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(8 pages total)

Page 4 - Finding Qi in Internal Martial Arts

Pole II: Sensitivity and soft methods

As I've watched students learn to develop and control their internal energy, in general, those who have been most successful start with the development of sensitivity. First they develop sensitivity to their own internal and external energy field, the movement of energy within their own system, and then they become ­sensitive to the energy fields of others. Thus, sensitivity is the first step that leads to the ability to use soft and relaxed methods in a real ­confrontation.

The idea of sensing and manipulating ones internal energy, distinct from a kind of respiratory therapy (one involving the qi of the air that one breathes), first appeared in Chinese culture relatively late. The theoretical construct of a distinct energy, inner qi taken by many today as the most central concept of Chinese yoga, traditional medicine and the internal artswas developed within Daoist internal alchemy traditions in the middle of the Tang Dynasty (618-906 CE). At that time nei qi, literally internal energy, began to be described by some Daoists searching for the secret of immortality as the animator of the mind and bodys interior change. In terms of internal arts, the doctrine of internal qi is most important. It is the basis of how we, in the internal healing and martial arts, think of qi today. It has become the underlying assumption in multitudinous mind-body health disciplines, especially in disciplines of taijiquan, qigong, Daoist meditation and asian traditional healing arts such as acupuncture. All of these involving various methods to get in touch with, develop, or balance internal qi.

However, when the subject of internal energy is broached, one immediately faces the problem of defining it. The search for understanding of this mysterious and enigmatic energie vitale has been one of the most important parts of my martial and healing art practice. In my experience, most students of the internal healing and martial arts will say they experience a subtle energy field which, they believe, courses within and around the body. The crux of the problem of understanding qi is that one cannot explain what it is. It must be experienced for oneself.


Sri Surath

Sri Surath. By chance, coincidence or blessing? John had increased awareness of bio-energy fields shortly after working with Surathji.

What is Qi?

Long before it was adapted into martial arts, the study of internal energy known in Eastern cultures as prana, kundalini, ki or qi, was developed into a mind-body discipline of health, longevity and personal power in select Indian and Chinese yogic arts. As discussed above, it was the organizing principle of traditional medicinefor the alchemists of pre-modern China it became the focus of the arts of healing self and others through its manipulation and balance. Although qi has not yet been proven to exist by western ­scientific methods, I do not think it is superstitious, irrational or foolish to believe in it, or have a sincere interest in it. Focusing for a moment on the energy and sensitivity pole defined above, I want to write about my own experience. Later I will discuss.

It is an intrinsic organistic energy field flux that is a unitary process, derived from, but superseding the individual energies of the different organs.

I am certain that, in time, qi will be demonstrated to be a fundamental force in scientific biology. It will be shown to exist as part of physical reality that neither depends on, nor challenges, religious beliefs and is just as real and potent as the invisible neuro-electrical signals that keep that regulate the hearts role as a life pump. The question for artists, internal teachers and healers is in deciding whether or not they will work today within the tentative understandings of internal energy and its promises of health and power or wait the ten or twenty years for the phenomena to be accepted by mainstream science.


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