Edit: Before I describe the trick I would like to say that this trick was presented as a having been achieved through intense concentration and channelling Chi energy from around the performer's body into their abdominal area. Chi energy is a concept in Chinese medicine and Martial Arts. It is non-scientific and unverifiable.

I was recently at a performance which featured a young Shaolin monk (about 12 years old) performing a trick where a clay bowl apparently attaches to his bare stomach even after volunteers tug at it.

As the volunteers attempt to tug at the bowl, an older monk holds the bowl from the sides. He doesn't seem to be exerting any significant physical force.

I went up to stage as a volunteer and I held to the sides of the bowl, ready to give it a pull but the older monk uttered a stern "No" and told me to hold the bowl from its base. I gave it a pull with all my strength and indeed it remained attached to the monk's stomach.

I searched for this trick online and I found this video, which is even more impressive than the performance I witnessed. The child is much younger. Also, in the version I witnessed, the bowl was larger and the older assistant held on to the sides of the bowl while here the assistant does not hold the bowl but holds the child and the volunteers are allowed to hold the bowl as they wish.

Can this be explained by science or is the "chi energy" explanation given at the performance the best we have?

  • Welcome to Skeptics! According to the FAQ, Skeptics.SE is for researching the evidence behind the claims you hear or read. This question doesn't appear to have any doubtful claims to investigate. Please edit it to reference a notable claim and flag for moderator attention to re-open (or get 5 re-open votes). – Oddthinking Jun 22 '16 at 14:03
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    @CPerkins Yes it is, it was not presented as a magic trick – hb20007 Jun 22 '16 at 14:39
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    @Dawn Which is why it's a legit question for this website. The website is for "challenging unreferenced notable claims, pseudoscience and biased results. " Challenging pseudoscience by finding a scientific explanation – hb20007 Jun 22 '16 at 14:53
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    Haha its called "rice bowl suction" and there are Guinness world records relating to it: guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/… its just suction/vaccum force. – user30557 Jun 22 '16 at 14:56
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    Also, the website has a tag called Chi – hb20007 Jun 22 '16 at 15:08

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