by Charles Daniel
887 Embassy Ct.
Atlanta, Georgia 30324
NOTE OF INTRODUCTION -- Charles Daniel is a long-time student of the martial arts, and has developed a special interest in the training of "extended senses" more characteristic of the "old, traditional" martial arts. He additionally indicates that his interests lean toward the practical application of intuition and any systems used to develop it or any of its various forms.
His current rank in martial arts is hachidan in Bujinkan Ninpo from Massa K. Hatsumi. He has also studied Aikido and Kashima Shinto ryu under Yoshi Sugita.
He has published four books dealing with various aspects of the martial arts:
NINJUTSU NAHKAMPF (in German). Bad Hamburg, Germany:
H. Velte, Sport-Buch Verlag; Postfach 2464, D-6380, Bad Hamburg, Germany, 1984.
TRADITIONAL NINJA WEAPONS. Unique Publications, 4201 Vanowen Place, Burbank, CA., 91505, 1985.
NINPO TAIJUTSU. Unique Publications, 4201 Vanowen Place, Burbank, CA., 91505, 1986.
JAPANESE SWORDSMANSHIP. Unique Publications, 4201 Vanowen Place, Burbank, CA., 91506, 1989.
We are grateful for Mr. Daniel's kind permission to reproduce his paper with the stipulation that copyright and all other rights are reserved to him. For further information, please be directly in touch with Charles Daniel at the address included in his paper. (Ingo Swann)
Extended senses, martial arts, autonomic nervous system responses
KEY WORDS: Intuition, the perceptive body, training
Distinctions are discussed between recent Western and earlier Eastern concepts of the martial arts. Consideration is given to martial arts that are taught as self-defensive or for sport competitions or display. Discussion is provided regarding earlier forms of the arts designed for purposes of survival and which required the development of extended senses. Basic criteria for "teaching" are also outlined.
Of all places seekers of the Biomind superpowers travel, the martial arts of Asia are often a first stopping off place.
Since the 1970s, public perception has associated martial arts with everything from superhuman strength to telepathy and clairvoyance.
As in most any area dealing with these powers,
people generally fall into two wide categories that are poles apart: the
skeptics and the believers.
Achieving balance in outlook can often be difficult. After all, the complete skeptic runs the risk of having his skepticism interpreted as questioning the martial artists' abilities. It is also true that martial artists rarely make claims concerning any special abilities outside of the context of the FIGHTING arts.
On the other hand, the true believer is often struck so dumb with "Sensei worship" that objectivity is out of the question.
I will begin with overall contexts, since context often determines what abilities develop, and how they do.
The martial arts cover a wide and often bewildering
area of study. However, a clear distinction can be made between sport-oriented
martial arts and the older forms intended for actual combat.
This is not meant to imply that certain forms of sport-oriented martial arts are not also highly effective for self-defense. They are - as long as one limits the idea of self-defense to punching, kicking, or even carrying a gun.
One of the major distinctions between the more
modern and the older combat methods is that the older systems place emphasis
on physical strength and swiftness.
But the older systems ALSO place equal stress on developing super-increases of overall, highly refined awareness quite likely to be referred to as extrasensory. This is in ADDITION to the sensory awareness associated with the purely physical aspects of the martial arts studies.
To help make the distinction here, it can be suggested
that some of the modern martial arts methods that have been developed in
this century have not lost their connection to the older arts. Principally
speaking, Aikido is one well-known example in which the older stress on
extra-sensory awareness had not been lost.
Why the older arts have not lost their process
of developing the superpower while the modern sport forms have is a point
that needs to be addressed. This point was brought home to me one sunny
afternoon in Japan.
While walking down a quiet country street, my teacher turned to me and said: "Charles-san, we need to make a gentlemen's agreement."
Having already spent some time with the Japanese and their ways of doing things, I wasn't about to agree to anything until I heard the terms.
In fact, I tried not to look too interested. That way, if agreement was totally unacceptable, no one would (hopefully) lose face. So I just nodded to wait and see what the "agreement" would be.
