by Miguel F. Sarria
According to the interpretation of the I Ching-Eight Trigrams, from a Chi Kung medical point of view, each element (trigram) is associated with various aspects of the phenomenal world and the animals, all of which are perceived to resonate together due to their proportions of Yin and Yang energy. The trigrams represent the Eight Extraordinary Vessels (energetic reservoirs) storing, circulating, distributing and linking all of the Yin and Yang energy utilizing the fascia as the vehicle. This nourishes and gives vigor to the organ-networks.
They are thus able to regulate the flow of energy maintaining a state of balance and health. Fascia is the very thin connective tissue which has electromagnetic properties that surrounds every muscle, every muscle fiber, every organ, and every bone ― every component contained in our body. The eight(8) Extraordinary Vessels work as "fields within fields", like reservoirs that regulate the distribution and quality of jing and Chi energy throughout the body, capable of changing the signals that control the use of jing and Chi energy. As the foundation of the body's energy flow bridge the Prenatal Energy with our Postnatal Energy.
All extraordinary vessels are in some way connected to the Kidney Organ Network, which in Chinese Traditional Medicine is considered the root of the physical body and the immune system (protective Chi). The vessels draw their energy from the Kidneys. The total system functions like a great tree: the kidneys are the roots, the extraordinary vessels form the trunk, the main meridian systems are the limbs and branches, and the essence is its sap. The vessels ultimate function is to store, circulate, distribute and link all of the tree's life energy.
It is destiny that the Meng Main chakra (Gate of Destiny) is located between the kidneys as a pumping station and as the captain of the energy ship. It filters energy increasing the quality and rate of the vibration of lower jing into subtle energy Chi and into divine energy shen. Balance of subtle energy through the chakras is health = life.
The extraordinary vessel's energetic structures are intertwined with the human body's material structure at its deepest level. They reside within the energetic strata of the human body, and are the formative energies of the body. Their function is vast and dictates the growth and cycle of the physical form, much like the blueprint for a building. The form and structure of the body begins and matures together within the biorhythmic patterns of our energetic life.
The Eight Extraordinary Vessels provide the link between the body's Six Extraordinary (Curious) Organs (Brain, Bone, Marrow, Blood Vessels, Gall Bladder and Uterus) and the internal energy flow of the primary Yang organs (Gall Bladder, Small Intestine, Stomach, Large Intestine, Urinary Bladder and Triple Burner), in addition to the Kidney Organ Network.
The Eight Extraordinary Vessels integrate the Four Seas: Sea of Marrow, the Sea of Blood, the Sea of Chi, and the Sea of Water, with the body's internal energy flow. When the Extraordinary Vessels become full, the energy overflows into the center channel or Taiji Pole. This stimulation of the Taiji Pole expands consciousness and increases perception and intuition, the Shen.
When the extraordinary vessels are out of balance, they manifest as symptoms such as, structural imbalances, tension, right/left imbalance, length differences or postural abnormalities, imbalances of the neck, lower back and knees. Harmonizing these vessels reestablishes symmetry and health. These vessels are the most important distribution channels connecting to the meridians and functioning as the optimal energetic blue print for the human body. They are also referred to as the etheric-double in Advance Medical Chi Kung (Shen Kung).
This is why the Eight Extraordinary Vessels have been of special importance to Medical Chi Kung practitioners for thousands of years. At this advanced stage of transformation, Chi Kung doctors receive more quality Chi, therefore, increasing blood quality, by focusing on the development of the Eight Extraordinary Vessels.
With this understanding, ancient masters developed a sequence of motion-techniques know as the "18 Postures" (Shi-Pa-Sho), from which all the martial arts derive, such as the Kojosho system. Training the human body following the flow of the 18 Postures, aligning the energy of the 8 Extraordinary Vessels, is an important step of implementing self-healing, thus acting as preventive medicine.
Each of the 8 elements is associated with an animal, and each group of elements and animals are contained within a unit. The Bear contains the animals and the Dao (Tao) contains the elements. Therefore, the I Ching 9 element forms is derived.
Each of these extraordinary vessels are revealed in the I Ching - The Book of Changes, symbolically as elemental trigrams and animals.
