Metaphysics in Martial Disciplines

Stephen Kaufman

This is a lengthy article, and I have broken it into two parts so as not to jam up readers, based on the concepts I will be talking about. I receive many questions and comments about my work and what I have accomplished in the martial disciplines for more than five decades. Every so often a very interesting question comes to me, and I am more than happy to elucidate my viewpoint. Many of the questions raise some concern about my direct and no-nonsense approach to martialism. I do not use the words martial arts because it presumes an entertainment and is not specific towards what the realities of the disciplines are.

Recently, I was queried about advanced aspects of the spiritual and metaphysical realms relative to any forms, styles and systems practiced, and it developed into an ongoing dialog. I have edited the questions for context.

Question 1 – I hold belts in Taekwondo, Hapkido and various forms of jutsu and combat styles. I’ve also been doing some of my own research (along with digging for info on Musashi that you’ve been very helpful in providing) on the inner development of martial arts. I’ve come across things that are a little more difficult to explain (although most of them appear to be legend, handed down from master to student for centuries), at least in western ideals/terms. The system I’m currently studying incorporates elements of that enigmatic Dim Mak (which often conjures up images of smoke-obscured ninjas in 80’s film-lore black garb), including points, meridian flow, intent, time, season, etc., but not so much on the development of Chi. Ten years ago I trained under a Korean grandmaster in Hapkido who swore that at the grandmaster levels of Hapkido, energy could be expelled from the body and caused to shatter objects without making contact with the physical body. At the time I found that a bit hard to swallow.

Recently, I’ve discovered writings that are leading me to believe that there might actually be, at the very least, something to this…science. However, I certainly do not want to wander too far from the path to truth on some wild goose chase if it’ll only lead to an ancient copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Have you, over the course of your training, ever encountered anything that could be interpreted as the manifestation of ch’i, and if so, how much? And if so, how do I tap into and begin my journey toward the control of this power, short of writing words on my body and soaking in a bath tub of “good” water? Is this force real? Can I tap into it? Can I control it? How far can I take it? Am I completely off the deep end for even asking these questions?

Answer 1 – First off, call it what you will: ki, ch’i, whatever. The “force,” for lack of a better word, is real. You are certainly not off the deep end, but let me warn you at this juncture that you will be getting into high-end metaphysics from a Western perspective, and that can lead to serious issues with your own psyche and emotions. Imagine, if you would, being on the other side of a black hole. I don’t want to sound like a harbinger of doom or gloom, but at the same time you need to understand that extreme concentration and acceptance of a higher authority based on transdimensionalism is essential to unleashing these “powers,” which do in fact reside within the individual as a direct extension of the Creative Power of the Universe. The reason for this is that you will have to begin thinking on esoteric levels of consciousness, which can lead to much confusion in your everyday affairs. This takes care of the intellectual aspect. Forget about it.

The first thing you will have to do is to acknowledge the reality that there is no such thing as yin and/or yang. This frees you from discrimination of thought, but the concept creates its own confusion because you will have nothing to relate the energy with. (It is usually best not to be involved with anything else to do with your life once you begin this approach and until you develop a release point. Read Ten Bulls.) Sounds scary, right? It is! It is like the Lucas ideal of “being one with the force” ala Obi Wan Kenobi, which is a quaint notion at best. I’m not kidding here! With the possibility of beginner’s luck, you can do it as an instant karma thing, but that doesn’t last and only causes you to wonder why you can’t automatically get to it whenever you want. To develop it as a permanent reality, expect to exert intense “will to be” (NOT will power), and trust that your psyche picks it up as an extension of your physical being. The physical and mental exhaustion that you will experience during and after a training session will drain you until you have control of your desire to ascend. Desire here is a requirement even though it is a paradox in that you must eventually disassociate with any form of desire and just be the “thing” itself. The reality is that you can do it whenever you want to, but you must accept it as a “fait accompli,” eventually becoming what I call the Spirit of the Thing Itself. Methodologies such as Dim Mak only give you a sampling of the authority because, believe it or not, you are building a dependency on and through external conditions. Soaking in a bath, writing words on your body, muttering “OM,” or taking drugs doesn’t do it. As a matter of fact, that type of approach will significantly impede your progress and, hence, a good reason for the disavowal of yin and/or yang.

The best way to approach your quest is to begin with a makiwara, using the principles of the iron palm while learning to think with your heart and feel with your mind. This will condition your body and your mind to intrinsically become extensions of each other in the truest sense of the word without you getting in the way intellectually. Musashi’s “me and my sword are one;” Earp’s “me and my gun are one” are examples of where you are trying to get to. The difference is that you are going to go further, depending on your own definition while releasing additional dependency on any object outside of your total spiritual and mental and physical beingness.

