Practical uses for Ki.
By Scott Kelley
I am going to discuss some uses that
I have found for Ki and why we should develop it not only for class, but for use
in every day life. In class we often investigate the concept of Ki. In fact, even
as the name AiKiDo suggests, the art has a basis in Ki extension and developing
Ki. We use it in all our techniques, whether it be in a kokyu-nage or just turning
from the hips in a wrist lock. While extension of Ki in class is vital to successful
Aikido, it should not be limited to class. I can see more clearly the need to carry
your Aikido training into the rest of your life since I have been a student for
a few years,. If we use our ki only during techniques, how are we going to use it
in the rest of our lives if we are never attacked on the street? This paper will
outline some of the ways I have discovered for practical uses for ki. I realize
that the possibilities are endless and that ki is much more significant than indicated
in this paper, these are just a few ways I have found that Ki itself has helped
me in every day life.
Ki is basically a life force. Some believe
that each of us has our own personal ki while others believe that all ki is universal
and that we all share it. Even in Koichi Tohei Sensei's book Ki In Daily Life, he
says "In Ki society, we make a distinction between the Ki we use everyday and the
universal ki." Suffice it to say, Ki is energy and we all have access to it if we
just develop it. Here are some of the ways I develop and use it.
Deliberate Conscious uses for Ki
This section discusses what I like
to call the deliberate or conscious uses for Ki extension and development. These
benefits and effects are achieved through direct concentration on the desired result.
Through deliberate extension, you can open up a world of uses for your personal
energy and tap into the universal energy that O' Sensei had mastery over.
In most every occupation, it is very
easy to become stressed especially if your job centers around deadlines. Being in
the computer software industry, my job is one deadline after another. At some points
I come home extremely tired, grumpy, and sometimes sick at my stomach. Even without
the stress of the job, just driving to and from work can be very stressful. I have
found that through ibuki breathing exercises and ki extension, I can help myself
relax. When I find that I am becoming tense, I simply sit back, close my eyes, concentrate
on my one point, breathe deep, and try to extend my ki. Although I am still in the
novice stages of Ki development, I find that this helps greatly to reduce my level
of stress. There are other stressful experiences in life that Ki extension can help
relieve. I teach Aikido, Karate and computer programming. Standing up in front of
a classroom full of students has the potential to be very stressful. Before each
class, I do my breathing and Ki relaxation techniques. After this, I find that I
do a much better job of teaching my students.
My work is very dependent on my ability
to concentrate. As I sit at my desk, not only do I have to complete my job, but
I am constantly interrupted with little "fires" to put out. This is very disruptive
to my train of thought and sometimes my concentration goes out the window. The more
I work to develop my Ki, the more I find that I can recover my concentration faster
and continue my work. Once again, closing my eyes and trying to find my one point,
enables me to calm down, relax, clear my mind, and begin filling my head with the
necessary thoughts to get back on track.
Even when I am not at work, I can use
this Ki concentration technique to help in other situations. While driving, playing
sports, talking to people on the phone, or teaching my computer classes, I can use
my Ki training to maintain my concentration.
Public speaking has always been really
challenging for me. I took classes, joined toast-masters, and really practiced my
speaking skills. Even though I had tutored in college and taught karate for several
years, concentrating in front of a large crowd was always really tough. I found
that when I began to develop my ki extension technique, I was able to concentrate
better. This helped my ability to focus in front of a crowd, which gave me more
confidence and ultimately enhanced my speaking skills.
Awareness is one area that many people
don't consider. Not only can you use your ki to achieve results in your own body,
but you can use it to be aware of what other people’s bodies are doing. I have found
that since I have begun to develop my ki, I can sense what is going on with other
people. Let me explain. During the course of a normal day at my job, I interact
with my co-workers occasionally when the paths of our jobs cross. Usually I am very
comfortable with everyone at work. As I have become accustomed to all my co-workers,
I think I have a sense for the level of Ki energy each one gives off. I think that
everyone, whether they have trained or not, extends ki in some ways. I also think
that most of those people do not know that they are doing this or that they can
control it very well. These types of people give off ki energy unknowingly, when
their emotions become intense.
One day a gentleman that I work with
who is usually easy-going came into the office. I knew immediately that something
was wrong with him. I felt a very strong level of energy coming from his body. There
was very little in his face or posture that would give away the fact that he was
very angry at something or someone. It almost felt as if my senses were being pounded.
I, of course was not the object of his anger but I could still feel what I think
was his Ki energy radiating from his body. He certainly was not aware of it but
I was. As it turned out, he had had an accident on the way to work and was given
a citation. Though he did not tell anyone, I could just “sense” he was angry.
On another occasion, I was in class practicing
with a fairly new student. This was one of those students that come to class a few
times to try to prove something, then eventually leave, mostly because they are
in class for the wrong reason. After the technique was demonstrated, I began to
work with this person and I could "feel" that they did not wish to be cooperative.
