Penn & Teller: Bullshit! (2003) s08e03 Episode Script

Martial Arts

I'm Penn Jilette.
This is my partner Teller.
And this is "Bullshit.
" Oh, no, no.
Not this.
Not this.
This is very, very serious.
Definitely not bullshit, sir.
If we had invested in martial arts training, we could try to go all Bruce Lee on their asses.
But a few years ago, we did the arithmetic and figured that karate lessons, even kids' karate lessons, would cost us like a grand or more a year, for each of us.
And the hours we'd spend in class and driving to the dojo and practicing and sweating and bowing and--fuck that.
We have a better, cheaper, less risky self defense system.
Ok, look.
Just going in here.
Just going in here.
Here you go.
There's a lot of cards in there.
Debit cards.
Oh, you also might want this watch.
It's a very sweet watch.
Take that with you.
And the pin on the debit card is 1968.
1-9-6-8.
It's the year Tiny Tim was first on "Laugh-In," if you want to remember it that way.
Heh! Look at all the time and money we saved.
And we avoided the physical exertion and the moral and legal hassles we'd have faced if we'd killed or even injured those guys.
So even without the chi and the self-confidence jive, martial arts are bullshit! I think it looks good without the watch.
I don't need a watch.
I can ask you what time it is.
"Martial Arts" Hyah! From "Kung Fu" to "The Karate Kid," from Bruce Lee to Jet Li, the martial arts have always been a big hit.
Hyah! Hyah! And martial arts schools-- Excuse me, dojos-- have become as common as Starbucks, serving up their specialty just as black, but in the form of less tasty belts.
What do you think? Is it self defense? Do martial artists have magical powers? We're gonna take a whack at the mojo in the dojo Hyah! By uncovering the bullshit in martial arts.
Tonight we'll meet a world record holder in breaking things.
I've broken 100 boards in 7 seconds.
We'll see the mystical power of chi demonstrated by this woman.
We'll see more things breaking.
We'll see this guy, who will talk tough.
Most martial artists haven't been in a fight since high school.
Hyah! We'll see more things breaking.
Hyah! Hyah! And we'll see one of our producers ask this hardcore self defense guy some tough questions.
Hey, stop! He's just a freelancer! What we won't be seeing much of are headlines like these.
We're sure these stories exist.
They must.
But with all the people taking all these martial arts classes, shouldn't we see these headlines all the time? None of us could remember a story like this in the news.
When it happened, wouldn't every dojo send out a press release? It reminds us of the headline Jay Leno is always looking for: "Psychic wins lottery.
" You just don't see it.
They're not just baby talk.
They're different forms of martial arts from all around the world.
There are hundreds of them, so to simplify matters, we've narrowed down the list to three general categories of martial arts: The traditional, the mystical And the "I'm gonna beat the living shit outta you "till you bleed from your ass" variety.
First the traditional: Karate.
Yame.
Yame.
When I get up in the morning, first thing I'll do is drop down and do 300 knuckle push-ups.
That's before breakfast.
I am Sensei Mike Reeves.
I am the owner and chief karate instructor at Powerhouse Karate in Apopka, Florida.
This is Sensei Mike.
"Sensei is Japanese for "Teacher.
" Mike is the chief instructor at his own dojo, which is Japanese for "Storefront in strip mall.
" Sensei Mike also earned a Guinness World Record for breaking the most boards with his bare hands, which he proudly displays in his trophy room.
So, Mike, if we joined your dojo, what would we do? You're gonna learn a lot of things.
You're gonna learn how to defend yourself.
You're gonna learn discipline, respect, courage, honesty, integrity.
All that from punching an imaginary guy in front of a mirror? This is gonna be great.
Martial arts were created by people that were constantly being attacked.
The Okinawans were constantly-- It's a small island Uh, you know what? Maybe you should just show us.
What the heck? Why isn't the other guy defending himself? I'm a seventh-degree black belt, and that's after 37 years of training.
