Author: Bret Gordon
As an aiki jujutsu instructor, this is a statement I hear almost on a daily basis. It stems from both the outrageous number of charlatans floating around the internet and the overall ignorance when it comes to advanced martial arts. For those that don't know, what this statement is referring to are the wrist-grab connection drills that show an aiki practitioner effortlessly throwing an attacker without any conventional technique (to see an example of these drills, click here). This sounds ridiculous, and sometimes looks so too, but I assure you it's real. I know this because I was a heavy skeptic too, until I landed on my rear enough times to finally ask how it worked.
Before I go into the larger problem that this statement exemplifies, I want to explain how and why these wrist-grab connection drills work. First and foremost, we must understand that what is being demonstrated are not self defense techniques. They are drills meant to reinforce fundamental principles of balance, sensitivity, motion, timing and structural manipulation. Once the student learns and ingrains these principles, they begin to infuse them into conventional joint locks and throwing techniques to make them more efficient and effective. But that doesn't mean these drills require a compliant attacker either. In fact, the very premise of aiki involves receiving the force of your attacker and returning it. Therefore, you must have a committed attack to work from. The attacker must grab you with malicious intent.
Author: Bret Gordon
To start with, I promise this will not be some hokey article about a mystical force that no one can feel, see or otherwise experience. I'm not even going to talk about spirituality. The chi I'm talking about (and will be further referring to in Japanese as ki) is a very measurable force that exists within all things in nature. So what is it, and how is it applied in true internal martial arts?
Ki 気 literally means "energy," which is commonly defined as the ability to do work. In a martial arts context, we're referring specifically to the generation of force. Energy is created in the human body by a flow of electricity. At rest, the average human body produces around 100 watts of power. Electricity is required for the nervous system to send signals throughout the body and to the brain, making it possible for us to move, think and feel. Almost all of the cells in our body can use charged elements (such as sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium), called ions, to generate electricity, and therefore energy.
All martial arts, and in fact all human movement, use this energy to generate power in their techniques. The amount of power you can generate is dependent on your overall use and understanding of biomechanics and proper structure. But this isn't an article on the most efficient way to punch or kick. Let's get deeper in our study of the arts, and specifically look at the taboo internal arts.
Most people's definition of internal martial arts comes from a rudimentary understanding of Taijiquan and Qigong. To them, the "internal" classification refers to the healing properties of these practices, and that's certainly part of it. The flow of energy through the body helps improve the circulatory and respiratory systems, which in turn promote overall health. But can you use ki combatively? Yes! There are two distinct applications of ki in the internal martial arts: disruption and connection.
About Our Blog
The articles posted here have been shared from the US Association of Martial Arts website, run by our headmaster Bret Gordon, for their relevance to Aiki Jujutsu. For more of his writings, please click here.