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Old 08-04-2001, 09:41 PM   #1
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Question Christianity and Akido

I apologize if my manners are poor in my posting here. I don't know where else to find the information.

I am interested in studying Akido for health, mental clarity, and self-defense that can protect myself and the ones I love without seriously damaging the attacker. At the same time, I am what many people refer to as a "born-again" Christian.

Is there anyone who knows if practicing Akido would be in conflict with (Bible-based) Christianity? Perhaps people know of other Christians they study with?

Your time and efforts are appreciated
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Old 08-04-2001, 09:50 PM   #2
TheProdigy
Dojo: Aikido Kokikai Delaware
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I could be wrong, but I do believe the founder of Aikido, O'sensei, was in fact also a Christian. Of course his beliefs also went beyond just Christianity, I have heard or read that he was one also.

Aikido is an art to help bring you back into harmony. Regardless if blend it with religious beliefs or not, it is very beneficial. And by the way, I do know of several practicing Christian aikidoka.

-Jase

Jason Hobbs
"As you walk and eat and travel, be where you are. Otherwise you will miss most of your life."
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Old 08-04-2001, 10:07 PM   #3
Greg Jennings
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Quote:
Originally posted by TheProdigy
I could be wrong, but I do believe the founder of Aikido, O'sensei, was in fact also a Christian. Of course his beliefs also went beyond just Christianity, I have heard or read that he was one also.

Aikido is an art to help bring you back into harmony. Regardless if blend it with religious beliefs or not, it is very beneficial. And by the way, I do know of several practicing Christian aikidoka.

-Jase
The Founder was a follower of Omotokyo. It's one of the so-called "new religions" of Japan. Definitely not Christian.

OTOH, The Founder said that Aikido was not a religion but might aid one's religion.

I'm a fairly serious Roman Catholic. I've been studying aikido for over six years. Most of that time has been at the Pentecostal church my instructor attends.

My being Catholic and my instructor being Pentecostal has never bothered our aikido or the other way around.

It might be different for you.

In short, it's all about your own beliefs.

Regards,

Greg Jennings
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Old 08-05-2001, 04:52 AM   #4
Anne
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Smile

Since this threads come up from time to time, you may want to look them up for quick information and other opinions. Just set the -show threads- line from 30 days to -from the beginning- and you can find two more threads on this topic.

yours,
Anne

"You have to do difficult things to grow." (Shoji Nishio Sensei)
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Old 08-05-2001, 07:17 AM   #5
guest1234
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There are some schools that never mention religion, spirituality, and even self-improvement in any way other than improving your technique. There are others that very heavily emphasize traditional and spiritual exercises that while not religious usually are interpreted as such and could make you uncomfortable. For about three months I attended a dojo that had a cross on the shomen, said a Judeo-Christian prayer before class, and rather than bowiing we said "peace" to each other and upon leaving and entering the dojo. Just go visit the ones in your area, and see what feels comfortable to you. I believe there is a form of Aikido out there for everyone. Good luck, hope to see you on the mat someday.
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Old 08-05-2001, 07:22 AM   #6
guest1234
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Oh, and I loved the confusion over O Sensei's religion, that might be a good thing for you to do, see if you can get a library book on his teachings or quotes, or I think bookstores might have a little pocket book of his sayings that's fairly inexpensive. I can easily see why Jason was confused, as his quotes often (not ALWAYS, you warmongers ready to quote a 'cut your opponet' saying) include encouragement to love one another, and work towards unity. I think you'd find the actual things he said perfectly acceptible to your beliefs.
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Old 08-05-2001, 02:20 PM   #7
aikilouis
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Religion must be the worst excuse for not practicing aikido. It doesn't bother too many people to see boxers beat each other senseless, or (american) footballers thank the Lord for allowing them to break necks week in and week out. Why could prevent you from practicing a non-violent art ? Is your faith shaky enough to be in contradiction with it ?

