The qi we cultivate when we practice qigong lacks form and substance, even measurability. We say it’s life energy, or life force, or vital essence—but that’s about as precise as we get. We even have trouble pronouncing it when the official spelling is used (hint: smile and say “chee”).
However, in the Land of Chima, qi does have form, and substance, even color. It is marble-sized orbs of a semi-translucent blue plastic.
According to LEGO, maker of the little plastic blocks kids build with and now the creator of the Land of Chima, chi orbs are formed when magical water containing the raw power of nature flows from Mount Cavora into the Sacred Pool of Chi and mixes with the unique minerals found there.
Chi orbs can be used as a source of energy by Chima warriors, vehicles and machines—which means they are of great value and sooner or later bound to be fought over.
LEGO spells qi “chi”—which is an alternate spelling for qi in the west—or sometimes goes full-bore with all upper-case letters and calls it “CHI.” And it sets its stories in a land you’d call China if you weren’t paying attention and didn’t notice the extra hump in the “m.”
Last year, LEGO was featuring ninjas, masters of the “ancient art of spinjitzu” in the World of Ninjago. Chima debuted in January, and the peg-headed ninjas are being eclipsed by peg-headed animal-tribe warriors who wear special harnesses to be ready for battle. With a chi ball in its harness, an animal warrior becomes supercharged—faster, stronger, with superior instincts and skills. Chi balls also power Chimas’s vehicles and machines, such as Crawley’s Claw Ripper and Equilas’s Ultra Striker, which kids can build from kits.
What’s all this got to do with qigong? The chi of the Land of Chima sounds more like a cross between caffeine and petroleum than what I experience as qi, and the warfare and violence in Chima….
Well, I was about to write that they have nothing to do with the peacefulness and joy I feel when practicing qigong, but then I remembered that taiji, which is one of the forms of qigong I practice, is a martial art. I may feel peacefulness and joy when performing a move like “Wave Hands Like Clouds,” but it was designed for dispatching an opponent in hand-to-hand combat.
So I’ll gloss over the precise nature of the chi and the focus on warfare in LEGO’s new Land of Chima series and simply say: I love it! I think it’s cool that kids are being exposed to the concept of qi/chi in this unorthodox way.
Just think: When the kids who are playing with the chi of Chima grow up and hear people talking about the qi of qigong, their mental ears will perk up. “Qi” won’t just be a neutral nonsense syllable; it will connote power and energy and something worth seeking.
The only thing is: If they do begin to practice qigong, will these LEGO-kids-grown-up have visions of blue plastic balls coursing through their bodies?
It could happen.
OK, so this was a diversion. There’s not a lot of breaking news in qigong; as a grandparent and former journalist, I had to jump on this story even if it makes an odd second post.
In coming posts I want to write about what I think qi and qigong really are and why I decided to hang my blog on the difficult word “qi” when some other writers go with “chi.” I will also set forth some behavior standards for this blog, mostly for me, but also for you.