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  • Master Dan Segarra

The Secret of the Martial Arts

Updated: Jan 29, 2019



Throughout my many years of training in the martial arts I have witnessed some very extraordinary things. I've met Shaolin Monks that can do one finger handstands and throw sewing needles through sheets of glass making only a tiny hole. I've seen practioners of my art take full blast kicks to various parts of the body and smile after. My teacher Grandmaster H. C. Hwang for example could put out a candle flame by pointing from over a foot away, I've also been amazed by his awareness, I've seen him spot one person in a crowd of hundreds that did not belong. I've seen him on countless occasions catch details that no one else did.

I'll never forget when Master Bonsigniore had tucked folded knife into his uniform which was no bigger than a pack of gum. He was using to as a prop for a demonstration. Grandmaster walked by and after he passed two steps he turned back and reached in Master Bonsigniore uniform and said 'what's this?'. How he spotted something you couldn't even see if you know it was in his uniform to this day amazes me. His awareness was extraordinary.


I've seen Grand Master Andy Ahpo break a selected brick from a pile of bricks and ONLY that brick, leaving the others intact. I've been told by seniors that saw GM Hwang Kee at one demonstration sat opposing a student both cross legged and would jump over his partner from the cross-legged position, holding a glass of water! I've seen many extra ordinary feats some too strange to mention. And I have found the secret to all those extra ordinary feats.

The secret is.........

Transforming from ordinary to extraordinary requires EXTRAordinary practice! It's that simple. The MINDFUL practice of SIMPLE BASIC tasks and techniques develops these and many other skills. I spoke to GM H. C. Hwang about his putting out a candle, his reply 'just practice,' I asked him about how he developed such amazing awareness he replied 'just practice.' This frustratingly simple answer drove my Western mind mad for many years. Then at my Ko Dan Ja test it happened.


At Ko Dan Ja (The masters test) we wound up bowing very frequently. Every time you saw another practitioner you bowed. We probably over did it due to our wanting to do a good job and be respectful, but by the third day I could sense whenever someone was near me and so could many others. It got to the point that we could not get near one another without sensing one another. It even became somewhat of a challenge to sneak up on one another. I realized the simple act of mindfully bowing developed a personal radar. When you actively look for people in your presence to greet, you automatically develop an awareness of friends or foes. This simple act develops an extraordinary ability.

The EGO Looking to develop extraordinary abilities falsely in order to impress other people stems from the Ego and lack of self esteem. That's why when no one is looking you can throw the wad of paper across the room and drop it right into the wastepaper basket when no one is looking, yet try something like that when people are looking and the pressure builds thanks to the Ego. When I was a green belt we used to frequently practice outside in yards, parks etc. I accidentally discovered that I could grab small rocks, clumps of dirt with my toes and if my kicking technique was good, throw these little dirt bullets with extreme accuracy. It developed into a game where we could hit trees and such 20 feet away. One day years later in the Do jang a couple of my students were doing construction in the other training area.


They were chatting off to the side as I came in from teaching class. I noticed a small piece of sheetrock on the floor and grabbed it with my toes and across the room about 20 feet away was a small hole in the wall about six inches round. As they were busy chatting and not paying attention to me I launched the little rock with a Peet cha gi kick and BAM it went right into the hole. Smiling to myself I fondly remembered doing this as a young practitioner,and I then noticed my students weren't talking anymore. I turned all three of them were standing there with their mouths hanging open, they saw the shot go in. I had to think to myself if I knew they were watching would I have made the shot? Funny how the Ego works. I remember when my teacher had us punching at candles to extinguish the flame. Every couple of dozen punches or so we would put it out, and that would add to the pressure of doing it again, which would cause tension and not make us able to do it. We would then realize to relax again and poof it would go out.


The hidden and untapped potential of the human mind and body always fascinated me. Did you ever need to wake up at a specific time and woke up exactly to the minute at that time, before the alarm went off?


Did you ever think of someone you haven't seen in a long time and that day they contacted you? Or what about the time you intentionally caught something or threw something making or catching an impossible shot?


I remember as a child seeing on a TV talk show a man with an amazing ability. The talk show would have someone hide in the building an object unknown to the man. He would then pick someone that knew the location of the object and hold hands with them. He would then without speaking to them walk around and find the object. It was not a trick, it was an amazing development of sensitivity. He could feel the minute unconscious or conscious tension or extra relaxation (if they tried to trick him) by holding their hand and use this as a yes, no, warm, cold, signal and find the object. He got so good at it he would write a check for a couple of thousand dollars have them hide it anywhere on a city block and as long as he held hands with a person whom knew the location he would always find itI am also amazed at body language experts. They are frequently hired for jury selection in criminal cases. The amount of information they glean from the way a person dresses, talks, moves and presents themselves is amazingly accurate. These are all simple abilities that were developed into extraordinary abilities through simple mindful practice.