Among large numbers of Chinese cultural relics, Sanxingdui is considered one of those with the greatest historical and scientific significance.

Bronze Wares

Masks are an important part of bronze ware. They include man-face masks and vertical-eyed masks with a pair of post-shaped bulging eyes and a pair of fully expanded ears. On their foreheads, a kui-dragon (a special shape) crown was castled. The largest one of the vertical-eyed masks is 65 cm high and 138 cm wide. It is really the King of all masks in the world. It is considered a combination of gods and a human being; this was regarded as the idol of the ancient Shu people.

Animal-face masks are another kind of special structure, with nine types altogether. Animal-face masks have Kui-dragon ears, open mouths and grinning teeth, and look like neither a human being nor any known animal. They were considered a kind of god by ancient people.

The 50 bronze images from the two pits are the nucleus of bronze ware. The faces are almost the same: all with sword-shaped eyebrows, chestnut eyes, towering noses and open mouths; but the hairstyles are different from each other. Some busts are bald, while others wear a crown; some have hair coiled up and some wear hair clasps; but all are lively. So many bronzes are sure to be a collection of worshiped images, representing people of imperial or leading groups. They reflect the character of the ancient Shu society in which gods and humans were considered to be connected each other, and also politics and religion.

The bronze animal sculptures of dragons, snakes, tigers, birds, chicks, are vivid. They reflect the ancient Shu people’s ideology that all things have spirits and show their sincerity to gods. Among them, the sincerity to birds is the core. Birds, such as Canchong, Yufu, Duyu, etc, are the names of several ancient Shu dynasties. Birds were also regarded as the symbol of the sun.

Bronze zun and bronze lei (a special drinking vessel) are the biggest of the bronze wares. In ancient times, Zun and lei were used for wine.

The jade wares include tablets, bi (a jade ring), yuan (a jade ring with a large hole), zhong (a jade ware), and daggers, axes, chisels, axes, knives, swords etc. The guard of honor used many models of tools and weapons. Most of them are jade ceremonial utensils. The jade wares reflect the high artistic level of that time.

The bronze sculptures are unique among Chinese relics. Among them, the large standing man sculpture was called the “head of the wizards”.

Bronze Man

It weighs 180 kg. It was composed of two parts: the square base is 90 cm high, the figure 172 cm.

The image wears a tubular crown. There are bracelets round the bare feet. There is a rectangular hole in the back of head. The edges of the crown have animal designs. The image wears three pieces of clothing on which are patterns of dragons, birds and worms. The belt is an imperial symbol. The encircling hands are extremely exaggerated.

The standing man represents such figures as a king and wizard. In ancient people’s minds, he is a combination of god, wizard, and king.

Bronze Vertical Mask

The face of the bronze vertical-eyed mask appears curried, and the section appears U-shaped. It has bushy eyebrows and large eyes, the brow tips rise upward. The eyes are crossed and the eyeballs are extremely exaggerated, bulging forward like a round-post; the muscle was pulled out and attached to the eyebrow like a circle. The eyeballs are hollow. It has square-shaped ears; the upper part expands outward like peaches. The nose is short, and the mouth is large and deep. The mouth corners are lifted upward, as if smiling. There is a square hole in the forehead. The bronze vertical eyed mask the biggest among all the Sanxingdui masks, being 65 cm high and 138 cm wide.

Bronze Scared Tree

The whole height of the sacred tree is 395 cm with nine branches on the trunk. There were three kinds of fruits on every branch, including peaches. The sacred tree in Sanxingdui symbolizes Fushang and Ruomu, which are considered to be connected with the Heaven and the Earth.

Jade Wares

There is a tablet among the unearthed jades from No.2 pit that is 54.5 cm long. It is the most representative cultural object in the Sanxingdui jade wares. Its chief value is that there is full design on it.

Its two sides have the same figure designs, a symmetrical arrangement. Two designs are almost the same, except the lower one is a little short and there were only two figures on it.

Each design is made up of five pictures: in the lower picture, there are two hills and some cloud-air-designs with circles in their centers. They may be the symbol of the sun. There are some unexplained objects like winding hooks between the hills. There is an ivory tablet on each outer edge of the two hills. The teeth-shaped edges are very clear. In the second picture, there are three figures bending down, with vault-like hats. On the hat there is one pot-design. There are two interlined ear ornaments. The figures wear a skirt without sleeves, the two hands encircled, which is taken as a special gesture. The third picture is the geometrical-shaped design. In the fourth picture there are two hills similar to the ones in the first one below. There are some designs like boats between hills. Outside the hills, it seems that a man makes a fist with a thumb pressing against the bend of the hill. In the top picture, there were three figures, whose feet present a special character (two figures stand below). The upper one wears a crown with a pot-design. There are some bell-like ear ornaments. Again, the two make a strange gesture, which is the same as the figure at the bottom.

The design is rarely seen, very precious and full of puzzles. For example: what is the relationship between the bending-down man in the lower picture and the standing man above? Perhaps the lower one is the earth, while the upper is heaven, or the sacrificial relationship.

Gold Wares

Gold Scepter

Gold objects have a special position in the collections of Sanxingdui cultural relics. Among them, gold-scepters and bronze images with gold masks are the most significant ones. They include men wearing gold masks. Besides, there are gold tigers, leaves, belts, tablets, and blocks.

The scepter is 142 cm long and the diameter is 2.3 cm. It weighs 46.3 gm. A strip of gold was beaten first, then wrapped around a wooden stick, and then the gold scepter was made. When it was unearthed, their remained some carbonized wood pits. The most precious point is there are some sculptural designs on the top, which are 46 cm long and include three Groups. On this group near the end, if closed, there are two images that are symmetrical and wear fire-tooth crowns, with triangular eardrums, showing pleasant smiles. The designs of the next two groups are the same. There are two birds in the opposite direction below, two fish back to back above. At the necks of the birds and the heads of the fish, there are arrow-like objects. Someone suggests an arrow shot both the birds and the fish, while others argue that is a spike-shaped object, and then inferred that there was rice planting in agriculture at that time. In the design, the images, fish and birds are closely connected. What did this mean? No one knows. Although some scholars made some interpretation, it isn’t perfect. The designs on the scepter are also a big puzzle among the many puzzles of Sanxingdui.

