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Old 02-02-2013, 07:24 PM   #1
hughrbeyer
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Ki vs. Intent

Bernd asked me in a recent post what the difference was between ki and intent and I sorta blew off the question by saying it was just different vocabulary for the same thing.

But I spent part of the day on the mat today cogitating on the question, and I'm not so sure that was a good enough answer. In a lot of ways they are very similar, but they use different imagery and that changes how I work with them in practice.

Intent, as I seem to be practicing with it these days, is about where you put your focus. It tends to be linear, and runs in whatever direction I choose. So I might have intent shooting down out my elbows or knees, or I might use intent to expand in 6 directions, or I might use intent to get under and unbalance my partner, as Hunter talks about in another thread.

The classic image for ki is breath or water. So ki flows in channels. Doing breathing exercises, ki connects palms and soles to center, and the practice builds channels which I can then use during waza. So when I use ki during, say, tenchinage, I'm opening but also connecting palms to center by extending ki along those channels--but it's an extension of intent, not a physical extension. Ki can also cycle within the body creating suppressing or lifting force on uke.

So similar, but not really exactly the same as I think about them. But whether this matters in any practical sense, I'm not qualified to say.

Evolution doesn't prove God doesn't exist, any more than hammers prove carpenters don't exist.
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Old 02-03-2013, 07:43 AM   #2
RonRagusa
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Re: Ki vs. Intent

Quote:
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Bernd asked me in a recent post what the difference was between ki and intent and I sorta blew off the question by saying it was just different vocabulary for the same thing.
Intent, as I seem to be practicing with it these days, is about where you put your focus. It tends to be linear, and runs in whatever direction I choose. So I might have intent shooting down out my elbows or knees, or I might use intent to expand in 6 directions, or I might use intent to get under and unbalance my partner, as Hunter talks about in another thread.

The classic image for ki is breath or water. So ki flows in channels. Doing breathing exercises, ki connects palms and soles to center, and the practice builds channels which I can then use during waza. So when I use ki during, say, tenchinage, I'm opening but also connecting palms to center by extending ki along those channels--but it's an extension of intent, not a physical extension. Ki can also cycle within the body creating suppressing or lifting force on uke.

So similar, but not really exactly the same as I think about them. But whether this matters in any practical sense, I'm not qualified to say.
A little background first: "Mind provides intent, body provides mechanics. Spirit provides the interface whereby mind and body may work in harmonious synergy, blending their efforts, subsuming their individuality and realizing the state of mind/body. Spirit endows the mind/body unit with cohesiveness and structure. Spiritual power, in this case, is not measured in terms of the ability to perform work. Rather spiritual power is expressed by the strength of the mind/body unit." - from my blog, post 204.

The reason I bring this up is because intent belongs to the hidden realm of mind. The generation of intent is a mental process, the realization of intent is feeling. Intent is manipulated in order to achieve goals as you state above: "So I might have intent shooting down out my elbows or knees, or I might use intent to expand in 6 directions, or I might use intent to get under and unbalance my partner..." Intent is a tool that can be used to exploit the power of a coordinated mind and body.

I view Ki as something else entirely.

"To truly implement the Art of Peace, you must be able to sport freely in the manifest, hidden and divine realms" -- M. Ueshiba.

Ueshiba's three realms correspond to three aspects of being as follows: Body -- Manifest, Mind -- Hidden, Spirit -- Divine. Each aspect of being is associated with a process: Body -- Physical, Mind -- Mental, Spirit -- Connection. Each aspect of being comes to the realization of: Body -- Technique, Mind -- Feeling, Spirit -- Universe. The realms, processes, realizations and relationships of mind, spirit and body may be distilled down to the single word -- Ki, as depicted in the diagram below.

When I am fully aware of all three aspects of being I have a high degree of coordination of mind and body. When I have a highly coordinated mind and body I am in my most dependable and strongest state and am able to use intent with great effect.

So, FWIW that's how I would explain the difference between intent and Ki.

