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Old 07-02-2012, 04:28 PM   #1
OwlMatt
 
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Post Ki to the Highway

If names be not correct, language is not in accordance with the truth of things. If language be not in accordance with the truth of things, affairs cannot be carried on to success.
- Confucius, Analects

A few days ago, someone on Facebook's Aikido group had the gall to make a post saying that ki power does not exist. The responses that followed this assertion were condescending and not particularly friendly. I'll post the first three here:
  • "Then why are you here?" (3 Likes)
  • "If you do not believe in the existence of ki power, you have not understood the real power of aikido... all techniques depend on ki power: without that, there is only physical strength." (5 Likes)
  • "ki is everywhere, a vital force; the spirit of aikido; if you don't trust in this, you're lost" (1 Like)

I decided not to come to this guy's defense because I think he was being unnecessarily confrontational. But my opinion on this matter is a very strong one: there is no such thing as ki, and we in the martial arts should stop using the word ki (and its Chinese counterpart, chi) altogether.

There, I said it. Everyone take a breath.

Now I'll move on.

There are a lot of problems with the concept of ki, the foremost being that no two people can agree on what ki actually is. In my few short years in aikido, I've heard more definitions of ki than I could possibly count, ranging from things as mundane as "momentum" and "intention" to such wild ideas as "spiritual energy" and "the power of the universe". There are, in short, as many definitions of ki as there are people talking about it.

Some people embrace this amorphousness, deciding that ki is like God or the Dao: something that defies definition and can only be experienced for oneself. The problem with this is that ki, unlike God or the Dao, is supposed to be something we can cultivate and manipulate to produce measurable effects in the physical world (I suppose there are a few, like Pat Robertson, who believe they can do the same with God, but let's not get into that here). The moment we start dealing with clearly-defined physical realities, we give up the luxury of being able to chalk things up to mysterious, inexplicable forces. If something works in a concrete, measurable way, we ought to be able to explain it in a concrete, measurable way.

And by the way, we can explain it in a concrete, measurable way.

I have worked with some amazing people during my time in aikido and they have shown me some amazing things. But I've never seen any of them, including even the great Hiroshi Ikeda, do something that couldn't be explained by physics. No doubt, things like the "unbendable arm" must have looked supernatural to people who lacked a modern understanding of biomechanics, but we know better now. The second Facebook comment above notwithstanding, we no longer need ki to explain how good technique can overcome sheer physical strength. Royce Gracie proved that many times over in the early days of the UFC.

So, nobody can agree on what ki is and there is nothing in the martial arts that requires ki as an explanation. That ought to be evidence enough that ki is nonsense, but there is something much worse than nonsense.

Those of you who read my April post "We're the Problem" will remember a video of Jim Green, a karate instructor who is in the business of teaching children to take falls when he throws his ki at them. No doubt some see this as harmless silliness and consider confronting it with the truth more trouble than it's worth. But consider the case of Yanagi Ryuken.

Ryuken's name has become synonymous in the martial arts community with the worst martial arts delusions. His story was introduced to me by neuroscientist and secularist writer Sam Harris, whose recent interest in self-defense and Brazilian jiu-jitsu has resulted in some very interesting writing on the martial arts. Harris, as one might expect, is keenly interested in the debunking of unscientific martial arts myths. He presentes Ryuken as an example of what happens when masters and their methods go untested and unquestioned.

Ryuken is a master of no-touch throws: rather than striking or grabbing his opponents, he repels them with his ki. Here's a video of him in action with some of his students.

VIDEO

And here's a video of what happened when he challenged a martial artist from another school.

VIDEO

The website where I found this video said that Ryuken ended up with several broken teeth and cuts all over his mouth and nose. Delusion, in the case of the martial arts, isn't just funny; it's sometimes very dangerous.

None of what I've written so far addresses the more pragmatic users of the word ki: the ones who believe (correctly, I think) that what used to be called ki is in fact a combination of breathing, biomechanics, and visualization, and who assert (incorrectly, I think) that there's nothing wrong with continuing to use the word so long as we understand that there's nothing mystical or supernatural about it. I used to be in this crowd myself, but I think this stance was a bit hypocritical of me.