  • “But I deal with this by meditating and by understanding I’ve been put on the planet to serve humanity. I have to remind myself to live simply and not overindulge, which is a constant battle in a material world.” -Sandra Cisneros, 1954.
  • “There are two ways to be rich: One is by acquiring much, and the other is by desiring little.” -Jackie French Koller, 1948.
  • “Simplicity involves unburdening your life, and living more lightly with fewer distractions that interfere with a high quality life, as defined uniquely by each individual.” -Linda Breen Pierce, 1947.
  • “One of the advantages of being born in an affluent society is that if one has any intelligence at all, one will realize that having more and more won’t solve the problem, and happiness does not lie in possessions, or even relationships: The answer lies within ourselves. If we can’t find peace and happiness there, it’s not going to come from the outside.” -Tenzin Palmo, 1943.
  • “The intention of voluntary simplicity is not to dogmatically live with less. It’s a more demanding intention of living with balance. This is a middle way that moves between the extremes of poverty and indulgence.” -Duane Elgin, 1940s.
  • “We really must understand that the lust for affluence in contemporary society is psychotic. It is psychotic because it has completely lost touch with reality. We crave things we neither need nor enjoy.” -Richard Foster, 1940s.
  • “The trouble with simple living is that, though it can be joyful, rich, and creative, it isn’t simple.” -Doris Janzen Longacre, 1940.
  • “Any half-awake materialist well knows – that which you hold holds you.”Tom Robbins, 1936.
  • “The simplest things are often the truest.” -Richard Bach, 1936.
  • “Our souls are not hungry for fame, comfort, wealth, or power. Our souls are hungry for meaning, for the sense that we have figured out how to live so that our lives matter.” -Harold Kushner, 1935.
  • “If one’s life is simple, contentment has to come. Simplicity is extremely important for happiness. Having few desires, feeling satisfied with what you have, is very vital: satisfaction with just enough food, clothing, and shelter to protect yourself from the elements.” -The Dalai Lama, 1935.
  • “Smile, breathe and go slowly.” -Thich Nhat Hanh, 1926.
  • “The consumption society has made us feel that happiness lies in having things, and has failed to teach us the happiness of not having things.” -Elise Boulding, 1920.
  • “You have succeeded in life when all you really want is only what you really need.” -Vernon Howard, 1918.
  • “Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.” -E.F. Schumacher, 1911.
  • “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” -Antoine de Saint-Exupery, 1900.
  • “Reduce the complexity of life by eliminating the needless wants of life, and the labors of life reduce themselves.” -Edwin Way Teale, 1899.
  • “Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.” -Lin Yutang, 1895.
  • Mies Van Der Rohe. Less is more.” -Mies Van Der Rohe, 1886.
  • “Make things as simple as possible but no simpler.” -Albert Einstein, 1879.
  • “Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like.” -Will Rogers, 1879.
  • “Simplicity is an acquired taste. Mankind, left free, instinctively complicates life.” Katharine Fullerton Gerould, 1879.
  • “One can furnish a room very luxuriously by taking out furniture rather than putting it in.” -Francis Jourdain, 1876.
  • “It is preoccupation with possession, more than anything else, that prevents men from living freely and nobly.” -Bertrand Russell, 1872.
  • “We go on multiplying our conveniences only to multiply our cares. We increase our possessions only to the enlargement of our anxieties.” -Anna C. Brackett, 1836.
  • “Have nothing in your homes that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” -William Morris, 1834.
  • “You say, ‘If I had a little more, I should be very satisfied.’ You make a mistake. If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled.” -Charles Spurgeon, 1834.
  • “There is no greatness where there is not simplicity, goodness, and truth.” -Leo Tolstoy, 1828.
  • “Cultivate poverty like a garden herb, like sage. Do not trouble yourself much to get new things, whether clothes or friends. Things do not change, we change. Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts.” -Henry David Thoreau, 1817.
  • “Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity. Be worthy of the trust of thy neighbor, and look upon him with a bright and friendly face. Be a treasure to the poor, an admonisher to the rich, an answerer of the cry of the needy, a preserver of the sanctity of thy pledge.” -Baha’u’llah, 1817.
  • “It is the heart that makes a man rich. He is rich according to what he is, not according to what he has.” -Henry David Beecher, 1813.
  • “Simplicity is the most difficult thing to secure in this world; it is the last limit experience and the last effort of genius.” -George Sand, 1804.
  • “My riches consist, not in the extent of my possessions, but in the fewness of my wants.” -Joseph Brotherton, 1783.
  • “Live simply so that others may simply live.” -Elizabeth Ann Seton, 1774.
  • “Real happiness is cheap enough, yet how dearly we pay for its counterfeit.” -Hosea Ballou, 1771.
  • “With a few flowers in my garden, half a dozen pictures and some books, I live without envy.” -Lope de Vega, 1562.
  • “*Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”* -Leonardo da Vinci, 1452.
  • “Purity and simplicity are the two wings with which man soars above the earth and all temporary nature.” -Thomas a Kempis, 1380.
  • “If your mind isn’t clouded by unnecessary things, then this is the best season of your life.” -Wu-Men, 864.
  • “Poverty is my pride.” -Muhammed, 570.
  • “If one had taken what is necessary to cover one’s needs and had left the rest to those who are in need, no one would be rich, no one would be poor, no one would be in need.” -Saint Basil, 330.
  • “Contentment comes not so much from great wealth as from few wants.” -Epictetus, 55.
  • “It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor.” -Seneca, 1 BCE.
  • “Sell your possessions and give to the poor.” -Jesus Christ, 5 BCE.
  • “The man who has two tunics is to share with him who has none; and he who has food is to do likewise.” -John the Baptist, 6 BCE.
  • “Nothing is enough for the man to whom enough is too little.” -Epicurus, 341 BCE.
  • “The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.” -Socrates, 469 BCE.
  • “Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.” -Lao Tzu, 500 BCE.
  • “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” -Confucious, 551 BCE.
  • “To live a pure unselfish life, one must count nothing as one’s own in the midst of abundance.” -Buddha, 563 BCE.

