The debate for and against "chi"

Discussion in 'Tai chi' started by Black41, May 21, 2011.

  1. Black41

    Black41 Click Clack Blaow!

    Here are the clippings from the post that was debating whether "chi" can be explained or not. Starting the debate with:

    Bio-electric energy is not chi.

    [QUOTE/]Also what about when a lady lifts a car off of someone that is trapped beneath? (
    (there are many more examples of this if you aren't familiar or skeptic)[/QUOTE]

    "Joan Harvey, a chartered psychologist at the University of Newcastle said: "What happens in an emergency is that all your physiology gets into gear and you can do things that are really quite superhuman."

    I'd bet physics had something to do with it as well.

    [QUOTE/]What about when people are hopped up on drugs and can move cars which my brother witnessed while working as a police. Where did this strength suddenly come from?? There wasn't any change physically, their muscle mass was the same, so how can there be this fluctuation in power?[/QUOTE]

    Adrenaline increase is far, far more likely than chi power.

    [QUOTE/]Also you may feel more energetic in the afternoon, but not in the evening. On a good day you may lift more weights in the gym, but on a lousy day you lift less. Muscle mass has stayed the same, but your energy has fluctuated.[/QUOTE]

    That would likely be a result of your diet, or how hard you've worked that day. Nothing to do with chi.[/QUOTE]

  2. Black41

    Black41 Click Clack Blaow!

    Actually I am studying the language, I'm living in China and on any account I can ask any Chinese about their language. And the Chinese didn't write their language, their characters to represent sounds. Where did you hear that? Chinese began as a form of hieroglyphics or "photographic language" then they simplified the character writing over the years where they still resemble what they are describing. The only way it's written as it sounds is in "pin yin" which was invented around 1900 as a way for foreigners to learn their language.

    You say the “literal” translation of "chi" is "air" "breath" and "gas", but you left out "energy of life" "vital energy" and "spirit".

    [quote/]Again why do we need a "Chinese" way of expressing energies that can already be explained by a western scientific model that has no room for ancient Chinese theories?[/quote]

    Their way of writing the word "chi" has different meaning, it's like a new word in itself to describe something, if you look at how it is loosely translated, you see that it covers a few different aspects that aren't explained in one simple word in English.

    But now we are getting hung up on the word again. In very basic terms if you watch that video by Stanford School of Medicine and visualizing the lady does, she is able to produce and effect (reduce pain by 50%) Whether or not you believe in “chi” Ok so hypothetically lets say there is no word “chi”. All the lady does is a visualizing technique and the physical result is lowered pain. So no “chi” played a part in this, OK? You don't have to understand how it works, all you have to see is the results.

    Are we on an agreement here? I hope so. I'm after results.

    [quote/]Not to mention the visualization techniques utilized in sports are vastly different from the ones used in chi kung, and other new age practices. For example in basketball you are told to envision hitting a free-throw or whatever shot you are about to take, where as in qigong your are more likely going to envision different colors and shapes and focus on different sensations.[/quote]

    Now you are getting all mystical on me. I'm not even going to go into that area of magical colors.

    Refer back to Stanford's video, the lady does some very simple techniques for reducing pain. And if you see in the video that they also focus on a “flame” in the mind which is to represent the intensity of pain and they have found that by shrinking the size of it, it does in fact reduce their pain. Visualizing is visualizing, is it not?

    Can the methods of visualizing be backed up by science?

    So whether one is visualizing a basketball shot, visualizing past an object to punch through it, visualizing a flame and reducing the size, or visualizing anything else, can the results be documented and backed up with science?

    Also the “will” is a major factor too. I learned about this when I was getting my permit to carry a concealed handgun (don't take this as a threat in any way, just mentioning where I learned this) that police have found that people who have been mortally wounded with gallons of blood all over the floor able to survive and people that were not mortally wounded actually die because of fright. Their mind saved them or killed them. This is a strong will and the mind is able to supersede the physical body which by western medicine would say that the person should be dead.

    The “will” the “focus” and the “visualizing” has a major influence on the physical body. There are many such cases like this where somebody shouldn't live, where they shouldn't be able to walk again and through constant will and visualization, they are up walking again.

    So for me all I have to know is that whether a way of practicing and training works! If visualization, breathing, and “will” get me the end results, I will do it.

