Wednesday, October 15, 2008

To ki or not to ki...

All the talk these days about "ki" it deserves a closer look.

"Qi" (pronounced chi) is s a very old and well utilized concept in Chinese medicine and martial arts. Tai chi (not that chi) and Qigong (yes, that qi) make implicit and explicit use of it. It is moved, scooped up, directed, and sent to various places in the body's energy field. Almost all qigong practitioners will tell you of the reality of qi and their very positive and interesting experiences with it.

Yet Japanese aikido masters seem reluctant to talk about it. It's more like something you'll have to intuit for yourself after many years of practice. This may be true. However, ki can be directed by the mind. In fact, one definition of ki may be "where the mind leads."

So to not talk of it or instruct students to keep it in mind has always struck me as a bit odd. Part of it may just be the old-style Japanese way of teaching where the instructor didn't verbalize very much. The student just had to "steal" what he wanted to know.

This silence has become almost encysted within Aikikai pedagogy. Students are told to "extend," without being told exactly what they are extending, or to "use their center," without being told just what the center is or does. This makes aikido seem like a purely physical endeavor, when it is so much more.

I always try to envision my ki flowing when I do a technique. Lately, I've even started envisioning my partners ki flowing, trying to catch it up for my own use. I've also had great success at drawing ki from the ground, especially in a relaxed stance. When I take ukemi, I try to pull some ki up with me when I get up off the ground. I find the better I'm able to keep these ideas in mind, the more relaxed and flowing my movements become. Who knows if I'm really doing all that or not, but just imagining I am has a very positive effect.

Yet, I'm sure some master practitioners actually do those things and probably a lot more. Wouldn't it be nice if we were taught to do it, rather than having to figure it all out? I've only scratched the surface of what can and needs to be done with ki. I wish I had someone to guide me through it. I just feel like I'm missing something.

Anyway, I'm a believer.


Miyonao said...

Haha... there you go! That's what I was talking about. I wouldn't go to a Japanese thing while I know there is so much more I can learn from my own culture.

Anonymous said...

Check out page 16 of this.

AikiPenguin said...

Whoa! Don't get carried away Miyonao.

It wasn't a better than/worse than comparisson.

AikiPenguin said...

That was a great link Anony! I sense a followup post... :)