Uh-huh.
Maybe you should just hit somebody again.
So martial arts in its purest form is just hitting people? Martial arts in its purest form is purely self defense.
Oh.
See, Mike said he worked as a prison guard, and then as a bodyguard to Lee Greenwood.
So he knows what it's like to defend himself from assholes.
But why would you teach this to children? First of all, when a parent comes in, I say, "Look, I will teach your son or your daughter "how to defend themselves.
" And they will learn a good, traditional martial art, and if ever needed to call upon that, it'll be there for them.
This reminds me too much of high school.
Let's move on to a martial art that some people call mystical.
Hi.
Dina Sacks here, senior instructor of Chi kung.
We spent a long--oh, very long-- afternoon with Dina.
But this isn't her house.
We rented it as a backdrop.
Why admit it? Because we don't want you thinking you're gonna make big bucks teaching something like this.
We're gonna start by shaking.
And you can do it with me.
Come on, do it with me.
You're gonna feel the energy.
Just shake.
And you can make a stupid sound.
This is really gonna get the Chi flowing.
So far, this is much better than Mike's class.
Dina has been teaching the ancient Chinese practices of Chi kung and Tai chi ever since the powers of Chi healed her osteoporosis.
That's what she said.
We don't know why she's here on Showtime rather than presenting her double-blind study "The curing of osteoarthritis through Chi kung" to the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Maybe she loves "Dexter.
" Tai chi can be considered a martial art.
Yes, and home decorators and renoir are both called painters.
It was originally developed in China, and its purpose was to defend oneself or one's loved ones if they were in danger.
And this is gonna repel an attacker? Maybe if he's afraid of French mimes.
Dina says the Tai chi she teaches is the internal martial arts.
The internal martial arts are the cultivation of our internal life force energy.
Chi is energy-- Life force energy.
Thanks.
That cleared that up.
Oh, no, wait-- That cleared up jack shit.
All of this adds up to greater health, greater happiness, a longer life, more fun, more intimacy, and greater productivity and a more useful life as well.
We want every single one of those, Dina! What should we do first? This warm-up gets the Chi flowing.
And upper back.
It's as if someone punches you in the back.
And then they punch you in the front.
We get a curious volunteer to join us at Dina's phony house for a real lesson.
My name's Stephanie.
I'm 41.
I think a good reason for me to get into Tai chi and to learn a little bit more about it is it might help me chill out a little bit.
Well, you've come to the right place, Stephanie.
This martial arts thing seems pretty mellow.
Bloody Jesus! Is this a martial art, too? Fuck! He's already got a knife in his head.
Couldn't we go a little easy on him? We traveled to the far east-- You know, New Jersey-- to meet this scary son of a bitch.
We've culled all the lethal techniques from martial arts-- Everything that has been used in combat-- You know, old dirty tricks, and we've given them to you.
I'm Damien Ross, CEO of the Self Defense Company.
Damien? Did he say his name is Damien? Teller, do you have the 7 daggers of Megiddo on you? The self defense training system is the most lethal system in the world because we don't mess around.
Damien has several black belts under his belt.
He teaches an extreme course in life-and-death, barehanded, kill-or-be-killed self defense.
We're gonna think twice before calling him an asshole and then we will.
Hands up.
I hook-- I just clear the weapon.
At the same time, I'm taking that heel of the hand.
Bang! And then I just hack, hack, hack, hack.
Ok, there is no sparring.
There is no sport.
There is no ceremony.
There is no etiquette.
It is "see target, destroy target, end of day.
" You can learn Damien's hardcore brand of self defense by attending one of his private classes.
You're gonna come straight up, turn, and grab.
Or, if you value your testicles, you can buy his lessons on DVD.
We bought the whole set twice.
But one thing Damien doesn't teach is Chi.
Why is that, Damien Mr.
Ross sir? I don't believe in Chi.
What? You don't? But Sensei Mike believes in Chi, and he's a tough guy.
