Candle flames? Well...
I'm not sure what is meant by "attract a candle flame". Though the story does go on to say that they could put out the flame from a foot away by making a gesture at it.
I only ask, because putting out candles by punching at them, or even flicking a finger at them, is a skill I used to practice, a lot.
It's not all that terribly difficult of a skill to master. It usually takes about two or three hours for a student who has some skill.
Of course, as with any skill, the more you practice the better you get at it. I have put out candles with a punch from up to five inches away and I'm not really very good at TCC. Extropolating that, I would say that to extinguish a candles flame from a foot away would not actually be beyond the skill level of a Master who worked on it for some time.
In fact, I've seen higher level TCC players than I'll probably ever be who can extinguish a candles flame from about six to seven inches away. One guy I used to train with could put out a candles flame from about four inches away with the flick of a single finger.
It's a pretty neat trick, actually. It impresses a lot of folks. Just yesterday, for laughs and giggles, I put out the candle in our pumpkin by punching at the face of the pumpkin and putting out the candle inside it. I got it on the first shot, though I haven't practiced this trick in about a year or more. Impressed the heck out of some neighborhood kids who were the last group of trick-or-treaters we had come through. I'd say the candle was about three to four inches from where I stopped my fist, and the force of the wind from my punch put the candle out through the pumpkins mouth.
However, that's just what this is. Wind. When you get hot you make your hands flat and you flap them, this causes the air to move, which cools you off.
Making a fist and punching at something dislocates the air in front of your fist in the same fashion, but in a more forceful manner. The air moving from out in front of your closed fist is explosive, to a candle flame or a something very, very light.
However, to move an entire person like this?
That's another thing entirely.
Go ahead and set up some candles and take your best punch at them and see if they go out. If you hit the right spot in just the right way, they sure will. But is this "chi", or "jing" or just plain old air? I don't know. All I do know is that it's not too darned hard to replicate.
The people who taught this to me did call it a "chi" generating exercise. However, the impression I got after a time wasn't so much that it was "chi" that was putting out the candle, instead I got the impression that learning to co-ordinate your body to move in the proper, relaxed fashion to make this work actually helped your body generate chi internally.
I don't know about all that, but...
This also helps you to improve your aim quite a bit. So it's very usefull for that, at least. You've got to be pretty accurate with your timing and aim for this little trick to function correctly.
However, putting out candles is not knocking over or throwing an opponent. It is also not all that mysterious or difficult. Once you know how, it's easy and it can even be fun.
Just as the kids were pretty impressed by the trick last night, I would imagine it has impressed quite a few people in it's time, which may have given rise to certain urban legends.
Just my take on it.
[This message has been edited by Bob Ashmore (edited 11-01-2005).]