Ron


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Old 02-03-2013, 09:50 AM   #3
Cady Goldfield
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Re: Ki vs. Intent

Intent (mind or mindfulness, the "spark" of will) drives Ki (energy inherent in neuromuscular-biomechanical "internal" process), which drives the physical action (physical force or power). The coordination of them produces waza (outward expression).
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Old 02-03-2013, 12:48 PM   #4
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Re: Ki vs. Intent

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Cady Goldfield wrote: View Post
Intent (mind or mindfulness, the "spark" of will) drives Ki (energy inherent in neuromuscular-biomechanical "internal" process), which drives the physical action (physical force or power). The coordination of them produces waza (outward expression).
This jives with my understanding, basically the intent is the mental control mechanism for the ki. To connect it to the OP discussion of breath and ki:
The intent is how you can affect the ki volitionally. But, the breath also affects the ki-- the pressurization can load/strain the ki. So, if you are aware that both of these (breath and intent) have effects on the ki, then you can play with and train the ki using the two of them. Then, in application, you have the tools to induce a "filled"* state and to manage it using the intent.

*couldn't find the original source but google led me to this blog post talking about the passage I was looking for: O-sensei when he was sick was still practicing. The way his body acted when in the "on" state made him hard to lift, but he could turn it off at will. He just changes his intent, and that controls his "ki-filling" state.
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Old 02-03-2013, 02:04 PM   #5
hughrbeyer
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Re: Ki vs. Intent

So, Johnathan, I think I understand what you're talking about, but I want separate some of the distinctions. Cady referenced the classic "mind leads ki" description but I want more detail about what it's like in practice. (Also, the variant I heard, I think, is "Mind leads intent, intent leads ki, ki leads power" which is interestingly different)

Johnathan references "the breath also affects the ki-- the pressurization can load/strain the ki" -- but this is a fairly basic use of the relationship between breath and ki. Eventually, you want breath to be independent of ki, especially when filling your body with ki as in your O-Sensei reference.

Not only do you have to breathe while staying filled with ki, it's easy to misuse breath in this way. I spent a bunch of time filling the chest (which I gather some do intentionally to learn expanding the ribcage) and then had to get rid of that in order to fill hara and the body generally *without* letting it go to the chest.

I see breath as training wheels for ki--by visualizing breath being pulled into one-point you build the channels that you'll use for extending ki later. And it feels like the channels are almost mechanical--that they are how the limbs connect to the center so that when "intent leads ki" it's got a connection to go through. But ki's where the mental (intent) connects to the physical (movement/power).

[Today's post brought to you by Smuttynose's Zinneke Belgian-style stout, a fine, spicy brew. Any failings in grammar or sense may be blamed on them.]

Evolution doesn't prove God doesn't exist, any more than hammers prove carpenters don't exist.
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Old 02-03-2013, 02:46 PM   #6
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Re: Ki vs. Intent

Hugh, my opinion is your last post is pretty right on - the breathwork is something that exercises the ki when you do it with a method where your breaths build pressure. (meaning in normal relaxed breathing, you are free to make the body increase in volume rather than pressure. If you add constraint on purpose, then you increase pressure more and volume less - reverse breathing is one example.) So, where you direct the pressure to directly affects what parts you are training. Working with the chest is distinct from working with the lower abdomen. So, there you described breath-based ki training that is directed toward 2 different spots. One was chest one was abdomen.

My key point is just that the breath can be used to exercise or condition the very same structures that the intent actively controls: they both affect the same "ki."

So they would work together in exercise sessions as a work-out. Then, in usage, you just have your "on" state, body filled with ki, and then the intent is used to manipulate force by manipulating the ki.

