Peter Ralston was raised in Asia and began studying martial arts at the age of 9. By 20 he held black belts in Judo, Jujitsu, and Karate, had been Sumo champion at his high school in Japan, Judo and fencing champion at UC Berkeley, and had demonstrated proficiency in Kempo, Chuan Fa and Northern Sil Lum Kung Fu. He went on to study Tai Chi Chuan, Hsing I Chuan, Pa Kua Chang, Aikido and Western boxing.
Ralston has pursued this endeavor with a passionate determination for more than 35 years. He sought out and studied with the world's most demonstrably skilled teachers, broadening his study with such arts as Aikido, Japanese and Chinese fencing, western boxing, Muay Thai (Thai boxing), and new levels of his own investigations into all of these arts. His exceptional commitment (often practicing for more than eight hours a day) and depth of study, his intense meditation and open inquiry have led Ralston to profound levels of skill and understanding. Consistent with Zen studies, his investigation into martial arts also came to include a questioning of reality. Long periods of intense contemplation resulted in many enlightenment experiences regarding the nature of self and reality which greatly influenced his study.
In 1977 he opened a center called “The Cheng Hsin School of Internal Martial Arts and Center for Ontological Research” in Oakland, California. In 1978 he became the first non-Asian ever to win the World Championship full-contact martial arts tournament held in the Republic of China.
“One of the fundamental reasons I fought in a world tournament is that I ask people to do “unconventional” things, to actually question and understand themselves. I want people to listen to me, to open up to what I am saying. Winning this world tournament was done so I could say “I did it. What I am teaching you is functional. It works.” Now people listen to me who wouldn’t before, yet I am saying the same things.” ~ Peter Ralston