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Old 07-06-2012, 08:09 AM   #115
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Dojo: Milwaukee Aikikai
Location: Wisconsin
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 398
Re: Ki to the Highway

Matthew Gano wrote: View Post
I'm not sure I agree. I can buy it being a mysterious word with loose definitions ("intelligence" comes to mind as another, perhaps lesser, example), but it's used to describe things that I think do need explaining, but the mystery of it is perhaps accepted too readily as an excuse to stop thinking about it.
Perhaps the ambiguity of the term is a little like "mind."
I agree that there is sometimes a usefulness to ambiguous terms, but I've never seen anything in aikido that needed more explanation than science could provide. Can you give an example?

Sounds like the brain to me. Clearly "mind" detracts from learning about brain function...except that it doesn't always; sometimes it provides a new lense which inspires new understanding.
If mind can be described as an amalgamation of certain neurological functions (which are not agreed upon within different schools of thought as to which ones comprise it), perhaps ki can be described as an amagamation of mind and body functions. So here we would have two terms used to loosely describe some sets of phenomina with no agreed-upon definition.
I think mind is a philosophical concept which works because it stays on its own philosophical and psychological plane. The reason ki stumbles where mind doesn't is that ki crosses over into the realm of physics, a world of measurable math.
The example you gave of the guy moving kids with his ki seems rather dubious and reminicent of Dillman and his knockout punches that only work on his own students (i.e. classic conditioning). These don't disprove anything, of course.
You're right. It's not intended so much to disprove as to illustrate the dangers of leaving supernatural beliefs unquestioned. When someone tells us they can do something with ki, we need to be wondering what this ki is and how it works. And if there are no answers, then we ought to be questioning the reasoning behind bringing it up at all.
People do get knocked out all the time...I was knocked out a few minutes after I dislocated my patela (I'm a sissy though). That's an obvious example that "odd" knock-outs can exist, but perhaps ki isn't so obvious...kinda of like the potential varieties of Higgs-Boson particles (LHC = Large Hadron Collider...or possibly Left-Handed Corn, which is much tastier than Right-Handed Corn ).
Odd knockouts can exist. I certainly don't dispute that.
When it comes to evidence-based approaches I'm not sure you can assert there is no flying spaghetti monster; all you can do is describe what model seems to help you understand phenomina the best and draw correlations. Asserting there is no Ki is the same as asserting there is no God: maybe; impossible to know given our current resources. I see assertions in either case as belief, not disbelief.
And here I have to disagree. It's like my example from earlier: I assert that there is an invisible ghost named Norman who puts ideas in your head. It's impossible to know that I'm wrong, and our science of how the brain formulates ideas is certainly incomplete, so why don't you believe in Norman? The obvious answer is that you have no reason to believe in Norman. It is not an assertion of belief to say that Norman doesn't exist; it's a reasonable conclusion based on the available evidence.

In all things, the absence of a reason to believe is reason enough not to believe. Otherwise, UFOs, Bigfoot, astrology, 9/11 conspiracy theories, and Jim Green's telekinesis are all of inherently equal value to the science and history they dispute. It is not an assertion of belief to say these things aren't real; it's a reasonable conclusion based on evidence. And I think the same can be said of ki.

My martial arts blog: The Young Grasshopper
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