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(Also, the variant I heard, I think, is "Mind leads intent, intent leads ki, ki leads power" which is interestingly different)
I don't think this is very different. If we had the right vocab, I think it would be said the same each time. We need words for:
- the "mind" which is your conscious self, with desires to get things done through goal-directed behavior
- the "motor intent" which is related to motor behavior and precedes or is coincident with motor actions... it is the first step of a motor behavior and thus is "lead by" the mind as defined above
- some mysterious tension in the body that ends up controlling how the body bends and how force input affects the body ... this is what is triggered by "motor intent" as defined above
- muscle contraction, which generates force. This force would be manipulated subject to the state of the mysterious tension referred to above. So what we call "coordination" would come from the mysterious tension mentioned above, whereas strength would come from muscle force
- total effective ability to do things, which in some people depends heavily on which force-generating muscles (see above) are flexing, but in others may have more to do with the ground reaction force being combined with attackers' force input by the mysterious force-manipulating tension above

In Chinese there is xin, yi, qi, li, jin, in order of my list above. (I am sure my explanation is wrong according to others, so ok, how so?) So internalists would try to develop and specialize in the jin instead of the li. (Replace force-producing specialty with force-manipulating specialty.) Well, O-sensei's vernacular may not exactly match the Chinese, but I think Chris Li and Dan Harden and others are doing a great job with figuring out how O-sensei's education in Daito Ryu may have been connected to this vernacular. The next step (also being looked at) is how his views may have changed or stayed the same throughout his life. Personally, I'm all ears!
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Old 02-03-2013, 03:12 PM   #7
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Re: Ki vs. Intent

Intent may be the vessel that nage provides so uke thinks there is an opening.

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Old 02-03-2013, 03:27 PM   #8
hughrbeyer
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Re: Ki vs. Intent

Cool with the Chinese vocab there. Interesting to see the distinctions the Chinese thought were worth naming.

The definition for "yi" that you've given matches our use of "intent" pretty closely--not just an intention of the mind, but an intention for a particular action in a particular direction. And yet "intent" isn't just about physical actions. One of the mind tricks I use frequently is to use intent to push or lever uke with parts of my body that aren't physically touching them. E.g. they grab a wrist and I move them with the elbow of that arm, or with hara directly, neither of which is touching them. How does this match to an intent that leads movement?

Same problem with ki. Extending ki through a limb is one thing--extending ki beyond the limb is quite another. Yet the sensation of extending beyond the limb vs. not is quite different--both for nage and uke. This makes sense if you view ki as a flow through a channel--less so if you consider it to be primarily about organizing the body.

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Old 02-03-2013, 03:28 PM   #9
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Re: Ki vs. Intent

In my efforts to write something that reflects the untrained origin of trained "jin," I wrote poorly. My last bullet point above maybe should read:
"
- total, net force output. It is the resultant that gives us the ability to do some useful motor action. In some people it depends heavily on which force-generating muscles (see above) are flexing, in combination with the mysterious force-guiding tension described above. But in others it may have more to do with weight or the ground reaction force being combined creatively with attackers' input force, through a pliable, flexible body. That requires resilience and control of the mysterious force-guiding tension in a global, full-body way, rather than in zones.
"

Regarding Mary's post, if intent controls ki, and ki controls where force is exerted, an attacker grappling with someone should feel "weak spots" or openings depending on how the atackee uses his intent-- so that is one way you can offer openings.

Hugh regarding your last post - I hope my new paragraph here addresses the ability of intent to produce a change distal to the site of physical interaction ("atari," yes?).
My whole hypothesis is that the intent-ki system exists for the movement/force management purposes I wrote above, for normal people. Then in training, we co-opt that system to do something new. If you make your body into one big flexible but resilient ball of joints (which it is), then you can use intent to change the relationship of force input to force output. If you make your state of intent such that uke's body should get pushed to the left, then he should become pushed to the left as a result. You direct the net resultant state of the whole system (2 bodies) by using intent. Then movement follows - and if there is lack of support somewhere, kuzushi follows.

[sorry for the late edits... everyone's posting too fast!]

