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Sven Groot
10-23-2002, 08:39 AM
Firstly, hi all.

I'm very new to Aikido, I've been doing it for 5 weeks now. I'm currently doing an introductory course, but I fully plan on joining this dojo afterwards.

Right now, with this post, I want to collect some opinions on a very difficult to answer question:
"What is Ki?"

I don't want dictionary definitions, I know those. I want to know what it is to you, how you view it and (possibly) experience it.

My knowledge about Ki is limited to reading about it here and elsewhere, and it's occurrence in Anime (like Dragonball Z or Love Hina). Of course especially Anime is bound to be dead wrong :D so I thought I'd get some opinions about it from people who really can know.

One of the stories that fascinates me most is the 'unbendable arm'. This is because when I was younger I would have incredible tantrums (a different story altogether, not really important for this thread) and one of primary school teachers tried to find a cause and help me find a solution with some alternative medicin she knew. I have no idea what it was called or what the origins are nor can I remember much of what she did exactly, since it's too long ago.
I do however remember that one part of it involved me lying on my back, and I had to think about stuff like events leading up to my outbursts - and I do mean really think about them, trying to relive it in my head - while sticking one of my arms straight up. If that side of my body/brain/whatever/idontknow responds good to what I was thinking about, she could lean against my arm with her full weight, yet would not be able to bring it down, even though I wasn't doing anything to keep it up there. When I responded badly to it, there was no way I could keep her from pushing my arm down without using muscles.

It's probably not exactly what she did, but it is what I remember. Btw, it didn't help in getting rid of my tantrums, but like I said, that's another story.

Any thoughts, ideas, theories?

SeiserL
10-23-2002, 08:50 AM
IMHO, Ki is the energy that is in everything. Ki is what happens when you align the body and the mind.

Ki made no sense to me early in my training. It makes only slightly more sense now. Its like a Zen koan that really has no answer other than the acceptance of what is.

Until again,

Lynn

ian
10-23-2002, 09:13 AM
I'd agree with Lynn - its very easy to get all esoteric about what ki is and isn't, but even though I've been training for quite a few years I'm not sure what other people mean when they talk about ki. People often mean different things such as intention, postive thought, energy binding us and the universe etc, but I don't know how helpful all this is in practise.

Best thing in my opinion is to train, and to realise that when something is effective it is usually a coordination between body, mind and the external (e.g. attacker), and maybe that could be explained by referring to ki.

Ian

ChristianBoddum
10-23-2002, 11:05 AM
Hi !

Think about this :

you originate from one cell,

when you were just this one cell did you have

a nervous system ?

so before any neural connection there was still connected activity.

By training you strive to achieve this one-cell funtion of body and mind and allow Ki to flow unhindered through you and thereby letting it work as your protection.

I once read that Ki as energy consists of the smallest form of particles - so small we have no way of measuring them and most likely never will,but Ki works through you even without any physical sensation because it is not attached to neural connection.

In traditional chinese energy-training Qi gong - Tai chi ,there is a study of it in relation to meridians and the neuralsystem,

but in aikido it's different.

Any way it is a life long study,

in Tai Chi f.ex. the older the Chi the better you become ,so the sooner you start to work on knowing Chi from your physique the better you'll be able to train in old age.

But not to confuse matters,train aikido and you will develop Ki-flow,if you get obsessed about finding out what Ki is you will probably not progress in your aikido.

When your mind focuses on one action all cells

cooperate,and the strength in that far exceeds

anything your body can come up with in terms of muscular strength/physical power.

I hope that helps.

yours - Chr.B.

Rev_Sully
10-23-2002, 11:55 AM
Does "Ki" also mean tree?

