This is the third part of Marshal Yue, Fei's "Ten Important Theses" an excerpt from Xingyiquan—Theory, Applications Fighting Tactics and Spirit. This is Thesis No. 5. For Theses 1-4, see Parts 1 and 2.
5. Thesis of the Five Phases (Wu Xing Lun)
This discussion starts with striking and postures. When talking about about postures, we first discuss Qi. Man has five viscera, which therefore form the shape. From the five viscera, the Qi is born. Therefore, the five viscera are really the original bearers of human nature (i.e., life) and the source of growing Qi. These five viscera are named heart, liver, spleen, lungs, and kidneys. The heart is classified as Fire and has the appearance of flaming upward. The liver is classified as Wood and has the shape of curved and straight. The spleen is classified as Earth and has the feeling of solid and sincere. The lungs are classified as Metal and have the capability of initiating changes in the body. The kidneys are classified as Water and have the talent of moistening the lower body. This is the meaning of the five viscera, and they must be coordinated accurately with the Qi so that they are able to cooperate with each other.
Striking and Correct Postures
When we talk about striking we usually first discuss the correct postures, which most efficiently protect the body and most effectively manifest Jin. Then, when we analyze the postures for manifesting Jin, we have to begin discussing Qi. Finally, when we discuss the Qi, we must first understand where the Qi comes from.
Qi comes from the conversion of Essence (Jing). Essence includes the food and air Essence (Post-Birth Essence), and the Essence which you inherit from your parents (Original Essence or Pre-Birth Essence) (Yuan Jing). Interested readers please see Dr. Yang's book, The Root of Chinese Qigong, for a detailed discussion.
Your five Yin viscera (heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, and spleen) are the organs responsible for converting the Essence into Qi and distributing it to your entire body. Therefore, it says that Qi originates from the five viscera. It is this generation and distribution of Qi, which is responsible for your being alive, and also for the growth of your individual and human nature. Chinese medicine and Qigong classify the viscera according to the principle of the Five Phases. According to their character, function, and mutual relationships, the viscera are classified as Fire (heart), Wood (liver), Earth (spleen), Metal (lungs), and Water (kidneys).
This is why those who talk about martial affairs must not separate from them. The chest and diaphragm is the position of the lung primary Qi channel and (they) cover all other viscera. Therefore, when the Qi in the lung primary channel moves, all other viscera cannot be calm. The heart is between the two nipples and enwrapped and protected by the lungs. Underneath the lungs and above the stomach is the location of the heart primary Qi channel. The heart is the king of Fire, and once it moves all other primary ministerial Fires will naturally follow. Between the two flanks, left is the liver and right is the spleen. On the fourteenth section of the spine are the kidneys. These are the positions of the five viscera. However, all these five viscera are linked with the back spine and connected with the kidneys' essence. As to the waist, it is the home position of the two kidneys. They are the first in importance among the pre-heaven organs and especially are the origin and root of all other viscera. Therefore, when the kidney Water is sufficient, then Metal, Wood, Water, Fire, and Earth will have the opportunity to create life.
The location of the organs is given from the perspective of someone looking at a person from the front. Three of the Yin organs are especially important. The first is the lungs, which take in air Essence and convert it into Qi, which is distributed throughout the body by the blood. Therefore, once the lungs are in action, the other four viscera cannot be calm. Then, the heart is the residence of the emotional Fire. When this Fire starts (when the emotional mind is activated), all other viscera will also become fiery (excited). Finally, the most important of the viscera is the kidneys. They are the residence of the Pre-Birth Essence (Yuan Jing, Original Essence). Original Essence is the source of Water Qi, which cools the body's Fire and therefore balances the Yin and Yang. The Yin and Yang must be balanced and interact harmoniously for you to be healthy. You can see that the kidneys' Water is ultimately the most important element in regulating the conditions of the other four organs and affecting the balance of Yin and Yang.
In addition, the five viscera existing internally have their definite positions. Manifested externally on the body, they also have their special positions. They are (manifested on) the neck, the top of head, the brain, the bones, the back, and the kidneys (i.e., ears). The two ears are also (related to) the kidneys, the two lips and two cheeks are related to the spleen. Two hairs (i.e., the hair on the two sides of the head) are the lungs. The forehead is the leader of the six Yang organs and gathers the Essence of the five viscera (i.e., five Yin organs) and actually is the main master of the head and face and is the governor of the entire body.
Five Viscera Outside The Body
In addition to having definite locations inside the body, the five viscera have particular locations on the outside of the body where their condition is manifested. Most of these manifestations are shown on the head. For example, the two ears are related to the two kidneys, the lips and cheeks are linked to the spleen. The hair on the sides of the head is related to the lungs. However, the most important of all is the forehead, especially above the eye bridge (i.e., the third eye)(Tian Yan), which is considered to be the residence of the spirit and is called the Upper Dan Tian (Shang Dan Tian) in Chinese Qigong. The spirit is the center of one's being, and governs the Qi distribution in the entire body, especially the manifestation of the six Yang channels.
