Author Topic: What is Chi?  (Read 29200 times)

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Re: What is Chi?
« Reply #60 on: October 29, 2008, 02:12:19 pm »
I love PD.com...


Very nice, Telarus!
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Re: What is Chi?
« Reply #61 on: October 30, 2008, 02:28:32 pm »
I do appreciate what’s been said here!   :D  Hey Thanks & Respect!   :)

Busy, busy, busy lately but I did want to add something here.  First off, I am definitely no expert in Tai Chi Chuan.  I became attracted to Tai Chi Chuan from reading the Tao Te Ching. 

Quote
Nothing in the world
is as soft and yielding as water.
Yet for dissolving the hard and inflexible,
nothing can surpass it.

The soft overcomes the hard;
the gentle overcomes the rigid.
Everyone knows this is true,
but few can put it into practice.

Therefore the Master remains
serene in the midst of sorrow.
Evil cannot enter his heart.
Because he has given up helping,
he is people's greatest help.

True words seem paradoxical.

-Tao Te Ching, 78

Tai Chi Chuan seemed to me (or maybe was described) as a type of meditation in motion.  This greatly appealed to me as I sometimes see the mind as a tool & meditation as a way to sharpen.  It was the ‘sitting’ that I found most hard to practice.  I often felt my mind worked better when I was moving my body.  Also the concept of balance.  I’ve always been attracted to activities that require balance.  I also know I need to work on my balance.

I was fortunate enuff to study with 2 excellent teachers.  Both stressed the importance of K’e Ch’i:

Quote
“A person with an excellent sense of K’e Ch’I will be very good at Tai Chi Chuan.”  -Robert W. Smith (student of Professor Cheng)

K’e Ch’i means “manners,” that characteristic of the Chines that can be graceful when sincere & annoying when an empty formality.  The etymology of the phrase is revealing, K’e means guest.  Ch’i is the same word – breath, air, spirit force – that is the center of Tai Chi.  So taken together, K’e Ch’i is the “the air of a guest.”

Think of being a guest of the earth.  Grateful, glad to be in this lovely house, respectful of everything, which is, after all, not yours; but not subservient either, secure that your presence is welcome & provide for by a beneficent universe.

In doing push hands our attitude should also be K’e Ch’i.  We should not try to dominate or overposer the opponent.  Professor Cheng said that if your idea is to push or not be pushed, it is not Tai Chi.

-From There Are No Secrets Professor Cheng Man-ch’ing & his Tai Chi Chuan by Wolfe Lowenthal

& both stressed the importance of balance.

Quote
In the absence of harmony, apply the principle of push hands; we don’t look to blame the other, we look to ourselves.  We also need to understand that separation & its attendant negative emotions are not to be indulged; that is a sign we are out of balance & if not corrected will lead to even worse trouble.  The organism, healthy & in balance, is meant to be “happy as a fish in crystal waters.”

From the 1 teacher I learned more about the form, from the other I learned more about push hands.

(Please note: see also the Bokononist practice of Boku Maru where the ‘soles’ of the feet are used (playfully n’est-ce pas?)

Quote
"Do push hands as if no one is there, do the form as if someone is there."  –Professor Cheng

Martial ability in Tai Chi develops through osmosis.  Correct &, as Professor Cheng would say, “sincere” practice of the form & push hands produces a body wisdom, an instinctual power that when initially emergent surprises the practitioner.

1 night during class my teacher noticed I was having some trouble.  After class he asked me if I was feeling alright.  That night I had considered skipping class ‘cuz I had a pretty bad toothache & the pain was making it difficult for me to focus or concentrate.  My teacher asked me if I would allow him to help.  Of course I agreed.  I sat down on the floor and he sat down next to me.  He studied my face for a few moments & then applied pressure to an area closer to my ear than my tooth.  After about 15 seconds I started to feel warm & then I felt/heard what was like a small ‘pop’ inside my head (not a noise outside).  Then I felt the pain leaving, pulsing out of me, draining too, thru the place where he was still applying pressure.  (His fingers seemed to be positioned in a specific way.)  I was sweating lightly & still warm, especially my face & head.  Then it was over & I had no pain.  He told me something like there was a channel that was blocked & the chi could not pass thru as normal.  He was also careful to tell me that I still needed to see a specialist because the problem was still there.  He relieved the pain for me until I could seek treatment.  (I went the next day to my dentist.)

