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#433870 - 09/26/11 01:01 AM non-mystical discussion of chi/qi
hope Offline
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Registered: 07/12/09
Posts: 149
Loc: Vancouver, B.C.
Chi (qi) comes up regularly in the forums, and as regularly is ascribed to woolly-minded mysticism.

OK, I prefer physical explanations for events and perceptions to mystical power ones. However, I don't know if the phenomena ascribed to chi/qi have been specifically addressed by kinesiologists. I would be extremely interested to hear about physiological analyses of things like the following --

If you look at two kicks which have good form as far as knee position, foot position, speed etc., one can still have more... presence. You can see this even in air kicks. Same with almost any move. What the heck is it that you notice? Ascribing it to chi doesn't explain it, just gives it a name.

Something similar can be seen with two public speakers. Even when you take account of small differences in mannerism and speech pattern, the kind of magnetism that some speakers have is amazing. And, they don't have it all the time. They know when they're "on", and so does their audience.

A psychologist named Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes a state of consciousness called flow, which is basically a state of focus and absorption. This may be related to what I'm talking about, but it's internal, and I'm not sure it would be visible to others in a kick!

So, who can talk about these very noticeable phenomena in a way that makes physical and psychological sense?
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#433872 - 09/26/11 12:17 PM Re: non-mystical discussion of chi/qi [Re: hope]
MattJ Offline
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That mental state of "flow" may be the closest thing I can think of to what is commonly thought of as chi/ki. There have been studies that show that positive thinking and imagery can help create that mental state.

A lot of the other stuff attributed to chi/ki (no touch KO's, etc) seems like baloney to me.
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#433876 - 09/26/11 10:26 PM Re: non-mystical discussion of chi/qi [Re: MattJ]
hope Offline
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Registered: 07/12/09
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Matt said
"A lot of the other stuff attributed to chi/ki (no touch KO's, etc) seems like baloney to me."
Yes, me too.

"That mental state of "flow" may be the closest thing I can think of to what is commonly thought of as chi/ki."

Yes, but how the internal state of flow translates to a more powerful kick or speech is still an interesting question. Does flow correlate with better timing? Reflect confidence? Ensure that all the little "sub-routines" in a movement are working well together as a unit? Saying it's due to "flow" is the same as saying it's "chi". New name, same question :-)
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#433896 - 09/29/11 09:48 AM Re: non-mystical discussion of chi/qi [Re: hope]
duanew Offline
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Registered: 06/28/08
Posts: 326
Loc: MN
The "unbendable arm" is nothing more than physiology. When the hand is in a fist the abductor muscles are working allowing the arm to bend. When the hand is open and the fingers splayed the extensor muscles are working and it is stronger.

Duane

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#433902 - 09/30/11 04:21 AM Re: non-mystical discussion of chi/qi [Re: hope]
Prizewriter Offline
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Registered: 10/23/05
Posts: 2573
The best non-mystical explanation of internal strength I've ever heard was from Tim Cartmell.

He talked about an Olympic Weightlifting clean to explain his analogy. In the clean phase (where the bar is lifted from the ground to the shoulders in one fast movement) the nervous system fires off twitch fibres, the muscles engage and the weight is lifted (Figure A). This can be described as muscular strength

Figure A



Once the weight is lifted to the shoulders, the skeletal system supports the weight. In effect the weight is pushing down on the body but the body supports it through sound body mechanics and correct structure(Figure B). Although not shown in the picture below in Olympic Weightlifitng I've seen lifters support the bar without even having their hands on it. They are using proper posture along their spine and lower body to support the weight pushing down on them. This can be referred to as postural strength



A lot of people, even those involved with martial arts, sometimes think they are "balanced" or are using effective body mechanics when nothing could be further from the truth. My old Taijiquan teacher said he use to sit in deep strong Shotokan stances while doing Karate, but it wasn't until a Taiji teacher started shoving him about while he was in those postures he realized how poor his body mechanics were.