Louis R Joseph
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Old 08-05-2001, 04:13 PM   #8
Erik
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God doesn't like losers

Quote:
Originally posted by aikilouis
(american) footballers thank the Lord for allowing them to break necks week in and week out.
I've never heard a professional athlete thank the almighty after being trounced by 30 points. It seems that god only hangs out with athletes when they win.
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Old 08-05-2001, 04:42 PM   #9
Jorge Garcia
Dojo: Shudokan School of Aikido
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Whether or not aikido is in contradiction to your Christianity depends on the dojo (there are all kinds) and on your particular style or "brand" of Christianity. For the most part, I think aikido in the US is fairly non religious in it's applications, even with regards to O Sensei's own religion since most of his students said they didn't understand it either! I am a Christian and a pastor and I have not encountered anything that affected my being a Christian but if I ever did, I just wouldn't participate in that particular thing. Always be true to your own conscience and don't ever do anything that violates that for anyone else-they won't have to answer to God for what you do-You will.
God bless and enjoy the journey!

"It is the philosophy that gives meaning to the method of training."
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Old 08-05-2001, 05:36 PM   #10
guest1234
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Quote:
Originally posted by aikilouis
Religion must be the worst excuse for not practicing aikido. It doesn't bother too many people to see boxers beat each other senseless, or (american) footballers thank the Lord for allowing them to break necks week in and week out. Why could prevent you from practicing a non-violent art ? Is your faith shaky enough to be in contradiction with it ?

Louis R Joseph
Many dojos start their classes with a series of bows and claps, explained usually just as a 'traditional, respectful' beginning. I believe them when they say that, but I am also aware that is the start to a prayer in another religion. How we got the 'traditional, respectful' explanation I'm not sure, probably the American observing it didn't understand it, didn't ask, and just continued the process in their own dojo. Since I believe them when they say it is not 'religious' I'm fine with it, but others who recognise the bow and claps for what it was (in it's root) might not be... but they are also not likely to be big boxing fans, either, just folks looking for a way to practice Aikido that is comfortable for them. Since my personal views allow me to attend religious ceremonies and services not in the faith of my childhood, it wouldn't be a big deal to me no matter how a lot of the 'traditional' parts of a class were meant, but I know there are many for whom this is a valid obstacle, and like I said, there are dojos out there that are probably not going to bother them, but there are some that will.
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Old 08-05-2001, 06:29 PM   #11
mj
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These are fair and valid points.
Having said that, O-senseis teachings are not always the teachings of Omoto-Kyo.... or any western religion.
'The sacred spirit' of futomani
Also his belief that he was possessed by 'Ame-no-murakamo-kuki-samuhara' which is distinctly un-Christian, probably.
Would it be fair to say that if ANY religion came up 'against' a man who could not be defeated, he would be hailed as a saint, or cast down as a devil? (In Christian terminology.) Cursed or exalted....
The masters' primary teaching was of peace and harmony. Isn't this a precept of all religion? So perhaps people gravitate towards him because of his aspirations and hopes. To watch old film of him, in his eighties, smiling and destroying the Ki of his attackers, melting the intent but not the person. An ideal that is in the essence of every (supposed) peaceful religion. A gardener. Maybe he was one of the early Humanists
Peace

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Old 08-06-2001, 02:25 PM   #12
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Talking The Spirit

It seems that the answer to my question is really one that must be answered at the particular dojo, and that there is enough variation between dojos that a practice in one may not be espoused by another.

My particular concerns were, of course, not that it may be too "non-violent," rather that Akido, in practice, may have involved such concepts or practices as "calling on our ancestors for strength" (my ancestors are dead; I'll call on God for strength) or praying in any way to anyone but Jesus Christ. Other concerns are things like seeing our "equality with the world" - people, birds, rocks, everything. The Bible teaches that God has a special love and desire for humans that He does not have for anything else - we are, after all, "created in [His] image."

I don't intend to offend or even challenge you if you happed to believe in any of those things, but rather to show you what the specific concern was, and the reason for it.

If you look at the book in the Bible and Hebrew Scriptures called Daniel (chap. 3), you'll see the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Aben-nago. Basically, King Nebuchadnezzar made a declaration that at a specific time, all people had to fall down and worship a golden statue. Whoever did not worship would be cast into the middle of a furnace. So at this time, Shadrach, Meshach, and Aben-nago did not worship, because to do so would have been idol worship, and thus sinful. (The 1st of the 10 commandments addresses this) In the end, with one of the greatest declarations of faith found in the Bible, they say, (I paraphrase here) "God is able to deliver us from the furnace, and He may or may not. But even if He doesn't, we won't worship your idol."