Another time my teacher had a few friends visiting when I first got to class.  We were warming up for class & they began to play a game.  The only way I can describe it, is that they were having a ‘chi-ball toss.’   They threw something to each other, back & forth.  & as they played, the chi-ball got bigger & bigger, starting out like about the size of a marble & ending up being the size of a small beach ball.  That was fun to watch!

The warm-ups he taught us were usually fun too, self-directed massages & techniques for maintaining health & always related to improving the form or push hands.

This 1 warm-up exercise I shared with a co-worker who was trying out for pitcher with a minor league baseball team.  He then shared it with some of his teammates.  It’s really easy.  I think it helps to re-direct the mind & body to be open & ready to receive. 

This is it.  It’s better to do from a relaxed standing position but can also be done seated.

Close your eyes.  Rotate your nose in small clockwise circles.  Imagine you are trying (with your nose) to form a circle about the size of a nickel.  You will most likely hear a crinkling noise inside your head.  Now, form the circles in a counter-clockwise direction.  You can make smaller or larger circles – whatever produces the best feeling.

But to get back to Chi.

Quote
We join spokes together in a wheel,
but it is the center hole
that makes the wagon move.

We shape clay into a pot,
but it is the emptiness inside
that holds whatever we want.

We hammer wood for a house,
but it is the inner space
that makes it livable.

We work with being,
but non-being is what we use.

Tao Te Ching 11

In my mind, Chi is the word, the symbol, the metaphor even or whatever used to express the idea of  :?

& having a word, symbol, metaphor, etc. is what makes the idea useful or malleable or workable or whatever it is to us.  Like many other words, symbols, & metaphors, etc.  & this is where (going off-track or side-track now) I think about the book 1984.  A classic.  George Orwell took the concept of language as metaphor & powerful powerful tool & created a work of fiction describing a negative utopia where the aim was to destroy or distort the meaning of words.  The aim being complete control.  The end-product would be a language pared down to basically consist of 2 words.  Good.  Bad.  & the Jailers or the Wardens of the prison would be the ones to define the words.  If you don’t have a word, symbol, metaphor, etc. to describe the idea it DOES NOT exist for you.

Scary stuff.

& removing diversity by making everyone & thing the same.  (stay in line, stay in step)

& without humor, religion & politics or whatever is transformed from a mechanism for freedom into chains of fanaticism.

& stubbornness is often mistaken for stupidity.

Different strokes for different folks & different wishes for different fishes.   
   
Fuck the status quo!

The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure & the intelligent are full of doubt.
-Bertrand Russell

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Re: What is Chi?
« Reply #62 on: October 30, 2008, 02:40:30 pm »
Just noticed this spelling mistake - sorry!

In doing push hands our attitude should also be K’e Ch’i.  We should not try to dominate or (overposer) (should read overpower) the opponent.  Professor Cheng said that if your idea is to push or not be pushed, it is not Tai Chi.

There are probably more too -sorry for that.
Fuck the status quo!

The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure & the intelligent are full of doubt.
-Bertrand Russell

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Re: What is Chi?
« Reply #63 on: October 30, 2008, 09:23:32 pm »
I do appreciate what’s been said here!   :D  Hey Thanks & Respect!   :)

Busy, busy, busy lately but I did want to add something here.  First off, I am definitely no expert in Tai Chi Chuan.  I became attracted to Tai Chi Chuan from reading the Tao Te Ching. 

Quote
Nothing in the world
is as soft and yielding as water.
Yet for dissolving the hard and inflexible,
nothing can surpass it.

The soft overcomes the hard;
the gentle overcomes the rigid.
Everyone knows this is true,
but few can put it into practice.

Therefore the Master remains
serene in the midst of sorrow.
Evil cannot enter his heart.
Because he has given up helping,
he is people's greatest help.

True words seem paradoxical.

-Tao Te Ching, 78

Tai Chi Chuan seemed to me (or maybe was described) as a type of meditation in motion.  This greatly appealed to me as I sometimes see the mind as a tool & meditation as a way to sharpen.  It was the ‘sitting’ that I found most hard to practice.  I often felt my mind worked better when I was moving my body.  Also the concept of balance.  I’ve always been attracted to activities that require balance.  I also know I need to work on my balance.

Those are all good reasons for practicing T'ai Chi Chu'an. However, its important to remember that it is a martial art...I think some people get sloppy with the motions because they don't see it this way. Arm breaks and punches and kicks were all put in the form to train a person in defense, while Chi Gung is specifically for ch'i cultivation. Remembering the martial reasons for specific movements helps you increase the precision of these movements.



