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November 21, 2005

"Ki Breathing" by Koichi Tohei Sensei (12)

This article is translation of Koichi Tohei sensei's book, "Ki breathing (Ki no Kokyuho)". We will upload new article every Monday.

Shinichi Tohei


Anyone can check if their posture is natural or not

We sit and stand frequently without thinking about it in our daily life. Therefore, not many people think deeply about their sitting posture and standing posture. However, let's think about the quality of your posture. You might have not heard the phrase “quality of the posture”, but this is very important.
I have already written that children are taught correct posture as chest out and back straight at school and home. That is, posture that puts strain on the body..
If people are taught that this is correct posture, most people do not doubt this and believe that it is correct posture. But this is a big mistake.
True correct posture is not the posture that puts strain on your body.
True correct posture is the most comfortable and stable posture, which is called natural posture.
The trouble is that people do not know how to check if it is natural posture or not. People who lived during the preindustrial era, lived during a time that machines were at an early stage of development. Therefore, people learned the most natural way to use their body through heavy work.
In particular, it's felt that people called masters or experts had outstanding techniques and performed their duties with natural posture. It can be said that because they did their work with natural posture, they could create masterpieces.
However, nowadays, people devote most of their time to desk work and heavy work is done by machines. Children spend much time on computer games. As a result, people have less chance to use their body.
I think that this makes it difficult for people to master natural posture.
However, there is a way that anyone can check if it is natural posture or not. I developed a “Ki test” to check natural posture. Let's do the following exercises.
You will need one person who receives Ki test (A) and another who gives Ki test (B) here.
First, A straightens her spine and stands straight and stiff. This is shown by photo No. 1. B touches around A's chest with her right hand, then B pushes straight toward A without interruption.
And then, A's upper body looses its stability and she becomes off balance and moves. Some people often say, “Because she was pushed, it is natural to move.” However, this is not correct.
Let's say A's weight is 50kg. If A is a sack of hammers, can B move it when pushing lightly as B did A? Yes, it is impossible to move.
However, if it is a person with weight 50kg, the person is moved very easily. If A moves by B pushing lightly, this shows that A's posture is unstable. Just because someone is physically larger or stronger does not mean they are stable.
If one uses natural posture, there will be natural stability.
Also, it goes without saying that photo No.2 “hunched posture” will be moved easily.

Next I will explain what correct standing posture is.
First run in place. By doing this, you will find the most natural foot position and distance between your feet.
Next stand on your toes with your heels off the ground. If you stand on your toes you might wobble the first time, but if you practice this several times, you can do this naturally.
If you can get stability when you stand on your toes, then ease your heels down to the ground. At this time, please check if your posture is like photo No. 3 “correct posture”. Body should be leaning slightly forward as shown in the photo No. 3.
Then do the Ki test as you did before; B touches around A's chest with her right hand, then B pushes straight toward A without interruption. A can understand that her posture is stable without doing anything more.

By standing on your toes and easing your heels down to the ground, we can get stable posture.
Let me explain. It is important to use your mind and ki for your correct posture.
In most of the cases, people stand with their weight on their heels.
In other words, their mind reaches only to their heels.
When we measure the length of your arms and hands, everybody measures the length from shoulder to fingertip. What about leg and foot? Usually, people measure the length of the leg and foot from hip joint to heel. However, the toe is also a part of the foot.
When we are practicing standing with correct posture, it is natural that our mind or Ki goes to the tip of the toe. However, if people stand with their weight on the heel, this means Ki goes only to their heels.
The people of the past wore Japanese sandals. Therefore, if their Ki did not go to their toe, the sandals would come off.
Most modern people wear shoes. Therefore, if their Ki does not go to the toe, the shoes will not come off. Instead, shoes wear down at the heels much more and often unevenly.
Your body is yours, therefore, it is natural that your Ki goes to all over the body. This is natural posture. If your Ki goes to your toe, you can keep natural posture and natural stability.

Ki test
(1) chest out posture
1. Chest_out_posture_1

2.Chest_out_posture_2 
3.Chest_out_posture_3 

First photo: Stand straight and stiff
Second photo: Do Ki test…
Third photo: Easy to be moved

(2) hunched posture
1.Hunched_posture_1 

2.Hunched_posture_2 

3.Hunched_posture_3_3

First photo: Loosing Ki and loss of energy
Second photo: Do Ki test…
Third photo: Easy to be moved

(3) Correct posture
1.Correct_posture_1

2.Correct_posture_2 

3.Correct_posture_3

First photo: Run in place and check the natural distance of the feet. Then stand on your toes and ease your heels down on the ground. This is the relaxed standing posture.
Second photo: Person who does Ki test stands diagonally in front and left of her partner and with her right hand, pushes gently on examinee's body between the left chest and shoulder.
Third photo: Examinee can keep her posture stable without trying to not move.

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