Here is how it is done. Stay with me on this; it is really simple to do. The difficulties arising out of so-called “methods” propagated by other cultures are what create the confusion and mystique and are unnecessary to intellectually negotiate.
Visualize yourself as being the reality. Visualization in this respect does not mean that you develop an abstract, wishful thinking through mind imaging. It is rather the essence of total subjugation and devotion to an unknown authority of being, based on having the faith OF the ‘thing’ in you rather than your faith in the possibility of attainment. This mindset can be readily attained through what I call Self-Revealization Acceptance®. Self-Revealization Acceptance® is an aggressive/non-aggressive mental technique that, through constant self-definition and self-reevaluation, brings into functional and tangible form ALL the creative energy of the universe as it is instructed to reveal itself as. Self-Revealization Acceptance® affects the release of any and all limitations and restrictions—mental, physical and spiritual. Further, Self-Revealization Acceptance® will profoundly influence your life and teach you to use the one power of multi universes as you see fit. This is easily accomplished by accepting any chosen definition of expression and knowing it is done in you, as you, and through you. Working with the wisdom of multiple universes and with the knowledge and realization that all things change and grow, correct thinking and proper words will manifest all desires. And, it is done with ease and grace. This may sound like an old story, but the difference is that you are using exacting tools to bring about change without deep meditation or any other form of self-denial exploration.

As well, you should understand the concept of the Spirit of the Thing Itself being the creative power of the universe that expresses personal desire based on the exact definitions of what it is told to demonstrate, and it is done instantaneously. With any name you choose to call it, it is the totality of anything that could ever be desired or known consciously or not. It produces desires in tangible form with ease and grace once the truth of that specific reality is accepted that the result already exists and is yours by right of consciousness, not consciousness in the Western sense, but more of a total immersion into the truth of your desire. However, Spirit of the Thing Itself is an impersonal expression of the Creative Power of the Universe, and though it works infallibly, it will only deliver exactly what it is being asked for. Self-Revealization Acceptance® is the catalyst that drives the Spirit of the Thing Itself, but it requires constant re-definition until your reality is attained. It empowers anyone or thing, sentient or otherwise, to be that which it is thought of as. That is the way it is, and that must be accepted as the first truth.

Beginning with the makiwara, and slowly executing reverse strikes with excellence in form, extend your energy through the makiwara with every strike. Do not hit hard and do not hit fast. Feel it as a pressure emanating through you and as you. Strike with extreme softness. In the beginning, you want to be able to sense your total self going through the target. This is essential. The same would apply to working with a sword and making every cut an absolute. I prefer the empty hand approach because it enables me to feel the actuality of expression on a personally physical level while dealing with pure resistance. As you develop sameness with the striking part and the part being struck, you will begin to sense less of a need to actually make contact. This is the same idea as to where tai chi is supposed to take you, but generally won’t because it is hardly ever taught correctly. Inordinate faith in and of the expression must be the goal of your eventual result.
Continuing in your practice, and practice you must, relentlessly you will begin to sense a new form or energy extending through your body. Do not try to define this new energy, as you will become more confused because of preconceived notions. You are not dealing on an intellectual level in any form whatsoever, and this, too, must be understood at the outset of your studies. And here’s the kicker. Do not attempt to practice this with anyone by telling him or her to throw a punch at you while you attempt to negate the incoming energy. You will look foolish, and, quite realistically, it won’t work. You are still in the exploration stage. The eventuality of this newborn inner authority leads to total mastery of circumstance and condition on any plane.

Once you have approached control of the new energy, horizontally, begin to drop your palm in a vertical fashion as if going through the earth itself and without striking any surface. This enables you to develop a more substantial aspect of the control of the energy. Do the same thing in an upward motion, to the left, to the right, etc., as if penetrating the void. Eventually, determine that target/no-target is the essence of reality. At all times sense the power of the universe in every stroke. Mastery on this level is but the first step.

Do you see where we are going? In simplest terms it is a head-trip, but certainly it is much more. In extreme terms it is the culmination of every aspect of existence, including so-called non-existence. It is motion without motion and it is stillness without being still. Once this power is released, you will have control of every “thing,” at which time you will realize the absurdity of trying to control any “thing” at all. You will have become awake. If you understand those things that exist, you will also understand those things that do not exist.

Question 2 – Thank you very much for taking the time to answer so thoroughly. I realize that the subject matter I was questioning isn’t exactly conducive to the “short-answer,” but I very much appreciate you not treating it as such. It’s taken me this long to respond, due mostly to the impact your response has had. I’ve been tossing this stuff around in my head and can’t help but feel excitement at the possibilities.

In the first paragraph of your response, you say that I “need to understand that extreme concentration and acceptance of a higher authority based on transdimensionalism is essential to unleashing these “powers.” I think I understand the term “transdimensionalism,” but there is also a religious sect calling itself “Transdimensionalism.” Are these related, or how exactly do you define the term? I understand that there is tremendous power within the individual and it sounds like the individual is able to pull from an unlimited amount of power from throughout all of creation in all of its levels of existence (dimensions).

Answer 2 – The “transdimensionalism” that I will speak of has absolutely and positively (note both extremes) nothing to do with any form of religious organization, cult, or anything else that may come to mind that is concordant with any type of group.

