control, clear-sightedness, morals, and even his spiritual growth may be increased.” -Yogi Ramacharaka, “The Science of Breath” (7)

Regular deep breathing practice is absolutely the best holistic exercise and the ultimate preventative medicine. It detoxifies, oxygenates, cleans and purifies the entire bloodstream through the lungs, moves the lymphatic system, relieves general body aches, pains, stress, anxiety, and depression, increases stamina, lung capacity, abdominal muscle, core strength, mindfulness, mental clarity and focus, internally exercises and massages your organs, improves posture, poise and patience, promotes longevity and cellular regeneration, boosts energy levels, elevates moods, releases happiness endorphins, assists in weight control, improves digestion, assimilation, and elimination, strengthens the heart, lungs, abdominals and immune system, aids in deeper sleep and elicits the relaxation response in every cell of the body.

The benefits of working with the breath are profound. The way you breathe directly influences the quality of your life. In fact, the way you breathe might be the most important factor in how you feel. Think about how people breathe when they are sad and crying. They inhale with short, shallow gasps and exhale with either long wails or choppy sobs. If someone is angry, in-breaths are usually constricted and out-breaths are long and forceful. During stress, the breath can actually become so shallow that it is almost nonexistent. On the other hand, when someone is feeling good, the breath is calm, deep, and even. The amazing thing about breathing exercises is that the relationship also works in the reverse; by changing the way you breathe, you can also change the way you feel. If you breathe deeply, down into the abdomen, this sends a message to the body to transform negative emotions into positive ones. Deep breathing moves chi and clears stagnant energy. It is almost impossible to breathe deeply and feel negative emotions at the same time.” -Mantak Chia, “Simple Chi Kung” (56-57)

Breathing is the mechanism through which lungs purify and detoxify the bloodstream, and blood is the substance which nourishes and sustains every cell in your body. Thus proper and effective breathing is of paramount importance in maintaining the health and integrity of every cell in your body.

Blood begins its journey in the heart, bright red, oxygen-rich and full of life-giving properties, then later returns from its journey dull blue, oxygen-starved, and devoid of life energy. Blood is pumped from the left auricle into the left ventricle then out of the heart through the arteries and into the capillaries where it reaches and feeds every cell in the body. On its return journey the blood is pulled from the capillaries through the veins and back into the right auricle of the heart. When filled the auricle contracts forcing blood through the right ventricle down into the lungs where it branches out and disperses into millions of hair-like blood vessels and air cells thick enough to hold the blood but thin enough to allow oxygen to penetrate. Upon inhalation oxygen comes into contact with the impure blood and a chemical combustion takes place oxidizing the bloodstream and releasing carbonic acid gas generated from the waste products and toxins gathered up during its arterial journey through the body. Upon exhalation carbon dioxide and other toxins are dispelled from the system and the newly re-purified blood, bright red and oxygen-rich is pumped back out to every cell in the body.

Unless fresh air in sufficient quantities reaches the lungs, the foul stream of venous blood cannot be purified, and consequently not only is the body thus robbed of nourishment, but the waste products which should have been destroyed are returned to the circulation and poison the system, and death ensues. Impure air acts in the same way, only in a lessened degree. It will also be seen that if one does not breathe in a sufficient quantity of air, the work of the blood cannot go on properly, and the result is that the body is insufficiently nourished and disease ensues, or a state of imperfect health is experienced … A little reflection will show the vital importance of correct breathing. If the blood is not fully purified by the regenerative process of the lungs, it returns to the arteries in an abnormal state, insufficiently purified and imperfectly cleansed of the impurities which it took up on its return journey. These impurities if returned to the system will certainly manifest in some form of disease, either in a form of blood disease or some disease resulting from impaired functioning of some insufficiently nourished organ or tissue.” -Yogi Ramacharaka, “The Science of Breath” (11)

Put simply, blood is what feeds our trillions of cells and sustains our lives; from the tips of our heads to the bottoms of our feet, blood constantly circulates giving life energy to every cell. After just one cycle from heart to artery to vein and back to heart again, the blood collects various impurities which are taken to the lung capillaries for regeneration through respiration. Proper breathing fully re-oxidizes and replenishes the vitality of our blood so that the cycle of life may continue without slow deterioration. In fact as pranic breathing practice develops and lung capacity grows your ability to take in oxygen and expel carbon more efficiently results in a cumulatively building state of daily wellness.

It is therefore necessary that a proper supply of oxygen be taken through the lungs. This accounts for the fact that weak lungs and poor digestion are so often found together. To grasp the full significance of this statement, one must remember that the entire body receives nourishment from the food assimilated, and that imperfect assimilation always means an imperfectly nourished body. Even the lungs themselves depend upon the same source for nourishment, and if through imperfect breathing the assimilation becomes imperfect, and the lungs in turn become weakened, they are rendered still less able to perform their work properly, and so in turn the body becomes further weakened. Every particle of food and drink must be oxygenated before it can yield us the proper nourishment, and before the waste products of the system can be reduced to the proper condition to be eliminated. And when assimilation is not normal, the system receives less and less nourishment, the appetite fails, bodily vigor decreases, and energy diminishes, and the man withers and declines. All from the lack of proper breathing. Lack of sufficient oxygen means imperfect nutrition, imperfect elimination and imperfect health.” -Yogi Ramacharaka, “The Science of Breath” (12-33)

Our lungs are situated in the pleural chamber of the thoracic cavity separated from each other by the heart, blood vessels and air tubes. Each lung is free and unattached in all directions except at the root where it is connected via bronchi, arteries and veins to the trachea and heart. When we breathe, air comes in through the nasal cavity where it is warmed and filtered through hairs and mucous membrane. The air passes through the pharynx, larynx, and trachea then into the bronchial tubes where it is subdivided and dispersed into the millions of tiny air cells in the lungs. Air is drawn into the lungs by the diaphragm, a long, strong, flat muscle stretched across the chest. When the diaphragm contracts, the size of the chest and lungs expand and air rushes in like a vacuum. When it relaxes, the chest and lungs shrink and air is blown out like a bellows. The diaphragm’s actions and contractions are involuntary like the heart’s, but through practice and the will yogis can transform them into a semi-voluntary muscle.

The internal organs also need exercise, and Nature’s plan for the exercise is proper breathing. The diaphragm is Nature’s principal instrument for this internal exercise. Its motion vibrates the important organs of nutrition and elimination, and massages and kneads them at each inhalation and exhalation, forcing blood into them, and then squeezing it out, and imparting a general tone to the organs. Any organ or part of the body which is not exercised gradually atrophies and refuses to function properly, and lack of the internal exercise afforded by the diaphragmatic action leads to diseased organs.” -Yogi Ramacharaka, “The Science of Breath” (34)

There is literally nothing whatsoever more crucial to your health, vitality, longevity and well-being than your breath.  You may survive several months without food, a couple of weeks without water, but you won’t survive more than a few minutes without air.  More specifically, it is the oxygen in the air that your body so desperately and consistently needs.  Just a few minutes without re-oxygenating the bloodstream through regular respiration results in immediate and certain death.

Did you know 90% of our energy comes from oxygen and only 10% from food and water!?  Centuries ago the Earth’s atmosphere was comprised of much more oxygen.  Nowadays due to pollution, de-forestation and other environmental issues we’re breathing in only about 19-21% oxygen.  Not only this, but research has shown that each decade of regular aging humans lose approximately 5% of their lung capacity and elasticity which directly translates to less oxygen.  Considering how vitally important breathing and oxygen are to our lives and well-being wouldn’t it be a good idea to learn and commit to a daily practice of proper and effective deep breathing?

The Yogi Complete Breath or 3-Part Circular Breathing is one of the best Pranayamas to include into your daily routine as it trains the lungs to completely expand, completely contract, and utilizes the entire respiratory system properly and effectively.  It improves concentration, alertness and sleep, digestion, absorption and elimination, reduces anxiety, stress, and anger, builds stamina, expands lung capacity, and fully oxygenates the bloodstream.  Begin by exhaling every bit of air from your body then inhale through your nose completely filling up your lungs in 3 steps.  1)  Fill up your lower lungs by inhaling slowly and deeply pushing your tummy outwards like you just finished a big meal.  Imagine a string attached to your belly button slowly pulling out as you fill up the lower lungs.  2)  Once the lower lungs are filled, the mid-lungs will begin to fill up which will expand your chest outwards while pulling the tummy back in.  Imagine a 2nd string pulling on your sternum, expanding the rib cage, while the 1st string on your belly button has been released.  3)  Once the mid-lungs are filled, the upper-lungs will quickly fill up like the top tapered part of a water bottle.  Just lift your shoulders a little to get the last bit of air that you can, hold for a second (or several seconds if you can) then exhale through the mouth squeezing the abdominals to push out every last bit of carbon.  Do this for at least 10 minutes a day every day and you will notice many substantial positive powerful effects!

Reverse Circular Breathing or “The Chi Cultivator” is especially good for strengthening core abdominal muscles and cultivating life force energy (prana/chi/ki/qi) in your lower dantian.  First exhale all the air from your lungs and really squeeze your abdominal muscles forcing out every last bit.  Begin slowly inhaling through your nose bringing the air as deep into the lower lungs as possible filling them from bottom, middle, to top.  Now instead of letting your belly bubble up full of air as in traditional low-breathing, actually pull your belly inwards towards your spine as you inhale.  There is a vacuum vortex point behind your belly button called the dantian in Chinese medicine, and that is the point that will be sucking in, the destination point for the air being inhaled, and the main storage point for life force energy in the body.  Once the inhalation is complete relax your abdominals letting your belly bubble out full of air then exhale slowly out your mouth.  As you relax, practice and lengthen the breath there will come a sound from your throat like a cat purring or Darth Vader’s mask.  This is the sound of pranic/qigong ocean breathing which I’ve exaggerated a bit in the video to make it more audible.

Ujjayi Pranayama or Ocean Breathing is a very important deep breathing technique to master because it is so often used in conjunction with other breaths like the Yogi Complete Breath or Reverse Circular Breathing.  Ujjayi Ocean Breathing warms and slows down the air being inhaled allowing for safe, full lung expansion and optimum oxygenation.  The heat created helps release toxins and builds internal fire, enhances the digestive and nervous systems, elicits the relaxation response, and eliminates phlegm in the throat.  The “ocean” sound comes from the glottis rapidly flapping against the vocal cords and acts as a regulator so you can drastically slow down and deepen your inhalations.

The Nadi Purification Breath or Alternate Nostril Breathing is one of the best ways to clear your sinuses if you have allergies, cold, stuffy/runny nose, snoring, asthma or other breathing problems.  Inhale slowly and deeply into the abdomen through the left nostril while plugging the right.  Then plug the left nostril and fairly forcefully exhale the entire breath out your right nostril.  Squeeze your core muscles to expel every last bit of air, keep the left nostril plugged, inhale through the right then exhale through the left, and continue alternating back and forth like this.  Alternate Nostril Breathing reduces stress, boosts energy, clears the sinuses, cleanses the lungs, increases oxygenation of blood, improves sleep, calms the mind/emotions, and has been scientifically proven to improve brain function. When used in conjunction with a Neti Pot cleansing it’s like a complete enema for your head/sinuses!

The Yogi Cleansing Breath is the perfect detoxification breath for cigarette smokers and anyone with chronic respiratory issues or halitosis.  I personally smoked cigarettes from approximately age 18-26 and beginning daily pranayama practice is what helped easily and effortlessly ween me off cigarettes forever.  All addiction experts will agree that you need a new positive hobby/activity to replace your old destructive habit, and with smoking addiction (an unhealthy respiratory activity) what could be more relevant and advantageous than a new healthy respiratory activity like deep breathing!?  Within weeks of starting my daily practice I became sensitive enough to feel the negative effects of smoking even just 1 cigarette per day.  I slowly ramped up my pranayama and cut down my smoking, consciously improving my health, expanding and detoxifying my lungs, until the act of smoking became so counter-productive that I truly haven’t wanted to smoke another one.  To perform the Yogi Cleansing Breath first sit, stand or lay with your spine straight and inhale slowly and deeply through the nose until your lungs are filled.  Make an “O” shape with your mouth and force the exhale out in 3 or 4 quick bursts pushing every last bit by clenching your abdominals.

The Pranayama Breath of Fire detoxifies and purifies the entire bloodstream which in turn feeds every cell in our body.  It improves digestion, helps regulate the pituitary, glandular, and nervous systems, increases vital energy and lung capacity, expels carbon dioxide and other stagnant toxins, and is an excellent abdominal workout for increasing core strength.  To perform Breath of Fire, first sit, stand or lay with spine straight, and exhale all the air from your lungs.  Then in forceful 1 second bursts tightly squeeze your abdominal muscles and exhale out your nose.  A slight vacuum effect will automatically and involuntarily inhale a tiny bit after each exhale allowing you to continue breathing like this for several minutes with practice.  Start by doing 1 second exhales for about a minute and work your way up to faster breaths and longer sessions.  If you feel nauseous, dizzy or light-headed stop momentarily and take several deep breaths.

Shitali Pranayama or The Cooling Breath, like all mouth-inhalation techniques, is only to be used sparingly in situations where the body feels over-heated.  By rolling your tongue and inhaling through the mouth as shown in the video you will feel the air being cooled as it passes.  Breathing like this for several minutes will cure heat exhaustion and cool the body down from the inside out.  It is very important to note that mouth-breathing is something to be completely avoided except in extreme circumstances where the nasal passages are blocked or you’re gasping from lack of oxygen.  Mouth breathing is directly responsible for the contraction of many contagious diseases like colds and catarrhal infections.  Experiments have been performed on hundreds of soldiers and sailors showing that those who slept with their mouths open were much more likely to fall ill and contract contagious diseases than those who breathed properly through their nostrils.  During one of the Navy experiments a smallpox epidemic broke out resulting in many deaths among the mouth-breathers, yet not a single nose-breather suffered.

