Zuanquan (Drilling Fist) Water
**Please consult your Physician before starting any exercise. The medical theories presented in this article are not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any medical diseases. They are presented to the public for general knowledge of Chinese Medicine and to elucidate the practices and knowledge of past Masters.**
Bradford’s Article over on Facebook spoke of Wang Xi-Kui using Zuanquan (Drilling Fist) for reference that article can be found here;
Traditionally the Martial Arts and Medical Arts went hand in hand, Yin to Yang. It was thought that the skills for one could be applied to the other. This is even implied in Bradford’s Article when he talks about Wang Xi-Kui, he did not want to use these “to injure others, but to understand how to help those afflicted with pain and ailments.” When I began my all to brief apprenticeship with Cheng Shifu in Tui Na, he said the same; “No difference between Taiji and Tui Na, can do one, can do other. Don’t break energy in Tui Na or Taiji.” In keeping with this tradition I will share with you all the Chinese Medical ideas of Shui/water.
Time of day: Night time
Yin Organ: Kidney (5-7pm)
Yang Organ: Urinary Bladder (3-5pm)
Body parts: Ears, Bone, Knees, Low back, brain/marrow issues
Emotions: Fear, Nervousness
Self: Zhi (Divine Will)
Yin Channel: Zu (foot) Shaoyin (Lesser Yin)
Yang Channel: Zu (foot) Taiyang (Greater Yang)
Animal: Black Tortoise
With the information of the above Table there are several important points to be highlighted for our practice of both Medicine and Martial Arts, particularly Zuanquan (Drilling Fist). If one was having problems with the various areas above (Ears, Bone, Knees, Low back, brain/marrow issues) we could then look at recommending to increase practice of Zuanquan (Drilling Fist) When we practice each of the 5 element fists, they are training certain principles and only by understanding these principles can we truly begin to understand the essence of the Element and thus the movement. One of the key principle movements of Zuanquan (Drilling Fist) we are trying to train into the body is activation of a particular area of the body (but not the ONLY area), this being the Mingmen.
Mingmen/Du 4 or the Gate of Vitality/Life, nearly all Neijiaquan practitioners have heard of this acupuncture point as it is an important point in Neijia practice. It is located at the bottom of the 2nd lumbar vertebrae, approximately a hand span below both Kidneys. In Acupuncture theory it activates Yuan Qi, Warms the Yang and dispels Cold, it is used to treat impotence, lower back pain, retardation of growth, nocturnal emissions and more. It strongly strengthens Kidney Yang and Qi, this is of particular importance to our practice of Neijiaquan.
As we see in the table above, kidney is associated with Cold and Water, so it is important that this point is activated. An important question to ask is Why? Remembering that the function of this point is to strengthen Kidney Yang, Qi and Yuan Qi, so why do we want to warm, move and ascend something that is the exact opposite? The natural state of Kidneys is water, cold and descending, so in order for life to continue to grow and be nourished we need to warm and invigorate this water.
The only way water “rises” is via warming, think of how water turns to steam when heated. This steam then rises and nourishes both the middle and upper organs, Liver and Gallbladder (Water nourishes wood) and cools and regulates Fire (Heart/Small Intestine), moistens Metal (Lung/Large Intestine), while Earth (Spleen and Stomach) regulate water from rising too much. By activating Mingmen/Du 4, this is one of the ways which we will activate the normally Cold and Descending functions of the Kidneys to rise and thus nourish our lives and health.
Zuanquan (Drilling Fist) teaches the practitioner to open and move Mingmen/Du 4. As we practice Zuanquan (Drilling Fist) one important aspect is to open and spiral the lower lumbar creating a spiraling movement through the area, that gently twists and works the Kidneys and thereby stimulates Mingmen/Du 4. It is this movement that activates the above mentioned functions and teaches us as Neijiaquan practitioners to incorporate the core into our striking power. Although more important, it allows us to begin to develop and strengthen the Yang Qi for our overall health and vitality.
Secondly, of particular importance in the table above, is most of the Times we see associated with Water. These times; Winter, Night, 3-7pm, Mercury (as to when the planet is dominate in the sky), are important for possible practice times. It is during these times that Water and thereby Kidneys and Bladder are at their highest state of function. This means that all the other associated factors are also at their peak, thus showing us times when it would be best to practice Zuanquan (Drilling Fist) if we want to balance the Water Element.
Some practitioners will recommend different times to practice Zuanquan (Drilling Fist), for example one could just as easily practice from 11-3pm (Fire times). Others may recommend more of a morning time 3-7am (Metal times), these obviously are not Water times, so are these Practitioners wrong? Yes & No, in Taoism there is only one Universal Principal; Maybe. What does this mean; Context is absolutely everything, what does this mean for our practice?
If a person is having too much Fire or Heat like issues, it may benefit them to practice Zuanquan (Drilling Fist), at Fire times (11-3pm), or perhaps an individual’s Metal may be Yin/Water deficient so then it would be of benefit to practice Zuanquan (Drilling Fist) from 3-7am (Metal Times). However, when we work with the 5 elements in this way we must understand we are not working ONLY with Water (or the other element).
When we are working with Water, we are strengthening Wood, Regulating Fire, Drawing energy from Earth (Earth has to control water), Drawing energy from Metal (Metal nourishes Water) all at the same time. So it is important to remember, neither life nor the Tao exist in a Vacuum, by working with one element we are affecting all elements in some way shape or form.
If we are to take this into consideration; then by doing Zuanquan (Drilling Fist) at Fire times (11-3pm), Fire is now predominant and the strongest Element. So by practicing Zuanquan at this time we are bringing Water to extinguish Fire (Heart/Small Intestine), something we may not want to be doing if the Fire element is not excessively hot. Or if we are to practice Zuanquan (Drilling Fist) during Metal times (3-7am) if we have too much Water or Fluid on the lungs already (think Allergies or possibly COPD [Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder]). At most, one may practice this way for a short amount of time.
Unless you are highly skilled in diagnosing various Chinese Medical Disorders, I would strongly advise against this approach to your practice, since it is easier to cause imbalances this way. Therefore all my Teachers’ would talk about just bringing about Balance, the Qi and Life knows what to do better than we do, so practice Balance. This would mean we would ideally emphasize Zuanquan (Drilling Fist) in the above mentioned times. Thus allowing us to unite more fully with Cosmos and the environment which we live in.
Finally, in the table above we have a few seemingly obscure references to Mercury, the Zhi (Divine Will) & Black Tortoise, these are associated more with various Taoist Alchemical Practices that are beyond the scope of this Article, though they are very important for the next stages of practice. These practices only go deeper and deeper the bottom never being reached in our lifetimes. I tell my students it is relatively easy to teach you how to hit and harm people, it is much harder to heal them and harder still to unite them with Tao.