    I know we could debate and debate about “chi”, the concept of it, how it is translated, what it's really supposed to mean, how the Chinese think about it, is there any double blind studies that proves it, what form of energy is it, etc etc etc

    All I know is that the way qigong and tai chi is practiced (visualization, the will, postures/movements and breathing) can show direct evidence in results that CAN BE BACKED UP by science, like I outlined above.

    Look at the practice then look at the results, that is all that matters. In between there is a massive jumble of activity that is taking place that can't all be explained by science. Science itself is young, Einstein said, “The only source of knowledge is experience” and “Information is not knowledge”.

    So to my knowledge, my experience, and other people's knowledge, experience, and scientific knowledge, the practice itself – visualizing, breathing, focus, and body postures/movements have known to have a direct effect on the physical body in very dramatic ways. This is how I practice, this has been documented by science, this works, this is conclusive.
  3. Osu,

    There seems to be a violent opposition on the qi/ki/chi question between people at different places in their journey into Martial Arts...

    I don't think it is a matter of believing in Qi, it is a matter of experiencing it... But to get a chance experience it, you must keep an open mind and attune your sensitivity.

    There are people that:
    1- did not experience Qi and won't because they have closed their perception and sensitivity; under the pretense that science cannot measure it, it does not exist. They ultimately may be right to consider anyone that does not agree with them to be nutcases, but in reality, they are the fools.
    2- did experience it and either would like to share their experience, or keep it for themselves... They will likely consider the (1) types fools.
    3- did experience it, but publicly deny its existence to confuse the fools.
    4- did not experience it per se, but keep an open mind and maybe accept that the notion of qi covers more than one thing, that it can be approached from different angles.
    5- did not experience it, but are hardcore believers and will do whatever it takes to rally the world to their delusions; maybe to boast at a cocktail party or on an internet forum. These are vain shells.
    6- did not experience it, but have a vested interest in perpetuating the scam.

    As I stated elsewhere, one of the reasons I have started TaiJiQuan, is to experiment, explore and experience it for myself... At the moment I am a number 4... as soon as I have found something, I'll become a number 3 and will stubbornly oppose any notion of Qi, so you will know nothing! :D:D

    Who are you?

  4. Black41

    Black41 Click Clack Blaow!

    I am a 2, I have had the experience of it and I know people that people that haven't experienced it are likely to disagree. So to make it more approachable to the scientific and fact based minded (nothing wrong with that) I want to present science and evidence that the practice itself has direct effect on the physical level.

    If more people practice it with assurance that how it's practiced will lead to demonstrable results, I think more people will be able to experience the results and along the way discover some things. :cool:
    Last edited: May 21, 2011
  5. AndrewTheAndroid

    AndrewTheAndroid A hero for fun.

    I left out "energy of life" "vital energy" and "spirit" because they aren't literal translations of Qi.

    You also missunderstood what I wrote. I am NOT talking about pinyin. I am talking about how the Chinese give shape to their spoken language. Their written language is largely based off of how they perceive their spoken language. For example if a word sounds sharp, it's character will have a sharp look to it. I already know that Chinese was a pictographic language, as I had already mentioned it.

    I've done qigong with several tai chi masters. Although my study wasn't as in depth as I would've liked, I've experienced the effects of the practicing tai chi and qigong. I've also spent nearly 3 years in China observing and studying the culture and history, but I am by no means an expert. I plan on going back next year and taking a university course so I can learn how to speak Chinese.

    Pointing out visualization techniques doesn't prove anything about whether or not chi exists. It's not just about the results, there is an ENTIRE physical process going on that can be explained and observed by western science, and I can assure you that chi doesn't play any part in it.

    I am not sure what to write any more because I feel at this point I am only repeating myself.

    There are no reputable studies that prove the existence of chi as an energy. The people who came up with the concept of chi 1000's of years ago, had no idea what a biophoton is, so it's preposterous to assume that's exactly what they had in mind when they were musing about how universe works.

    More over you are simply taking a vague Chinese, saying it exists without defining exactly what it is in English, all the while using scientific studies that have nothing to do with chi energy to prove it's existence. None of what you have posted proves that chi exists in metaphysical sense.