Last edited by JW : 02-03-2013 at 03:34 PM.
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Old 02-03-2013, 10:28 PM   #10
Cady Goldfield
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Re: Ki vs. Intent

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Hugh Beyer wrote: View Post
So, Johnathan, I think I understand what you're talking about, but I want separate some of the distinctions. Cady referenced the classic "mind leads ki" description but I want more detail about what it's like in practice. (Also, the variant I heard, I think, is "Mind leads intent, intent leads ki, ki leads power" which is interestingly different).]
Hugh,
I'm guessing that you are already doing "mind/intent leads ki" in practice if you are doing internal conditioning. Think about the wilful movement of tanden and meimon (dantien and mingmen) and their effect on your structure and ability to both receive and emit force/power. It's "non-verbal" (that is, not cognitive "wordy" thought) volition that precedes your actually moving the tanden and meimon.The wilfulness is a form of conscious thought, I believe... though not in the way that "I think I'll get a beer" is a thought. But it is a trigger for the actions you must make to manipulate your body in the desired way.

"Mind leads intent" seems like a variation of "Mindfulness leads intent," mindfulness being the state of body-mental-environmental awareness that provides the incentive to have intent...another precursor stage to the process of enacting movement.
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Old 02-04-2013, 08:22 PM   #11
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Re: Ki vs. Intent

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Hugh Beyer wrote: View Post
Same problem with ki. Extending ki through a limb is one thing--extending ki beyond the limb is quite another. Yet the sensation of extending beyond the limb vs. not is quite different--both for nage and uke. This makes sense if you view ki as a flow through a channel--less so if you consider it to be primarily about organizing the body.
"Extending ki beyond the limb" sounds perilously close to ki ball demonstrations and knocking people off their feet from 10 feet away, although I'm sure you are referring to something else entirely. For example, there are times that when I uke for Mary I'll say to myself "this is a really bad idea" before we ever make contact. I will feel something in me, not a force acting at a distance, but a feeling of unease and my impression of her will be one of a person taller and more imposing than she is normally. What I am experiencing in that moment is an extension of her ki, which is the result of her coordinating mind and body to a very high degree. I used to have the same feeling whenever I was uke for Maruyama sensei.

I don't view ki as a flow through a channel. I see it as a result of mind and body being tightly coordinated and highly focused. It's more than body organization, it's about the organization of mind and body. And once ki is manifest it can be manipulated via intent, to the extent that it can be felt across a distance by uke.

Ron

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Old 02-04-2013, 09:02 PM   #12
hughrbeyer
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Re: Ki vs. Intent

No, not referring to ki balls there, just the experience that if you act as though you can reach out all across the dojo it has a different effect on the person who is hanging on to your arm.

Evolution doesn't prove God doesn't exist, any more than hammers prove carpenters don't exist.
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Old 02-04-2013, 09:14 PM   #13
Cady Goldfield
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Re: Ki vs. Intent

When you use intent to fire an action, it sparks the neuromuscular response to whatever the target activity is you're aiming at. You fire the response that you need to do the task that you aim to do.

If a bottle of beer is six inches in front of you on the table, your mind "sparks" a response that adjusts the amount of distance your hand needs to travel, plus the angle of approach and the structure to hold your arm where it needs to be to retrieve the bottle. If the bottle is across a 3'-wide table, your mind-intent adjusts accordingly so your body will structure/angle, power and move the arm the way it must to reach and lift that bottle.

Without an actual bottle of beer on the table, and without moving your arm, you can spark the same neural-firing that would drive the body action of reaching for a bottle of beer. In fact, you don't even have to picture an imaginary bottle in your mind; just spark the volition. When exercising intent, it actually is better not to have a "visual" picture in your mind's eye, because that's one more piece of clutter that obstructs pure thought and action.
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Old 02-05-2013, 04:19 AM   #14
Bernd Lehnen
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Re: Ki vs. Intent

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Ron Ragusa wrote: View Post
"Extending ki beyond the limb" sounds perilously close to ki ball demonstrations and knocking people off their feet from 10 feet away, although I'm sure you are referring to something else entirely. For example, there are times that when I uke for Mary I'll say to myself "this is a really bad idea" before we ever make contact. I will feel something in me, not a force acting at a distance, but a feeling of unease and my impression of her will be one of a person taller and more imposing than she is normally. What I am experiencing in that moment is an extension of her ki, which is the result of her coordinating mind and body to a very high degree. I used to have the same feeling whenever I was uke for Maruyama sensei.

