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Old 11-03-2004, 11:44 PM   #79
mriehle's Avatar
Dojo: New School Aikido
Location: Stockton, CA
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 320
Re: Aikido and being Christian

Sarah Eliz* wrote:
Thanks for another reply. I mean, I want to believe that ki can be whatever I make it ... but I don't really see how I can.
Okay, this 'Ki' thing is way simpler and way more complicated than most people want to believe. Part of the problem from a Christian point of view is the tendency of some (most?) Aikido practitioners to use the words 'Ki' and 'energy' interchangeably. This gives the impression that they believe Ki is supernatural.

I happen to believe that Ki is not supernatural and that it isn't energy either. There is certainly energy associated with Ki, but it appears (to me) to be nothing more than the efficient use of muscles and bone structures (alright, alright, it's more complicated than that, but that's why the 'Ki' concept is useful). The other aspects of Ki are much slipperier and, IMO, more interesting.

The way Ki was originally presented to me is that it is a phenomenon that occurs when your mind, body and spirit are perfectly coordinated. In recent years I mostly just hear mind and body because the schools don't want to be thought of as teaching religions (rightly so, but dropping the spirit part still feels subtly wrong to me).

So, to me, Ki is about energy and timing and relationships and intention and psychology and a whole lot of other stuff.

And it's as natural as breathing.

When we develop Ki we don't tap into some new force that we've never had access to before. We learn to manipulate the factors that come into play to create Ki and make the Ki we already have stronger. The analogy has issues, but you could look at it as developing an unseen muscle.

And Martial Artists do not have a monopoly on Ki. Ever seen a professional athlete pull off a great move as though it was easy? That's Ki. As a musician I regularly find that my playing improves when I'm perfectly coordinated in my mind, body and spirit. That's Ki.

My personal favorite in describing an instance of "naturally occuring" Ki is the terrier in the bathtub. Suddenly this five-pound dog becomes astoundingly strong and slippery. He knows just how to apply his strenght to maximize the difficulty in getting him into that tub. That's Ki.

If you want to go into all kinds of supernatural mumbo jumbo to explain Ki, that's certainly your prerogative. Me, I've decided that I can't completely understand how the various factors that make up Ki can come together in exactly the way they do, but I do understand the individual factors on their own.

What I tell my students is that asking "What is the essential nature of Ki?" is just the wrong question. A much better question is to ask what is the nature of your Ki. Since Ki is about so many things, your Ki is not my Ki and is not anybody else's Ki. Your intention is different than mine. Your body structures are different than mine. The relationships you have with other people are different than mine.

But Ki is still Ki and this is not a contradiction.

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