I mean, here he is setting a world record for board breaking.
Fuck! Home depot must love this guy.
All of my energy, my focus, everything is right there.
So, to me, that's considered my Chi.
I improvised a new form of self defense when I was an 18-year-old hippie hitchhiking across the country.
I stopped at a 24-hour truck stop to spend my last couple of bucks on a middle-of-the-night milkshake.
I was the only customer, sitting at the counter flirting with the cute waitress, when a couple of truckers entered and decided loudly and aggressively they didn't much like my hair and dirty, ripped, tie-dyed T-shirt.
I was scared, so I made a bold choice.
I ceremoniously poured the entire chocolate milkshake over my head.
The truckers declared that I was a fucked up retarded faggot asshole, and therefore not even worth the effort of beating up.
They left in disgust.
Now I teach self defense to children using my tested, 100% effective pacifist method.
Dozo! Ima! - Hyah! - Hyah! Today, Sensei Mike and several of his students will demonstrate the power of Chi by breaking a bunch of bricks and boards.
What? Not yet! Oh, for fuck's sake, it's Tai cheesy.
Dina, what's the point of all these crazy moves? They teach you to listen to your organs, and then after a while, your organs are gonna talk to you.
Wait a second! My organs are gonna talk? You're kidding me.
I'm not kidding you.
Like, in words? Now, they may not talk to you in words, although mine do now.
They do? What do they say? The world is changing, and it would be very easy to be terrified.
So my kidneys will say, "Don't be scared.
" Let's see what Dina's student thinks.
Stephanie, what are you hoping to get out of this, other than a friendly chat with your spleen? I do suffer from some back issues, and I carry a lot of tension in my shoulders and my neck, so this might be another way, I think, to help alleviate that without spending a lot of money at the chiropractors.
Chiropractors?! Shake everything.
Shake, shake, shake.
It was this or chiropractors? Fuck.
She actually made the right choice.
While Dina teaches Stephanie to chill and talk to her organs - Shooo.
- Shooo.
We'll go back to school-- I mean, dojo.
It's here where students train for years, working their way from a white to a black belt.
How did that whole belt system get started anyway? The belt system in martial arts started way back in the day when karate first originated back in Okinawa.
And it was a way of setting realistic goals and keeping that person interested and focused enough to stay with it.
Because the prospect of getting kicked in the throat wasn't enough to keep you focused? - Hyzah! - Yame.
Realize that the belt system is more modern than it is traditional.
Finally a skeptic! Where they hell have you been? We've been carrying the load for like 15 minutes.
Buddy, get in here! Marc MacYoung.
No-nonsense self defense conflict communication.
And the way most martial arts are taught in this country? It's bullshit.
For over 40 years, Marc has been studying, teaching, and writing about martial arts.
You're dealing with people who tell themselves, "You are now a black belt.
" Well, what does a black belt mean? It turns out there never has been an accepted standard for what a black belt means, or any other colored belt for that matter.
Simply put, martial arts is a business, and the belts are its primary product.
For 2,000-3,000 dollars, not including belt testing fees, equipment fees, and all these other hidden fees, you can get a black belt in one year, guaranteed.
In Sensei Mike's dojo, a black belt brings a lot of pride.
But it also brings other responsibilities.
My black belts, my assistant instructors, they'll come in here and they'll direct a class just as I would direct a class if I'm not here.
Whether I'm busy on another-- I have a couple schools outside of here that I also teach at.
And so they'll make sure that everything is done here.
That's cool, giving them opportunities like that! How much do you pay them? No, they don't get paid.
Wax on, wax off, baby.
How else do they show respect for their great sensei? We'll mop the floors.
We'll dust.
We've painted the building.
And we do everything.
Everything from changing light bulbs to running phone lines.
Sensei Mike asked me one weekend, "Hey, I'm not gonna be in.
Can you come and just mop the floors?" I live an hour away.
