If in a martial arts tournament chi energy is used, will it be able to defeat big stalwarts like Ali/Tyson/bulky Wrestlers? I am not comparing the skill as to what like Karate/Kungfu or Muay Thai or Boxing which is better, but when I see Shaolin Monks can withstand heavy blows when they apply this strength.

Lets assume a normal person who does not have any technique applies chi and fights with a professional who does not apply chi. Who will win in this case?

Why is that MMA fighters do not apply this strength? Is it forbidden?

  • Shaolin monks can only take hits to very specific parts of the body. Often the force isn't as large as it appears either.
    – Huw Evans
    Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 8:38
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    Please narrow this down. You seem to be asking: a) Can chi defeat sport martial arts, b) can a person without training in martial arts win a fight with chi alone, and c) why don't MMA fighters use chi. Please make your question more clear. Thanks!
    – Bankuei
    Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 16:50
  • According to Ohtsuka sensei (founder of Wado Kai/Ryu karate), "ki" or "Chi" is simply energy in the sense of E=1/2 * mass * velocity squared ... newtonian physics. A bit more research and you find that a lot of the mysticism attached to chi/ki comes from westerners either misusing the words for profit or not really having a grasp of the language.
    – pojo-guy
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 5:56
  • @Bankuei I want the answers to those Questions which will make my concept more clearer . That's the reason I asked . I do not know exactly but looking at movies like JCVD in Bloodsport broke the bottom brick , even Brucelee , Jetlee do in their movies ,in national geographic channel Shaolin monks do unbelievable feats , I am just unable to make out how, why and who knows the exact form of chi . Boxers like Tyson with one left hook have floored many opponents in 1st KO contrary to the monks who can withstand heavier pain & punch when they apply this energy . Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 7:37
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    Films are fiction, not reality. Shaolin monks mostly do demonstrations, not combat/sparing and thus can stack the decks to their heart's content. Neither points detract from life long learning of skills but there is neither magic nor supernatural forces at work there. Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 11:09

4 Answers 4


The most charitable thing I can say about chi/qi/ki is that it's a conflated and confused concept outside of its original context.

If it is taken as shorthand for the expression of one's potential and/or kinetic energy, fine, but there are better terms to use.

However, in practice it is almost always used in a manner which fully embraces woo, pseudoscience, and straight-up fraud. Magic isn't real. Anything which seems to operate outside the testable bounds of science is almost certainly bullshit. The martial arts community is rife with misguided believers, predatory opportunists, and self-important gurus.

No amount of mystic nonsense will allow a 5'3" / 98 lb. martial artist to defeat an even marginally competent 6'5" / 250 lb. opponent. That's something even a massive skill disparity would struggle to overcome.

Be canny. Apply scientific skepticism to anything which sounds dubious or too good to be true.


Ki or chi should not be referred to as 'energy' in the sense of a noun. The fighters in MMA are energetic and vivacious. This is all that 'using chi' really means. They use their strength their skill their 'get up and go' that is chi.

This question is like asking why a gambler doesn't use their 'luck' in when they play roulette.

Some people believe chi is like magic but there is no evidence for this any more than there is for 'luck'

  • Thanks Huw for your comment but still not totally satisfied as when Karatekas break bricks if that same force is applied on Human body then will be an instant death or bones will break ? Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 8:46
  • Yes, if they can get a solid hit bones will break. That is a use of ki or chi too. But also they have to calcify their bones over time otherwise their own bones break.
    – Huw Evans
    Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 9:13
  • You are re-defining ki to mean doing stuff. To be fair, ki has no clear definition. Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 10:07
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    +1! I've seen some people who would be called to use "qi". They themselves just laugh, saying it's timing and synchronisation between mind and body, resulting in tiny movements with big impact, while others call it magic.
    – Raf
    Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 12:48
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    I thought of a better analogy. If I use the word "grace" in a christian context it means the power of god. If I use it in an everyday context it is about people being "graceful" and moving nicely. In the same way "Qi", "Chi" or "Ki" in a taoist sense "Divine or Celestial energy" but in everyday martial arts it refers to actual physical effort of individuals.
    – Huw Evans
    Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 19:22

Lets assume a normal person who does not have any technique applies chi

This is a poor assumption. I am not aware of any martial system that believes you can "apply chi" to fighting without first having learned fighting techniques.

There are three stages of practice common to at least to xingyi and bagua. The first stage, ming jing, requires you to learn in an obvious, easily observable way. After you learn this, the next stage is an jing, where you learn to "hide" force, applying the same principles as the obvious version in smaller space. The one-inch punch is an example of this.

Breaking the bottom brick in a stack of bricks is still a matter of physics. You have to apply force differently from a sledgehammer; you can't just swing hard with all of your mass. You can, however, alter your application of force over time. Think of the difference between how a whip and a sledgehammer apply force.

Don't equate parlor tricks with fighting capability. Being able to break bricks with your hands or chest does not necessarily mean that you can fight an opponent who moves and does not attack you like a brick.

Even if it's all just physics, you still have to learn to skillfully apply force from a human body. The traditional roadmap for learning this involves "qi feeling", which is rather controversial on this site. How do you know whether an exercise is doing anything? Partly because you feel something different, either during or after the exercise. This among other things, is traditionally described in terms of qi.

I would start to characterize the fighting aspect of taiji, xingyi, and bagua in this way: it is more important to have complete control of your body and especially the nervous system than it is to move massive weights. You do get old people who are "weaker" who can best young people who can move heavier weights. But these people do not think of themselves as the ones who are weaker; they have spent a long time developing parts of the body you probably have not considered. These people also still think of their younger, more muscular selves as better fighters. Does also being able to move massive weights help? Yes.


Chi is the universal energy - it does not furnish power, but a skilled practitioner who can sense his or her own chi energy can work to keep a flow going in their body. It can help to learn to sense restrictions in your actual body - such as stiffness, misalignment, etc or restrictions in the form of faulty techniques. In this way, an awareness of chi can act as a goal for ideal, unimpeded movement and allow more power, speed and awareness as a martial artist. But you'll never understand this from films, you have to practice with your own mind and body - it's the only way to really understand.

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