Thursday 12 April 2012

Technique vs superpower

Where do these astounding abilities of tai chi and other martial art masters come from? Surely they are supernatural and fuelled by chi power. That can be the only explanation. Or not.

It seems to me there is a direct parallel here to Arthur C Clarke's famous phrase "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic". What this means is that although something may appear supernatural to one person, it is in fact totally rational and explainable to another.

I believe martial arts, and internal martial arts like tai chi in particular, have an analogous property. So recasting the phrase we get "any sufficiently advanced technique is indistinguishable from superpower". Hence when a tai chi master throws people around alarmingly (and you can find many such videos), it does not conform to your expectations or understanding of technique. It appears that it must be a manifestation of this masters chi, or some other supernatural ability. If you were to train and dedicate yourself to the art for decades so as to learn the techniques, you will realise that there is no magic or secret. The Master simply has a level of competence and control over his own body, that "it defies belief".

His sufficiently advanced technique is indistinguishable from a superpower.

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