Al Case began his study of the martial arts in 1967. He began writing for the magazines in 1981. He has written nearly two million words on martial arts related subjects, which makes him the Number One Martial Arts Writer of All Time.
He is the founder of Matrixing and Neutronics.
He can be reached through Monster Martial Arts.
I recently received an email asking for more info on Chi.
Here’s what I said.
Hi Jon from Missouri! Thanks for writing.
Chi is quite interesting. Think of the body as a machine, which it is, and things are easier to understand. It creates energy through biochemical actions. This energy takes on many forms, and is usually used to power the muscles.
Chi is more of ‘invisible’ (to our eyes) energy. It is also present in everything in the universe, even ‘space.’
If you follow the principle of ‘wt = work = energy’ the body will create more energy. This is the reason for lower stances. Though once one has started to manifest chi the lower stances become less necessary.
What stops chi from naturally manifesting? The fact that energy is channeled into muscles. If you can figure out how to move without using muscles, or ‘holding’ the muscles in unbendable positions.
Martial arts, especially the forms, provide different ways of channeling energy. Hard arts are relatively inefficient. Soft arts are more efficient.
Can you relax when you strike somebody? That’s crucial to manifesting chi in combat.
Relaxation requires a calmness of mind that is quite unnatural, except for babies. Babies haven’t learned to use their muscles, so they grip with energy. The grip of a baby is all out of proportion to their size and development. When they try to apply energy to the world, however, they are forced to use muscles, and there goes the chi.
To achieve the proper degree of relaxation you need to not think.
It’s this way: If you don’t use muscles you can use chi. If you don’t think you can develop the intention necessary to direct chi.
BUT, there is a kicker to all this. When chi manifests it doesn’t feel at all like the descriptions have it.
I was looking for some mystical thing, but when it manifested, though it was exactly as described, I would never have recognized chi from the description. It is much more subtle and understated, and more ‘real world natural,’ than the descriptions would have you believe. Yet the descriptions are correct.
Chi manifests when you use no effort.
Chi develops in proportion to lack of muscular effort.
People who use muscles are strong.
People who use chi (when they finally are able to use it) will use a combination of chi and muscle. Morihei Ueshiba was known to actually pluck small trees out of the earth. He claimed it was his ability to direct chi that enabled him to do this.
When you use chi your mind starts perceiving the world differently.
When I made my breakthroughs I stopped having dreams. My mind was that calm that it no longer generated dreams. (Dreams are a low level form of static in the mind, as far as I am concerned).
People with chi will have amazing stamina. There is no way to measure this, as people and their control of chi is so totally different.
People in my base art (Kang Duk Won) developed chi within a couple of years. I was slow; I took 3 and a 1/3.
However, they did not normally develop chi past this to any degree because KDW is a hard art. i went into Aikido and Tai Chi and learned a LOT more. Contrarily, people in Tai Chi and Aiki lacked hard art experience, and their chi was often lacking. They just didn’t understand the real world.
Chi is usually more subjective, but you will be using your body differently than other people. You will also be using your mind differently than other people.
Concluding this little rant: figure out how to do your forms using less and less muscle, less and less effort. Focus your mind on the fact that your body is a machine. Figure out how to breath down to the tan tien (a point an inch or two below the navel) and then channeling it through your body. Then do the same things for applications, no energy and no effort, and figure out how to remain calm even when the world is blowing up around you. Forms are a form of meditation and will help with that.
There is, of course, a lot more to chi than this. And a lot less. Hope you get intrigued by this description. My testimony is that chi, and the pursuit of chi, has enriched my life by orders of magnitude. I wish everybody understood this and tapped into this incredible energy source, but there is not much accurate teaching these days, and most people are not willing to do the work.
Thanks for asking, I’ll probably use this reply in a newsletter.
Have a great work out!
That’s a bout as precise as I can get in a short answer.
-Thank you for writing this! I found this easy to follow and understand. I’m very happy I took a chance this.
-This course was a win! The biggest win I had in this course is it solidified for me that I have been right all along in my methods than others “more experienced” because of a “rank.”
-The reality is, a lot of the material I already knew. However I never had anyone explain it in a technical and mechanical way. The examples of the 4 powers and the 6 tools to me were damn near mind blowing. It was the smack on the forehead “oh yeah that’s right” moment.
It cleaned up a lot of the “clutter”. Now, as I mentioned a lot of this material I knew. I was very fortunate to train with Master John Wesley Shepherd who was trained by the late GM Sherman Harrell who was directly trained by GM Tatsuo Shimabukuru, the founder of Isshinryu. He used to explain things in a similar fashion. Sadly, he was never around enough and we were mostly taught by his big brother Billy who is an excellent practitioner but as a teacher………. you get the idea.
We spent a lot of the times teaching ourselves. Because of this, maybe we ourselves stumbled onto these lessons when you combined grown men from different occupations and backgrounds. Fast forward years later after our school closed down, I begin training in Escrima de Cuerdas, an art founded by a simple carpenter the late GM Liborio Heyrosa who couldn’t read or write. He was subsequently trained directly by the late GM Venancio Anciong Bacon (founder of Balintawak) and Nene Rosales a famous Filipino fencer.
– It (this course) helped me tremendously because regardless that the Philippines is a former U.S. Commonwealth, sometimes there is a bit of a language barrier. Some of these lessons did not translate. Your lessons created the bridge. Now everything made sense. The part that also helped tremendously was as we were all taught that it should be one continuous motion or no wasted motion but you explained it and demonstrated in a way that made sense…
The other thing that opened my eyes the most was the body testing. In Isshinryu for us this is common…….when performing Sanchin. I’ve never seen this done while throwing a basic straight punch. Heck, I never even thought of it myself. This to me is the highlight of the read/videos. I’m sure some will say I’m nuts but that’s what it was to me. I can’t wait to try this on everything but it also helped to perfect every technique within a kata. I now see each movement as unique.
Can’t wait to download the Matrix Karate Course! And also, thank you!
Thank you, Craig.
And well done.
Craig says he knew a lot of the material before,
he is exactly the SECOND person who has said this about the course.
This is after me selling the course for 15 years.
what is of interest is that Craig says
they ‘spent a lot of time teaching ourselves.’
This is actually one of the reasons I figured this out.
My instructor hardly ever said anything,
and in the silence I had to figure things out.
My father was an engineer
and I was raised with an eye towards physics and mechanics,
and that is probably my secret.
You see the martial arts have been handed down
mostly through oral tradition,
and that is a fine way to build up mysticism.
The result is teachers use examples that are unique to their culture,
and fail to impart the actual mechanics and physics of the art.
congrats to Craig,
and well done.
thank you to those who have purchased the book courses on Amazon.