It has been a busy few months for us here at Neijia books, for those that don’t know it is really just 2 of us doing the work for all this. Bradford, has been very busy translating texts and is working on translating a new Taiji book. If you haven’t checked out our latest book by Dr. Dudgeon you can find it here;
This book is an unaltered copy of Dr. Dudgeon’s book, it was actually copied by Bradford during his time in Beijing in the 1980s. He found the book in a Chinese library, and he would go and individually scan the pages of the book. We worked to bring those scans back to life for this book.
I apologize for missing our Summer/Fire iteration of the Blog, Summer is considered the time of the Fire element in Chinese thought and it certainly burned bright and fast for me. Now, we find ourselves in the Fall, a time of withdraw, harvest and recession of the overall Qi of the year. Summer Yang Qi was at it’s peak and we begin our slow descent back to Yin Qi, Autumn is this transitional time.
It is equated to Metal, some qualities of Metal are; Heaviness, Piercing, Contracting and Descending, it is one of the Firm or “Hardest” of elements. These qualities are ones we find in our Neijia Arts and during the Fall it is Traditional to emphasize these qualities in our practice so we can foster and nourish the Metal element within ourselves.
Medically the Metal element relates to the Lungs and Large Intestine, this is where some of the contracting and descending qualities of Metal are seen. The Lungs need to descend so that the Zhong Qi (Central Qi) of the Chest nourishes the body. If this Qi does not descend we see Rebellious Qi signs of Cough, Wheezing, Asthma, Breathlessness, possibly spontaneous sweating (the Lungs control the skin and pores) from lack of contraction of pores, easily catching colds, etc.
It is through this descending of Qi that the Yin component of the Lungs nourishes the Large Intestine, another organ that descending is obviously needed. If this Yin does not nourish the Large intestine we can experience symptoms of Constipation, if there is too much Yin one can have diarrhea, gas, hemorrhoids and other intestinal issues. The Lungs and Large Intestine when working properly will nourish the organs next in the 5 element cycle, the Kidneys and Bladder or Water and lead us to the next time in our season Winter.
The Element of Metal also belongs to the Corporeal “Soul” or Po. Even though it is often seen as “Soul” Po, is actually the Physical body in Taoist thought. There are 5 “Souls” in total each corresponding to a different Element; Hun/Self/Wood, Shen/Soul/Fire, Yi/Thought/Earth, Po/Body/Metal, Zhi/Divine Will/Water, each of these represent different aspects of our own Psyche. Each is also has it’s own animal association; Hun=Dragon, Shen=Phoenix, Yi=Golden Eagle, Po=White Tiger, Zhi=Black Tortoise.
Po, being our main interest for the Fall, is the White Tiger. This means that any of our Arts that focus on the Tiger are Arts we can emphasize for this time of year. The Tiger emphasizes similar qualities described above; Heavy (like a stalking cat), Piercing (claws), Contracting and Descending (a Tiger getting ready to spring). It is through qualities like these we begin to nourish the Element of Metal.
In Hsing I we can emphasize Tiger, or Metal Palm, making sure we nourish these qualities. We must however keep in mind these are not forced, as we practice we must still be relaxed and soft. The Heaviness comes from this very relaxation and softness, think of a raw form of Metal pulled from the Earth. In ancient China, they would frequently use the Character Jin-金, the character for Gold, being the purest of Metals and thus would encompass all the Metal qualities.
Gold is heavy enough to drop down into the Earth and Gold is found between bedrock. This is the heavy quality we want to emphasize during our practice, but 金-Gold/Metal does not use force, Heaviness is a Virtue of Gold and this is naturally occurring, something we must emulate in practice through relaxation and softness. Once this heaviness is properly nourished it will naturally begin to descend and contract forming something firm. Once the firmness is achieved then we can use this in a piercing or splitting quality.
These qualities carry over to Bagua practice or even Taiji practices. Most Cats emphasize these qualities (not only the Tiger), so Lion can be emphasized as can Wild Cat. In Taiji we can look more at the 金-Jin/Gold/Metal name; Golden Rooster stands on One Leg (金鶏独立), Jin Gang Pounds the Mortar (金刚捣碓), or even Single Whip (單鞭). Golden Rooster stands on One Leg (金鶏独立) emphasizes the piercing of Metal in the palm going up while the other hand and body emphasizes the descending and heaviness of Metal. Jin Gang Pounds the Mortar (金刚捣碓), the heaviness and descending qualities of Metal are emphasized as we put the foot and fist down, while the piercing quality is emphasized in raising the fist. Single Whip (單鞭), while not having Metal in the name, emphasizes opening the Chest (Lungs) and the Lung and Large intestine acupuncture channels.
During our practice we can still work with the Forms, however, we can also take these small pieces out of each Form and practice them individually. Another method of practice in the Sun School is as you are going through the Form you will hold various postures. For example when you get to Single Whip in any of the Familial Schools, you can hold it for 10 slow deep breaths as you experience the qualities of Metal.
With Fall being the element of Metal, it is easiest to nourish Metal in our bodies, thus we can become more in balance with the Seasons by emphasizing these practices. This will allow a transition to the Water Element and Winter.
Happy Practices All.