Guest Author - Caroline Chen-Whatley
The ties between Traditional Chinese Medicine and Martial Arts is strong and based on the similar concepts which support both – the basis of those concepts being an understanding of the human body.
In the study of medicine, be it Eastern or Western, there is the belief that understanding what hurts us improves our abilities to overcome the disease. In fact, some of the most common drugs and treatments come from things that can conversely hurt. For instance, the basis for penicillin, the wonder drug of eastern medicine in curing many infections, comes from cultivating mold and harnessing something negative for a positive use. The most common treatment for cancer, lies in the idea of killing off the harmful cells using radiation.
In Martial Arts, some of the deadliest techniques come from understanding pressure points and the flow chi (and thus blood) through the body. By stopping the chi and striking the body in key spots, one can disable, maim or kill their opponent.
This knowledge can also heal. To damage an opponent using pressure points, you are effectively stopping or disrupting the flow of chi in that person's body. To heal a person, you are opening the channels of chi to flow.
The concepts are also echoed in studying the five-elements and the constructive and destructive cycles of the elements. By going in one direction and order, we are destroying, which is what Martial Arts is doing. Going in a different (and not necessarily the reverse) direction can become helpful and cure. Acupuncture utilizes the constructive patterns to repair the body.
When a Martial Artist begins to study pressure points and their application, they must take time to learn both positive and negative aspects of this side of the art in order to be most effective. Study into this area must be taken with great care and patience. It does the student no good if they only learn the negative side and never pick up how to cure the negative effects they learn.
For some, this naturally leads into deeper interest and understanding of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Thus, many who study this deep into Martial Arts also embrace and become proficient in Eastern medical techniques. Some go on to formalize this training by becoming doctorates in this art.
Likewise, those that study Traditional Chinese Medicine often become proficient in Martial Arts techniques, especially internal arts such as Tai Chi. This is a natural progression of their studies in understanding the total picture of both constructive and destructive cycles.