Nature and Origins of Chi Power in Wing Chun Kung Fu

Wing chun kung fu grandmaster William Cheung delves into chi, human pressure points, meridians and energy flow as it relates to wing chun kung fu training in this excerpt from his vintage book, How to Develop Chi Power.

The aim of wing chun kung fu training is to develop physical, mental and spiritual awareness. These elements transcend to a higher level of life. Self-awareness, self-respect and a duty to serve should be the goal of every martial artist. The practitioner should meditate on these principles and make peace through the study of kung fu— a way of life.

Origins of the Chi Power Exercises

The word chi in Chinese can mean different things. In the direct translation, it can mean "air" or "breathing." However, when it is taken further, it can mean "energy," "temper," "tension" or "endurance."


The Nature of Chi Power in Wing Chun Kung Fu Training:

Yin/Yang and the Five Elements

The Nei Ching, or the Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine, is the earliest known text on chi power. lt is believed to have been written during the reign of Emperor Huang Ti (2697-2596 B.C.). The Nei Ching elaborately outlines a systematic method of therapy:

The root of the way of life, or birth and change is chi; the myriad things of heaven and earth all obey this law. Thus chi in the periphery envelopes heaven and earth; chi in the interior activates them. The source wherefrom the sun, moon, and stars derive their light; the thunder, rain, wind and cloud, their being, the four seasons and the myriad things their birth, growth, gathering and storing; all this is brought about by chi. Man's possession of life is completely dependent upon this chi.

— Nei Ching

The Chinese structured their universe out of ever-changing energies. The balance and harmony of these energies they call “tao." Tao is not a thing; it is merely a word.

Tao contains the totality of all energy. It exists in the constant state of movement and change out of which all things evolve.

One is expressed as ...

Image source: How to Develop Chi Power by William Cheung

... and out of this oneness evolved two, two perfect circles evolving and revolving within the one, the tails of each indicating movement, the eternal revolution.

Image source: How to Develop Chi Power by William Cheung

The dark energy is yin, and the bright energy is yang, each holding the seed of each other, and through their continuous evolution, they gave birth to all things and created their polar opposites.

The Five Elements and Their Cycles of Interaction

The Chinese believe that there are five earthly elements: fire, earth, metal, water and wood. There are two cycles illustrating the interaction between these elements:

The cycle of generation — Each element generates or produces the succeeding element. Thus fire produces earth, earth produces metal, metal produces water, water produces wood, wood produces fire, fire produces earth.

The cycle of destruction — Each element destroys or absorbs the succeeding element. Fire destroys metal, metal destroys wood, wood destroys earth, earth destroys water, water destroys fire.

Interaction of the Five Elements

Image source: How to Develop Chi Power by William Cheung

Body Equilibrium in Wing Chun Kung Fu Training

The elements, together with yin and yang, will determine the state of balance and equilibrium within the body. The live elements, as assigned to the organs and bowels, are the following:

Image source: How to Develop Chi Power by William Cheung

Each organ and bowel is governed by two meridians: One flows from the left and one from the right. The human pressure points are the breathing points for the meridians. There are eight other extraordinary meridians that provide for energy to continue its cycle of circulation, regardless of whether any one of the organs or bowels becomes decreased and blocks the meridian's circuit. There are other human pressure points that cannot be traced to have any connections with the meridians.

Timetable of Meridians Governing Organs

Following is a clock showing the times of the day that the meridians of the organs and bowels are most vulnerable. This is one of the basic principles by which Chinese doctors in ancient days treated illnesses. Furthermore, there is a relationship between organs, which are opposite each other on the clock.

This relationship is governed by the interaction of the five elements. Treating the gall bladder, for example, which belongs to the wood element, benefits the heart, which is of the fire element.

Image source: How to Develop Chi Power by William Cheung

The Death Touch

The death touch, or dim mak, is a specialized technique requiring the striking of a particular human pressure point at a certain time of the day and season. This deadly art was developed by highly skilled kung fu practitioners through the centuries and is based on this relationship between the human pressure points, the various organs and chi power.

Because wing chun was developed by a woman, the emphasis is on the efficiency of the strike — and dim mak is one of its secret specialties. Nevertheless, a lot of the training is devoted to healing the victims of the death touch with the use of different combinations of herbal formulas and massage of human pressure points.

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