Thoughts on Ki

Discussion in 'Chi - Ki - Qi - Universal Life Energy' started by RobinTKD, Aug 22, 2011.

  1. RobinTKD

    RobinTKD Blue Belt

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    Talking with a friend at work about religion, we both had more or less the same views, both incredibly pragmatic, logical, agnostic veering on atheism. The conversation evolved into talking about my Martial Arts training (Taekwon-Do), and he asked if I believed in Ki, I replied yes immediately, saying that I've felt it before, that it feels different to an adrenal dump when your incredibly fatigued, that it didn't just give me the strength to carry on but made me feel stronger if just because I'd become more focussed. Amazingly, he said that he believed in it too, even though he'd never experienced it, but had heard enough stories from close friends who had that he felt confident in believing in it. We then tried to explain it, but how can you explain it? Does it come from inside ourselves? Outside? Is it natural or some kind of supernatural force? Are we just talking rubbish and trying to explain something common with something fantastical? I'm aware that there are doubters, both those involved in MA and those not, so what would they say?

    I'd like to hear some peoples thoughts.

    Robin
     
  2. JohnEdward

    JohnEdward 2nd Black Belt

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    Good question and one that will always be asked no matter how much it is talked about because it is intriguing ki or qi. Chinese at a time had a huge supernatural superstitious look on things (in this case martial arts) as well as some practical discovers to explain what they discovered and what they didn't understand. Things we now understand through science and its language. Taoism comes to mind. Chinese medicine has a huge impact on Chinese martial arts (kungfu) development, and it too was explained and theorized through taoism. Those ancient Chinese doctors debated to be mystical or real people used a language with in the context of their time, ancient language and culture which also had taoism had an influence.

    Now simply many look upon taoism as a religious belief because of the supernatural and superstitious concepts it held. Now taoism wasn't completely such, it also had practical observations like that of the famous Lao Tzu, whose compared to ancient wisdom/psychology/self-help/life coaching/interpersonal things and explanation of life, really absent of any deity and customs denoting a religion. But, taoism did develop a limb that developed a supernatural and superstition side to it. But these early Chinese doctors felt exercise and breathing where key to fending and curing off disease.

    One such Chinese doctor provided the world with much of the medical knowledge we have of toxicology, fevers and other common aliments. There are ancient stretching like and warm-up type of exercises developed that some say where the basisi of Chinese martial art. Bagua and they trigram are credited by one doctor who is said to base those things on walking in the pattern of a tortoise shell. Who also felt breathing and stressed the important movement and breathing had to health. At this time the supernatural and superstitious side of taoism was not around, so medicine and health was not influenced, that came later. You have to put this into context. In ancient times, prior to these doctors in China the thought of breathing and exercise wasn't seen as an important part of keeping us healthy as it is today. They knew it was important but they don't know what we know today. And at that time the described it the best they could. One term is in the Chinese language Qi for breath that gives us what the ancient Chinese doctors said was the life force which is mobility and the effects exercise has on combating illness and promoting health. Chinese medicine was in it's infancy and prior to these doctor who where the first to really make head way into medicine. They were pretty practical and in agreement that there are benefits to the body to do exercises and breath. It is my guess it was an influence from Yoga. Hence the credit of the Bodhidharma to Kung fu. And the character in Chinese for Qi is a pot with a fire under it and the lid being lifted off. Which indicates steam/air as a result of movement.

    Now enters the more colorful language and view of the supernatural taoism influencing how Chinese see everything. It works really well developing creation myths that are supernatural as well as superstitions. People are explaining things at this time what they don't understand through supernatural concepts and language and superstition. Now the practical idea of Qi or breathing becomes much more, the idea of life force/moving to stay healthy becomes something of the supernatural power as martial arts hone their skills and explain through ancient medical terms. All the while Chinese martial arts skills become spectacles of entertainment, much like a circus side show. The benefits of health and protection of kung fu is overlooked at that time. So of course you get something pushing someone off balance and they are lifted by the force of their feet, i.e. Bruce Lee demonstrating his famous 1 inch punch, or punching someone hard enough in the chest to make the heart stop on lookers amazed deem it as a mystical magical supernatural feat. Here is an opportunity for a not so ethical martial artist to run with it and claiming supernatural powers and abilities. I even see that still alive and well today.

