You were talking the other day about the ki, chi, that kind of thing. I'd like to know what you think about that.
Ki and chi are the same thing. You better, about ki and chi, ask Chinese people or other Asian people. Because they talk about ki and chi. I can tell you only that Koizumi, when he wanted to talk about it, there was an international congress of Judo black belts in London and I was one of them. There were about 500 there. And we had a special course conducted by Koizumi. And then in the middle of the course, on the fifth day, suddenly he says, “Now I am going to talk to you about the most important principle in Judo training, about the saika-tanden.” Some people call it tantien, the seat of chi, ki, or whatever you like, but it's the saika-tanden in Japanese. “But Feldenkrais come here,” and he said to the whole assemblage, “I believe he will talk to you about the saika-tanden more sensibly and in a way in which you'll understand. It is something which I feel and know, but which I cannot explain.” And then he let me explain that for the people there. And he wrote the preface to my book. The thing is this, when you talk of such matters in my way, nobody will take it for ki and chi or anything you like. You see, most people talk about that as if it's a mysterious kind of thing in the lower abdomen with all sorts of metaphysical meanings and powers. I have no connection with that. And therefore, my way of thinking is actually a useless thing to such people. If you challenge them on that they'll say, “Ah, what does he know? He is only a scientist.”
[I]But this is only a semantic difference, isn't it?
Oh, no. A semantic difference? No. Ghosts are a semantic difference? Ghosts are something which if you believe in and you are afraid of a ghost, you are afraid of a ghost You will never go into a haunted house.
Yes, but you must know … It's not semantic, but you must know from your practice something, the importance of this, what they call in the language, tanden.
Of course, I know. And their description of it, while it may be … My description of it is only in movement, I am not concerned with any of the other things.
But does it not come to the same thing?
No, it doesn't because, you see, in the one, if you say you've got chi, many people would try to be like you and do like you, and if they fail will say, “Oh, I could never get chi.” To get chi, you have to possess moral courage, you have to be connected with the higher spheres of things. Therefore, you find that this is an impediment in the learning. (To a questioner) Have you chi?
I could not say that.
Oh, therefore, if you can't say it, that's what I'm talking about. You can work 20 years and you don't show it. You're not sure if you have it or you don't. Because if it's a mysterious quantity, then you must deserve it, you must be a part of an elite group, or you must be born in China. How will you get chi if it's a metaphysical thing that nobody knows what it is? Well, it's a quality like psychic healing, if you're a healer, you're a healer. If you don't heal, you are not. Now, chi is the same thing. Either you've got it or you ain't got it. If you've got it, you've got it. If you ain't got it, you ain't got it (Laughter) It's almost like EST.
But what you're talking about is different.
Yes. I told you. In movement, I can show you what chi is, what ki is, on you or anybody else. Can you see that my notions on breathing are different from anything you heard before and you will ever hear? You can see it, you can test it, on yourself, and there is a marked difference between the one and the other, provided that you can make the contrast.
Okay, for example, in martial arts training, in Aikido, where they have the notion of the unbendable arm or they talk about focusing somewhere, like a couple of inches below the navel and a couple of inches inside the lower abdomen, and then having your weight underside and not being stiff, but not relaxed, but having your attention …
Well, I don't know that it's a few inches here and a few inches there. It has to do with the full organization of your body, you can see it in whatever you do. You actually get chi through using the pelvis and the lower abdominal muscles, the strong muscles of the body as a unit concentrated from where all push or pull is issued. The rest of the body and the arms needn't be powerful. It is not a muscle, it is not a point. It has nothing to do with this point, because if it were a point … Look, if you move your body like that, the point is gone (makes a move to demonstrate, a shift in the center of gravity to outside the body). A point a few inches there, a few inches here, if you go there, you will find that it is full of shit, literally. (Laughter) That point is full of shit. And this is the point of chi.
So, will you teach us this organization?
What do you want it for? You don't want to fight. You don't. What do you want?
Is it used only in fighting or is it a whole organization that is serving you in any other action?
Oh, of course, it serves me. I believe a dancer is not a dancer without that reorganization. That is why most dancers are half-cooked dancers.
Why would we go through life without it?
You wouldn't know it. And nobody would do the amount of work that is necessary to get it because they will have to change their dancing.
But people like us can learn it?
I am teaching you whether you want it or not. The improvement in your movement that you get moving the head free so that the pelvis can produce the necessary power, that's ki. What did Kano do? That's all. He stands there, you can't push him. If he wants to push you, you go wherever he wants. So the mysterious development of chi is efficient use of the equipment that everybody has. It is that question which needs, in order to understand it, a tremendous amount of knowledge.
And as usual, it's easier to teach people without teaching understanding, by saying, look, this is it, imitate me. Look, I stand here unmovable. You can't move me. Now push me, you can't push me. If I push you, you move.
Now and then they have you send the chi down to the ground and bring it back up, each way. It is a marvelous technique. But you know in a way, it's interesting that they teach that way because, if the motor cortex is responsible for directing the organization of the body, then to tell someone to send their energy down would cause them to organize their body differently and so their weight would be more difficult to move.
But, if you say you send your energy … how do you send energy here or there, show me any instance where you can send energy anywhere. In our work we can do something with awareness and without awareness, something just purely done in a mechanical fashion and we can also pay attention to making some movement. So I see the concept of ki and chi as an incredible impediment to learning and I see people in classes, Aikido and Kung Fu and whatever, and it's just a struggle. They can never get it. They never get it because the idea of chi or ki is preposterous. How can you get it if it's a point in your stomach? What would you do with such a point? What can you do with it? What change will it make to you? Now, it sounds a mysterious kind of super power that you get from somewhere in the point in your stomach, and that point described properly, is the duodenum lying there and is literally full of shit.
Your teacher, and Kano, were trained with that notion in a cultural matrix that allowed them to not view it all so mysteriously.
Oh, certainly. And Kano, when he had already a school where most of people could beat anybody in Japan, he brought a boy that was 14 years old into the dojo and none of those big experts could throw him because that boy had a natural what they called tai-sabaki, meaning hips moving away. You could never break his balance, he always slid away, whatever you did to him, like a cat. Balance. He was always coming back on his feet, whatever you did to him. And most people couldn't get a grip on him, if you pulled him he was with you, but you could never make his pelvis go outside the feet, whatever you did, and they were very peeved. They said, look, Judo is no good. He said, you are no good. This chap will be here until you learn to do like he does, or learn how to fight that sort of thing. Only then will you have a better saika-tanden than he. He is better than any one of you, therefore you have to learn