1. One God: ‘Allah’; Prayer Customs at Home, during Travel, and In the Mosque Muslims believe that the Creator of all mankind is one God (called ‘Allah’ in Arabic), and that the God of all Abrahamic religions is the same God. Muslims believe Islam is the continuation and culmination of Judaism and Christianity.Muslims are required to pray five times a day. Men are encouraged to pray in the mosques instead of at home to strengthen community bonds, while women are granted a special concession if they wish to pray at home due to their family responsibilities. Depending on lifestyle and work schedules, many Muslims pray at home, in the workplace, or during travel in the car, the train or an airplane whenever the time for either one of the five daily prayers approaches. It is not uncommon for Muslims to keep a prayer mat in their cars and simply stop anywhere at the time of prayer and spread it out on the ground, offering their prayers toward the direction of Ka’aba, the center and starting point of Islam, in Mecca.While reciting the prayer, full meditative concentration is required. Talking or paying attention to surroundings is not permissible, except in emergencies. Old people or those of ill-health may recite prayer while sitting or lying in bed, as comfortable. Friday is a special day of prayer when most Muslims prefer to go to the mosque. Inside the mosques, since Muslims pray on rugs and prostrate before God, it is considered disrespectful to step on prayer mats with shoes. In Western cultures where non-Muslim guests are invited for interfaith gatherings, a complete wall-to-wall rug is spread over the prayer mats so that guests do not have to take their shoes off. Inside homes, there is no specific designated place of worship, but prayer mats may be spread in any room at the time of prayer.
2. Role of Imam, or Prayer Leader The traditional role of an Imam (Arabic word, meaning, ‘stand in front of’) is to lead a group in prayer, guide in the matters of worship, and perform services like marriage or funeral rites etc. They may also provide spiritual support or guidance. There is no clergy in Islam, and an Imam can be any Muslim community member in good standing, hired or selected for this purpose. He is chosen for his deep spiritual understanding and knowledge of the various Islamic disciplines. Muslims believe in a direct spiritual connection with God; hence, the Imam is not considered an intercessor. In the absence of a designated Imam, any member (usually an elder) present at the time of prayer can step up to fill the position of Imam.
3. Prayer protocol and Pets Cleanliness is considered of utmost importance, especially as prerequisite to prayer, for one’s person and the place of prayer. Animal saliva is considered unclean and must be washed off before prayer can be offered. To avoid having to wash excessively, many Muslims generally do not keep pets, including dogs, inside their homes and avoid contact with them beyond patting. In Western cultures, where many pet-owners consider them part of the family, the avoidance may be mistaken for dislike and cause offense where none is intended.
4. Drawing visual depictions of prophets This is a sensitive issue for Muslims and has been the cause of much controversy. It is considered highly disrespectful to draw a visual representation of any prophet. The historical perspective is to discourage idol worshipping in accordance with the concept of monotheism, which is a central tenet of Islam. Written accounts of the prophets’ physical appearance are, however, present in historical texts. Muslims acknowledge the status of both, the Bible and Torah, as Holy Scriptures sent by God to the Prophets Jesus and Moses. In the Islamic faith, Muslims accord the same respect and consideration to all prophets of God as they give to Prophet Muhammad.
5. Dietary Restrictions Pork and its products and alcoholic drink are haram (forbidden) in Islam. Muslims eat halal meat which is meat slaughtered in the Islamic way and blessed with the name of God. Use of alcohol in products for medicinal purposes is allowed.
6.Celebrations: Eid-ui-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha The Islamic calendar is based on the lunar cycle, which is 11 days shorter than the Solar calendar. Hence, Islamic holidays shift each year. Muslims believe the Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad in the month of Ramadan, which is the ninth month of Islamic calendar. During fasting, Muslims refrain from consuming food and drinking liquids from dawn until sunset. They are encouraged to practice reflection, forgiveness and charity during this month, and capitalize on it for the rest of the year. Eid-ul-Fitr marks the end of fasting. The greeting of “Eid Mubarak” (Happy Eid) is used to wish Muslims well on this day. *Eid al-Adha** begins on the 10th day of Dhu’l-Hijja, the 12th month of the Islamic calendar. Lasting for three days, it occurs at the conclusion of the annual *Haj, or pilgrimage to Mecca. Eid-ul-Adha is an occasion to commemorate Abraham’s obedience to God. The Islamic New Year begins with the month of Muharram, 20 days after Haj. Unlike most Western holidays, the welcoming of the new year is a quiet event marked with prayer.
7. Wearing the Hijab Islam encourages Muslims to dress modestly. Muslim women from diverse backgrounds observe modesty in their own way and that explains the variation in their dress codes across cultures. Wearing the Hijab (head covering) is a mark of devotion and commitment to Faith. In some countries, wearing the Hijab is obligatory, but in others (as in the United States) it is considered a personal choice. It is not a symbol of repression and separation. In either case, it would be disrespectful to criticize women for wearing it.
8. Politeness and Respect for Elders Muslims are very particular about showing respect for elders. Many gestures that might seem okay for young adults to indulge in are considered rude in the presence of elders, e.g. one may beckon a peer with the index finger, but never an older person. Such expressions from small children are not considered offensive. A certain amount of decorum is always expected, e.g. calling elders by their first name or their last name without the prefix of Mr., Mrs., or Miss is considered very rude. it is best to start with more formality and let them clarify how they want to be addressed. Second generations living in Western societies may be more flexible on this. Standing up to greet guests, especially elders, opening doors for them, giving one’s seat up for them, not interrupting and maintaining a generally respectful demeanor towards them is highly appreciated.Voicing open and strong opposition to the views of elders is perceived as an insult. However, polite insertion of views is appreciated.
9. Emergency Treatment Generally, a doctor or paramedic of the same gender is preferred by most Muslims, especially Muslim women. However, in emergency situations to save a life or prevent injury, it is acceptable to be treated and handled by the opposite gender. The presence of a family member who might want to be present is also appreciated.
10. Shaking Hands In Western societies where this is a common form of greeting, a handshake with a person of the opposite gender is widely practiced. However, some Muslims prefer not to do so. To avoid hurt American feelings should a handshake not be returned (and to avoid discomfort on the part of Muslim women when they try to avoid this), it is preferable to wait to see if they offer their hand and then follow accordingly, or greet with a slight nod of the head accompanied by a smile.
11. Social Distance “Social distance” is especially important to maintain when interacting with Muslim women. The difference may be obvious when dealing with a woman from a more conservative group. If she takes a small step backward it is indicative that, though interested in the conversation, she is uncomfortable and it would be kind to respect her space.
12. Eye Contact Maintaining eye contact when talking might make Muslim women and the elderly uncomfortable. A better way is to look into their eyes briefly every so often and then look away (perhaps at the collar, or an imaginary spot on the side) at the same time tilting the head and/or nodding now and then to show interest in the conversation. Most of these people now living in Western societies are used to this and don’t mind direct eye contact at all. Children in some Muslim and Asian societies are taught not to stare into the eyes of elders, or authority figures, as it is considered disrespectful or challenging. In Western cultures, this expression of respect may be erroneously interpreted as a sign of guilt.
13. Sitting with soles of feet or shoes facing a person sitting close by/accidental touching of feet This may be considered impolite in some Muslim countries. Touching of feet to another’s body is considered disrespectful and, if that happens, an apology is expected and appreciated.
14. Removing shoes when entering the home Removing shoes when entering a Muslim house is appreciated for cleanliness reasons, especially when shoes are muddy. Many Muslims keep separate shoes for wearing indoors. It is best to ask hosts if they would like the guests to remove their shoes, and follow accordingly. Emergency responders are not expected to follow any such custom.
15. The “Namaste” greeting common to some Indian-Hindu groups This slight bow (palms together slightly under the chin) is not acknowledged in a similar manner by most Muslims, which may cause some unpleasantness to Hindus and to Japanese people who use a bow in greeting. No offense is meant to cultures which practice this form of greeting; it is only so because of the Islamic belief that Muslims only bow to God.
16. Passing an item to someone with the left hand This may be considered rude by some Muslims. It is also regarded as an impolite gesture in Italy.

