Energy 101 – Life, Nature, and Self Defense (Part One)

Fri, 08/19/2011 - 2:14pm — Grandmaster

We are going to look at energy in this article at both the micro and macro level. We are also going to look at why understanding energy is the key to building a healthy, balanced life, as well as effective self defense. Since this article is being written for martial artists, it is important to remember that energy is a product of proper balance. What we put in our mind and body, how much sleep we get, the food we eat, all directly affect our energy level. Our ability to balance the (yang), or positive, and (yin), negative, leads to (yuan) or neutral, but only when we are properly centered. Another way to look at this is we are constantly oscillating between yin and yang and hopefully trying to reach center or what is called the neutral or balanced place. 

It is important to note that everything is energy in some form. Energy can be internal or external. That is, it can be in the form of mental or emotional energy, or it can be physical energy manifesting itself from the inside to the outside of one body to other bodies. Most importantly however, energy is neutral. By this, I mean energy is neither negative or positive. The truth is that what we choose to do with our energy will yield negative or positive results and therefore makes it negative or positive. However, the energy itself is neutral. On a human level, it is our intentions that are the catalyst which moves energy. Those intentions become thoughts, words, and or actions. They ultimately shape our destiny. This is why martial artists guard their thoughts so carefully and do everything they can to avoid negativity. 

Using western science, and most recently breakthroughs in quantum physics, we are starting to understand how energy works. For example, positive, negative, and neutral energy are bound together within each atom and are the building blocks of all things. In the east, this energy is often referred to as Chi or Ki. Simply put, Chi or Ki is bio-magnetic energy that is the building blocks or life force of all living things. As martial artists, we learn to use our Chi or Ki to move us from where we are to where we want to be. This can be through mental energy, physical energy, emotional energy and or spiritual energy. This energy can be used for healing or harming. Again, it depends on how it is manipulated and at its root are one’s intentions. 

Along this line, how you move, how you eat, how you talk, and how you think helps determine your longevity and inner peace as it directly effects your balance and energy. Let me give you a classic example. Have you ever met a person with a bad attitude? They have what some call “stinking thinking”. That thinking leads to negative words and shortly thereafter, negative actions. This leads to poor relationships at home, school, work, and in the community. It also leads to poor health. Have you ever noticed how people who stay on the dark side have a black cloud following their every move? The Law of Attraction is at work. Thoughts are things. They are magnetic energy and attract similar forces. Don’t believe me? Give it a try and see if it works. My only caveat is be very careful what you think, say, and do. Be careful for what you wish for. It’s all energy and it is potent! 

It is also important at this point to mention that energy can be magnified and in effect magnetized by the amount of emotion and passion we mix with it. This is why in the martial arts, as well as in some sports, practitioners use what is called a “kiai” or guttural yell to improve performance and help focus their energy and mind on a single target. Similarly, a thought that is focused and mixed with emotion and passion, becomes magnetic and literally attracts like energy. 

So What Does This Have To Do With Self Defense? 

The answer is everything! Whether we are talking about the universal laws of nature or self defense, which can be defined as protecting yourself from internal and external forces, we must talk about the fundamental principles of energy. These fundamental forces include (Yu) or to flow like water, (Won) or to use circular force, and (Wha) or to harmonize with another’s energy. These principles are the bedrock of all effective self defense and, to be honest, life in general. 

I have discovered over the years that new martial artists tend to see things only in physical terms. Perhaps this is because they are younger and for the most part are coming from a physical perspective. However, the more experienced a martial artist becomes, the more they know that the martial arts is about the balance of mind, body, and spirit. It is a whole person approach and encompasses both the micro and macro approach to energy. The micro approach to energy deals with how to channel it, or at a higher level, transfer it. This is why all great martial artists are- above all else- healers. The macro approach of this is how to restore energy and move it according to the laws of nature in a healthy, balanced way. 

On the mental side, we can defend ourselves from negative thought by using the Law of Substitution. Which means we can substitute a positive thought for a negative one. We can select a positive path rather than a negative one. We have a choice. Likewise, when defending ourselves physically, say from an assault, we have the choice to escape, evade, control, and/or neutralize the attacker’s energy. 

If we choose to counter with aggression, the experienced martial artist realizes that the very same pressure points that are used for healing can also be used to cause great pain. It all depends on one’s intentions and the way the vital points are manipulated. This goes back to how one uses energy in general. Even if you have never used your martial arts physically against another person in the defense of yourself or a love one, you understand it’s significance. We are really talking about turning a potentially negative situation into a positive one. 

The Power of the Force 

Years ago, many of us watched, captivated, as a Jedi warrior used the power of the force. The Jedi knights possessed the power of the force (i.e. energy) and were able to focus it, transfer it, and use it towards their ends. In effect, great martial artists have been doing the same for years. Perhaps not to the extent that Luke Skywalker or Yoda did in the Star Wars trilogy, but the power of the force is real and can be used in one’s defense with proper training. 

Earlier in this article, I discussed the power of Yu (water principle), Won (circular principle), and Wha(harmonizing principle) in effective self defense. In part two of this article, we will look at specifically how one can use the forces of nature to defend themselves. 


J. John St. James, Kwan Jang Nim 
Atlantic Pacific Tang Soo Do Federation 

Tang Soo!!!  

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