I remember reading a quote years ago about the powers of the Shaolin Monksthat went something like this:
When looked for, could not be seen;
When listen for, can not be heard;
When felt for could not be touched;
Subtle as in non-existent … that was Shaolin.
Now we know that legends indeed tend to grow in over the ages becausestory tellers tend to exaggerate when telling their tells but usually moststories are based with some truth. After all, that was the way ourancestors passed on history form one generation to another.
So is it possible to see what others do not see? Of course you can. Thatcomes from specialized knowledge and specific training. Years ago when Iwas a young teenager, a Cherokee elder took me in as a student and taughtme how to read sign and how to read the story that the forest told aboutlife when humans were not around. Before that training, I would walkthrough the wilderness not seeing any wildlife and afterwards I began tosee the world in a completely different light.
This ability is not limited to a young hunter in the wild, but in everyprofession and hobby. An engineer sees systems problems, when the averageperson simple sees a blueprint. A seasoned martial artist sees what thestudent is about to do before the student is even aware that they weregoing to do it. Seeing what can’t be seen by the bottom 97% of people isthe mark of a seasoned expert.
The statement “When listened for could not be heard”, is based on theconcept of invisibility in site and sound. It is amazing the noise that anamateur makes walking in the woods versus someone experienced and skilledin the art of stealth. The amateur you can hear miles away but withexperience you will not hear them, even when they are standing right nextto you.
When felt for could not be touched is evident in the game of Tai Chi andtheir pushing hands exercise. When you push back to resist, you are metwith emptiness and void. All major martial arts styles teach the best wayto avoid conflict is not be there, so a lot of training is based on theidea when felt for could not be touched or avoidance.
At what point does legend stop and reality begin? I think we need tounderstand the powers of the mind before you decide. Is it possible toimpact people without touching them? Is it possible to see somethingcoming your way, just with mind intent? The answer is a resounding yes toboth.
Take for example a mother walking into a child’s room after catchingthem doing something wrong. A simply look, and the child drops his head,breathing patterns change, heart rate, etc. It is absolutely possible tochange the behaviors and physical abilities with just a look. At whatextent? Well that is up to you to decide.
And the ability to see something coming at you, before any logic wouldtell you it was coming. Is it possible? Of course it is. Many people havedeveloped the ability to sense danger from great distances and even knowwhen someone they love is in trouble. I am an amateur but havedemonstrated the ability to catch an arrow shot at me blindfold, which isminor to some of the feats I have seen true masters do in Asia.
We have long told our students that the martial arts is about 90% mentaland 10% physical. As a teacher, I encourage my students to explore themyth and legends. You might just find that they are based on the truth,and with the guide of a legitimate mentor, may be well within your reach.In fact, a good teacher wants his students to push the envelope anddevelop their abilities to their maximum capabilities.
To Your Success,
Terry Bryan, Teacher
American Black Belt Association
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