A Harper’s Index
of Mo Yi Do

My martial arts instructor has me fight 18 opponents on a regular basis. Advanced students in the Mo Duk Pai System of Kung Fu are required to perfect a form. A form is a string of techniques that are performed in a set pattern and focused on a particular aspect of fighting. A form hones basic techniques, establishes muscle memory, and is a great vehicle for teaching.

Mo Yi Do is the form I chose to “perfect” on the road to black belt. In my head, to perfect a form is to know every technique, every turn, every target, every contact point, every weight shift, etc. It requires hours of practice, innumerable corrections, and provides countless insights into the mechanics of established techniques.

And for a data-oriented person like myself, it also required the compilation of a statistical index.

Maximum number of theoretical opponents a student fights in the form: 18

Minimum number of insanely driven and incredibly durable opponents a student fights: 2

First published in March 1984, Harper’s Magazine’s monthly Index presents a single page of 40 meticulously researched statistics and figures — sometimes linked thematically to one another, sometimes standing on their own. Six people work on researching and writing the feature each month, typically gathering three times the number of factoids that the magazine runs. The published items are variously amusing, eye-opening and outrageous. 


Analysis, research, investigation, instruction



  • Professor Fred King, system founder
  • Sifu Wally Jones, head of school