Chinese Martial Arts, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Osteopathy
Traditional Chinese martial arts and traditional Chinese medicine have shared the same theoretical resources from ancient times. Within the same cultural milieu, each has influenced and enriched the other’s development.
Over the thousands of years, Chinese medical studies have accumulated a rich body of experience; as well, it is a unique theoretical system. The basic principles of this theoretical system include the high degree of integration between the human bodily functions and the natural environment, the inter-dependence of human physiological functions, and the inter-connectedness of the functions of the mind and material objects. Based on the theories of totality and integrity, the ancient medical doctors further expounded the theory that energy, qi and mind are the three “treasures” of the human body, and that the three exist as an organic whole. These theories and hypotheses have been shown to be effective through their application in treatment and daily healthful living over the past several thousand years.
Through the millennia, Chinese medicine and Chinese martial arts have continued to have a close, inter-dependent relationship. They have the same philosophical basis and have been built on the same essential features of the culture of the human body – ideas such as the Theory of Yin and Yang , the Theory of the Five Elements , the System of Main and Collateral Channels . In the long history of complementary development, Chinese martial arts have absorbed and integrated the theories of totality and integrity in Chinese medicine; accordingly, its emphases are on the unity of form and spirit, the importance of both external and internal training, and the importance of the disciplining the mind while strengthening the tendons and bones. These are all considered vital elements in the strengthening of the body as well as the pursuit of a healthy life. The inter-dependence of Chinese martial arts and Chinese medicine is characterized by the saying, “The motion arose from the I Ching, the theory and methods from medical theories”
There is a historical aspect to the close ties between traditional Chinese martial arts Chinese sports medicine. In historical times, as the scale of wars grew, there was a corresponding growth in martial arts activities among the common people. Internal injuries such as injuries of the internal organs, disruption to the flow of qi, disorder in the circulation system, as well as the main and collateral systems, or external injuries like falls, knocks, beatings, joint injuries, broken bones and injuries inflicted by weapons became commonplace. To prevent and treat these multitudes of injuries became a concern of martial artists. The injuries brought by war and increased martial arts activities necessitated the development of sports medicine and treatment methods. In this way, Chinese martial arts and Chinese sports medicine became intertwined and, even today, they continue to be an important area of study in martial arts theories and application.
On its part, Chinese sports medicine has continued to utilize martial arts techniques as treatment methods. There are certain treatments which clearly had their origins in martial arts. To cite a few examples, in Chinese Tui Na (deep massage), the Zen of the Finger Technique was derived from the Finger Zen Pressure Point Strike . Bone-setting techniques came from fist forms. Slapping treatments came from the conditioning methods used in martial arts. Other martial arts techniques like separating the tendons, breaking the bones, striking the pressure points, stopping the circulation, back-throwing, tripping and controlling moves used in qin na , as well as all kinds of hand, eye, body moves and methods for controlling the energy, qi and mind are all used in treatment and for strengthening the body. They bear witness to the close relationship between Chinese sports medicine and martial arts.
At the same time, instruction and training in traditional martial arts are based on the theories in Chinese medicine. Treatment techniques have been developed into martial arts techniques. For example, striking the pressure points, holding the meridian, bone-setting and first aid are all methods which have been adapted for self-defence and attack. “Energy training through feeding the natural qi,” “focus on internal training to strengthen the body” are used not only in the art of attack and defence; they are also used in grooming a healthy body and strengthening the internal organs.
In Chinese medical theories, these principles – “all that benefits the tendons and meridians benefits the fist,” “one who comprehends the five elements and six atmospheric conditions will gain a deep understanding of martial arts,” “internal training is the mainstay, the internal drives the external, that is the way to Truth” — are all ideas that are used in traditional martial arts training and instruction.
Traditional martial arts, taking from the study of Chinese medical theories, devised a system to protect and strengthen the natural energy of the body. Chinese medical theories state that “the kidney is the central organ.” The health of the kidneys determines the body’s development, growth, strength and decline. For this reason, traditional martial artists have always paid particular attention to the training of the kidneys and have developed all kinds of training methods to strengthen the kidneys. These are commonly used in conditioning the body to withstand striking.
In addition, martial artists have created different kinds of traditional training methods based on theories which are central to Chinese medicine. These theories include the changes of the seasons and weather which dictate the growth, development, change, decline and death of all living objects, the orbiting and phases of the sun and moon, as well as the regular and natural changes of the sky and earth.
The close relationship between Chinese medicine and Chinese martial arts bring together Chinese medicine, qigong, and martial arts and this, in turn, has brought into being a unique study that encompasses martial arts, medical theory, practical application and the understanding of medicine and which This in turn has given rise to the unique Chinese healthful life, kungfu massage (tui na), sports medicine, acupuncture, training to heal, correcting the and various alternative treatment methods.
The close ties between Chinese sports medicine and Chinese martial arts and their use of Chinese medicine, qigong and martial arts have given birth to a unique system that combines martial arts, medical theories, practical application and the knowledge of medicine. This, in turn, has encouraged the growth of Chinese style healthy-living, kungfu massage, acupuncture, Chinese sports medicine, treatment through kungfu training, correction of deviation, and a wide range of special healing methods.
Qigong is a curative, health-building, self-healing, self-defence, activity. It is a unique component of the brilliant cultural heritage of the Chinese. The objective of the practice of qigong is to temper the essence, qi, spirit, intellect, and energy within the body, so that the process of self-adjustment can be initiated and continued as one moves through life. To improve and strengthen the physical body, prevent illness and prolong life are the ultimate goals of this science which is at once ancient (specialized studies and texts have been in circulation since the “Spring and Autumn Period” in China over two thousand years ago) and “young.”
The ancient Chinese interpreted the physical phenomena they observed as “qi” (or “energy”). Jing Yue Quan Shu（景岳全書）stated, “Man owes his life to qi.” In the human body, qi manifests itself in a variety of ways. The most basic is “source qi” (元氣), sometimes known as “true qi” (真氣), and is the dynamic force of all vital functions. Another form of qi is “essential qi” (精氣) which we got from our parents and is qi that exists from birth. There is also qi that accumulates in the ground in which crops grow, called “earth qi” (地氣), and which we acquire through the nutrients in our food and drink. Through our lungs, we inhale “heavenly qi” (天氣) which exists in the atmosphere around us. The above three forms of qi – essential qi, earth qi and heavenly qi – combine to form a very fine, vital stream of energy. It flows through the entire body and is one of the fundamental building blocks of the human body. This vitality energy directs the functioning of our internal organs as well as the main and collateral channels; its movements could be upward, downward, inward or outward. There are different terms for the way qi works in different organs, for example heart qi, lung qi, spleen qi, stomach qi, liver qi, kidney qi, etc. The meridian qi that runs through the main and collateral channels is distinguished as nutrient qi （營氣）, defence qi (衛氣), etc.
Through using modern scientific instruments, it has now been determined that the qi which emanates from veteran qigong practitioners contains infra-red radiation, static electricity and elementary particles. This leads to the conclusion that qi is really a form of substance and a form of energy.
In qigong, the qi that is being “trained” or tempered is “source qi” or “true qi.” It gives the body its ability to resist illnesses, adjust to changes in the environment, and regenerate.
Gong refers to the training process which enables the “source qi” to circulate normally and vigorously in the body. The word “gong” encompasses not only the length and quality of the training, but also the kind of training, as well as the attainment level and capability of the practitioner himself.
The practice of qigong is a way to resist illness, maintain good health and youthfulness because it works to clear the meridians, balance the blood and qi, harmonize ying and yang, restore the equilibrium among the internal organs and mould the temperament of the individual.