“The organs of respiration have their only protective apparatus, filter, or dust-catcher, in the nostrils.  When the breath is taken through the mouth, there is nothing from mouth to lungs to strain the air, or to catch the dust and other foreign matter in the air.  Moreover, such incorrect breathing admits cold air to the organs, thereby injuring them.  Inflammation of the respiratory organs often results from the inhalation of cold air through the mouth.  The man who breathes through the mouth at night, always awakens with a parched feeling in the mouth and a dryness in the throat.  He is violating one of nature’s laws, and is sowing the seeds of disease.  On the other hand, the nostrils and nasal passages show evidence of the careful design of nature in this respect.  The nostrils are two narrow, tortuous channels, containing numerous bristly hairs which serve the purpose of a filter or sieve to strain the air of its impurities, etc., which are expelled when the breath is exhaled.  Not only do the nostrils serve this important purpose, but they also perform an important function in warming the air inhaled.  The long narrow winding nostrils are filled with warm mucous membrane, which coming in contact with the inhaled air warms it so that it can do no damage to the delicate organs of the throat, or to the lungs.”  -Yogi Ramacharaka, “The Science of Breath”

The Science of Self-Defense

As a martial artist, first and foremost, I’m not interested in “Wing Chun,” “tradition,” or “style.” I’m not interested in flashy acrobatics, winning tournaments, or what looks cool. I’m only interested in what works. What keeps you alive in real life and death fight situations? What is the most effective way to defeat one or many opponents with or without weapons? How is the human body best trained to become a master of self-defense? What techniques, drills, and concepts must become second-nature to ensure proper reaction and adaptation during the chaos of real-life combat? How can any system or style cover the literally infinite potential dangers faced? With so many different martial arts from all over the world, how can one separate the wheat from the chaff and discern which is the most effective?

If you get in a fight with someone who is smaller, weaker, and slower than you, then your natural advantages will almost always defeat such an opponent without any training necessary. Therefore, if you are going to learn a self-defense style, shouldn’t it specifically train you to defeat opponent(s) who are bigger, stronger, and faster than you? Wing Chun is the only martial arts system known to be invented by a woman (the “weaker” gender), and was specifically designed to defeat bigger, stronger, faster, and multiple opponents with or without weapons simultaneously.

Most Traditional Martial Arts (TMA) like Taekwondo, Karate or Capoeira are overly flashy and acrobatic slaving to outdated and unusable forms constantly drilling impractical techniques that are not effective on the street.  The current trend of UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship), MMA (Mixed Martial Arts), and grappling styles like Jiu Jitsu, Judo, and Wrestling, has many people convinced that the pinnacle of effective self-defense is one or a combination of these hard-form, one-on-one fighting styles. While these styles are indeed formidable and have proven themselves in the ring, consider, in real-life when faced with the necessity to fight:

1) You often must defeat multiple attackers simultaneously

In UFC, MMA, and cage fights as well as TMA tournaments, the fighting itself, and thus the bulk of your training, is geared towards one-on-one confrontations of 2 or 3 minute rounds. In real-life however, the average fight lasts a mere 9 seconds, and often includes multiple attackers. Thus the dominance and perceived effectiveness of hard-form/grappling/UFC/MMA etc. is only valid in one-on-one fights when you can afford to spend minutes rolling around on the ground with your opponent trying to get a limb-lock or strangle-hold. In a real fight with multiple attackers, while you’re busy rolling around wrestling one guy on the ground, his buddies are all standing straight kicking the snot out of you.

2) Those attackers are often bigger, stronger, and faster than you

These competition fights are always pre-arranged so to only match two fighters with comparable skills and attributes. This means that these fighters are always training to defeat their mirror-image. In real-life scenarios, however, your opponent(s) will often be bigger, stronger, and faster than you, and only the soft-form martial arts are specifically designed to combat this. Wing Chun is a combination hard/soft style which employs simultaneous attack and defense, yields to all incoming pressure, and diverts it away from your center-line while simultaneously attacking the opponent’s center-line. This advantage allows even novice Wing Chun practitioners to defeat opponents twice their size, strength, and speed.

3) Those attackers often have weapons

Another issue that every martial artist must consider is self-defense against weapons. In tournament fighting styles, the bulk of your training is devoted to one-on-one, empty-hand combat. If any self-defense against weapons is taught, it is usually minimal, difficult to develop, and quite ineffective in real-life. Wing Chun’s movements and concepts, however, are so universally applicable to any fight situation, that empty-hand practice, weapons practice, and empty vs. weapons practice all utilize exactly the same training techniques. This means regardless of the fight situation, you are poised and prepared with muscle-memory to react more effectively to any empty-hand or weapon attack, because all of your training is universally applicable regardless of how many attackers, how strong they are, or which weapons they have.

4) There are no rules, referees, or tap-outs

In all tournament fights there are regulations, referees, points, tap-out or knock-down rules, but in real-life fighting there is no such thing. This means if your martial art caters to tournament fighting, as most do, then your training is not comprehensive, not utilizing every weapon available to you. For example, Taekwondo has no punches to the head or in-fighting techniques. Judo, Aikido, and Wrestling have almost no striking whatsoever. Even UFC and most MMA fighters train with rules in mind like no groin strikes, no eye gauges, no knee stomp-kicks, etc. This may seem insignificant, but consider that the two most vulnerable spots on the human body are the eyes and groin. This means that most tournament fighters are merely training for unrealistic sparring situations in which they cannot even attack their opponent’s two most vulnerable targets! Wing Chun on the other hand is not a tournament style, and practitioners always train to attack their opponent’s most vulnerable targets like eyes, groin, throat, elbow and knee joints.

Most fighting styles (such as Boxing, Kick-boxing, Wrestling, Karate, Taekwondo, Muay Thai, Capoeira, etc.) rely on speed, strength, and vigor to overcome an opponent, so unfortunately as you grow older, your effectiveness in using the fighting system diminishes.  Wing Chun, however, relies more on philosophy, sensitivity, intuition, and other internal factors which you will continue to improve upon your entire life.  Wing Chun is scientific, logical, and concept-based so both your understanding and ability will only increase with age.  This is why 80+ year-old Grandmasters like Ip Chun, Jim Fung, and others can still defeat all their students and generate incredible internal energy.

Real fighting is dirty, no holds barred, spontaneous full-force explosive aggression. In actual combat there are no rules, no regulations, no referees, no traditions, no tap-outs and no gloves. So any system which caters to and trains with rules, regulations, and traditions in mind is ultimately not preparing you for actual combat but for unrealistic sparring situations. For example the average UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) match lasts almost 9 grueling minutes. The average street fight, however, lasts a mere 9 seconds! Why the huge difference? Is it just because they’re wearing boxing gloves? No. The fact of the matter is that tournament fighting, and martial styles which cater to tournament fighting (such as MMA, Boxing, Kickboxing, Muay Thai, Taekwondo, Karate, Jui Jitsu, Judo, Wrestling etc.) all have a huge list of highly effective techniques and vulnerable targets which are completely off-limits! The reason they are prohibited is because they are too effective, will end the fight too quickly, and could severely injure, maim or kill the opponent!

In the interest of clean competitions and good sportsmanship it makes sense that certain targets and techniques be prohibited from tournament fights, but what happens when rules and traditions start to dictate your martial training? Instead of always practicing the most effective techniques on the softest targets, you actually train less effective techniques on harder targets! How can repeatedly drilling less than optimum techniques at less than optimum targets, make you an optimum fighter? As the saying goes, practice doesn’t make perfect, only perfect practice makes perfect.

In Western Boxing, for instance, the extreme limitations are clear for everyone to see. You wear huge padded gloves and almost every fighting technique imaginable is prohibited except punches to the torso and head. No kicks, no knees, no elbows, no head butts, no groin strikes, no eye gouges, no grappling, no throws, just round after round of getting pounded by padded punches. Boxing is a perfect example of a fighting style with so many rules that its practical self-defense applications are very limited. It is clearly a sport, and not a science of self-defense. Boxing’s punches are undoubtedly second to none, but there is much more to effective self-defense than good punching. How does Western Boxing prepare you to defeat an opponent carrying a knife? How does Boxing deal with kicks, takedowns and grappling? How does Boxing handle multiple attackers? The answers are all the same: It doesn’t, because it’s against the rules and not part of the game.

In the game/sport of Taekwondo all punches to the head, kicks to the legs, and grabbing techniques are prohibited so the result is a style full of fast-paced flashy spinning jumping head kicks. These are definitely fun to watch and work during point sparring competitions, but in real-life combat, almost the entire repertoire of Taekwondo’s techniques are pitifully ineffective and leave you off balance and vulnerable.  Being a 2nd degree black belt and former Taekwondo instructor myself, I can say from experience that Taekwondo’s kicks are second to none, but there is much more to effective self-defense than good kicking.

Muay Thai, Kickboxing, and MMA are much more dynamic and street-effective than Boxing or Taekwondo making use of knees, elbows, leg kicks, clinches, throws, and takedowns. But once again there are no groin or throat strikes allowed, no eye gouges, no knee stomp kicks, no defense against weapons, and no defense against multiple attackers. These few limitations may seem insignificant, but keep in mind that most street fights involve either a weapon or multiple attackers, and the three most vulnerable targets on the human body are the eyes, groin and throat! This means that Muay Thai, Kickboxing, and MMA are not training or utilizing the most effective targets or techniques when it comes to real life or death combat.

These styles also use a lot of low roundhouse kicks to the opponent’s legs with the intention of wearing them down over time, which sounds good and works wonders during tournament bouts, but the average street fight lasts only 9 seconds and involves multiple attackers, so in actual combat there’s no time to strategize several kicks for wearing down your opponent’s legs. You need more quick, direct, and devastating attacks to vulnerable targets. Wing Chun’s two main kicks, the inside stomp kick to the knee and front snap kick to the groin, are so brutally effective that they are banned in all sports fighting and martial arts tournaments. The inside stomp kick smashing down at 45 degrees onto the kneecap reliably and easily takes down and/or breaks the leg of even very strong opponents. And of course one good swift kick to the groin beats a whole barrage of Muay Thai leg kicks any day. So whether it’s Kickboxing, Muay Thai, Taekwondo, Karate or MMA, two of the most devastating kicks are prohibited and so rarely if ever trained.

BJJ (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu), Judo, Wrestling, and other grappling styles have little or no striking whatsoever which is obviously a severe limitation. No punches, no kicks, no knees, no elbows, no eye gouges, no hair pulling and no biting, yet these styles spend almost all their training time on the ground. How realistic is a ground fight without any striking, eye gouges, hair pulling or biting? Even MMA, which allows ground striking, still prohibits attacks to the neck and spine, eye gouges, groin strikes, hair pulling and biting. This is the only reason UFC/MMA/BJJ fighters spend so long rolling around the mat together vying for position like a couple of entangled homosexual hyenas.

If they were allowed to elbow necks, stomp spines, gouge eyes, strike groins, pull hair and bite, the entirety of their well-developed “ground games,” would be useless. Spending minutes jockeying for a side-mount or trying to pull off an arm-bar is highly ineffective if your opponent is wildly gouging at your eyes, attacking your groin, pulling your hair and biting you! The whole idea of martial artists needing a complex “ground game” as seen in UFC/MMA/BJJ is erroneous anyway because when real fights go to the ground, there’s no springy, soft canvas cushion to roll around on. In the street it’s concrete and the odds are whoever makes the first takedown wins. These styles spend almost all their training time on the ground working on the philosophy that 95% of fights go to the ground. While it’s true that most competition MMA fights go to the ground at some point, this is not the case with street fights. A cursory glance through YouTube’s many fine street fights caught on camera show the majority of fights being won with stand-up striking techniques, not with ground grappling techniques. Besides, when facing multiple attackers, going to the ground simply isn’t a viable option because while you’re busy rolling around wrestling one guy, his buddies will all be standing straight punt-kicking the snot out of you.

Capoeira, Drunken Boxing, Wu Shu, and other overly flowery forms of Kung Fu are beautiful to watch and wonderful for developing strength, flexibility and flow, but when it comes to real life or death combat these flashy acrobatic styles also fail in many respects. Too much emphasis is placed on dancing and feigning the opponent, often leaving the practitioner off-balance and vulnerable to attack.

Most of the fancy offensive striking techniques are indirect, less powerful, and less effective than tried and true quick, direct strikes along the opponent’s centerline (as in Wing Chun). So much time is spent practicing flowery non-combative dancing or acrobatic techniques that proper application and actual fighting often takes a back seat. Karate and several traditional martial arts also have a similar problem incessantly training rigid robotic forms, stances, blocks and strikes absolutely inapplicable and unusable in the street. For example the traditional front stance low, high, inside and outside blocks of Karate are so slow, wide, rigid and telegraphed that they cannot work even against an unskilled opponent. All Karate practitioners realize this and never use the traditional blocks while sparring anyway, but still spend countless hours training these useless forms and techniques regardless.

There are many martial systems which don’t fall into the “irrelevant tradition” or “sport fighting” traps and are thus much more street-ready such as Krav Maga, Silat, FMA, Aikido, Wing Chun and Jeet Kune Do. These styles tend to be much more formidable and effective due to the fact that they are always training with actual combat in mind and not slaving to sports rules or ancient irrelevant traditions. To my sensibilities however, Wing Chun stands out and maintains a distinctive edge over the rest with iron-clad concepts and unique techniques such as simultaneous attack/defense, immoveable elbows, three triangles, centerline theory, sticky hands/legs, and chain punching.

Wing Chun is all about whatever works. Arm and leg breaks, throat and groin strikes, eye gouges, finger locks, hair pulling, biting and whatever else works is fair game. The movements and principles are so universally applicable to any fight situation, that empty-hand practice, weapons practice, and empty vs. weapons practice all utilize exactly the same structures and techniques.  This means regardless of the fight situation, you are poised and prepared with muscle-memory to react more effectively to any empty-hand or weapon attack, because all your training is universally applicable regardless of how many attackers, how strong they are, or which weapons they have.

