How can the blind see? Could you really know thyself?  by Adina Dabija, July 2014


Working from the Heart: the original Ki method of Sensei Katsumi Niikura

By Adina Dabija, Diplomate Oriental Medicine, L.Ac., M.S.T.O.M.

In a world of very sophisticated theories and models of disease and treatment, Sensei (Japanese for „master”) Katsumi Niikura comes with a very simple principle: Ki is love. As a Ki healer, he seems to act from a center that was neglected in the modern clinical practice: the heart. According to the Chinese medical theory, the heart-mind emanates the shen - the active impulse from heaven within each of us that ignites our potential (jing). The quality of this interaction is determined by the zhi or, will of man, which resides in the lower dantien, the closest to the earth jiao, therefore the natural center for gathering and storing Earth qi within the body. Often called „the sea of chi/ qi/ Ki”, the Lower Dantien is the dantien most used by martial artists, as it is regarded as the center of physical strength and the source of stamina, where the water of the jing (essence) is transformed into steam/ qi (KI) by the Mingmeng (Kidney Yang) as a result of the Heart and Mingmen Fire mixing with the Kidney Water. Called the "hara" in Japanese, the Lower Dantien is located in the lower abdomen, in the center of the triangle formed by drawing a line between the navel, Mingmen (lower back), and perineum. I asked Sensei Niikura about the source of the energy he uses in his healing sessions, and his answer was: „I draw it from the Earth, or from the surrounding air, from the plants, trees and animals. That’s why it is better to sit down on the floor during the treatment, so you can draw in more Ki”. He believes that this is the reason why the buddhist monks living up in the mountains can live on so little food - because they feed on the KI energy they absorb from the environment. For himself he takes in only very small amounts of food. I observed this personally, with all due respect, in February 2013, having the honor to host Sensei Niikura, as he was visiting from Michigan, his place of residence. He accepted our offer to teach and give healing sessions for five days in New York. I noticed from our first dinner, he eats very small amounts and he likes the food prepared with KI (homemade, not fast food), although, in his modesty, he wouldn't refuse anything.


As a child, Sensei Niikura was rather small and often bullied by bigger kids, so he was interested in getting stronger. He started to observe the behavior of small size predator animals, the sounds that they make when they attack, the way they jump and the way they breath – to get some observational background on the works of Ki. On the basis of these observations, he later developed his original breathing technique. An unfortunate circumstance of life ignited the spark that activated his potential of healer: many years ago, his then seven years old daughter was diagnosed with a brain tumor and was given one more year to live (she is well and alive today). „I tried with sincere hope and prayer to develop the ability to heal with the power of Ki energy. In my efforts, I discovered how to heal. You send out Ki energy with a caring heart, as if you were holding a baby. Ki is love. The tools of communication among people, like computers, telephones have been invented one after the other. However, in modern society, it doesn’t seem that communication among people has been deepened. The gap between people still seems big. The power that can break down the walls of this gap is Ki energy”.(1)


Asked if he can induce changes in the inanimate matter by KI gong, as some practitionners of the Wei (external) qi gong claim to be able to do, Sensei Niikura answered: „This is possible to a certain degree, especially if I am projecting Ki on water, since water is the medium of life, but most important is to act on somebody who needs and asks for help”. This ideea, of coming forward to help those in need, seems to be perfectly aligned to the technique that he describes, of „sending Ki with a carring heart”. Working from the heart is such a rare thing encountered today in the medical setup. In the Chinese medical practice the lower dantien as the main source of energy seems overly used, in our world of ubiquitous Kidneys and Spleen deficiency induced by a society who asks more and more from the individual, while in the Western medical setup speaking from the head (and often from sinuses!) is the standard. According to the Chinese perspective on the relationship of the individual with the Heaven and Dao, although the subtle impulses emanating from the individual's Ming are generally hidden from the conscious mind, through meditation (or maybe awakened by a traumatic event – as might have been the case of Sensei Niikura) a deeper realm of understanding can be intuitively discovered and accessed. „It is up to the individual to consistently act in accordance with his Ming throughout life. This action is based on the individual's conscious use of his Intention (Yi). The intention to remain congruent with the "Will and Intent of Heaven" (Zhi Yi Tian) is what gives the individual Virtue (De). It is through the development of his or her Virtue that the individual establishes a healthy relationship with the Dao, Heaven and the spiritual world” (2). It seems to me that Sensei Niikura is a rare example of developing such a relationship with the Dao and the Heaven (Tian).


What precisely is the physiology of Sensei Niikura’s original Ki gong method, to which degree is he gathering and emiting qi from the middle, lower or upper dantien – or combinations of these - remains to be clarified by in-depth studies of qi gong specialists, like my teacher Dr. Stephen Jackowicz. I also dont’t want to discuss here the results of Sensei Ki healing sessions. The upcoming book that my teacher Stephen Jackowicz is writing on Sensei will do it extensively, with documentation and testimonials. I simply want to say: there is something special about Sensei. Something about being simple, clear and sharp. And humble. Picking him up from the airport on the rainy evening of February 19th, he made a strong impression on me: he was carrying only a thin suitcase (probably smaller than my handbag), mostly containing articles about his qi treatment method and patients testimonials. Moving like a panther, he was wearing sport shoes, sport pants and a very thin winter coat. Although in his early 70ies, his hair was mostly black. He confessed that in the past he would take the plane once a month to come to New York, or to San Francisco or somewhere else to help people. This is his vocation, and his vow with the Universe – to help people, since „the Universe” helped him to heal his 7 years old. His middle dantien approach really inspired me as practitioner to meditate on my own practice, and ultimately reminded me that I’ve chosen to do this also from a middle dantien (heart) thinking: to heal the world, to make the love around us manifest and to let my light shine, while allowing the light of other people to do the same.


(1)   – Ki Breathing Exercisese with Katsumi Niikura, DVD, International Ryokukai, 2002.

(2)   – Johnson, Jerry Alan. The Three Dantian,