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五 行 手
Wu-Xing Hand Techniques
He Tou

Wu-Xing Hand Techniques are the basic five hand techniques practiced throughout our six crane forms and in all movements. Wu-Xing Hand techniques are Wood-Hand Technique, Fire-Hand technique, Earth-Hand technique, Metal-Hand technique, and Water-Hand technique as illustrated here:



Mu Shou

Wood-Hand
木手


Shui Shou

Shui-Hand
水手

Huo Shou

Huo-Hand
火手


Jin Shou

Jin-Hand
金手

Tu Shou

Tu-Hand
土手




Wu-Xing Hands are also used throughout 6 Hand-Positions Practice, 12 Hand Techniques on Qi Practice, and 18 Two-Person Techniques Practice.

Why those hand techniques were named in our white crane system may not be obvious; however, by tracing the meaning of Wu-Xing, it may provide us some clue how each hand movement is named and matches the characteristics/functions of the name Wu-Xing.

Wood-Hand 木手: the characteristic of Wood is "straight," so Wood-Hand trusts straight through fingers.

Fire-Hand 水手: the characteristic of Fire is "expanding upward," so Fire-Hand points fingers upward, and Qi goes out at the heel of the palm.

Earth-Hand 土手: the characteristic of Earth is "receiving," so the fist-like Earth-Hand can take punishment and deliver power to strike the opponent's body.

Metal-Hand 金手: the characteristic of Metal is "changing," So metal-Hand changes in form, can be used to block or counter-attack.

Water-Hand 水手: the characteristic of Water is "flow downward," so Water-Hand flows or flushes downward.



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陰 陽 五 行
Yin-Yang-Wu-Xing


自     然      界


人     體

五音

五味

五色

五化

五氣

五方

五季

五臟

六腑

五官

形體

情志

五聲

變動

小腸

長夏

西

大腸

膀胱



Five
Movements

In Nature

Five
Seasons

Five
Directions

Five
Energy

Five
Transformation

Five
Colors

Five
Tastes

Wood

Spring

East

Wind

Birth

Green

Sour

Fire

Summer

South

Heat

Growth

Red

Bitter

Earth

Late-Summer

Center

Wet

Transforming/
Flowering

Yellow

Sweet

Metal

Autumn

West

Dry

Harvest/
Collect

White

Pungent

Water

Winter

North

Cold

Retain
(Store-up)

Black

Salty



Five
Movements

In Our Bodies

Organs

Sense
Organs

Body

Emotions

Wood

Liver

Eyes

Tendons

Anger

Fire

Heart

Tongue

Vascular
System

Joy

Earth

Spleen

Mouth

Muscles

Thinking

Metal

Lungs

Nose

Skin

Grief

Water

Kidneys

Ears

Bones

Fear



Yin-Yang-Wu-Xing 陰陽五行
Chinese culture is a culture of Yin and Yang. In their intricately intertwined relationship, it is not known whether the ancient culture spawned the Yin-Yang theory or the theory created the culture; however, ancient Chinese people, through their empirical experience, think that the world is not made of "solid" materials, in contrast to the modern thinking, but the "movement" or "flow" of two Qi/energy called "Yin" and "Yang." As harmonized Yin and Yang breeds the "ten-thousand things," that is, everything, so everything has a Yin and Yang.

However, though Yin and Yang "two" Qi is used in the language, the primal Yin and Yang are not two but one inseparable two phases of the primal energy called Yuan-Qi 元氣. Yuan-Qi, the life force, is pure energy; it contains the properties of "contraction" and "expansion."

According to ancient Chinese legend, before the beginning, as it is not recognizable, the world is known as Hun-Tun, chaos. As the Yuan-Qi flows, it splits into two Qi; the one with properties of contraction is called "Yin," and the other is called "Yang." Yin [Qi] contracts and forms the earth, and Yang [Qi] floats and forms the sky. And the interaction of the sky and earth gives rise the "world" phenomenon, as the harmonized Yin and Yang breeds everything.