I am a real jerk about words. When we start deciding that words can mean whatever we want them to mean, words begin to lose their meaning altogether. We already have words for breathing, biomechanics, and visualization. Adding ki to that mix only obfuscates things.

For instance, when an instructor tells me to extend my ki outward as I throw, what he means is that if I think outward rather than downward my muscles will follow suit and my throw will go where it is supposed to go. He is telling me to visualize. I got similar advice from my singing coach in college, and he didn't need any mysterious foreign words for it. The best aikido instructors I've ever had just skip the ki middleman and say, "Think out, not down." It gets the same results and makes a lot more sense to most of us.

So to recap:
  • There is no agreed-upon definition of ki.
  • None of the martial arts phenomena attributed to ki need more explaining than can be provided by simple physics.
  • Belief in ki leads some people into ridiculous and dangerous delusions.
  • Use of the word ki complicates and obfuscates things that could be better explained with simple English (or German, or Portuguese, or Hindi, or whatever).

In closing, I must, as always, remind people that I'm no authority on anything. I am not even three years into my martial arts journey, and have no business telling a sandan how to run her class. She can use whatever words she wants. But I, for the reasons above, will never use the word ki in reference to any part of my martial arts training, and will have a little difficulty taking those people seriously who do.

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Old 07-02-2012, 07:52 PM   #2
Mary Eastland
 
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Re: Ki to the Highway

Never say never. Unless it is about thinking during technique.

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Old 07-02-2012, 09:18 PM   #3
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Re: Ki to the Highway

I'm a ki agnostic, myself. I don't know if it exists, I don't need for it to exist, I don't need to prove that it doesn't exist, I don't need to get into a debate with every person who uses the word "ki" to mean something that I think can be described quite well with more prosaic terms. Seems like too much wasted energy all around.
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Old 07-02-2012, 09:39 PM   #4
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Re: Ki to the Highway

ki in my language it spelled "khi". we are between the chinese "chi" and japanese "ki". it meant the same thing - GAS! so aikido meant the way of loving gas, i.e. having gas while loving or the way of blending gas.

"budo is putting on cold, wet, sweat stained gi with a smile and a snarl" - your truly
http://charlotteaikikai.org
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Old 07-02-2012, 11:00 PM   #5
OwlMatt
 
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Re: Ki to the Highway

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
I'm a ki agnostic, myself. I don't know if it exists, I don't need for it to exist, I don't need to prove that it doesn't exist, I don't need to get into a debate with every person who uses the word "ki" to mean something that I think can be described quite well with more prosaic terms. Seems like too much wasted energy all around.
Well, I don't get into debates, either. I just smile and nod. But since my blog is all about me, I'm laying my feelings on the subject all out here.

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Old 07-03-2012, 07:59 AM   #6
MM
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Re: Ki to the Highway

Quote:
Matthew Story wrote: View Post
I am a real jerk about words. When we start deciding that words can mean whatever we want them to mean, words begin to lose their meaning altogether. We already have words for breathing, biomechanics, and visualization. Adding ki to that mix only obfuscates things.

For instance, when an instructor tells me to extend my ki outward as I throw, what he means is that if I think outward rather than downward my muscles will follow suit and my throw will go where it is supposed to go. He is telling me to visualize. I got similar advice from my singing coach in college, and he didn't need any mysterious foreign words for it. The best aikido instructors I've ever had just skip the ki middleman and say, "Think out, not down." It gets the same results and makes a lot more sense to most of us.

So to recap:
  • There is no agreed-upon definition of ki.
  • None of the martial arts phenomena attributed to ki need more explaining than can be provided by simple physics.
  • Belief in ki leads some people into ridiculous and dangerous delusions.
  • Use of the word ki complicates and obfuscates things that could be better explained with simple English (or German, or Portuguese, or Hindi, or whatever).

In closing, I must, as always, remind people that I'm no authority on anything. I am not even three years into my martial arts journey, and have no business telling a sandan how to run her class. She can use whatever words she wants. But I, for the reasons above, will never use the word ki in reference to any part of my martial arts training, and will have a little difficulty taking those people seriously who do.
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".