Quote
I was fortunate enuff to study with 2 excellent teachers.  Both stressed the importance of K’e Ch’i:

Quote
“A person with an excellent sense of K’e Ch’I will be very good at Tai Chi Chuan.”  -Robert W. Smith (student of Professor Cheng)

K’e Ch’i means “manners,” that characteristic of the Chines that can be graceful when sincere & annoying when an empty formality.  The etymology of the phrase is revealing, K’e means guest.  Ch’i is the same word – breath, air, spirit force – that is the center of Tai Chi.  So taken together, K’e Ch’i is the “the air of a guest.”

Think of being a guest of the earth.  Grateful, glad to be in this lovely house, respectful of everything, which is, after all, not yours; but not subservient either, secure that your presence is welcome & provide for by a beneficent universe.

In doing push hands our attitude should also be K’e Ch’i.  We should not try to dominate or overposer the opponent.  Professor Cheng said that if your idea is to push or not be pushed, it is not Tai Chi.

-From There Are No Secrets Professor Cheng Man-ch’ing & his Tai Chi Chuan by Wolfe Lowenthal

I have never heard of K'e Ch'i before. Thank you for that. Guest energy, sincere and grateful yet subjugated.

Quote
& both stressed the importance of balance.

Quote
In the absence of harmony, apply the principle of push hands; we don’t look to blame the other, we look to ourselves.  We also need to understand that separation & its attendant negative emotions are not to be indulged; that is a sign we are out of balance & if not corrected will lead to even worse trouble.  The organism, healthy & in balance, is meant to be “happy as a fish in crystal waters.”

From the 1 teacher I learned more about the form, from the other I learned more about push hands.

(Please note: see also the Bokononist practice of Boku Maru where the ‘soles’ of the feet are used (playfully n’est-ce pas?)

Quote
"Do push hands as if no one is there, do the form as if someone is there."  –Professor Cheng

Martial ability in Tai Chi develops through osmosis.  Correct &, as Professor Cheng would say, “sincere” practice of the form & push hands produces a body wisdom, an instinctual power that when initially emergent surprises the practitioner.

I'm a big fan of push hands. In my understanding, there should be absolutely no pressure between the two people in a push hands excercise, only the lightest of touch.

[quote1 night during class my teacher noticed I was having some trouble.  After class he asked me if I was feeling alright.  That night I had considered skipping class ‘cuz I had a pretty bad toothache & the pain was making it difficult for me to focus or concentrate.  My teacher asked me if I would allow him to help.  Of course I agreed.  I sat down on the floor and he sat down next to me.  He studied my face for a few moments & then applied pressure to an area closer to my ear than my tooth.  After about 15 seconds I started to feel warm & then I felt/heard what was like a small ‘pop’ inside my head (not a noise outside).  Then I felt the pain leaving, pulsing out of me, draining too, thru the place where he was still applying pressure.  (His fingers seemed to be positioned in a specific way.)  I was sweating lightly & still warm, especially my face & head.  Then it was over & I had no pain.  He told me something like there was a channel that was blocked & the chi could not pass thru as normal.  He was also careful to tell me that I still needed to see a specialist because the problem was still there.  He relieved the pain for me until I could seek treatment.  (I went the next day to my dentist.)

Another time my teacher had a few friends visiting when I first got to class.  We were warming up for class & they began to play a game.  The only way I can describe it, is that they were having a ‘chi-ball toss.’   They threw something to each other, back & forth.  & as they played, the chi-ball got bigger & bigger, starting out like about the size of a marble & ending up being the size of a small beach ball.  That was fun to watch!

The warm-ups he taught us were usually fun too, self-directed massages & techniques for maintaining health & always related to improving the form or push hands.

This 1 warm-up exercise I shared with a co-worker who was trying out for pitcher with a minor league baseball team.  He then shared it with some of his teammates.  It’s really easy.  I think it helps to re-direct the mind & body to be open & ready to receive. 

This is it.  It’s better to do from a relaxed standing position but can also be done seated.

Close your eyes.  Rotate your nose in small clockwise circles.  Imagine you are trying (with your nose) to form a circle about the size of a nickel.  You will most likely hear a crinkling noise inside your head.  Now, form the circles in a counter-clockwise direction.  You can make smaller or larger circles – whatever produces the best feeling.

But to get back to Chi.

Quote
We join spokes together in a wheel,
but it is the center hole
that makes the wagon move.

We shape clay into a pot,
but it is the emptiness inside
that holds whatever we want.