It ends with them going into the furnace but not even getting singed. But what is remarkable to me, and what ties it to Akido, is the number of ways the three could have excused their idol worship. They could have bowed down and worshipped God, but made it LOOK like they were worshipping the idol; they could have just dismissed it as just one little thing and God would forgive them; they could have said to the King, "okay, sorry, we'll worship the idol"; etc. etc. etc. But as a part of their witness, they HAD to avoid the APPEARANCE of evil.

You may see from where I'm coming. It's not just my actual practice - I know that I'll never worship an idol, or pray to ancestors, etc. I know that I will always be a Christian. But I am obliged to, and I want to, make sure that everyone who looks at me knows that I am living my life for the living God.

Was that too much? I hope not. Again, I just want to show you where I'm coming from.

Thanks
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Old 08-06-2001, 04:32 PM   #13
Jim23
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Well, you will have to bow. A lot. But that's more because of tradition rather than worship, or even respect.

I respect many people outside the dojo, but have never bowed to them as it's not my tradition. I respect my wife, but have never bowed to her (I know better than to take my eyes off her). I also respect the engineering that went into the car I drive, but I have no plans to bow to either the car or the manufacturer.

I think the biggest problem you'll have will be the people you train with. Meaning, what their individual (and collective) views are, how they interpret aikido and how they respect your views.

Jim23

Remember, all generalizations are false
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Old 08-06-2001, 04:54 PM   #14
deepsoup
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Re: The Spirit

Quote:

You may see from where I'm coming. It's not just my actual practice - I know that I'll never worship an idol, or pray to ancestors, etc. I know that I will always be a Christian. But I am obliged to, and I want to, make sure that everyone who looks at me knows that I am living my life for the living God.

Was that too much? I hope not. Again, I just want to show you where I'm coming from.

Thanks
Well, the bow to shomen is a gesture of respect (for the dojo and the art itself, as well as the founder(s) of that art). Its not an act of worship, but if you still find it bothers you, talk to the sensei about it, most won't mind if you just skip that part.

Sean
x
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Old 08-06-2001, 04:59 PM   #15
lt-rentaroo
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Hello,

I understand you are very devout in your Christian beliefs, however I personally feel you are expressing way too much concern in relation to religious conflicts with the practice of Aikido.

That said, let me explain. I've never, ever been to an Aikido dojo that performed any type of ceremony in any way remotely related to the "calling on our ancestors for strength". I've visited a dojo that performed a ceremonial class session to symbolize the beginning of a new year of training, however this was not quite the same as "praying to the ancestors".

Seeing "equality with the world" is something that I believe ties into the concept of harmony. I personally don't find myself any higher up the path of righteousness than an earthworm. My personal beliefs are such that I think all living things are equal. This may make me seem like an animal rights tree hugging hippie, but I'm not. I rationalize this belief by knowing that all living things have a certain purpose, whether it is using trees for paper or cow hides for clothing. These are by beliefs, and I don't impose them on any of my students; to do so would in my opinion be highly inappropriate. With that knowledge in hand, I would find it hard to find harmony in the world if I felt that I was better or more important than another living thing. At the same time though, I'm certain that believing otherwise would in no way affect my Aikido training.

I believe that if you follow the beliefs you have and maintain the type of relationship with God that is important to you, then all those around you will see it and understand your feelings and beliefs. I recommend visiting several dojo and finding one that fits well with what you want to accomplish.

Please understand that what I've written is in no way a challenge to your beliefs, I admire those who maintain a strong belief system and truly live their lives by it. I believe that doing so demonstrates a very strong character and willingness to succeed in all lifes adventures. Have a good day!

LOUIS A. SHARPE, JR.
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Old 08-06-2001, 04:59 PM   #16
mj
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Re: Re: The Spirit

Quote:
Originally posted by deepsoup


Its not an act of worship, but if you still find it bothers you, talk to the sensei about it, most won't mind if you just skip that part.

Sean
x
Without being disrespectful to anyone at all...
I certainly Would mind if someone came into a Dojo, of any type, and did not follow the same basic civilities that everyone else did.

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Old 08-06-2001, 06:52 PM   #17
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Talking Common respect

Thanks for the replys. I really don't have a personal problem with bowing - I understand that in Japaneese culture, bowing is simply showing respect, not an act of worship.