Skip to modern day. Why keep an ancient, old word? Well, for one, if you start reading the old texts, you can at least have an idea of what they might be talking about. But, you say, how can you do that when no one has a definition for "ki"? Which brings me to your list of 4 points.

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. 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? Why did they all say that what they experienced was beyond their comprehension?

Do you truly think it is valid to equate "Ryuken the Ki Master" with "Ueshiba the Ki Master"? 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%?

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"?

3. LOL, oh, how true. 99% true.

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".

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?

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".
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Old 07-03-2012, 10:15 AM   #7
gregstec
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Re: Ki to the Highway

Quote:
Matthew Story wrote: View Post
If names be not correct, language is not in accordance with the truth of things. If language be not in accordance with the truth of things, affairs cannot be carried on to success.
- Confucius, Analects

A few days ago, someone on Facebook's Aikido group had the gall to make a post saying that ki power does not exist. The responses that followed this assertion were condescending and not particularly friendly. I'll post the first three here:
  • "Then why are you here?" (3 Likes)
  • "If you do not believe in the existence of ki power, you have not understood the real power of aikido... all techniques depend on ki power: without that, there is only physical strength." (5 Likes)
  • "ki is everywhere, a vital force; the spirit of aikido; if you don't trust in this, you're lost" (1 Like)
I decided not to come to this guy's defense because I think he was being unnecessarily confrontational. But my opinion on this matter is a very strong one: there is no such thing as ki, and we in the martial arts should stop using the word ki (and its Chinese counterpart, chi) altogether.

There, I said it. Everyone take a breath.

Now I'll move on.

There are a lot of problems with the concept of ki, the foremost being that no two people can agree on what ki actually is. In my few short years in aikido, I've heard more definitions of ki than I could possibly count, ranging from things as mundane as "momentum" and "intention" to such wild ideas as "spiritual energy" and "the power of the universe". There are, in short, as many definitions of ki as there are people talking about it.

Some people embrace this amorphousness, deciding that ki is like God or the Dao: something that defies definition and can only be experienced for oneself. The problem with this is that ki, unlike God or the Dao, is supposed to be something we can cultivate and manipulate to produce measurable effects in the physical world (I suppose there are a few, like Pat Robertson, who believe they can do the same with God, but let's not get into that here). The moment we start dealing with clearly-defined physical realities, we give up the luxury of being able to chalk things up to mysterious, inexplicable forces. If something works in a concrete, measurable way, we ought to be able to explain it in a concrete, measurable way.

And by the way, we can explain it in a concrete, measurable way.

I have worked with some amazing people during my time in aikido and they have shown me some amazing things. But I've never seen any of them, including even the great Hiroshi Ikeda, do something that couldn't be explained by physics. No doubt, things like the "unbendable arm" must have looked supernatural to people who lacked a modern understanding of biomechanics, but we know better now. The second Facebook comment above notwithstanding, we no longer need ki to explain how good technique can overcome sheer physical strength. Royce Gracie proved that many times over in the early days of the UFC.

So, nobody can agree on what ki is and there is nothing in the martial arts that requires ki as an explanation. That ought to be evidence enough that ki is nonsense, but there is something much worse than nonsense.

Those of you who read my April post "We're the Problem" will remember a video of Jim Green, a karate instructor who is in the business of teaching children to take falls when he throws his ki at them. No doubt some see this as harmless silliness and consider confronting it with the truth more trouble than it's worth. But consider the case of Yanagi Ryuken.

Ryuken's name has become synonymous in the martial arts community with the worst martial arts delusions. His story was introduced to me by neuroscientist and secularist writer Sam Harris, whose recent interest in self-defense and Brazilian jiu-jitsu has resulted in some very interesting writing on the martial arts. Harris, as one might expect, is keenly interested in the debunking of unscientific martial arts myths. He presentes Ryuken as an example of what happens when masters and their methods go untested and unquestioned.

Ryuken is a master of no-touch throws: rather than striking or grabbing his opponents, he repels them with his ki. Here's a video of him in action with some of his students.

VIDEO

And here's a video of what happened when he challenged a martial artist from another school.

