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Old 01-07-2010, 01:05 PM   #1
Mohammed Akmal
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What is Ki?

What is exactly is KI?
How am I supposed to feel it?
What excercises should I do?
How can I use KI in techniques?
Thanks in advance fellow aikidokas.
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Old 01-07-2010, 04:15 PM   #2
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Re: What is Ki?

I found this helpful in understanding ki
http://www.designeq.com/deq/aikido/insideout/ki.html
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Old 01-08-2010, 01:24 AM   #3
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Re: What is Ki?

Thanks mate
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Old 01-08-2010, 05:05 AM   #4
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Re: What is Ki?

These three blog entries by Mike Sigman on Aikidojournal might be of some help:
Thoughts on Putting Ki back in Aikido Practice I
Thoughts on Putting Ki back in Aikido Practice II
Thoughts on Putting Ki back in Aikido Practice III
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Old 02-04-2010, 07:51 AM   #5
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Re: What is Ki?

Quote:
Cherie Cornmesser wrote: View Post
I found this helpful in understanding ki
http://www.designeq.com/deq/aikido/insideout/ki.html
Interesting article... But in fact, at the end of the article, he's actually explaining there's just nothing like KI but he's just using the other one's movement.
Quote:
For example, if your partner reaches for your wrist and you wait until he grabs you before you start to turn and throw, you will end up with someone's body hanging on to your arm as you try to throw. If, instead, you start the turn and throw before he actually grabs you, you will be able to lead his energy. In order to grab you, if you are already moving, your partner will have to track your movements and follow you. If he is intent on grabbing you, you will be able to lead his ki by just staying slightly ahead of his grab. Then you simply lead the movement into any convenient aikido form.

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Old 02-04-2010, 12:48 PM   #6
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Re: What is Ki?

Some people are more naturally aware of the energy currents (ki) than others. While on a very basic level, you are correct Dirk, he is just leading the others movement, on a much deeper level he is making use of the energy currents that influence that movement.

If you watch someone in an aikido movement carefully you will begin to see where the spirals are inclined to take them. You just need to learn to see it with your inner eye. Sort of use your imagination.

The best thing I have found so far, and I am so much a beginner here, is learning to meditate and quiet the mind. When you get rid of the distractions of the materiel world and the buzz of thoughts and reasoning in your head it becomes easier to realize the existence of such intangibles as ki.

I would not be too concerned about it. As your training progresses it will come clear when the time is right for you to understand it.
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Old 02-04-2010, 12:51 PM   #7
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Re: What is Ki?

Quote:
Dirk Desmet wrote: View Post
But in fact, at the end of the article, he's actually explaining there's just nothing like KI but he's just using the other one's movement.
Hi Dirk, regarding that quote, I see what you mean. Still, I would like to point out that there is another way to interpret those words.
I couldn't read the article in detail yet but it was clear to me that the person writing it has been exposed to the same "ki" that I am talking about. Though I disagree with some things (like saying there are no exercises or techniques to bring about ki development in your body, and that less effort means more ki), I think the writer was clearly exposed to the lore surrounding correct ki usage.

So-- the quote you presented can be interpreted as correctly using ki. It is not to say it isn't physically present. Consider that "ki" is what your intent commands, and physical movement comes later. In other words ki is a physical phenomenon that occurs between intending to move and moving. Now, that quote becomes something more interesting! What the quote says is that ONE way of playing with ki is to keep making your partner change his intent (this changes his ki). I would say, after getting kuzushi, this is what you are doing in standard techniques to maintain kuzushi, causing movement that is directed by both of you, but ultimately, it is movement that is to your advantage (as nage).
--JW
ps yikes Cherie we posted at the same time, I partially echoed what you said.
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Old 02-04-2010, 12:58 PM   #8
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Re: What is Ki?

LOL JW yes but you were able to say it in maybe a bit more easy to understand way. I have such a hard time putting into words the things I see and understand in this kind of thing.
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Old 02-04-2010, 05:05 PM   #9
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Re: What is Ki?

There's a story floating around where Tohei was asked the same question by a student on a train trip, to which he picked up a drink can and replied "That is ki".

Terms like "life force" and "energy" are commonly used metaphors to describe ki - which is an abstract "thing", which conveys meaning within its own unique cultural context and usage. In east Asian cosmology, even inanimate things, such as rocks, rivers, mountains and sky have ki, and applying the term "life force" to such inanimate entities is incomprehensible.

