Saturday, July 12, 2014

Ki Development Exercises in Kokikai Aikido Part II - What is Ki?

In a previous post I wrote about why, and how, we practice ki development exercises in Kokikai Aikido.

What is Ki, Anyway???

So, we're supposed to be developing our "ki" during "ki development exercises," but what is ki?

Ki is an concept that is shared among many Asian traditions. While Google translates it unhelpfully as "ki", the word is used in many ways in Japanese to signify everything from spirit or life energy to air and atmosphere. There are many common Japanese expressions that use ki such as "O-genki desu ka?" ("How are you/Are you well?")

"Ki" is part of the word "Aikido" and "Kokikai" as well as some other health-related practices you may have heard of such as "Reiki." In Chinese it's "qi" (pronounced "chi") and is part of Qi-Gong and Tai Chi Chuan. In Sanskrit the word prana means much the same.

One of my favorite descriptions of ki was in our old testing requirements. Here's what it says:

Purpose of Aikido:
Everyone has some internal power. We can call this Ki-power, or potential power, or anything at all. But this power can be developed by the practice of mind-body coordination. Learn to apply this power to self-defense and daily life.

Ki: 
Coordination of mind and body in human beings is the strongest state. This is the state of radiating energy.

Ki Test: 
We understand that the mind rules (controls) the body. We test the body in order to "see" the mind. Then we can see if the mind and body are coordinated or not.

A lot has been written and said about ki, but it's still an abstract idea. As you can see from the quote above, Sensei says you can define ki as "anything at all." In Kokikai, having the correct feeling is more important than knowing how to describe or define ki.  Once a student has experienced how mind-body coordination makes her stronger, then she understands ki!

The Four Basic Principles = Greater Ki

Sensei developed the Four Basic Principles of Kokikai Aikido* as a guide to help students experience the feeling of stronger ki. Sensei has said many times that "practicing using the four basic principles equals greater ki."

So, if you want to develop ki during "ki development exercises," my advice is: focus on the Four Basic Principles. Since they're displayed at the front of every Kokikai dojo, it shouldn't be hard to remember them but here they are again:

1. Keep One Point (to develop calmness)
2. Relax Progressively
3. Find Correct Posture (in everything)
4. (develop your) Positive Mind

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This is part 2 in a series of posts about ki development exercises in Kokikai Aikido. Here are links to the other posts:
Ki Development Exercises in Kokikai Aikido - Part I
Ki Development Exercises - Part III - Finding a Focus in the 4 Basic Principles
Ki Development Exercises for Musicians

*Sensei's original instructor, Koichi Tohei, founder of the Ki-Aikido/Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido school, also developed 4 Basic Principles for the Unification of Mind and Body.

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