Today, we will look at one of my favourite mental models called - The Inversion principle. Mental models are a set of simple, abstract but useful principles that help us make sense of the world around us.

I came across the Inversion principle on the Farnam Street blog. It is also a favourite of Charlie Munger (Vice Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway and Warren Buffets mate) - “…it is in the nature of things that many hard problems are best solved when they are addressed backward”, he pontificates.

In another interview, he recalls how, as an Air Force meteorologist during World War II, instead of asking what would keep pilots safe, he asked what would kill them and focussed all his efforts “on trying to predict snow, ice or fog—and to ignore pretty much everything else.”.

I could write a book on all the other cool stuff Charlie Munger has said so I’ll stop here.

What is it?

Inversion is based on the maxim - invert, always, invert. It is about considering an inverse (usually a negative) outcome and listing the reasons for these. It forces you to either stop doing certain things or avoid the actions that lead to the negative outcomes. It gives us new possibilities and capabilities that we might not have considered otherwise.

The algorithm for inversion is very simple:

  • Define the problem - what is it that you’re trying to achieve?

  • Invert it - what would guarantee the failure to achieve this outcome?

  • Finally, consider solutions to avoid this failure

    This is very abstract and vague, so let’s look at a few examples:

  1. Instead of asking how do we increase the adoption of a product or feature? You could instead consider - what are some of things preventing adoption? This would lead to a list like this that you could potentially fix:
    Slow load time i.e. performance issues
    Not enough marketing, or marketing on the platform, or to the wrong audience
    The user guide instructions are not clear … you get the idea

  2. Following the inversion principle it is better to ask what is preventing me from reading all the unread books on my kindle/bookshelf, instead of asking how can i read more books? Possible reasons and something you could give up:

  • I spend a lot of time on social media
  • I watch too many shows on Netflix or Disney +
  • Spend a lot of time on reddit or browsing hacker news
  1. Instead of wondering how do I always choose a winning stock during investing, ask yourself how do you prevent losses in the long term?
  • Am I diversifying enough to prevent long term loss?

  • Am I investing based on sound principles, or am I speculating?

    Hopefully this gives you a flavour of how powerful inversion is as a mental model. I should add that it is NOT a silver bullet and it won’t always give you concrete answers, but it will act as a forcing function to avoid obvious lapses in judgment. I’ll leave you with another one of my favourite quotes about Inversion from Charlie.

“It is remarkable how much long-term advantage people like us have gotten by trying to be consistently not stupid, instead of trying to be very intelligent.”

Strike that. I drove a rally car once, which is a totally different thing. In the course of my job, I’ve sampled many rally cars, in both amateur and professional spec, including three amateur cars that I helped build. All were loud, obnoxious machines with roll cages, five-point harnesses, and long-travel suspension. At least two and a half of them (you do the math on which) were total pieces of shit. And all had one thing in common.

Under normal circumstances, they appeared to be driven by lunatics.

Rally drivers race on closed-off public roads. They run against the clock, one car at a time, on dirt, pavement, and anything in between. They run in all weather, in virtually every country on the planet. The sport is a glorious, lovely thing, all noise and violence and sliding sideways between trees at 100 mph. There is real, palpable risk and skill on display. You stand next to a closed-off rally road—they’re called “stages”—during competition, and it’s instantly obvious why people do this sort of thing.

Reason 1: They enjoy getting off the couch and having adventures.
Reason 2: They are moderately attracted to risk.
Reason 3: They think BASE jumping is for narcotized children.

It’s also clear why the pastime’s apex, the FIA-sanctioned World Rally Championship, is one of the most-watched sporting events in the world.

If you are not now interested, feel free to leave the room. Or perhaps continue rotting in your casket/urn/final resting place, because you are most likely dead.

Several years ago, I embarked upon a brief career as an amateur stage-rally co-driver. That’s the guy or gal who rides shotgun, wearing full fire gear and a helmet, and helps the driver go quickly by shouting out instructions. Co-driving taught me much about the sport’s process and genius—these people are some of the most talented hotshots on the planet, and rally is a highly organized matrix of processes. Their driving is less insanity and more a highly developed skill. Call it part art, part science, part unknowable risk. It’s like doing calculus while simultaneously painting a still life and falling out of a plane.

In a nutshell, a rally driver’s magic is rooted in four things:

  1. Setting Up the Car
    Race vehicles are purpose-built to go racing, to be durable and capable in their given environment, withstanding stresses that would rip most road cars to pieces. Road-racing cars are set up for intense forces under braking and cornering. Motocross bikes are designed to take the pounding and lumps of a dirt course without slowing down. And oval machines, like NASCAR stockers or Indy Cars, have to push through the air at ridiculous velocity, but also be ready to hit things at that velocity while maintaining a semblance of driver safety. So they’re generally overbuilt.

Rally cars do all of that at once. They are also—and this is key—set up to rotate at the drop of a hat.