"You see, Charles-san, your training has to
change now, and it will be very dangerous."
You can imagine what I began thinking: DANGEROUS?! I was already nursing a cut where a very sharp and fast moving katana (Japanese sword) had grazed my hand. In those days, we generally trained with "live" swords - that is, very sharp steel ones.
My teacher continued, apparently ignoring my reaction:
"And, you see, to do what's next, I will have to train you very hard.
So, if I accidentally kill you, I hope you have no hard feelings. Agreed?"
Well, what do you do with an offer like that?
If I had had any sense, I would have been out of there on the next train, plane, or whatever.
However, being younger and seeing an internal logic to the situation, I agreed.
Obviously I survived. But to this day, I have a
slight scar on the inside of my left wrist (another close encounter with
a sword) to remind me that engaging in such programs can be a serious and
often dangerous undertaking.
I have given this account to begin illustrating
the subtle concept in the martial arts called NEED, and how that concept
(and method) relates to the superpowers and how they are developed.
Training is set up in such a way that the entire person (i.e., their mind/body) realizes that in order to survive, certain extended sense abilities MUST be allowed to emerge and develop.
And this "need" is what clearly separates those arts that can and will develop such abilities from those which will not develop them.
To help enlarge the distinction, in the world of
sports there is always a referee, or the teacher, or even your partners,
who will save you.
In the world of actual combat, and particularly the world of close combat, no such help can be expected.
Also, it is fairly easy to train yourself to face a known opponent. However, to train yourself for the unexpected where your attacker blindsides you (or worse, where your attacker is someone you care about or love), that is a totally different story.
Without training methods especially designed to extend the senses, no such defense is imaginable much less possible.
This explains in part the odd methods used in the
As you progress in rank, the training becomes harder and harder - until you reach a point where every trip to the training hall is potentially a matter of life and death.
If this sounds like an overstatement, it is not. The point is: as one's skills increase, the ability to deal with more and more difficult situations is pushed to the limit.
The increasing in difficulty makes it clear to
the various consciousness processing systems that the usual five physical
senses alone are not going to be able to control the situation.
In fact, their slower response time will act as interference that will greatly endanger their own survival - unless these slower systems (somehow) decide to step aside and let the more subtle senses of the body solve the problem of what to do.
Thus, one no longer thinks his way his way through (a process that is too slow, anyway), but rather relaxes and lets his body do whatever is necessary.
Obviously, some type of physical-body technique
has to be learned before this transition is possible. Otherwise the body
itself would have no knowledge of how to move.
But this body-movement technique is actually only secondary. In the well-developed martial arts training, primary awareness ultimately becomes more important, an awareness so refined and practiced that it become active and reflexive at the autonomic response level.
What this means in terms of actual abilities needs to be reviewed.
Imagine going to your first day of training in
a martial arts school that carries the reputation of turning out students
who not only have a well-developed set of physical skills but also that
"something extra" often heard about in the fighting arts.
You go through the usual exercises and learn a few basic skills before being dismissed.
However, instead of going home, you stick around and watch some of the more experienced students work out.
The first thing you might notice is the ease and
relaxation with which they move around. That is, they make it all look easy.
However, as you watch, you notice something strange.
Often they seem to move at exactly the right time and the right distance without seeming to exert much effort. And they do this regardless of whatever surprises are thrown at them.
The longer you watch, the more uncertain you become as to whether their training partners are just being cooperative with them - or if you are seeing some kind of weird magic.
In fact, you are seeing neither.
What you are seeing is the result of a very exacting training process.
Unlike some forms of extended sensory skills relating to mental activity alone, martial artists train their sensing abilities directly to their bodies.
That is, if we use the metaphor of "signals," then the incoming signal of an immediate, surprise attack will by-pass the conscious mind and go directly to the body awareness systems - resulting in an instantaneous movement appropriate to avoid or to counter the attack.
If you asked masters of this how they manage always
to make the right moves, seemingly without effort, they can show you exercises
or drills by which they developed their special skills that seem more closely
associated to intuition than to cognitive thinking. But after that, what
"it" is that permits the special skills whose "inspiration"
is hard to submit to analysis.