VIDEO

The website where I found this video said that Ryuken ended up with several broken teeth and cuts all over his mouth and nose. Delusion, in the case of the martial arts, isn't just funny; it's sometimes very dangerous.

None of what I've written so far addresses the more pragmatic users of the word ki: the ones who believe (correctly, I think) that what used to be called ki is in fact a combination of breathing, biomechanics, and visualization, and who assert (incorrectly, I think) that there's nothing wrong with continuing to use the word so long as we understand that there's nothing mystical or supernatural about it. I used to be in this crowd myself, but I think this stance was a bit hypocritical of me.

I am a real jerk about words. When we start deciding that words can mean whatever we want them to mean, words begin to lose their meaning altogether. We already have words for breathing, biomechanics, and visualization. Adding ki to that mix only obfuscates things.

For instance, when an instructor tells me to extend my ki outward as I throw, what he means is that if I think outward rather than downward my muscles will follow suit and my throw will go where it is supposed to go. He is telling me to visualize. I got similar advice from my singing coach in college, and he didn't need any mysterious foreign words for it. The best aikido instructors I've ever had just skip the ki middleman and say, "Think out, not down." It gets the same results and makes a lot more sense to most of us.

So to recap:
  • There is no agreed-upon definition of ki.
  • None of the martial arts phenomena attributed to ki need more explaining than can be provided by simple physics.
  • Belief in ki leads some people into ridiculous and dangerous delusions.
  • Use of the word ki complicates and obfuscates things that could be better explained with simple English (or German, or Portuguese, or Hindi, or whatever).
In closing, I must, as always, remind people that I'm no authority on anything. I am not even three years into my martial arts journey, and have no business telling a sandan how to run her class. She can use whatever words she wants. But I, for the reasons above, will never use the word ki in reference to any part of my martial arts training, and will have a little difficulty taking those people seriously who do.
Granted, there are a lot of wacky ideas about ki/chi out there (the 99%) but as Mark mentioned, there is the 1% out there as well and you would really be doing yourself a disservice to ignore it altogether. About 35 years ago I came back to the states after studying Ki Society Aikido over in Guam and I was a firm believer in ki as taught by Tohei at that time. However, I ran firmly into the Western agnostic mindset of ki as you describe in you post. So being a young naive person, I thought they were all right and I was wrong so I discarded what I was taught and went off searching for the real thing that caused those techniques to feel like magic - after all, if it had nothing to do with ki, it had to be something. Well, 35 years later I have came full circle when I met this guy up in Massachusetts who told me to use my intent to extend energy out in a certain direction and all I did was extend ki as taught by Tohei and he said, yes, that is it - I realized I essentially wasted 35 years ignoring something I could have been developing better simply because most Western minds could not grasp an Eastern mindset on certain concepts and principles.

Today, I look at ki/chi like the Chinese: " heart leads mind, mind leads intent, intent leads ki/chi, and ki/chi leads body." After all, a million Chinese could not all be wrong for thousands of years - If you look at the above as a process, even your viewpoint of thought and visualization fits into that model.

Greg
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Old 07-03-2012, 10:18 AM   #8
OwlMatt
 
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Re: Ki to the Highway

Quote:
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.

Quote:
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?

Quote:
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.

Quote:
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.

Quote:
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.

Quote:
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.

Quote:
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.

Quote:
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.

Quote:
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?

Quote:
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 10:31 AM.

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Old 07-03-2012, 10:25 AM   #9
OwlMatt
 
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Re: Ki to the Highway

Quote:
Greg Steckel wrote: View Post
Granted, there are a lot of wacky ideas about ki/chi out there (the 99%) but as Mark mentioned, there is the 1% out there as well and you would really be doing yourself a disservice to ignore it altogether. About 35 years ago I came back to the states after studying Ki Society Aikido over in Guam and I was a firm believer in ki as taught by Tohei at that time. However, I ran firmly into the Western agnostic mindset of ki as you describe in you post. So being a young naive person, I thought they were all right and I was wrong so I discarded what I was taught and went off searching for the real thing that caused those techniques to feel like magic - after all, if it had nothing to do with ki, it had to be something. Well, 35 years later I have came full circle when I met this guy up in Massachusetts who told me to use my intent to extend energy out in a certain direction and all I did was extend ki as taught by Tohei and he said, yes, that is it - I realized I essentially wasted 35 years ignoring something I could have been developing better simply because most Western minds could not grasp an Eastern mindset on certain concepts and principles.
But isn't that intent the same thing if you don't call it ki and you don't believe there's anything supernatural about it?