Postural strength is something that has to be worked on in the same way muscular strength has to be worked on. Something I had to do to help develop my postural strength was open up my vertebrae through a series of posture and stretching exercises. When people talk about Qi/chi/ki I don't think of it as an actual thing. For me they are often talking about postural strength (or the absence thereof).
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#433905 - 09/30/11 10:28 AM Re: non-mystical discussion of chi/qi [Re: Prizewriter]
MattJ Offline
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Do people here feel that there is a difference between what I would call static postural balance and dynamic (moving) balance? I have seen people that were difficult to move in a posture, but not nearly as strong in movement, and vice versa.
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#433906 - 09/30/11 10:29 AM Re: non-mystical discussion of chi/qi [Re: Prizewriter]
hope Offline
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Registered: 07/12/09
Posts: 149
Loc: Vancouver, B.C.
Really interesting. So PW, would it be your assertion that a punch which showed "chi" was backed by more postural strength than one which did not? SOmetimes you can throw 10 punches, and one has superior snap and force (better "chi", a previous master of mine used to say). Has your posture subtly changed to allow this I wonder?
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#433908 - 09/30/11 06:25 PM Re: non-mystical discussion of chi/qi [Re: hope]
mukashimantis Offline
Member

Registered: 11/29/05
Posts: 36
Loc: new york
When you crack a whip, it snaps. If you were to just swing it, it would not have the same effect. As with a strike using ki, the more you relax, the better it works. Whatever is happening, whether you call it ki or not, there is a difference. So, if calling the method ki(or chi), what is the problem? Just because you don't see it doesn't mean it isn't there. If you've ever had your heart broken or lost a love, you felt pain, yet you cannot see love.

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#433909 - 09/30/11 07:22 PM Re: non-mystical discussion of chi/qi [Re: MattJ]
Prizewriter Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 10/23/05
Posts: 2573
Originally Posted By: MattJ
Do people here feel that there is a difference between what I would call static postural balance and dynamic (moving) balance? I have seen people that were difficult to move in a posture, but not nearly as strong in movement, and vice versa.


I've witnessed that too Matt. Certain people can hold a stance and seem stable, but when they move it all goes to blazes. The best people I've seen for moving balance, as you call it, are a couple of really good Taijiquan and BaguaZhang folks, and some really experienced grapplers. Their training methods teach good posture and whether by cultivation (practicing stretching and exercises to improve body mechanics and posture) or something inherent in the practice (the posture/body mechanics improve by simply doing the art), they can generate/absorb force through good use of posture/mechanics while moving.

Originally Posted By: hope
Really interesting. So PW, would it be your assertion that a punch which showed "chi" was backed by more postural strength than one which did not? SOmetimes you can throw 10 punches, and one has superior snap and force (better "chi", a previous master of mine used to say). Has your posture subtly changed to allow this I wonder?


I'd say it certainly plays a part in it, hope. If your body mechanics slightly alter with each punch (when the hand returns from punching), it is entirely possiible your skeletal system has altered slightly from when you first punched, even if it is subtlely. Shifts in body mechanics in between punches may certainly have an impact (pardon the pun!) on the force the punch generates.

Originally Posted By: mukashimantis
When you crack a whip, it snaps. If you were to just swing it, it would not have the same effect. As with a strike using ki, the more you relax, the better it works. Whatever is happening, whether you call it ki or not, there is a difference. So, if calling the method ki(or chi), what is the problem? Just because you don't see it doesn't mean it isn't there. If you've ever had your heart broken or lost a love, you felt pain, yet you cannot see love.


I understand what you are saying, but I have to say "relaxation" isn't any use without proper posture and sound body mechanics. Indeed I've seen what little good posture people have in MA class go to blazes because their instructor tells them to "relax", so the slump their shoulders and try to strike something again. Proper relaxation is important, but being taught how to relax (and yes it is possible) the body in order to adjust posture, breathing and improve the function of the body is critical.


Edited by Prizewriter (09/30/11 07:24 PM)
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#433917 - 10/01/11 06:56 PM Re: non-mystical discussion of chi/qi [Re: Prizewriter]
Prizewriter Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 10/23/05
Posts: 2573
Found the clip from Tim Cartmell. Better if I let the master do the talking! For those who don't know, Tim spent a lot of his life in China/Taiwan learning Neijia arts. He returned to the USA and later earnt his black belt in BJJ. He has produced some great material on martial arts, particularly Chinese "internal" arts.

In the below clip he talks about Sun Taijiquan, and highlights the importance of structure and demonstrates some postural testing. Note the absence of describing what is happening as "Qi". Other teachers may describe what they are seeing as "Qi". In fact thinking back, whenever I've heard someone talk about "chi" or "ki" (usually in Aikido) it usually translated as "I don't have any idea why this works or the physics behind it, so I'm calling it Chi/ki so I'll appear knowledgeable by answering your question without answering it."

In other words, a lot of people use the term Qi/Chi/Ki as a coverall to hide their ignorance of physical sciences. My experience, anyway.

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