    I've done qigong with several tai chi masters. Although my study wasn't as in depth as I would've liked, I've experienced the effects of the practicing tai chi and qigong. I've also spent nearly 3 years in China observing and studying the culture and history, but I am by no means an expert. I plan on going back next year and taking a university course so I can learn how to speak Chinese.

    Let me ask you this. What phenomenon exists in the human body, that cannot be explained by modern science but can be explained by chi?
    Last edited: May 21, 2011
  6. Black41

    Black41 Click Clack Blaow!

    3 Main Conclusions:

    [quote/]You say the “literal” translation of "chi" is "air" "breath" and "gas", but you left out "energy of life" "vital energy" and "spirit".[/quote]

    [quote/]I left out "energy of life" "vital energy" and "spirit" because they aren't literal translations of Qi.[/quote]

    Ok so lets go with the literal translation: air, breath, and gas. These are explained by science.

    Visualization, breathing techniques and posture/stances (method of practice in qigong/tai chi) Proven scientific results. I've covered this already.

    [quote/]None of what you have posted proves that chi exists in metaphysical sense.[/quote]
    Cited from wiki:
    Metaphysics: "Prior to the modern history of science, scientific questions were addressed as a part of metaphysics known as natural philosophy. The term science itself meant "knowledge" of, originating from epistemology. The scientific method, however, transformed natural philosophy into an empirical activity deriving from experiment unlike the rest of philosophy. By the end of the 18th century, it had begun to be called "science" to distinguish it from philosophy. Thereafter, metaphysics denoted philosophical enquiry of a non-empirical character into the nature of existence.

    Einstein quotes "knowledge" comes from experience and metaphysics is "knowledge of". Einstein also said, "The more I study physics, the more I am drawn to metaphysics."

    So in the metaphysic sense, "chi'' exists as well as the "literal" translation "air" "breath" "gas". Both are considered science, just one is not based on empirical double blind studies (how would you do a double blind study on chi anyways? Seriously I don't know, if both the person administering the test and the subject aren't aware, how can they practice a mental technique?)

    I can't explain away gravity, but I know if I drop something, it falls down and not up. I also know if I practice visualization and breathing techniques results are increased.
  7. Mangosteen

    Mangosteen Hold strong not

    wait wait.
    dont compare gravity to chi...
    i will have a physics rage.
    just because YOU, personally, don't understand the fundamentals behind gravity, it doesn't mean you should compare it to something with no one can explain fully, using definable concepts and approaches, even experimentation.
    as soon as you can define chi in scientific vocabulary and have everyone else agree, then you can truly prove it.
    until then it is a theory, an unproved one.
    many ppl will disagree with your understanding of chi therefore experiments can prove it further.
    also saying that "scientific terms" do not fully describe chi is stupid. we cannot test and experiment on feeling as too many things come into play such as psychology etc.
    basically, apply science to it and it is proved.

    saying all that, i have experienced chi, but being skeptical is good for your brain.
  8. Putrid

    Putrid Moved on

    Provided you can get past the author's ego this article might possibly go some way to explaining chi,at least in the context of the martial arts.I am quite sure a martial artist would benefit from unleashing such a chemical cocktail.As for the author,I can vouch for his extraordinary abilty and he can do everything he says despite being nearly seventy years of age.
    Last edited: May 21, 2011
  9. AndrewTheAndroid

    AndrewTheAndroid A hero for fun.

    Of course they are and we already have English terms for them. We don't need "a new word to describe something" for them. However chi as a "life energy," a "vital energy," or a "spirit" have NOT been proven by science. We have Kinetic, Stored, Heat, Mechanical, Chemical, Electrical, and Gravitational energy, but there is no life energy, no vital energy and definitely no spirit.
  10. Osu,

    What a bucket list of different concepts........ Internet "science" will get worse before it ever has a chance to get better... :D:D