Wing Chun has often been called “the thinking man’s martial art” and if you have made it this far through the article you can probably appreciate why. Originally however Wing Chun was not a “man’s” martial art at all, but the only fighting system in the world known to have been invented by a woman. A Shaolin nun named Ng Mui developed the art over three centuries ago by taking only the most direct and effective techniques of Shaolin Kung-Fu and creating a compact martial training system specially suited and designed to defeat bigger, stronger and faster opponents. Ng Mui and her female student Yim Wing Chun used this new style against several men in challenge fights. Both became legendary figures in Kung-Fu history, neither of them ever losing a fight.

So how does a man benefit from training a woman’s martial art? Think about this: If you get in a fight with someone who is smaller, slower and weaker than you, then your natural advantages will almost always defeat such an opponent without any training necessary. Therefore, if you are going to learn a self-defense style, shouldn’t it specifically train you to defeat opponent(s) who are bigger, stronger, and faster than you?  Since women on average tend to be smaller, slower and weaker, Wing Chun seeks to compensate for these natural disadvantages by relying on body mechanics and touch sensitivity instead of speed and brute force to overcome an opponent. Having trained this fighting system daily for 10 years now, I can personally attest to its efficacy and intricacies. It is ostensibly a simple martial art with a swift learning curve, but contains incredible depth and complexity enough to spend a lifetime perfecting, always potential for refining and developing to new levels of proficiency. I have researched and trained various martial arts for most of my life, all with their unique pros and cons, advantages and disadvantages, and I respect the traditions and practitioners of all martial disciplines, but for me Wing Chun, based on its intelligent scientific principles and sheer brutal effectiveness stands head and shoulders above the rest.

There are thousands of known and practiced martial arts from every country in the world, and though all martial systems are based on human combat, different styles have different focuses and blind-spots, strengths and weaknesses. Some martial styles are based around ancient esoteric forms and traditions, others are more geared towards sports competitions, and some are designed to maim, disable and kill people as efficiently and effectively as possible. Wing Chun is among the latter.

Being a peaceful warrior and vegetarian myself, I aim to never injure or kill any living creature, but if necessary in self-defense or in the defense of innocents, if violence is being committed against me or a loved one, I will use every weapon available to me to incapacitate that aggressor. Wing Chun is such a versatile and superior system, however, that even against deadly aggression, a skilled Wing Chun practitioner can diffuse and re-direct an opponents’ energy indefinitely without ever having to actually physically harm them.

Tai Chi and Aikido masters also train and develop this ability to completely dominate and control an adversary without ever having to hurt them. Only such “soft style” martial arts can develop this ability because only the soft styles train with the principle of “no force against force.” Muay Thai, Boxing, Kickboxing, Karate, Taekwondo, and Wrestling for example are all hard styles which train brute force against force, conditioning arms and legs for repeated bone on bone hits. If you’re a strong young man with solid bones and big muscles preparing for combat or competition, such hard style bone on bone conditioning is a must, but Wing Chun wasn’t developed by a big strong young man preparing for combat or competition, Wing Chun was developed by a small weak old woman preparing for self-defense.

Wing Chun is in fact the only martial art known to have been invented by a woman. Ng Mui, a Shaolin nun on the run from the Manchu government, created Wing Chun as a system of self-defense that women, or smaller, weaker, slower, older people could successfully use to defeat men, or bigger, stronger, faster, younger adversaries. By allowing the aggressor to lead, the soft style practitioner, like the woman in couples dancing, is completely receptive and responsive to the man’s motions and movements then mirrors him in real-time.

Through sensitivity training like “Chi Sao” (sticky hands) and “Chi Gerk” (sticky legs), Wing Chun practitioners develop the ability to receptively respond, re-direct and diffuse or use the opponent’s energy against them. By “bridging” and sticking to their limbs we receive constant tactile information allowing us to manipulate and stay ahead of attacks.

Looking at human anatomy Wing Chun notices that the eyes, throat, groin and several of our other main vulnerable targets all rest along the body’s centerline. For this and many other reasons we always attack and defend along the center, since both the opponent’s and our most vulnerable targets are right there. Then we extend our longest weapons forward like “Bil Gee” thrusting fingers into the opponent’s eyes and knee stomp kicks into their lead leg.

There is an axiom in geometry that states “the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.” This is another reason Wing Chun practitioners always strike and defend straight ahead along the center. If the opponent initiates a circular attack like a roundhouse kick or hooking punch, we simply advance straight ahead with a mirrored straight attack which allows our strike to land first. This is known as “economy of motion” and is one of Wing Chun’s main mathematical principles. Instead of blocking first then hitting back as in most martial arts, a Wing Chun man will simultaneously block and hit while the opponent is still mid-strike. This gives us the surprise factor and results in double the damage because the opponent’s forward energy is met head on with our straight forward attack.

There is an axiom in physics that states “no two objects can occupy the same space at the same time.” Keeping this in mind Wing Chun practitioners always aim to occupy the centerline with our punches and kicks, yielding to and re-directing all obstacles in the way, but constantly replacing our limbs back across the center. Once we control the center by bridging a bent arm/leg we use sticky hands/legs sensitivity to feel and exploit the opponent’s under and over-commitments.

The triangle or pyramid is the strongest shape in nature and recognizing this, Wing Chun repeatedly uses triangles and 45/60 degree angles in its structure and movements. For example when training we stand slightly pigeon-toed with knees bent in and extend both arms frontwards making three triangles with our arms, legs, and feet. The upper triangle, like a door wedge, allows us to easily control the centerline and the lower triangles allow us to receive incredible amounts of forward energy without having to back up.

When parrying and attacking we constantly use the power of 45/60 degree angles to deflect, re-direct and cut through our opponent’s defenses. The Wing Chun knee stomp kick 45 degrees downward just above the knee-joint is absolutely the easiest and most effective leg breaking technique in existence. If massive force is directed at our centerlines like with a sidekick, Muay Thai teep kick, or a running tackle, we triangle side-step and advance at 45/60 degrees allowing us to overtake their position using not brute strength or muscle, but just the power of angles. If a strong punch comes along our centerline, we pivot 45 degrees and throw our own centerline punch which cuts through theirs allowing us to block and strike simultaneously.

When Wing Chun practitioners kick we don’t chamber our legs first then extend out straight at 90 degree angles like most Taekwondo, Muay Thai, or Kickboxing kicks, because as Newton’s axiom warns us, “for every force or action there is an equal and opposite force or reaction.” If a smaller, weaker person performs a Muay Thai teep kick to the trunk of a bigger, stronger adversary, when that kick connects, instead of pushing back the adversary, that direct force will come straight back and the power of your own kick will launch you straight backwards. If instead front and side kicks are performed Wing Chun style, with no chamber, foot rising straight from ground to target at a 45 degree angle, the equal and opposite force is absorbed and earthed completely by our back legs.

The “immovable elbow” principle of Wing Chun comes from the observation that our arms are at their strongest and most stable when held straight ahead about a fist-distance away from our abdomen elbows bent at 135 degrees. Bent at any more of an angle, strength is quickly diminished, we become unbalanced and vulnerable to being pulled; bent at any less of an angle, strength is diminished and we become vulnerable to being pushed or taken down. By maintaining this bent arm ready stance, hitting and replacing chain punches at 135 degrees along the centerline we maximize balance, speed, power and control.


There are many more examples and reasons why Wing Chun truly is the science of self-defense, but suffice to say, by taking into account aspects of physics, kinesthesiology, geometry, and anatomy Wing Chun is less like a martial art and more like martial science. The art part is in the application, the drilling and training, making the science subconscious and second-nature, embedding the muscle-memory, learning to channel the opponent’s energy, and successfully expressing yours.

What is the perfect way to fight? Is there a “perfect way” to fight or is every martial art, every system and approach just a haphazard shot in the dark with no objective, empirical, measurable advantage? The answer is that there IS absolutely a perfect way to fight and win every opponent, but the difficulty and the beauty is that perfect way is not something set in stone, but a fluid interplay between each fighter’s strengths and weaknesses. The perfect way to fight always completely depends on the person(s) you are fighting and constantly changes based on what they are doing, how they are attacking, defending, and countering, whether there is one, two, or ten opponents, whether they’re striking, grappling, or parrying, whether they’re using edged, blunt or projectile weapons, depending on their height, weight, build, reach, and a host of other factors, the “perfect way” to fight is by training and developing the skills and tools necessary to read, react and adapt to each opponent’s constantly shifting weaknesses and exploiting them in real-time.

In this and many other ways fighting is like the game of Chess: Once you make your move, there is no turning back. You are responsible for every mistake, and the only way out is forward. The stronger player does not always win, because even the strongest players have weaknesses, but a clear hierarchy of ability exists, and the way to succeed is by positioning yourself so as to best exploit the weaknesses of your opponent then attacking as mistakes and imbalances surface. Unlike dice or card games, there is no element of “luck” or “chance” in games like Chess, Checkers or Othello; these games always completely depend only upon the minds and moves of the two opponents Similarly in fighting there really is no element of luck or chance involved. The outcome of a fight or Chess match will always depend on who better trained and conditioned themselves beforehand then better exploited and executed their opponent’s weaknesses in the moment.

The average Chess player can only handle playing one opponent at a time, just like the average person could only handle fighting one opponent at a time, but through diligent practice Chess grandmasters and martial grandmasters are able to successfully defeat several opponents simultaneously. Bobby Fischer and Magnus Carlsen have been known to play and win up to 10 games against 10 different opponents simultaneously while blindfolded! Ip Man, Bruce Lee’s Wing Chun teacher, was also said to have successfully defeated several opponents simultaneously while blindfolded!

Just having martial “knowledge” is not enough though, your body must be trained and conditioned kinesthetically so muscle-memory reacts perfectly and precisely to the opponent. Just having chess “knowledge” is also not enough, you cannot simply memorize every opening, play through every grandmaster game, read every theory book and suddenly be able to win every opponent. The knowledge and skill-sets, the training and pre-game preparedness is only part of it, the gamer/fighter must also have perfect mindfulness and presence in the moment to be able to use the knowledge and training then adapt it in real-time to suit the adversary in front of them. So there is a perfect way to fight, just like there is a perfect way to play Chess, but it’s not static and consistent, it always completely depends on the opponent and our interplay with their weaknesses in the moment.

Both fighters and Chess players will train before a tournament, watching videos or studying games of their opponents looking to find trends and weaknesses. By noticing trends, even ones usually seen as “strengths,” they can become weaknesses through overuse. For instance a fighter with a powerful overhand right he always uses to knock people out is seen as his “strength,” but if his opponent knows ahead of time about his reliance on this attack, even such so-called “strengths” can quickly become Achilles’ tendons to be cut. The opponent can train to always slip outside, to attack and disable the right arm/hand, or to shoot inside nullifying the range. Similarly if a chess player knows trends in his opponent’s games, such as always accepting gambits, never trading down in a sacrifice, castling late, bringing the Queen out early etc. he can exploit those trends.

A fighter’s vulnerabilities are constantly changing based on their position/structure making it like a ballroom dance where the woman, the receptive one, reacting to the man’s lead, sensing, feeling her opponent’s movements and flowing with them, actually maintains positional advantage while the aggressive, overly forceful fighter leaves himself exposed. So by purposely assuming the yin, receptive role of the woman, you gain a distinct advantage. This is the reason fighters always jockey back and forth in and out of the pocket range-finding before committing to an attack, because the person who under or over-commits during these crucial milliseconds opens themselves up to devastating counter-blows. If you commit to a strike, takedown, or whatever type of attack, you are opening yourself to counter-attack. The smarter fighting philosophy is to be patient, feigning while giving consistent forward pressure along the centerline until the opponent shows an under or over-commitment, then exploding to exploit the hole formed. In Chess strategy it is the same; position your pieces to control the center, allow the opponent to initiate exchanges, look for imbalances, weak squares or undefended pieces, then attack and prey upon the opponent’s problem areas.

The game of Othello also beautifully demonstrates this advantage of yin over yang. The average Othello player will quickly, aggressively attempt to turn as many pieces to their side as possible, and continue with this one-dimensional yang strategy until they run out of moves, only to have the opponent flip all their pieces back at the end. Similarly the average fighter will aggressively attempt to attack and finish their opponent as quickly and violently as possible only to gas-out and open themselves up to counter-attacks. The highest level Othello players, however, know that the more pieces you have in the beginning, the less potential moves you have later, and the more pieces of yours on the board, the more pieces your opponent can steal! The highest level fighters know if you over-commit to any attack too early and you are fighting a skilled, adaptive opponent, the over-committed attack, no matter how powerful, will soon become your weakness.

The best Othello players play passively, keeping the fewest amount of their pieces on the board at the beginning so as to maintain positional advantage by having the most potential moves. By having the most potential moves, they are easier able to acquire and secure the crucial border and corner squares. Once a corner square has been acquired, you claim all pieces horizontal, vertical and diagonal to that corner and they cannot be turned back! Similarly, in fighting, the best fighters will not rush in and over-commit to some attack without first bridging along the centerline, sensing and seeing how the opponent reacts, then exploiting any under or over-commitments in their reaction. Pinning your opponent against a wall, fence, car or into a corner is also a highly advantageous move difficult to reverse, just like claiming border and corner pieces in Othello.

This is the esoteric advantage yin will always have over yang. Since yang seems weaker, its strength is deceptive. Like water, you must be fluid, receptive, adaptive and flow around your opponent’s obstacles, remaining calm, relaxed and flexible both mentally and physically until the opponent’s vulnerabilities present themselves. This is not to say that yang has no place, that women are better fighters, or anything of that sort. A moment of yang strength is ultimately what wins the fight, and men are in general far superior fighters to women. Some arts like Muay Thai, Wrestling, or Sumo, however, are overly yang whereas others like Tai Chi, Wu Shu, and even many lineages of Wing Chun are far too “yin,” doing nothing but Chi Sao (sticky hands) and form-work, never training body-conditioning, padwork or sparring. This is just as much a deficiency as the over-aggressive, blunt-headed wrestler type who simply looks to impose his will no matter how well he is defended/countered by his opponent.