Quote:
Today, I look at ki/chi like the Chinese: " heart leads mind, mind leads intent, intent leads ki/chi, and ki/chi leads body."
Why do we need that third step? Heart (emotion) leads mind, mind leads intent, intent leads body. Practically, what's the difference?

Quote:
After all, a million Chinese could not all be wrong for thousands of years
The Chinese were wrong about many things for thousands of years. For thousands of years the Chinese believed in mountain and river spirits and sacrificed to them. Were they right about that?

Quote:
If you look at the above as a process, even your viewpoint of thought and visualization fits into that model.
Sure it does. But if the model works without ki, then why insert it into the model?

Last edited by OwlMatt : 07-03-2012 at 10:28 AM.

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Old 07-03-2012, 12:17 PM   #10
gregstec
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Re: Ki to the Highway

Quote:
Matthew Story wrote: View Post
But isn't that intent the same thing if you don't call it ki and you don't believe there's anything supernatural about it?

Why do we need that third step? Heart (emotion) leads mind, mind leads intent, intent leads body. Practically, what's the difference?
Intent is not the same as ki - intent is purely of the mind and ki is the energy that bridges the mental to the physical; so, it has mental and physical qualities.

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Matthew Story wrote: View Post
The Chinese were wrong about many things for thousands of years. For thousands of years the Chinese believed in mountain and river spirits and sacrificed to them. Were they right about that?
this is just not a good analogy - no comment

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Matthew Story wrote: View Post
Sure it does. But if the model works without ki, then why insert it into the model?
Who said the model works without ki - I just said your components of the process are included in the model. The model with just your components in it will work only within yourself and not be able to affect what is going on with an opponent that contacts you other than using brute force or some form of jujutsu leverage - there is much more to an interaction than that. If it is just your mental thought at work, how can you explain the difference in what your opponent feels when you project a thought just to his center or when you project that thought through and beyond his center?

Greg
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Old 07-03-2012, 12:42 PM   #11
MM
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Re: Ki to the Highway

You have some good points. I won't reply to them all as I don't have the time...

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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.
Logically, one can infer that because you have A (skills and abilities), then that does not equate to B (ki being real) or C (useful). However, in the manner in which those martial artists used the word, "ki", it was real. Granted, it may not be useful to us to use it as they did. There are better training methods. In that, I agree.

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Because they were martial artists of great skill with a unique take on the martial arts.
Think about it for a second.

People who had trained in jujutsu for 20 + years. People who had trained in Judo for 20 + years. People who had trained in kenjutsu. Kendo. Sumo. These people were seasoned martial artists who had seen, trained, and felt thousands of techniques done thousands of ways. Yet, when meeting Takeda, Sagawa, Horikawa, and Ueshiba, they nearly all said ... that's mysterious, that's impossible, I don't know what he's doing, I've never experienced anything like that, etc.

Read the recorded interviews and articles. It wasn't just some new way of doing techniques (the aiki greats all said their art was formless). It wasn't some unique take on a martial art (the aiki arts do not look like jujutsu, judo, etc). It was something completely outside all of that.

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Matthew Story wrote: View Post
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.
LOL, okay, you have me there. He was an aiki master.

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Matthew Story wrote: View Post
I'm not advocating tossing all that out. I'm advocating tossing one word out.
What if in that 1%, their usage of the word "ki" was an important concept that the other 99% didn't get? If you toss it out completely, you might miss an important concept.

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Matthew Story wrote: View Post
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.
No, I'm not suggesting it at all. I'm outright stating it as a fact. Sort of like 99% of the people once thought the earth was flat and 1% said it was round. Just because 99% of the people believe something, doesn't always make it a fact.

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Matthew Story wrote: View Post
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.
Yep, I think we're in agreement on a good bit of this.

