Placebo Effect in the Martial Arts
We have all seen or heard of extraordinary feats being performed by martial art “masters,” such as touching a student and causing the student to be thrown backward or rendered unconscious. Some even claim to be able to perform this feat without any physical contact; they simply will the person unconscious. Some “masters” appear to heal a student’s injury in by simply passing their hands over the injured area.
While some of this may be fakery, some of it may be attributed to the placebo effect. If the student believes in the “master” and his or her teachings, the student may be affected by the “masters” touch, or non-touch.
Most “masters” will not subject their “powers” to scientific testing. Of the few who have, none has been able to get their “powers” to work when they are used upon non-student, non-believers. The powers appear only to affect those who believe in the “powers” of the “master.” As for their application to the martial arts, these “powers” would be useless against an attacker who did not know or believe in the “powers” of the “master.”
When people have been preconditioned to believe something is true, either through their upbringing, culture, or education, training, or experience, or lack of them, they tend to believe it, even when facts, reason, and common sense prove that is false. Politicians operate on the premise that if people hear a lie enough times, they will begin to accept it as the truth. Martial artists must be careful in accepting as the truth what their instructors say. After years of hearing the something said in every class, students tend to believe it to be true, even if they were skeptical when they first heard it.
People believe what they want to believe. You may find people who believe in most anything, such as ghosts, aliens among us, astrology, and all kinds of conspiracies. These people make their beliefs a major part of their lives and they constantly search for like believers and validation of their beliefs. To bolster their beliefs, they reject any facts or evidence that disproved their beliefs. In fact, any attempt to convince them of their false beliefs is viewed as a conspiracy against them and it bolsters their belief that they are right in their beliefs.