Earlier, I wrote a post that was my first foray into defining ki, that seemingly-elusive quality that, when added to our movements, makes our technique strong and powerful, gentle and fluid. In my first post, I attempted to start defining ki by first saying what it was not. Now, I want to spend a little time trying to define what ki actually is. To be more specific: what are at least some of the qualities of ki power? How can we start to identify whether or not ki is present, even if we don’t know exactly what it is? Can we, in short, narrow the field of possibilities just a little bit?
Again, there is nothing definitive here. These are just my own musings.
First, let’s start with the fact that ki exists. This seems somewhat paradoxical. Why have a conversation on ki if we don’t think it exists? And yet I think this is a very important fact. I have had several conversations with people about ki only to realize, midway through, that one of us doesn’t really believe that ki actually exists. One of us is treating ki as a sort of agreed-upon hallucination, or a common myth.
This isn’t true. Ki exists.
You can call it a biological response that occurs when the human body commits to an action without any counter action; you can call it the mystical force of the universe entering you. You can call it skill, you can call it talent. You can, in fact, call it anything you want, but you have to acknowledge that it exists. Regardless as to how we interpret ki, we must acknolwedge that ki is at least something. To be blunt: if you do not believe that ki exists, that’s fine. Many train with this idea. but you can ignore the rest of this post; this conversation will have no meaning for you.
Next, ki is quantifiable. You can tell it is present even if you are unsure of what “it” actually is. Technique with ki power is strong and unstoppable. Technique without it is unreliable. People emenating ki are often said to have some sort of charisma. They fill the room when they enter it. Your attention is drawn to them, they seem amazingly present. Most people treat ki as some sort of magic (which, as I have said previously, it is not); something they cannot see or feel. This is not true. We can tell that ki is present. We may not be able to truly measure it: “Bob’s technique has 30 units of ki, but did see Jill? Her technique had nearly 45!” Such a sentence makes no sense. But we can say: “Bob’s technique lacked ki; Jill’s did not.” We can say this by observing their movements, by practicing with them, sometimes even by talking with them.
If we can agree with the previous two points–that ki is real and quantifiable–then maybe we can tackle how to describe it.