What Does Chi Mean to a Ninja?
By Dai Shihan Mark Roemke
One meaning for chi in Japanese is “Earth.” There are a lot of ways to examine the meaning of this word, be it for martial arts, meditation, or just looking at the Earth beneath your feet. One of the ways for martial artist to examine chi is to focus on grounding. When people start martial arts, people are usually in their heads thinking about everything. They need to sink down with their physical body, bending their knees, and “dropping in” as we say. But they also often need to ground in their mental, energetic and spiritual body.
How does this relate to Chi? It is important to learn how to become centered. If you are affected by someone yelling at you, calling you names, or pushing you off balance, then you are not centered. It is important to learn how to center yourself through training. One of the ways you can learn how to do this is to think of yourself as grounded to the Earth. Bending your knees and dropping your energy into your center will help to ground you. Then you will be part of the Earth element, the chi element.
As students progress over the years through the martial arts, you can see them drop from being in their head, down into their shoulders, their waist, their knees, and eventually the ankles and feet. When this happens, you have a complete being who is very solid in their own stature, feeling, and energy. We call this person a grounded martial artist.
In meditation, there is another way that you can view chi or the Earth element. If I am sitting in a meditation retreat and I want to be grounded to the Earth, I might think about tree roots growing out of the bottom of my feet, dropping down into the Earth. However, if I did this as a martial artist, I wouldn’t be able to move very fast because I would be so grounded that my feet would feel like they were locked in place. I might get hit by something swinging at me. But in meditation, you aren’t worried about this. You are in a safe space and you have time to shift your awareness internally to “drop in.” If you drop your energetic tree roots into the ground, you can feel your connection to the ground that we stand on every day.
The physical part of grounding leads to the mind, which leads to the spirit. The way to tap into this is called “Earthing.” This involves taking off your shoes and sinking your feet into the ground beneath you. I recommend hiking in nature without your shoes on. This can be a little challenging at first if your feet are tender, but you can find a grassy field to try to experience this feeling.
Over the years in my travels, I have loved to take my shoes off and feel what the place feels like with my bare feet, dropping my energy down through my feet into the Earth. Connecting to the Earth through your feet in nature is an amazing feeling.
For me, places like Hawaii feel very empty and light because the islands were just made recently. If I go to an older part of the world that has been around for a long time, you can feel the density beneath you. If you stand on concrete or metal and put your awareness beneath you, it has a whole different feeling.
These are a few ways that I like to think of Chi and relating to the Earth.
One of my favorite ways to tap into the energy of the Earth and to become grounded is to practice the 1 thru 10 meditation. Check out the video below where I lead you through this meditation that will connect you deeply to your personal source of chi.