Erik
10-23-2002, 12:32 PM
Regarding the unbendable arm.

http://ofinterest.net/ua/arm2.html#1

tedehara
10-23-2002, 12:33 PM
Take a look at our site:

The Chicago Ki Society Annex (http://www.geocities.com/tedehara)

It's a portal to various views and opinions on Ki and Ki development.

opherdonchin
10-23-2002, 12:58 PM
Most of the words we use in our day-to-day lives were never really defined for us. Nobody 'told' us what a chair was, we just sort of learned it by encountering a lot of chairs. I think that Ki is best approached this way. Pick up examples of how the word is used and pay attention to sensations that you think might have something to do with it. Over time, a concept will evolve linking these things together. In the end, it's just a word that we use to bind together a bunch of experiences that we think are sort of similar in some way we want to keep track of. Of course, in the end that's all any word is.

Greg Jennings
10-23-2002, 01:07 PM
Cavaet: There are a lot of views on Ki. I'm not saying that mine is better than anyone else's. It's mine and it works for me.

With that said, most of the forum members know that I'm an "Unbeliever". That is, I don't believe in ki as a mysterious seventh form of energy.

What I believe is that dealing with the many factors that go into optimum performance in a deterministic way is usually unproductive. So, we adopt a heuristic called "ki".

Through trial and error, we learn to develop "ki". Things go right and we say we had more ki. Things go wrong and we say we had less ki.

In summary, to me "ki" is roughly what we hear athletes call "the zone" or "the groove".

Take it for what it's worth.

Best Regards,

ChristianBoddum
10-23-2002, 01:30 PM
To Rev Sully.

I'm not really sure I get the question,

but trees are great examples,

strong roots,perseverence through all kinds of weather,always growing.

You can train with trees - puches/kicks/connection/stress relief,it'll take a long time before you have the stamina to hurt a tree.Actually outdoors training will make you stronger - Ki ?

You may laugh now - I train with a tree in a park,and if I ask it's permission (onegai shimasu) it lets me connect.This is not uncommon practice in China.

To be like a tree in motion is probably not so bad.

Go figure -

yours - Chr.B.

Rev_Sully
10-23-2002, 02:09 PM
Christian,

I might be under the wrong assumption but if memorty serves me correctly, Ki is not only the word for that vital spiritual energy but also tree. As "ken" means both technique and "fist".

ChristianBoddum
10-23-2002, 02:29 PM
To Rev S.

You might be right,but it also can be a grain of boiled rice,energy rises through the body,

like steam from a grain of boiled rice,

I think that is the chinese interpretation.

yours - Chr.B.

ChristianBoddum
10-23-2002, 02:33 PM
To Rev S.

oops ! I meant the symbol/kanji.

So you're probably right.

yours - Chr.B.

akiy
10-23-2002, 02:44 PM
I might be under the wrong assumption but if memorty serves me correctly, Ki is not only the word for that vital spiritual energy but also tree. As "ken" means both technique and "fist".
Although they sound the same, they're two different characters, (tree) and C (as in aikido).

Just as homonyms in the English language may sound alike (eg sight and site), they have very different meanings.

-- Jun

MikeE
10-23-2002, 03:53 PM
I think Jennings San is correct in that many consider Ki as something mystical. The way I look at it is that Ki is like electricity. Just because you can't see it...doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

I respect his opinion (though i don't agree with it) that ki is just a crutch.

"Through trial and error, we learn to develop "ki". Things go right and we say we had more ki. Things go wrong and we say we had less ki." --Greg Jennings

I think that strong ki is sometimes hard to distinguish from strength. And even harder if your an "unbeliever".

All I know is that I am 6'2" 260lbs, and I couldn't move Sosa Sensei at all (he was about 5'8" 150lb), and he could toss me with ease. Not that ki is something mystical, but when you feel it, you know its there.

Just my humble opinion.

afeinman
10-23-2002, 09:40 PM
To me, ki is the feeling of 'in-tune-ness' one gets when ones intentions and ones actions line up properly. In aikido, this means that I can perform techniques cleanly, correctly, and effortlessly. I feel that the visualizations surrounding "summoning ki" are helpful meditation exercises, and help bring me into a state of mind where I can focus on training properly.

As for what 'ki' is - well, the human body is a complex little device. To each scientist it looks like his little part. I'm a cognitive scientist, so I see things from a mental perspective. A biologist might talk about enzymes being released, or muscles being relaxed into a state of readiness. And so forth.