If you stand "naturally', let your arms hang down beside you, and breathe naturally, you will notice that your arms will raise and drop slightly in unison with your breathing. That is but one manifestation of ki.

In physical and mechanistic terms, which, as martial artists/hobbyists, we would want to concern ourselves with, ki is primarily motive forces - i.e. that which makes us/them move, or not move (as the case maybe).

But, if "energy" helps you put concrete meaning on an abstract concept, then go for it.

Ignatius
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Old 02-04-2010, 05:33 PM   #10
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Re: What is Ki?

From http://www.aikiweb.com/language/ki_phrases.html
by J. Akiyama

Home > Language > "Ki" Phrases
by J. Akiyama <Send E-mail to Author>

So, what does "ki" mean in "aikido," anyway? There's been a lot of discussion and even some heated arguments over this Japanese term.

In essence, the character ki means:

* spirit, mind, soul, heart
* intention
* bent, interest
* mood, feeling
* temper, disposition, nature
* care, attention
* air, atmosphere
* flavor
* odor
* energy, essence, air, indications
* symptoms
* taste
* touch, dash, shade, trace
* spark, flash
* suspicion

However, I think that there is some good in taking a look at how we, the Japanese people, use the term in everyday life. I think that a lot of people attribute a whole lot of esoteric meaning behind words that aren't all that esoteric; this is the reason why I chose very common Japanese words to illustrate how we use this term in our everyday life. After all, isn't that what we hope to do in the first place in aikido -- use "ai" and "ki" in our everyday lives?

Here are some contexts in which the word "ki" and some of its derivations are used in everyday Japanese.

Japanese Phrase Kanji Literal Translation Definition
Gen ki "source/foundation of ki." one's health
Byou ki "ill ki." to be sick
Ten ki "heavenly ki." the weather
Ki ga tatsu "the ki stands upright." to get angry
Ki wo tsukeru "to put on (or to have) ki" to be careful; to be attentive
Ki ga kiku "the ki is used a lot" to be empathetic
Ki ga susumanai "the ki does not go forward." to not want to do something
Ki ga sumu "the ki is finished or used up." to feel fulfilled
Ki ga tsuku "to have "ki" put onto you." to notice
Ki ga tsuyoi "the ki is strong." to be headstrong
Ki ga yowai "the ki is weak." to be like a coward
Ki ga tooku naru "the ki goes far away." to become lightheaded
Ki ga nai "to have no ki" to have no interest in something
Ki ga nukeru "the ki becomes missing." to lose hope
Ki ga mijikai "the ki is short." to be short tempered
Ki ni sawaru "something touches the ki." to find something irritating
Ki ni naru "to become ki" to have something nagging or on one's mind
Ki wo kubaru "to pass out ki (to people)" to attend to other people's wishes

and

from a Blog by Mario McKenna (http://okinawakarateblog.blogspot.co...1_archive.html)

What is Ki?

Not that I am that old, but when I was a young karateka I concentrated on developing good, solid technique. Let's face it, the spiritual side of karate wasn't going to interest a teenager and I was hardly an exception. Sure I did my obligatory ‘mokuso', but that was as far as it went. I was much more interested in punching the makiwara, than sitting in seiza. This all didn't change that much until I entered university and came into contact with other budo groups, mostly Kendo, Judo and Aikido. Out of those three I was most struck by the Aikidoka. Sitting and talking to them gave me a whole new perspective on budo, what I labelled the "flower-child" mentality. They constantly talked about things that I considered quite esoteric, "harmonising with your opponent", "being one with the universe" and of course "ki". We discussed things and compared ideas, but compared to the Aikidoka, I suppose I had a "hammerhead" mentality because I didn't have much use for those concepts. "How were those things going to help my smash my opponent into nothing?", I thought. No real practical application, so not much use to me. At least that was how I thought. The Aikido guys would just sigh and say that I just didn't get it. After my encounter with the Aikidoka, I started to bring up the topic of "ki" with my teacher, Kinjo Sensei, a very down-to-earth Okinawan gentleman. He stated quite frankly that his teacher had never discussed the concept of "ki" with him, but he intuitively felt that it existed. "But how do you know it exits?", I asked him, "You just feel it", he would answer. Now, having been educated in a Western school setting where emphasis was placed on logical, rational and analytical thinking, this answer didn't help me very much. In fact, it just added to my confusion. Practice and I'll feel it? What exactly am I supposed to feel? The concept of "ki" again dropped to the wayside.