THE EIGHT TRIGRAMS
1. Qian (Ch'ien), the Creative/Heaven/Strong/Father
Deer/Humanity/Thrusting Vessel/Chong Mai
This trigram consists of three Yang or solid lines and symbolizes the creative or heaven. This is the most Yang in nature among all eight trigrams. It intertwines with the movement of the Deer teaching us Humanity. The Chong Mai originates in the Lower Dantian arising from the space between the Kidneys traveling upward to the head and face, and down to the feet.
- Brings Chi and Blood to the chin area
- Energizes the other Extraordinary Vessels
- Energizes the Uterus and the Prostate
- Energizes the Lower Abdomen, Chest, Breast, Throat and Face
- Gives tension and tightness to the membranes
- Strengthens the interaction among Liver, Spleen, and Kidney channels
- Regulates changes in an individual's life cycle; every 8 years in men, 7 years in women
- Master and Couple Point: Sp-4
- Direction: Northwest
One of the major purposes of the Thrusting vessel is to connect, to communicate, and to mutually support the Conception vessel. Because of this mutual Chi support, both can effectively regulate the Chi in the kidney channel. The kidneys are the residence of Original Chi and are considered one of the most vital Yin organs.
The Thrusting vessel is considered one of the most important and decisive vessels in successful Chi Kung training, especially in Marrow Washing. There are many reason for this. The first reason is that this vessel intersects two cavities on the Conception vessel: Huiyin (LI-l) and Yinjiao (LI-7). Huiyin means "meeting with Yin" and is the cavity where the Yang and Yin Chi are transferred. Yinjiao means "Yin Junction" and is the cavity where the Original Chi (Water Chi, or Yin Chi) interfaces with Fire Chi created from food and air. The Thrusting Vessel also connects with eleven cavities on the kidney channel. The kidney is considered the residence of Original Essence (Yuan Jing), which is converted into Original Chi (Yuan Chi).
The second reason for the importance of the Thrusting Vessel in Chi Kung training is that this vessel is connected directly to the spinal cord and reaches up to the brain. The major goal of Marrow Washing Chi Kung is to lead the Chi into the marrow and then further on to the head, nourishing the brain and spirit (Shen).
And finally, the third reason is found in actual Chi Kung practice. There are three common training paths: Fire, Wind, and Water. In Fire path Chi Kung, the emphasis is on the Fire or Yang Chi circulating in the Governing vessel and therefore strengthening the muscles and organs. The Fire path is the main Chi training in Muscle/Tendon Changing (Yi Jin Jing) Chi Kung. However, the Fire path can also cause the body to become too Yang, and therefore speed up the process of degeneration. In order to adjust the Fire to a proper level, Marrow Washing Chi Kung is also trained. This uses the Water path, in which Chi separates from the route of the Fire path at the Huiyin cavity (LI-l), enters the spinal cord, and finally reaches up to the head. The Water path teaches how to use Original Chi to cool down the body, and then to use this Chi to nourish the brain and train the spirit. Learning to adjust the Fire and Water Chi circulation in the body is essential.
In terms of medical I Ching divination, the Creative, is associated with diseases of the head, brain, spinal cord, and the central nervous system. It also suggests or corresponds to severe diseases or symptoms and malignancy. As far as psychological states are concerned, this trigram indicates extreme mental and emotional states. Its phase correspondence is metal.
2. Kun (K'un), the Receptive/Earth/Developed & Yielding/Mother
Tiger/Courage/Yin Heel Vessel/Yin Qiao Mai
This trigram consists of three broken lines rendering this the most Yin trigram of the eight. This is the most Yin in nature among all eight trigrams symbolizing the receptive or earth, and it intertwines with the movement of the Tiger teaching us Courage. The Yin Qiao Mai is an offshoot of the Kidney channels. In ancient China, the Heel Vessel were thought to psychologically determine how you see yourself in the world.