  11. Hannibal

    Hannibal Cry HAVOC and let slip the Dogs of War!!! Supporter

    You mised out

    7) Experienced what was presented as Ki and realised it was no such thing and nothing that could be explained away elsewhere without resorting to outdated terms and concepts
  12. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    I am a 7. The British Army rehabilitation service experimented with acupuncture some years ago as a compliment to existing therapy treatments for wounded soldiers. The results were printed in the British Journal of Science (I can't remember which issue, and it's too early in the morning to Google). It was total horse bollocks (translation: it didn't work). I know because I was a patient during the study. I've picked up a lot of injuries in the years following my exit from the military (my original injury left me predisposed) and I experimented with everything from pilates and Alexander Technique to reiki and 'chi' massage. Only the therapy treatments supported by clinical evidence and scientific reasoning had any effect. All the pseudoscientific nonsense was a complete and utter waste of time and money. If you want to believe in chi, unicorns and goblins, go right ahead. Personally, I know 'Lord of the Rings' wasn't based on a true story.
  13. Black41

    Black41 Click Clack Blaow!

    Hey Putrid, that's a really great article, thanks for posting it. I didn't intend for my ego to get involved I was just too caught up in the whole debate of it. There are some really powerful minds in this martial arts community and the egos should be set aside otherwise it prevents further understanding.

    And for WhitePanda and Hannibal, my opponents:), you present a very strong case which I like a good challenge, but hope it doesn't get in the way of exploring different concepts. Everyone has a different take on things and different experience that can add real value which increases everyones understanding.

    So that being said and upon further reflection about the concept of "chi", I realize that it has whole different meaning behind it than is understood by western way of thinking. If you study languages you are essentially studying culture. China's culture is the opposite of the West. They believe much more into the mysterious aspects and is deeply ingrained in their society. So the words they use to describe things have a much deeper meaning and association behind it. That's why many Chinese that talk about "chi" say that there isn't an English equivalent, because the one word encompasses much more. In English we will say one word to describe one thing, but in Chinese they will say one word to describe a whole area of things.

    So to apply a scientific term to "chi", I don't think is possible. Words are essential just a label attached to something so to refer to it as "X". So perhaps what people feel when practicing Qigong may be just an increased sensation of their bio-feedback and they say that they "feel the qi", I guess I really don't know how you would describe it in English terms. Because if the Chinese say that the word "chi" is deep and mysterious, even to them, how are we able to understand it, explain it and then be able to study it? To properly study something, it needs to be clearly defined what it is in ways that you understand.

    I read a recent article that talked about a study that was done with chi kung masters and scientists and they were in different understanding of what was taking place. The scientist understood it as a series of relaxation techniques but it was much more than that to the qigong masters. So I'm beginning to see there is an incongruence in understanding of what is taking place.

    But if we just simply approach it as what is being practiced and what the demonstrable result is, that will clear a lot of confusion. And since I'm not Chinese, I don't know about the rest of y'all, but any suggestions on alternative words to be used to describe what is taking place when people practice visualization techniques and how that influences the body from lowering pain (Stanford video) to increasing athletic performance?

    But for anyone that haven't read that article that Putrid posted, check it out: It covers things a lot deeper in terms of western medical speak.
  14. Osu,

    Indeed I did miss that one, thanks for pointing it out.


    Osu Van zandt,

    For years, I used to deny, decry and bash acupuncture, until last year, I suffered a bad case of tennis elbow.
    My left elbow was cured after 5 sessions over a week.
    When my right elbow got painful, I was in the USA and had no access to acupuncture... I had to wait 3 months to get back in China and treat it...
    It took longer, like 20 sessions over 2 months, with a very rapid improvement, then a longer time lingering with shallower levels of pain. It is much better now, but is still painful some of the days after intense training; I think I'll need another 5 sessions to get done with it (I hope!).

    Of course, this is just my personal experience :), not a scientific proof of anything; but it worked for me in these specific instances when all else failed (rest, anti inflammatory & physio sessions...)

    To be precise, when the pain did not disappear after the first two weeks of treatment, they started to connect the needles in my elbow with electrodes that discharged tiny (but painful) electric shocks (waves?).

  15. NightSky

    NightSky Valued Member

    We live in a modern world. At least compared to world before hundred or two hundred or more years. Science helped people to explore world around them, to see what surround us. We have discovered so much. But we discovered also that most of the people refering to same middle age beliefs like tarot, horoscope, gods, ghosts, AND chi energy are lame. They are over the years distinct them selves from real world, they negate and don't want to see science evidence, and they are sometimes even incredibly programmable and naive and stupid.

