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Home > Spiritual > The Value of Ki Study
by George Simcox - 2. January, 1997

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Hal Davis wrote:
I tried very hard to couch my questions so as not to ask what ki is. I've been told before that it's undefinable. I tried very hard to ask what specific benefits the study of ki would bring to the aikidoka. Now I'm being told those are not definable, either.

Now this question I may be able to provide some help in responding. I practiced Aikikai before there was a Ki Society to join. My instructors (2) were, in the first case, from Hombu Dojo - 5th Dan and in the second case a Hawaiian based Sensei who had been trained by Tohei Sensei during his various trips to Hawaii in the '50s and '60s. During these classes I heard little mention of Ki as such, although the Hawaiian Sensei did use the term from time to time and I had read "The Arts of Aikido", "Aikido in Daily Life" and "What is aikido?", all by Koichi Tohei when he was Chief Instructor of Hombu Dojo. These books made reference to Ki as a central element in technique but did not go as far as his current teachings. He talked about energy flow in discussing "unbendable arm" and One Point is discussing stability while standing and during movement. Later, in '74 I became acquainted with the new Ki Society and began lessons in his new program. So much for background.

What I found in the new program was four rules for coordination of mind and body. Once understood, they posed a framework for understanding relaxation in the face of stress and the ability to perform techniques softly in the face of an opponents force. As an example; when studying Shomenuchi Ikkyo under the former training I would leave class with sore and bruised wrists and forearms due to blocking the downward force of the Shomenuchi blow. Under Ki Society training I learned how to redirect the force of the Shomenuchi without getting the bruises and, by not directly opposing the force of the blow, but rather redirect it, I could use uke's excess energy to move uke into a favorable position for a pin. Now I suspect I may have gotten that point myself if I was smart enough to figure out a way to avoid the direct confrontation with uke's energy, but the instruction I received from Ki Society and the relaxed movements they taught me were very helpful. Another example was tenkan. I had learned to point the fingers of the arm being held in the direction I wanted uke to go and then enter, control uke's arm and push him forward with my hips or, if I wanted to turn, spin, moving uke with my wrist. In Ki Society I heard about the direction of uke's energy, to join my energy (ki) with that energy - basically the same physical movement as before but with a different emphasis - and lead the uke with the tips of my fingers, followed by my body, taking the uke in the direction called for by the technique, or permitted by uke's energy flow.

There are numerous elements that could be added but those two examples are ones that I would offer to maybe give some response to your question. I hope it will help. I have worked with Aikikai groups since joining the Ki Society and have amicable relations with local groups, sending students to them if what I am teaching does not seem right for the student's mind set at that moment in time. I also encourage my students to attend seminars by senseis which are visiting in the area so that they might learn from experts in the field and I encourage them to come back to the Dojo and give a run-down on what they learned so that those who did not attend can benefit.

We Ki Society folks just have a slightly different take on what we are trying to do with our art than some of the others on this list. We encourage a student to use the concepts of our society in daily living, such as relaxation in the face of stress and minimal response in the face of aggression. One of my students recently was clasped around the shoulders from behind by a co-worker - young kid, actually - who dared him to get away. As a former boxer he was tempted to use his elbows for release and fists to stop further action but rather, elected to perform sankyo to escape and take the young man to his knees, head on the floor, using sankyo hold down to wait until he felt the tension relax from uke's body before he let him up. Then the young fellow came from the front, head down. this time nage pushed uke's head down and slipped his arms under uke's shoulders, bringing his hands up under the arm-pits and hooking his fingers into the uke's shoulder blades (sort of like a "chicken wing" truss) and held for a moment or two until the action was truly over. Later, the co-workers commented on how little the nage really did - they were looking for big moves and some slam-dunks like they see on TV, but it was really unnecessary. His comment was that the Ki Training he had received had helped him to remain calm and deal effectively with the situation. I can claim some credit for his effective use of sankyo but the chicken-wing defense was of his own making. He thought it worked well because he kept his arms relaxed all the time and the uke could find no way to dislodge him, the more uke struggled, the tighter the hold became until the uke wore himself out. Just heard this one last Friday night so it is new to me too. When I asked on Monday how they got along over the weekend, nage reported, just fine.

Hal wrote:
For crying out loud. If you can't tell me what ki is, and you can't even tell me what the study of ki will do for me, then why bother?

Some folks think it does help them and they pays their money. Those who don't, don't. Seems fair to me.

George Simcox  Virginia Ki Society  Ki is the Key for me.
PO Box 10224, Alexandria, VA 22310

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