- Controls motion of the lower limbs
- Controls the ascent of fluids and the descent of Chi
- Controls the Yin of the left and right side of the body
- Digestive issues, abdominal issues
- Effects the lateral aspect of the lower limbs, numbness, weakness, spasms
- Energizes the Eyes, moistening them
- Excess Yang, insomnia
- Excessive sleepiness
- Eye issues
- First line of defense
- Hot Flashes
- Influence the entire lower abdominal area in women
- Influence the reproductive system in males/ females
- Issues of the eyes or face, eye pain, redness or swelling, headache
- Manages energy in the Abdomen
- Movement of the body, walking, cold or weakness in the lower limbs
- Nourishes Blood and Yin
- Regulates sleep
- Respiratory issues
- Tonifies the Leg Muscles
- Tonifies the Tissue and Membranes
- Urogenital problems, retention of urine
- Master and Couple Point: Kd-6
- Direction: Southwest
The Yin Heel vessel is connected with two cavities of the kidney channel. Therefore, one of the major sources of Chi for this vessel is the conversion of the kidney essence into Chi. It is believed in Chi Kung society that the other major Chi source is the essence of the external kidneys (testicles).
Some of the training processes is to stimulate the testicles in order to increase the hormone production and increase the conversion of the essence into Chi. At the same time, you would learn how to lead the Chi in this vessel up to the head to nourish the brain and spirit (Shen). With this nourishment, you would be able to reach enlightenment. From a health and longevity point of view, the raised spirit will be able to efficiently direct the Chi of the entire body and maintain your health.
Kun, the Receptive, corresponds to the earth phase and, therefore, to diseases of the digestive system, the spleen/pancreas and stomach, the female reproductive system, the feet and legs, and subcutaneous tissue. It also occasionally suggests water diseases and typically is associated with chronic, slow moving illnesses. Psychologically, this hexagram suggests depression, despair, and melancholy.
3. Li, the Clinging/Fire/Light-giving/Second Daughter
Snake/Knowlage/Conception Vessel/Ren Mai
This trigram has one Yin line between two Yang lines and it signifies the clinging or fire. It intertwines with the movement of the Snake giving us Knowledge. The Ren Mai, Sea of Yin channels, originates from the center of the Lower Dantian, arising from the space between the Kidneys. Functionally, the Conception Vessel is divided into three parts: 1) The upper third of the Conception Vessel on the sternum controls respiratory functions; 2) The middle third of the Conception Vessel on the epigastrium controls digestion functions; 3) The lower third of the Conception Vessel on the abdomen controls the urogenital functions.
- Activate the Triple Burner
- Controls Fat Tissue and Membranes
- Effects male genitalia, hernia, sexual desire, impotence
- Energizes the reproductive System
- Gastrointestinal issues, digestion
- Harmonizes the Lungs and Kidneys
- Regulates female cycles, menstruation, reproduction
- Regulates Metabolism of fluids and flow of Chi
- Regulates the energy of the reproductive system
- Regulates the Uterus and the Blood
- Sea of Yin: influences the Yin, essence and fluids
- Tonifies and nourishes Yin energy
- Tonifies the Blood and Yin
- Master and Couple Point: Lu-7
- Direction: South
Ren in Chinese means "direction, responsibility." Ren Mai, the "Conception Vessel," has a major role in Chi circulation, monitoring and directing all of the Yin channels (plus the stomach channel). The Conception Vessel is connected to the Thrusting and Yin Linking vessels, and is able to increase the Yin energy of the body. This vessel nourishes the uterus (one of the five ancestral organs) and the whole genital system. It is said in the Nei Jing that the Conception and Thrusting vessels contain both blood and essence (Jing), and both flow up to the face and around the mouth. They contain more blood than essence in men, and thus promote the growth of the beard and body hair. Because women lose blood with their menstruation, they contain proportionately less blood, therefore no beard or body hair.
It was described in the Su Wen that both the Conception and Thrusting vessels control the life cycles every 7 years for women and every 8 years for men. It is the changes taking place in these vessels at those intervals that promote the major alterations in our lives.
In addition, the Conception vessel also controls the distribution and "dispersion" of Guardian Chi all over the abdomen and thorax via numerous small Chi branches (Luo). This vessel also plays an important role in the distribution of body fluids in the abdomen.
Li, the Clinging, corresponds to circulatory diseases and cardiovascular conditions as well as diseases of the small intestine, tongue, and eyes. It suggests inflammation, fever, and redness of the skin caused by capillary congestion, and also problems with the metabolism. In general, this trigram relates to the fire phase and all that that phase connotes in the realm of Chinese medicine. Occasionally, extreme forms of delirium and hysteria can be indicated by this trigram.