    Qi is the act of inhaling and exhaling and movement/exercise. Breathing is essential to all physical activities. More oxygen to the body the better performance. Sport medicine has told us that for decades. It is no different in martial arts, if you are winded your screwed. If the air gets knocked out of you, your screwed. Just as then as now. Qi isn't a magical Dark Side or not force that can be commanded at the will of a tried Jedi or their religion. My taiji instructor does some weird things that over the years I have scratched my head, and said, that has to be some kind of magic. But the truth is, it isn't magic, it isn't a invisible supernatural force called qi that sends me flying helplessly across the room with just a slight push on my elbow. It is my lack of understanding of the mechanics of the human body and physics. My teacher says the same thing. Qi is breath and movement that is about better health resulting in better performance and not magical powers. He should know he is a western and eastern doctor who has study both kung fu and taiji for about 45 years. If anyone says Qi/ki is supernatural and more than just explained...run.
     
  3. RobinTKD

    RobinTKD Blue Belt

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    Well explained! So when I say that I've felt it, it could be nothing more than having got my breathing perfectly in time with my movements, thus giving me better performance? That makes me feel much better about it to be honest as it gives me something to work on. I have also looked into how people who study Aikido use Ki, as a frame of mind, about thinking about going through something rather than just hitting it, therefore making the movements more powerful. Also, should I try meditation/breathing exercises to practice breathing right?
     
  4. JohnEdward

    JohnEdward 2nd Black Belt

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    Possibly yes, the term Qi has over time and misuse has become an umbrella term for anything in the martial arts for results of skill that are not readily recognized or understood. Though the variation of the meaning of Qi varies most in the area of martial arts. But only in the martial arts where such a mysterious magical powerful and undefeatable skill is highly coveted. When I took TKD I was taught to inhale as I cambered my punch or kick, and then exhale when I executed a kick or punch. I was never told that was Qi at that time, it was only after I started Taiji was that principle termed as Qi. My Taiji instructor also connected blood circulation to the idea of Qi. Taiji being circles it makes sense. Increase blood flow better circulation, thus better movement; more relaxed and natural movement. Instead of restricting the blood flow with tense muscles resulting in stiff tense jerky motion; which really doesn't work in a fight and is an impairment in the exercise of push hands. So it is said to let your Qi flow. I also associate Qi and what I just said with giving birth, using Lamaze breathing technique vs. no breathing technique and holding of the breath. In this sense when relaxed and coordinate the breathing by exhaling you have more powerful strikes. Mediation is a traditional way of teaching breathing techniques and calming the mind to be able to stay relaxed and not tense up from nervousness under duress or stressful conditions. My instructor suggested proper breathing as quick inhale and a timed steady exhale which is for obvious reason. In a conflict you don't want to inhale slowly, but rather quickly and a controlled steady exhale to maximize the bodies use of oxygen. Not holding your breath which when hit will cause get the wind getting knock out of you. And when you exhale completely you expel all the dead air in your lungs, so on the inhale you get more fresh air and oxygen which naturally causes a quick inhale. Other styles have other methods of meditation and breathing. But in fighting generally you don't hold your breath, and use a breathing method that will get the most out of your oxygen use. Which keeps you moving and relaxed which all round improves your skill. That is Qi as I understand it.
     
  5. Cyriacus

    Cyriacus Senior Master

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    Ki, or Chi, Im not so sure of the difference, but ill look that up myself; Is something ive always believed, but only recently experienced.

    Id explain it as being a "Focus" of "Concentration" to any given Limb/s, Empowering them in a way which will allow them to... Move, better. And Hit harder.
    I would also associate this with Controlled Breathing, albeit in an Auxiliary manner, alongside Deliberation.

    By which I mean; Ever tried to perform, say, a Jumping Back Kick against Air, and been unable to do it - But you CAN do it against a Target?
    I would explain this level of Focus as being Removing the Target, and still being able to Operate as though it were still there.

    Thats my Contribution
     
  6. JohnEdward

    JohnEdward 2nd Black Belt

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    Just to add, in ancient Chinese medicine there are many different breathing routines and methods for different aliments to cure. This one is prescribed in ancient times to cure all disease. In those days there was 100 known diseases. Like inhaling and exhaling 9 times while pressing an acupuncture point below the heart. Which in Chinese translation is let the hands press the "sun and "moon." Or another method is to press the knees together with the hands, twist /rotate the torso to the right and then the left inhaling and exhaling 14 times.
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2011
  7. JRRodriguezIV

    JRRodriguezIV White Belt

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    I have several MMA students and honestly you can't really explain Qi Power properly with non-internal backgrounded practitioners.

    The fastest way to make an external fighter understand true Chi Power is by showing the video of my master applying 25% of his power in FaJing: http://xinyimeditation.com/?p=84 or

    The second faster way is when I tell them to try to move me and they can't, or when I effortlessly throw them. Other than that, good luck on trying to explain with words. :cool:

    Cheers,

    JR Rodriguez IV
    www.XinyiMeditation.com123
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 24, 2014

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