We hammer wood for a house,
but it is the inner space
that makes it livable.

We work with being,
but non-being is what we use.

Tao Te Ching 11

In my mind, Chi is the word, the symbol, the metaphor even or whatever used to express the idea of  :?

& having a word, symbol, metaphor, etc. is what makes the idea useful or malleable or workable or whatever it is to us.  Like many other words, symbols, & metaphors, etc.  & this is where (going off-track or side-track now) I think about the book 1984.  A classic.  George Orwell took the concept of language as metaphor & powerful powerful tool & created a work of fiction describing a negative utopia where the aim was to destroy or distort the meaning of words.  The aim being complete control.  The end-product would be a language pared down to basically consist of 2 words.  Good.  Bad.  & the Jailers or the Wardens of the prison would be the ones to define the words.  If you don’t have a word, symbol, metaphor, etc. to describe the idea it DOES NOT exist for you.

Scary stuff.

& removing diversity by making everyone & thing the same.  (stay in line, stay in step)

& without humor, religion & politics or whatever is transformed from a mechanism for freedom into chains of fanaticism.

& stubbornness is often mistaken for stupidity.

Different strokes for different folks & different wishes for different fishes.   
   

[/quote]

I'm a little confused at what the last part has to do with Chi in particular, but I see several examples of affects some people say Chi is responsible for.
If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water. --Loren Eisley, The Immense Journey

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Telarus

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Re: What is Chi?
« Reply #64 on: October 31, 2008, 05:35:54 am »
Sorry it took me a few days to get back to this, I'm fighting off a cold, and spent some time digging up some references I had.

At this point I'd like to express how glad I am, and excited, to meet other Discordian who practice martial arts. I ran across a Discordian Aikido practitioner on the web a while back, but didn't get a good chance to discuss anything with her. It's great to meet all of you.

Moving on (warning: this is going to get _long_).

This is a great post and I just have some comments on several aspects of it:

1) I've heard of Pranayama before, have seen it used in yogic practices. To a large extent, it seems very much like the breathing practice you work with in Chi Gung. I don't know if thats because both these practices have come from the same root (homologous) or that they have arisen separately but similarly (analogous).
From my (limited) understanding of the history formalized martial arts, they all stem from various importations of the Yogic arts into Chinese culture at different points in time and from there to the other countries that developed their own specializations. I suppose that analogous evolution could have taken place, but all the basics come back to "that which works", and then the esoteric practices build off of that.

Quote
2) You seem to be already using the psychosomatic model for Chi (and the 8 circuit model), while I am going to remain agnostic on this.

I purposely remain a Model Agnostic and Zetetic (doubt, and then doubt the conclusions you came to from doubting, then look for more information, wash, rinse, repeat...see 'Skeptics' just stop thinking after the first round of Doubt).

I also tend to change my "working" models from time to time. For example, while swordfighting (we have a good, active group here in Portland that uses lacrosse gear and bamboo shinai) I tend to convince myself that Ki/Chi is a real, actual energy. This is mainly because if I allow myself to doubt, I destroy any benefit of using the model at that time. Afterward, I can examine and search for explanations of my experiences.

As to the 8 Cricuit Model, I'll mention a verbal epiphany I had while explaining the 8C model to a couple at the door of Esozone who were interested in Antero Alli's talk, but hadn't decided to buy a ticket yet.

The 8C Model isn't intended to explain how the mind or body physically functions or is structured. The 8C Model is used to group human experiences/states-of-consciousness into useful families so that we can see how experiences/habits/programs/etc in each family relate to each other, and to the functions in the other circuits.

Quote
3) In Chi Gung, the focus is on bringing the breath downward, out of the chest, strengthening the diaphragm, stretching the abdominal muscles, and using all areas of the torso to gather breath. I don't think many people realize they can gather breath in each distinct part of their torso, even in one side and not the other, that you can breathe from very specific areas, including the lower abdomen, upper, right and left, the kidneys (the area around them),the lower chest, the upper chest, the upper back, and the neck.

4)  I love the use of visualizing a baseball bat flying at your face to quickly find areas of tension. That is something I have never heard before and may use in the future.

I'm guessing where you are going with this is to lower the breathing into the abdomen. I'm looking forward to seeing how you explain it.

This is the correct motorcycle. Lol.

The first breathing exercise I learned involved lying down in a relaxing environment (lying down elongates the spine and lets the back muscles relax), and following the breath using a counting technique (make sure not to do this, or most breathing exercises, on a full stomach). The basic form is to inhale through the nostrils, and exhale through the mouth. Count each breath at the end of the exhale, when you get to ten, start again at one. If you loose count, mentally recognize what distracted you then turn your attention back to the count.

