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Thread: What is Ki?

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    Default What is Ki?

    I am interested in knowing what the opinions are about what Ki or Chi actually is, and how people use it and teach it in their different styles of Martial Arts, or religion.

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    Well this thread should get some interesting replies, Ki (Chi or Qi) is one of those undefinable things that is much misunderstood, by all (including me!)

    I appologise up front for my mixing of Japanese and Chinese terms, I started in the Japanese arts, but do some Tai Chi as well and it all gets jumbled in my head.

    My definition is "Ki is the universal energy, it is in all living things and is composed of in and yo (Yin and Yang) the positive and negative energies."

    Ki is the "life blood" that enables us to function. It is the basis of Chinese medicine which aims to try and keep the yin and yang in balance which promotes health and long life. Ki is supposed to have six major functions in the body; protect the body from disease; support and sustain all movement; support body transformations; retain fundamental substances, organs and fluids; and maintain normal body heat.

    The Chinese also believe that there are six diferent kinds of Chi in the body, each is responsible for a different function; Source Chi is the Ki you were born with and forms the fundamental energy, generated in the kidneys it allows movement; Organ Chi controls the activities of the organs (Chinese have slightly different concept of organs than westerners, but I won't go into that now); Channel Chi is responsible for moving or transporting via the meridians; Nourishing (Blood) Chi allows the blood to feed the cells and transport waste away from the cells; Protective Chi circulates just below the skin and protects against disease and regulates body temperature; and Ancestral Chi is the force that transports Protective and Nourishing Chi around the body.

    Various martial arts claim to use Chi, I know it has been emphasised in most of the Japanese arts I studied. But my Tai Chi instructor tells me that 'you don't use Chi, it's just there' it allows us to move strongly, and you can generate it through training and clean living (for some reason sex is bad for Chi) but you don't actually 'use' it when you fight. The Tai Chi practicioners say that you use Jin when fighting, which can be loosly translated as strength, but is more accurately fortitude.

    Although the source of Jin is strength, it is not the same as we usually think of strength. Strength is a static force, Jin is dynamic. When the body is relaxed and sunk, the Jin is gathered and concentrated by the mind and can be released at will in various forms to a particular part of the body. Jin can be fast or slow, hard or soft, tight or loose, stiff or springy, delayed or explosive. The powerhouse of Jin lies in the Tanden (point below the navel), released through the waist or Hara. Its energy is permeated throughout the body by the free flow of the chi. Hence the jin is intimately related to the breath and chi flow.

    So it is Jin that the Karate guys use when they punch, not Chi.

    I hope you're suitably confused now, because I know I am!

    Regards

    Neil
    Neil Hawkins
    "The one thing that must be learnt but
    cannot be taught is understanding"

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    Can Ki be channelled?

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    Wink Not sex itself...

    Quote Originally Posted by Neil Hawkins
    (for some reason sex is bad for Chi)
    Just the fun bit at the end (at least for men). Because the Kidneys are thought to control sexual function (and are also the holders of jing), 'release' is considered bad.

    There are any number of taoist sexual manuals though... many of which detail methods for having sex of all sorts, both partnered and solo (weight hanging, 'Stretching the Dragon Tendon', etc.) sorry for the threadjack.

    Be well,
    Jigme

    BTW, where is Neil Yamamoto? He can tell you what ki is
    Last edited by kenkyusha; 6th January 2006 at 18:40. Reason: omitted a bit of text
    Jigme Chobang Daniels
    aoikoyamakan at gmail dot com

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    So that's why that guy tows the truck around with his 'old fella'!

    As for whether Ki can be channelled, I think you can concentrate it or at least certain types of it. For example if you are ill or fighting an infection the Protective and Blood Chi can be concentrated in the area. But I don't think it can be conciously controlled by all but a very few Taoist Monks.

    Jin (Jing) can be channelled, when a person is thrown away during push hands, or when a punch impacts with devastating penetration, it is the Jin which causes the reaction.

    Of course I can't do it, except by accident!

    The other interesting thing about Ki is that it is not a purely eastern concept, the Indians call it Prana, the Ancient Greeks called it Ephemera (where we get the word ephemeral from), there are also similar substances mentioned in nearly every race and people from all over the world. Usually referred to as the 'breath of the gods' and a fundamental element to human life.

    It seems that the Romans and later the Christian religion did away with it in the Western World. Though there are some references in the Old Testament, I believe, it pretty much disappeared in the West until we started becoming interested in the East.

    I think a lot of it comes down to the way we look at things, the Chinese like the ancients in the West would look at a whole and draw conclusions about what was happening in the micro, whereas the newer western mind breaks things down to the micro and then draws conclusions about the whole. That's my un-educated theory anyway.