Understanding transdimensionalism suggests the need to leave behind certain ideas and attitudes that may or may not have become extensions of your individual personality. We deal with aspects of the obvious fundamental dimensions (height, width, depth, space, time, sound, vibration), astral dynamics, any of the various yogic disciplines, conscious dreaming: things that exist in their own dimension but only need to coexist with each other on the finite plane. This is the only way it can be. Without reference on the finite plane, utter confusion would ensue: another reason to disavow yin/yang as causality. Therefore, total acceptance of all realities, those known and those unknown, must be deemed viable and functional in the physical state, especially those that are recognizable only in ethereal expression. Again, if you understand those things that exist then you understand those things that do not exist.

The inordinate power that exists within is constructed of acceptance based on all realities. As a mundane example, consider being able to work on the idea that it is within a person’s power by right of consciousness to “punch through” three boards, six boards, eight boards (trustfully without spacers, which is a jive way to do it in the best of cases, thereby relegating it to being a parlor trick, such as walking on coals, etc. and mostly depending upon strength). Releasing the internal power is what is required to transcend the limitations of the body. Preparing the body to deal with the event is also required. Here, visualization is essential in proper format. “Seeing” oneself going through 3 boards, or 6, or 16 for that matter is not a head-trip to the imaginary world of Oz. It consists in training the ego to release itself through the constraints of the physical barrier as the energy itself. The same applies to healing. Think in terms of phenomena, such as esp,clairvoyance, etc., whether or not they are real or contrived. Evidence suggests both possibilities. As well, evidence exists that suggests Tibetan monks of certain sects being able to levitate and grow extraneous limbs. Growing limbs, walking on water, levitation and other extreme extensions of the self are at present beyond this discussion. To do these things takes extreme dedication. You asked, and this is why your questions must be well thought out and the answers intrinsically designed.

Question 3 – You say it is usually best not to be involved with anything else to do with my life once I begin this approach and until I develop a release point. I’ve found a copy of Ten Bulls by Kakuan and have read it through only a couple of times, but it’s a little unclear to me when you say, “not to be involved with anything else to do with my life.” I’m a husband, father, educator, writer, martialist, brother, son, grandchild, and soon-to-be step-grandfather, hence my question. What exactly does that line mean?

Answer 3 – To come to terms with the idea of the Ten Bulls, or for that matter anything that is simple on the esoteric plane, is the part that demands the most concentration and introspection until the silliness of it all is realized, which is not the same as knowing it is silly and then, it becomes no-thing. (Complete versions of Ten Bulls can be found on the Internet.)
When I say not to be involved, I am not saying in the disassociative or detachment sense, though it is important that personal matters be kept in control and harmony. One’s desires will then enable the individual to be free from frustration and petty annoyances self-imposed or otherwise. This is hard—real hard while working at not denigrating those who do not share the same thoughts of alleged karma. It has taken me many years to approach the inevitable “cleansing my soul.” And though I have approached it, it is still an aspect of perfection that is far removed from actualization in my life. I dare anyone to say they have attained ultimate freedom. Saints only exist in the mind and in Heaven for those who need that. Clean living, to the extent that it can be experienced, is the key. Doing one’s daily tasks and enjoying one’s freedom in relationships is essential. Don’t expect salvation: redemption, maybe.

Perhaps the words “not to be involved” are misleading; however, the bluntness of the idea is notwithstanding. The Eastern idea of detachment causes most of the difficulties in essentially having one’s composure together. This is readily accomplished through utter devotion to the ideal. Keep in mind the attitude of listening but not necessarily hearing the criticisms and cajoling of others. That is why I stress not discussing these matters in random conversation. Read Takuan’s book, The Unfettered Mind.

Question 4 – “Spirit of the Thing Itself” – Was this phrase actually used by Musashi in Five Rings, or is this your interpretation of a point Musashi was trying to make?

Answer 4- “Spirit of the Thing Itself “is a term that I have coined in order to simplify the composite energy and power of the multiverses. The concept is ancient and overrides any theology or tenets; I never came across it prior to having coined it.

Question 5 – Self-Revealization Acceptance® and the Spirit of the Thing Itself are two points that are very well conveyed in your email. I feel like I’ve just had a peak through the door to a much larger world. I’ve seen references to a book by you on Self-Revealization Acceptance. Is the book out already and where can I find it?
Answer 5 – Self-Revealization Acceptance® An Introduction to Your Divine Right to Live in Joy and Freedom is available through my website, It is quite radical in contemporary thought and really simple to understand if a student or reader takes the time to understand things that are new and revolutionary. Through our work together, I will teach you the entire method if you are so inclined.

Comment from reader: I will begin practicing with the makiwara by next week. Hopefully, with your assistance (I certainly have the desire—until I transcend that) I’ll be able to start doing my part towards making this place better than it was when I found it. I send these questions with humble gratitude to you for your time and expertise.

Response: – Glad that you have responded and that your questions are very obviously sincere. This gives me the confidence that I am not pissing into the wind. The depths that we will be exploring and transcending is estimable and would make most people laugh at the absurdity, or in some cases probably throw up, and in most cases consider the revelations novelty at best. What you have asked takes a strong will to acknowledge as a reality. As well, stop using the word “hope,” as it is a debasing concept that denies acceptance of reality as done.