But for me, the multitude of things it might represent are adequately explained by the introduction of this rhetorical idea (which may or may not exist) of 'ki', and so I accept it as a sort of a linguistic/mental/spiritual shorthand for 'oneness of intention in mind, body, and spirit' and the myriad other uses you see for it.

I'm not a big fan of people who pretend to light things on fire with their ki. That's just muddying the waters. (Unless you can prove to me by stripping buck naked, submitting to a cavity search, and then lighting a piece of paper I provide and inspect, all while being closely scrutinized by The Amazing Randi - in which case, you might make a believer out of me).

Alex

aubrey bannah
10-24-2002, 02:58 AM
Grabing sensie has allway's felt like grabing a locomotive that was passing by. Ki is not the energy that it used to overwhelm somebody pysicaly, mentaly, or spiritually.

It is not the energy flow that may be felt after hard training.

It is not the energy you feel when joining spiritually in the technique being performed.

It is not the felt energy that flows though the body for healing or that used in healing meditation or healing groups.

It is not the energy used to perform a 1" punch.

It is not the energy used in Kododama or in sound and or colour meditations.

Ki may be being used as a general term to describe various things.

If you are going to bow to God and perform Aikido as one with God it is God's energy you are using.

Please do not assume I use the word God in any western sense at all.

Yours Aubrey

Sven Groot
10-24-2002, 05:50 AM
Thanks for all the replies. It certainly gives me somethings to think about.

To ChristianBoddum: You needn't worry, I am not obsessed in finding out what Ki is, simply curious. I realise that it will be many years, if ever, before I can get close to an understanding. An even then whatever I come up with is probably not a universal answer.

ChristianBoddum
10-24-2002, 06:03 AM
Hi Sven !

No sweat , I meant it more generally.

Hope see you in the air one day.

yours - Chr.B.

Ali B
10-24-2002, 09:17 AM
Hi Sven,

The reason everyone defines KI differently is that it is a different experience for everyone. Its a bit like trying to describe what something tastes like. There is no right or wrong answer.

Even asking a Sensei about KI will most likely bring an ambiguous answer. My last Sensei used to say "its just KI" like its the most natural thing in the worl, which of course it is.

The more you practice the better your feeling will become and the ki will be there. There are many exercises you can do to help.

Love and light

Ali

Genex
10-24-2002, 10:57 AM
Ki, before aikido and learning of Ki i didnt have a word for it, it was an essence a spirit that permeated everything around us if you can imagine that like in the film "final fantasy" everything has a spirit or Ki. this is what i see around us, learning to tune into that Ki is what we are trying to acheive tho no damn midichloriens for us it really is a force!

pete

Sven Groot
10-25-2002, 12:23 PM
...tho no damn midichloriens for us it really is a force!
*waves hand*

"These are not the droids you're looking for." :D
Hope see you in the air one day.
??? :confused:

Buku-futsu? (The flying technique from Dragonball Z)

ChristianBoddum
10-25-2002, 04:34 PM
Hi Sven !

I was thinking of a kokyunage of some sort,

and don't forget I have been known to be inside Darth vader !!

yours - Chr.B.

kironin
10-25-2002, 06:37 PM
Was going to reply but then came across this

in Jun's archives from a friend who says it well.

I like the title,

http://www.aikiweb.com/spiritual/lebar1.html

Craig

DrGazebo
10-30-2002, 01:27 AM
I think much of the discussion misses the mark. To simplify it too much is to ignore the reasonable questions a scientific mind wants to ask. Is it real, as a form of energy? Or does it refer to psychomotor coordination, yada, yada? To make to too scientific is ridiculous, "ki is the release of beta endorphin in the dorsal raphe", laughable.

I have been training for 15 years now and still don't know what the heck "ki" is supposed to be. But there is a feeling of unity, but not just mind and body, I get that during sex, no, its a direction of the force from the tanden, like a small circle that I can move in different vectors...yikes...see what I mean?