    Regards

    Neil
    Neil Hawkins
    "The one thing that must be learnt but
    cannot be taught is understanding"

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    See also Brian Kennedy's discussion at http://ejmas.com/jalt/jaltart_kennedy_0201.htm . For those of you in a hurry, the summary is this:

    QUOTE

    I am not in a position to give the definitive answer as to which framework is the "true" one for chi, and the only conclusion I will put forward is that:

    * Chi as life force is the most widespread and traditional explanation.
    * Chi as biomechanics is the most provable explanation from a scientific perspective.
    * And, regrettably, ignorance is the most common use of the term.

    END QUOTE

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nadelman
    I am interested in knowing what the opinions are about what Ki or Chi actually is...
    Ki is an energy field created by all living things.
    It surrounds us...penetrates us. It binds the Universe together.

    Oh, wait; that's The Force.

    My belief is that there is no such "thing" as Ki/Chi/Qi/Prana.
    Rather, I believe that through training our bodies become strong and flexible, and we learn techniques for moving our own bodies and controlling our opponents' bodies in the most efficient manner.

    What we perceive as a mysterious force is just a combination of focused intention and good kinesthetics.

    But that's my opinion, and others are entitled to theirs.
    Yours in Budo,
    ---Brian---

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    Well, I'm afraid that there's a little more to it all than just kinesthetics. Ever heard about quantum physics? Or the String-theory? In fact, it is very well possible that there's such a thing as Qi/Ch'i/Ka/Prana/The force/Watheveryounameit. The only problem is that most of it is bound is stuctures/formations, who form fields. hence, you can't manipulate them. That is also why you can't lift a stone with just your mind. However, we all posses an amount of 'free energy'. This can me used/controlled/manipulated. That's what we do when we move, talk, act.

    maybe it's time eastern and western science got together and sorted out the facts from the myths... This is ofcourse happening to some extend already, but there's still a long way to go.

    Cheers, C.


    Regards,
    Christophe van Eysendyck.

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    Very interesting article.

    http://www.mariomckenna.com/what_is_ki.html

    Here is an excerpt:

    Murakami sensei’s answer to cultivating and benefiting from “ki” is a simple one, to focus the mind by singularly concentrating on the task at hand. Again, Western scientific research corroborates Murakami sensei’s belief that argues that a sharp focused attention to the activity or task at hand is essential to entering “flow” or getting your “ki” moving (Goleman, 1995). But this is not as easy as it seems and requires quite a lot of discipline to get passed that initial hurdle. The mind has a tendency to wander and become distracted easily. If you don’t believe me, try the following rudimentary exercise used in Zen. In a quiet location, sit opposite a wall in a comfortable position either cross-legged or in seiza (you can use a zabuton or cushion). Keep your back perfectly straight and focus your gaze towards the wall, slightly downward. Your eyes should be relaxed, but not closed! Now, slowly breathe in through the nose to a count of one and slowly exhale through the nose to a count of one. Try to complete this cycle 20 times. Easy you say? Just wait. You must not have ANY distractions. If your mind starts to think about something else besides the rhythm and the counting of breaths, go back to zero and start again. If you get to five or six and start thinking, “Gee this is easy”, go back to zero! You are absolutely allowed no extraneous thoughts. When I first learned this simple exercise, I thought I had a fairly good concentration level. Boy was I wrong. I spent most of the day going back to zero because my mind kept distracting me! I’d get to 19 and think, “I’m almost finished!”, then I’d realise my mind is wandering again. Damn! Back to zero!

    Once you can do this simple exercise, try doing it while you practice kata. You will be surprised at the results as “ki” or “flow” creates its own feedback loop and produces a state devoid of emotional baggage, save the pleasure it generates.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cufaol
    Well, I'm afraid that there's a little more to it all than just kinesthetics.
    I disagree.

    If you had said, "I believe there's a little more to it all than just kinesthetics" that would have been one thing, but when you say, "...there is a little more to it all than just kinesthetics" I have to say, "Okay. Prove it."

    Quote Originally Posted by Cufaol
    Ever heard about quantum physics? Or the String-theory?
    Yes, I have. (In fact, I've more than just "heard" about them.) Care to tell us how they relate to this discussion?

    In my experience (and I'm not neccesarily saying that's the case here), people who vaguely invoke words like "quantum mechanics" to explain mysterious phenomena without further qualification often are folks who wouldn't know Max Planck from walking the plank, Albert Einstein from a beer stein, Niels Bohr from a wild boar, nor Werner Heisenberg from an iceberg.

    And, yep, them's fightin' words. I've thrown down the gauntlet; let the games begin!