One of the main principles in Wing Chun is the centerline concept, where fighters train to attack, defend and dominate along the centerline. In Chess strategy, dominating and controlling the center is a key positional advantage during the opening. Where many average Wing Chun practitioners and many average Chess players fall short is when they don’t train to switch it up during the middle and endgame. Many traditional Wing Chun schools train ONLY straight-line attacks and ONLY ever attack along the centerline. For instance they will always enter with the same straight chain punch/push kick flurry and no matter how well the opponent defends, circles outside and counters, they still keep steamrolling impotently forward becoming an increasingly easier target to pick apart. In Chess, the opponent’s King begins in the center, but as the game progresses, due to castling or other moves, the King will often be situated at either end and not in the center. Once your opponent castles it becomes obvious whether a King’s side, Queen’s side or central attack will best suit the game and the adept player must adapt in real-time. Similarly an adept Wing Chun practitioner must always bridge (make contact) with the opponent along the centerline, but then depending on what they do next when bridged, other curved or non-centerline attacks may become much better suited than the straight centerline approach.

In the entry into the pocket during a fight, just like in the entry during the opening of a chess game, it has been proven that dominating and controlling the centerline is key. You will never see a Chess Grandmaster doing a rook’s pawn opening and you will never see a Wing Chun Grandmaster doing a curved or non-centerline entry. To do a rook’s pawn opening or to enter the pocket with a curved attack is to offer up the crucial advantage of direct centerline control to your opponent for free. If you’re playing/fighting an amateur you may recover from such a blunder, but against a formidable opponent you will not and find that giving away the centerline is a consistently losing strategy. In Chess this has been proven beyond any reasonable doubt, though in martial philosophy, the crucial importance of centerline control and straight-attack entries has not yet gained popular approval or understanding outside of Wing Chun.

The basic idea of straight-line entries and centerline control is that the most efficient path between two points is a straight line. If you throw a right jab, while your opponent throws a right hook, your jab will land first, the blow surprises and decreases the power of your opponent’s strike, and the position of your jab effectively blocks the incoming hook. In the case of a kick, imagine a curved Muay Thai roundhouse kick or a Taekwondo spinning kick versus a straight Wing Chun stomp kick, snap kick or side kick. Like the hook punch, the roundhouse, or any spinning circular attack is telegraphed, slower to arrive at the target, and completely exposes the person attacking by opening their guard wide. Curved attacks are also ineffective until they arrive at full-extension to their target whereas straight attacks are effective even before full-extension. For example if you simply step forward when the opponent initiates a spinning heel kick you completely neutralize the technique because his dangerous heel extends well-behind you. If, instead, you step forward into a straight Wing Chun stop kick to the stomach, the kick will still land, maybe at the shin, the knee, the groin or the stomach depending on how close the opponent is when you make contact, but no matter where contact is made, damage will still be done and their forward movement will be thwarted. Straight kicks are simply less risky, more direct, efficient, and devastating. Therefore, as a general rule, fast straight-attack entries are far superior to curved, circular or angular attacks. Once the straight-attack entry has been made along the centerline, THEN the fighter can and should mix various non-linear attacks, based on the tactile information received in the moment as to which combinations and movements will continue to land and defeat the opponent.

In popular MMA cage-fighting like UFC, the importance of centerline control is explicitly obvious but the philosophy is often overlooked.   Fighters like Jon Jones and Anderson Silva use their long limbs extending forward, usually in a triangle, like the Wing Chun ready stance, not under or over-committing, shooting straight jabs and straight kicks along the opponent’s centerline. Then when into clinch / chi sao range, they start unleashing various creative circular and non-centerline attacks like elbows, knees, body shots, uppercuts and takedowns based on the tactile and sensory information they’re receiving in the moment, adapting every second to attack the most vulnerable targets with their most powerful weapons. Notice they do not and could not simply chain punch forward and win every opponent as some traditional Wing Chun schools would have you think!

In Chess you always want to be either developing your pieces into better positions, taking your opponents pieces, or directly attacking their King. Likewise in fighting you should always be moving to gain positional advantage, striking to injure the opponent’s limbs/body, or directly attacking their face/neck. Blood or air chokes, eye gouges, palm strikes, overhands and other fight-stopping strikes to the face are like checkmates. All other attacks like arm-bars, toe-holds, leg-locks, takedowns, guntings, etc. are analogous to capturing pawns, knights, bishops, rooks and queens.

Bobby Fischer said of Chess, “Tactics flow from a superior position.” In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu they have the saying “position before submission” meaning it is important to acquire and maintain the correct body position and defensive structure before attempting the finishing offensive submission. If you rush into a submission hold without first securing the necessary and advantageous position, it is likely that the opponent will escape, sweep, and turn the tables on your weak attempt. The skilled grappler will instead first secure a good full, side, back mount or guard, then and only then attempt any submissions. Likewise in Chess, the average player might bring their Queen out early and try any number of one/two piece fast mates, but these will never work against a seasoned player and will only leave you with inferior positioning going into the midgame.

In Chess one popular strategy, known as a “gambit,” is offering a piece as a sacrifice in order to attain better position. In fighting, various “gambits” are also used constantly and effectively. For example feigning when establishing a jab and straight kicks in and out of the pocket, mixing fully-extended power-shots with lackadaisical or abrupt stinted shots, like a gambit helps to gain control of the center, lures the opponent into a false sense of security, and if they “accept the sacrifice” (i.e. block the feign, or not block actual strikes because of good feigning) it puts them in a more precarious position. Another example of a fighting gambit is the Wing Chun Chum Kiu or “bridge seeking.” Wing Chun hands like Man Sao (Asking Hands) extend out along the centerline in a tentative manner like an insect’s antennae looking to bridge with the opponent’s limbs so our sticky hands sensitivity can then manipulate their structure by maintaining perpetual flowing contact and defense. The asking hand antennae are offered up like pawn gambits to lure the opponent into playing into our web of sticky hands training!

Another key tactic in Chess is using pieces in combination to attack. Trying to checkmate your opponent using a single piece, even your strongest piece, the Queen, is futile. She cannot capture the opponent’s King by herself and must be aided by at least one other piece (from your army or theirs!) to prevent his escape. Similarly in fighting, “one-trick ponies,” or “one-hit wonders” are easily defeated. Fighters who fail to attack in combination or rely solely on one preferred technique become transparent and impotent. Wing Chun Kung-Fu boasts having the fastest combination punches in the world known as the “chain punch,” with many practitioners clocked at an amazing 10 punches per second! One standard Wing Chun attack combines the repeated 1-2-1-2-1-2 chain punch with a forward thrusting stomp or snap kick 3-4-3-4-3-4 to the opponent’s knees and groin, so at any moment you have three weapons (2 arms and a leg) attacking the vulnerable face, groin and knees in rapid-fire combination. And since they are all straight, centerline attacks your three offensive weapons all double as defensive barriers effectively blocking many standard counter-strikes in the process.

Wing Chun also has a concept called “the three gates,” which is very similar to Chess. The idea is that your head/neck is the King and your arms extended forward in the Wing Chun triangle ready-stance comprises the three gates of your castle. The first gate is the hinge of your wrists, the second gate the hinge of your elbows, and the third gate is your back Wu Sao (guard hand) resting at your chin. The first wrist gate is purposely left wide open to bait the opponent like a Trojan horse; When they pressure in, our Huen Sao (circling hand) allows them through then Fook Sao (controlling hand) quickly closes and locks the gate shut behind keeping them stuck to our well-developed sticky hands. The second gate is solid and always remains shut; Known as the Wing Chun Immovable Elbow, the second gate’s strongest position is a fist and a half distance from the torso held forward at a 135 degree angle. When pressure is placed upon the second gate we will sooner give up footwork position than allow the immovable elbow gate to collapse. If the opponent manages to get behind/outside our elbow, the third gate guard hand must quickly perform Lap Sao (pulling hand), bringing the opponent back out to the first gate.

In Chess, the first gate often offered as gambits/sacrifices in order to gain position are the pawns. The second gate used to pressure in are the knights, bishops and rooks. The third gate just before reaching the King is the Queen, and both in Wing Chun and Chess, if you bring the Queen (Wu Sao Hand) forward too quickly it can spell disaster. For example in the popular Wing Chun “Bong Sao-Lap Sao” drill students are taught to always defend only with the lead arm leaving the Wu Sao guard hand back by the chin bringing it forward only if/when the second gate has been passed. In Chess strategy students are taught always to develop the minor pieces onto strong outposts before bringing the Queen forward. If the Queen comes out too early she can be chased around the board, giving the opponent positional advantage, and ultimately could be cornered and captured. Likewise if the Wu Sao hand comes forward to block or Lap Sao too early it can be passed by a skilled opponent and they will have direct, unfettered access to your King/Head.

So what is the perfect way to train so as to fight perfect Chess in the moment? How can one best train to read, react, and adapt to each opponent’s constantly shifting weaknesses and exploit them in real-time? First, and foremost you must condition your mind and body in a multitude of ways to prepare for the final moment of confrontation. Like a good Chess student must play thousands of games, memorize thousands of openings/variations, play through thousands of Grandmaster games, and solve thousands of Chess problems before they can compete. You also must do thousands of punches, kicks, elbows, knees, locks, takedowns, chokes, breaks, submissions, and escapes, you must learn proper form, structure, movement, technique, and philosophy, practice sparring, grappling, shadow boxing, chi sao and chi gerk, use punching bags, focus pads, wall bags, and wooden dummies,working always to increase speed, power, accuracy, technique, and non-telegraphy, your ligaments, tendons, muscles and skin must become flexible, strong, loose, and relaxed, the nerve-endings on your shins and arms must become numb, your wrists must become laterally strong, your knuckles calloused, your abdominals and other muscles tough and hard, your mind must be still and responsive, your body completely relaxed before and after every strike, you should even practice deep abdominal breathing and short exasperated breathing to improve stamina, control heart-rate and adrenaline release, increase the time you can be choked, and decrease the chance of having the wind knocked out of you.

Then when the time comes to fight, your mind should be empty and completely present, any strategy or tactics consciously employed will be over-committed, unreceptive, and non-adaptive so you must completely rely on subconscious instinct and muscle-memory. Your eyes should be trained on the opponent’s sternum so peripheral vision can fully watch all their limbs. Your stance should remain fluid and light, constantly moving but able to solidify and immediately plant roots if the opponent shoots. Your guard should be relaxed and moving slightly, just enough to distract and feign, but not enough to open yourself up. Bobby Fischer, the most renowned Chess player of all time said, “Chess is a matter of delicate judgment knowing when to punch and how to duck. It is war over the board. The object is to crush the opponent’s mind. Concentrate on material gains. Whatever your opponent gives, you take, unless you see good reason not to. Your body has to be in top condition. Your Chess deteriorates as your body dies. You can’t separate body from mind. You have to have the fighting spirit.” And perhaps the most famous Wing Chun practitioner ever, Bruce Lee, said it best: “Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless, like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup, you put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle, you put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water my friend.”

The Human Chakra System

Also connected and intertwined with the meridian system is the “chakra” system which runs from the base of the spine up to the top of the head. Chakra is Sanskrit for “wheel,” and signifies the 7 main energy centers in the body, each of which is located along the spinal column and corresponds directly to a major nerve ganglia, endocrine gland, or internal organ. These focal points of subtle energy have been measured electromagnetically and produce ten-fold stronger biofields than non-chakra points. They have physical manifestations but also extend into the energy body affecting us emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually as well. Briefly, the 7 chakras are as follows:

Muladhara, the red root chakra, is located in the perineum and relates to the gonads, adrenal medulla, and the pubococcygeus muscle that controls ejaculation. Psychologically the root chakra controls security, survival, and the fight-or-flight response.

Swadhisthana, the orange sacral chakra, is located in the sacrum and relates to the testes/ovaries, the genitourinary system and the adrenals. Psychologically the sacral chakra controls sexuality, relationships, violence, addictions, pleasure, creativity, and enthusiasm.

Manipura, the yellow solar plexus chakra, is located in the solar plexus and relates to the metabolic and digestive systems, the pancreas and adrenal cortex. Psychologically the solar plexus chakra controls power, will, fear, anxiety, and introversion.

Anahata, the green or pink heart chakra, is located at the thymus in the middle of the chest and relates to the immune, circulatory, and endocrine systems, responsible for fending off disease, blood flow, and maturation of T-cells. Psychologically the heart chakra controls love, compassion, rejection, equilibrium and well-being.

Vishuddha, the blue throat chakra, is located at the thyroid, which produces the thyroid hormone responsible for growth and maturation. Psychologically the throat chakra is related to communication and growth through expression.

Ajna, the indigo third eye chakra, is located at the pineal gland at the geometric center of the brain. The pineal gland is light sensitive and produces melatonin which regulates sleep and dream states. Psychologically the third eye chakra is related to intuition and clarity of mind.

Sahasrara, the violet crown chakra, is located at the crown of the head and relates to the pituitary gland which secretes hormones to control the endocrine system and connects to the central nervous system via the hypothalamus. Psychologically the crown chakra is related to beingness, pure consciousness, and karma.

