Alex Lawrence wrote:
Hmm. I'm always baffled by this concept of "the highest level". I tend to take a pragmatic view, to me martial arts are largely just practical skills for solving a particular problem, yes while learning them you can gain insights into yourself and use those insights to make yourself into a better person but ultimately they're there for those occasions in life when you need to use violence, that's what makes them martial. Really the mental side should come with learning the physical or you've done something wrong. The mental is the soft back of the blade which supports the hard cutting edge of the physical in my book.
A lot of the "ki" stuff turns out to be some pretty nifty body tricks and manipulations of forces through the body (and some attendant conditioning, but enough said). As you get better and better at these skills you need less physical body movement and just do a lot of things by controlling forces within you. It looks like very small movements are making very great effect. Think of it like the stuff you see in the movies where someone rests his hand on an opponent and suddenly the opponent goes flying through the air without much initiating movement being seen (this can be done, BTW). Now take those kinds of force manipulations and engage/vector them with an incoming attack while making very little movement. What is done to the opponent is an "aiki", in that example. Do you see more clearly the picture that I'm trying to paint?