First Advisor

Leslie McBride

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)






Qi (Chinese philosophy), Mind and body, Aikido



Physical Description

1 online resource (84 p.)


Ki, Japanese for living energy (Chi in Chinese), is at the absolute core of the Oriental model of medicine and wellness. Complementary to this model, many Oriental martial art exercises have evolved to cultivate Ki for optimal health. However, the concept of Ki remains poorly understood and relatively unexplored in traditional Western health and medical literature. Further, the health focus of martial art research has remained primarily concerned with the arts' contribution to psychological health. This has left a significant gap in our understanding of the other health benefits that these arts and Ki have to offer. To begin closing these gaps, Moustakas' phenomenological research method was used to develop an enhanced understanding of Ki. Twelve advanced practitioners of the traditional martial art of Aikido were asked to illuminate how they perceive and describe the experience of Ki in their lives. Aikido was an excellent art through which to study Ki because of the art's focus on developing the Ki of its practitioners and its recognition in the literature as psychologically beneficial. The co-researchers described Ki as a force that they perceived to be influencing their lives in multiple ways. They believed that the Ki they developed through their Aikido practice enhanced the health of their minds, bodies, and spirits. Ki was described and explained through its perceived immediate and long term effects. They expressed Ki as an integrated part of their beings that enhanced physical and psychological health and well-being, and fostered calmness and clarity of mind. Ki was also perceived as a tool for recove1ing from injuries and illness and for achieving personal goals. Further, over time they perceived that Ki engendered great trust in the universe and that Ki protected their health. Several key differences between the traditional definition of Ki and the co-researchers' everyday experience emerged from the analysis. These were the differentiation between the long and short term effects of Ki, the description of Ki as a tool, and the attribution to Ki of the feelings of trust in the universe.


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