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This will be in a series of blog posts, please forgive.
This past weekend I was fortunate to spend two days trying to get a handle on something that has been kicked around in martial art circles for many eons…and yes, you guessed it…it's that dreaded KI word! Mike Sigman, a long time proponent of statements like "no jin, no Taiji", was kind enough to brave the criticisms of some pretty experienced martial artists, some of them no nonsense military types, and actually show what I've long been reading about on the ‘Net. This is going to be a tough review to write, because I have little to no familiarity with authentic Chinese arts, and because this review will also deal with some much larger issues.
It should be made clear that Mike's workshop was targeted toward an Aikido audience. Most (if not all) people attending are in Aikido or closely related arts. I actually would be especially interested in hearing from participants who disagree with my take on the skills displayed and their usefulness in Aikido. I believe that the skills Mike displayed and trained us in are crucial to our art, and that a great deal of the issues people have with Aikido are the result of a lack of exposure of people like myself to a solid understanding of at least some of the basics of using ki / aiki / kokyu in our training.
This is not a simple area for discussion. There are many political, organizational, and ego related issues surrounding this topic, and there are also many people who dismiss this entire area. "We already do that", "It's just good physics", "Only the fruitcakes waste time on that", "let's see you use it in the UFC" are all favorite responses when this topic comes up. I am coming to the strong belief that this is just as wrong as over mystifying it. Mike's posts on the topic are public record, and I think his approach (if I understand it well) is a good one. He seems to speak about the ki mentioned in the Chinese classics as a family of related skills / phenomena, and he highlights jin, or access to the ground path, as one member of this family which is of particular use to martial artists. Mike or others with a more complete understanding will have to take this area of definitions further…I simply am too new to this area to go further than that.