4. Kan (K'an), the Abysmal, Water/Dangerous/Second Son
Leopard/Honor/Yang Heel Vessel/Yang Qiao Mai
This trigram is just the opposite of Li the Fire. It is composed of a Yang or solid line between two Yin or broken lines. It symbolizes the abysmal or water, and it intertwines with the movement of the Leopard teaching us Honor. The Yang Qiao Mai is an offshoot of the Urinary Bladder channels. In ancient China, the Heel Vessel were thought to psychologically determine how you see the world.
- Absorbs excess of Yang from the Head
- Controls the Yang of the left and right sides of the body
- First line of defense
- Regulates Chi to the Eyes
- Regulates Chi to the Spine and Back Nervous System
- Nourishes Blood and Yang
- Master and Couple Point: UB-62
- Direction: North
It is located in the trunk and legs. For millions of years, man has been walking on his legs, which perform much more strenuous work than the arms. As evolution proceeded, the legs gradually developed these vessels to supply Chi support and regulate the channels.
From the way that the Yang Heel vessel intersects with other Chi channels it regulates the Yang channels, such as the urinary bladder, the gall bladder, the small intestine, and the large intestine. The Yang Heel vessel is also connected with the Governing vessel. The Chi filling this vessel is supplied mainly through exercising the legs, which converts the food essence or fat stored in the legs. This Chi is then led upward to nourish the Yang channels. It is believed in Chi Kung that, since this vessel is also connected with your brain, certain leg exercises draw Chi downward from the head to the leg muscles and relieve the pressure in the head.
Most of the training that relates to this vessel is considered Yang, and specializes in training the Yang channels.
Kan, the Abysmal corresponds to the water phase and diseases of the kidneys, bladder, urogenital system, bones, blood, and body fluids, such as edema. It also suggests the lower abdomen, the marrow, the nose, ears, gums, hair, and eyesight, toxins such as bacteria and viruses and poisons which have accumulated within the body and are stagnant within the system, and cold conditions. Psychologically, it indicates anxiety, worry, fright, fear, phobias, terror, and tension.
5. Xun (Sun), the Gentle/Wind/Penetrating/First Daughter
Dragon/Wisdom/Belt Vessel/Dai Mai
This trigram has one Yin line at the bottom and two Yang lines on top. It is a symbol of the gentle or wind, and it intertwines with the movement of the Dragon giving us Wisdom. The Dai Mai energetic function is to bind, join, and control all of the channels of the body, exerting an influence upon the circulation of the body's Governing and Conception Vessels.
- Is the only horizontal vessel
- Harmonizes the Liver and Gall Bladder
- Influence circulating energy to and from the legs
- Influence energetic actions of the genitals,
waist, and hips
- Regulates circulation of Chi in the legs
- Responsible for the Chi's horizontal balance
- Resolves Dampness in the Lower Burner
- Tonifies the Stomach and Spleen channels
- Master and Couple Point: GB-41
- Direction: Southeast
From the point of view of Chi Kung, the Girdle vessel is also responsible for the strength of the waist area. When Chi is full and circulating smoothly, back pain will be avoided. In addition, because the kidneys are located nearby, this vessel is also responsible for Chi circulation around the kidneys, maintaining the kidneys' health. Most important of all for the Girdle vessel is the fact that the Lower Dantian is located in its area. In order to lead Original Chi from the kidneys to the Lower Dantian, the waist area must be healthy and relaxed. This means that the Chi flow in the waist area must be smooth.
Xun, the Gentle, corresponds to the wood phase within five phase theory and wind diseases of a gentle and penetrating nature. It also suggests liver Yin vacuity, liver wind, the thighs, the parasympathetic nervous system, respiratory and intestinal diseases, gentle or mild illnesses, prolonged recovery, or latent fevers. Psychologically, it is associated with despondency, grief, sorrow, and sadness.
6. Zhen (Chen), the Arousing/Thunder/Lightning/Inciting Movement/First Son
Hawk/Courtesy/Yang Linking Vessel/Yang Wei Mai
This trigram has only one Yang line at the bottom and two Yin or broken lines on top. It represents the arousing or thunder fire, and it intertwines with the movement of the Hawk teaching us Courtesy. The Yang Wei Mai serve to maintain and communicate with all of the Yang channels (urinary bladder, gall bladder, triple burner, small intestine, and stomach) on the exterior portion of the lateral aspects of the body.