“Rally driving is the most exciting form of motorsport because it encompasses the best aspects of all the others,” says Wyatt Knox, special projects director for New Hampshire’s world-renowned Team O’Neil Rally School. Knox is an accomplished rally driver, a part-time co-driver, a great teacher, and just the best kind of multi-talented New England woodland weirdo you’d ever want to meet. (Disclosure: He’s also a friend.)

“To succeed,” he says, “you need to be a drag racer, a mechanic, an ice racer, a tarmac ace, a navigation expert, a drifter, an endurance racer, and more … all at the same time.”

Note that he said “drifter.” Rally cars are constantly sliding, partly because that gives the driver the most options: When a car is sliding in rally, it’s generally tail-first, a condition known as oversteer. (Most people know this from snow driving, where most rear-drive street cars will “fishtail” when given too much gas.) Rally cars have suspensions set up to oversteer at the slightest provocation. You turn in sharply, they oversteer. You trail the brakes into a corner, they oversteer. You give them too much throttle in the right conditions, they oversteer.

Oversteer is inherently unstable, and can lead to a spin. It’s yaw, and yaw in a four-wheeled vehicle generally means the driver has applied a control input—brakes, throttle, steering, a combination of all three—that unsettled the car and broke traction. But it also means a ready change in direction—the instability that comes from a car already up and sliding can be used to quickly change heading. (Remember how that fishtailing car would swing its nose around suddenly if you didn’t use a careful right foot?)

And that hints at the crucial part of rally: You don’t always know what’s around the next bend, so you have to be able to adjust the car on the fly. Contrast that with a road-racing car, which doesn’t necessarily have an adjustable attitude while sliding at the limit.

Your grandmother would hop into a pro-grade rally car, drive it down a dirt road, and end up off a cliff in the first five minutes. Other people do astonishing things. Hooray for God-given talent.

  1. The Co-Driver
    A rally driver’s job would be possible without a co-driver, but it wouldn’t be anywhere near as compelling. Or, in most circumstances, as fast.

“The co-driver is essentially just telling the driver what is coming up so that he can plan what to do with the car,” Knox says. “A rally typically covers over a hundred miles of road, often without ever seeing the same turn twice. The co-driver tells the driver about the turns coming up, as well as the lengths of straights, any crests, surface changes, jumps, etc. That information comes from a reconnaissance run, or ‘recce,’ made by teams just before the race, when they have their only chance to see the route.”

The co-driver calls these notes ahead of time, depending on speed and the driver’s preference. Some drivers want as much information as they can hold in their heads, as far as five turns ahead. Others want as little information as necessary, in just enough time to react.

  1. The Pace Notes
    Pace notes are a spoken code. The co-driver narrates them during a rally as the driver runs flat-out down what is usually a tight and winding single-lane road. These notes let the driver haul into blind corners at speed, knowing roughly how fast to go and how much to pivot the car.

Call this the rally analogue for going to a permanent race track you’ve seen before. Most road-racing drivers are faster on a given race track once they’ve got a few laps there. This is the equivalent, only these guys have never seen or can’t possibly remember the whole race course, and they might never see it again.

Pace notes can be hard to follow if you don’t know the language, but they’re based in logic, and they make sense. Corner types are numbered to correspond with their radius, landscape features are called out. (A typical line might be “Right 5 tightens over crest,” for example, which means a relatively fast right that decreases in radius over a hill.)

Notes remove an element of the unpredictable. Only you can’t predict everything in rally, because you’re not on a track, you’re in the real world. Real roads have animals, changing pavement and weather, and boulders in the road that weren’t there a week ago.

Which brings us to …

  1. Reacting to the Unknown
    At its core, this sport is about the unknown. You don’t know what’s in that forest, but you have to race through it. You don’t know what the weather’s going to be—nasty mud? blinding snow? draining heat?—but you have to get through it. All of this, at the limit of your talent and the car’s ability to go quickly. The car will break. You will race over long days and into the night. You will come close to losing your mind from stress and exertion. And many, many things will go wrong, because when you are hauling ass through the woods in the middle of nowhere, there is a lot to go wrong.

A short list of the things I’ve seen, in less than a decade of spectating and participating: Wheels fall off when you hit things. Windshields come apart when you hit things. (I once saw a team use its car’s rear window, removed and duct-taped into place up front, as a new windshield.) Anything on a car that can blow up, blows up, and you don’t always have the right stuff to fix it. Drivers get sick, co-drivers get sick. Cars roll over and fall off cliffs. They end up in trees.

“The key to rally driving is simply humility and perseverance,” Knox says, “hopefully coupled with a sense of humor. It’s a long, very complex road to the top and there will be many failures along the way. The key is to learn as much as possible from each and always keep moving forward.

“The best rally drivers are also typically very humble. They’ll usually blame themselves for any troubles or failures at a race, because that’s how they learn and improve. Drivers who blame their equipment, the conditions, or simple circumstance for their problems usually don’t last long or make it far.”

And nine times out of ten, the teams, the mechanics, and the drivers find a way to go on. Which is part of what makes the sport great.

Like any sport, rally is easier to love when you know what’s going on. The above is a good primer, and should help you start watching. If you want more, hit up a school, read, or simply go watch a local NASA, Rally America, or WRC event.

“The easiest way to get involved is to show up and spectate an event.” Knox says. “Or better yet, volunteer to help the organizers. A rally takes hundreds of volunteers to function, doing everything from HAM radio operation to running time controls and supervising spectator locations. Volunteering also gets you access to a lot of places and people that you’d never get just spectating, and it’s typically a lot of fun.”

“Rally driving simply changes your entire outlook on life. After sliding through the forest sideways at 90 mph, you realize that most day-to-day problems are pretty insignificant.”

Shamanism is an ancient healing tradition and moreover, a way of life. It is a way to connect with nature and all of creation. The word shaman originates from the Tungus tribe in Siberia. Anthropologists coined this term and have used it to refer to the spiritual and ceremonial leaders among indigenous cultures worldwide. The word shamanism can be used to describe the ancient spiritual practices of these indigenous cultures. Clearly, the countless similarities between various ancient traditions played a role in the continual generalization of the word.

Over the past few decades, the term “shamanism” has been popularized throughout the western world, especially in new-age circles. Today, it can be difficult to distinguish between traditional forms of shamanism and modernized, often esoteric practices that utilize the term.

One could view shamanism as the universal spiritual wisdom inherent to all indigenous tribes. As all ancient spiritual practices are rooted in nature, shamanism is the method by which we as human beings can strengthen that natural connection.

