In traditional Chinese culture, qì or ch’i (About this sound qì, also known as gi in Korean culture and ki in Japanese culture) is an active principle forming part of any living thing.123 Ki literally translates as “breath”, “air”, or “gas”, and figuratively as “material energy”, “life force”, or “energy flow”.4 Ki is the central underlying principle in traditional Chinese medicine and martial arts.

Concepts similar to ki can be found in many cultures: prana in Hinduism (and elsewhere in Indian culture), chi" in the Igbo religion, pneuma in ancient Greece, mana in Hawaiian culture, lüng in Tibetan Buddhism, manitou in the culture of the indigenous peoples of the Americas, ruah in Jewish culture, and vital energy in Western philosophy.

Some elements of the concept of ki can be found in the term energy when used in the context of various esoteric forms of spirituality and alternative medicine.

The ancient Chinese described it as “life force”. They believed ki permeated everything and linked their surroundings together. They likened it to the flow of energy around and through the body, forming a cohesive and functioning unit.[citation needed] By understanding its rhythm and flow they believed they could guide exercises and treatments to provide stability and longevity.[citation needed]

Although the concept of ki has been important within many Chinese philosophies, over the centuries the descriptions of ki have varied and have sometimes been in conflict.[citation needed] Until China came into contact with Western scientific and philosophical ideas, they had not categorized all things in terms of matter and energy.[citation needed] Ki and li (理: “pattern”) were ‘fundamental’ categories similar to matter and energy.

Ki is something that can be channeled to do extraordinary things such as heal oneself quickly, create fire, wind, and energy attacks. It also allows for natural damage resistance as well as self-empowerment in both strength and agility.


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