The Yintang, (is) the key place or the Stomach Qi of Yang Brightness. When the human nature (Xing) starts at the Tianting, its functioning is approached from here. The Qi generated and developed (here) is able to reach the six Yangs from the kidneys and it (i.e., the Yintang) is really the main key place of the Tianting. Two eyes are both (related to) the liver. Studied in more detail, the bottom (of the eyes) is the spleen and the top is the stomach. The big corner is for the heart channel and the small corner is for the small intestines. The white (of the eyes) means the lungs and the black is the liver. The pupil is the kidneys and is actually the Essence gathering of the five viscera. Therefore, the eyes are not only especially related to the liver.
The Yintang is the space between the eyebrows. The Stomach Qi channel ends in this area. Tianting is the name for the forehead, which is the residence of the spirit, which governs the six Yang channels and is also the center of your human nature. If the spirit here is raised to a high level, the Water Qi generated from the kidneys can be effectively and smoothly distributed. The eyes are related to the liver. In the last few years, Chinese medicine has found correspondences between parts of the eyes and all twelve internal organs. This is discussed in Dr. Yang's book, Qigong for Health and Martial Arts.
The nose is related to the lungs, the two cheeks are also related to the kidneys, the front of the ear doors are related to the Gall Bladder, and the high bones behind the ears are also related to the kidneys. The nose is the Earth Center and is the source of the birth and nourishment of the million objects. The nose is actually the master of the center Qi. The Renzhong is the meeting place of blood and Qi, (it) thrusts upward into the Yintang and reaches to the Tianting; it is also the most important place. Under the two lips is the Chengjiang and underneath the Chengjiang is the Dihe. They correspond to the Tianting and also relate to the kidney channel.
Since the nose is used to take in air, which is necessary for life, it is considered to be the "Earth Center." The nose is therefore the main source for obtaining Post-Birth Qi. Renzhong is the spot under the nose which is the junction of the Stomach channel and the Governing Vessel. According to this document, Renzhong is considered the meeting place of blood and Qi. From here the Qi is thrust upward to the Yintang and the top of the forehead. Underneath the lips is Chengjiang, and under Chengjiang is Dihe. Though the above-mentioned cavities belong to the Stomach channel, they still reflect the condition of the kidneys.
The head and neck is the pathway to the five viscera and the main gathering place of blood and Qi. The front is the entering and exiting path of food and air and the rear is the ascending and descending way of kidney Qi. The liver Qi is thus spinning to the left and the spleen Qi is spinning to the right. Their relations are most important and are the key points of (Qi distribution in) the entire body. Between the two nipples is the liver and between the two shoulders are the lungs, between the two elbows are the kidneys, between the two shoulders on the back is the spleen. The ten fingers are connected to the heart, liver, spleen, lungs, and kidneys. The knees and the calves are all related to the kidneys. The bottoms of the two feet are the important places of the kidneys and the Yongquan are the cavities of the kidneys.
According to Chinese medicine, in the front of the body is the tripleburner, which is divided into the upper burner, middle burner, and lower burner. The upper burner converts air Essence into Qi, while the other two burners handle food Essence, converting it through biochemical reaction into Qi. Therefore, the Fire Qi, which is created from air and food is generated in the front of the body. However, there is also another Qi, classified as Water Qi. Water Qi is generated from the conversion of the Original Essence, which you inherit from your parents and which is stored in the kidneys. When Water Qi is produced, it rises to nourish the brain, and also moves downward to the Lower Dan Tian, which is its residence. Fire and Water Qi also nourish the liver and spleen to keep them functioning.
Generally, how the body is related to the organs, those places which are convex are related to the heart, those concave are related to the lungs, those places where the bone is exposed (i.e., shallow) are related to the kidneys, the tendons junction places are related to the liver, and those places where the meat is thick are related to the spleen. Looking at them from the point of view of the Yi, the heart is like a fiery tiger, the liver is like an arrow, the spleen with the unlimited strength of Qi and Li. The distribution of the liver channel is the most variable spiritually (i.e., sensitive); the movement of the kidneys' Qi is fast like the wind. When these are applied to the body such as the application of Qi channels, when we talk about the places in the entire body, which are related to these channels, ultimately they cannot be understood without having the meaning (i.e., Yi). Therefore, people studying this should comprehend these by themselves. These cannot be done through pen and ink. As to the relation of production, conquest, and derivation, though there is some other discussion already, if we study their key points, then there is a total comprehension automatically. The Five Phases and the hundreds of parts of the body, after all, is one unit. The four bodies and the three centers are combined into one. Why do we have to pay attention to every channel and every branch or section of the body?
The paragraph above continues to discuss the relationship of the external manifestation and the internal organs. In order to comprehend the real meaning (i.e., the deeper purpose) of each organ, you must also feel how they behave. For example, the heart can act like a fierce tiger, the liver can be as simple and calm as wood. The spleen is like the earth, which is able to offer unlimited Li (i.e., muscular power) and Qi, and the kidneys' Qi must flow smoothly and fluidly like the wind. When you combine these meanings in your feelings, you will be able to reach a deep comprehension of the five viscera. Among these five, although they have the relationships of mutual production and conquest, from the point of view of Qi, there is only one. The four bodies here mean the head, the body, the arms, and the legs. The three centers are the center pointing downward from the head, the center pointing upward from the feet, and the center directing inward from the arms