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Matthew Story wrote: View Post
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?
Regarding Ueshiba's golden light ... some of the Chinese grandmasters talked about a golden light/ball as part of their training. These were the very martially skilled Chinese grandmasters, not the flaky ones. So, Ueshiba was following in a long line of classic martial art progressions. Because we (plural for the 99% of us) didn't know that, we attributed it to something flaky and otherworldly.

Regarding the second Ueshiba quote ... have you read Chris Li's blog posts? Ueshiba was talking about solid, classical martial theory. What *we* got in translation was: A) Kisshomaru's changed views of a worldwide aikido and B) words that would appeal to a world wide audience. Neither A nor B were what Ueshiba was actually talking about.
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Old 07-03-2012, 03:22 PM   #12
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Re: Ki to the Highway

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Matthew Story wrote:
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.
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No, I'm not suggesting it at all. I'm outright stating it as a fact.
Aah... a clear line of demarcation.

Matthew's proposition - There are no things in the martial arts that cannot be explained by physics.

Mark's proposition - It is a fact that some things in the martial arts cannot be explained by physics.

It's at this point that the experimental physicist would devise an experiment to test which of the above propositions is supported by experimental data. Anyone care to contribute to the design of said experiment? Thought experiments welcomed.

Ron

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Old 07-03-2012, 03:43 PM   #13
Dave de Vos
 
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Re: Ki to the Highway

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Ron Ragusa wrote: View Post
Aah... a clear line of demarcation.

Matthew's proposition - There are no things in the martial arts that cannot be explained by physics.

Mark's proposition - It is a fact that some things in the martial arts cannot be explained by physics.

It's at this point that the experimental physicist would devise an experiment to test which of the above propositions is supported by experimental data. Anyone care to contribute to the design of said experiment? Thought experiments welcomed.

Ron
This is tricky. What exactly comprises a physical explanation? For example: I believe that in principle, the workings of the human mind can be explained by physics (I think in principle the mind is a huge number of fairly simple interconnected processing units exchanging and processing signals), but does that mean that all psychological phenomena can be explained by physics?

Body mechanics is probably simpler than the workings of the mind, but it is still a complex subject, that also involves the mind.

Last edited by Dave de Vos : 07-03-2012 at 03:48 PM.
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Old 07-03-2012, 03:46 PM   #14
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Re: Ki to the Highway

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Ron Ragusa wrote: View Post
Aah... a clear line of demarcation.

Matthew's proposition - There are no things in the martial arts that cannot be explained by physics.

Mark's proposition - It is a fact that some things in the martial arts cannot be explained by physics.

It's at this point that the experimental physicist would devise an experiment to test which of the above propositions is supported by experimental data. Anyone care to contribute to the design of said experiment? Thought experiments welcomed.

Ron
Can't be explained by anyone in physics at this time anyway. How about you and Mary meeting up with Dan to experiment and test the above propositions?
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Old 07-03-2012, 03:59 PM   #15
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Re: Ki to the Highway

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Can't be explained by anyone in physics at this time anyway. How about you and Mary meeting up with Dan to experiment and test the above propositions?
Now that is a good answer

Henry Ellis
Co-author `Positive Aikido`
http://aikido-bracknell.blogspot.com/
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Old 07-03-2012, 04:00 PM   #16
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Re: Ki to the Highway

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Aah... a clear line of demarcation.

Matthew's proposition - There are no things in the martial arts that cannot be explained by physics.

Mark's proposition - It is a fact that some things in the martial arts cannot be explained by physics.

It's at this point that the experimental physicist would devise an experiment to test which of the above propositions is supported by experimental data. Anyone care to contribute to the design of said experiment? Thought experiments welcomed.

Ron
No experiments needed. Let's step back from the martial arts world for a moment. If we look at physics overall in the entire world by the best and brightest physicists out there -- there is no known way to describe via physics how the human body goes from a walk cycle to a run cycle. Can't be done. This simple thing that the human body does on a subconscious level can not be derived in the physics world.