And if I take it too far in terms of the questioning, try to remember that I am looking at Akido from the outside, never having had the opportunity to practice or even visit a dojo. ( I will be visiting one nearby in the next couple of days ) Akido seems to have the strongest link between philosophy and the actual art of any martial arts I've looked at. For instance, American Karate is often packaged as the best way to "deliver a devistating attack on your opponent" (actual quote from a A.K. dojo info sheet. I've never been in a fistfight that I couldn't talk down, but even if I was attacked, I really don't have the heart to kick somebody in the face. From what I see, the real beauty of Akido is that there are levels of force, many of which can be applied to bring the opponent into submission without injuring.

It's really impossible to learn a martial art that has no offensive moves without a strong philosophy behind it, and in practical application, philosophy and religion are in the same ballpark.

I thank everyone for your comments - I can say that any reservations I had have been addressed, and I look foreward to visiting a dojo soon.
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Old 08-07-2001, 05:30 AM   #18
Tim Griffiths
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Hi Jerid,

As far as bowing goes, in our dojo at least its made
very clear that it's just a formal greeting. In Israel, with
a lot of orthodox Jews and Muslims (yes, we do
practice together) its an important point. For the same
reason there is no clapping at the beginning (its a
Shinto cleansing/summoning ritual). People take
their religion seriously here...

What may be of more concern, and no-one's mentioned
so far, is a Ki-Society dojo that explicitly talks about and
works with the existence of ki - universal energy akin to
the 'Force' from Star Wars (ducks and runs).
This seems to cause the biggest problem for Christians,
and I know of one dojo in the UK which had to move from
the Church hall it was using when the priest saw the class
and heard what was being said (he also kicked out a Tai
Chi and a Yogo class).
Other styles (Aikikai, Yoshinkan) usually either don't talk
much about it at all or use it as a metaphor for relaxed
movement. Incidently this is probably the biggest split
in modern aikido.

You may want to ask your local dojo what style they practice
and their attitude towards ki.

Also incidently, O-sensei was not a Christian, knew little
about Christian teachings but was interested in it. He was
once asked how aikido fitted with the principle of turning
the other cheek. He was at first puzzled, and when the
story was explained to him said that aikido was very similar,
but in aikido we turn the other cheek before they hit us.

Tim

If one makes a distinction between the dojo and the battlefield, or being in your bedroom or in public, then when the time comes there will be no opportunity to make amends. (Hagakure)
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Old 08-07-2001, 03:23 PM   #19
guest1234
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Quote:
Originally posted by Tim Griffiths
Hi Jerid, For the same
reason there is no clapping at the beginning (its a
Shinto cleansing/summoning ritual). People take
their religion seriously here...

What may be of more concern, and no-one's mentioned
so far, is a Ki-Society dojo that explicitly talks about and
works with the existence of ki - universal energy akin to
the 'Force' from Star Wars (ducks and runs).


Tim
I think it is not quite fair to refer to Ki as 'The Force' anymore than one would refer to Ein-Sof and the Sefiroth as "The Force".
I do think that the mystical branch of each religion is often closer to mystical branches of other religions than it is to its parent organization.
Just an opinion.
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Old 08-08-2001, 12:31 PM   #20
Kenn
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Quote:
Originally posted by ca


I think it is not quite fair to refer to Ki as 'The Force' anymore than one would refer to Ein-Sof and the Sefiroth as "The Force".
I do think that the mystical branch of each religion is often closer to mystical branches of other religions than it is to its parent organization.
Just an opinion.
Collen,

I have to disagree. I found it actually quite interesting that someone else used "the Force" from the star wars movies to indicate what Ki is. I have studied martial arts for 5 years or so now. The first 3.5 in Kung Fu and Tai Chi Ch'uan. I found the descriptions of Chi (Ki) to be very similar, in my philisophical mind at least, to that of "the Force".

Just an opinion.