I don't view ki as a flow through a channel. I see it as a result of mind and body being tightly coordinated and highly focused. It's more than body organization, it's about the organization of mind and body. And once ki is manifest it can be manipulated via intent, to the extent that it can be felt across a distance by uke.

Ron
Although one talks a lot about projecting ki in (Tohei oriented) aikido, I've come to see ki more like a substitution/synonym for an interface of vitality between mind and body, whereas intent now is the thing to be projected. For the time being, as is.

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Old 02-05-2013, 06:24 AM   #15
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Re: Ki vs. Intent

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Bernd Lehnen wrote: View Post
Although one talks a lot about projecting ki in (Tohei oriented) aikido, I've come to see ki more like a substitution/synonym for an interface of vitality between mind and body, whereas intent now is the thing to be projected. For the time being, as is.
i think the ki projection was meant as an aid to get folks to relax and use different set of muscles, instead of normal group of muscles contraction to do the same activity.

for me, i would rather not projecting anything, unless i was drinking heavily or having a stomach flu. i would prefer to sneak up on unsuspecting folks and say "ahoy matey! i am the dread pirate Roberts!"

for us asian, we think of ki/chi/qi is a mindless energy and intent forms/shapes the channel(s) for such energy flow. which gives raise to jin - intent directed force/energy. darn chinese that spent millenniums to come up with a term for everything! i am pretty sure they outsourced it to the Mayans.

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Old 02-05-2013, 08:26 AM   #16
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Re: Ki vs. Intent

Hugh, Cady, Mary E, Jonathan, Bernd, Phi and I have all expressed ideas about how intent and ki are related/differentiated in this thread. The metaphors, meanings and visualizations are unique to each individual. So what's the common denominator that weaves a continuous thread connecting us all? Aikido, pure and simple. Despite our varied viewpoints the fact that we can get on the mat and train together for our mutual benefit is Aikido's greatest asset.

Ron

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Old 02-05-2013, 08:42 AM   #17
Cliff Judge
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Re: Ki vs. Intent

I asked Gleason Sensei almost this exact question last year - I think my phrasing was "Is there a difference between intention and ki" and his reply was no, they are very different things. Ki is activated by intention, and also kokyu. Though as your skill in directing ki develops, you can start to activate ki without kokyu.
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Old 02-05-2013, 08:50 AM   #18
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Re: Ki vs. Intent

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Aikido, pure and simple. Despite our varied viewpoints the fact that we can get on the mat and train together for our mutual benefit is Aikido's greatest asset.

Ron
don't forget the partying and carousing afterward which is also a great asset.

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Old 02-05-2013, 09:17 AM   #19
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Re: Ki vs. Intent

These days I see Ki as intent derived/initiated strength. For me, ki requires intent, but i'm not sure that intent alone is ki, but I reserve the right to change my mind.
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Old 02-05-2013, 09:51 AM   #20
Bernd Lehnen
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Re: Ki vs. Intent

Quote:
Ron Ragusa wrote: View Post
Hugh, Cady, Mary E, Jonathan, Bernd, Phi and I have all expressed ideas about how intent and ki are related/differentiated in this thread. The metaphors, meanings and visualizations are unique to each individual. So what's the common denominator that weaves a continuous thread connecting us all? Aikido, pure and simple. Despite our varied viewpoints the fact that we can get on the mat and train together for our mutual benefit is Aikido's greatest asset.

Ron
Hello Ron,
I’m absolutely “genki” with what you say.