Of the seven primary chakras that are deemed to mediate the awareness and energies of our personal energy field, five are considered to align primarily along the main meridians up our spine, one is between and slightly above our eye level, and the last sits at the crown of our head. Associated with nerve plexuses and the endocrine system of our bodies, which secretes and regulates hormonal balances, the chakras – as viewed by Eastern traditions – have a primary role in the mediation of consciousness. The electronic recordings of the human biofield were found to be strongest over the chakras. When the signal from the nervous system’s alternating field was filtered out, at frequencies above 500 cycles per second, the continuous low-intensity direct field seemed to be around ten times as high as the field through which the body’s nervous system is controlled, although its intensity is less than half that of a resting muscle.” -Ervin Laszlo and Jude Currivan, “Cosmos” (125)


Acupuncture, Acupressure and Meridians

Acupuncture is a 3,000+ year old traditional Chinese therapy that involves inserting tiny needles into various vital energy points throughout the human body.  Hundreds of these “acupoints” connect to 12 main chi/life energy channels known as “meridians.”  Each meridian is related to and named after a specific organ or function, the main 12 being the lung, colon, stomach, spleen, heart, intestine, triple warmer, pericardium, bladder, gallbladder, kidney and liver meridians.  Through skillful application and combination of acupoint needles, blockages of chi flow are overcome and healthy energy balance is restored to the body.

Many traditions worldwide have perceived the manifestation of consciousness through various levels of energetic frequencies.  Eastern healing techniques continue this holistic tradition, where disease is treated as a blockage or imbalance in the flow of a life-force energy.  Almost all non-Western approaches to medicine speak of a life force, such as the prana of the Indian tradition and the chi of the Chinese tradition.  These forces are said to vivify a biological entity at birth and to withdraw on its death.  The importance of very low-energy electromagnetic fields associated with the body’s energy flows is being recognized and progressively measured.  These energy flows take particular pathways that Eastern medicine has long identified as the meridians.  Just as the arterial system carries blood around our bodies, such meridians are deemed to carry both the subtle and the electromagnetic component of these energies.  Around our bodies and distributed along these meridians are approximately a thousand points that are the nodes for such energies where they may be accessed via the skin.  The Chinese tradition of acupuncture uses extremely fine needles inserted painlessly into the skin at these points to free energy blockages, accelerate wound healing, control pain, and stimulate energy flow in the meridian system.”  -Ervin Laszlo and Jude Currivan, “Cosmos” (120)

Using Kirlian electrography, acupuncturist Dr. Peter Mandel showed that he could stimulate various acupoints to cause bigger, brighter coronas to appear at other nodes along the same meridian.  By needling tonification points on one foot and sedation points on the other, he could increase the luminescence of one foot while nearly extinguishing the other.  One of his patients with a sprained ring finger displayed a huge reddish corona emanating from the sprain, but after just a few minutes of acupuncture treatment it shrunk back to normal size/color and healed completely within the day.

Research has also shown that painkilling endorphins and the steroid cortisol are released through the body when the [acupuncture] points are stimulated at low frequency, and important mood-regulating neurotransmitters like serotonin and norepinephrine, at high frequency … Yet other research has proved that acupuncture can cause blood vessels to dilate and increase blood flow to distant organs in the body.  Other research demonstrates the existence of meridians as well as the effectiveness of acupuncture for a variety of conditions.  Orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Robert Becker, who performed a great deal of research on electromagnetic fields in the body, designed a special electrode recording device which would roll along the body like a pizza cutter.  After many studies it showed up electrical charges on the same places on every one of the people tested, all corresponding to Chinese meridian points.”  -Lynne McTaggart, “The Field: The Quest for the Secret Force of the Universe,” (55)

Modern medicine has long been aware of an electrical phenomenon present in the body known as “the Current of Injury.”  When skin tissue undergoes trauma or microscopic damage, such as when skin cells are pierced by acupuncture needles, they begin leaking electrically charged ions into the surrounding tissue.  This creates a weak electrical battery-like charge which stimulates a healing response from the nearby cells.

In the 1950s, Japanese Dr. Yoshio Nakatani and German Dr. Reinhold Voll both independently verified electronically that within a few millimeters of each acupoint there is a significant decrease in the skin’s electrical resistance compared with non-acupoints.  They also proved that there are measurable differences between healthy and unhealthy patient’s overall resistance levels.

In 1971 New York Times reporter James Reston became a firm believer in acupuncture’s efficacy.  While traveling around China James became ill with appendicitis and doctors performed a complete appendectomy using only acupuncture for an anesthetic.  In the popular article he wrote afterwards, James mentioned interviewing one brain tumor patient who was eating oranges and conversing with him while his skull was wide open!  Some people have claimed acupuncture’s analgesic properties are merely an expression of the placebo effect, but this has been proven erroneous due to the fact that many animals have also responded to the analgesic properties of acupuncture, not to mention that it works 75% of the time compared to the placebo effect’s 30%.

The effectiveness of acupuncture for pain relief is now supported by a growing number of studies.  Neuroscientist Bruce Pomeranz was the first to show that acupuncture triggers the production of endorphins – our body’s natural ‘feel-good’ hormones.  The use of functional MRI technology to scan brain patterns by a number of researchers, including Zang-Hee Cho at the University of California, Irvine, has shown in recent years that acupuncture desensitizes pain controls in our brain.  Indeed, so powerful is its ability to reduce pain that it has been used to enable open-heart surgery to be performed without anesthetic.”  -Ervin Laszlo and Jude Currivan, “Cosmos” (121)

University of Toronto Dr. Bruce Pomeranz discovered by activating small myelinated nerve fibers, acupuncture sends impulses to the spinal chord, midbrain, pituitary, and hypothalamus resulting in endorphin release.  When Pomeranz pre-treated rats with Naloxone, an endorphin blocker, acupuncture’s pain relieving properties disappeared, suggesting that endorphin release caused by acupuncture stimulus is the key mechanism behind its pain relieving effects.

In 1992 at the Necker Hospital in Paris, Dr. Jean-Claude Darras and Dr. Pierre de Vernejoul explicitly confirmed the existence of the meridian system with their famous experiment.  They injected harmless radioactive tracers into acupoints of 300 volunteers then tracked their migration using gamma cameras.  Whenever tracers were injected to non-acupoints they quickly disbursed and disappeared, but when injected into actual acupoints, the tracers migrated steadily along the traditional Chinese meridian paths.  They also found that the tracers moved more slowly around diseased organs and faster around healthy organs, confirming the notion of illness resulting from obstructions in the body’s chi flow.

This is a computer-enhanced version of an image produced at the Necker Hospital in Paris in a joint study with the Cytology Laboratory at the Military Hospital. They injected a radioactive tracer into acupuncture points and then took the photograph with a gamma camera to see where it would go. It followed the pattern of the acupuncture meridian system. Not only does this confirm the existence of the meridian network, which ‘modern medicine’ has long dismissed and ridiculed, but the study also established another crucial fact. It found that the slower the energy (or chi to the Chinese) passed through the meridians, the less healthy was the person involved. When the energy was flowing at optimum speed and balance the subject was in good health. How can this be? Because the energy, the chi, is information that includes details about a problem or imbalance, and the instructions on how to respond. If people were taking too long to tell you that a problem existed and too long to pass your response to those at the scene, what would happen? The problem would not get fixed and would probably worsen as a result. This is one reason why people who are ill are more vulnerable to other illnesses. The chi also carries instructions to maintain balance and harmony and, again, when this communication is affected, so is the balance and harmony, and the body becomes diseased.” –David Icke, “The David Icke Guide to the Global Conspiracy” (7)

In 2003 the World Health Organization assessed and compiled a list of over 100 ailments for which acupuncture treatment has proven effective.  Just a small sampling of these include allergies, arthritis, depression, dysentery, dysmenorrhoea, epigastralgia, headache, hypertension, hypotension, labor pain, leucopenia, lower back pain, nausea, neck pain, sciatica, sprains, and stroke.

In acupuncture there is the concept of “the little man in the ear” which is an acupoint diagram of the whole human body that fits within the ear and affects meridians connecting 40 organs/systems throughout the body.  In reflexology there are similar acupressure concepts and diagrams of the feet and hands showing how points in these extremities connect to organs/systems throughout the body.  This once again demonstrates the holographic nature of our bodies and matter in general; the part reflected in the whole, and the whole reflected in all parts.

How can reflexology and acupuncture find points throughout the body that relate to all the organs and other functions? How can you massage, or insert a needle at a point on the foot, hand or ear and affect the liver, stomach or heart? It seems crazy if you accept the official explanations of the human form, but it makes perfect sense when you know the body is a hologram.  Remember that one of the amazing properties of holograms is that every part is a smaller version of the whole. Far from being a mystery that the whole body can be found in the foot, hand or ear, it is the way it must be if the body is a hologram. An entire body can be grown from a single cell because every cell is a smaller version of the whole and contains all the information contained in the whole.” –David Icke, “Infinite Love is the Only Truth, Everything Else is Illusion” (96)

We human beings consider ourselves to be made up of ‘solid matter.’ Actually, the physical body is the end product, so to speak, of the subtle information fields, which mold our physical body as well as all physical matter.  These fields are holograms which change in time (and are) outside the reach of our normal senses.  This is what clairvoyants perceive as colorful egg-shaped halos or auras surrounding our physical bodies.”  -Itzhak Bentov, “Stalking the Wild Pendulum


Biofield Electrography and Kirlian Photography

In 1939 Russian scientist Semyon Kirlian accidentally discovered that if an object on a photographic plate is subjected to a strong enough electrical charge, an image is created on the plate.  By photographing the coronal discharge that occurs between an electrically grounded object and the electrode generating the field, the sparks captured on film show multi-colored, multi-frequency energy waves ranging from below infrared to above ultraviolet.  These images have since become known as Kirlian photography or Biofield electrography.

Kirlian photography has now been studied and tested extensively in many reputable laboratories around the world and has shown consistent color/shape/frequency correlations with various emotional and physical states.  For example, UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute’s Dr. Thelma Moss has recorded consistent patterns correlating fingertip coronas with specific emotions.  Healthy, happy, relaxed subjects regularly exhibit quarter-inch wide blue and white coronas, while stressed, anxious, or nervous subjects consistently exhibit blotchy red coronas.

In another study she found that when photographed together close friends generate brighter and more convergent coronas than strangers.  Being photographed with strict authority figures produces smaller coronas, while being photographed with unassuming, unintimidating people produces larger coronas.  When two people place their fingers on the same film, both images always come out clearly, but, if they look into each other’s eyes while the photo is taken, one of the fingerprints is blanked out and disappears!

Dr. Moss’ strange findings sparked interest at the US Heuristic Institute where they performed their own Kirlian/biofield experiments with intimate couples.  When partners were instructed to place their fingers on the film and focus unpleasant, unloving thoughts towards one another their coronal patterns did not merge at all.  When the couples focused pleasant, loving thoughts towards one another their patterns began to merge.  And when they kissed each other during the photographs, their coronal boundaries dissolved into one.  Some people were even able to withhold their coronas by tensing all the muscles in their bodies.  In experiments with Dr. J. L. Hickman, psychic Uri Geller was able to consciously direct the shape of his fingertip coronas, making circles, squares, straight lines, and triangles at will.

The German magazine Esotera describes an interpersonal study conducted with Kirlian photography.  Two individuals in a psychiatrist’s office were asked to put their fingers next to each other and take a picture.  They were asked to return once a week for three weeks.  The Kirlian photos revealed the man to be very attracted to this woman (large, expansive corona in her direction), but her corona discharge indicated that she did not feel an attraction towards him (small, tight corona).  The second week revealed the man to be extremely persistent and it looked as if she might be more responsive (slightly converging coronas).  The third week shows two bright, happy coronas blending … and we are told that they are living happily ever after.”  -“Kirlian Photograpy as an Art and Science” documentary, International Kirlian Research Association

Dr. Moss also conducted experiments showing that cancerous tissue is easily distinguished from healthy tissue using Kirlian imaging.  In one study she was able to separate 100 healthy control rats from 100 other rats injected with cancer simply by the dramatic difference in corona emanations.  Romanian Dr. Loan Dumitrescu also used Kirlian imaging to detect cancer tissue.  He screened 6,000 industrial workers for cancer and found 47 malignant tumors while conventional doctors found only 41.  By analyzing the coronal discharge channels, their geometry, color, and energetics he was able to detect cancer better than traditional imaging and laboratory tests.


Various studies involving plant coronas have gleaned interesting information as well.  For example, the viability of seeds can be determined by Kirlian images since fertile seeds show much larger coronal ejections than dead seeds.  Healthy seeds have a deep blue aura, and as root tips sprout they show up pinkish-red indicating where the most active growth is taking place.  Researchers also found that dew forms on plant leaves in exactly the same locations as maximum flare patterns.  They found that male plant stamens always come out blue, while the female ovary photographs are always gold.  And most impressively, when a leaf is torn in half then photographed, the outline of the entire leaf is still clearly visible in its discharge pattern!


Physical evidence of the energy body exists and a number of different sources document it.  The first of these is Russian engineer Semya Kirlian who discovered that living tissue emits electromagnetic force fields that show up on photosensitive paper … Using his photographic technique, a leaf with a portion of it cut out still shows the outline of its missing part.  Even though it is not there, physically, the photograph shows an outline as if it was.  This prompts suggestions that Kirlian photography reveals the energy body.  Kirlian photographs show energy emanating from the body.  A picture of a hand, for example, depicts the fingers illuminated by energy.  If two people touch fingertips, the energy appears to fight until both people accept the presence of the other.  Another interesting case involves people who have amputated feet and legs.  These people frequently report intense pain originating from phantom limbs.  When a person places their hand on the area of pain, where the missing limb would be, and massages it as if there was a hand or limb there the pain stops.  At the point of death the human body inexplicably loses several ounces of weight.  Studies have also shown that when photographed with light sensitive film, for an amount of nanoseconds, less than a second, a large illumination expands from the body and disappears upon death.  These examples all point toward the conclusion that a separate body or being composed of energy inhabits the physical human body.”  -Eric Pepin, “Handbook of the Navigator” (160-161)

The bioelectric fields captured by Kirlian photographs are postulated by many to be an expression of the “aura” representing our chi/life force energy.  Psychics, mystics, and shamans the world over in traditions including Christian, Chinese, Japanese, Egyptian and Tibetan have all talked about being able to see a faint multi-colored corona or halo around people’s physical bodies/heads.  This aura emanates from the “energy body” which exists within and permeates the physical body.  Healthy, positive, and spiritual people are said to have glowing white/gold auras, while unhealthy, negative, or immoral people have more subdued darker colored auras. Each person’s aura is said to be unique but constantly changing based on thoughts, mood, disease, environment, and other factors.  Experiments with Kirlian photographs and bioelectrography have proved very consistent with ancient definitions of the aura.