    People who claims in Chi energy i put in that group. So many people over the planet doing martial arts, and NOBODY didn't come and say, ''Ok, test my Chi energy. What i need to do?''

    I mean, some does, but check Yellow Bamboo to see how it looked like. Or Chi energy master who fought with MMA rookie and got broken nose. Or similar..also you have James Randi, who will give GREAT ammount of money if you just came to his studio and to just something. Just move a litlle the pencile without touching it, or just do something similar, which someone, according to people's claims, should do. NOBODY never suceed in this, and many tried.

    How someone can believe and claim in it? Then you can believe in other backlogs from the middle age or earlier which just won't dissapear because of people blindness and stubbornness.
  16. Martial novice

    Martial novice Valued Member


    I understand the point you are trying to make on how different people interpret the term 'chi' differently, but if you want to argue that it exists, then that has to be pinned down.

    If I believe in 'Spirit', as suggested for Christians, but not fully defined, then I say it exists. Can I explain it to a scientist? Well, no. I can't measure it, and do I mean spirit as in having heart, or courage, or as in my life force? When I die my spirit will leave my body, in a form recognisable as me - but how?
    Science is going to challenge my use of the word 'spirit' with lots of questions, the first one being, what exactly do I mean by spirit?

    Like the Chinese person expressing 'chi', I would also say it is deep and mysterious and a scientist shouldn't attempt to pin it down, but then what claim do I have to the existence of spirit? My feeling alive? My emotions? My belief in seeing ghosts that look like the forms of humans who lived before me?

    I suspect spirit is a vague term used for centuries to explain the feeling of being alive. Whether or not acupuncture works (my sister is a skeptic who felt improvement following a knee injury, though I have no personal experience), I am not comfortable with attributing it to something vague, rather than saying - let's test if it works, and if it does, admit that we don't know why.

  17. Black41

    Black41 Click Clack Blaow!

    Well here's a few things about my experience with "chi", kinda just letting it all hang out there. But first off I understand that it has gotten much flack over the years from essentially magic shows. I live in China currently and have watched on CCTV (communist china television at least that's what I call it) where there was a guy demonstrating his "chi" power where someone was taking a construction drill and drilling into his head and torso with no visible damage. Obviously not real, this is the kind of stuff that makes many people skeptics. Once before they thought their chi could stop bullets but they were all gunned down, so there are some areas where people get a little crazy about what they think it can do.

    However, besides the elaborate kinds of thing, I've had a lot of experience with chi that before I thought was a bunch of hype and nonsense, such as "internal power". The master (who is ex Chinese Special Forces) I train under here has demonstrated it and using a "no-inch" punch, starting from contact sent me back several feet and into a wall, and there wasn't much of a rotation of the waist like you normally see when someone (like Bruce Lee) demonstrates. He describes the method of practice like an explosion similar to a lid bursting off the top of a pan of boiling water. Had a I not experienced and only seen it on Youtube, I would've doubted it, thinking it's a performance.

    Also I don't know if he wants me spreading this, but his master had gotten attacked by a guy with a knife and who slashed him on the side of the ribs. In return he slapped the guy hard on the back killing him. He did two years in the pen for that. If you check out the video on the front page of the site I put up a little way into it you will see him break a stack of 7 bricks with no spacers and on flat ground, with a slap. The bricks are common building bricks, and if you look at the video under “Academy” in the menu bar, you will see me trying to break a brick unsuccessfully to demonstrate the real difference in power these guys work at.

    Also the Dr. I first mentioned, Dr. Klinghardt who won the Physician of the Year by International College of Integrative Medicine in 2007 is having tremendous results in the area of chronic disease. You can check out the documentary where he is featured called, "Under Our Skin" which was an Oscar finalist.

    How do I know he is having tremendous results? Because after going from doctor to doctor when my health was declining, losing weight and having various symptoms he was able to pin point what I had in one visit. No other hospital or doctor came close to detecting. Often they would say it's all in my head when it couldn't be explained by mainstream medicine. I had gone to the largest hospital in China and several large established places in the states, they found nothing. This is why I feel mainstream medicine is coming up short and politics play a role just like in every other kind of organization out there. So just because something is formally accepted by the mainstream as proven, doesn't mean much to me.

