Eric Saemann wrote:
Have you heard of/read the book Empty Force by Paul Dong?
If so, any comments on it?
No, I haven't read it, although I think I glanced through it at a bookstore once. Dong's "empty force" relies on what is actually just called "emitted qi". I think he calls it "lin kong jin", which means empty force, but that's not what it is.
The idea of "kong jin" or "lin kong jin" is that you're able to move (and therefore throw or effect) someone from a distance; "healing" people is another touted effect.
Originally, "kong jin" simply meant that you made a certain move (or set of moves) and the opponent's reaction to those move caused him to fall or etc. It was a bona fide part of a good fighting system and was not meant to be "woo woo", at all.... more of a psychological trick like a feint. Same with a "ki throw".... it's not meant to be some "woo woo" thing, but is meant to be a small part of the whole picture of trained skills in Aikido.
So what Paul Dong and others (this is really something you run into more with the southern Chinese than you do with northerners) do is take the "emitted qi" and call it "lin kong jin". That's not really correct, though.
We all have a sort of electro-magnetic field around us and the fascia plays some role in this. The Meininger Institute and others have done a lot of experimental work on this sort of thing. James L. Oschman's book on "Energy Medicine: The Scientific Basis" is a non-rigorous (and I question some of his assertions, although most look OK) book on the same phenomenon.
The general idea is that you can work with your own field and increase its strength and your control of it and then, to some extent, affect the fields of others. Reiki, "Healing Hands of Touch" and numerous other systems use this phenomenon as the basis for whatever it is that they do.
There's a real problem with this stuff that has to do with the fact that a lot of the effects tend to be the results of suggestion, if you're not careful. In fact, in my opinion this "field" is somehow entwined with what makes us suggestible, in many cases. Many people tend to reactively "move" to someone else's field, but I often think (i.e., this is opinion) that they do it for the same reason so many people who are "hypnotized" are so cooperative.
David Eisenburg, M.D., wrote a book called "Encounters with Qi" where he debunked or gave his opinion about a lot of the qi phenomena he saw in China, but in one case he admitted that he "felt something" when a qigong guy was behind him emitting qi toward Eisenburg's back.
Some people can see other peoples' fields and to some degree can manipulate or help-manipulate the fields of others. That's where the whole idea of "auras" (along with a large allocation of attendant rubbish) comes from... the electromagnetic field that we all have.
My personal thought (well, I checked with a lot of very expert martial artists and got their opinions before I formed my own) is that these things with the electromagnetic field stuff are interesting, but they aren't really of any importance in a martial sense. The "cures" that some people effect with these fields, I dunno... generally there can be some effect (sometimes startling), but it tends to mostly be transitory, in most cases that I'm aware of.
This stuff is also the area of "Ki" where all the woo-woo types invest a lot of time. All I would say is that yes, there's some phenomenon there, but it's not something you can really do a lot with. E.g., you also emit heat from your body, but that doesn't mean you can hole-up in a cave and develop your natural heat emissions into heat-rays that will destroy cities and help you in bar fights.
My opinion, FWIW.