- Affects body temperature
- Harmonizes Gall Bladder
- Influences the sides of the body
- Regulates energy in the Ears
- Master and Couple Point: TB-5
- Direction: East
Zhen, the Arousing, corresponds to sudden diseases, movable diseases, pain in the nerves, illnesses of the sensory system, motor system, the sympathetic nervous system, the lower extremities, the tendons, gallbladder, and liver yang. It is associated with birth, growth, and development and tends to describe diseases which are painful and which progress quickly, including the possibility of quick recovery. Psychologically, sudden fits of anger and rage may be hinted at by this trigram. Its phase correspondence is wood.
7. Gen (Ken), Keeping Still/Mountain/Resting/Third Son
Monkey/Trust/Yin Linking Vessel/Yin Wei Mai
The shape of this trigram depicts the outline of a mountain surmounted by the sky with a Yang line at the top supported by two Yin lines underneath. It is the symbol of keeping still or mountain, and it intertwines with the movement of the Monkey teaching us Trust. The Yin Wei Mai are responsible for moving the Yin energy, regulating the Blood, and regulating the internal parts of the body and all Yin channels.
- Balances Mental and Emotional energy
- Balances Head energy
- Nourishes Blood and Yin
- Tonifies the Heart
- Master and Couple Point: Pc-6
- Direction: Northeast
Gen, Keeping Still, corresponds to diseases of the head and skull, upper back, neck, and shoulders in particular and the joints in general. It also suggests the male genitalia, diseases which are stuck and do not move, stubborn and immovable obstructions, stoppages in circulation, tumors and constant swellings, loss of resistance, and injuries. In terms of mental/emotional states, it is associated with stubborn, obstinate, and imperturbable states of mind. Its phase correspondence is earth.
8. Dui (Tui), the Joyous/Lake/Joyful/Third Daughter
Crane/Patience/Governing Vessel/Du Mai
This trigram has two Yang or solid lines at the bottom and one Yin or broken line at the top. Thus it symbolizes joy, a lake, or a marsh, and it intertwines with the movement of the Crane teaching us Discipline and Patience. During the development of the embryo, the Du Mai, the sea of Yang, is responsible for the formation of the medulla oblongata and cerebrum. It is also responsible for nourishing the brain and the spinal cord and consolidating the energy in the kidney.
- Expels Exterior Wind
- Extinguishes Interior Wind
- Influence on will-power and spirit
- Tonifies Kidney-Yang
- Strengthens the Spine
- Nourishes the Brain and marrow
- Strengthens the Mind
- Master and Couple Point: SI-3
- Direction: West
The Governing Vessel is the confluence of all the Yang channels, over which it is said to "govern." Because it controls all the Yang channels, it is called the "Sea of Yang Meridians." This is apparent from its pathway because it flows up the middle of the back, a Yang area, and in the center of all Yang channels (except the stomach channel which flows in the front). The Governing Vessel governs all the Yang channels, which means that it can be used to increase the Yang energy of the body.
Since the Governing Vessel is the "Sea of Yang Meridians" and it controls or governs the back, the area richest in Guardian Chi (Wei Chi), it is also responsible for the circulation of the body's Guardian Chi to guard against external evil intruders.
According to Chinese medical science, Guardian Chi is Yang Chi and therefore represents the "Fire" of the body. Its quick and ubiquitous circulation keeps the fire going in the body and controls the loss of body heat. Guardian Chi is also inextricably linked with the fluids that flow outside the channels, in the skin and flesh. Consequently, through the breathing (under control of the lungs), Guardian Chi is responsible for the opening and the closing of the pores, and also controls sweating.
The Governing vessel is also responsible for nourishing the five ancestral organs, which include the brain and spinal cord. This is one of the ways in which the kidneys "control" the brain, as is said in Chinese medicine.
To the ancient Chinese, a marsh exemplified a place of joyous life with water, plants, fish, birds, and other animals. Dui, the Joyous, corresponds in the realm of health and medicine to diseases of the mouth, oral cavity, the digestive system, and reproductive system. It also suggests chronic diseases, a slow onset, and long-term pathological condition resulting from a disease, injury, or other trauma, as well as diet, nutrition, and sexual factors playing a factor in the patient's case. This trigram relates to the metal phase in five phase theory. In terms of psychology, it indicates overexcitement and frenzied states of mind.
