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The Ki to Police Tactics

Martial artists are generally familiar with the concept of the ki (chi), that force which is responsible for the harmonious (or disharmonious) continuity of the universe and all that it contains. In the realm of martial arts, it is said to give one an inner strength, a heightened intuition, enabling the practitioner to perform on a higher level. This is something which does not occur overnight. It requires practice and training of ki development techniques in addition to the physical techniques over a period of time to reach this lofty state.

During my training with the bokken, (wooden practice sword), I was taught that the ultimate goal was to "be at one" with the sword, to make the sword a part of one's being. The entire process was a means to elevate one's spiritual level, and with practice, one's character would become finer. If this is a process which is to be encouraged with the sword, could not the same be done with police tactics? Are we to bring energy into the riot baton, for example, and ultimately have it become "as one" with us? Let us examine the other side of this coin.

There are some who reject the concept of a "universal cosmic power" having anything to do with training and expertise. Giants of the martial arts world as Kenji Tomiki broke from Aikido's founder who focused on ki development. Tomiki sensei emphasized principles of physics and engineering as they applied to body dynamics, as well as applied kinesiology. With practice, it is not one's ki which is heightened, but simply one's skills and expertise as a result of repeated practice of the techniques, along with a greater understanding of the principles underlying them. They cite that the claims of moral, spiritual, and ethical benefits that were made for Judo became lost once Judo became an Olympic sport. It is simply basic kindness and compassion and empathy which lead to spiritual uplifting, not ki development.


Which view is to be believed? Can the same goal of having the sword become a part of you be transferred to the riot baton or the officer's gun or the flashlight? Is one path more effective than the other? Let us view another example, Kyudo (Japanese-style archery), which emphasizes the ki in the use of the weapon. At the point of the arrow's release, one's mind is not to be focused on the target as much as it is to be focused on one’s inner energy being transferred to the arrow, and that energy finding its path to the target. Western-style archery is very different, with the target being the primary focus and goal. In this comparison, as accurate as Kyudo is, Western-style archery has been found to be more so. Does this negate the concept and/or value of the ki? Returning to the sword, even within the Japanese systems, there is a difference between the approach to learning the techniques, e.g., the sword as taught in the Uyeshiba system of Aikido vs. the sword as taught in Ninjutsu vs. the sword as taught in Iaido. It seems that there are more questions than answers thus far, and great practitioners from both sides may be pointed to as exemplifying a particular position.

How does all of this fit in with police tactics on a practical rather than theoretical/philosophical level? Law-enforcement is given minimal time and training in defensive tactics, whether it is the unarmed techniques or the use of various batons assigned to them. Even if one acknowledges and believes in the concept of the ki, and feels its refined achievement and development is truly the ultimate goal, the officer does not have the luxury of time in the police gym that s/he may have in the dojo. Given the time limitations, it would seem that the officer's priority should be to develop as much technical excellence as possible with whatever police tactics course s/he is taking. Techniques should be practiced until they are second nature, whether it be a response to a punch, a defense against a knife, or the use of the flashlight as a weapon. Hesitation can cost an officer his/her life. If one wishes to develop one's ki, it is the dojo where this is most appropriate and logical to initially be taught and practiced. In the police gym, officer safety and survival must be the priority.

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