After I moved here to Japan where I stayed for eight years, I came into contact with all manner of budo, religion, mediation, the esoteric the mundane and the just plain weird. However, through all these encounters, the concept of "ki" started to make a little more sense. Why? Because it was everywhere. You couldn't swing a dead cat in Japan with out encountering the concept of "ki". Let me explain. "Ki" was originally written as a "vapour" and "rice", implying some sort of ethereal energy being released by an object or organism. In fact the concept of "ki" is so prevalent in the Japanese language that it is an integral part of many words and idioms. For example, genki (vigor; energy), kibun (feelings), kien (high spirits), kiomo (gloom), kikaru (light-heartedness), and the list goes on ad-nauseam. What we can see in these examples then, is that at a basic level, "ki" has quite a lot to do with the human emotional state. Now you might be saying, "what has this got to do with budo?" Everything! A budoka who cannot control his or her emotions, will never be able to apply any technique or respond appropriately when he or she absolutely needs to. Raw emotion quickly undermines and destroys any technique, no matter how much training the person has had. So, "ki" reflects our emotional state and a controlled emotional state is essential for a budoka. So how should "ki" be seen or defined from a budoka point of view.

Well, to give you an idea of "ki"'s importance and its implications, let's look at the following definition of "ki" by the late Walter Todd sensei conducted by Meik Skoss (http://koryu.com/library/mskoss10.html). In my opinion this is one of the best, no-nonsense definitions of "ki" I have read. Yes, I wanted to demystify aikido and make it simple so that anybody could understand it, at least on a lower level. Just like when they talk about ki--I have my own interpretation of what ki is--but when I ask aiki people to explain to me what ki is, 99% of them give me the old, "Well, you're just not ready to understand it. You'll understand it when you're ready." Well I say that's a cop-out. If you really understood it you could explain it. Here you are trying to teach ki and you don't even understand it. At least when I teach I can explain what ki is. I have my own little definition of ki, which is, "Ki is the spirit of the movement, from movement to movement, seeking that which is pleasurable." And most teachers would not agree because of one word: pleasurable. They say, "You're making it sound exotic or erotic or something." No. It's the feeling of the movement, going from movement to movement, seeking that which is pleasurable. So when we're working out and you catch me on a really beautiful throw, it feels good, doesn't it? Like a little "body orgasm." And those are the things that keep us in the martial arts. When the body does a good movement it feels good! And that feeling at that moment is ki at its best manifestation. Ueshiba... Tohei, they both said you're supposed to feel good when you're training. They never said you gotta get in there and kill yourself when you train. Who wants to do that and end up crippled?! That's ridiculous.

Looking at Todd sensei's definition we can see the idea and importance of a highly energised and pleasurable emotional state. For myself, after reading this, things started to make a little more sense. Especially if you compare it to studies investigating peak performance or collegially referred to as "flow". According to Goleman (1995, pp. 103) flow refers to, …a state of self-forgetfulness, the opposite of rumination and worry: instead of being lost in nervous preoccupation and worry, people in flow are so absorbed in the task at hand that they lose all self-consciousness, dropping the small preoccupations -- health, bills, even doing well -- of daily life. In this sense, movements in flow are egoless. Paradoxically, people in flow exhibit a masterly control of what they are doing, their responses perfectly attuned to the changing demands of the task. And though people perform at their peek while in flow, they are unconcerned with how they are doing, with thoughts of success or failure -- the sheer pleasure of the act itself is what motivates them.

Taken together, this would suggest that "ki" is not such an elusive concept after all. It is very much in line with the Western concept of "flow" or "peak performance". It would suggest a very real construct, one accessible to all of us, a highly energised but relaxed mental state capable of producing efficient and accurate results. Who wouldn't want to have this state of mind? The problem is developing it. So, how do we cultivate "ki" and achieve its benefits? Noted martial arts historian and Okinawan karate and kobudo teacher Murakami Katsumi gives us a hint when he replied to the following question during an interview (McKenna, 1999).