    How do "quantum physics" and "string theory" relate to the questions, "What is ki?" and "Can Ki be channelled?"?
    Yours in Budo,
    ---Brian---

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    1. for the sake of honesty, I'm not a physicist.
    2. Okay, you were right about the kinestetics, in a way. In the end it boils down to kinesthetics, but what I meant to say was that it is a little bit more complicated than that. Focus has a lot to do with it for instance.
    3. IMO, Ch'i is nothing more than the energy on which our universe has evolved. After all, since science discovered that atoms etc are really energy-masses, I think we have definite proove of ch'i. Now, before you all start bashing my ****: That doesn't mean we all have crazy powers. it means that we are just energy masses, bound together in tight formations. That's all ther is to it. The only suprising fact is, that while Western has needed over 2000 years to discover this, Sanskrit and Chinese phylosofical texts (over 2500 years old) already give rudementary intuitive reflections about this energy based universe.
    4. While we are on subject, could you possibly explain me what the M-theory is about? I get the fact that scientists are trying to combine both gravity and quantumphysics through the String-theory, but as said before, I'm not a scientist. I'm just interested in physics.

    Well, I guess that's it. I hope this satisfies your questions mr. Owens.

    Regards, C.


    Regards,
    Christophe van Eysendyck.

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    After reading this thread I remembered something Max Plank said,(oh by the way he was a quantam physicist, and my knowledge is more japanese on this subject):

    " All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force. We must assume that behind this force is the existence of a conscious and intelligent Mind. This Mind is the matrix of all matter."

    Granted, this is more refferring to a superior being, but it amazes me that a scientist of the most precise kind, concludes that their is a "matrix of all matter." And To me this is basically the idea if ki. A force that provides balance, yin and yang, in the universe.

    I hope this will not take this thread on a tangent, instead maybe it will give only more knowledge to those who seek it.
    Master Yagyu once remarked,
    "I do not know the way to defeat others, but the way to defeat myself."

    Jonah Matheson

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    Kabballah (Jewish Mysticism) discusses the concept that everything (rocks, trees, tables, etc) has a "spark" of G-d in it, and that G-d supports the entire universe, constantly recreating the universe ever (zillionth? for lack of a better description) of a second, over and over again. Through meditation (i.e. saying a blessing or literally "elevating") on something, we release this "spark" and reconnect it to G-d, thereby elevating it to a higher level (again, for lack of a better term) and thereby elevating ourselves through its use.

    Does this sound like a similiar concept to what I hear described in the East (far east...)?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cufaol
    ...2. Okay, you were right about the kinestetics, in a way. In the end it boils down to kinesthetics, but what I meant to say was that it is a little bit more complicated than that. Focus has a lot to do with it for instance.
    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Owens
    ...a combination of focused intention and good kinesthetics.
    Well, we're not so far apart on this after all.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cufaol
    ...4. While we are on subject, could you possibly explain me what the M-theory is about? I get the fact that scientists are trying to combine both gravity and quantumphysics through the String-theory, but as said before, I'm not a scientist. I'm just interested in physics.
    Well, it's a little bit off topic, but since there has already been mention of various kinds of energy possibly being what the ancients called Ki, then I guess I can touch on it briefly.

    Newtonian Mechanics does a great job of explaining how things work on our normal, observable, plain of existence. Unfortunately, when we start talking about the very, very small -- subatomics -- the Newtonian fundamentals break down.

    Quantum Mechanics does a good job at explaining much of the subatomic universe, but it, too, breaks down in places. Its zero-dimensional framework has too many uncertainties built in.

    String Theory, by utilizing a one-dimensional model, is able to overcome many of the problems encountered in the particle theory. Unfortunately, it, too, breaks down at some point.

    So String Theory was expanded to include ten-dimensional superstrings and 26-dimensional bosonic strings. Then, even more types of "strings" were added.

    Still, there were problems.

    So another theory, the M-Theory, was proposed by Edward Witten in 1995. But it's still very much in the hypothetical realm. It has been suggested that the M stands for "Membrane." Witten has said it could be Membrane or it could be Magic. Others say it should mean "Monsterous" because it's an attempt to pull together Newtonian Mechanics, Einsteinian Relativity, Quantum Theory, String Theory, Unified Field Theory, etc. into one great big, monsterous, universal theory of everything (and thus a suggestion that it be officially changed to "U-Theory").

    And that's way out of the scope of this thread (and well beyond my understanding).
    Yours in Budo,
    ---Brian---

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    Right. Thanks for the explanation mr. Owens. I appreciate it.

    Back on the topic: I was wondering about this the other day, and I came up with this; What if this 'KI' is a form of energy science has jet to describe/discover. After all, there are probably dozens of theories, hypothesis and so on that are yet to be discovered.

    I don't know about 'Ki', but I have experienced a certain state of harmony when training. My partner and myself had the same rythm on that very moment, and it was really very 'flow'-like. We just came up with the right technique and the right movement at the correct time. I have to say, it was really great.

    Cheers, C.


    Regards,
    Christophe van Eysendyck.

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