In fact, he threw an attack that we were not practicing. I sensed that the target
was something other that what it was supposed to be and performed an appropriate
defense. After class that night, I thought about what happened. My uke decided to
strike a different target. Without thinking, I felt what he was going to do and
modified my response. I don't think I saw anything that would give it away. I felt
his Ki being directed to the wrong place. This doesn't happen often, but with practice,
I should be able to develop this awareness and be able to sense inappropriate intentions
in other people and avoid bad situations.
Finally, one night after class, I was
sitting with a friend outside a restaurant eating on one of the picnic tables. Suddenly,
I felt very uncomfortable and couldn't decide why. I stood up because I felt like
I should be ready. When I turned around, there was a person approaching our table.
When I stood up and looked at him, he stopped, paused for a minute then proceeded
around our table giving us a wide berth. From the way he was dressed, the way he
walked, and the look on his face, I didn't feel like he was someone who could be
trusted. When I stood up and looked at him, I knew he couldn't be trusted. Had I
not "sensed" him, he might have approached the table which would have been bad since
I was sitting and didn't have much mobility. When I stood up, he looked at me as
if I knew he was up to no good.
Another application of Ki extension enhancing
awareness ties in closely with the healing aspect of Ki. This application is in
the awareness of your own body when something is damaged or not functioning one
hundred percent. It is not uncommon to have small aches and pains after class. Sometimes
on rare occasions, injuries will happen in class as a result of an accident or an
inexperienced student executing a technique. In the few situations where I have
gone home with an actual injury, I can use my Ki extension to concentrate on the
injury and actually direct healing toward that part of the body. Since I am fairly
new at exploring ki extension, I am not sure how effective I am. However, I usually
do feel warmth and increased blood flow in that particular part of my body. I generally
find that after several days of such exercises, my body seems to heal much faster.
Through the extension of Ki, you can direct the bodies flow of energy, so that you
can concentrate healing in certain areas that might need a little extra attention.
Influencing Other People's Behavior
The previous section dealt with awareness.
This section is going to discuss the other side of the coin. Instead of just detecting
what is around us, you can actually use Ki to influence other people's behavior.
In the case of the individual that was approaching the table where my friend and
I were eating, when I stood up and silently confronted this individual, he may have
been able to sense that I was extending ki toward him. It was unfriendly Ki, but
ki nonetheless. I think that by extending ki toward him, it put up a wall between
us that he might have sensed. Maybe his conscious didn't pick up on it, but perhaps
his subconscious did. In that way, I might have persuaded him not to approach the
table. He was bigger than me, so I don't see why he might fear me for my appearance.
He could just tell that this was not the place to start a confrontation.
Combined with the relaxation benefits,
you can actually use Ki to diffuse an explosive situation. Usually, when people
want to argue, fuss and fight, they blow up at anything and everything. What they
usually want is for someone to blow up back at them, so they have a good excuse
to yell and shout. By extending Ki and concentrating on the one point, it is very
easy to remain calm in situations like this and help dissolve the anger in the situation.
By keeping cool, you can avoid a fight and actually help to calm someone down, so
that they can discuss things rationally.
Another way to use ki to influence other
people is in class. During a general randori session, people come in and attack
any way they want to. I find that I can sometimes extend ki toward them and draw
them into a particular type of attack. In this way, I know exactly where they are
going to strike or grab and I can be prepared.
This is one of the most interesting
applications for Ki extension and I believe one of the most useful. Since the body
is driven by the concept of energy. We have the universal Ki and then we have personal
Ki. One of the reasons we get sick is because we don't have the energy to fight
off sickness. Part of the reason because our personal energy is not allowed to flow.
Ki extension has the ability to help heal in almost any situation. Even in the professional
medical fields, it has been proven that babies born with problems overcome them
faster and become healthy quicker if they are picked up and given attention. At
that point, all of the doctor's or nurse's attention (energy, ki) is focused on
that child. Since children are very impressionable, I think they practically “eat
it up”. Their sick bodies are hungry for the fuel to fight the problem and that
Ki energy is a great boost.
One situation where Kiatsu helps is by
extending Ki into our partner. We can open up the channels of energy flow, and help
them to re-establish that flow so that they can heal themselves. In addition, we
can also give them a "boost" with our own energy. It's kind of like putting gas
in the carburetor to try to get an engine started. Once that channel is opened up,
then the flow can continue as normal.
Sometimes the body becomes injured and
needs healing; not because it’s energy is blocked, but because it might need extra
energy to help deal with the crisis situation. Once my brother and I were wrestling
around and he landed on his kneecap. From his yelling, I thought he had broken his
leg. Come to find out, he just sprained it. He couldn't walk on it. I asked him
to lie down and I put my hands on his knee. He was nervous at first, but when I
opened up and started concentrating on extending ki into his knee, he relaxed. He
told me that my hands got really hot and the pain all but left his knee. When I
was done, he could stand on the hurt leg and actually walk. It was still very sore
but I think the extra energy boost was enough to get his knee on it's way to recovery
My first experience with healing Ki was
in my karate class. I had injured my hip and could hardly walk. As I sat on the
floor, I wished I could join in but the pain was too much. After the class, my instructor
came over to me and asked me if I would like a little "energy boost" as he called
it. I said sure, I'll try anything. I laid down, not quite knowing what to expect.
