In China, it is called chi. In Japan and Korea, ki. And there are a zillion takes on it.
From the straight up spiritual and (if you don’t belong to an Eastern religion) religiously problematical, to the pure physical, ki is a core component of martial arts. To a martial artist I know, ki is the human application of the principle force = mass × acceleration. Why move a little mass a long way, this sort reckons, when you can achieve the same force much faster by moving a lot of mass a little way. A little twist in the hips, and suddenly it is your stomach and not your arm that is powering your punch.
I began to think of this when training with Master Oz on Sunday. Whenever that man swung his sword you could almost feel the ki he put into his swing. I was ready to hear him yell “Kaze no kizu!” and unleash a bolt of energy.
But, of course, this is a Korean martial art.
This physical essence of ki is found in a lot of places. For instance, in many of the Legend of Zelda games, you can unleash a beam of energy from your sword — but only if your health is full.
But there is a spiritual element to ki that shouldn’t be cause for theological consternation. Ki is commitment. Ki is the power that comes from not hesitating, from being centered and focus.
In short, there is power to be had in who you resolve to be.
For some, ki is loyalty. When the battle comes, they do not hesitate or falter because of the people they love.
For others ki is refusing to accept a lack of talent, overcoming it with hard work.
For others, it I about mastery. Taking a thing and making it their own. Wedding it to their soul, so that the soul and the thing reflect one another.
It is true: in some cases the first thing you need to know about ki is how to gyrate.
But in all cases, you should know what drives you forward. It’s no accident that ki has become tied to the religions that it has run across.
Because while the man who knows how to breath and move defeats the man who doesn’t, it is also true that the man who knows what he stands for and why will act decisively.
This last week, I did my stance and cutting foci and forms twice slowly each, in addition to what I’ve recorded before. It is not enough. I will do more this week.