I'll do that.
Wait a second.
That's like paying your gym membership to scrub the showers.
Nice.
But this isn't unique to Mike's dojo.
This is all dojos around the country.
They don't get paid.
There again, they just-- This is something they want to do.
They want to volunteer to the dojo.
What's the Japanese word for "suckers"? Nicely done! You all pass the exam.
Here are your black aprons.
Congratulations! You're all qualified to fight grime.
Now, why don't you go to my house and practice? Meanwhile, let's see how Dina's Chi is improving the stress in Stephanie's back.
- Ha ha ha ha ha ha.
- Ha ha ha ha ha ha.
Ho ho.
Glad you're enjoying the show.
You know, writing jokes isn't easy, and-- Wait a second.
This is how you heal with Chi? What's next, barking like a dog? Woof woof woof woof.
- Woof woof woof woof.
- Woof woof woof woof.
The ancient Taoists discovered that if you make a particular sound with a particular arm movement, then you can release that painful emotion And transform it to a strong, positive emotion.
Now we're gonna laugh like chickens.
Bawk bawk bawk bawk bawk.
- Bawk bawk bawk bawk bawk.
- Bawk bawk bawk bawk bawk.
Strike, hack.
Holy fuck! Damien's attacking the gingerbread man! Run, run, fast as you can! In order to cause damage, we train you.
You gotta hit something.
You gotta hit it hard.
You gotta go full bore.
Damien's classes are made up of police officers, prison guards And this pregnant woman.
I certainly do feel much safer knowing that even pregnant, I can execute these techniques without a problem.
This is nuts.
Should Damien be teaching lethal skills to a soon-to-be MILF? The problem with most fighting systems, most martial arts, is the assumption-- These teachers will assume that their student is innocent, that their student is the victim.
It's never their student is going out and misbehaving.
So what they'll do is they'll train their people in this very aggressive fighting style and call it self defense.
Just like the bad guy in "The Karate Kid.
" He was mean and trained in a dojo.
Does that possibility worry you, Damien? If somebody were to kill somebody using the training system, to tell you the truth I would feel pretty good.
What the fuck? You'd feel good about taking someone's life? We're talking about surviving at all costs.
Sounds like overreacting out of paranoia, especially when killing someone isn't always self defense.
According to the legal definition of self defense Hack.
Otherwise, Damien, your students are looking at manslaughter charges.
If you're gonna claim it's self defense, you have to know self defense laws.
You have to understand what the standards of self defense are in the United States.
I've seen a neck-break from behind of a downed and unarmed opponent taught as self defense.
That's murder.
What about Sensei Mike? He says what he teaches is purely self defense.
Crossover stomp kick.
If you take a bunch of white middle-class kids who are in their pajamies, what's gonna happen is when these people get hit, they freak out.
That's because, according to Marc, all this is fantasy fighting, which is giving these students a false sense of security.
If they're faced with a real threat, they won't react properly.
Staying and fighting is almost always the worst choice.
Most of what is being taught out as martial arts is actually fear management, not danger management.
It doesn't address the actual issues of crime and violence, much less self defense.
According to FBI statistics, there were approximately 1.
3 million violent crimes in America in 2008.
That means roughly one in every 220 Americans was injured in a crime.
By contrast, according to a recent study by George Washington University, the probability of being injured while taking martial arts is 100%.
Everyone gets hurt! In fact, students averaged 4 injuries per year.
Which means your chances of being injured in a year's worth of self defense lessons is about 220 times greater than being injured in a crime you're defending yourself against.
Indiana Jones in "The Raiders of the Lost Ark" made a pretty good case.
If you're willing to use deadly force on another human being, use a fucking gun.
The moral and legal consequences are almost the same, and at least you won't hurt your hands and be sore every week from practicing at the dojo.
Oh, hi, officers.
Put those right down there.
Meanwhile, in the parking lot of the dojo, Sensei Mike's students are kicking some construction supply asses.
