Softness (ju) training opens the door to the use of energy. But how? Will you use your qi/chi/ki energy to hurt people? Or to heal them?
This is the choice that all who travel the path of energy must make. Understand one thing, however.
The choice is illusory.
It isn’t about the energy or how it’s used. It’s not even about the intention behind the choice. Rather, it’s about connecting a circuit through which it can flow to meet the needs of the moment. Or in simpler terms, what goes around comes around.
Karate on its surface is rather simple. Block. Strike. Survive.
But what is little understood, and even less spoken of, is the energy that makes it all possible or the consciousness that wields it. Sure, blocking, punching and kicking can be fun as well as effective. But it is the process of challenging yourself to do and be more through the pursuit of perfection that hones you into who you are and what you want to be.
Here we challenge you to see that effort in another way, one shaped by energetic and spiritual underpinnings you must explore for yourself. This is what waits for you on the path of softness, for it changes not only how you see the world, but how you relate to and interact with it.
Those who dive deeply into the martial arts soon realize that physical training is just a start, a tiny tip of a great iceberg. Its practice, however, opens a door into a vast unseen realm just waiting for you to explore..
See also: Qi/Chi/Ki/Energy Cultivation
Swimming in a sea of energy
For we are all swimming in a sea of energy. And as Grandmaster Foo of the Emei mountain school of qigong taught us, energy is intelligence. It has heart. It has purpose. It knows why it is here and what it is to do. In short, energy and spirit are intricately interlocked.
Max Planck, the father of quantum physics, talked about the invisible hand behind of all of existence that guides our lives and how our world unfolds.
Einstein knew this, too, for his Theory of Relativity (E=mc²) unlocked the atom and the tremendous amounts of energy that are present in even the smallest bits of matter.
In karate, most of the time this is irrelevant. For we focus only upon perfecting the physical movements, with little thought of what more the practice might offer.
Morehei Ueshiba, the father of aikido, said that the connection to spirit — he was a devout practitioner of Shinto, if memory serve me correctly — was at the core of his training. It is what enabled him to perform superhuman feats, like the one described in the story of him becoming invisible before his students at one session.
So as you work to develop the ju (softness) in you, know that energy is the means of destruction. You train to defend and destroy. And it is for use in combat that many karateka enter upon the path of ju.
But the energy you cultivate can also be used to create and heal, and to empower your efforts in the world. You bring the direction and determination. You are the one whose intention becomes manifest through it.
If you are truly to learn the ways of energy, you must begin to see its impact in all your affairs. Feel the flow. Learn when to go with it, and when you need to swim upstream.
You may even feel called to try your hand at energy healing, especially in treating injuries caused by fa jing (extension/expulsion of energy into an opponent). But that’s between you and your guiding force within. If so, just recognize the possibility and be open to the call.
You are so much more than you know. Karate can open the door for you to find it. The study of energy will show you the way.
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