Friday, March 17, 2006

The Concept of Ki

MEANINGS AND USES:
Ki has many name references of which you've probably heard at least one: ki/chi/chakra/qi/"the force". Ki is the internal energy that keep our bodies moving and living, just as every living creature around us, and ki is all around us. Some believe ki is magic. Some believe we need ki in order to keep evolving. Some don't even believe ki exists (the whole "I can't see it so I don't believe it issue"... like with air) or don't know about it. I, personally, believe ki is the energy that God created and gave us to live and to move about. My Lord is almighty, but he operates under his own scientific laws, or changes the laws depending on how he sees fit (Newton's Law of Gravity, etc. etc.). Those are my beliefs. Whatever your beliefs, learning about ki (which is what this post is about) will definitely help you put more power into your techniques. Ki is usually visualized as a yellow gas, almost liquid like, flowing throughout the body about the same speed you would see a person practicing Tai Chi (because Tai Chi is the person trying to build their ki and get it in sync).

"KIYAH":
You might have seen the old Bruce Lee movies where Lee shouts "Kiiii-yah!" as he attacks an opponent (oh, Game of Death is my favourite!). My Karatedo Renshi, Dan Barham, taught me that: "ki" refers to "energy" and "yah" refers to "verbalizing", so you are "verbalizing your ki". He also said though, that doing so can mess up your diaphram over time. That... is a bad thing. Well, when you kiyah, you're supposed to squeeze your abdominals, because that's where your "dan tien", or energy source, is located. Nowadays, known as "the core" because the public has finally come to realize that you need your abdominals in everything that you do. I recently saw some commercials for Ab Lounge and some big blue ball that's really popular with yoga people (Tai Chi is better for you than yoga, BTW), and I thought, "They realize that they need to work their abdominal muscles to become more fit in everything else, but they don't even realize WHY they're doing this..." To squeeze ki from your dan tien to your fists when you punch is the reason for kiyah-ing. Well, if the "yah" is what messes up the diaphram (because too much ki passes by), just start "ki-ing". When you punch or perform any type of technique, squeeze your abdominal muscles to get the best results.

BREATHING:
When you breathe, breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth and breathe deeply. My Renshi, Dan Barham, told my Karatedo class: "If you breathe deeply and use all of your lungs, you are keeping yourself healthier than if not. Americans especially tend to breathe with only the top part of their lungs because they're worried about getting fat. This is bad." The in-through-the-nose-and-out-through-the-mouth technique is already widely excepted by athletes of all types, but they might not know the reasoning for which they do it. The ki in your body is flowing almost like a gas- down your back and up the front. When you breathe in through your nose, it helps more ki get to the brain, and it will flow down your back to the rest of your body anyway. Then you breathe out through your mouth as to not disrupt the flow of ki by trying to force it back out the way it came (and that more is constantly coming through). Plus, the rest of your body wants fresh ki too! :) My Karatedo Renshi told us that yawning through the nose and out the mouth is really good for you, and even if you can't that yawning through the mouth is still good because you're using the full capacity of your lungs, so they're staying healthier, and you're taking in a lot of ki that is bound to get to your brain and rest of your body real easy.

BUILDING KI:
Building your ki is quite simple. Here are a few simple methods.
1) Act as if you're about to clap, but when your hands get to be about 6 inches apart slow down and don't make any noise clapping, and push as if you've got clay in your hands. The idea is that you're getting as much ki quickly to the center by moving your hands fast, and then molding your ki and making it become stronger once it's all bunched up.
2) Do the same thing with your feet. Go to stomp the ground, but at about 6 inches from the ground, slow down and push forcefully. This will build ki in your leg area.
3) Practice soft Tai Chi. Several movements in Tai Chi are used to build ki, like the push-pull, and push-to-the-ground. I'm not sure, but I think yoga has ki building techniques too (but they refer to it as chakra).
4) Don't let yourself get moodswings too often. Changing your mood changes your flow of ki and it can become unbalanced. You want yin-yang, or balance, to your spirit and body. Stay calm when you can.


THE END (OR THE BEGINNING?)
And wow, that's the most extensive thing I've ever written about ki. If any masters of ki are out there and notice ANY mistake (even the slightest), please e-mail me at steveborthick@gmail.com to let me know, thanks!

And the much used line continues: "Have fun and enjoy learning! I know I do!"

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