Elvis' Chi and the Metaphysics of Martial Arts
Elvis' interest in martial arts was representative by the mid-70s. In the years preceding, the Amateur Athletic Union recognized judo, karate, and taekwondo as official sports. A host of tournaments, clubs, associations, federations, and dojos were established across the country. Bruce Lee took the popularity of "kung fu" films to new heights, and David Carradine's Kung Fu won an Emmy. Americans sought to learn more and deadly secrets from the East.
I'd like to demonstrate first of all the power, the inner power called 'the chi.' C-h-i, or q-i. Or in India it's called dharma. D-h-a-r-m-a. It's the inner force, the life within all of us that causes us to breathe. The force. I would like to show you how to use this force to keep from getting hurt.
Chi power, however, was only available to the most mentally rigorous of martial arts practitioners. It took time, patience, and right mind. For help, understudies and colleagues looked to Elvis, who led karate seminars in meditations "before and after class." As one participant claimed, "It was almost like a spiritual event for me. I heard him speak of Bible verses and parts of the Bible that just came to life when I heard him speak them."
Now, naysayers and skeptics may wonder if what we are seeing here really is chi-power incarnate or just the effects of a pharmacopeia of barbiturates. Sadly, such historiographical insight may elude us. Rest assured, however, that in terms of spiritual leadership and East-West relations, some simply liken Elvis to Swami Vivekananda. Or at least I did. Just now.