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Chi, also spelled qi or ki, is our life-giving energy. Martial arts, traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture are all based on focusing, balancing or aligning chi. In particular, the practices of qigong, also called chi kung, and tai chi teach students to focus on and tap into chi. Students of martial arts like karate and aikido use chi force to chop through boards or deflect an attack. To be more effective with martial arts punches and strikes, it helps to learn how to focus chi into your fist.

Create a Chi Ball of Energy

Stand in a neutral, comfortable stance and rub your hands together briskly, as if trying to warm them up. As you do so, mentally hold the intention of bringing your chi force into your hands.

Place your hands just below your belly button and take a deep breath. Breathe out, releasing any tension from your body. Continue deeply breathing a few times, visualizing your breath fueling a ball of fire or light in your lower belly, known as the don tien.

Raise your hands as if holding a small basketball, and imagine the ball of light from your belly now being in your hands. Slowly and gently pull your hands apart, being aware of whether you feel an energetic connection between them. Keep your fingers relaxed as you do this.

Bring your hands closer together again when you feel the connection weaken, but don’t let them touch. Sense your ball of energy getting stronger when your hands are close, almost like two magnets repelling each other.

Continue moving your hands slowly apart and then together again, concentrating on feeling the chi both in your hands and between them. If you don’t feel the sensation of energy or warmth, keep practicing the movements.

Take a deep breath when you finish. Raise your hands and then drop them quickly to your side, shaking the energy out of your hands. Release the excess energy this way to keep from burning out.

Play with the Ball of Chi

Play with the size and shape. Keep your hands a uniform distance apart like you’re holding a softball. Slowly rotate them, first right hand on top and left on the bottom, and then bring your left hand to the top and your right hand to the bottom.

Man and women practicing Tai Chi
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Grow and shrink the ball as you rotate it. Pull your hands further apart as if it was a basketball or beach ball, and then get smaller, to tennis ball size.

Pretend you’re throwing the chi ball of energy from one hand to the other. Concentrate on feeling the chi as you catch it, and then release it as you throw it.

Focus the Chi into Your Fist

Visualize the ball of energy sitting in the palm of your right hand, and then close your fist and around and through it. Feel the chi sinking into and surrounding your fist, which might bring on a warm or tingling sensation. Keep your hand tense to lock in the chi.

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Focus on the sense of energy in your fist. Turn your fist palm down and punch forward. Punch the air, visualizing your fist and the chi moving right through a wall, board or other barrier.

Practice your punch with a heavy bag, pillow, mat or some other punching equipment, focusing the energy right through the object.


Do not try breaking a board unless you have proper supervision and have done all the steps to focus chi into your fist. If you do it, be sure to drive the chi and your fist right through and past the board.