Now, to expand on that, let's look at the robotics area in the entire world by the best and brightest engineers and programmers out there. There is no known way to create and program a robot derived from a human model. Can't be done. Simple things we take for granted in our bodies have yet to be revealed in either physics, robotics, or programming.

Now, let's go back to the martial arts world. Many people like to use simple physics to explain jujutsu principles. The fact is that they are not using physics at all, but are creating a picture in a person's mind of the principles they are trying to get across.

Human beings are a self contained collaboration of a multitude of complex operational systems that do not work the same from person to person. They do not have to respond like simple physics models. That they do, is only because they have been programmed to.
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Old 07-03-2012, 04:01 PM   #17
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Re: Ki to the Highway

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How about you and Mary meeting up with Dan to experiment and test the above propositions?
Your statement presupposes that we're on opposite sides of the question; a presupposition that I do not subscribe to.

Ron

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Old 07-03-2012, 04:04 PM   #18
Tom Verhoeven
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Re: Ki to the Highway

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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.)

.
Is it ki/chi/jin or ki/chi/ji ?
Ji being a Chinese or a Japanese pronociation?
Wish you knew which the kanji was!

Tom
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Old 07-03-2012, 04:05 PM   #19
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Re: Ki to the Highway

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Now that is a good answer

Henry Ellis
Co-author `Positive Aikido`
http://aikido-bracknell.blogspot.com/
Reference post #17.

Ron

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Old 07-03-2012, 04:06 PM   #20
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Re: Ki to the Highway

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Your statement presupposes that we're on opposite sides of the question; a presupposition that I do not subscribe to.

Ron
No it does not. Do you need physicists from opposite points of view to create test?
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Old 07-03-2012, 04:31 PM   #21
Tom Verhoeven
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Re: Ki to the Highway

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Ron Ragusa wrote: View Post
Aah... a clear line of demarcation.

Matthew's proposition - There are no things in the martial arts that cannot be explained by physics.

Mark's proposition - It is a fact that some things in the martial arts cannot be explained by physics.

It's at this point that the experimental physicist would devise an experiment to test which of the above propositions is supported by experimental data. Anyone care to contribute to the design of said experiment? Thought experiments welcomed.

Ron
Dr.Rupert Sheldrake has suggested several experiments on similar phenomena. Several of his suggested experiments have been done, as a result of which some long-time accepted scientific ideas had to make way for a completely different understanding of natural phenomena. One of his most wellknown books: Seven experiments that could change the world.

Tom
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Old 07-03-2012, 04:33 PM   #22
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Re: Ki to the Highway

So life force isn't real???

Peace.G.
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Old 07-03-2012, 04:48 PM   #23
Tom Verhoeven
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Re: Ki to the Highway

Suppose we would no longer use the word Ki, as it can be confusing and leading to complicated discussions - could we replace the word Ki for a word or concept that will explain it to satisfaction for western people? If so, what would be that word; intent, sensing, visualisation, spirit or ...?
Tom
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Old 07-03-2012, 04:56 PM   #24
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Re: Ki to the Highway

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Tom Verhoeven wrote: View Post
Dr.Rupert Sheldrake has suggested several experiments on similar phenomena. Several of his suggested experiments have been done, as a result of which some long-time accepted scientific ideas had to make way for a completely different understanding of natural phenomena. One of his most wellknown books: Seven experiments that could change the world.

Tom
Thanks Tom.

Ron

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Old 07-03-2012, 05:10 PM   #25
graham christian
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Re: Ki to the Highway

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Tom Verhoeven wrote: View Post
Suppose we would no longer use the word Ki, as it can be confusing and leading to complicated discussions - could we replace the word Ki for a word or concept that will explain it to satisfaction for western people? If so, what would be that word; intent, sensing, visualisation, spirit or ...?
Tom
Probably been done already. Problem is "satisfying" . Don't the french call it elan vital? Much the same as prana.

Prana is known in yoga as 'vital' energy and there in elan vital with have vital again. So? Vital energy.

All are related to life, life supporting, life giving, etc. So there you are, a pretty straightforward concept.

You will find the same basic concept in the word vitamin. Life supporting minerals.

Emphasis in all? Vital.

Of course you could always leave out that which is vital

Peace.G.
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