Interviewer: You have studied many different forms of martial arts. Is there any one in particular that you are fond of? Murakami: No there isn't any one in particular that I like. They are all unique. It's not like I feel, "oh it's Monday so I should practice Tai Chi Chuan" or "it's Thursday so I have to practice Shorin-ryu". Personally, no matter how hard I practice or how well I perform a technique, I never think, "oh, I'm never going to perfect this technique", that is not the focus of my training. What is important is that in each moment I am focused on that technique, I lose myself in it and enter into a state of mushin [literally "no mind"]. This type of training is a form of Zen training, more specifically the Soto Zen [ the school of Zen Buddhism founded by Dogen Zenji]. Zen Buddhism teaches that the truth [of your existence] can only come from yourself. And can only be achieved through forgetting your own self [ego]. In order to forget your own self you must have a singular concentration on the moment which requires you to remove all other distractions or obstacles. When you can achieve mushin you have removed all distractions and have perfect concentration and are able to see the truth for what it is. You have forgotten yourself. In Karate, Kobudo or Chinese Kempo, when you practice your goal should be the same; achieving that singular concentration and forgetting yourself. The Kata and movements found in Budo are Zen. Their common denominator is the elimination of the self. When you can achieve this state of forgetting yourself, it is an absolutely wonderful feeling.

Murakami sensei's answer to cultivating and benefiting from "ki" is a simple one, to focus the mind by singularly concentrating on the task at hand. Again, Western scientific research corroborates Murakami sensei's belief that argues that a sharp focused attention to the activity or task at hand is essential to entering "flow" or getting your "ki" moving (Goleman, 1995). But this is not as easy as it seems and requires quite a lot of discipline to get passed that initial hurdle. The mind has a tendency to wander and become distracted easily. If you don't believe me, try the following rudimentary exercise used in Zen.

In a quiet location, sit opposite a wall in a comfortable position either cross-legged or in seiza (you can use a zabuton or cushion). Keep your back perfectly straight and focus your gaze towards the wall, slightly downward. Your eyes should be relaxed, but not closed! Now, slowly breathe in through the nose to a count of one and slowly exhale through the nose to a count of one. Try to complete this cycle 20 times. Easy you say? Just wait. You must not have ANY distractions. If your mind starts to think about something else besides the rhythm and the counting of breaths, go back to zero and start again. If you get to five or six and start thinking, "Gee this is easy", go back to zero! You are absolutely allowed no extraneous thoughts. When I first learned this simple exercise, I thought I had a fairly good concentration level. Boy was I wrong. I spent most of the day going back to zero because my mind kept distracting me! I'd get to 19 and think, "I'm almost finished!", then I'd realise my mind is wandering again. Damn! Back to zero!

Once you can do this simple exercise, try doing it while you practice kata. You will be surprised at the results as "ki" or "flow" creates its own feedback loop and produces a state devoid of emotional baggage, save the pleasure it generates. References Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ. New York: Bantam Books. McKenna, M. (1999). An Interview with Murakami Katsumi: The Heart of Ryukyu's Martial Ways. Journal of Asian Martial Arts, Vol. 8(4). Skoss, M. (2000). Walter Todd: An Interview.

David
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Old 02-04-2010, 06:37 PM   #11
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Re: What is Ki?

Ki is something that few people truly understand, but almost every instructor likes to talk about. I agree with some of the posts above, especially Mr. David Skaggs, But overall, I feel that it's a topic that people talk about before they understand what Ki is.
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Old 02-04-2010, 08:21 PM   #12
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Re: What is Ki?

Quote:
Ignatius Teo wrote: View Post
There's a story floating around where Tohei was asked the same question by a student on a train trip, to which he picked up a drink can and replied "That is ki".
Tohei could be quite down to earth and practical in one moment and then be talking about stunning chickens with his "ki" in the next. A lot of it depends upon which quotes you pick

Best,

Chris

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Old 02-04-2010, 09:22 PM   #13
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Re: What is Ki?

I seem to have a biological imperative to define things. Ignatius, I like what you've done here:
Quote:
Ignatius Teo wrote: View Post
In physical and mechanistic terms, which, as martial artists/hobbyists, we would want to concern ourselves with, ki is primarily motive forces - i.e. that which makes us/them move, or not move (as the case maybe).
But, I think as your need for the parenthetical there makes clear, it needs a tweak.
I think forces are the key thing, not motion, so how about ki = the likelihood that a body will impart a particular force?

