In traditional Chinese culture, or ch'i ( , also known as gi in Korean culture and ki in Japanese culture) is an active principle forming part of any living thing. Qi literally translates as "breath", "air", or "gas", and figuratively as "material energy", "life force", or "energy flow". Qi is the central underlying principle in traditional Chinese medicine and martial arts.

Concepts similar to qi can be found in many cultures, for example, prana in the Hindu religion, "chi" in the Igbo religion, pneuma in ancient Greece, mana in Hawaiian culture, lüng in Tibetan Buddhism, ruah in Hebrew culture, and vital energy in Western philosophy. Some elements of qi can be understood in the term energy when used by writers and practitioners of various esoteric forms of spirituality and alternative medicine. Elements of the qi concept can also be found in Western popular culture, for example "The Force" in Star Wars. and Jediism. Notions in the West of energeia, élan vital, or "vitalism" are purported to be similar.

"Better by far to embrace the hard truth than a reassuring fable."
Carl Sagan
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