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alchemystical

How come there are so many different forms of "Five Element" qi gongs?

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Was just having a quick look online and there are so many Wu Xing style forms that purport to balance the five elements and one thing I noticed is that the "shape" of the movements between most of them bears absolutely no correlation whatsoever.

This just seemed quite strange to me as the style I know was grounded in the nature of the merdians and how the movements are designed to invigorate these channels to balance their energies by reducing the blockages and increasing the flow. Found it quite interesting that there are so many different styles because, ultimately, there is but one physical/energetic vessel that does the form for the benefit so you'd expect at least some uniformity. Also of note was how they all tend to start on different organs as one would think that given the lungs are organ of chi it would make sense to start then, in effect turning on the tap, to allow the energy to flow in sequence as its the underlying basis of everything else (at least as far a 5E approach goes in this particular form).

Granted there are regional variations to all of this as everyone likes to put their twist on things but I believe a thorough understanding of the why behind the what is essential to ensure you're development as an outstanding practitioner in his field as opposed to just being out, standing in your field and waving your arms around with little to no insight of why...

Your perspective on this topic and related facets would be appreciated as there is so much "Master say. Do!" with very little questioning or reasoning in this field due to things like respect, lineage, not talking out of turn etc.. but the differences just made me wonder...

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 There's thousands of different qigongs and perhaps hundreds of them share the same popular names.  Even among the most well-researched and traditional ones there's usually a little -- more often a lot -- difference in execution, depending on who you ask.  The reason being, qigong is not a lineage art in the sense taiji is, although of course there's some lineage qigongs in existence.  But most of it is a free-for-all.  My teacher taught me how to create a qigong form specifically for my beginner students who are starting a taiji practice, and specifically in the style they're learning, and specifically for their current level of movement proficiency.  Custom designed, based on what I already know.  I can call it whatever I like if I want to call it anything.  The names are not copyrighted.

 

Now then.  "The lungs are organ of chi" is incorrect -- you are probably under the impression that "chi is breath," not a useful way to look at it at all.  The lungs, in the wuxing system, are the organ of Metal.  Starting with Metal makes little wuxing sense (unless there's a reason for that -- which can be the case in a particular case), since the primordial phase is Water -- Kidneys, so if you want to follow the generating cycle of wuxing, you start with Kidneys, go to Liver (Wood), then Heart (Fire) etc..  You don't have to though.  You can go in reverse --- returning Kidney qi to the mother phase of Metal-lungs, returning Metal qi to its mother phase of Earth (spleen-stomach), Earth to Fire (heart), Fire to Wood (liver), Wood to Water (kidneys).  Depends on what you're trying to accomplish. 

 

   

Edited by Taomeow
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6 hours ago, alchemystical said:

that purport to balance the five elements

 

Wu Xing "phases" = the 5 major (visible) Planets.

 

The YinYang of each these is the 10 days of the (Chinese) week.

 

NeiJing Su Wen details some empirical observations and correlations, using this essentially like a "clock".

 

Via organs function correlation timed to the appearance of the major Planets.

 

Medicine uses to see Excess and Deficiency and understand these - using the different Wu Xing cycles.

 

Qigong can do the same thing.

 

Changing food can do the same thing.

 

People make their own Wu Xing Qigong style because it is easy.

 

Making one own 8 Trigram Qigong - some BaguaZhang/Chuan people will complain.

Say in Chinese, nobody responds. They look for luggage - "bag of what?".

 

Making "YinYang Qigong" - too silly for public to say they want this in English? Maybe.

 

"5 Element" - that sounds sellable. Like science. So everyone uses this.

 

 

 

 

-VonKrankenhaus

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Here's a passable article that gives a wider take (though, like nearly anything on wuxing that can be found online, it's not entirely accurate, and in more than just minor details -- e.g. it asserts there's "two cycles" whereas in reality there's three -- generating/increasing, using up/decreasing, and controlling/conquering): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wu_Xing  

 

Basically it's one of the absolute space-time-energy-change fundamental laws of classical taoism, and as such is not reducible to anything less.  It is the pattern of motion/behavior of qi in the universe on all levels -- cosmic, local/earthly, and human.  An awesome and inexhaustible system that can be applied successfully to anything -- but in taoist subtle anatomy and physiology, as well as medicine, it is primarily associated with five organ-system-function units and their interactions.  A qigong based on understanding these might aim to target a particular organ-system-function (increase, decrease, stimulate, pacify, replenish, control, etc.)  or the whole body.  Or just be bogus if such understanding does not underly it. ;) 

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On 09/08/2019 at 9:09 PM, alchemystical said:

This just seemed quite strange to me as the style I know was grounded in the nature of the merdians and how the movements are designed to invigorate these channels to balance their energies by reducing the blockages and increasing the flow.

 

There are many layers.

 

Some Wuxing forms focus on the denser more physical tissues (the lines of fascial tissue that form the meridian network - the jing jin lines). Some aim to build/connect these. Some aim to purge these. Some aim to move qi through these. Some aim to 'thicken' the qi through these. Some aim to strengthen these. Some aim to get your mind into these.

 

That's just on the level of the more physical... Some forms focus more on the Qi level... Some forms focus more on the organs than the lines. Some even focus on the '5 lights' - that manifest these systems in the first place...

 

So the simple answer is that 'it's complicated' :)

 

If you have a genuine teacher that is taking you through a specific process, then s/he will use these things as tools to affect specific changes that are necessary at specific points in your process.