The way of Yin and Yang breeding everything is through a process called Wu-Xing. Wu-Xing reflects five different "movements"/"flows" of Yin and Yang. Before the world is formed, the movement of Qi cannot be recognized, so it's pure Yin. The movement, the beginning of Yang, liquefies the extreme Yin and forms the "Water" (moist). The initial Yang is strong, and is manifested as "Fire" (heat). Nourished by "Water" and "Fire," "Wood" grows (warm). As Yang continues to expand, it cools, and the Yin-Yang condenses, "Metal" forms. As the Yin and Yang tug (moist, heat, warm, and cool), a balance is reached in the end, "Earth" forms. The five movements produce the five elements, which are thought to be the fundamental building materials of the whole "world," the world comes to existence. And that's the world of Yin-Yang-Wu-Xing.

Yin-Yang-Wu-Xing is matured and fully developed in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine). In TCM, the human life and forms are viewed as a microcosm of the whole world, also reflect the way of Yin-Yang-Wu-Xing.


(The following is paraphrased from "Traditional Chinese Medicine Fundamental Theory," Shanghai Scientific Technology Publishing.)


The characteristics/properties of Wood are (like a tree) to grow, to expand [like a tree], to channel, and etc.
The characteristics/properties of Fire are (like fire) to heat, to move upward, to expand [like fire], and etc.
The characteristics/properties of Earth are (like earth/dirt) to support, to transform (grow), to receive, and etc.
The characteristics/properties of Metal are (like metal [changing states]) to refrain, to condense, to contract, and etc.
The characteristics/properties of Water are (like water) to irrigate, to cool, to move downward, and etc.

Based on these characteristics/properties, five movements/elements are also developed as characteristics for ancient Chinese people to relate themselves to their environments:

In nature:
Wood -- to season: spring; to direction: east; to Qi/energy: wind; to transformation: birth; to color: green; to taste: sour.
Fire -- to season: summer; to direction: south; to Qi/energy: heat; to transformation: growth; to color: red; to taste: bitter.
Earth -- to season: late-summer; to direction: center; to Qi/energy: wet; to transformation: transformation/convert; to color: yellow; to taste: sweet.
Metal -- to season: autumn; to direction: west; to Qi/energy: dry; to transformation: harvest/collect; to color: white; to taste: pungent.
Water -- to season: winter; to direction: north; to Qi/energy: cold; to transformation: retain (store-up); to color: black; to taste: salty.

(These phenomenons are quite obvious if one lives in the central Mainland China.)

In our bodies:
Wood -- to organ: lever; to sense: eyes; to body: Tenders; to emotion: anger.
Fire -- to organ: heart; to sense: tongue; to body: Vascular system; to emotion: joy.
Earth -- to organ: spleen; to sense: mouth; to body: Muscles; to emotion: thinking.
Metal -- to organ: lungs; to sense: nose; to body: Skin; to emotion: grief.
Water -- to organ: kidney; to sense: ears; to body: Bones; to emotion: fear.

(It should be clear that "organs" are not only meant the organs of modern counterpart but a whole system which converts/transforms the five elements (based on the 5 characteristics/ properties) to generate a life force which substantiates the life.)

The 5 elements/characteristics also interact/relate to each other in an elaborated relationship.

Wu Xing The basic enhance/reduce relationships are:

Wood enhances Fire,
Fire enhances Earth,
Earth enhances Metal,
Metal enhances Water,
Water enhances Wood,

and,
Wood reduces Earth,
Earth reduces Water,
Water reduces Fire,
Fire reduces Metal,
Metal reduces Wood.

With each element/characteristic control and being controlled by each other, life thrives in the balance. When the life-force flows vigorously, life is said to be strong and healthy, Yin-Yang-Wu-Xing thus provides a foundation for TCM.

"Five movements are the substance of Yin and Yang, and Yin and Yang are the Qi (energy) of five movements. Qi without substance cannot stand (exist), substance without Qi cannot move (transform), and the transformation is what makes Yin and Yang (life) flow."--"Lei-Jing-Tu-Yi," 類經圖翼-- That's to say, in the view of ancient Chinese, Yin-Yang-Wu-Xing provides them explanation not just a cosmos view of how do the "nature" and we human come about, but also how these two entities are related to each other, and consequently presents a totally different view/form of life--a life phenomenon that is not fixed in mind and body configuration but the fluidity of Yuan-Qi, where Yin-Yang is the energy and Wu-Xing provides the rhythm and the life force flows vigorously in the balance. And that is the life of Yin-Yang-Wu-Xing.



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Credit: By permission, Ichin Shen's Yin-Yang-Wu-Xing

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