09 September, 2012

Qigong in Karate

It seems like most of my articles begin with the phrase "I just read something interesting in X", and this will be no exception.

I have mentioned in the past the book Hidden in Plain Sight, by Ellis Amdur.  I enjoyed not only this book, but the author's style.  His ability to turn a phrase, his humour, and his experience in the martial arts make for compelling reading.

Any rate, I have been re-reading the book, particularly the part about the importance of Chinese methods in some early jujutsu schools.  He mentions that they would need to be exceptional for masters of martial ways (and indeed full-time warriors) to want to study them and include them in their own studies.  This leads on to discussion of what those might be, albeit vaguely - some combination of internal work and refinement.  He speaks of breathing exercises to build pressure in the body and make it able to respond spontaneously to any situation.  For lack of a better single word to define the concept, let us call it qigong.

In my other readings in preparation for my yondan essay, it had also been pointed out to me the importance and difference in breathing used in Sanchin.

So I find myself thinking about the evolution of qigong methods within goju.  Sanchin is clearly a form of hard qigong, but I am well aware of the need for a softer qigong.  White Crane itself has both soft and hard qigong, but has this practice been brought into modern Goju?

Some would argue that Tensho is supposed to be that softness, but the stance and body position don't make me think of a relaxed posture.  Perhaps others will prove me wrong, or say my practice is somewhat out of the norm, but I see Tensho performed with circular hand and arm movements, but often without different breathing than used in Sanchin.  I try to use different breathing, but some forms of Tensho have an inherently more forced breathing pattern.

I need to work further on this topic.  Particularly to see what White Crane and Five Ancestor qigong is like and how this can be of further use.  At least from a health perspective this would be beneficial.  And as Amdur notes, perhaps from a combative perspective as well.


  1. i have been spending a lot of time blending qigong with the harder arts; it's not a clear cut path, i am discovering... i don't know if i see benefits or not, to be very honest, but i know internal arts also take a long time and a lot of patience.

    1. I don't have enough experience to say, but I suspect the roots of my art, being tied with chinese quan fa, may make the process easier. But time will tell.

      Thanks for the comment, JC.