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Old 03-01-2006, 11:59 AM   #12
Josh Reyer
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Location: Aichi-ken, Nagoya-shi
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 644
Re: Desperate to rehabilitate ki

Tarik Ghbeish wrote:
I haven't paid a lot of attention to Saito Sensei. What I've read of the Founders speech suggest that he speaks with too much alliteration to so easily know whether he spoke of ki as an actual force or not.
I'm assuming you mean allusion , not alliteration . Sorry for the pedantry, but Old English alliterative poetry is my hobby, so your statement kinda sent my mind to weird areas.

I think "ki" is like "humor."

Humors, in medieval physiology, were the four fluids in the body that controlled health and temperment. Blood, phlegm, choler (yellow bile), and melancholy (black bile). Sickness was generally seen as being caused by the humors being out of whack, and temperment was thought to be decided by the natural disposition of humors in ones body. The theory of humors wasn't totally off the mark; it was based after all on scientific observation (mixed in with a good deal of speculation, and not a little superstition).

Today we have completely dispensed with humor theory in medicine. And yet, we can't stop talking about it. People have a sense of humor. A person is sanguine, or phlegmatic, choleric or melancholic, or full of bile. Indeed, the word "humor" remains in the medical vocabulary (as does phlegm and bile), even though the theory is no longer regarded as sane medicine. Things that were once explained with "humors" are now explained with new, sounder paradigms.

I think the same thing happened with ki. It basically means "energy". It was picked up and used to explain certain physiological phenomena. It was also used to explain feelings (which, when you think about are just a kind of energy), and spawned a large number of similar idioms only tenuously related to the physiological theories put forth by the traditional medicine practitioners and martial artists.

The key, I've started to think, is to unlock the idiom, and to translate it into something usable, particularly in English, which is why I like Mike Sigman's (and others') use of "groundpath", as well as their attempts to break it down into physics.

Medieval doctors were able to cure their patients, sometimes, even though they had a flawed paradigm. We can explain how we did it with newer, better paradigms. I think that's the goal with regards to "ki" and "kokyuu". Rather than importing a vaguely defined foreign word bereft of its native idiom and calquing it into a new one (e.g., "extend ki"), I think it'd be better to leave the Japanese words in Japanese, the Chinese words in Chinese, and forge a new understanding based on what they were trying to say.

But I'm linguistically minded, so of course I would say that.

Josh Reyer

The lyf so short, the crafte so longe to lerne,
Th'assay so harde, so sharpe the conquerynge...
- Chaucer
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