I started a few months ago training Taijiquan, a Chinese martial art, most known in the Western World by its non-martial derivative Taichi. As with other martial arts, the learning process doesn’t involve just ways for hitting your opponent or defending yourself from an attack (I wouldn’t really be interested in it if it only offered that, given that the last time I had a fight I was a teenager, many years ago), but some other things. And one of them is the theory of Qi, which is the Chinese term for energy, which is supposed to be flowing on your body and, via an intensive training, can be driven to whatever part of your body by your mind. The idea is to, for instance, direct the flow of Qi to your hands right when you hit your opponent, multiplying the strength of the punch, or, also, to get more strength on some part of your body when you receive a kick/punch to not get injured, or, even more interesting, to heal some injuries. All this sounded to me quite strange, being a science person, until recently, when I read Dr Yang, Jwing Ming’s book that explains it very well, in a scientific way. So, to not keep this post too long, and given my still limited knowledge on this, I’ll try to summarize:
Human body’s Qi can be what we call biolectricity, which is just electricity flowing around the body. It is very easy to experiment it, just rub your hands and after a few seconds doing it, pass your hands over your head, without touching the hair: you will see your hair being attracted by the electricity in your hands. And this biolectricity flows all over the body because the body is plenty of tissues that conduct it. And, interestingly, there are organs that are made of non-conductive tissue which store the electricity (a battery!). So, with Taijiquan (and Qigong) techniques, you are supposed to control the flow of this electricity through your body, sending it to the batteries for storage or to other parts of the body for reactivation of tissues and other things, all done with the mind and breathing. That is why Taichi (the non-martial derivative well known in the Western World) has such popularity, given it helps a lot in keeping your body healthy. Does it still sound strange? Maybe, the last part of driving it with your mind is still beyond my knowledge, so can’t say it’s true, but at least the rest of the theory about the electricity circulation not only sounds convincing, but it is indeed scientifically confirmed AFAIK.
This theory makes a lot of sense in Taijiquan, where brute force is not used against your opponent (only in very rare occasions), the idea being to just use the force from your oponent and, via accompanying movements, reduce it completely, making your opponent fell down or just hit the air. And when in trouble, you just use your Qi
For a nice demo of what Taijiquan looks like, see this video. And for some Qi force stuff see this.