I have had what I think is a major breakthrough on the subject of ki and I have Mike Sigman, probably more than anyone, to thank for it. Also very influential have been Dan Harden, Rob John and Minoru Akuzawa.
This is a pretty subtle conception, so please read carefully and make sure you understand what I'm really saying before commenting. I'd like people who get what I'm saying to comment on this.
The change in thinking is that ki is literally a part of us, almost like an organ, like the bones, muscles and fascia and like the mind. All these elements are very different, one from the other, and must be used very differently. For example, we use our eyes in fighting, but we don't literally punch anything with our eyes. The use is different. Likewise, with people trying to determine how to make fascia contract, like muscle, it's a confusion of use. The muscle contracts, the fascia does something different.
And the mind is used in fighting, but obviously not in the same way as the muscles. But the mind affects the muscles and the fascia, and the fascia affects the muscles and the bones...
So now I think that ki is one of these kinds of parts of human beings. Just, like the fascial layer, it's a part that's easily overlooked or mistaken for something else when we account our assets.
Please pause especially here before responding.
It's always been said that ki was part of us, but more like a separate thing that moves through us. The distinction I make here is that it is a part of us like the mind or the hair.
It follows that if the ki is a part of our mind/body make-up, instead of a gas that passes through us—then we should be able to perceive it directly rather than through allusion.
So I have concluded that there is another actual layer of ourselves that is not an external energy and not really even an "energy" at all, as in "force," but part of us as in "an organ of the body" except that it is not physical. Maybe we could say that the ki is the interface of mind with body. Or ki is the computer screen that lets the mind interact with the body: the interface of mind to body. And it's also the root interface between the body and the world, through interacting with the ki of the world.
So it's sort of physical, but it's sort of mind.
But this fills some holes in some other lines of inquiry. Such as, "how do we use the fascia?" or "how do we influence the fascia?" We use the fascia to carry the ki through the body. We influence the fascia by flowing the ki through the fascial tissue. That's how the ki leads the body. The mind leads the ki and the ki flows through the fascia to where the mind leads. And the muscles contract in a smooth chain just enough, each, to accomplish the heart's desire. But the ki stays inside the body. It doesn't go anywhere. It's like a bubble or an aura that surrounds the human body, centered in the body but never going away from it.
The body has bones, blood vessels, nerves, fascia, muscles and skin. The Chinese say that the teeth are the extremity of the bones. The nails and hair are the extremity of the fascia.
Also, the mind is a part of the body when the body is alive. It comes out of the body like the fingernail emerges from the skin of the fingers, a discreet part of the thing, but different. And the ki grows between the mind and the body like hair grows from the head, different, but a very close part and maybe difficult to distinguish, one from the other.
To clarify that, I mean that I believe that the ki of an individual exists as soon as the sperm and egg are united. It's inherent in the human and it exists before the mind can form or begin to operate. It grows with the body, but it can only be cultivated and led by the mind. So it's a natural element of the mind/bod conglomeration. It precedes the mind, but its growth occurs between mind and body.
I'm told that science doesn't really accept the concept of a "mind" but only the concept of the brain. So by even discussing the mind, which we all know exists, we're already being unscientific. However, I do accept the concept of the mind and now I accept ki as something necessary for the body and mind to adhere to one another—not that the mind can't operate the body without using ki, because most people do just that. But if we consciously use ki in directing the body, it seems to improve the movements. I don't think now of "accumulating" ki in my body but of cultivating and developing the ki that is there as a part of me. I develop it through using it and through use of the ki of the world that I take in with my breath and food and drink.
To go a little further, I think the next thing is to work on perceiving this element of the body, which requires deep attention to ourself to see if we can notice ki in operation as we do things. But it also requires attention to others to see how ki operates in them. It means watching them and observing how they do things and seeing if you can tell which things come from the operation of ki.
So what are we looking for?
I can tell you some things that it likes: it like the sense of flowing motion, steady, smooth and uninterrupted, but sometimes fast and sometimes slow. But always smooth. And fast or slow, always still within itself. It likes deep breathing and a relaxed body. It likes being connected within itself and to everything around it.
How can we influence it?
Tai chi and silk reeling are recommended. Deep breathing, keeping the hands smooth, stretching the spine up, eating and drinking good things in moderation. But most important to having good ki is to have a good mental state. A rushed, distracted, nervous, tired mind will also influence the ki in a negative way. A positive, rested, observant mind is very good for the ki.
What can we do with it?
The most important thing we can do with our ki, I now recognize, is to connect ourselves with others and the universe. But as humans, we really have the bulk of our lives in close interactions with other people, so getting a connection with them is vital (besides being the natural thing). The fact is, we are very social and all desire connection with others, like so many pikachu, but society quickly grinds most of that out of us and where it is still necessary, society tends to choke it down to the lowest possible level. So people are hungry for connection and ki can let us connect with others in a subtle but fulfilling way that can only be good.
How can we fight with it?