Aspects of Shamanism


Shamanism stems from nature itself. Shamanic practices tap into the power Mother Earth has to offer and the ancient indigenous teachings are derived from the simple truths of nature.


Shamanism is not only concerned with the health of the individual, but also with the health of the entire community. This includes all people, plants, animals, and all of life.


Daily spiritual practice allows for the continued and exponential growth of both body and soul. The goal is to create internal and external harmony with all creation.


Learning to approach and connect with sacred places is an intrinsic part of shamanism. By honoring natural wonders such as rivers, lakes, mountains, and caves, we reawaken and invigorate the energy of the land.


Ceremonies to honor the spirits of nature help promote harmony and balance. The path of shamanism never ends. It is believed that so long as these ceremonies continue, the world will go on.

Tengrism in Mongolia

The traditional religion of Mongolia is Tengrism, a shamanic faith shared by a number of Eurasian steppe cultures. Its major deity, Tengri of the eternal blue sky, is a supreme creator being who sees and understands all things. Lesser gods like the Earth-Mother, Eje, and ancestral spirits are also worshipped. Tengrism emphasizes spiritual harmony with the universe and nature. People find happiness and meaning by leading virtuous lives within their society. In the same way, a virtuous ruler passes prosperity on to his subjects. Shamans work and negotiate with the gods and spirits, though regular people may conduct sacred rites as well.

Religious Diversity in the Mongol Empire

Genghis Khan practiced Tengrism and attributed his success to Tengri, but the empire he founded was known for its religious tolerance. The shamanic faith did not need to convert other populations, and it taught that any righteous person could find favor in Tengri. The Mongols’ respect for the customs of conquered nations allowed them to rule over Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, Taoist, Jewish, and Confucian subjects, among others. Citizens of all faiths served in Mongol courts as advisers and bureaucrats. Emperors like Kublai Khan even hosted debates between scholars from different religions. Kublai was known to admire Buddhism, Confucianism, and Christianity in particular. In 1295, the leader of the Middle Eastern Ilkhanate, Mahmud Gazan, converted to Islam. Buddhism and Islam proved especially popular throughout the empire.

Buddhism and Modern Worship in Mongolia

Mongol rule in China ended in 1368 with the fall of the Yuan dynasty. In time, Mongolia itself came under the control of Qing China. During this period, Tibetan Buddhism became its most popular religion. Buddhist monasteries, once nomadic as well, grew to be the major power centers of Mongolia. They offered education and community in Mongolian society, and about a third of men joined their ranks as lamas. Tibetan Buddhism shrank during the socialist era, sometimes by violent repression. Buddhism has seen a recent surge in popularity in Mongolia today, alongside a new appreciation for its ancestral shamanism.

According to the CIA World Factbook, the current religious makeup of Mongolia is as follows:

  • Buddhist: 53%
  • None: 38.6%
  • Muslim: 3%
  • Shamanist: 2.9%
  • Christian: 2.2%
  • Other: 0.4%


Mongolia is well known for its nomadic traditions. The nomadic way of lifestyle is still practiced today in the rural areas of the country. Nomads follow a seasonal routine raising and breeding the five main types of stock – goat, sheep, cattle (including yaks), camel and horse, migrating from place to place following the most favorable pastures and campsites.


The Mongolian language is the official language of Mongolia. It belongs to the Ural-Altaic language family, which includes Kazakh, Turkish, Korean and Finnish. Today more than 10 million people speak Mongolian. They live in Mongolia, Buriat republic of Russian federation, Inner Mongolia in China, Shingjan and Gansu regions of China, Tibet and even a few number of people living in the State of New Jersey in the USA . In Mongolia, the Khalkha dialect, written in Cyrillic, is predominant. The classical Mongolian script, also known as Uyghurjin, was the first writing system created specifically for the Mongolian language, and was the most successful until the introduction of Cyrillic in 1946.


Shamanism – Shamanism goes back in Mongolian history long before Chinggis Khan’s time, but it was Chinggis Khan that made it into such a fundamental part of the Mongolian tradition. At that time the Mongolians were worshipped “Hoh Tenger” (blue skies). According to this belief the skies are the father, and the earth is the mother of all beings in the universe. As a civilization totally dependent on the forces of nature, the Mongolians worshipped the various elements of nature, praying to their ancestors who have transformed into mythical spiritual animals to provide them with good weather, health and success. Though oppressed during communist time, Shamanism is still practiced in Mongolia, and people who seek help will approach a Shaman for a blessing or cure and even to get hints about their future.

Buddhism- Mongolians have followed Buddhism since the 16th century, when the Mongolian king, Altan Khan, was converted by Tibetan lamas. Mongolians follow Tibetan Buddhist teachings, (also called Lamaism), the body of religious Buddhist doctrine and institutions characteristic of Tibet and the Himalayan region. Today, Mongolia still embraces its Buddhist heritage. Monasteries are being restored, and are once again crowded with worshippers. The Dalai Lama is an enormously popular figure and has visited the country several times. For many Mongolians, the practice of Buddhism is flavored with traces of Shamanism, an even more ancient spirituality.

Other Religions- Mongolia also has a small Muslim community — about 6 per cent of the population. These are mostly ethnic Kazakhs living in the far west of the country.


The foundation of the traditional Mongolian food is based on the products of the animal nomadic herders raise in the Mongolian steppes – meat and milk. Those simple materials are processed with a variety of methods, and combined with vegetables and flour.


Mongolian traditional music composes a wide range of instruments and uses for the human voice found almost nowhere else. For instance, the Mongol Khoomii may be fascinating for foreigners. It is a musical, which can be delivered with a help of a guttural voice and specific way of breathing. One tone comes out as a whistle-like sound, the result of the locked breath in the chest being forced out through the throat in a specific way, while a lower tone sounds as a base.

The unique traditional singing style is known as Urtiin duu or long songs. It is one of the most ancient genres of Mongolian musical art, a professional classical art of the 13th century. Urtiin duu involves extraordinarily complicated, drawn-out vocal sounds. It has philosophical style, evocative of vast, wide spaces and it demands great skill and talent from the singers in their breathing abilities and guttural singing techniques.

Another popular form of art in Mongolia is the playing of the Morin Khuur, the Horse Headed Fiddle. It is used in Khoomii singing and in other forms of traditional music. The origins of the Morin Khuur lie with the Chinese two-stringed fiddle. With its typical horse-head carving crowning the instrument, it plays a major part in all classic Mongolian forms of music. To this day people of all ages play it.


