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Kiai Master Yanagi Ryuken vs an MMA Fighter: The $5000 Lesson

You have to feel sorry for Yanagi Ryuken...

...even though the kiai master had an incredible 200 – 0 record.

That’s 200 fights with a grand total of zero losses.

Let's put that into perspective:

Floyd Mayweather (one of the greatest boxers of all time) retired in 2015 with a mere 49-0 record over a 19-year career.

So master Yanagi must've had a devastating arsenal of moves up his sleeve, right?


He was more of a one-trick pony, and his trick was to defeat opponents by using the kiai.

In other words, he exhaled at them.

I swear I'm not making this up.

Yanagi had no need for roundhouse kicks, elbow strikes or punches.

After all, why bother when you can suck in chi and unleash it in a devastating pulse of... air?

Now we just need to be clear about one thing:

Yanagi Ryuken's 200 victories all came from defeating his own students.

Just check out a few seconds of this video to see how hard that was...

(Ignore the annoying YouTube ads)

OK, let's face it:

This looks more like a scene from Austin Powers, right?

But here's where things start to get crazy...


Because Yanagi believed he could take down any opponent this way.

So he did the decent thing and offered MMA guy Tsuyoshi Iwakura $5000 to fight.

And here's how the whole thing panned out (Yanagi is in black).

So, no surprises there and perhaps the easiest $5000 payday in history.

Now here's the big question:

How did Yanagi and his students feel after their martial art was so publicly humiliated?

After all, it was well and truly myth busted, right?

And the shame of that must've been un-fricking-bearable - especially here in Japan where honor and respect are taken so seriously.

But that’s where the weirdness level really goes off the chart...


Because in spite of his drubbing, Yanagi and his students continued believing in this woo woo.

Here's how they rationalized it:

• The MMA guy was able to redirect the kiai master's chi, or

• He had equally strong counter chi

(Hell, maybe he was just wearing his lucky underpants that day)

Who knows?

But one thing’s for certain:

While Yanagi may have a glass jaw, he sure is hardheaded.

And here's what that means for you and me...

Nobody is Immune to Confirmation Bias

As multi-billionaire investor Warren Buffett put it:

What the human being is best at doing is interpreting all new information so that their prior conclusions remain intact

So if one of my sons gets a gold star for his science project, it's because of our awesome parenting.

(Because we're awesome parents...)  

But if he gets in trouble for fighting, it's because some kid in school was a bad influence.

(Because we're awesome parents...)

It sounds crazy, right?

But this confirmation bias extends all the way to folks like politicians, CEOs and investment bankers.

When things are going well, they take all the glory..


...but when things are going down the toilet, they blame all kinds of unforseeable external factors outside their control.

So, here's the bottom line:

Even though anecdotal or cherry-picked evidence may appear to support it...

...what we believe may not actually be true

Look, I’m almost too ashamed to admit that I’ve fallen hook, line and sinker for some total nonsense over the years.

Stuff like:

• Fat doesn’t make you fat, but things like pasta, rice and potatoes do

• Grains are a fast track to disease, dysfunction and the zombie apocalypse

• Losing weight by reducing calorie consumption doesn't work for everyone

And guess what? None of these things is true!

But that doesn't stop millions of folks believing that they are.

Perhaps they read a best-selling book packed with references to cherry-picked studies that "prove" sugar is evil.

(Despite the fact that glucose helps to keep countless people alive in hospitals around the world every day)

Or maybe they heard on TV that white rice has some unique ability to make us put on weight.

(In that case, why aren't Japanese people fat even though they eat the stuff for breakfast, lunch and dinner?)

And if potatoes and pasta are to blame... did the subjects of the infamous 1940s Minnesota Starvation Experiment manage to become so emaciated while eating them?

Listen, the reality is it's possible to lose weight while eating any food you want to.

And the question of whether something is "healthy" or not always comes down to this:

The amount being eaten and the context in which it's being consumed

An overweight, sedentary smoker downing a dozen shots of Jack Daniels is a completely different thing to a lean, active person enjoying a glass of wine with a meal.

(Yep, alcohol is no more evil than a kitchen knife or a Ford Focus, and you can even consume it while losing weight)

So here's the $64,000 question:

How do we stop getting sucked into all the BS floating around out there?

Well, next time you hear some expert claiming that something is "bad" for us, look beyond their cherry-picked evidence...


...and think of examples where their claim doesn't hold water.

Rice makes you fat?

Think about Japanese people.

A Big Mac is "bad" for you?

Tell that to the millions starving in the Third World that it would help to keep alive.

And instead of focusing on the kiai master's 200 victories, think about the single defeat.

That's more revealing than anything.

- Tim

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Images: Bigstock

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