But the same is true, for example, of various forms
of body movement such as in dance, fencing, high-wire circus acts, and even
of mountain climbing - and which are distinguished as "arts."
In the martial arts, as in those just mentioned, the underlying impulse
of any movement can be very difficult to pin down.
Now, let's assume that the school's master lets
you stick around for the rest of the evening (most unlikely in a traditional
school), and you get to watch him or her work with one or two the very best
What you would see at this point could stretch your idea of what is involved.
You might see the students practicing avoided weapons (such as sword or arrows) while blindfolded.
Another common practice is having a student defend
while working in an area where several dangerous obstacles have been placed,
and the student is handicapped by blindfolding or by plugging the ears.
Depriving the student of sound cues can often be just as crippling (in the
martial arts sense) as losing your sight.
If you watch such exercises closely, it will become
obvious that the person at practice often begins his movement slightly before
- or at the same time - the attacker does.
Under normal conditions, this could be chalked
up to the ability to read body language.
But as you can see, that consideration is fairly easy to eliminate. After all, it's hard to claim reading anything if the reader is blindfolded.
The blindfolding resembles the condition of complete darkness in which visible sensory cues might not be possible - but in which the body-intuitive senses can be developed to detect by this kind of "blind" martial arts training exercises.
It is also through this kind of training that martial
artists often learn how "to read" their opponent's INTENTIONS
before the opponent makes a move.
Having watched all of the foregoing, the school
would close for the day, and you would go home suitably impressed.
Still, regardless of the impressions gained so far, you would not have seen the entire story.
The reason for this is two-fold.
First, you would probably assume that the training you witnessed was the top most available through that teacher.
Second, you would naturally assume that all training took place in the school.
Number one is wrong, but an easy mistake to make.
Number two is simply a holdover from your early school days when one was in school only when at school.
The basic reason why the first reason is incorrect
has to do with the assumption that self-defense fighting and survival fighting
are the same or have the same goal.
That is, most people entering a martial arts school (at least in the West) do so because they feel the need for self-defense skills.
They generally do not overly concern themselves with the differences between self-defense fighting (especially if it is of the "save face" kind - such as not letting the local bully push them around) and fighting designed to kill the opponent as quickly and as effortlessly as possible.
These two goals are not the same.
Obviously, IF I have been trained in one of the
old schools where fighting to prove a point IS seen for the silly game it
is, and IF I still live in an environment where survival may be questionable,
THEN over and above my desire to use my skills to get by, there appears
the need to somehow extend the senses.
The principal reason for extending the senses relates to not only avoiding the obvious, but also avoiding the not so obvious, and also avoiding the outcome of getting drawn into a situation where I kill or maim someone.
This distinguishes between the martial arts as
self-defense or sports only, and martial arts where survival might completely
depend not on just self-defense fighting skills but on having activated
and trained the abilities of extended sensing.
The training of extended abilities obviously requires
a training program is necessary that allows one to "tune into"
a much larger picture.
Such tuning in has much in common with intuition and/or clairvoyance and its more developed and recent concept of remote viewing. But even in this regard there is a difference.
Regarding this difference, it should be noted that
most traditional, old-school martial artists are not strict dualists as
regards the Western concept that separates body and mind into two distinct
entities. In the old schools, training the body IS training the mind, since
mental changes also result.
The reverse would also be true; if one embarked on a training program that was mental, then there would be physical changes resulting from such training.
From a martial artist viewpoint regarding the larger
"tune in" picture, it is often enough to "know" NOT
to do something or NOT to go somewhere. Also, the reasons perceived for
an action may not be exactly relevant to the actual, concrete outcomes of
the actions. And in this sense, the extended senses become important not
only with regard to not only with regard of what to do but also with regard
to what not to do.
Once again, such extended-sense training relies
on programming the body to move according to whatever signal is received,
and to do so whether mental awareness is included or not.
