Guess What? Touchless Karate is Useless

Guess What? Touchless Karate is Useless December 16, 2013

You may recall a few years ago when a Japanese “master” of “touchless karate” who claimed he could knock people down and prevent them from hurting him with the power of his mind got the crap kicked out of him by someone who didn’t buy his bullshit. Now there’s a Finnish guy pushing the same nonsense. He fared about as well when skeptics showed up to one of his clinics. Video below.

That wasn’t as fun as the Japanese guy, though.

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  • Of course only River Tam can kill you with her brain.

  • dysomniak, darwinian socialist

    In all fairness, regular Karate is also useless.

  • Oh, come on! How could they possibly know that their imagination’s only weakness was somebody else’s skepticism?

  • NitricAcid

    Is it wrong that I’m very disappointed that the guy didn’t get slapped across the face even once?

  • criticaldragon1177

    Ed Brayton,

    I for one, never thought it was anything but useless. Didn’t believe in it for a minute.

  • NitricAcid

    I hope *someone* at least got their money back. Ninety euros for a quick lesson in getting fleeced?

  • sw

    Karate isn’t *always* useless. If you go to a dojo where they spar hard then it’s better than nothing at all. But then again some Karate competitions are glorified games of tag, and competing for them probably makes you a worse fighter than you would be otherwise. A lot of it is how they train, some Karate schools are so different to others that they can barely be considered the same martial art.

  • NitricAcid

    It’s not *completely* useless- it’s allowed these idiots to make a lot of money.

  • zekehoskin

    It strikes me (wordplay unintentional, but I’m leaving it in) that teaching aggressive idiots a technique that will prevent them from beating up other people is far from useless.

  • dysomniak, darwinian socialist

    It doesn’t matter how hard you spar if you don’t know how to grapple. That’s why a BJJ yellow belt will wreck a karate black belt any day.

  • busterggi

    I’ve nothing to fear from karate masters – I’ve studied how to defend myself against fruit.

  • Chiroptera

    Maybe the skeptics didn’t have enough faith in the karate master’s skills?

  • marcus

    I kind of felt bad for the Japanese guy. He looked like he actually expected it to work! Talk about dangerously delusional!

  • macallan

    Did someone bring a pointy stick?

  • Brutally ambushed.

  • NitricAcid

    But what if you don’t have a tiger to release?

  • grumpyoldfart

    busterggi #11

    I’ve nothing to fear from karate masters – I’ve studied how to defend myself against fruit.

    What if I come at you with a banana?

  • Wylann

    Any well rounded martial art is going to be more effective than a pure striking form, or even a pure grappling form. If you want one or the other for self defense, grappling is the better option in general, but it’s less effective against multiple attackers.

    No touch, though, is only good for lightening the wallets of the gullible.

  • anubisprime

    Dude must of missed the basic training of Scam 101…never enact the scam in front of sceptics, free thinkers , atheists, intelligent or just the sane!..

    (That does leave you the majority of the population to fleece…be sensible if not prudent!)

  • Re. the original post: I am reminded of Sanal Edamaruku and the Great Tantra Challenge.

    dysomniak, darwinian socialist:

    It doesn’t matter how hard you spar if you don’t know how to grapple. That’s why a BJJ yellow belt will wreck a karate black belt any day.

    And there’s the expected martial-arts-style favoritism. You are wrong. It depends entirely the individual skills of the two fighters, which would be related to the particular style of BJJ and the particular style of karate, and on the conditions of the fight.

    If the fight is two people in a padded ring, fight to tap out, then grappling has an advantage. If it is more “get past the opponents and run away“, then grappling has less of an advantage.

    And while karate may usually emphasize striking, it would be a very great mistake to think that no high-level karateka know throws, joint-locks, and grappling. My karate teachers emphasized those for the san-dans and yo-dans – who were far far more skilled than the sho-dans were, and didn’t have much more to learn where striking was concerned. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that all karate black belts (or those of any other martial art that uses a variation of the kyu/dan system) are of equal skill. There is a huge gap between sho-dan and go-dan and between go-dan and jū-dan; at least for the usual ranking scale. When I was training in karate, I made it to ik-kyū. I could match some of the sho-dans. I had no chance against the san-dans, who liked to slip punches and then wristlock me to the floor. And the go-dan’s fingers kept appearing two inches from my eyeballs.

    All other things being exactly equal, a BJJ yellow belt is likely to have a significant disadvantage over a karate black belt in a fight. Yellow in BJJ is a youth rank (at least for the IBJJF – ranks in Brazilian judo are denoted differently), used for mainly for people under the age of 16; while “karate black belt” is age-unrestricted. Adults tend to have more range and more muscle mass.

    And it does matter how hard you spar. When the injury rate gets too high, and especially when anybody is getting brain damage, you are sparring too hard.

  • I’ve always been a fan of “No body contact” fighting. My ego has, at times, been badly bruised but I heal quickly.


    Are you referring to Terence Hill’s takedown of the gunfighter in the bar in, “My Name Is Nobody”?

  • Sastra

    Open demonstrations like these — where the “Master” invites attacks from people who aren’t either eager students or eager to become students — helps answer the difficult question of where to draw the line between a self-deluded True Believer and someone who knows they’re a fraud. I suspect that no con artist will set themselves up like this. So we’re probably looking at the genuine believer here, one who has doubted and then ‘tested’ themselves under conditions they thought were sufficiently controlled.

    Now they know better.

    Or — probably not. Something must have gone wrong with this test.

  • NitricAcid

    Watching the Japanese “master”‘s shocked reaction to getting hit in the face never gets old.

  • neonsequitur

    Excuse me… uh, Master… it’s me, Ed Gruberman. How long is this supposed to take? Like, an hour?

