Ki in Japanese and Qi (pronounced chee) in Chinese is what my master calls: “living energy” of “life energy”.
So, I was wondering if the Chinese and Japanese definition of ki/qi is really the same? I was reading a fellow blogger Ben’s article, “Two Kinds of Chee” on his blog called AsianLiving.me Please stop by Ben’s blog, as we are quite similar in our interests but he writes from China and gives his British perspective on Chinese culture; he’s got some very good stuff going on. Okay, back to the article. He discusses the “living energy” qi. The most fascinating point to me was that he said in qi gong, a type of slow moving exercise that incorporates slow movements and breathing to circulate and increase your qi, the center of your body is your upper lip! Never would have guessed that one – please read his article. The other is Ru Chee – what I would simplify as “internal body temperature.” I have come across this when living in Singapore. All Chinese are very well meaning when one is sick. If you are coughing, they say not to drink anything cold because it promotes more coughing. They all know which foods are “cooling” and which are “heating” meaning they all can identifying foods that regulate your inner temperature. It is believed that when your internal temperature is balanced you are ‘healthy’.
In Japan, we don’t use ki in that manner. ki is more related to internal energy, so it is similar to the definition of “life energy”. The character “ki” is used in many words such as “genki“, “aikido”, “reiki“, “kiai“. Let’s take the word “kiai“. It is what I would call internal energy when you psyche yourself up before a tournament, game, performance or even speech. If you ever watched a sumo match, you would see the two sumo wrestlers stare each other down 3 times before actually wrestling. This ritual allows them to increase their “kiai” so they are ready to give it their best. This is similar to a football player, mentally pumping themselves up before a game. They jump up and down, sometimes letting our verbal cries or pound their bodies. These are all forms of building their “kiai“.
In Japanese, we also use it to describe the energy of a person, place or thing. You could have good ki and bad ki, like good vibes and bad vibes. We all get some sort of “feeling” or intuition when entering a space. What we are feeling is the ki/qi/energy within the area. This is where feng shui becomes a tool to guide one to find concrete explanations to why the space has good ki or bad ki. It all starts with the form, that is why I became a student of Master Hsu, who teaches Form School Feng Shui at the Blue Mountain Feng Shui Institute.
In conclusion, Japanese and Chinese may use ki/qi in a different context but regardless of what subject we are talking about, ki/qi is internal energy and life energy. Everything in the universe carries energy, tangible or not.