    Klinghardt's method of diagnosing is very extensive, he uses a highly sophisticated chemistry that is very complex that most doctors don't understand (people have to specialize in it) but is able to determine percentage wise how much of your symptoms are physical and how much are mental. He also covers areas that are common in mainstream medicine. A powerful way he uses for diagnosing is through muscle testing or ART (Autonomic Response Testing) which is based around your bodies energy system and energy field itself. This would be lengthy to explain it, but is fast, accurate and works.

    Besides Klinghardt, my experience with chi has been recovering from a spinal injury through qigong when chiropractic treatment was only showing mild improvement. After several months of practice (vs. several years of chiropractic) I was better. Often mainstream medicine would suggest Aspirin or pain medication, not much good that does. Again another reason why I'm not such a fan of mainstream medical practice, they just choose to mask the symptoms.

    Also another student I trained with use to have back problems for years and tried many forms of therapy including acupuncture and a few others, but saw no sign of improvement. After a few months of qigong he told me his back was 100%.

    So this debate about chi has taken many twists and turns about the evidence and many people denouncing it a pseudoscience or quackery, well the only real form of knowledge is self knowledge. I know from personal experience the effects and the potential it has. So if one needs to wait for empirical research to be done to accept it, then that's what it takes, but I would suggest an open mind.

    What kind of experiences have you had? The good, the bad, and the hype.
  18. El Medico

    El Medico Valued Member

    The term "ch'i" has multiple applications/meanings.So any discussion must be on a specific meaning applied to a specific catagory.


    ch'i as an expression of force in MAs

    ch'i as a statement of potential physical energy in MAs

    ch'i as some sort of ethereal energy which flows in specific conduits throughout the body and is manipulated/adjusted via various means to enhance/correct specific systems/problems in the body.

    ch'i as the electricity of the human body.-Since "ch'i" has so many possible descriptive uses I see no reason it couldn't be applied to this.But if that's your preferred definition,then shouldn't it just be called what it is? I guess we could jazz it up for the DVD series and call it "Body Charge" or something.But seriously folks, we don't need the term "ch'i" in that case.And we can explore .....whatever... about this body electricity in depth because there is an existing wide body of knowledge in the field of electricity.

    back to defintions of "ch'i"- lastly,my favorite,

    the ch'i of the weather

    catagories don't necessarily overlap.

    Black,you stated-

    However, besides the elaborate kinds of thing, I've had a lot of experience with chi that before I thought was a bunch of hype and nonsense, such as "internal power". The master (who is ex Chinese Special Forces) I train under here has demonstrated it and using a "no-inch" punch, starting from contact sent me back several feet and into a wall, and there wasn't much of a rotation of the waist like you normally see when someone (like Bruce Lee) demonstrates. He describes the method of practice like an explosion similar to a lid bursting off the top of a pan of boiling water. Had a I not experienced and only seen it on Youtube, I would've doubted it, thinking it's a performance.

    Black-your teacher blasting you without much perceptible movement on his part doesn't automatically mean his use of "ch'i" in that instance was anything more than the definition of it as expressed energy of the body-that is to say applied force.Inch power applied long.Physical stuff.

    He's issuing abrupt force at an angle where your balance is easily "taken".It's actually easier to do when already in contact such as you describe.

    Ha! Wait'll he does it to you and even onlookers can't see him move his waist or anything. It's even more abrupt!

    That's assuming he's doing it in a TC method,not in a regular 1 inch method,which is quite easy to learn-fun to play with too,but limited application.

    Visualization techniques=Visualization techniques. If thought is to catagorized as ch'i or a manifestation thereof that's yet another definition.
  19. embra

    embra Valued Member

    why do folk talk about chi so much on forums like this?
  20. Martial novice

    Martial novice Valued Member

    I disagree. I am certainly happier if my experience matches the consensus or informed view, but it's not the only knowledge. We cannot know EVERYTHING, so we invest our trust in specialists - previously this may have been religious figureheads, but increasingly scientists.

    My self knowledge is terrible on medicine, so I go to a doctor to work out what is wrong when I feel unwell. If she gives me a placebo and I get better, my self-knowledge has in fact been deceived.

    I have no problem with a practice that gives benefits, which seems to be the case among those who say they have felt chi, but the explanation.

Share This Page