This is a definition that fits rivers, seas, rocks, as people. Gravity is the ki of heaven because of the fact that because of it, any mass is 100% likely to be imaprted with a force equal to its mass times the gravitational constant. The ground has the ki of earth because (within reason) it is certain to impart an upward force exactly equal to any force put on it. And, humans have the capacity to do lots of movements, but when we formulate the intent (not just the plan but the real physical intent), our body makes arrangements for particular forces to be transmitted to particular points, causing the movement. How we do that is another interesting question.
But I think we can all see from our aikido practice that a body that is about to do a certain movement behaves differently than a body in a similar pose but just standing there. Isn't that the essence of the "magic" we feel when a technique goes right? We did the right things when our partner was in just the right state of intent?
(ps motion gives a body a form of ki too, under this definition. A body with a certain amount of momentum in one direction has a high likelihood of exerting a known force in that direction-- it just needs someone to hit for that to go from "intent" to fully manifested force)
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Old 02-04-2010, 09:34 PM   #14
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Re: What is Ki?

There is no such thing.
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Old 02-04-2010, 10:17 PM   #15
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Re: What is Ki?

Quote:
Michael Gelum wrote: View Post
There is no such thing.
what do you mean sir? Don't they talk all about that stuff? Chi / Ki / Aiki/ Aikido. Must be some such stuff(s)?
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Old 02-04-2010, 10:17 PM   #16
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Re: What is Ki?

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote: View Post
Tohei could be quite down to earth and practical in one moment and then be talking about stunning chickens with his "ki" in the next. A lot of it depends upon which quotes you pick
Good thing I picked the former then.

Ignatius
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Old 02-04-2010, 10:19 PM   #17
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Re: What is Ki?

Quote:
Michael Gelum wrote: View Post
There is no such thing.
That's like saying it's ai-do not ai-ki-do?

Ignatius
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Old 02-04-2010, 10:39 PM   #18
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Re: What is Ki?

yeah. they're definitely talking about something.
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Old 02-04-2010, 11:14 PM   #19
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Re: What is Ki?

Quote:
Ignatius Teo wrote: View Post
That's like saying it's ai-do not ai-ki-do?
Actually, it's "aiki" "do", if you ask me...

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Chris

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Old 02-04-2010, 11:19 PM   #20
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Re: What is Ki?

Quote:
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Actually, it's "aiki" "do", if you ask me...
isn't it "in-yo ho"?
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Old 02-04-2010, 11:28 PM   #21
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Re: What is Ki?

if you stop a dogfight with a yell (kiai?); is that harder or easier than stunning a chicken with your ki? Did I stop the dogs with my ki? I don't know that I think that. But most importantly does a dog spook easier than a chicken; because they are domesticated? What if it's a polite chicken? All good questions.
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Old 02-05-2010, 12:08 AM   #22
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Re: What is Ki?

Quote:
Josh Phillipson wrote: View Post
isn't it "in-yo ho"?
Not according to the Butokukai

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Chris

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Old 02-05-2010, 12:19 AM   #23
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Re: What is Ki?

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote: View Post
Actually, it's "aiki" "do",
Minor point, what I'm saying is if ki doesn't exist, then there is no such thing as aiki, since there is no ki to ai with.

Ignatius
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Old 02-05-2010, 12:46 AM   #24
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Re: What is Ki?

Quote:
Ignatius Teo wrote: View Post
Minor point, what I'm saying is if ki doesn't exist, then there is no such thing as aiki, since there is no ki to ai with.
Does the Roman god Mars exist? But we still have "martial" arts...

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Chris

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Old 02-05-2010, 02:44 AM   #25
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Re: What is Ki?

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote: View Post
Does the Roman god Mars exist? But we still have "martial" arts...
Science may not be able to prove the existence of ki or Mars, but that does not mean the the Japanese and the Romans respectively did not use these words to name some experiential reality. And that leads us to the question Ignatius asked: how can you practice Aikido, if you don't acknowledge the experiential reality of ki? Doesn't matter if ki has no scientific reality or if you prefer to use a different word of set of words to describe it, 'no ki, no aikido' still applies.

BTW, a more courageous (hence provocative) way to phrase your question would have been: Does God exist? But we still have Christianity...
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