One mystical phenomenon that appears to involve the ability to see reality’s frequency aspects is the aura, or human energy field.  The notion that there is a subtle field of energy around the human body, a halo-like envelope of light that exists just beyond normal human perception, can be found in many ancient traditions.  In India, sacred writings that date back over five thousand years refer to this life energy as prana.  In China, since the third millennium B.C., it has been called ch’i and is believed to be the energy that flows through the acupuncture meridian system.  Kabbalah, a Jewish mystical philosophy that arose in the sixth century B.C., calls this vital principle nefish and teaches that an egg-shaped bubble of iridescence surrounds every human body.  In their book Future Science, writer John White and parapsychologist Stanley Krippner list 97 different cultures that refer to the aura with 97 different names.”  -Michael Talbot, “The Holographic Universe” (165)

The Aura is also an extremely accurate indicator of Spiritual attainment.  Highly Spiritually evolved people will be instantly recognizable by a vivid, clean, dynamic aura, the most prominent feature of which is an intense bright golden yellow area extending from and around the crown of the head.  Sometimes the aura can be so intense it can even be viewed by people not usually possessing the ability of auric vision.  It is also this intense golden aura around the head of highly Spiritual people that gives rise to the so called ‘halo,’ as often for example depicted around the head of Jesus or a saint.” -Adrian Cooper, “Our Ultimate Reality” (195)

Skeptics claim that Kirlian photography is merely capturing variances in pressure, humidity, temperature, voltage etc. and not some mystical aura.  It is true that New Age fairs and internet sites sell “aura cameras” often marketing them as “Kirlian cameras.”  These are indeed misleading and serve no practical purpose beyond that of a mood ring.  However, electrophysiological studies have shown that corona emanation of true Kirlian photographs does not relate to temperature, perspiration, galvanic skin response, vasoconstrictions or dilations.  While it may be easy for some to discount 97 traditions around the world and their descriptions of the aura, it is much harder to discount Dr. Moss and Dr. Dumitrescu’s amazing work with cancer detection or the Heuristic Institute’s results involving couples.

The greatest advance in the utilization of Kirlian photography was made by the efforts of the German Dr. Peter Mandel who was trained as an acupuncturist. He observed that by treating disease states with acupuncture points the corresponding deficiencies in the Kirlian photograph would change. After years of research Dr. Mandel has developed a diagnostic and treatment program based on Kirlian analysis. Disease states are caused by energy blockages. The Kirlian photograph helps to determine the overall energy flow of the body and locations of energy blockage which are manifested in the disease state.  Dr. Mandel has categorized types of energy patterns on the Kirlian into endocrine, toxic and degenerative. Endocrine is the pre-disease state. The patient has symptoms but there is no discernable pathology. The Kirlian can be extremely valuable in locating the area of blockage. The second type of disturbance in the energy pattern is the toxic state. This is when there tissue changes develop such as inflammation, congestion and blockages of energy flow in the body. The third type is the degenerative type where the body begins to show destructive tissue changes.”  -Dr. Edward Kondrot, “Kirlian Photography”


Positivity, Prayer and Remote Healing

Even if they don’t believe in mind over matter, most people behave as though their thoughts do affect the world.  Surveys have shown that the vast majority of the world’s population prays and many throughout history have witnessed and testified to the power of prayer.  The majority of such prayers essentially ask for God, the Universe, or Nature to “roll the dice favorably” in our direction, thus things like prayer and distance healing are also testable PK techniques.

Randolph Byrd in 1988 attempted to determine in a randomized, double-blind trial whether remote prayer would have any effect on patients in a coronary care unit.  Over 10 months, nearly 400 patients were divided into two groups, and only half (unbeknownst to them) were prayed for by a Christian prayer group outside the hospital.  All patients had been evaluated, and there was no statistical difference in their condition before treatment.  However, after treatment, those who’d been prayed for had significantly less severe symptoms and fewer instances of pneumonia and also required less assistance on a ventilator and fewer antibiotics than patients who hadn’t been prayed for.”  -Lynne McTaggart, “The Field: The Quest for the Secret Force of the Universe,” (186-7)

The effectiveness of therapeutic touch has also been demonstrated in several studies.  For example, Dr. Janet Quinn, an associate professor and assistant director of nursing research at the University of South Carolina at Columbia, decided to see if therapeutic touch could lower the anxiety levels of heart patients.  To accomplish this she devised a double-blind study in which one group of nurses trained in the technique would pass their hands over a group of heart patients’ bodies.  A second group with no training would pass their hands over the bodies of another group of heart patients, but without actually performing the technique.  Quinn found that the anxiety levels in the authentically treated patients dropped 17 percent after only five minutes of therapy, but there was no change in anxiety levels among the patients who received the ‘fake’ treatment.  Quinn’s study was the lead story in the Science Times section of the March 26, 1985, issue of the New York Times.”  -Michael Talbot, “The Holographic Universe” (173)

In 1998 Dr. Elisabeth Targ and Fred Sicher designed a famous double-blind study on the effects of remote healing for advanced AIDS patients.  They selected 20 patients with the same T-cell counts and the same degree of illness, and then subjected 10 of them to various distance healing modalities for 6 months.  Since it was double-blind, neither patients nor doctors knew who was being healed, and all information was kept in sealed envelopes.  Only the healers themselves knew their targets, and to remove any individual bias, the healers had a weekly rotation guaranteeing that the healing effect itself (not one particular variety of it) was studied.

After four months of searching, Fred and Elisabeth had their healers – an eclectic assortment of forty religious and spiritual healers all across America, many highly respected in their fields … several Christian healers, a handful of evangelicals, one Jewish kabbalist healer and a few Buddhists.  A number of others were trained in non-religious healing schools, such as the Barbara Brennan School of Healing Light, or worked with complex energy fields, attempting to change colors or vibrations in a patient’s aura.  Some used contemplative healing or visualizations; others worked with tones and planned to sing or ring bells on behalf of the patient, the purpose of which, they claimed, was to reattune their chakras, or energy centers.  A few worked with crystals.  One healer, who’d been trained as a Lakota Sioux shaman, intended to use the Native American pipe ceremony.  Drumming and chanting would enable him to go into a trance during which he would contact spirits on the patient’s behalf.  They also enlisted a Qigong master from China, who said that he would be sending harmonizing qi energy to the patients … Collectively, the healers had an average of 17 years of experience in healing and reported an average of 117 distant healings apiece.”  -Lynne McTaggart, “The Field: The Quest for the Secret Force of the Universe,” (188-89)

After 6 months, 4 of the original 20 patients had died, and several were becoming more ill, but several more were regaining health.  When the files were opened, it turned out that the 4 patients who died and the patients with declining health were all in the control group.  The 10 patients who received a weekly rotation of various remote healings all had improved overall health and T-cell counts.

Elisabeth was open-minded about it, but the conservative in her kept surfacing … She remained fairly convinced that Native American pipe smoking and chakra chanting had nothing to do with curing a group of men with an illness so serious and so advanced that they were virtually certain to die.  And then she saw her patients with end-stage AIDS getting better.  During the six months of the trial period, 40 percent of the control population died.  But all ten of the patients in the healing group were not only still alive but had become healthier, on the basis of their own reports and medical evaluations.  At the end of the study, the patients had been examined by a team of scientists, and their condition had yielded one inescapable conclusion:  the treatment was working.”  -Lynne McTaggart, “The Field: The Quest for the Secret Force of the Universe,” (190)

Dr. Targ and Sicher decided to repeat the experiment this time with double the participants and control groups perfectly matched for age, degree of illness, personal habits and beliefs.  Once again, after 6 months the treated group was overall healthier in all areas than the control group.  The treated group had significantly fewer doctor visits, fewer hospitalizations, fewer AIDS-defining illnesses, lower severity of disease, and higher T-cell counts.  Only 3 people in the treatment group had been hospitalized compared with 12 in the control group, and only 2 people in the treatment group developed new AIDS-defining illnesses compared with 12 in the control group.

The results were inescapable.  No matter which type of healing they used, no matter what their view of a higher being, the healers were dramatically contributing to the physical and psychological well-being of their patients … In Elisabeth’s study, it didn’t seem to matter what method you used, so long as you held an intention for a patient to heal.  Calling on Spider Woman, a healing grandmother star figure common in the Native American culture, was every bit as successful as calling on Jesus.”  -Lynne McTaggart, “The Field: The Quest for the Secret Force of the Universe,” (192-3)

My goal is simply to pave the way for free and fair scientific discourse on subjects that have previously been considered ‘non-rational.’  It’s our responsibility as scientists and physicians to speak based on fact, not opinion.  If there’s a benefit to distant healing, physicians and patients should consider it along with all the other proven treatments for disease.”  -Dr. Elisabeth Targ

As highlighted in the Targ/Sicher studies, regardless of the patient’s or healer’s beliefs, or which modality is used, a significant, repeatable distance healing effect has been measured in peer-reviewed double-blind studies.  It seems that the universal life force energy  (the “Qi” in Qigong, the “Ki” in Reiki, and the “Prana” in Pranayama) regardless of what we call it, how we cultivate it, or what we believe about it, responds to our conscious will and generates a transmutable, transmittable healing effect.

In the Copper Wall Project in Topeka, Kansas, a researcher named Elmer Green has shown that experienced healers have abnormally high electric field patterns during healing sessions.  In his test, Green enclosed his participants in isolated rooms made with walls constructed entirely of copper, which would block electricity from any other sources.  Although ordinary participants had expected electrical readings related to breathing or heartbeat, the healers were generating electrical surges higher than 60 volts during healing sessions, as measured by electrometers placed on the healers themselves and on all four walls.  Video recordings of the healers showed these voltage surges had nothing to do with physical movement.  Studies of the nature of the healing energy of Chinese Qigong masters have provided evidence of the presence of photon emission and electromagnetic fields during healing sessions.  These sudden surges of energy may be physical evidence of a healer’s greater coherence – his ability to marshal his own quantum energy and transfer it to the less organized recipient.”  -Lynne McTaggart, “The Field: The Quest for the Secret Force of the Universe,” (194)

Gregg Braden, author of many books combining science and spirituality found one thing in common amongst all the monks, nuns, abbots, and shamans he interviewed.  Having searched high mountain villages, remote monasteries, and forgotten holy texts looking for the commonality between various forms of prayer, meditation, and energy healing he came to one inescapable conclusion:  The key is feeling.  Much like the “Law of Attraction” one must first feel the inner sensations of peace, love, health, and abundance in order to attract and transmit that energy.

In the spring of 1998, I had the opportunity to facilitate a combined research trip and pilgrimage into the highlands of central Tibet for 22 days.  During that time the group and I found ourselves immersed in some of the most magnificent, rugged, pristine, and remote land remaining on the planet today.  Along the way, we visited 12 monasteries, 2 nunneries, and some of the most beautiful humans that you could ever imagine including monks, nuns, nomads, and pilgrims.  It was during that time that I found myself face-to-face with the abbot of one of the monasteries and got the chance to ask the question that we’d traveled so far and long to ask … Through our translator, I asked him the same question that I’d asked every monk and nun we’d met throughout our pilgrimage.  ‘When we see your prayers,’ I began, ‘what are you doing?  When we watch you intone and chant for 14 and 16 hours a day; when we see the bells, bowls, gongs, chimes, mudras, and mantras on the outside, what’s happening to you on the inside?’  A powerful sensation rippled through my body as the translator shared the abbot’s answer.  ‘You’ve never seen our prayers,’ he said, ‘because a prayer cannot be seen … What you’ve seen is what we do to create the feeling in our bodies.  Feeling is the prayer!’  How beautiful, I thought.  And how simple!  Just as the late 20th century experiments had shown, it’s human feeling and emotion that affect the stuff our reality is made of – it’s our inner language that changes the atoms, electrons, and photons of the outer world.”  -Gregg Braden, “The Divine Matrix” (84)

Perhaps mind and matter are like two sides of the same coin.  To study such an effect, you could take a ribbon and write mind on the inside and matter on the outside.  Now, as you wiggle the ribbon, you’ll find very strong correlations between mind and matter, yet in a fundamental sense never the twain shall meet.  Then one day, while you’re distracted for a moment, a mischievous friend cuts your ribbon, creates a half-twist, and carefully tapes it back together.  Later you pick up the altered ribbon and proceed to ponder the abyss between mind and matter by absent-mindedly tracing a finger along the matter side of the ribbon.  To your astonishment, you find that your finger ends up on the mind side!  This is because the ribbon was transformed into a Mobius strip by your friend’s half-twist, and this topological curiosity has only one side.  The lesson is that sometimes simple twists in conventional concepts can unify things that appear to be quite different, like mind and matter.  Some believe that consciousness may be the unifying ‘substance’ from which mind and matter arise.”  -Dean Radin, “Entangled Minds” (160)

The Biology of Belief

Our brains are made up of tiny nerve cells called “neurons” which branch out and connect to each other forming a neural network.  At each connection point, thoughts and emotions are incubated and holographically stored by associative memory.  This means that all ideas, thoughts, feelings, and memories are interconnected and have possible relationships with one another.  For instance the concept of motherhood is stored in all our neural networks, but each person’s concept is built from their own unique amalgamation of ideas, emotions and past experiences.  Some people may have motherhood connected to unconditional love and forgiveness, so when they think about motherhood, they experience memories/feelings of happiness and acceptance.  Other people may have motherhood connected to disappointment and ridicule, so when they think about motherhood, they experience memories/feelings of rejection and depression.  We all build our own neural networks based on our own subjective experiences, how we perceive and what we believe.

