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Practicing Ki:
by Ted Braude:
Its adherents say it cures cancer and more by directing the body's energy
Metro Times 4/26/1995

It's before 8 o'clock in the morning. The parking lot of a small shopping center in Sterling Heights is almost empty. A medium-build, light haired women in her late 40's gets out of her car and centers International Budo Ryokukai. She greets the middle-aged Japanese man inside, removers her shoes, and lies down on a paper mat.

The man places his hands on her abdomen and begins emitting a whistling sound from between his teeth. After moving his hands to different areas, he asks the woman to turn over so he can continue on her other side. In 10 minutes, he is finished.

She rises, thanks him and prepares to leave, believing that if she returns the next day, and the days after, her cancer will disappear.

There's nothing outwardly remarkable about Katsumi Niikura, a 5-foot-5 inch, bearded man who was born in Japan 52 years ago. He is an 8th degree black belt and 1967 international champion in karate, 5th degree black belt in Aikido, 5th degree black belt in the summary sword technique Iaido, 6th degree black belt in sports chanbara and 2nd degree black belt in judo. He is also master of Ki

"Ki is the energy we have within our own bodies," says Niikura. "It's an energy we can take from the world around us. From the heavens, the planets, the earth we take it inside and it helps create our own energy."

The Japanese derived the term "KI" from Chinese word, "qigong". The Chinese concept of quigong, along with similar practices including acupuncture and tai chi, are based upon balancing the fundamental energy, which flows throughout the body. Chinese hearer believes they can build up this energy and transefer it to others, often through touch.

" The concept of energy flow is basic to the tradition of Chinese medicine," says Dr. Andrew Weil, a physician who studied at Harvard and is now the associate director of the Division of Social Perspective at the University of Arizona Medical School.

"I find it strange how traditional Chinese healing practice as such as acupuncture and herbal medicine are gaining wider acceptance in the West, but Western doctors still won't accept the concept of energy flow, which is fundamental to those Chinese practices."

While acupuncture and tai chi are more accepted in the United States, the Japanese practice of KI remains obscure. Weil, who regularly travels to Japan to teach Japanese doctors about natural health, has found that Ki is considered " alternative" medicine even in its homeland.

The Japanese have stories of hermit masters who live on Ki alone. Morehei Ueshiba, the founder off the martial arts of Aikido, and Kuzi Mifuna, the judo master, were modern examples of Japanese martial arts Ki masters. With their deaths in late 1960s and the dominance of Western science in Japan, Ki become more legend than practice.

Niikura's involvement with Ki began with a fascination with the concept of energy flow when he was 12-year-old child in Japan. While observing plants and animals, he began to wonder what energy the carp used to remain still in a moving current, or how the ants carried objects more than twice their size, or how the sparrows stayed flight.

"I studied closely their breathing to learn where the energy came from to sustain these creatures and to be able to absorb that kind of energy for myself," recalls Niikura.

Throughout adolescence, he practiced breathing techniiiques and developed his ability to absorb that kind of energy. Without masters to learn from, he lived alone in the mountains to study plants, animals and birds to learn Ki on his own.

Except for his own students, Niikura kept his abilities hidden for years. In 1967, he displayed his powers at a martial arts demonstration Tokyo.

"No one believed me when I was 27," he says. "Everyone was very doubtful because I was supposed to be too young to have these powers."

According to Niikura, his biggest challenging was in 1974 when this 6 year old doughtier developed brain cancer. It kept reappearing, resulting in seven surgeries. The doctors expected the child to survive one year with conventional treatment.

Niikuira decided to administer Ki along with the medical treatment, vowing to use his abilities to help people if she lived. Nineteen years latter, Niikura says, his doughtier is alive and healthy, and he is using his healing abilities to treat up to 40 people a day who are suffering from life-threading illness, severer injuries and extreme pain. "

The most important things for me is to help people," he says. " That's really what I developed Ki for. Not for teaching in the martial arts, but only for helping people. If I can teach 10 people, then that's 1000 people we've helped."

RECEIVING Ki therapy looks innocuous. But Niikura insists his patients receive energy from it.

"Ki is love." He says. "It would not be possible for the healing to occur is it weren't for the love in the KI."

Although the concept Ki is foreign to most Americans who come to Niikura for help, it doesn't seem to matter to them. Like going to traditional doctor, they don't need to understand the science of medicine. They are ill and in pain, and what they see in him is hope.

Lucy. Dery of Lancing was diagnosed with melanomic cancer in September 1993.

Doctors told her that it spreads quickly is unpredictable and difficult to treat. Starting chemotherapy was not promising. Dery says she was told doctors that she'd be very fortunate if there was any response. The mother of a young daughter, her prognosis was poor 6-9 months to live.

When a friend of Dery's mother referred her to Niikura, she felt she had nothing to lose. She began visiting Niikura in October 1993.

"The results were incredible," she said. "I felt it right away, although a lot of people don't. I t's an energy, almost a pulse kind of feeling, tingling. You feel it spread right through you." The effect was immediate. " I'd go home feeling, 'hey I've got a shot. I might be able to live." She continued with chemotherapy and Ki simultaneously. The chemo made her sick to her stomach, but "just by the Ki alone, I was able to Keep the water down" and stay out of the hospital, says Derry.

Three years later, Dary attributes her health and longevity to Ki. But her physician, Dr. Lawrence Flaherty, an oncology specialist at Harper Hospital, doesn't.

"I have no belief that it had any benefit whatsoever with regard to curing the cancer," Flassherty says. "I am not saying that it didn't help her feel better. It could have given her an enormous psychological advantage."

Dery, however, remains a believer.

" I have no idea how it worked, and I really believe that I wouldn't be sitting here today if not for the Ki," she says. " I can't say that it worked exclusively, that it cured me, but I am cancer-free. I haven't a lick of cancer in my body."