All in all, ki is a troublesome concept. On one hand, I think its a bunch of baloney, concocted by fighters and healers like the phlogiston theory. I teach in a University program in Oriental Medicine a bit and have worked with acupuncture educators for years. I still think there is no compelling argument for the existance of ki, shen, zhu or other oriental essences.

But when I am the dojo, everything changes. All of that stuff I just said becomes irrelevant, and I can feel something when the movements are right.

Its a paradox, what can I say?

DrGazebo
10-30-2002, 01:31 AM
I meant to say in last paragraph,

when I am in the dojo

or was it a Freudian slip?

happysod
10-30-2002, 09:23 AM
Belonging to a Ki aikido dojo (I know, I've already heard most of the traditionalists views)this is a very common question we get with never a single answer that satisfys.

I've never considered Ki to be mystical in any way, just managing for once to get your mind and body focussed on a single movement, stance or whatever without all the usual static that occurs.

Others in the dojo prefer a more spiritual view, but one thing we do seem to agree on is that if you ever meet it or (hopefully) manage to "tap" (poor word choice I know) into it, you can definitely recognise it in a technique.

I'd suggest just going with what helps with your own perception of it, whether mystical, physical etc. and let your own answer to your question grow over time and training. You'd be surprised at how often it'll change.

kironin
10-30-2002, 12:12 PM
But when I am in the dojo, everything changes. All of that stuff I just said becomes irrelevant, and I can feel something when the movements are right.

Its a paradox, what can I say?
There is no paradox if your recognize the differences between physics and metaphysics. IF you recognize in medical therapy the constant tension between the subjective and objective, between the ancedotal and the statistically reproduceable.

It's interesting to me that Lynn Seiser's first response in this whole discussion was so spot on from a Ki Society perspective. To me that speaks volumes about the quality of his training. :-)
Ki is what happens when you align the body and the mind.
We talk about Ki a lot and in general you could always replace this two letter word with the the long phrase,

"the positive feeling of calmness that you experience when you coordinate your mind and body as one".

It's clearly a subjective experience in training that is going to differ from student to student. It clearly takes someone who has got it to teach it to someone who wants to learn it, because the student has got to feel it to know what to look for. There are exercises but the external form of the exercises is clearly not enough just as the external form of technique is not enough.

Ki is not a troublesome concept anymore than "Aiki", "Kokyu", etc.

The answers are in daily practice. In training you may find cultivating Ki leads to some ancedotal objective experience.

However, don't be dissappointed if you can't convince a physicist that you have found some new form of energy that will rock the foundations of Quantum Chromodynamics or that the millions spent in search of the Higgs particle is a waste of money.

Just be happy with small things such as if you can allow uke to go splat with minimal effort, reduce the soreness in a fellow students muscle, or respond in a calm manner to your boss yelling at you to effect a postive resolution.

That's really what Ki is about.

Craig

SeiserL
10-31-2002, 09:55 AM
It's interesting to me that Lynn Seiser's first response in this whole discussion was so spot on from a Ki Society perspective. To me that speaks volumes about the quality of his training. :-)Craig
Thanks, that is good to hear. Especially because I train in an Aikikai style and we seldom talk about Ki. Deepest appreciation for your feedback.

Until again,

Lynn

mike lee
10-31-2002, 10:47 AM
There is no paradox if your recognize the differences between physics and metaphysics.

There would be no paradox if the similarities were recognized.

mike lee
10-31-2002, 10:52 AM
Ki is what happens when you align the body and the mind.

Ki is always present in a living being, regardless of whether "you align the body and the mind," whatever that means.

Roy Dean
10-31-2002, 11:42 AM
"Ki is always present in a living being, regardless of whether "you align the body and the mind," whatever that means."

True, but if you've ever experienced total body and mind alignment, you would KNOW what that means.