Kenn

Kenn

Remember, the only way to be happy always, is to be happy always, without reason.
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Old 08-08-2001, 03:31 PM   #21
guest1234
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I guess we could talk about The Force "as a creative and active nature,… a dynamic aspect of infinite life, of potencies in which the process of … creative and world-maintaining activities are realized…the undifferentiated unity, the self-contained Root of Roots in which all contradictions merge and dissolve…primarily active and creative force…charged with and emanating energy." Through this, through the ten words of Creation, everything was created. OK then, except this is not Ki, and the words of Creation are logoi, not kotodama, and this is not Oriental mysticism, but Jewish (Ein-Sof and the Sefiroth). I'm just saying that calling a belief like this 'The Force' tends to denigrate it in people's minds, reduce it to a movie plot, which it is not. This is not to pick on Jewish beliefs, but the example was given since the person I was replying to had mentioned a strong Jewish faith. There are similiar beliefs across all religions.
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Old 08-08-2001, 03:43 PM   #22
mj
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The problem is....
Aikidoka find the word 'Force' to be antithetical. (Points for a word never seen on aikiweb?)
That is, we don't relate to the word force. Or the word Force, Luke.

Last edited by mj : 09-01-2001 at 05:51 PM.

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Old 08-09-2001, 11:40 AM   #23
Kenn
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Quote:
Originally posted by ca
I guess we could talk about The Force "as a creative and active nature,… a dynamic aspect of infinite life, of potencies in which the process of … creative and world-maintaining activities are realized…the undifferentiated unity, the self-contained Root of Roots in which all contradictions merge and dissolve…primarily active and creative force…charged with and emanating energy." Through this, through the ten words of Creation, everything was created. OK then, except this is not Ki, and the words of Creation are logoi, not kotodama, and this is not Oriental mysticism, but Jewish (Ein-Sof and the Sefiroth). I'm just saying that calling a belief like this 'The Force' tends to denigrate it in people's minds, reduce it to a movie plot, which it is not. This is not to pick on Jewish beliefs, but the example was given since the person I was replying to had mentioned a strong Jewish faith. There are similiar beliefs across all religions.
Collen,
Wow...Lots there, not sure I get it all. However, I will leave you with the fact that Star Wars creator George Lucas is heavily involved in Zen Buhdism, and that he has stated that the idea of the Force is directly related to Chi (KI). I find the idea of an infite force, power, energy, whatever you want to call, permiating all existance is exactly what is meant by universal Ki...

Check out the late Doshu Kissamoura (SP?) Ueshiba's book, the spirit of Aikido.

Peace, and may the force be with you...Kenn

Kenn

Remember, the only way to be happy always, is to be happy always, without reason.
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Old 08-09-2001, 05:59 PM   #24
mj
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Anyway, Lucas stole Star Wars from the Akira Kurosawa film 'Hidden Fortress'
This is only my opinion, and not necessarily the views of the owners of Aikiweb.

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Old 08-31-2001, 03:34 PM   #25
tedehara
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by Kenn


Collen,
Wow...Lots there, not sure I get it all. However, I will leave you with the fact that Star Wars creator George Lucas is heavily involved in Zen Buhdism, and that he has stated that the idea of the Force is directly related to Chi (KI). I find the idea of an infite force, power, energy, whatever you want to call, permiating all existance is exactly what is meant by universal Ki...

Check out the late Doshu Kissamoura (SP?) Ueshiba's book, the spirit of Aikido.

Peace, and may the force be with you...Kenn
When George Lucas began writing Star Wars®,"the notion of the Force appears in the rough draft when the king...says 'May the force of others be with you.' an obvious variation on the Christian phrase 'May the Lord be with you and with your spirit'."

In Skywalking: The Life and Films of George Lucas, Dale Pollock wrote that "Lucas's concept of the force was heavily influenced by Carlos Castaneda's Tales of Power, an account of a Mexican Indian sorcerer, Don Juan, who uses the phrase 'life force'."

However, Lucas said that he had read extensively on myth and mythology theory,"...as many as fifty books. I basically worked out a general theory for the Force, and then I played with it."

As the concept continued to evolve, Lucas would define the source of the force in the story meeting transcripts as: "The act of living generates a force field, an energy."

By the third draft of the manuscript, Lucas would have Ben Kenobi tell Luke Skywalker, "It is an energy field in oneself, a power that controls one's act yet obeys one's commands. It is nothing, yet it makes marvels appear before your very eyes. All living things generate this force...".

Lucas' development of The Force is not as clear cut as one would suspect. It is not directly from the concept of Qi/ChiKi. The above is from "May the Force be with You." : Ki in Star Wars ®

If you liked The Spirit of Aikido you'll probably like The Mysterious Power of Ki by Kouzo Kaku, where there is an essay by K. Ueshiba about Ki at the end of the book.

It is not practice that makes perfect, it is correct practice that makes perfect.
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