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Old 07-03-2012, 09:18 AM   #8
OwlMatt's Avatar
Dojo: Milwaukee Aikikai
Location: Wisconsin
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 401
Re: Ki to the Highway

Mark Murray wrote: View Post
I think you might want to consider history before you toss out everything "ki" related.

Why did Ueshiba and Shioda (to name two top martial artists) use "ki" in their descriptions? They certainly could demonstrate their martial validity. How many of history's martial masters/grandmasters used ki/chi/jin in their vocabulary and yet could still martially prove their skills and abilities?

(NOTE: It's been stated somewhere that in Chinese, the kanji for ji and chi were different. Ji meant yin/yang while chi was more life energy. But, I'm not entirely sure how accurate or true that is.)

Historically, you have to state that there was something "valid" in those martial artists usage of the word "ki".
No I don't. The fact that their skills and abilities were real does not make ki real, and does not make ki a useful word.

1. Yes, there is an agreed upon definition. Those who think there is no agreed upon definition, those who say it means everything to everyone, etc do not know and most likely have never experienced it.
Then what is that definition?

Why do you think most martial artists who had 20-40 years of training wanted to study with Ueshiba, Shioda, Horikawa, Sagawa, Takeda, Chen Fake, etc?
Because they were martial artists of great skill with a unique take on the martial arts.

Why did they all say that what they experienced was beyond their comprehension?
Because the physics of aikido are not always transparent. It's not always easy to explain how technique can overcome strength. But it can be explained.

Do you truly think it is valid to equate "Ryuken the Ki Master" with "Ueshiba the Ki Master"?
Of course not. Ueshiba was an aikido master, not a ki master. He used ki as an explanation for some things in aikido, but that doesn't change the reality of aikido.

Yet both used ki to explain their skills. Obviously, throughout history, there have been very talented and skilled martial masters who have used ki/chi/ji to describe what they are doing. Are you willing to toss all that out just because 99% of the world thinks of ki like some magical, mystical energy? What would you be missing in that 1%?
I'm not advocating tossing all that out. I'm advocating tossing one word out.

2. Simple physics can never cover what the human body is capable of. If you want simple physics, most judo and aikido can give you that. But, then ask yourself why all those hardened judo men couldn't stand up to Takeda, Sagawa, Ueshiba, Horikawa? Within Judo itself, why was Mifune so different than all the rest? If you want to use simple physics to explain "ki" like 99% of all the rest of the martial artists, what are you missing in that 1% which includes Takeda, Ueshiba, Sagawa, Horikawa, Chen Fake, etc who did not use simple physics but instead used ancient, old, known martial definitions which included the word "ki"?
Are you suggesting that there are some things in the martial arts that cannot be explained by physics? I'd like to see some evidence of that.

4. Well, yes and no. Yeah, we can do better at explaining things. If you want to understand the martial classics, you still have to understand their wording and usage, including "ki".
Absolutely. If we are going to understand the history of our art (and history is key to understanding anything), then we are going to have to understand what our forbears meant when they used the word ki. That doesn't mean we have to use it, and it certainly doesn't mean we have to believe in mysterious invisible forces.

If I had met Ueshiba or Shioda or any of them, and they had talked about "ki" as meaning something to them, I certainly would have listened. I would have no difficulty taking them seriously. I may have been with all the rest of the students standing there confused and dazed, not understanding him, but I would never have taken it lightly. Yeah, 99% of the rest of the martial world isn't like them, but isn't that what budo is all about? Getting to that 1%? Otherwise, why not yoga or sports or meditation? So, why are you listening to the 99% who can't do and not trying to find those 1% who can?
Not believing in ki doesn't mean I think Ueshiba, Shioda, etc. were frivolous morons. If that were true, I wouldn't train aikido. I think you're drawing a false dichotomy here. One can find truth and art in the ways of the old masters without believing everything they believed and without using all the same terminology they used.

Ueshiba once said that his understanding of aikido came to him in a spiritual awakening when "a golden spirit sprang up from the ground, veiled my body, and changed my body into a golden one". So does it mean that we are not following the ways of the founder if we don't believe in golden spirits?

Ueshiba also said that "the source of budo is God's love". Does that mean that atheists cannot follow the way of the founder?

Standing over 6 feet tall and weighing in around/above 200 pounds with known record. Recognized name by many. Won quite a few matches. Great guy and confident in his abilities. One of the 99%. Very good in what he could do. Yet, when he met one of the 1%, he could do nothing and couldn't understand how he was rendered powerless. Know what the funny thing is about that description? It matches certain people who are now dead and certain people who are now living, all of whom have pointed to the martial classics and "ki".
Many accomplished martial artists tell the same story about the first time they got out on the mat with an expert in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. They found that all their strength and skill came to nothing, and realized they had a world more to learn. Other than the absence of the word ki, how is that any different from your story? How is it less valid (and it must be less valid for your point about ki to stand--otherwise people are having the same revelation without ki that they are having with it)?

Last edited by OwlMatt : 07-03-2012 at 09:31 AM.

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