National sports include wrestling, archery and horseracing and they are known as the Three Games of Men, rooted in the mists of antiquity and continue to be very popular among the Mongolians today. Every year in mid-July, communities across Mongolia celebrate these sports. This celebration is the Naadam Festival.

Wrestling is the most popular of all Mongolian sports and is the highlight of the Naadam. Historians claim that Mongol-style wrestling originated some seven thousand years ago. Hundreds of wrestlers from different cities and aimags take part in the national wrestling competition. There are no weight categories or age limits. Each wrestler has his own attendant herald. The aim of the sport is to knock one’s opponent off balance and throw him down, making him touch the ground with his elbow and knee.

Horseracing is an important part of the Naadam Festival. The riders are aged from five to 12. Mongolian kids are excellent riders, for both girls and boys have been riding since infancy. As a popular saying goes, “The nomad is born in the saddle”. Competitions are not held on special racetracks, but right across the steppe, where riders are confronted with various obstacles like rivers, ravines and hills. The distance varies according to the ages of horses, between 15 and 35 km.

Information about archery can be found in literary and historical documents of the 13th century Mongolia and even before. According to historians, archery contests began in the 11th century. The Mongols use a compound bow, built up of layers of horn, sinew, bark and wood.

Beginning the 20th century modem types of sport started to develop in Mongolia. After the Mongolian Sports Committee was founded in 1947 voluntary sports clubs and associations were formed. These organizations played a tangible role in promoting sport as a mass movement. Nowadays, track and field sports, football, basketball, volleyball, skating, skiing, motorcycle racing, mountain climbing, chess and other sports are widely played in Mongolia.

Traditional housing – The Mongolian Ger

With a history of over a thousand years, this portable dwelling made of wood lashed together with leather thongs and covered with felt is the home of the Mongolian nomads. Easy to erect and dismantle, the ger, its furnishings, and the stove inside can be carried by just three camels, or wagons pulled by yaks making it ideal for the nomadic way of life.

The average ger is small but spacious enough to provide adequate living space for a family, is wind resistant, and has good ventilation. Gers are constructed of a latticed wood structure covered with layers of felt and canvas. The felt helps the ger retain heat and the canvas over it sheds rain.

National Holidays

Naadam Festival- probably the most well-known Mongolian Festival. Originating from the beginning of the previous century, the festival consists of the “three manly sports”- wrestling, horse riding and archery, accompanies by festivities, dancing, singing and socializing. The event is celebrated all over Mongolia, with the main events taking place in the capital.

Tsagaan Sar- the “white moon” celebrations are celebrated at the Lunar New Year. It is a tradition to climb a sacred mountain on the first day of the New Year, to welcome the first morning of the New Year on the mountain peak. On the three following days, Mongolians visit their relatives and friends, and enjoy traditional food and drink.

My friend James McClellan, a distinguished historian of science, likes ribbing me about my insistence that science’s glory days are over. In The End of Science I contended that science will keep extending and tweaking its current paradigms, like evolution by natural selection and the big bang, but there won’t be any more comparably profound “revelations or revolutions.”

Jim enjoys rubbing my face in possible contradictions to my thesis. Recently he drew my attention to—and bought me a copy of, hard cover!—The Tangled Tree: A Radical New History of Life, by journalist David Quammen. The book’s blurb claims that our scientific view of life is undergoing a big shake-up. So I read the book. [*See Jim’s response to this column below.]

Quammen has a reputation as a terrific science writer, which turned out to be deserved. Tangled Tree is an epic tale about science’s quest to understand life. Quammen does for evolutionary biology what Dennis Overbye did for cosmology, the quest to understand the universe, in Lonely Hearts of the Cosmos, one of my favorite science books. Both writers capture the thrills and messiness of research into nature’s deepest mysteries.

Just as Overbye’s story revolves around an obsessive, uncompromising curmudgeon, astronomer Alan Sandage, so does Quammen’s. His anti-hero is Carl Woese, inventor of a powerful molecular method for tracing evolutionary lineages. With it, Woese compiled evidence for a major new form of single-celled, prokaryotic life, Archaea, from which we may have descended.

Woese, who died in 2012 (and whom I interviewed in 1990 for an article on the origin of life), was a would-be revolutionary who thought he was under- and Darwin over-appreciated. He once wrote on a colleague’s manuscript, “You accord Darwin so much more substance than the bastard deserves.” Woese sought alternatives to natural selection as the major force underpinning evolutionary change, such as Stuart Kauffman’s concept of self-organized complexity (which I critiqued in End of Science).

Archaea are one of the “radical” findings that Quammen describes. Woese convinced many biologists that Archaea are so distinct from bacteria that they deserve their own label. But Archaea do not pose a challenge to Darwinian theory, our understanding of how species originate and evolve. I would compare Archaea to a revision in our model of galaxy formation in the early universe, which does not threaten the basic big-bang framework.

Horizontal gene transfer, the other discovery on which Quammen focuses, arguably does pose a challenge to conventional evolutionary theory. It involves different species passing genes directly to each other, usually via bacterial or viral infections. Tentative evidence for horizontal gene transfer emerged almost a century ago, but only in the past few decades have biologists recognized its influence on the evolution of multicellular organisms as well as Archaea and bacteria.

Horizontal gene transfer, Quammen asserts, “has overturned the traditional certitude that genes flow only vertically, from parents to offspring, and can’t be traded sideways across species boundaries.” Evolution has always been depicted by what Darwin called a “great tree,” with countless branches, representing different species, diverging from a common ancestor. The tree metaphor, it turns out, is inaccurate, or incomplete. Some branches are “tangled,” linked, by genes jumping from one species to another through horizontal gene transfer.

Scholars disagree on just how revolutionary horizontal gene transfer is. In 2000 W. Ford Doolittle reported on the implications of Archaea and horizontal gene transfer in Scientific American in “Uprooting the Tree of Life.” The “consensus tree” depicting evolution is “overly simplified,” Doolittle stated. A 2002 paper by Doolittle and others contended that horizontal gene transfer represents a “radical revision” of our view of life’s early history.

In 2009 New Scientist raised the stakes with a cover story about horizontal gene transfer, titled “Darwin Was Wrong.” A statement, not a question. A subtitle added “Cutting Down the Tree of Life.” (The online version of the article now has the softer headline “Why Darwin Was Wrong about the Tree of Life.”) In the article philosopher John Dupre called horizontal gene transfer “part of a revolutionary change in biology.” My italics.

