Following a recent aikido course I was interested by the instructor saying he did not like to use words such as 'ki' because it has so many meanings and is easily misunderstood. It definately rang a chord with me (not that I would say I fully understand it - but people use it to mean different things). Instead he used the word 'attitude', as in positive attitude.
Do you think we should shed off some of the more dubious beliefs and belief systems attatched to aikido to find the true practise? (or even translate it more effectively ot a western approach).
I understand many people do aikido for spiritual reasons, however it is an art of war (martial art) to me - and it is only through this relationship with the violent and killing aspects (of yourself or your opponent) which seems to offer this spiritual aspect to me.
Does anyone support (or refute) the view that too much spiritualisation of aikido turns it into a mystical and unreal martial art? (and also detracts from the physical realities of self-defence).
The instructor was correct, in that the word "Ki" is too ambiguous. Certainly the word "attitude" can be considered to be a good substitute if it fits the specific context that he was using.
The Japanese character "Ki" is the Chinese character for "Qi" or "Chi".
If you look at the various usages of Ki/Qi/Chi in the Chinese/Korean/Japanese cultures, the problem becomes more complex. The meaning can be used in the martial or healing arts. The term can be used in every day life or in specific religious terms. However to deny this concept is to deny the tradition and cultures that it came from.
Perhaps a more complete way to explain "Ki" in the situation you wrote about, would be to say that a person should have a correct attitude. In some cases other people would say that a person should have a positive attitude or plus ki. In this case, you explain your concept of what is happening and also explain how other people/instructors would express the situation.
Today, there are also political undertones to "Ki", since Koichi Tohei left Aikikai and used his concept of "Ki" with Aikido, as the focus of his organization, the Ki Society. Since many traditional instructors usually don't talk about Ki/Chi/Qi, but expect the student to figure out the experience for themselves, his "westernized" method of teaching is directly contrary to a traditional approach.
Various people have various reasons for practicing Aikido. Spiritual development is one reason. Developing a martial skill is another. Hopefully, whatever the reason for practice, everyone will train well.