Several of the instructors gathered around me, placed their hands on my arms, legs,
and torso and began to breath. At the time, I thought this was a bit silly. This
was before I knew anything about Ki extension. As I began to relax, waiting for
this to be over with, I began to shake and felt like I was coming off the floor.
Finally, I had to ask them to stop. It freaked me out pretty bad. I thought about
it over the week and when I came back, I asked if I could try it again. This time,
I completely relaxed and was able to get some benefit out of the energy. They were
all projecting their Ki into me and my body in turn was using it to help heal the
injury. Since then, I have used it to help other people heal small injuries as well.
Daily Aikido Practice
There is the one very important aspect
of Ki development that we have not mentioned yet. That is the application of Ki
in weekly Aikido practice. Some might not consider this an appropriate mention in
a paper such as this. We were supposed to be concentrating on "Practical" uses of
Ki extension and development. Since Aikido is a regular part of my life, I want
to develop my Ki so that my practice of Aikido will be enhanced that much more.
I know that it is possible to develop techniques that work “OK” without the concentration
on Ki development but that extra boost that you get from developing your Ki extension
is what makes the practice of Aikido seem so special and, when done correctly, astonishing.
After all, extending Ki is the fourth of the four basic principles.
Non-Deliberate or Sub-Conscious benefits of using Ki
Up until now, by reading this paper,
I would have you believe that the only way to use your Ki is through extension.
This is indeed not the only method in which your ki may be employed. Even though
I have just begun to scratch the surface on my Ki development, I can see how practicing
extension of Ki can develop it to the point where it "takes over" and almost has
a mind of it's own. When this happens, it becomes automatic and you don't have to
think about it anymore. I am far from that level of development, but with continued
practice, it will become a reality. Below are some examples of how this works.
Sometimes I feel that I am in my infancy
of ki development. Even so, on occasion I have felt the presence of Ki kick in and
begin to lighten my mood. When I was younger, I would become angry easier and it
would take me some time to get over it. As I continue my practice of Aikido and
Ki development, I think sometimes my emotions are more in balance due to my settling
of Ki. This automatic calming effect is a wonderful feeling. It's like practicing
your breathing then letting that practice take over and not think about it any more.
Over time, you begin to breathe better naturally. All of this combines to give you
a more relaxed feeling, thereby reducing your overall level of stress.
This is an area that you always consciously
think of, but through Ki development you can attain a higher level of confidence.
When all your energy is in balance, you tend to have a clearer head, more focus
and a better attitude. This not only gives you more confidence but, causes other
people to see you as confident. When others see you as confident, they begin to
trust you and that too can improve your confidence. Don't, however, begin to confuse
confidence with arrogance. Confidence comes from having harmony and peace in your
life. Arrogance comes from distrust, low self-esteem and pettiness. People who are
arrogant do not have harmony in their lives. Ki development can bring harmony into
your life, so that you will be truly confident in yourself.
I really like this particular vocabulary
word and I believe that it fits in well with the theme of this paper. After looking
at some of the topics, you can see how all of these can lead to this particular
concept. In my opinion, this is one of the most important concepts in any martial
arts training whether it be Aikido, Karate or Soldiers on the battlefield. This
concept is important even if you are attempting to overcome your opponent with words.
In all of these cases, you absolutely must have a calm spirit in the face of any
adversity. Only then will your technique be effective and pure. Some try to achieve
this solely through physical training. The path to strong Ki can lie that way, but
if you know about it up front, why not go ahead and begin to develop it early on.
Only through peace and harmony can you truly achieve a calm spirit. Once this happens,
you can do virtually anything. Train your Mind, Body and Spirit together and this
will be easier to achieve.
Even though you can break down the different
benefits of Ki development into categories, you cannot forget that they all work
together to accomplish your goals. Just like the four basic principles of Aikido,
they all go together. If you have one, you will have all of them. If you lose one,
you will lose them all. What is so incredibly amazing is that I have had this energy
all my life. It has followed me and even helped me and I did not know it. It's like
breathing and not realizing it. Now that I know I can breath, I can work to better
control that breathing, so that I can receive maximum benefits. Likewise with Ki.
Now that I know I have the Ki, I can work to develop it so I can receive maximum
benefit from it's use. I have broken them out because it is interesting to examine
the various benefits of Ki development and in so doing, you get an understanding
of how they all work together. Some of the sections deal with some of the same topics
but from a slightly different angle. Lastly, Ki development, even in my infancy
of the study, has helped me grow into areas I didn't think I could grow into. I
am very excited to continue to grow in my practice of Aikido and my study of Ki
development. There is no telling to what else in your life you can apply this type