Once you are comfortable with this, the next step is exactly to lower the breath down into the abdomen. You can visualize your abdomen (in Japanese, the Hara or center of Gravity, just below the Navel) filling with air, Chi, sparkly fairydust, whatever works for you. The point with these visualizations is to turn the attention to that area of the abdomen, keep it there, and observe the effects. Combine this with the counting technique above.

Usually, you'll notice that the stomach bulges up and out on the inbreath and sinks below the level of the ribs on the outbreath (remember, we're doing this laying down). Breathe naturally, don't force yourself, and don't hold the breath (this can cause muscle strain in the diaphragm until it is strengthened).

While you don't hold your breath, there will be a moment of relaxation at the end of the inbreath, and similarly at the end of the outbreath before the other half of the cycle starts. Much like the moments of stillness at either extreme of a pendulum. Don't hold onto this moment, just recognize it and let it go.

(Kai, it seems you're already familiar with the "Cauldron" in the abdomen, so I'm mostly typing this out for others benefits, and so you can compare practices.)

Now, after practicing this lying down (I did it for a week or two) you can start practicing it while sitting. The sitting technique differs slightly, in that _after_ you channel you Chi down into the abdomen and fill it, you want to raise the chest and shoulders slightly, elongating the upper spine. This elongates the torso, and allows more volume of air to be held in the lungs at a slightly higher pressure. Remember your counting! It will allow you to return to awareness of the breath if anything distracts you. Again, breathe naturally, don't force yourself, and don't hold the breath.

Now, the effects of the sitting practice: By "pooling Chi" in your abdomen and allowing the stomach to bulge and the muscles of the stomach wall to relax, this allows the 'guts' to move out of the way of the expanding lungs. This also has an effect on blood circulation, as you are basically using the diaphragm as a secondary pumping mechanism to get the increased oxygen from the lungs into the rest of your system. On the exhale, the balance of pressure will naturally push the diaphragm upwards, and as you let your shoulders and upper frame relax and come downwards you are basically allowing gravity provide most of the force used to exhale. Thus, you're not burning as much oxygen to work muscles to provide that force.

Once giving this a good solid period of practice (another few weeks), you can introduce the 3rd aspect of the "Complete Breath".  This is twofold: While filling the Hara, you allow your hips to rock slightly backwards, elongating your stomach. Then raise the chest/shoulders (this elongates the lower and then the upper spine, and again, increases the volume of the lungs... this is why practicing the earlier exercises are necessary, jumping to this point with a diaphragm that's not used to it can cause some serious problems). Lastly, you want to raise the elbows away from the torso, thus allowing the ribs at your sides to expand, further increasing the lung volume (I think you mentioned this Kai).

On the exhale; relax and let gravity pull your arms back to your sides, then allow gravity to pull your upper frame down, then rock your hips forward (shortening the stomach). This should happen in a smooth blended manner. Remember, breath naturally, don't force yourself, don't hold your breath.

At this point you've probably done lots and lots of counting to ten, so you can move to mantra (an internal "Om" during the exhale, or one I use from a Ninjutsu manual, resonating "So" on the inbreath, and "Han" on the outbreath). This ties into Zen, and sitting/walking meditation tho, and aids in clreaing random abstract thought from the mind.

There are advanced techniques that build off of this 'complete breath', such as lengthening the moments at each end of the pendulum, but I won't get into that now. Instead I'll share some of my research links.

Pranayama - The Art of Breath by Philip H. Farber

Pranayama-Breathing Techniques Benefit's for Martial-Arts Artist’s Truth-Realization.

And because this thread is about Chi, per se, I'll share a couple of links regarding the symbolism that the Japanese and Chinese use when discussing the subject.

5 ELEMENT CODES (PART 1) -Jeff M. Miller

5 ELEMENT CODES (PART 2) -Jeff M. Miller


« Last Edit: October 31, 2008, 11:21:31 pm by Telarus »
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Re: What is Chi?
« Reply #65 on: October 31, 2008, 12:04:57 pm »
I need to come back and read this more completely when I have more time, Telarus, but I've seen it and I like it.
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Re: What is Chi?
« Reply #66 on: October 31, 2008, 09:34:23 pm »
Yes, I'm familiar with that technique, but I have never had it explained to me in that way. As a corollary to not doing this with a full stomach, don't do it on an empty one either. Neither are comfortable.


