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Old 02-28-2006, 04:58 PM   #3
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 498
Re: Desperate to rehabilitate ki

Peter Martin-Browning wrote:
Hello everyone

I recently bought a dvd of the late Saito Sensei demonstrating aiki jo and aiki ken. In one section he says (this is a paraphrase) one should raise the bo-ken and allow the universal ki to enter the kissaki, before executing the technique. This is as clear an indication I have seen that O Sensei did include the channelling of ki as integral to aikido practice (given that Saito Sensei aimed to preserve exactly what he was taught by O Sensei).
Mr. Martin-Browning,

You seem like a nice gent, so I thought I might take some time to respond to the points you have raseid. While I may not disagree with the idea that O-Sensei intended to pass along "something" outside of mere waza as the treasure to be discovered within his Aikido, the mere fact that Saito Sensei said it, does not in any way mean that O-Sensei even inferred anything as much. As it was written, I am not particularly fond of the phrase, "channeling of ki..." as it has no real value in terms of instruction or understanding what O-Sensei possibly meant, did or said.
Peter Martin-Browning wrote:
I also conclude that O Sensei did not thus conceptualise ki as the best mechanical advantage, but as an actual force.
Nullification of your first point indicates nullification of anything based upon it. Therefore your second statement, while I am not disagreeing with it in any way, can not be viewed with any sense of accuracy based upon the process used to prove the initial observation being so flawed.
Peter Martin-Browning wrote:
When I began training in taiji, I was taught two techniques in my very first lesson, enabling me to exert sufficient force on another person that they were powerless to resist. I did this with a completely relaxed body, and under instruction to make no effort at all. I was able to effect these techniques within about an hour of the beginning of my first lesson. I should add that I had no martial arts or other physical training before that day.
Of course these were exercises with a partner, and not the same as taijutsu, but the principle remains, - I was immeasurably more powerful than I can be with my muscles alone, even when many of my muscles were disabled (one of them involves sweeping away one's partner with one hand while one's heels and upper back are pressed against a wall. Try it, and see how much you are immobilised in this position).
Of course it is difficult to conduct any dialogue when phrases such as "Ki" or "Kokyu" have yet to be clearly defined. However, I do believe that O-Sensei may have had some issue about teaching "Ki" as a method by which to transmit his art form. Kokyu on the other hand was an integral part of his training methodology from what I understand. While Ki & Kokyu may be viewed as Heads & Tails on a coin, clearly being connected, and even molded from the same substance, I am sure you might agree that one can not make an argument that Heads is Tails, or even visa-versa.
Peter Martin-Browning wrote:
In all my study of Japanese martial arts, whether through my training or through books or forums such as this one, there remains a debate about whether ki is an actual force or is merely the best mechanical advantage that non-practitioners cannot access.
I have recently come to realize that the argument you point to is moot. Please consider that according to Newton's Second Law of Motion force, by its very nature is a mechanical measurement of Mass(x)Acceleration. Of course, I understand what you mean when you delineate the two terms, "force" and "something mechanical" However, I don't think you will find clear evidence that "Ki" whatever it may be is anything outside of something that is produced using some method, and since it is "produced by a process" it can only be viewed as mechanical at some level.

I would like to add that when we look at Newton's Second Law of Motion F=M(A) we see that Force has two components, one that is calculated on an actual scale (weight), and one that is calculated on a relative scale (rate of increase in speed). This means that a force is made up of a physical and what I call non-physical component. Perhaps that is why there are two camps as you say, the believers and the non-believers. I would go so far as to say there are four camps, really.
  • Camp-1 Those that believe that KI is a spiritual, or magical force
  • Camp-2 Those that believe that there are only good body mechanics and that there is no "KI"
  • Camp-3 Those that believe that there are two components that need understanding and in which to train
  • Camp-4 Those who train and don't think about "KI" at all
What are your thoughts in response to what I am positing, here?
Peter Martin-Browning wrote:
The argument usually takes the form of one person saying they have experienced ki, either through my kind of experience or through uprooting in taiji. The non-believers then say that this proves nothing and that the ki believers must therefore be deluded (this is not always stated in so many words but is the inevitable implication).
It should be noted that Taiji is not Aikido by any means. Certainly O-Sensei didn't do Taiji... did he?
Peter Martin-Browning wrote:
Those who think ki is best mechanical advantage (or BMA, as it is more properly known) might be enlightened by going to learn from a taiji teacher (perhaps asking him to demonstrate uprooting).
Again, Ki & Kokyu are not interchangeable. O-Sensei's Aikido was partially based upon Kokyu. The delineation of Ki was something that I believe Tohei Sensei was partial to, and accordingly prompted him to break from the Aikikai in the 70's. As for enlightenment, Siddhartha Gautama, A.K.A - Shakyamuni (Buddha) sat in front of a wall and was enlightened. One doesn't need to practice Taiji, nor any art to be enlightened - especially with regards to one's own Aikido.
Peter Martin-Browning wrote:
So, to those who think the believers are deluded, let me ask you a question.

1. When you saw, for example, Saito Sensei throw a fourth dan aikidoka without actually raising his hands from his sides, did you think that was done with best mechanical advantage?

2. Do you think that Saito Sensei or O Sensei were deluded when they spoke of ki as an actual force?

I look forward to your replies with great interest.

At your service

Peter Martin-Browning
Well, in answer to your two questions, I would have to say no one (outside of Saito Sensei and O-Sensei) can really know, now… can they? Perhaps they were simply faking it... I mean if you are going to make statements that basically state, "Well, if Saito Sensei said it, O-Sensei must have, too..." and then base your conclusions upon such methods, can you be sure of anything? Certainly we can only surmise that further review of the methods and practices employed are overdue - and in case I wasn't clear, I don't mean practicing more Taiji, either.


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