As many know I am a big reader and especially enjoy academic articles pertaining to the various fields of physics, physiology, biomechanics and so forth. Needless to say, I also study a lot of Japanese texts on Karate and Budo/Bujutsu in general.
At present I’m reading 空手と気 (Karate to ki) which is a book outlining 気 (Ki) in karate. The text also has strong links to Iaido as the author has an equally high Dan in that art as well.
To summarize my thoughts on ki, I believe in it, but away from the often mysticism, pseudoscience and quasi-religious elements. However, once one strips these aspects away, the value of the ‘ki’ concept becomes questionable. Therefore, I personally prefer to understand ki through observable and natural situations in life.
1. 空気 Kuuki (air)
2. 元気Genki (fine/happy/active)
3. 勇気Yuuki (courage)
4. 電気Denki (electricity)
5. 天気Tenki (weather)
6. 内気Uchiki (introversion)
7. 浮気Uwaki (affair)
8. 病気Byouki (illness)
9. 士気Shiki (samurai/bushi spirit)
10. 短気Tanki (short temper)
11. 雰囲気Hun-iki (atmosphere)
12. 活気Kakki (filled with ‘activity’/‘active spirit’)
13. 陽気Youki (lively/positive)
14. 呑気Nonki (not thinking much)
15. 本気Honki (serious)
16. 一気 Ikki (one shot)
17. 無邪気 Mujaki (innocent)
18. やる気 Yaruki (willingness to do)
19. 平気Heiki (not worried, ok)
20. 殺気 Sakki (feeling that something can happen in any moment)
21. 根気Konki (the spirit of resilience)
From now I’d like to add just a few relevant and older Chinese perspectives of KI (Chi/Qi), which I deeply respect:
(1) Meridian Qi: Qi that circulates through the meridians and circulates throughout the body, supporting the activities of each meridian.
(2) Qi in Chinese Medicine: Qi in Chinese medicine has different names depending on its main active part.
(3) The Qi of the Taoist School: At the end of the warring states period in China, "Zhuangzi" explains that the gathering and scattering of Qi caused changes in the creation and disappearance of all things.
Last but certainly not least; (4) Qi in martial arts is often referred to as the ``extension force'', ``stretching force'', and ``the power to move the center of gravity'' of the body. It is here we can see Asai Tetsuhiko Sensei's extension/advanced waza of JKA Shotokan.
Taken as a whole, I could use more examples; however, I think what I’ve provided in this article more than enough establishes that Ki/Chi/Qi is not mystical. It is, in fact natural energy that we all innately have. Therefore, the real power is how much energy that we can utilize in any particular domain of our respective ‘Ki’. Some people, who have made KI into a mystical force not only put themselves in danger but, in the case of those who teach this fakery, also put their students in danger.
In sum, lets maximize KI, natural energy to make our karate more effective, and our daily lives better as well.
© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2022).