I am having trouble stretching my capacity to what it should be if everything was not so tight but I guess that it comes over time.
If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water. --Loren Eisley, The Immense Journey

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Re: What is Chi?
« Reply #67 on: November 01, 2008, 06:24:57 pm »
Hi again,

Telarus?  I'm gonna experiment with some of the breathing techniques you've described so well here.  Thanks & respect.

& Kai?  I really liked the original question you posed here.  It made my mind jump.  Then, when reading all the great replies with peoples' observations, experiences & thoughts, my mind continued to jump & my heart began to go buh boom buh boom pitter patter buh boom & my Chi was bouncing all over the place too!  Holy Cow or Chao or whatever!

My reply was attempting (albeit feebly) to describe some of my observations & experiences with this stuff.  & in trying to describe Chi, I began to think about how inadequate words are to describe certain things.  Even when you have a specialized language or have created new words.  The 'speaker' & the 'listener' have to be on the same page, so to speak, or maybe speaking the same language I suppose.

Which is, at times, difficult.  I sometimes struggle to understand & to be understood.

That is maybe why my answer veered off topic perhaps?  I really dunno.  I also struggle for focus at times.

Long story short.  The words (or symbols, metaphors, literal descriptions, etc.) we choose to describe are what we work with.  They may or may not accurately describe the action, concept or idea.  The point I'm trying to make, I guess, is this:  The word is NOT the thing.  Like a photograph of a sunset is not the sunset itself.

If we agree to use the same word, in this case Chi, to describe the action, idea, concept, etc. of  :?.  That idea or ‘thing’ becomes available to work with as we will.

Quote
We work with being,
But non-being is what we use.
-Tao Te Ching #11

In order to answer the question, for example, “What is Chi?” we need to use the word, symbol, metaphor, etc. (non-being).  Even to simply document the observations, experiences, etc. we need the words (non-being) to describe the “thing” (being).

Thanks & Respect!
(I'm gonna go try some of this stuff)  YaY! :wave:   

Fuck the status quo!

The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure & the intelligent are full of doubt.
-Bertrand Russell

Kai

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Re: What is Chi?
« Reply #68 on: November 01, 2008, 06:42:56 pm »
Hi again,

Telarus?  I'm gonna experiment with some of the breathing techniques you've described so well here.  Thanks & respect.

& Kai?  I really liked the original question you posed here.  It made my mind jump.  Then, when reading all the great replies with peoples' observations, experiences & thoughts, my mind continued to jump & my heart began to go buh boom buh boom pitter patter buh boom & my Chi was bouncing all over the place too!  Holy Cow or Chao or whatever!

My reply was attempting (albeit feebly) to describe some of my observations & experiences with this stuff.  & in trying to describe Chi, I began to think about how inadequate words are to describe certain things.  Even when you have a specialized language or have created new words.  The 'speaker' & the 'listener' have to be on the same page, so to speak, or maybe speaking the same language I suppose.

Which is, at times, difficult.  I sometimes struggle to understand & to be understood.

That is maybe why my answer veered off topic perhaps?  I really dunno.  I also struggle for focus at times.

Long story short.  The words (or symbols, metaphors, literal descriptions, etc.) we choose to describe are what we work with.  They may or may not accurately describe the action, concept or idea.  The point I'm trying to make, I guess, is this:  The word is NOT the thing.  Like a photograph of a sunset is not the sunset itself.

If we agree to use the same word, in this case Chi, to describe the action, idea, concept, etc. of  :?.  That idea or ‘thing’ becomes available to work with as we will.

Quote
We work with being,
But non-being is what we use.
-Tao Te Ching #11

In order to answer the question, for example, “What is Chi?” we need to use the word, symbol, metaphor, etc. (non-being).  Even to simply document the observations, experiences, etc. we need the words (non-being) to describe the “thing” (being).

Thanks & Respect!
(I'm gonna go try some of this stuff)  YaY! :wave:   



Yes, its pretty impossible to work through anything but symbols in writing, or communicating over the internet. In direct experience, things are different.
If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water. --Loren Eisley, The Immense Journey

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Bebek Sincap Ratatosk

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Re: What is Chi?
« Reply #69 on: November 01, 2008, 07:09:45 pm »
Please forgive me... as bits of this have inspired parts of my NanoWriMo entry ;-)
- I don't see race. I just see cars going around in a circle.

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Cain

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Re: What is Chi?
« Reply #70 on: November 03, 2008, 10:48:56 am »
I just grabbed Kenji Tokitsu's book from my second bookshelf (I have two...well, closer to three).

