It’s been an interesting time lately at the dojo. With the stress and work of a gruelling grading fading into the past, we’ve started delving into different areas.
We’re working on incorporating qi/chi, or energy work into our Jiu Jitsu. My Sensei has spent years and years studying Qigong (also known as Chi Kung). While he does lots of healing work, acupressure and acupuncture, he also incorporates chi into his martial arts, making them that much more effective.
We’ve been doing a bit of meditation and working on breathing and building up and using chi. There are several references to gates, to dantians, to breathing, to channels, to fire, water etc. These are all components of Chi Kung and traditional Chinese and energy arts.
First off, meditation and ‘mindful’ breathing which focuses on the lower dantian (or belly breathing for lay people like me), is a great thing to do. It focuses the mind, blocks out lots of the ‘noise’ of life and generally makes you feel good.
We’ve been focusing on building up chi during these exercises and then using that energy in our technique.
My techniques have been far more effective, requiring far less effort (strength). In fact, I’ve been getting surprised when my training partners start madly tapping before I’ve even really started to ‘sink’ it in. I’ve had to start being very careful not to accidentally injure my partner when projecting energy into techniques.
There’s definitely something to this.
Is it magic? The force? Is there really a gas tank you can fill with the energy of the universe that can be unleashed on your foe?
Or is there a scientific reason? Can it be that the very act of focusing, of actively making the body work together as one, cause synapses to fire, long and slow twitch muscle fibres to work synergistically? Can it be that a whole host of physical and physiological processes occur to achieve this economy of motion and effectiveness of technique application?
I don’t care.
It doesn’t matter to me what causes it, as long as it works.
Now normally, I’m not the sort of fellow that just accepts things. In fact, in martial arts and in life, I usually refuse to accept things without careful scrutiny or deliberation and thought. In this case, however, it matters not.
There are a couple of reasons.
#1. I like to believe that there are some intangible things inherent to the study and journey of the martial arts. I still believe there is some magic in the world, things that can't fully be clinically defined. We are all made up of energy, after all.
#2. I’ve seen some proof. I’ve had masters do things to me that I still can’t quite figure out, like sending my rather large frame flying half way across the room having barely moved a muscle.
Also, there have been numerous occasions and documented cases of feats of incredible strength or self healing. Parents have lifted cars off trapped children. And science has shown how some people can speed healing to areas of injury through energy work and focus.
So, I guess I have scientific proof that magic exists. Hmmm, kind of talked myself into a corner on that one…
But that’s exactly my point. Be it science, or be it chi energy, if it works, what does it matter?
If you need science to explain it to make sense to you and therefore you can apply it, learn about the science.
If you need chi to explain it to make sense to you and therefore you can apply it, learn about chi.
With chi work, some people envision it being a force, some think of it as electricity, some as a wave. Whatever they need to do to access it is fine. It’s finding a way to use something, and use it well, that matters. If you envision a more scientific process occurring in your body, that’s just as good, as long as it works.
Normally I need to know the inner workings of things, a more clinical understanding of the ‘why’ to make something my own. It looks like even with this type of need, there are different methods, or paths, to understanding.
Some people say magic is just something science has yet to understand or explain. Some think science and magic are one in the same.
What do I say?
My Jiu Jitsu is better. That's what I know. For now, that’s enough.