By Micah A. Hanks
On a few occasions in my life I’ve been in the presence of marital artists who claim to possess unique powers that allow them to extend their inner energies (the traditional martial arts call this energy “qi” or “chi”) beyond the constraints of the physical body in order to influence objects and others around them. I do believe that when martial artists channel their chi in this way that something is occurring. There are a great many legends dating back several centuries that involve the early Karate masters of the East performing extraordinary feats by focusing their energies outside their bodies, and there are at least a few such instances today that have been documented.
One such test, described by psychic researcher Loyd Auerbach in his book Mind Over Matter, involved a martial artist named master Guy Savelli, who reportedly was able to interrupt an infrared beam by “extending his chi” on a number of repetitions in a controlled experimental environment. Auerback recounts:
I was there during one experimental series in which Savelli attempted to “break” an infrared beam (as used in security devices) without physically doing so. He focused his attention on where he was told the beam was, then pushed his open palm in that direction (this from several feet away from the beam). He was able to cause a break in the beam in most of the repeated trials.
Auerbach notes that strain-gauges and temperature apparatus were also mildly affected by Savelli during these experiments. This sort of experiment is interesting, but not nearly as shocking as the presumed ability to perform the Dim Mak or “death touch”. This is sometimes also referred to interchangeably as a “touch-less knockout”, where the marital artist projects his energies at vital pressure points, causing the victim to be knocked out cold. In instances where I have witnessed this myself, once the individual collapses after the “blow”, others quickly surround him or her, massaging the back of this person’s neck, shoulders, back, arms, and other areas, “revitalizing” them to a degree. In the May/June 2008 issue of Skeptical Inquirer, an article titled Just like Jedi knights dealt with the subject, involving a series of tests performed with martial artist Leon Jay. In the tests, martial arts students familiar with the notion of touch-less knockouts were more susceptible to the psychic attacks, falling backward as Jay performed the maneuvers. With the experiments being performed in Milano, Italy, it was interesting to see how local Italians reacted to the attacks; one gentlemen, identified as “Luigi”, stood motionless as Jay performed the same techniques on him.
Another interesting experiment, a “classic” involving the hanging of a dark-colored veil between the subject and his target, produced similar results. Even students who had been affected by the exercises earlier showed less influence when they were unable to see when Jay was performing the technique:
We decided that it would be interesting to subject Jay to the same kind of experiments that were presented to the proponents of human magnetism in 1784 in Paris by a Royal Commission created to investigate Mesmerism. The test was simply to have Jay again demonstrate his powers on one of the best students, one of those who had reacted beautifully to his hand weavings. This time, however, the student would stand behind a dark bed sheet with Jay on the other side trying to project qi at given intervals dictated by us. Of course, the student did not know when Jay was sending his punches or when he was just standing there motionless. In other words, he did not know what to do or when to react. He just remained standing there with a puzzled look on his face, waiting for the qi blow.
My own most memorable experience with the death touch involved my friend Master Tom Cameron of Chicago, during a visit I had attended along with the L.E.M.U.R. Paranormal Investigation team, of which I am still an active member. At a live performance at a bookstore outside the city, Cameron had performed his Dim Mak technique on a number of his students, each of whom lapsed into minor convulsions as they fell backward into the waiting arms of fellow students who would swarm around their fallen comrade to resuscitate them. It was finally decided that someone other than the students participate in the experiment, and my brother Caleb was selected to do so.
Great, I thought. Now I’ll know once and for all if this stuff is legit. Cameron channeled his energies, and released a mighty torrent of gestures and excited inhilations before ejecting his attack toward Caleb with a loud Kia! Caleb turned slightly pink in the face with a slightly goofy expression, and slowly tilted backward.
Holy crap. It actually worked! I remember standing there slightly dumbfounded as the students gathered around Caleb, smacking his back and massaging his arms. Shortly after the demonstration, Caleb and I managed to get ourselves off to the side, where I could question him.
“Wow, this is amazing . What was that like?”
“Well, I don’t know,” he said. “I faked it.”
“What? You what… you faked it?”
“Yeah, I couldn’t let that guy look like an ass in front of all those people like that. I had to do something!” Caleb’s noble character had prevailed in the end, and he had faked being the recipient of a psychic attack right there in front of a crowd of onlookers in order to keep from hurting Master Cameron’s feelings. On the way back home that evening, Caleb and I actually rode in the back seat of Tom’s car, shooting confused expressions back and forth at one another as he conversed with his spirit guide “Dano” about why he couldn’t allow him to enter his body at the moment.
“No Dano, you don’t know how to drive a stick,” he argued. Yes indeed, my friends, that is an entirely different story altogether.
But in essence, perhaps as many have alluded, it is not that these individuals fake what they’re experiencing, but rather, that there could be psychological agents involving the culture and worldview of those in given circumstances which cause individuals on the receiving end of such “attacks” to play a subordinate role, almost in a hypnotic way, where they succumb to the energies allegedly being fired at them. Joshua P. Warren, who conducted the study I participated in during L.E.M.U.R.’s visit to Chicago, openly supposed that the entire exchange between Cameron and his students had to do with a mildly hypnotic state the students entered as a result of always (even outside the dojo) referring to Cameron as “sir”, among other things. Of course, this practice is common among martial arts schools, as a gesture of respect between the teacher and students. However, it can’t be ruled out that the idea of specific “roles” in the entire process could result in somewhat subordinate behavior when martial artists wielding techniques of this sort appear to display such strange abilities… and such inconsistencies.