Ki Explained

Most of the information about Ki currently available to the public can be found at your local bookstore or library. So in the interest of comprehension, let's start there.

As I see it, there are four specific classifications of Ki-related publications:

This website will cover the first, second, and fourth classifications. The third is not even worth considering, since it's redundant, and not the product of genuine familiarity with the concepts we'll be discussing.


The Ki no Kenkyukai is perhaps the most well-known Japanese organization involved in Ki-related arts. Its founder, Koichi Tohei, is an undisputed Ki master and also the top student of Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of the martial art Aikido. In his book, aptly titled Book of Ki, he explains his definition of this seemingly elusive concept:

"Ki is the basic unit of the universe. It is the infinite gathering of infinitely small particles. Everything is ultimately composed of Ki. If you pursue this concept to the depth of human consciousness, you will understand the universal mind which governs all creation, loving and protecting all life......Everything originates from the Ki of the universe (pg. 12)."
Koichi Tohei, performing KiriKaeshi

Tohei clearly views Ki as the foundation and building block for the entire Universe. It is no surprise then that he deems its cultivation to be of paramount importance, especially in relation to the successful practice of the arts taught by his organization. But as you can see from the quote above, he goes beyond that to suggest that Ki can lead to a better discernment of Universal principles and our place in the scheme of creation we call life.

The Chinese definition of Ki (pronounced Chi, in Chinese) is perhaps best represented by Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming. As the founder of the YOAA, Inc., an international organization dedicated to the preservation and practice of Chi-based arts, he is uniquely qualified to offer this explanation:

"Qi (Chi) is the foundation of all Chinese medical theory......It corresponds to the Greek pnuema and the Sanskrit prana, it is considered to be the vital force and energy flow in all living things......Qi can be best explained as a type of energy very much like electricity, which flows through the human or animal body. When this circulation becomes stagnant or stops, the person or animal will become ill or die. Although there is no precise Western definition of Qi, it is often referred to as bioelectricity. In fact, it was recognized in the last decade that Qi is actually the bioelectricity circulating in all living things (Qi Gong For Health and Martial Arts, pg. 9)."

Dr. Jwing-Ming, performing Shuang Shou Qin Xiong

Something of note in Dr. Jwing-Ming's treatise is the mention of recent recognition that Ki is in fact bioelectricity circulating throughout every living organism. Although, it is not clear from this context, he perhaps, is making reference to on-going scientific investigations in his native China. These will be discussed in more detail in the Ki metaphysics section of this site.

As you can see, the Chinese and Japanese perspectives really don't differ all that much; in fact, they have more in common than discord. Both Ki masters maintain that this biological energy is the foundation of life, and that without it, death certainly ensues. Neither asserts Supernatural phenomena as a by-product of Ki's influence upon the Universe, nor do they claim that someone will beget extraordinary superpowers as a result of Ki training--despite what Japanese cartoons (Manga) might lead one to believe.

Now, of course, this website wouldn't be complete if I didn't chime in on occasion with my own interpretation of the various subject matters at hand, and so the following represents my take on Ki and its interaction with biological organisms.

The Author, performing Kotegaeshi

Firstly, while I don't disagree with the classification of Ki as energy (because that's what it feels like as it travels through the body), I do wonder if that terminology is more a product of the industrial and space age vernaculars, rather than a label rooted in more traditional Asian thought. Don't get me wrong, it does accurately describe Ki: something that can be felt but not seen, something that appears to have a current or direction of flow, and something related to vigor and power. Still, it's hard to imagine the sages of old, possessing nothing like electricity in their technological knowledge to use as a point of reference, would coin a definition relating Ki to the physics of molecular discharge.

Case in point, the ideograph used in both the Chinese and Japanese languages does not mean energy. In fact, it is more accurately defined as spirit, mood or feeling, occasionally as mindset or vigor, depending on the context.

Ki: Spirit, Soul, Mood, Feeling (according to Tuttle's Guide to Writing Kanji & Kana)

And so, based partially on the above stated, and also my anecdotal experience, it is my contention that Ki is not, in fact, energy, but is instead, a gathering of microscopic organisms that live in symbiosis with larger biological life forms. In other words, these beings, which undoubtedly vibrate at a higher frequency than the physical plane (which may explain their ability to permeate physical matter), somehow enjoy mutual benefit in traveling the Ki Meridians and repairing the decaying cells of the body (possibly by feeding on the necrosis, or waste material of cellular activity, at the microscopic level.)

Another symbiotic relationship: Oxpeckers that perch on the back of warthogs, and eat parasitic insects from their skin

Now, I realize to some this may seem like a vast departure from conventional wisdom in these matters. And unique perspectives, of course, should usually be taken with a grain of salt; as if representative of a fringe cultural divergence, harboring priviledged information, that "miraculously" goes undiscovered by the "less enlightened" mainstream. All I can offer in my defense is that every aspect of my interaction with Ki has directed me to this hypothesis, and unless I obtain significant experience to the contrary, I have no choice but to draw my conclusions thusly. I invite the reader to also draw their own suppositions through training, whether they reflect my views or otherwise.

Nevertheless, in so doing, I must also account for the discrepancy between my perspective and that of the mainstream Kigei community. And here it is: a more reasonable explanation (like mine) for the existence and function of Ki has probably not been broached before by its manipulators due to at least two factors:

Naturally, these are generalizations; some would argue that both New Age and Eastern philosophies are interested in the "why" of things, but the fact is that they are rarely interested in biological explanations. Some would also add that the reason science has limited interest is because we've failed to provide irrefutable evidence of the existence of Ki.

And although this latter argument especially, does have some merit, the question remains how one can gather proof of Ki if cynicism prevents the indulgence in training methods that would demonstrate its reality to the practitioner? Ki is, afterall, conducted by living organisms, not man-made apparatus used to measure physical manifestation. Even more problematic, is that many dabble in Ki development, undergo marginal transformation, and then miscall the effect a product of body dynamics, leverage, or simple psychological manipulation--all of which, admittedly, have some relationship with Ki, but are not, in fact the phenomenon in question.

And yet, if we are to contend that Ki is in fact the above described relationship between microscopic organisms, existing slightly out of phase with physical matter, and that of macroscopic beings, then certain questions abound. Why, for example, must Ki be developed in the first place, for there to be an experience? Doesn't it already exist out there in abundance? Why can't its influence be noticably felt all the time by everyone, even those who are untrained in its particulars? Well, these are all good questions, those and more will be addressed on the remainder of this site--hopefully, to the reader's satisfaction.

Note: Despite my stated view that Ki is most likely an assembly of life forms living in symbiosis with us, its hosts, I will continue to refer Ki as energy, not only for the sake of reader comprehension, but also because of the accepted relationship between its presence and physical virility.