Thoughts on the concept of Ki

Recently I’ve been growing a new found interest in the concept of Ki, also known as Qi or Chi (Ki is in fact the Japanese pronounciation of the Chinese Qi or Chi). In Chinese culture, martial arts, and traditional medicine, it is described as kind of energy, life force, vitality, or spiritual power. But I’m mainly interested in the concept of Ki as a force energy and source of spiritual power and strength. This concept of Ki appears in various pop cultural material such as Dragon Ball, and I think something like it appears in martial arts. Something like this appears throughout culture all over the world, including Prana in Indian thought, Mana from Hawaiian culture, and Vital Energy in Western philosophy.

Ki as it appears in Dragon Ball.

The image above shows characters from Dragon Ball irradiating a powerful aura of Ki, raw power. They emit so much power that their auras flare up.  This also appears in the game Asura’s Wrath, where the auras of characters flare up, and is also a staple in Japanese fighting comics, and I swear it recurs in other anime and manga (mainly shonen). It also appears in Buddhist artwork in Tibet and Japan, where deities apparently emit so much power that it appears as flames, and the flames or energy emitted by the deities denotes power. Could it be that gods, demigods, and other spiritual/supernatural beings use Ki within their mythological universe? Mythological speculation aside, though, what I’m trying to get across right now is the idea of Ki as a supernatural/spiritual power that can be used by anyone.

Buddhist deities Hayagriva (left) and Vajrapani (right) in Tibetan artwork. They emit a lot of raw power, as represented by the flames.

According to the Dragon Ball universe, Ki is latent energy or fighting power, and by drawing it out the individual is able to manipulate it for various purposes and for performances outside the body, and it can be used for many techniques. It is also necessary in some way to increase one’s Ki in order to become strong, as there are physical limits to the strength of the body itself. Thus by strengthening and increasing one’s Ki or spirit, one overcomes that barrier to greater personal power. I must say it reminds me of strengthening the will. It is also said that being able to control that Ki is important, since the more your Ki is increased and the stronger it is, the harder it is to control.

Overall, I find an appeal to towards the concept of Ki as referring to spiritual force or energy. Not sure about life force though.

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3 responses to “Thoughts on the concept of Ki

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