Shi Shi Hokodan
Maybe five or six years ago, I used to talk to [SiB] about the concept of ki. Wheras I’ve studied almost exclusively “hard” martial arts mainly kickboxing and taekwondo, since we were in college he went the path of “soft” styles such as Tai Chi. He doesn’t do that kind of stuff frequently anymore, but I think that in a lot of ways, the way that we studied martial arts is reflected in the personalities we have.
There were numerous conversations where we discussed the idea that unseen force. Depends on who you ask. You can call it ki, hado, qi, chi, lifestream, MP, the shining… you can call it the Force for all I care. It is something that is unseen, and it has a distinct effect on your daily activities.
In part, it has to do with ‘substance,’ that kind of stuff that I talk about that comes from experience. Get enough experience in life, and simply, you don’t sweat the little things as much as someone who is more of a noob. But there’s more than one way of dealing with an incoming negative energy.
Notes on ki:
Suppose your environment is directing negative energy at you.
One way involves absorbing it.
- This school of techniques is normally found in people who you might characterize as compassionate, empathetic or sympathetic. Alternatively, it can be defaulted to by people who are passive, “pushovers” or meek. From here you can:
- disperse it internally (basically breaking it down internally).
- You can dissipate the negative energy properly, sorta like breaking down food you eat and then using it as fuel.
- You can experience energy indigestion, where the density or flavor of the energy doesn’t agree with you. This leads to ki poisoning.
- let is pass through you
- you can filter it through you, using your own ki as a means of reshaping incoming ki, so that when you release it, it comes out a different type. An example of this is being given lemons, and making lemonade.
- you can simply be a ground wire, allowing ki to enter you and leave you without any resisitence. This is the method of emptying one’s sensibility such that you detach your being from your conductivity, so that you don’t get fried, and letting the ki come and go with zero resistence. A lot of people call tihs “being Zen” about things, but what it is not is being numb.
Another school involves opposing it.
- This school of techniques is normally found in people who are confident, agressive, unpredictable, and confrontational. Alternatively, it can just as easily be defaulted to by people who lack confidence and use it as a means of masking self-esteem issues through bravado. From here, you can:
- Disperse external ki by crushing it. This means that if a dog barks at you, you can metaphrically notice that your own fighting spirit is greater than the dog, and you can metaphorically kick the dog.
- Deflect external ki. This is when, compared to your fighting spirit, the incoming ki lacks focus on you in particular so you’re capable of deflecting it– usually onto someone else.
- Be crushed by it. This is akin to having all the fighting spirit in the world, but being the equivalent of a midget in a football game.
I have, I think, usually been the sort of person who tends to favor crushing external ki. You can’t really destory ki– but you can externally reduce it to it’s component parts so that you can seal it’s components. If enough of the key elements of the incoming ki can be separated from the foundation of the ki as a whole, then the threat dissipates. Up until Korea, I think that that’s been my method of dealing with things. I was the sort of person who could get into fights, psychological or physical, and was willing to trade damage because I knew that my damage output and my endurance in a battle of attrition would win me most situations.
What changed me though was working with children.
Teaching wasn’t a situation where it was enough to tell kids “that’s wrong.” I couldn’t force feed them information, I couldn’t just crush their resistence to education through military doctrine– I needed to make it fun.
At first I ran my class like a corrupt government– it was characterized by bribery as incentive to get good marks. Of course, the problem with this is that if you tell kids that they’ll get a free treat if they get 10 on 10, they learn to become dependent on it; they develop a want of the payoff, not of the education experience.
Eventually though, I came to understand that the most sustainable model was a mix of militarism with empathy. I needed to understand how a kid looked at me. I needed to get into his head. And that meant not just exploiting weaknesses, and breaking down deffenses to allow the invasion– it meant being a conduit. Putting a hand on a kid’s shoulder, after first earning his or her trust, and then becoming a polarized sum of our experiences.
At first that was really something that was novel to me and I think that’s why the middle of my teaching stint was so euphoric.
But then at some point, as I became more attuned to the kids, I started to get too close– and I started to experience ki poisoning. It’s possible that you know exactly what you’re doing but the supersaturation of what’s around you is so much that, even if you know you can deal with this, you can’t deal with it fast enough to breathe. It is akin to drowning. You know how to swim; but at a certain point, there’s too much water flopping at you, incessantly, and you get tired.
I mention all of this because I found it interesting how nowadays, I just kind of feel like a more complete person. Now, my ki is more rounded, and my way of life doesn’t draw only from the hard camp of ki manageent… it now combines elements of the soft way as well.
Not always to beneficial effects mind you. I never really used to experience ki poisoning of the soft sort.
But I am very familiar with being crushed by ki. My response to that has always been to lash out with violent energy, like when a bully has you pinned on the ground and you try a burst of a twist here or that way to try and throw him off balance and turn the situation around. It is a sweaty, painful struggle that leaves you cut and bruised, and leaves me all the more frustrated because my pride will not allow me to admit domination. It is a ‘give me liberty or give me death attitude’ that is frightfully unreasonable.
The soft method of losing is ki poisoning which involves those moments where I, in the psychological sense, break down. When I just have an anxiety attack, or I start crying, and lose all reason.
Both results, what’s the solution? There is none, really– except to wait for the environment to change. Both in ki poisoning and being crushed by ki, the incoming force by definition is stronger than your ability to manage– you will not be released until someone saves you or if the force relents. In many cases, time is the only thing that will save you.
I should mention another thing– rust. I get the impression that for every experience with bad ki on your person, you can manage it– but, if one isn’t careful, one experience corrosion from contact. In the real world, this translates generally to a conditioning characterized by a loss of faith. Faith in what depends on what was important to you– it could be religion, it could be a way of life, it could be love or it could be an individual. With every bad experience, we naturally try to be more efficient about the way we go about our lives from that moment on.
But sometimes, we need to refurbish ourselves. Sometimes, we accumulate corrosion due to bad conditions– but if we’re on the right track? If we’re on the right track, which is determined solely by what we choose is the right track, then we have a responsiblity to keep our engine in good working condition.
Nothing says we have to be practical in what we dream for.
During the last little while, I’ve been thinking a lot about the way I see the world. The graduate studies I’ve started have had an enormous catalytic effect on the way I develop my thoughts and attitude towards things. And as a result of a lot of refining, a lot of old machinery that I’ve managed to clear the rust off and polish, I feel that I’m better now at dealing with things.
I used to watch Ranma 1/2, and I always though that I was like Ranma, the main protagonist. I think that that’s the way one should look at the world– with confidence to deal with anything, to not worry that you don’t have the tools to go forward because you’ll pick them up along the way.
Nowadays though, I find that in a strange way, I’m becoming a different type of character– more like Ryoga. I find myself constantly threatened by ki poisoning, because the challenges I’m facing in life are not the sorts that are best met with agression.
But, on the plus side, I have learned a new technique of dealing with ki poisoning… Shi Shi Hokodan, in a sense. And it puts me back in the game.