Its called Ki and the Way of Martial Arts.  Its a bit....mystical, but I'll find some useful extracts.

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Re: What is Chi?
« Reply #71 on: November 03, 2008, 11:30:27 am »
Page 26

Quote
Ki is felt by the means of the body and is given a more or less defined representation depending on the culture in question.  The sensation of ki is intensified when when speculative self-consciousness is pushed into the background.  This happens to varying degrees depending on how much people are willing to let go of their ego in deferring to what surrounds them.  If the ego is reinforced, the sense of ki diminishes.  In a certain way, the state of mind of heightened ki awareness runs counter to the Cartesian process.  In being attentive to the sensation of ki, you dissolve into your surroundings through the effacement of the central sensation of your own existence.  This attitude is at the root of the different techniques for strengthening ki.

Two things strike me about this.  First, if we assume he is writing in bad faith, this argument sounds very familiar to "if you don't believe in it, it won't work."  Which would suggest it is something of a placebo, a psychological effect manifested through belief which does not, in fact, objectively exist.

Secondly, if we take his argument in good faith (and, although it is hard to guage someone's character from a single book, I think he does argue his position sincerely) then the sensation is somewhat akin to that of certain meditations, a sort of externally directed mindfulness.  I know when I practised Tae Kwon Do frequently, I used a method of relaxation before and during fights where I would relax my field of focus, to take in as much as possible.  You can try this wherever you currently are.  If you just relax, and stop thinking for a while, by paying extreme attention to your surroundings, your field of vision seems to widen and you pick up on even slight movements.  Again, this suggests something physiological, not mystical.

Tokitsu also mentions he thinks that Freud's conception of libido may touch upon ki, though of course Freud was notorious for creating and universalising psychological constructs he thought he had found.  He also notes the Japanese conception of ki differs from the Chinese, in that everything, not just living creatures have ki.  This could just be because of Japanese Animist religious history however, a point he sort of raises (though in a defensive manner).

He also notes that our system of thinking, of using words and cutting up and abstracting reality, may also have a negative effect on ki.  Again, we can see the influence of Buddhist and especially Zen thinking.

Quote
This is ine of the keys to the methods of kiko [the Japanese  version of Qi-gong].  In kiko, we use images, sounds and movements rather than words in order to increase depth beyond words, in order to lead our being into the world of ki.

Again, I think this points to a physiological origin.  Ki, like a martial art, can only be really taught by doing stuff.  Like a martial art, you can understand principles of physics and biology and these may be useful, however it will not actually make you any good at Ju-jitsu or Kendo.  Equally, you need to condition the body to gain that sensation of ki, it is not something that can simply be accessed through logical construction and understanding.

Tokitsu then goes on to explain Japanese dualism in some depth.  I found this quite interesting, and it has potentially wide applications. 

Quote
The mind guides the body, but at a certain moment, the situation can be reversed.  Generally speaking, one can reach the mind through the body and the mind is capable of being strengthened by physical practice.  Moreover, if the body, guided by the mind, accomplishes a certain breakthrough, it places itself on the same plane as the mind - at that point one can speak of a fusion of body and mind.  Practitioners of the martial arts who have gone beyond certain limits, or monks who have practiced certain ascetic physical exercises, attain this fusion and various methods have been elaborated to accomplish it.  In traditional Japanese belief, it is normal to consider that great masters are capable of exerting power over spirits or demons that an ordinary person is incapable of even facing.

This conception has a defining role in the Japanese martial arts.  It brings up the idea that in order to conquer physically, it is necessary first to conquer the mind; after that it is through conquering the body that one can totally conquer the mind.  Seme [mental offensive] expresses itself in movements, but these are aimed at first striking the mind of your opponent.

Just checking, but haven't some studies suggested that keeping mentally active usually results in longevity?

Tokitsu notes that seme is not a feint.  For him, a feint only works if it has seme, if it succeeds in moving the mind of the opponent.  Moving on

Quote
At a more advanced level, you try to cause a movement in the mind of your opponent without producing any outward sign.  At this stage, you take the offensive mainly through ki.  This is called kizeme: succeding in disconcerting yoour opponent through the ki emanating from your person without any visible gesture.