Hyah! Hyah! Hyah! Hyah! Hyah! Hyah! And now, Sensei Mike is gonna let one of his students whack him with an 8-foot wooden stick.
Hyah! Again.
Again.
Yeah, again.
The stupid stick didn't break.
Any time now.
You know, all of this hitting Mike stuff is the first thing I've seen all day that makes me want to take his class.
Well, Mike, clearly you're mightier than a stick sometimes.
I feel great.
Take another 10 of those.
Then let's chop some wood.
You never know when you may have to defend yourself against 20 1-inch thick by 1-foot square wooden boards in 4 separate piles stacked 5 high with chopsticks in between each layer.
Shit! You missed one! It's ok.
Circus schools clear on this: Take what you get and hold for the applause.
In reality, board breaking, brick breaking-- wowee-kazowee, zippo flashy demonstration.
It looks so cool to do it.
The fact of the matter is it's borderline parlor trick.
It's a selling point.
The bigger, the flashier, the more useless it is, the people will look at it who are potential money, will go oooh! Ok, if you're gonna bad-mouth Sensei Mikes' powers, you'd better be able to stand up and chop some wood.
Quit acting like your wife could do it in your garage with your neighbor.
Heh heh.
Oh, shit.
That's your wife, isn't it? In your garage with your neighbor.
That's breaking a board.
Marc's wife Diana is a black belt, and she's studied martial arts for 30 years.
So how does this board breaking work? I mean, this is nothing mystical-magical.
It's very much physics.
It's very much selection of material.
We'll take it from here, Diana.
When a martial artist claims he can break 100 boards with his hand, you kind of expect this, but that's not what you get.
You get that 100 divided into stacks of 5.
Now, breaking even one board is damn near impossible if you whack the board like this Working against the grain.
But if you turn it like this, you're splitting it between the fibers.
Still, even with soft pine, breaking a stack of 5 takes a hell of a whack, unless you put pencils, chop sticks, or some separators between them.
Now you're just breaking one board after the other, separately, and each board you break helps you break the next one.
You don't lose much momentum, and gravity's actually helping you.
All you need now is the yell.
Jean-Claude Van Damme! We're not saying that's how Sensei Mike does it, but that is the way of Sensei Cream Puff.
And if you're Sensei Mike, it doesn't even matter if your boards don't break especially if you draw blood.
Hand's great.
Little bit of blood, but that's good.
No! Movies, hot tubs, pussy, bacon: Good! Bleeding hand: Bad! Actually, wait a second.
We know just the person to heal you.
- Ha ha ha ha ha ha.
- Ha ha ha ha ha ha.
Looks like Dina and Stephanie are wrapping things up.
- Good luck.
- Thank you.
Dina, how'd she do? If Stephanie were to practice the six healing sounds on a regular basis, every area of her life would improve.
Stephanie, what did your organs tell you? Um, I don't generally get into the habit of talking to my organs.
I kind of think they're doing their own job.
Um, so yeah, I don't think talking to my organs or listening or visualizing or sending them any messages-- I don't think that's gonna help me too much in my day to day struggles with life in L.
A.
Or life in general.
What about all the health claims Dina made? It's amazing what exercising and breathing can do to improve your health.
Is it magical-mystical? Uh, I'm gonna go more for exercise and breathing.
Sensei Cream Puff and I offer one final tip for self defense, and this may be the best idea of all.
It's free, the injury rate is low, and there's no risk of hurting anyone else, so it's morally unassailable.
The moment you sense danger, run.
Martial arts may be fine for discipline and good health, and we all need that.
But as a method to save your life or heal your organs, they're dangerous bullshit.
Teller, are you ready? Ok, go.
It could be ten, but then again I can't remember half an hour since a quarter to four Throw on your clothes, the second side of "Surfer Rosa" and you leave me with my jaw on the floor Hey Oh, just when you think you're in control Just when you think that you've got a hold Just when you get on a roll