What we ultimately do is tell ourselves a story about what the outside world is.  Any information that we process, any information that we take in from the environment is always colored by the experiences that we’ve had and an emotional response that we’re having to what we’re bringing in.  Who is in the driver’s seat when we control our emotions or we respond to our emotions?  We know physiologically that nerve cells that fire together, wire together.  If you practice something over and over, those nerve cells have a long-term relationship.  If you get angry on a daily basis, if you get frustrated on a daily basis, if you suffer on a daily basis, if you give reason for the victimization in your life, you’re rewiring and reintegrating that neural net on a daily basis, and that neural net now has a long-term relationship with all those other nerve cells called an ‘identity.’  We also know that nerve cells that don’t fire together, no longer wire together.  They lose their long-term relationship because every time we interrupt the thought process that produces a chemical response in the body, every time we interrupt it, those nerve cells that are connected to each other start breaking the long-term relationship.”  -Dr. Joe Dispenza, “What the Bleep Do We Know?

Inside our brains, the hypothalamus acts like a tiny factory assembling various chemicals called “peptides,” small chain amino acid sequences that match the different emotions we experience.  There are quite literally chemical combinations for sadness, chemical combinations for anger, chemical combinations for fear, and chemical combinations for love.  There are chemical combinations to match every emotional state we experience.  So the moment we feel anger, the hypothalamus immediately assembles a complementary neuro-peptide or neuro-hormone and releases it through the pituitary gland into the blood stream.  Once in the bloodstream, the peptides/hormones work their way through the body and we begin developing long-term relationships between thoughts/emotions and our physical biochemistry.

Candace Pert, former chief of brain biochemistry at the National Institute of Mental Health, believes the separation of mind and body is also an illusion.  She and her co-workers have discovered that neuropeptides previously thought to exist only in the brain are found throughout the body.  Neuropeptides are known to be important in the flow of electrical activity, resulting in transmission of electrical signals from one neuron to another when emotional activity is going on.  Thus, they are believed to be messenger molecules literally carrying information around the brain.  Finding them throughout the body suggests that mind is present throughout the body and that emotions are the links between matter and mind.”  -Fred Alan Wolf, Ph.D., “The Spiritual Universe” (193)

Thoughts change brain chemistry. That sounds so simple but that’s the way it is, with our thoughts changing neurotransmitters on a daily basis. If a man walks into a room with a gun, we think “threat”, and the brain releases norepinephrine. We become tense, alert, develop sweaty palms, and our heart beats faster. If he then bites the barrel of the gun, telling us the gun is actually chocolate, the brain rapidly changes its opinion and we relax and laugh — the joke is on us… We feel what we think! Positive thinking works. As the above example suggests, what we think about a situation actually creates our mood. Passed over for a promotion, we can either think we’ll never get ahead in this job (lowering serotonin and making us depressed) or assume that we are being held back for another promotion or job transfer (makes a better mood).”  -Dr. Joseph M. Carver PhD, “Emotional Memory Management: Positive Control Over Your Memory”

Every single cell in the body has thousands of peptide receptors scattered around its surface.  When a peptide enters a receptor it sends a signal to the cell which actually alters its physical and chemical makeup.  If we are constantly bombarding our cells with the same negative attitudes, emotions, and beliefs, our biochemistry adapts by creating more receptor sites for those particular peptides.  This leaves less receptors for essentials like nutrients, vitamins, minerals, fluid exchange, detoxing and as a result we start becoming physically/chemically addicted to the peptides produced by our negative emotions.

We bring to ourselves situations that will fulfill the biochemical craving of the cells of our body by creating situations that meet our chemical needs.  And the addict will always need a little bit more in order to get a rush or a high of what they’re looking for chemically.  So my definition really means that if you can’t control your emotional state, you must be addicted to it … It’s biochemical.  Think about this.  Heroin uses the same receptor mechanisms on the cells that our emotional chemicals use.  It’s easy to see then that if we can be addicted to heroin then we can be addicted to any neural peptide, any emotion.”  -Dr. Joe Dispenza, “What the Bleep Do We Know?

Much like drug addicts, people often become physically/chemically addicted and dependent on various negative states of being such as depression, victimization, frustration, or jealousy.  Over time we crave more of the peptides we’re addicted to and create repetitive dramas in our lives in order to receive our next dose.  As this behavior continues and our unhealthy cells divide, they create sickly offspring with more receptors for neuropeptides, less receptors for essential nutrients, and become unable to carry on proper protein production.

Now, all aging is the result of improper protein production. What happens when we age? Our skin loses elasticity. Well, elastin is a protein. What happens to our enzymes? We don’t digest as well. What happens to our synovial fluid? Those are proteins that become brittle and stiff. What happens to our bones? They become thin. So all aging is a result of improper protein production. So then the question arises … does nutrition really have an effect if the cell doesn’t even have the receptor sites after years of emotional abuse to even receive or to let in the nutrients that are necessary for its health?” -JZ Knight, “What the Bleep Do We Know?

Here we see once again how negative thoughts/emotions/beliefs, especially habitual patterns, lead to physical disease and degeneration.  On the flip side however, living with positive, life-affirming, non-limiting thoughts/emotions/beliefs leads to physical health, wellness, and even miraculous supernormal abilities.

One such ability of mind over matter is known as “Inedia” or “Breatharianism.”  While normal people die after a couple months without food, or a few days without water, breatharians have lived for years without either!  For example, a devout Christian named Therese Neumann did not eat or drink for 35 years.  In 1923 she began to drink only liquids and by 1927 she stopped even that.  Under the close eye of a medical doctor and four Franciscan nurses, she was watched 24 hours a day and confirmed not to have eaten or drank anything for 2 weeks with no ill-effects, dehydration or weight loss.

When the local bishop in Regensburg first learned of Neumann’s fast, he sent a commission into her home to investigate.  From July 14, 1927, to July 29, 1927, and under the supervision of a medical doctor named Seidl, four Franciscan nursing sisters scrutinized her every move.  They watched her day and night, and the water she used for washing and rinsing her mouth was carefully measured and weighed.  The sisters discovered several unusual things about Neumann.  She never went to the bathroom (even after a period of six weeks she only had one bowel movement, and the excrement, examined by a Dr. Reismanns, contained only a small amount of mucus and bile, but no traces of food).  She also showed no signs of dehydration, even though the average human expels about four hundred grams of water daily in the air he or she exhales, and a like amount through the pores.  And her weight remained constant … At the end of the inquiry Dr. Seidl and the sisters were completely convinced that Neumann had not eaten or drunk a thing for the entire fourteen days.  The test seems conclusive, for while the human body can survive two weeks without food, it can rarely survive half that time without water.  Yet this was nothing for Neumann; she did not eat or drink a thing for the next thirty-five years.”  -Michael Talbot, “The Holographic Universe” (153)

Jainist Hira Ratan Manek claims not to have eaten anything since 1995.  He has been studied under controlled conditions by teams of scientists and doctors many times and was never observed to eat or drink at all.  One time he went 211 days under careful supervision, another time 411 days.  Even more impressive, 81 year-old Indian Sadhu Prahlad Jani claims not to have eaten or drunk anything for 70 years!  He was also studied carefully under 24 hour CCTV surveillance for weeks at a time by medical professionals and didn’t eat, drink, urinate, or deficate.  Many more examples of documented inedia can be found in Herbert Thurston’s book “The Physical Phenomena of Mysticism.”

In the 1970s, Jack Schwarz, a Dutch-born author and lecturer, astounded researchers in laboratories across the United States with his ability to willfully control his body’s internal biological processes.  In studies conducted at the Menninger Foundation, the University of California’s Langley Porter Neuropsychiatric Institute, and other, Schwarz astonished doctors by sticking mammoth six-inch sailmaker’s needles completely through his arms without bleeding, without flinching, and without producing beta brain waves (the type of brain waves normally produced when a person is in pain).  Even when the needles were removed, Schwarz still did not bleed, and the puncture holes closed tightly.  In addition, Schwarz altered his brain-wave rhythms at will, held burning cigarettes against his flesh without harming himself, and even carried live coals around in his hands … He believes anyone can learn voluntary control of their body and thus gain responsibility for his or her own health.”  -Michael Talbot, “The Holographic Universe” (102-3)

In 1947, during public performances at the Corso Theater in Zurich, Mirin Dajo stunned audiences with his extreme piercings.  Dajo would have an assistant stab a fencing sword completely through his abdomen, clearly piercing vital organs, yet somehow causing him no pain or lasting injury.  When the sword was removed he did not bleed and had only two small red spots at the entry and exit points.  Dajo’s performances were so gut-wrenching and nerve-racking that one spectator actually suffered a heart attack while watching.  Having piqued the interest of one Swiss doctor named Hans Naegeli-Osjord, Dajo was invited to Switzerland to have his abilities formally studied under laboratory conditions.  In front of a group of doctors and journalists, Dajo had his assistant stab him through with the steel rapier and as always he did not bleed or even flinch.  He then calmly walked upstairs with doctors to take his X-ray which undeniably proved that no trickery was involved and he was indeed impaled.  Dajo was later tested again by scientists in Basel and allowed them to personally stab him.  He even insisted that they treat him roughly and jogged several blocks while impaled to show his tolerance for pain.

Mirin Dago and Jack Schwartz’s stories are certainly amazing but far from unique.  Hawaiian Kahunas, Indian Yogis, African Shamans and others have traditionally trained to control their pain receptors so as to perform extreme piercings, lie on beds of nails, and walk on burning hot coals.

For thousands of years, people of many different cultures and religions from all parts of the world have practiced fire walking. A recent Guinness World Record for longest fire walk was set by 23-year-old Canadian Amanda Dennison in June 2005. Amanda walked 220 feet over coals that measured 1,600 to1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. Amanda didn’t jump or fly, which means her feet were in direct contact with the glowing coals for the full 30 seconds it took her to complete the walk.  Many people attribute the ability to remain burn-free during such a walk to paranormal phenomena. In contrast, physicists suggest that the presumed danger is an illusion, claiming the embers are not great conductors of heat and that the walker’s feet have limited contact with the coals. Yet, very few scoffers have actually removed their shoes and socks and traversed the glowing coals, and none have matched the feat of Amanda’s feet. Besides, if the coals are really as benign as the physicists suggest, how do they account for severe burns experienced by large numbers of ‘accidental tourists’ on their firewalks?”  -Dr. Bruce Lipton, “Spontaneous Evolution

For most people, fire walking will burn their feet, extreme piercings will cause severe pain/bleeding, and prolonged dry fasting will result in certain death, but for people who have reprogrammed their psyches with non-limiting beliefs, such feats become attainable.  Another example is extreme weight lifting.  The strongest record-holding bodybuilders can dead lift about 700-800 pounds (400-500 for females) but under intense psychological pressure untrained unathletic people have actually lifted several times this weight and held it for minutes at a time!

To save her trapped son, Angela Cavallo lifted a 1964 Chevrolet and held it up for five minutes while neighbors arrived, reset a jack, and rescued her unconscious boy. Similarly, a construction worker lifted a 3,000-pound helicopter that had crashed into a drainage ditch, trapping his buddy under water. In this feat captured on video, the man held the aircraft aloft while others pulled his friend from beneath the wreckage.  To dismiss these feats as the consequence of an adrenaline rush misses the point. Adrenaline or not, how can an untrained average man or woman lift and hold a half ton or more for an extended duration?  These stories are remarkable because neither Ms. Cavallo nor the construction worker could have performed such acts of superhuman strength under normal circumstances. The idea of lifting a car or helicopter is unimaginable. But with the life of their child or friend hanging in the balance, these people unconsciously suspended their limiting beliefs and focused their intention on the foremost belief at that moment: I must save this life!”  -Dr. Bruce Lipton, “Spontaneous Evolution

Psychoneuroimmunology and the Placebo Effect

There is an entire legitimate and well-researched branch of medicine called psycho-neuro-immunology which studies the effect of thoughts and emotions on human biochemistry.  Biologist Dr. Bruce Lipton actually left his tenured University position to pursue his research in this fascinating field.

Until recently, conventional medicine dismissed the role of the mind in the functioning of the body, except for one pesky exception – the placebo effect, which demonstrates that the mind has the power to heal the body when people hold a belief that a particular drug or procedure will effect a cure, even if the remedy is actually a sugar pill with no known pharmaceutical value. Medical students learn that one third of all illnesses heal via the magic of the placebo effect.  With further education, these same students will come to dismiss the value of the mind in healing because it doesn’t fit into the flow charts of the Newtonian paradigm. Unfortunately, as doctors, they will unwittingly disempower their patients by not encouraging the healing power inherent in the mind.”  -Dr. Bruce Lipton, “Spontaneous Evolution

The placebo effect cures one-third of all illnesses.  This is a staggering statistic – It means that a wide range of health problems can be cured by our minds!  In fact many ailments are literally created, sustained, and eventually healed via completely non-physical processes involving the mind and emotions.  Acne, allergies, angina pectoris, rheumatoid and degenerative arthritis, asthma, cancer, the common cold, diabetes, fever, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, radiation sickness, seasickness, ulcers, and many more diseases have all been cured using a mere placebo.  This of course strikes another blow at the root of the western medical paradigm which traditionally teaches health as a purely physical bio-chemical phenomenon.  The non-physical psycho-emotional aspects of health are dismissively disregarded.