  • imst

    @2: Karate’s not a terrible basis to have for striking for people that train multiple styles and resisting opponents and such. In the MMA world it’s the base striking style for Chuck Liddell, Georges St. Pierre and Lyoto Machida, for example.

  • Moggie

    I can’t agree that the second video is more “fun”. I don’t enjoy watching someone get physically hurt, regardless of whether they’re a con-artist or deluded.

  • Artor

    @ neonsequitur

    Boot to the head!

  • NitricAcid

    Remember, anger is a weapon only to ones’ opponent.

    And, get in the first strike.

  • Neonsequitur & Artor, sure, everybody already knows all about an obscure Canadian skit comedy troupe from thirty years ago who once had a series on the CBC for thirteen whole episodes, but you can still link to it.

  • scienceavenger

    It’s not just the psychic arts that think they can beat all comers. Ever since the UFC got big, it seems every form has its story of the super secret video of its master defeating all MMA comers. I’ve heard this from devotees of Akido, Savate, and others. They, like the psychic stories, are bullshit.

    @2 Actually, pretty much any martial art is better than nothing, especially if you are going up against an untrained opponent. For trained opponents, see #20’s excellent summary.

    I would add that the difference in optimal strategy between an organized MMA match and a street fight is enormous. In MMA, the grappling forms reign supreme – most of the UFC rules came about because the wrestlers were too dominant without them, and it made for boring matches as they laid on their opponents. Dan Severn laid on Royce Gracie for about 11 minutes in their UFC 4 finale. But in the street or a bar, you want to stay off the ground at all costs. There’s no telling what’s down there, broken glass, uneven surfaces waiting to collide with your skull, and of course there’s no guarantee your opponent doesn’t have some friends around anxious to kick you when you are down. And then there’s the possible presence of weapons…

    @25 Actually, I’m pretty sure Liddell’s striking base was American Kickboxing, or perhaps muy tai, not karate. He originally was a wrestler.

  • jnorris

    Thank you busterggi (at #11), you win an 11 ton weight. Watch for an immediate delivery.

  • Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side.

  • dingojack

    OK you get a team of the bestest martial artists in the whole wide world, I’ll take the sniper*. I wonder which will win?

    🙂 Dingo


    * or similar

  • Kilian Hekhuis

    “That wasn’t as fun as the Japanese guy, though” – Well, I wouldn’t call someone severly beaten “fun”, but yeah, he was properly exposed…

  • I like the, “Oh shit, I just beat up and old man” moment of clarity at the end of the video. If I thought my opponent had super powers, I probably wouldn’t hold back either.

  • freehand

    No, they’re usually not frauds. Many grappling techniques such as elbow dislocations cannot be practiced through the full range of motion, for obvious reasons. So one either does not practice the truly brutal techniques, or they are practiced with a partner who yields to the pressure. This allows the applier to get the feel for it (“Ah!. I move it this way and he bends over, this way and he drops straight down…”). The partner learns to go with the joint attack without having it broken (better to allow a throw than to be crippled and thrown anyway).

    But as a teacher gets more skillful and necessarily older, the students get in the habit of yielding, sometimes too readily*, and refrain from challenging the teacher even in small ways (it’s “disrespectful”). Eventually the teacher – who has known good technique – starts throwing the students without using the crass and unsophisticated brute force of, you know, actual contact. This mutual self-deception is enabled by the Asian concept of chi, a Jedi-like force imbued with magical qualities and not confined to the body.

    But… Mark Chen, a master of Chen Taiji, said that chi is simply good body mechanics. And two people properly training in various techniques and combinations are mutually coaching each other. In the classes I attend and teach, we demand performance of a technique from our partner appropriate to his or her level of skill. In other words, we don’t take dives, we don’t let him get away with crap. The only effect I have on another body in combat without touching him is psychological.

    There are frauds in martial arts, but as has been pointed out, they do not allow testing. They demonstrate, collect money to sign up, and “teach” while they continue to collect money.

    * In aikido this is called “Being thrown by the ghost of the Founder”.

  • freehand

    dingojack:OK you get a team of the bestest martial artists in the whole wide world, I’ll take the sniper*. I wonder which will win?”

    Starting at, say, three paces? Distance matters…

    Also, in many states in the US it is illegal to carry a concealed sniper on one’s person.

  • freehand

    michaelbusch: And it does matter how hard you spar. When the injury rate gets too high, and especially when anybody is getting brain damage, you are sparring too hard.

    My first teacher said “If I liked pain, I wouldn’t train.”

  • Wylann

    Bonus points for all the Monty Python and Frantics references! The Frantics (Boot to the Head, et. al.) have some absolutely hilarious sketches out there. They were (and probably still are) favorites on the Dr. Demento show.

  • Thumper: Token Breeder

    I’m not sure funny is the right word to use… it is, after all, a video of an old man being beaten up. But the second video is certainly more conclusive.

    Also, seconding michaelbusch at #20, in response to dysomniak at #2. Any training is better than no training, and when two trained people go up against each other it depends on the setting, combatants and style. For example, I am currently a 6’2″ kickboxer, so am primarily striking but have some small stand-up grappling experience (also some Judo training from long ago). However 6 years ago I was a 6’2″ Tae-Kwon-Do practitioner. If you’d have put me up against a 5’6″ Judo master, I find it very unlikely that they would have managed to put me in any sort of hold before I’d kicked them in the head. If they did manage to get inside my guard, however, odds are that I’d have been fucked.

  • Tsu Dho Nimh

    I think I see how this works with some of the ‘believers”.

    They are trying to avoid contact – to keep it touchless – and he gets them to overbalance and fall.

    But the sceptical ones just stand there and accept the touch.

  • Thumper: Token Breeder “…I am currently a 6’2″ kickboxer…”

    Kickboxer? Don’t the gloves fall off your feet?