I know far too well that I will never convince anyone of the existence of chi. And I'm not really trying to do so. I'm simply pointing out that the people who originally came up with the model of chi as a medical system were on to something.
To the degree that they were, then the scientific method validated "it" and "it" became standard of care. To the degree that they weren't, then it became one of many examples of the placebo effect.
The placebo effect isn't necessarily a bad thing. Western medicine uses it all the time. It's described by many valid labels such as mind-body medicine (the power of positive thinking to heal) or bedside manner (the ability of a person with high emotional intelligence to affect change).
There are hundreds, thousands really of practices that are said to develop chi.
You have to define "it" before you can claim that a practice develops "it." Otherwise "the practice" is just one of many ordinary training methods that any educated teacher, trainer, or sports psychologist can use to enhance the performance of an athlete. And these methods are documented both on the first principles level (how it works) and on the practical level (efficacy).
The existence of a training method causing a positive and measurable benefit is no justification to wrap the "chi" label on it. You must FIRST define what "it" is before you can take credit for changing "it".
Consistent training in these practices usually has a predictable result. But to the nay-sayer, these experiences are dismissed as hallucinations or drug flashbacks. When evidence doesn't support the theory, they throw out the evidence.
You NEVER should throw the evidence out. That's the post hoc rationalization method of diehard chi-sters. A scientist instead weighs evidence and - if warranted - throws the theory out. That is the scientific method.
That's what happened to me. Maybe 15 years ago I was walking to a local park and doing a simple standing practice in front of a tree. I went every day for about 30 minutes, and after a few weeks of this, various phenomena began to take place.
Before going any farther, here are the relevant questions:
1) Define the "various phenomena."
2) To what degree were these phenomena useful for your martial practice?
Look, ma, no need to invoke the "chi" word!
Scientific types love to refer to "anecdotal evidence."
Let's be precise. Scientific types point to the limitations of anecdotal evidence.
Anecdotes are useful to the degree that they suggest underlying phenomena. But to decipher mechanism and
causality, one must climb the scale from anecdotes to broader (epidemiological) empirical evidence to (sometimes blinded or double-blinded) properly designed randomized controlled trials to a repeat of the latter by an independent party.
I'm sure that, more often than not, there is an explanation for most apparent phenomena
If you don't believe that, then your ability to master the universe around you is by definition limited.
All it is said to be is an unblocking of what is called chi resulting in a group of sensations that sound familiar to anyone who's been there before.
Guess what? I sometimes use that explanation as a tongue-in-cheek exercise. In other words, I reproduce said phenomena and teach my students how to do the same. Once done, I then throw the label at it, showing them how metaphors can be useful, but are severely limiting if you want to master the principles involved and generalize their applications. That IMHO is good teaching. Withholding "the secret sauce" is not.
I have no explanation of how any of this works
Come back when you do. That's what this Forum is all about. We want to understand the how. Without the how, you have nothing to pass on to the next generation.
... but I have been around people who train this way for dozens of years, and while none of them claim to be able to fly, or shoot fireballs out of their arse, they do develop strong root (4 men unable to lift them off the ground)
Stop right there. This is a circus trick. It's been discussed here many times. Even George (who remains more or less agnostic on most such subjects) can explain the trick.
More importantly, how does this help you in the ring? And how can this help you on the street?
and incredible striking power.
Mike Tyson had incredible striking power. He needed no magic. He did however need a fireplug body (strong core strength), proper conditioning (aerobic and neuromuscular) and knowledge of how to use it all (energy transfer via means such as sequential summation of motion).
Of course, incredible striking power is attainable to anyone who trains in any one of literally dozens of hard style martial arts (like karete, boxing, etc.). But those practices are more ordinary and therefore not in question.
Then please explain the need for phenomena that AREN'T ordinary.
And for the record, "ordinary" is a value judgement. It is not an objective description of natural phenomena.