Since this is training of the body, not so much of the slower mental processes, if you ask martial artists how they knew something was ABOUT to happen, you may not get an exact answer must beyond "Well, I just knew it."
There is a tendency to relate martial arts (such as kung-fu, Aikido and Japanese sword fencing) to temples, shrines and monasteries.
Being perhaps a little too Western a tendency, this connection never really made sense to me. After all, it would seem that the efforts of prayer and meditation would conflict with fighting.
There has been an effort to think of the martial
arts as a system of physical culture designed to counter the physical problems
caused by long periods of meditation. This impression derives its force
from many books, movies and TV programs.
However, anyone spending much time living in a
third world country and living as the natives do, quickly realizes that
simply staying alive is a major struggle full of opportunities for exercise
(such as hauling water, heating oil or wood and, in some cases, finding
something to eat, etc.)
Even if one did manage to find a way into an ancient monastery, almost all written and records indicate that the monks or nuns had to physically work to support themselves and contribute to the upkeep of the place.
In fact, the more I thought about it the more it seemed that the added energy drain of training in martial arts along with the energy drain of simply working to survive would hamper efforts at prayer and meditation.
So, the close connection in the Far East between the martial arts and mystical centers, such as temples, shrines and monasteries, was not very clear to me.
With this in mind, late one night in 1986 I addressed
the question of the connection to Koichiro Yoshikawa (the now late Grandmaster
of the Kashima Shinto ryu - a very old and renowned Japanese tradition.)
Yoshikawa Sensei was amused by the confusion between the martial arts and their mystical connection to shrines.
He made short work of an answer, indicating that the connection had never been "mystical."
In ancient times, shrines (such as Kashima) and
temples were not only places of prayer. They were also storehouses for grains,
medicines, as well as religious items such as statues often made of gold.
In those days one could not call 911 to get help and assistance. In fact, the only certain protection any religious center had from people or groups wanting to raid them were the monks.
So, the monks took it upon themselves to learn how to protect themselves, their temples and whatever the temples contained.
Thus, in addition to learning how to recite a sutra, or practice medicine, the monks learned some from of fighting art simply to ensure they would be left in peace for their more important work.
There is little question that there is a concrete connection to martial arts and the development of a variety of Biomind powers.
In the case of the mental aspects of those powers, a number of them have been treated to skeptical abuse. This is not the case regarding the extended senses as considered in the martial arts.
Perhaps the reason the martial arts have been spared
the skeptics' mind-games is simply that skeptics generally try to prove
their points by WORDS.
The martial artist, on the other hand, is only too willing to prove his point by ACTION, not words, as soon as the skeptic steps into the proper arena.
This should not be taken as a wholesale attack
on either the need for or existence of informed skeptics.
However, most skeptics do come from a small portion of the academic community. And historically, the academic community has spent more time encouraging the cause only - as opposed to actually risking anything - and more often than not the cause emphasizes the status quo of their position.
In the case of the martial arts, most skeptics would dismiss extended sensing as nothing more than a physical skill - but which probably indicates more about their own Cartesian beliefs than the actual ontological status of the subject.
Leaving skepticism aside, there are two points
that are often overlooked when examining the martial arts.
These are PROGRESSION and NEED.
The progressive, step-like nature of the training
allows each level of skill to be achieved and stabilized through a set of
precise exercises tailored to the skill AND to each student.
The acquired stabilizing is followed by a new set of exercises for the next level of skill.
All of the exercises are based around the concept
Each set presents the student with a situation that will bring out a skill simply by creating enough need in the student so that it HAS to emerge and be developed.
These two points lead to a subject that merits
mention - but cannot be covered in such a short paper.
But basically speaking, this subject involves differences in learning and teaching and the special skills required to TEACH.
Just because one has achieved a certain level of skill does not automatically mean he has been taught how to teach.
In order to teach, one must have a "sixth
sense" for the student's abilities and how far they can be pushed without
totally overloading them.
This overloading can sometimes be dangerous - and in an area using real weapons, a teacher's failure in judgment can have permanent (negative) results for the student.