When I turn on my Japanese mood, there isn’t any more this clear distinction between mind and body. It’s then more “one in the other and not without”.
Phi’s mindless energy, which is also in a rice corn, in my western mood I would call vitality or life-force. And, in fact, your pronounced “and” in “mind and body” lead me to the western-minded-idea to name this “and” an “interface of vitality” as a substitute for ki.

In my western mood I try to extend or expand my conscious awareness all over my body and feel everything. I try to think my body into moving and that’s enough work, for sure.

Crazy, isn’t it.

Would be interesting to see Chris Li’s point of view.
Take care

Bernd

Last edited by Bernd Lehnen : 02-05-2013 at 09:53 AM.
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Old 02-05-2013, 09:56 AM   #21
Cady Goldfield
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Re: Ki vs. Intent

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I asked Gleason Sensei almost this exact question last year - I think my phrasing was "Is there a difference between intention and ki" and his reply was no, they are very different things. Ki is activated by intention, and also kokyu. Though as your skill in directing ki develops, you can start to activate ki without kokyu.
Which is what I said, earlier, regarding Yi-Chi-Li (but I seem to be under the Curse of Apollo... ). Yi (Shin) drives Chi (Ki)... which drives the body and the outward expression of physical power and waza. Kokyu assists in the creation of spherical force ("peng") by providing a little boost to the change in atmospheric pressure in body cavities, until the individual is able to use other means to create the structural force by other means (manipulating internal tissues instead of depending on kokyu).
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Old 02-05-2013, 01:36 PM   #22
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Re: Ki vs. Intent

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Which is what I said, earlier, regarding Yi-Chi-Li (but I seem to be under the Curse of Apollo... ). Yi (Shin) drives Chi (Ki)... which drives the body and the outward expression of physical power and waza. Kokyu assists in the creation of spherical force ("peng") by providing a little boost to the change in atmospheric pressure in body cavities, until the individual is able to use other means to create the structural force by other means (manipulating internal tissues instead of depending on kokyu).
And which is also what I said! I was hoping to get some confirmation from someone like Gleason sensei but didn't think it would happen in this thread. I don't know Cady or Gleason sensei, but apparently there is synchrony in our understandings.
ps Cady, "Chi" is "to eat" and "qi" is ki... well without tone markers things aren't specific, but that's one way to look at it. (I know it sounds smartassy but inaccuracies can snowball so it's easier to point it out even when it seems to not matter much)
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Old 02-05-2013, 02:04 PM   #23
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Re: Ki vs. Intent

Quote:
Cady Goldfield wrote: View Post
Which is what I said, earlier, regarding Yi-Chi-Li (but I seem to be under the Curse of Apollo... ). Yi (Shin) drives Chi (Ki)... which drives the body and the outward expression of physical power and waza. Kokyu assists in the creation of spherical force ("peng") by providing a little boost to the change in atmospheric pressure in body cavities, until the individual is able to use other means to create the structural force by other means (manipulating internal tissues instead of depending on kokyu).
I did notice that, and I apologize for not giving you props.
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Old 02-05-2013, 02:06 PM   #24
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Re: Ki vs. Intent

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And which is also what I said! I was hoping to get some confirmation from someone like Gleason sensei but didn't think it would happen in this thread. I don't know Cady or Gleason sensei, but apparently there is synchrony in our understandings.
ps Cady, "Chi" is "to eat" and "qi" is ki... well without tone markers things aren't specific, but that's one way to look at it. (I know it sounds smartassy but inaccuracies can snowball so it's easier to point it out even when it seems to not matter much)
What is peking duck then???
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Old 02-05-2013, 02:17 PM   #25
JW
 
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Re: Ki vs. Intent

Quote:
Cliff Judge wrote: View Post
What is peking duck then???
Excellent example of inaccuracies not being nipped in the bud! "Peking" is such a terrible jumble of roman letters. But now we are stuck. No one says "Beijing duck" or "Bukging duck" because wrong is now right!
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