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Shaolin Philosophy: A martial arts philosophy

  1. Mar 21, 2003 #1
    I am practically getting obssessed with this philosophy/martial art. It is very deep. If anyone here has ever seen the Japanese show, Dragon Ball Z (which I am obessed with as well), it dramatically depicts the idea of the chi (or ki, in Japanese) which is the energy. I could explain the philosophy that pertains to it, but to be succinct, I will set an example. I'm sure you've seen some martial artists fight with blind folds on. How do they do this? No, you don't need to hear their movements or anything, but you sense their energy, their chi. Also, such Shaolin artists have trained themselves to control this chi. So they could be hit with a bat, and it won't harm them as it does us, normal humans so to speak. Mind over matter seems to be the main thing in this philosophy.

    okay, here's a link:


    What do you think about that?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 21, 2003 #2
    That website is anything but unbiased.

    The Shaolin first became famous for their martial arts centuries ago when a group of thirty monks rescued their king's daughter from a neighboring king's castle while only loosing three of their fellow monks. The king was so grateful he showered them with money and support, helping to build them into the famous martial arts institution they have remained to this day.

    Shaolin is an action oriented philosophy, a mixture of Taoist and Buddhist philosophies with maybe a little Confucionism thrown in for good measure. Their claims of supernatural powers are no different from those of the Qi Gong masters and other schools of thought. All of these claims are related to age old myths of wizards who could fly through the air, kill with a word, and other Jedi Knight kind of things.

    I've actually seen videos of Qi Gong masters splitting foot thick blocks of marble with their foreheads and getting run over by cars going thirtyfive mile an hour. Such things are pretty impressive, but far from the exaggerated claims you hear.

    Qi is a complex subject and the weakest aspect of my knowledge of Taoism. Essentially it is supposed to be an undetectable energy field that flows through everything and each thing can only hold so much of it at a time. The idea is to cleanse and develop your mind and body so they can hold as much as possible.

    Whether this theory is true or not, it has led to successful applications such as accupuncture which is notably effective for pain control and cocaine addiction. It certainly can't hurt to meditate, exercise, and watch your diet either. Meditation is now recognized by the AMA as a healthy practice.
  4. Mar 21, 2003 #3
    so can you tell me more about the chi? (I am most interested in its relation to QM especially.)
  5. Mar 21, 2003 #4
    As I said, it's really one of the weakest areas in my knowledge of chinese philosophy. There is so much magical mythology around the subject and differing view that I never bothered to study it that well. Your best bet is to look up Qi Gong or find a teacher, its become very popular in the west in recent years along with Tai Chi, both of which are widely recognized as simple, low stress, healthy exercizes and, in fact, the AMA recommends Tai Chi now as well as meditation.

    At a guess, though, just a wild off the wall guess, Chi or Qi are related to QM in the sense that both imply energies that cannot be detected. QM implies the existence of "virtual particles" which cannot be directly detected and the lamb shift in the hydrogen spectrum for one has varified this. Like the energy field of Qi then, virtual particles/energy cannot be directly detected but their effects supposidly can.

    Other than that, I really have no clue how they might be related.
  6. Mar 21, 2003 #5
    oh, you know, on my thread "quantum mechanics and consciousness", I quoted something about biophotons. I wonder if that could be the key!
  7. Mar 22, 2003 #6


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    No no; "Qi"!

    The story of the founding of the Shaolin discipline in its modern form is quite interesting, ever heard it?
  8. Mar 22, 2003 #7
    Don't you know? Its mediclorients. lol. The ability to withstand pain and ignore it is not something magical or made of "energy". It is simple discipline of the mind to ignore impulses. Anyone can be trained to do this. It does not take religon or even philosophy to do so. Much like being able to lie without your pupils dialating or heart beating faster. It is a discipline. While these monks have at some point in history been able to do some or all of these things, it does not prove that their philosophies are true, simply their methods. Much like if a native in Africa puts honey on your wounds because he believes it is the food of the gods or something like that. While I doubt hungry gods will heal you, the honey actually acts as a medical adhesive that stops bacteria growth. Methods are good, reasons why they work are not.
  9. Mar 22, 2003 #8
    Hi there,

    I know little about Chi but have heard of two implementations of the Chi concept.

    One is Tai Chi (Tai means Great, Chi means Supreme and/or what we understand of Chi, "the life energy") which is performed as daily practice by many Chinese elders, as you can see in many movies. Slow continuous movements of hands and body that are supposed to facilitate the fluctuation of Chi in the body and remove obstacles in its way; also to smooth its distribution over the body. There are certain maps used in Chinese traditional medicine that show the vessels that carry Chi just like blood vessel maps.

    The other implementation is in a martial art named Tai Chi Chuan (Tai means Great, Chi means Supreme, Chuan means Fist). It is performed in absolute calmness and involves blows that are supposed to concentrate the attacker's Chi and use it to disturb the Chi balance in the receiver of the blow. If one tries to scientifically explain why these blows are exceptionally effective one would say they are targeted for body's center of gravity and/or other points whose right position is crucial for holding a body straight and in balance.

    By the way, I've become a you-like-me-too-much target for Anime since I visited AbstractAnime. Unfortunately enough, I've never watched Anime (put aside parts of Digimon and RoboTech and some AMVs) and can't buy Anime movies from where I am. Thinking of Anime reviews I've read, I don't think DBZ deserves as much admiration as it gets. I really preferred the visual quality of, for example, "Ah! My Goddess" or the plot within "Neon Genesis Evangelion" judging based on single frames and Anime reviews.
  10. Mar 22, 2003 #9
    No. Isn't Qi and Chi/ki the same thing? if not, what's the difference?
  11. Mar 22, 2003 #10
    yes, and biophotons pretty much act the same way(i may be wrong though)
  12. Mar 24, 2003 #11


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    The problem when translating Qi to energy is that we physicists (and commoners also) have already a very closed definition of Energy. In one is playing old schools, one should think in old terms. Before Newton, so to say. Or, at least, before Carnot :)
  13. Mar 24, 2003 #12
    Is this qui that you speak of the same as the energy psychics/astrologers speak of? If so, boy have I got a load of questions for you!
  14. Mar 25, 2003 #13

    1. For MajinVegeta:
    What are biophotons? Sounds like those science-o-mystique potions!

    As for combining Science and Chi, I'd rather never look at such combination; it is destructive. Chi lies out of the realm of Science and Science doesn't qualify for studying Chi.

    2. For Sensei:
    What kind of Sensei are you? Misguiding? I thought Sensei would be cautious in making statements like, "It is clear!", "As follows...", "It is obvious!", "Can't you see?!!"
    What is that? Shift? Realites?

    3. For arivero:
    I like that comment of youers. Chi is Chi.
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