Kind regards,

Roy Dean

opherdonchin
10-31-2002, 10:22 PM
It is worth remembering that the word energy described an intuitive notion we come by naturally long before any scientist used it to describe something he/she (well, it was probably he) was busy quantifying. While I have a very deep respect for the scientific approach, there is no reason it should force us to completely abandon of our intuitive and immediate understanding of the world.

DanD
11-01-2002, 01:24 AM
How about - KI as your intention. Your mind/mental phase, expressed through physical motion (Aikido arts in this case).

One way of looking at it is "Mind moves body"

:ki: is the key

mike lee
11-02-2002, 02:50 AM
How about - KI as your intention. Your mind/mental phase, expressed through physical motion (Aikido arts in this case).

I think what you're talking about is consciousness.

In tai chi chuan, it is said that:

Spirit moves the mind;

Mind moves the chi;

Chi moves the body.

mike lee
11-02-2002, 02:55 AM
True, but if you've ever experienced total body and mind alignment, you would KNOW what that means.

Sorry, but I haven't had such an experience. I must still be at too low a level in my training.

DrGazebo
11-03-2002, 07:25 PM
Its amazing how many answers there are to the questions we have been discussing in his book. Its an amazing book which gets a little deeper each time you read it, I read it first about 25 years ago and it still seems like new. I think most of our questions, especially beginner Qs, are answered in this one little paperback.

Roy Dean
11-04-2002, 01:16 PM
"Sorry, but I haven't had such an experience. I must still be at too low a level in my training."

It's so refreshing to see such honesty and humility from our fellow Aikidoka, especially when they're an expert! Truly a model for others to follow...

Sincerely,

Roy Dean

mike lee
11-05-2002, 03:07 AM
Truly a model for others to follow.

Sorry. The mold was broken after they made me. :D

Bruce Baker
11-05-2002, 01:33 PM
That mold wasn't broken because when people looked at you they turned to stone, eh?

Just kidding.....

Allignment of body and mind .... ummm?

Yeah, that is the solution, but how to get there?

How to use the correct state of mind to prompt the body to use the living force we describe as ki, a force beyond the normal capacity of our living being which uses the same force in our everyday lives ... now there is a puzzle.

Reminds me of trying to solve a problem no one was able to find or fix when I was working on boats and motors. I would sometimes spend up to an hour coaxing the customer to reveal more and more about the problem they were having, until the facts met the testing criteria to find the solution.

This, in learning to use Ki, would translate into having long, long discusssions with each person to see what mental prompts work best at the allignment of body and mind to find the answer to the puzzle of using Ki. Maybe that is why there are so many solutions to the usage of Ki, how to learn to connect body and mind, or why I call it the power of self hypnosis.

You can't tell me you don't use some type of mental prompt to use Ki in your practice of Aikido? Whether it is the picture of extension, rooting, clouds, or blanking out conscious thought, these are all methods to connect body and mind without superfluous thought that interferes with the connection of Ki to the body.

Some people find strength in anger, but they also find their skills are diminished with clouded thoughts leaving their defense/offensive techniques open to counters, so they learn to put away anger and let the clear unfettered mind be the path of their training.

Others seek to immitate a teacher, or fellow student who displays uncanny strength and ability at practice, failing to find their own connection to Ki power.

Then others proclaim they have the key to Ki, and in fact, it is their own experience to finding the link to Ki which may or may not apply to others, many times others are unable to fathom how they got there from here?

Indeed, we have broken the mold after we made Mike Lee, maybe that is why I enjoy his posts and I laugh at some of his delightfull posts. Simplicity, reality, and he speaks his mind, as should we all in the process of learning from experience and learning from each other.

I don't profess to being a teacher, nor do I have all the answers, but I have met many people from all walks of life, and walked many miles in other peoples moccasins, so maybe I emphathise too much?

But the mystery of using the energy of life, sometimes called ki or chi, is a difficult road that sometimes takes many years of practice in both physical and spiritual realms. Connection of body and mind ... and spirit, yeah ... body and mind cannot overcome if the spirit is unwilling to persevere.

Persevere ... and you will find the key to finding your KI.

Damn it!

Broke another mold.