The Controversial Paulie Zink

Craig Balcom
Yoga, Martial Arts

Paulie Zink is an influential and controversial figure in both yoga and martial arts. He is the force behind Yin Yoga, for which he receives little to no credit, and is the master of Monkey Kung Fu, though accused of being a fake. Good for him. Simultaneously pissing off and exciting so many people is a remarkable accomplishment.


Part of the problem with Paulie is that his initial impact on people is disconcerting. The way he stands, sits, and speaks doesn’t fit into a category established for a teacher or even a human. Watching him do mundane things is mesmerizing. Not knowing where to place him confuses people and they try to fill in the blanks by making up a bunch of shit; either mythologizing or belittling, depending on what they wanted from him. He is unambitious about joining the world and unconcerned about fitting in - basically a recluse.


When people are uncomfortable with silence and things that aren’t self-explanatory, they often try to fill the voids with something reassuring, such as: he made it up, he’s a fraud, he was born that way, or he ruined his health. Sometimes it’s worse: he’s an elf, he’s magical, he’s a reincarnated master. People fawn over Paulie and ask to live in his house, move across oceans, send him nude photos, and write fan letters. Internet “experts” and rival schools denounce him, discredit him, and disown him.


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