 

On 09/08/2019 at 9:09 PM, alchemystical said:

"Master say. Do!" with very little questioning or reasoning

 

Some teachers are happy to explain. Some rather not. Some just don't know why they're doing what they're doing. So it's tricky.

 

I always prefer the ones that clearly explain what's happening - but that's just me.

 

If you have a teacher that rather not talk about these things, just look at their level of accomplishment... and their level of virtue and skill... then look at the senior students...

 

If skill, virtue and accomplishment is high in both students and teacher, then just shut up and do :)

 

If not - just find another teacher :)

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@taomeow very interesting response about the creation of a form, would you care to share more about that as its my first time hearing about that and I find it interesting.

The form I practice starts with lung/metal because ‚Äúwithout breath the rest doesn‚Äôt even matter‚ÄĚ as it is the primal basis of life and the next move flows straight into kidney/water and so on. As my background is more yoga which has a very heavy emphasis on prana this all resonated very well.

Reversing the elements is new to me, thanks for the insight. Also as for the three elements, once again in the yogi path it is seen as trifold energies that run ‚Äúunderneath‚ÄĚ every manifestation that are responsible for the creation, preservation and destruction cycles that everything goes through.

The overlap and differences between the TCM/Vedic viewpoints really is quite fascinating as it goes some way toward proving the empirical nature of what the sages of yore were experiencing and interpreting.


@vonkrankenhaus thank you for that lucid, clear insight. Its precisely the balancing abilities that drew me to this form and I fully agree about the nutritional aspects and how important they are.


@freeform thank you for creating clarity in the complication. My instruction is grounded mainly in the fascial/meridian aspect with the intent to foster a stronger mindbody connection. Fully agree about the questions bit as well, the whole ‚ÄúMaster say. Do!‚ÄĚ was not in reference to my instructor but the way I see a lot of sacred cows being herded around in so many physiospiritual fields where questions themselves are seen as insulting for what is considered sacrosanct and that has never been my way, far to curious to hold back and not ask the why behind the how and there have been many flustered teachers who just can‚Äôt provide that insight as they never wondered/asked themselves and instead just act like robots.

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1 hour ago, alchemystical said:

@taomeow very interesting response about the creation of a form, would you care to share more about that as its my first time hearing about that and I find it interesting.

 

Some masters and experienced practitioners can do it because they understand the principles.  Some not-so-proficient practitioners sometimes do it because they can...  or because they don't have enough schooling (or patience) under their belt to become proficient in a classical form, so they "invent" their own that goes as far as they can go, usually bypassing all the fundamental principles, occasionally putting together a convincing (to an inexperienced eye) imitation, and so on.  Sometimes they are ego driven and want to be seen as "masters." 

 

Someone who is "really" a master or at least in command of enough fundamentals might want to create his or her own qigong (or even a new martial form) toward a specific "local" goal, in many cases related to teaching students of various levels of proficiency.  You can gear it to taiji/qigong virgins and keep very basic -- or make it very challenging for the advanced, toward an extra boost to their internal power, or focus on the healing aspects and so on.  

 

The qigong I was taught how to make is actually based on Chen style taiji, geared toward teaching beginners, and consists of a series of 1) static executions of various moves from the two main Chen routines (yilu and erlu) instead of stepping, 2) execution with simplified stepping compared to what is in the taiji form, and 3) some specific breathing-coordination moves (in our tradition we don't do it "deliberately" in taiji and rely on the breath stabilizing and self-correcting with progress in the art -- then start "tweaking" with it later, chiefly in application.)  So, it's about making things easier, making them non-martial (for those who are either not interested in, or not ready yet, for the martial schooling), while simultaneously laying a structural and functional foundation for the more challenging things to come. 

 

Someone of very high skill (like my teacher) can create a qigong rooted in something entirely else -- e.g. combining or modifying several classics, or doing in-depth research and restoring a classic that's been screwed up in unqualified renditions, or putting together something proprietary that will be solid.  I wouldn't be comfortable doing any of that at this point.   Even with taiji forms that you know back and forth and top to bottom, it's not that easy to simplify without losing the essence.  But for the particular purpose of easing the beginners into this way of functioning, it's doable and very useful.  

Edited by Taomeow
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"Some not-so-proficient practitioners sometimes do it because they can... or because they don't have enough schooling (or patience) under their belt to become proficient in a classical form, so they "invent" their own that goes as far as they can go, usually bypassing all the fundamental principles, occasionally putting together a convincing (to an inexperienced eye) imitation, and so on. Sometimes they are ego driven and want to be seen as "masters.""

Yes, that is exactly it @taomeow

I don't profess to be deeply experienced in the whole qi gong game but I know what feels/looks right when I see it and what doesn't, hence this thread as I'm a a firm believer that one who understands thoroughly can create with simplicity as they know all aspects of what is at play.

Ultimately there are but so many ways in which one can move the body but much like the relationship of a dictionary to a book it is the skill of the creator in placing the pieces together which makes the difference between Shakespeare and a hack.

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"ŚįŹŚŅĶŚ§ßŚ§ī" was the term given to us before explain the variations of a practice, whether it is Eight Brocades or Five Animals or Five Elements.

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Are there any recommendations for good and easily accessible 5 Element Qigongs that are strongly exertive and actually work ... meaning they work to cultivate the 5 elements rather than other things ?

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