In numerous cases patients are cured simply by taking the placebo alone and with no genuine supporting medication whatsoever.  This works because the patient sincerely believes, beyond any doubt in the mind of the patient that the placebo is in fact real medicine that will cure them.  In this case the patient has subconsciously used their own imagination upon themselves, but the result is exactly the same, often to the considerable surprise of doctors and all others concerned; a complete cure.  The patient visualized themselves as being cured as a direct result of taking what they believe to be an effective medicine, in turn influencing the energy of the inner bodies, thereby manifesting as an observable cure within the physical body.  This process works both ways of course and there are people who unwittingly become ill due to the subconscious use of creative visualization and of the imagination generally and thought processes generally.  This occurs when a normally healthy person strongly believes they are, or should become ill for some reason, perhaps out of guilt, or for example as happens in the case of someone considered to be a hypochondriac.  This belief coupled with the person subconsciously and very often intensively imagining and believing themselves to be ill, will in turn attract that illness.” -Adrian Cooper, “Our Ultimate Reality” (563-4)

Experiments have shown that even an injection of caffeine will put caffeine-sensitive patients to sleep if they believe that they are receiving a sedative.  People with multiple personalities can change eye color, turn off/on allergies, and even have multiple menstruation cycles for each personality.  Under hypnosis people can control heart rate, body temperature, visual acuity, and will away scars and birthmarks.  If humans are simply biochemical machines as the western medical paradigm professes, and our beliefs/subconscious plays no role in bodily health, how can such physical effects possibly come about from non-physical causes?

We may not think that a thought could be enough to undermine an entire system, but, in fact, misperceptions can be lethal. Consider the situation of a person with anorexia. While relatives and friends clearly perceive that this skin-and-bones individual is near death, the anorexic looks in a mirror and sees a fat person. Using this distorted view, that resembles an image in a funhouse mirror, the anorexic’s brain attempts to control a misperceived runaway weight gain, by-oops!-inhibiting the system’s metabolic functions.”  -Dr. Bruce Lipton, “Spontaneous Evolution

Even surgery has been used as a placebo.  In the 1950s, angina pectoris, recurrent pain in the chest and left arm due to decreased blood flow to the heart, was commonly treated with surgery.  Then some resourceful doctors decided to conduct an experiment.  Rather than perform the customary surgery, which involved tying off the mammary artery, they cut patients open and then simply sewed them back up again.  The patients who received the sham surgery reported just as much relief as the patients who had the full surgery.”  -Michael Talbot, “The Holographic Universe” (90)

Psychologist Shlomo Breznitz at Hebrew University in Jerusalem performed a telling experiment with several troops of Israeli soldiers.  Each troop had to march 40 kilometers but different groups were given different information.  Some groups were told they would march 30 kilometers, and later informed they had another 10 to go, other groups were told they would march 60 kilometers, but were then stopped after 40.  Some groups were allowed to see distance markers along the way to keep track of how far they had marched; other groups were not shown distance markers.  Once the 40 kilometers were complete Breznitz performed blood tests and found that the stress hormone levels in the soldiers’ blood always reflected their projections and not the actual distance they marched.  This experiment shows another example of our bodies physically responding not to “reality” but to our perception of reality.

Just as surely as positive thoughts can heal, negative ones – including the belief we are susceptible to an illness or have been exposed to a toxic condition – can actually manifest the undesired realities of those thoughts.  Japanese children allergic to a poison ivy-like plant took part in an experiment where a leaf of the poisonous plant was rubbed onto one forearm. As a control, a nonpoisonous leaf resembling the toxic plant was rubbed on the other forearm. As expected almost all of the children broke out in a rash on the arm rubbed with the toxic leaf and had no response to the imposter leaf.  What the children did not know was that the leaves were purposefully mislabeled. The negative thought of being touched by the poisonous plant led to the rash produced by the nontoxic leaf! In the majority of cases, no rash resulted from contact with the toxic leaf that was thought to be the harmless control. The conclusion is simple: positive perceptions enhance health, and negative perceptions precipitate disease. This mind-bending example of the power of belief was one of the founding experiments that led to the science of psychoneuroimmunology.”  -Dr. Bruce Lipton, “Spontaneous Evolution

Our ability to control the body holographic is molded by our beliefs.  Our minds have the power to get rid of warts, to clear our bronchial tubes, and to mimic the painkilling ability of morphine, but because we are unaware that we possess the power, we must be fooled into using it … No incident better illustrates this than a now famous case reported by psychologist Bruno Klopfer.”  -Michael Talbot, “The Holographic Universe” (93)

Dr. Bruno Klopfer had exhausted all standard treatments trying to cure a man named Wright of his advanced cancer of the lymph nodes.  Wright’s entire torso from groin to neck was covered in tomato-sized tumors.  His spleen and liver were so enlarged and toxic that he had two quarts of milky fluid drained out of him everyday.  At his wits end, Wright heard about an exciting new experimental drug called Krebiozen and begged Dr. Klopfer to let him try it.  At first Klopfer refused because Krebiozen was in the testing phase and only being tried on people with very short life expectancies.  Regardless Wright was persistent and insisted that they try this remedy.  Eventually Klopfer agreed and within a week Wright’s tumors “melted like snowballs on a hot stove” to half their original size, a result far surpassing even the strongest radiation therapy.  Within another week, the tumors had vanished completely and Wright walked out of the hospital seemingly cancer-free.  Later on, after two months of good health, Wright began reading articles on the internet claiming that Krebiozen actually had no effect on cancer of the lymph nodes.  He started becoming nervous and depressed reading more and more studies until he suffered a relapse, all the tumors came back and he had to be readmitted to the hospital.  Seeing that Wright’s hypochondria brought back the tumors, this time Dr. Klopfer decided to try an experiment.  He informed Wright that Krebiozen in fact was effective on lymph node cancer as they had seen themselves, but some of the initial supplies had deteriorated during shipping and that was to blame for the relapse.  Furthermore, Klopfer said he just received a new highly concentrated version of Krebiozen and this time it would work for sure.  Wright enthusiastically agreed, rolled up his sleeve, and his fibbing doctor injected him with a plain water placebo.  Miraculously within days Wright’s tumors once again melted away, his chest fluid emptied, and he was released from the hospital feeling healthy and symptom-free from the mere water injection.  About two months after this the American Medical Association published their nationwide study of Krebiozen which flatly stated that the drug had no effect whatsoever on treating cancer.  Wright read the study and was devastated.  He immediately lost all faith in the treatment causing the tumors and chest fluid to come back full force, and he died two days later.

One reason why people who are not aware of true healing cannot be cured is because they believe in their own mind that only doctors, surgeons and other members of the medical profession can ‘cure’ an illness.  Unfortunately, that very belief will ensure that true healing will not be effective, due to the fact the true channels of healing will be blocked by the conscious and subconscious mind, and energy influenced in the same direction.  It is sensible to visit a doctor with any ailment, and to respect their words and actions, but it is extremely important to know beyond any doubt the true origin of healing, and to focus accordingly.  Even if you are given a course of medicine, exercises or even a surgical procedure, view these as secondary influences while always knowing that the primary and true healing influence is by virtue of the energy from which we are all made.” -Adrian Cooper, “Our Ultimate Reality” (571)

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Emotions, DNA, and the Divine Matrix

During the 1990s three independent scientific studies brought to light the importance of DNA and emotions in creating quantum reality. The first major study performed by Vladimir Poponin and Peter Gariaev at the Russian Academy of Science was deemed the “Phantom DNA Experiment” and yielded some fascinating results. First they created a vacuum in a specially designed test tube, and then measured the location of light photons inside to see if they were clumped at the bottom, clung to the sides, or dispersed all throughout.  As expected, the photons were scattered randomly throughout the tube.  When a strand of DNA was placed in the tube, however, the particles acted as if drawn by an invisible force and spontaneously arranged themselves around the DNA strand!  Even stranger, when the DNA was removed from the tube, the particles stayed in exactly the same shape.  This is notable because nothing in conventional physics allows for such an effect, yet now we have observable documented proof that DNA, the substance that composes us, can have a direct and powerful effect on the quantum world around us.

This experiment is important for a number of reasons.  Perhaps the most obvious is that it clearly shows us a direct relationship between DNA and the energy that our world is made of.  Of the many conclusions that we may draw from this powerful demonstration, two are certain:  1. A type of energy exists that has previously gone unrecognized.  2. Cells/DNA influence matter through this form of energy.  Produced under the rigid control of laboratory conditions, evidence arose of the powerful relationship that ancient traditions have held sacred for centuries.  The DNA changed the behavior of the light particles – the essence of our world.  Just as our most cherished traditions and spiritual texts have informed us for so long, the experiment validated that we have a direct effect on the world around us.  Beyond wishful thinking and New Age isms, this impact is real.  The DNA phantom effect shows us that under the right conditions and with proper equipment, this relationship can be documented.”  -Gregg Braden, “The Divine Matrix” (45-6)

Around the same time Poponin and Gariaev recorded their Phantom DNA findings, similar experiments were being conducted by the U.S. Army testing the power of emotion on DNA and living cells.  They hooked volunteers up to specially designed electrometers then played series’ of graphic video images (from comedy to torture to erotica) designed to create genuine states of feeling in order to collect a broad spectrum of emotional fluctuation.  Just as expected, peaks and dips in volunteers’ electrical responses coincided perfectly with changes in emotional stimuli. The big surprise came during the next phase in which they took tissue/DNA swabs from the volunteers, placed them in a vault several hundred feet away, and repeated the experiment.  Strangely enough, the tissue/DNA samples locked hundreds of feet away still registered the same electrical peaks and dips coincident with the donor’s response to emotional video clips.

For the DNA and the donor to have any connection whatsoever, there must be something that links them together.  The experiment suggests four things: A previously unrecognized form of energy exists between living tissues; Cells and DNA communicate through this field of energy; Human emotion has a direct influence on living DNA; Distance appears to be of no consequence with regard to the effect.”  -Gregg Braden, “The Divine Matrix” (49-50)

Dr. Cleve Backster more recently performed this experiment with a distance of 350 miles between the donor and his cells.  Even at this extreme distance, in experiments gauged by an atomic clock, the donor and his cells still responded absolutely identically, simultaneously!  The fact that a donor and his DNA 350 miles away have such coincident responses suggests that the energy of the donor’s emotions doesn’t “travel” anywhere but is already everywhere, as demonstrated by Bohm’s holographic universe metaphor.  This experiment also grants credence to such practices as prayer and energy healing, showing that emotion and intention can produce measurable physiological results at any distance.

We’ve been conditioned to believe that the state of the DNA in our body is a given.  Contemporary thinking suggests that it’s a fixed quantity – we ‘get what we get’ when we’re born – and with the exception of drugs, chemicals, and electrical fields, our DNA doesn’t change in response to anything that we can do in our lives.  But this experiment shows us that nothing could be further from the truth … There’s absolutely nothing in conventional wisdom that allows for the material of life in our bodies to have any effect whatsoever on our outer world.  And there’s also nothing to suggest that human emotion can in any way affect DNA when it’s inside the body of its owner, let alone when it’s hundreds of miles away.  Yet this is precisely what the results are showing us.”  -Gregg Braden, “The Divine Matrix” (52)

The third relevant study conducted around this time was performed at the Institute of HeartMath in Northern California.  Scientists began by isolating human DNA in glass beakers then exposed them to “coherent emotion” which is an intentionally created physiological state achieved by practicing specially designed mental/emotional self-management techniques such as meditation and deep breathing.  Volunteers trained in applying coherent emotion directed it towards the glass beakers and actually succeeded in changing both the physical and chemical structures of the DNA!  Different directed intentions produced varying effects on the DNA molecules causing them to wind or unwind, change shape or even separate atomic/chemical components.

In the first experiment, Poponin showed us that human DNA has a direct effect on the vibration of light.  In the second – the military experiment – we learned that whether we’re in the same room with our DNA or separated by distances of hundreds of miles, we’re still connected to its molecules, and the effect is the same.  In the third experiment, the HeartMath researchers showed us that human emotion has a direct effect on DNA, which in turn directly impacts the stuff our world is made of.  This is the beginning of a technology – an inner technology – that does more than simply tell us we can have an effect on our bodies and our world … it shows us that this effect exists and how it works!”  -Gregg Braden, “The Divine Matrix” (53)

In further studies The HeartMath Institute found that our hearts actually have the strongest magnetic field in the body and that field has an effect well beyond our own bodies.  When we feel love or joy the heart’s magnetic field relaxes and unwinds DNA, but when we feel anger or frustration it tightens and winds up.  Furthermore, when tested for immune response, researchers found the relaxed DNA performed far more proficiently than the control group while the tightened DNA performed far worse.  This proves scientifically that positive/negative emotions alter both our DNA and our immune systems, which means our emotional states are significant contributing factors in our physical health and wellness.

If you are someone who thinks sad, angry or negative thoughts most of the day, you are weakening your immune system. The chemicals in your body which fight off infection can be clinically shown to decrease.”  -Cathy Chapman, Ph.D. “Strengthening the Immune System”

All these experiments suggest two similar conclusions, which are the crux of this book: 1) There is something ‘out there’: the matrix of an energy that connects any one thing with everything else in the universe.  This connective field accounts for the unexpected results of the experiments.  2) The DNA in our bodies gives us access to the energy that connects our universe, and emotion is the key to tapping in to the field.”  -Gregg Braden, “The Divine Matrix” (53)

When quantum physics was first becoming accepted as the mechanisms by which the universe operates, the physicists had trouble with this themselves. They could say, ‘Well, I can see these ideas working at the level of atoms and molecules but I can’t bring that kind of weirdness into my life.’ So there was an arbitrary decision back in the 1920s to say, ‘Let’s restrict quantum mechanics to the world of atoms and molecules and use Newtonian physics to describe the rest of the world.’ That is why biology went on its merry way using Newtonian physics. Yet we are today beginning to see work by very reputable scientists that says the universe is created by our observations; we create the field and the field shapes the particle. The big lesson is that what you think or ask for is what you are going to get. It is not a coincidence; we are actively involved in physically shaping the world that we experience.”  -Dr. Bruce Lipton, “How Your Beliefs Control Your Biology