Use the Force, Luke
The Force. Spock's nerve pinch. Very cool. But is it chi?
It is so cool how Yoda lifted Luke's fighter out of the swamp with just his mind. I also wanted Spock's power to do the neck pinch and bring down my opponents. But these are just hocus pocus, voodoo magical things that can only be accessed by movie masters with glowing hands or by wand wielding wizards.
Chi is very real but difficult to teach or quantify. You can't buy it, sell it or put in on your shelf. But certainly you can use it.
Before you can do that, you need to discover it. Briefly, it is self discovery of the motive force that comes from coordinated movement of the body through space. Did I lose you?
In order to understand, we need to first define our movements and space. This is one of my first lessons to students, and as a scientist, I like to use physics and geometry to describe both aspects.
DEFINITION OF SPACE
Space, the final frontier....
We begin with the our 3 dimensional (Cartesian) world which is defined in the three cardinal vectors: x (forward and back), y (left and right), and z (up and down):
So we can move ourselves in combinations of these cardinal directions. The reason we don't look like robots is because we can harmonize all three in all things we do.
Think about any task you do that does not require you to THINK about it. It can be walking, brushing your teeth or tying your shoelaces. At one point in your life it was a conscious effort, but once acquired, did not require much thought to complete
MOVEMENT THROUGH SPACE
Within these three coordinates we can define three types of movement which can create kinetic energy and power on impact and is defined as the total mechanical energy:
Here is a great explanation of Newton's second law.
So let's look at how these three are combined in martial arts.
In a jump back kick, we employ all three forms of mechanical energy; we MOVE towards the target (translational energy), we SPIN around (rotational energy), and our body RISES and then FALLS as the kick lands on the target (gravitational energy).
Using these dynamic methods of movement we can channel all the forces into a small area on the heel to drive through multiple boards.
Now, chi (ki) is the energy that flows from our body through the target. Imagine it as a firehose that you open up on the target. There is a force locked in the hose and when released, it delivers the kinetic energy suddenly on its target.
So next time you watch Star Wars or magical levitation think about how you can move your body through space, with chi flowing, and do masterful deeds!