9. Wuji - The Void, Potential
The Way of Nature/Bear/Loyalty/The Dao (Tao)
The I Ching, Eight Trigrams discussed above, are contained within the Great Void. The ancient Chinese believed that the Chi of Yin and Yang fulfills the Great Void (Wuji), enveloping all things and leaving nothing outside its boundaries. In ancient Chinese philosophy is reefer to as the Dao (Tao)―the Great Void. It represents The Way of Nature. In ancient China Lao Tsu taught that the wisest approach was a way of 'non struggle action', which does not mean inaction, but rather harmonizing one's personal will and actions with the natural harmony and justice of Nature.
Human life must ultimately follow the flow of the structural change in the unity of the Dao, for the implicit nature of the Dao forms the foundation of our journey from birth to death. From the Great Void all things are created. The Great Void is associated with the Taiji Pole. Being the body's center-core that connects through us 'Heaven(Fire) and Earth(Water).' From this center-core all other human life manifestation is borne through energy channels and organs. This energy, with its constant flow, manifests life. Our human body is only a reflection of this universal energy (Chi) contained in our Solar System, and manifested upon Earth beings.
The Eighteen Lo-Han Postures, Shi-Pa-Sho, are the result of this understanding. Through observation and study, Chinese masters correlated each element to an animal, and the Great Void to the Bear. They bestowed the Bear with this honor because of it's wisdom and loyalty to The Way of Nature.
A Parallel I-Ching & Extraordinary Vessel, Path of Development
The Kojosho method of Chi Kung and Martial Arts is one of many systems derived from the Southern Shaolin that traces its lineage back to Hua-T'o Chinese philosopher and physician. Its practice follows the path of the Posnatal Bagua, returning to the Prenatal Bagua. After birth, human life becomes a discovery process in the understanding of, "where do we come from" and, "where are we going." Finding the pieces of the puzzle to resolve the mystery of life and death is the return to the Prenatal Bagua, or to Heaven.
Traditional Chinese Medicine and Chi Kung are based in the understanding that human life is the result of two opposing but complementary energies conceived from Heaven(Yang) and Earth(Yin). The interaction of these polarities manifests space and time as we know it, while also providing a path through our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual bodies back to the original life source.
The Prenatal Bagua and the Elements in Kojosho follow the same path: Heaven, Earth, Fire, Water, Wind, Lightning, Mountain, Lake and Tao (Dao) which is the container where all other elements exist.
Yin Qiao Mai (Yin)–Earth/Tiger
Courage, Yin Heel Vessel (Ki6,Lu7)
Du Mai (Yang)–Lake/Crane
Patience, Governing Vessel (Si3,UB62)
Yang Qiao Mai (Yang)–Water/Leopard
Honor, Yang Heel Vessel (UB62,Si3)
Ren Mai (Yin)–Fire/Snake
Knowledge, Conception Vessel (Lu7,Ki6)
Yang Wei Mai (Yang)–Lightning/Hawk
Courtesy, Yang Linking Vessel (TB5,GB41)
Yin Wei Mai (Yin)–Mountain/Monkey
Trust, Yin Linking Vessel (PC6,Sp4)
Dai Mai (Yang)–Wind/Dragon
Wisdom, Belt Vessel (GB41,TB5)
Chong Mai (Yin)–Heaven/Deer
Humanity, Thrusting Vessel (Sp4,PC6)
Loyalty to the Way of Nature (GV20,GV1)
The I Ching or Book of Changes, The Richard Wilhelm Translation, Bollingen Series XIX, Princeton University Press
I-Ching, The Book of Changes and the Unchanging Truth, Huan-Ching Ni
The Medical I Ching, Oracle of the Healer Within, Miki Shima
Chinese Medical Qigong Therapy, Professor Jerry Alan Johnson, PH.D., D.T.C.M., D.M.Q. (CHINA)
Kojasho, Theory and Application of Karate System, Soon Fook-Leong, 1982
Kojosho, The Philosophy of a Kempo Karate System, Henry Soon Fook-Leong & Frederic Absher, 2001