In a rebuttal, “Darwin Was Right,” philosopher Daniel Dennett and biologists Richard Dawkins, Jerry Coyne and P.Z. Meyers called the New Scientist article “false” and “inflammatory.” “Nothing in the article showed that the concept of the tree of life is unsound,” they said, “only that it is more complicated than was realized before the advent of molecular genetics.”

Quammen, too, accuses New Scientist of sensationalism. Its headline may have “helped to sell magazines,” he comments, but it “caricatured the genuine challenge to Darwinian orthodoxy that the new discoveries raised.” Darwin “can’t be blamed” for not anticipating horizontal gene transfer, Quammen states. “He did the best he could, which was exceedingly well, with the evidence he could see.”

To answer the question posed in my headline: Nah. Far from being wrong, Darwin is as right as ever when it comes to his big idea, natural selection. He couldn’t foresee all the sources of variation within and between offspring, which provide the raw material on which natural selection operates. He didn’t know about genes, and he speculated, wrongly but reasonably, that acquired characteristics might be passed on to offspring, as Lamarck had proposed. (As Quammen notes, Lamarck’s hypothesis has undergone “small surges of reconsideration even down to the present day.”)

Now we know that variations have many causes, including mutation, endosymbiosis, genetic drift, sexual recombination, epigenetic factors and, yes, horizontal gene transfer. But all variations, whatever form they take, serve as fodder for natural selection, which remains the primary evolutionary force, and which Darwin (and Wallace) discovered.

Returning to the biology/cosmology analogy, evolution by natural selection and the big bang theory provide the basic frameworks for understanding life and the universe, respectively. Each paradigm constantly undergoes revisions and extensions. But just as the big bang theory absorbed the startling discovery two decades ago that the universe’s expansion is accelerating, so evolutionary theory has easily encompassed horizontal gene transfer.

Thomas Kuhn distinguished between “normal” science, which buttresses the prevailing paradigm, and “revolutionary” science, which overturns the paradigm. Horizontal gene transfer and Archaea represent normal science, which fleshes out Darwin’s revolutionary vision of life. All of biology since Darwin has been normal.

Carl Woese is hardly the only prominent modern thinker irked by Darwin’s dominance. Karl Popper was not a fan, and neither are philosopher Jerry Fodor and cognitive scientist Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini, authors of What Darwin Got Wrong (which I dismissed as “fatally flawed.”) But none of Darwin’s critics has done him any serious damage. Evolution by natural selection resembles capitalism. Both paradigms have an uncanny ability to absorb opposition, just as one microbe swallows another via endosymbiosis.

That said, I find the discoveries on which Quammen reports fascinating. One subtheme of his book concerns how horizontal gene transfer might influence our self-conceptions. “What implications do these discoveries have for the concept of human identity?” Quammen asks. “What is a human individual? What are you?” Good questions. I just wrote a book about the quest to solve the mind-body problem, which asks, Who are we, really?

As Quammen reports, for every cell that is, strictly speaking, ours, our bodies contain roughly three bacterial cells—in our guts, mouths and elsewhere. Bacteria are much smaller than human cells and yet still account for as much as three percent of our total mass. About eight percent of our genome consists of “remnants of retroviruses that have invaded our lineage,” Quammen says. We are “mosaics.” We contain multitudes, and yet we are individuals.

A final point, or rather, prediction, which I first made in The End of Science. No matter how much they learn, biologists will never really know how matter first became animate, just as cosmologists will never know how the universe began. Moreover, we will never find a final, definitive answer to the question of who we really are. Science-lovers should be grateful for the persistence of these mysteries. As long as they endure, so will our quest for self-knowledge.


Mixed martial arts (MMA) is a full-contact combat sport that allows a wide variety of fighting techniques and skills from a mixture of other combat sports to be used in competition. The rules allow usage of both striking and grappling techniques while standing and on the ground. Competitions allow athletes of different backgrounds to compete.


Boxing: The skill of fighting with the fists, usually with padded leather gloves. Referred to as the “sweet science,” boxers use elaborate foot maneuvers and quick jabs for offense.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: In the mid-1920s, Carlos Gracie opened the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He taught the skills he learned from Japanese judo master Esai Maeda. The skills were later modified to use less strength and to be more effective against larger opponents. Brazilian jiu-jitsu’s reputation spread because of the success of its practitioners in no-holds-barred contests.

Jiu-Jitsu: Ancient Japanese martial art that encompasses throwing, joint locks, striking and weapons training.

Judo: Sportive Japanese martial art founded in 1882 by Jigoro Kano and derived from Jujutsu. Judo is now an Olympic sport emphasizing throws. Striking is prohibited.

Karate: Name used to identify many Japanese and Okinawan martial arts. While known for powerful, linear techniques, many karate styles also incorporate softer, circular techniques. Some of the popular styles of karate are Kyokushinkai, Shotokan, Goju-Ryu, Shorin-Ryu and Kenpo—which is the first “Americanized” version of karate.

Kickboxing: Sportive martial art combining boxing punches and martial arts kicks. Many different styles with different rules exist such as Muay Thai, full-contact karate and Asian Rules Fighting.

Kung Fu: Also referred to as Gung Fu, Chinese Boxing and Wu Shu. There are hundreds of Kung Fu styles. Many are patterned after movements of animals. Some well-known styles of Kung Fu are Wing Chun, Praying Mantis, Pau Kua, Tai-Chi-Ch’uan and Shuai Chiao.

Freestyle & Greco-Roman Wrestling: Possibly the world’s oldest sport in which contestants struggle hand-to-hand, attempting to throw or take down their opponent without striking blows. Some wrestling styles include freestyle, Greco-Roman and catch-as-catch-can.

TaeKwonDo: One of the most practiced martial arts in the world, taekwondo is a Korean style known for its flashy kicking techniques.


Submission by: Physical or verbal tap out.

Knockout: Athlete is knocked unconscious due to strikes or impact.

Technical knockout: The referee stops the contest.


Unanimous: All judges pick the same athlete as the winner.

Split: One judge picks one athlete. The other two judges pick the other athlete.

Majority: Two judges pick the same athlete as the winner. The final judge says fight was a draw.

Draw: Unanimous, majority or split.