While I think the concept of kizeme, as he explains it is pure crap, it is true that fairly profcient martial artists and other dangerous people do hold themselves in certain ways which, without really expressing itself via combat moves, is obvious.  This is more like intimidation through general presence.  I'm sure everyone here who has done a martial art with any sort of competition has had the unpleasant experience of facing someone who, as soon as you saw them, knew they were going to be trouble.  The fact that they seemed untroubled or distant, just adds to the sense of disquiet.  Like I said, I don't think this is ki, it is just Tokitsu using ki as a placeholder for certain concepts and sensations one has within martial arts which may not be appreciable though usually observable methods.

He goes quite in depth about two different types of ki in the next chapter as well.  Its not worth recounting in depth, only to note he thinks ki can be used through contraction (physical methods) and release (mental methods).  You need the former to proceed to the latter, but limiting yourself purely to the former is silly.

Bebek Sincap Ratatosk

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Re: What is Chi?
« Reply #72 on: November 03, 2008, 03:39:49 pm »
I often wonder if the bullshit level of those sorts of observations are more to do with their model and symbols...

according to some experts, the vast majority of human communication happens through body language. I think, the number was somewhere around ~%80 or so. As Telarus and Kai have discussed in earlier posts... one of the interesting things about Chi exercises, pranyama, etc is the isolation of otherwise sub-conscious activity (breathing etc).

Much Human Communication is Body Language.
This Body Language appears to be subconscious in most humans.
Various forms of meditation allow subconscious activity to become conscious activity.
Therefore, meditation may allow us to gain better control of our body language.
By making the appropriate body language, an opponent may be thrown off, tricked, overpowered, or simply distracted, though subtle body language.

Maybe.

In fencing, the feint is a mainstay in the bag of tricks. After a long time of practice, I've found that a lot of the feint is in body language. While I don't consider myself a master, I do consciously 'say' stuff with my body to trick my opponent, often by visualizing exactly what I want them to do.

Example:

Opponent takes out rapier and buckler (small shield). I take out rapier and dagger.
The 'lay on' is called.

I immediately, focus on the upper right shoulder, I make every muscle I can control prepare for a thrust to the upper right shoulder. Usually, the opponent almost immediately responds by dropping their right foot back, defending that area. As they step back, I allow my sword guard to widen, which makes it appear as though by lower right side is open.

Now, (again, just bullshit theory), it seems that the shift from "I'm gonna attack you" to "I'm not defended" kicks on their automatic opportunity response. As far as they can tell, my dagger is to the left and back (my right foot is forward), so they see no threat to their attack. Their foot that was retreating, now comes forward in a thrust and as it comes in, I sacrifice my long rapier blade. Rather than a quick parry, I commit the entire weapon, by dropping the point down and stepping forward very quickly. This results in their rapier being pinned between my long useless blade and their own buckler... meanwhile, my dagger finds its way into their right side, or under the buckler.

All of that happens in about 4 seconds, and at least in my mind, it relies heavily on using body language to trick your opponents subconscious reflexes.

It may not be the same, perhaps kizeme is something far more than that in a refined state. However, I'm not sure that it needs to be more than that to get the results they're talking about... perhaps they've simply refined the body language to tiny movements, eye flickers, muscle twitches, breathing etc.

Tiny packets of information used to hack the opponents brain?
- I don't see race. I just see cars going around in a circle.

"Back in my day, crazy meant something. Now everyone is crazy" - Charlie Manson

Cain

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Re: What is Chi?
« Reply #73 on: November 03, 2008, 03:45:58 pm »
I think you may be onto something.

Tokitsu also mentions how this will not work on someone who is not a martial artist because they are not attenuated to ki, which to me says they have not been conditioned to recognize attacks, whereas someone who has will (rightly or not) react when they see something which looks like an attack, because they have been trained to recognize the opening stages of one.

Bebek Sincap Ratatosk

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Re: What is Chi?
« Reply #74 on: November 03, 2008, 04:05:55 pm »
I think you may be onto something.

Tokitsu also mentions how this will not work on someone who is not a martial artist because they are not attenuated to ki, which to me says they have not been conditioned to recognize attacks, whereas someone who has will (rightly or not) react when they see something which looks like an attack, because they have been trained to recognize the opening stages of one.

That dovetails nicely with my experiences. Feints work, I think, by engaging an automatic robot response (muscle memory?), if the robot hasn't yet gotten the program... I can't rely on them to respond the way I expect them to.

hrmmm... now that's some food for thought.


In fact, it makes me wonder how much 'magic' might be able to be modeled through a similar mechanism.
- I don't see race. I just see cars going around in a circle.

"Back in my day, crazy meant something. Now everyone is crazy" - Charlie Manson